If You Don’t Know about Fr. Alfred Delp, You’ll Want to Encounter Him This Advent


(Kathryn Jean Lopez)

Fr. Peter John Cameron, O.P., is joining me for an Advent conversation Tuesday at 2 p.m. via Zoom. We are both reading Advent of the Heart: Seasonal Sermons and Prison Writings, 1941-1977, from Fr. Alfred Delp, S.J., who was preacher and leader of the resistance before he was martyred by the Nazis. Even while imprisoned, he managed to write powerful mediations on joy among other things — specifically during the Advent season. The book includes these writings and sermons from his time as rector at Georg Church in Munich.

If you are not familiar with him, I know you are far from alone, which is why we want to talk about him. Here’s a taste of what was on his heart while in Tegel Prison in December 1944:

In order to be capable of true life, man must live according to a specific order and relationship to God. The capability of true joy and of living joyfully is itself dependent upon specific conditions of human life, upon particular attitudes regarding God. Where life does not perceive itself as taking place in community with God, it will be gray and gloomy and drab and calculating.

How should we live so that we are capable—or can become capable—of true joy? This question should occupy us more today than it has in the past. Man should take joy as seriously as he takes himself. And he should believe in himself, believe in his heart and in his Lord God, even through darkness and distress—that he is created for joy. This really means that we are created for a life that knows itself to be blessed, sent and touched at its deepest center by God Himself.

He goes on to write about five conditions for true joy and the capability of joy. This is what is on his mind as he faced possible torture and certain death and the possibility, too, that the Nazis could win.

I know Fr. Cameron has been using some Delp in some of his Advent homilies — and has for years — and I have little doubt you will appreciate the conversation, especially if you are looking for a little inspiration for your Advent.

RSVP to join us live here.

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