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Morning over the bay

The Shaking Reality of Advent

Alfred Delp

Available languages: Deutsch, español, français

  • Carolee Uits

    The Shakeup this Advent is in the context of a case of cancer in the deeps of the womb. Dec. 7 was the surgery - truly Adventide. This, while our whole society writhes in the pangs of the churnings of justice in the inner parts of our social fabric, again wresting between sin's injustice and the nearing cry of That Babe that has known poor young Mary's womb. I am thankful to Delp for reminding me of the larger state of calamities throughout all of humankind. It keeps my little "annoyances" in check, keeps us all more focused on how we on one hand are but one small entity in the scheme of things - and how One Life can do much - and did - for us all. His goading question of how we will - and do respond seems to me these days to be of paramount importance. We all can have "excuses" for not being involved in the clarion call to respond to the injustices of racism, plutocracy, and all the rest - SIN writ large in our society - even one fighting cancer. But there never is a reason not to be a part of the fight against the sin within ourselves and our society. To let another "do battle" is to be one less voice crying in the wilderness to Prepare the way of the Lord. The shock and shattering of our worlds, both personally and comunally, is what Christ is about. That little one about to enter the sinful world for which He will die in painful cross-borne love - for the likes of us that we all might live. Maybe in all this, we can be cheered by His presence among and through us to bring in the Kingdom of God to us all.

  • Alice LaChapelle

    Another modern prophetic voice heard from - intense and so urgently needed in our world that has gone mad with hatred, violence, mass genocide, crushing poverty, and social and economic injustice.... No longer can we allow ourselves to plead ignorance of or to be indifferent to what is happening all around us. Modern media communication makes that impossible. We need more than 'repentance' as that term is generally understood. In the Hebrew Scriptures the word for this is 'teshuvah' which is used to mean 'repentance, turning to God, answering God's call....' In the Christian Scriptures the word is 'metanoia,' taken from the Greek language meaning 'changing one's mind, thinking differently, changing direction, turning from {or away from}....'

  • Jerry

    Many are learned by man and writings of their own way of believing. There must be in place the ten commandments with the laws and ordinances for those who only believe what they read

  • Rick Malloy, S.J.

    Every Advent I re-read Jesuit Alfred Delp's Advent Meditations. Great voice for the challenges of being a Christian. He writes: “Spiritually, we seem to be in an enormous vacuum. Humanly speaking there is the same burning question - what is the point of it all? And in the end, even that question sticks in one’s throat. Scarcely anyone can see or even guess at, the connection between the corpse-strewn battlefields, the heaps of rubble we live in and the collapse of the spiritual cosmos of our views and principles, the tattered residue of our moral and religious convictions as revealed by our behavior. And even if the connection were fully understood it would be only a matter for academic interest, data to be noted and listed. No one would be shocked or deduce from the facts a need for reformation.” - from The Prison Meditations of Alfred Delp, S.J. Fr. Delp was executed by the Nazis on Feb. 2, 1945.

  • Deborah

    Awestrucking truth we don't hear enough of! Terrific article ! Loved it!

  • Nicole Solomon

    Thank you. This was very moving. I want this real shaking in my own life. I pray that as a country and as nations we can experience this life changing repentance that leaves us empty enough to see the little baby that came for us to redeem us. Thank you for sharing this.

He has performed mighty deeds with his arm; he has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts. – Luke 1:51

There is perhaps nothing we modern people need more than to be genuinely shaken up. Where life is firm we need to sense its firmness; and where it is unstable and uncertain and has no basis, we need to know this, too, and endure it.

We may ask why God sends whirlwinds over the earth, why the chaos where all appears hopeless and dark, and why there seems to be no end to human suffering. Perhaps it is because we have been living on earth in an utterly false and counterfeit security. and now God strikes the earth till it resounds, now he shakes and shatters: not to pound us with fear, but to teach us one thing – the spirit’s innermost longing.

Many of the things that are happening today would never have happened if we had been living in that longing, that disquiet of heart which comes when we are faced with God, and when we look clearly at things as they really are. If we had done this, God would have withheld his hand from many of the things that now shake and crush our lives. We would have come to terms with and judged the limits of our own competence.

But we have lived in a false confidence, in a delusional security; in our spiritual insanity we really believe we can bring the stars down from heaven and kindle flames of eternity in the world. We believe that with our own forces we can avert the dangers and banish night, switch off and halt the internal quaking of the universe. We believe we can harness everything and fit it into an ultimate scheme that will last.

Here is the message of Advent: faced with him who is the Last, the world will begin to shake. Only when we do not cling to false securities will our eyes be able to see this Last One and get to the bottom of things. Only then will we have the strength to overcome the terrors into which God has let the world sink. God uses these terrors to awaken us from sleep, as Paul says, and to show us that it is time to repent, time to change things. It is time to say, “all right, it was night; but let that be over now and let us get ready for the day.” We must do this with a decision that comes out of the very horrors we experience. Because of this our decision will be unshakable even in uncertainty.

If we want Advent to transform us – our homes and hearts, and even nations – then the great question for us is whether we will come out of the convulsions of our time with this determination: Yes, arise! It is time to awaken from sleep. a waking up must begin somewhere. It is time to put things back where God intended them. It is time for each of us to go to work – certain that the Lord will come – to set our life in God’s order wherever we can. Where God’s word is heard, he will not cheat us of the truth; where our life rebels he will reprimand it.

We need people who are moved by the horrific calamities and emerge from them with the knowledge that those who look to the Lord will be preserved by him, even if they are hounded from the earth.

The Advent message comes out of our encounter with God, with the gospel. It is thus the message that shakes – so that in the end the entire world shall be shaken. The fact that the son of man shall come again is more than a historic prophecy; it is also a decree that God’s coming and the shaking up of humanity are somehow connected. If we are inwardly inert, incapable of being genuinely moved, if we become obstinate and hard and superficial and cheap, then God himself will intervene in world events. He will teach us what it means to be placed in turmoil and to be inwardly stirred. Then the great question to us is whether we are still capable of being truly shocked – or whether we will continue to see thousands of things that we know should not be and must not be and yet remain hardened to them. In how many ways have we become indifferent and used to things that ought not to be?

Being shocked, however, out of our pathetic complacency is only part of Advent. There is much more that belongs to it. Advent is blessed with God’s promises, which constitute the hidden happiness of this time. These promises kindle the light in our hearts. Being shattered, being awakened – these are necessary for Advent. In the bitterness of awakening, in the helplessness of “coming to,” in the wretchedness of realizing our limitations, the golden threads that pass between heaven and earth reach us. These threads give the world a taste of the abundance it can have.

We must not shy away from Advent thoughts of this kind. We must let our inner eye see and our hearts range far. Then we will encounter both the seriousness of Advent and its blessings in a different way. We will, if we would but listen, hear the message calling out to us to cheer us, to console us, and to uplift us.

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Contributed By Alfred Delp Alfred Delp

As a condemned prisoner of Germany’s Third Reich, Jesuit priest Alfred Delp wrote letters and meditations from his prison cell expressing his struggles, victories, and convictions. His writings are still valued today for their clarity and direction.

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