Last year, one of you, gave me a book to read for Advent. It was a collection of homilies and letters of Fr. Alfred Delp, a Jesuit priest who lived in Germany during the Second World War. The name of theRead the entire homily.
book is Advent of the Heart. Like so many devout persons at the time, Fr. Delp recognized in the Nazi government the presence of evil, and he was very concerned about helping people see the presence of Christ Jesus as a contradiction to the evil of the Nazis. Fr. Delp worked with the German Resistance, helping those in danger from the Nazis, mostly Jews, to escape to safety. Most importantly he worked to help prepare people for rebuilding the Kingdom of God from the ashes of the Nazi regime.
Although he had nothing to do with the assassination attempt of Hitler, Fr. Delp was arrested by the Gestapo and imprisoned as a conspirator. Eventually he was convicted of treason and hung by the Nazis; his body being burned and the ashes scattered. He died a martyr’s death.
Fr. Delp had a great love for the season of Advent, and I was particularly moved by his homilies given for the Advent of 1941. I was so impressed by his reflections, that I knew that I wanted to share them with all of you, but by the time I finished reading them, Advent was over. So I had to wait for this year. Fr. Delps focus that Advent, and mine this Advent, is on the ways in which Advent “calls” us to an encounter with God.
This as been a difficult year. While some have been effected more than others, no one has been unaffected by the economic crisis. Such a crisis often begets other difficulties – perhaps medical difficulties, or substance abuse, or interpersonal conflicts. Of course even with as bad as things have been this year, it pales in comparison with the horror that Fr. Delp and his parishioners witnessed in 1941 – a world at war. Yet despite the troubles, Fr. Delp reminds us that on the First Sunday of Advent the Church gives voice to the ancient prayer heard in today’s Responsorial Psalm, “To you, O Lord, I lift my soul.”
• Two for Advent (Nov. 19, 2009)
• "Be Vigilant At All Times" | A Reflection on the First Sunday of Advent | Carl E. Olson
• The Mystery Made Present To Us | Fr. Alfred Delp, S.J.
• "All of life is Advent": On the life and death of Alfred Delp, S.J. | Abtei St. Walburg
• Remembering Father Alfred Delp, S.J., Priest and Martyr | A Conversation with Father Karl Adolf Kreuser, S.J.
• Remembering a Priest and Martyr: On the Ordination Anniversary of Alfred Delp, S.J. | Abtei St. Walburg
• Faithful Even Unto Death: The Witness of Alfred Delp, S.J. | Fr. Albert Münch