Thursday, December 5, 2013

A Dark First Week of Advent

Condemned as a traitor for his opposition to Hitler, Father Alfred Delp, a Jesuit priest, wrote this piece in a Nazi prison shortly before he was hanged in 1945. Quoted in Watch for the Light: Readings for Advent and Christmas (Plough Publishing House, 2001).
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 be able to guard our life from the frights and terrors into which God the Lord has let the world sink to teach us, so that we may awaken from sleep, as Paul says, and see 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 be ready for the day.” We must do this with a decision that comes out of these very horrors we have experienced and all that is connected with them; and because of this our decision will be unshakable even in uncertainty.
I am very aware in these early days winter how long the night last and how short the days are. Even though December 21 has not arrived, it is a jarring change.  
Yet night does have a way to focus our minds and bodies. It surrounds us, engulfs us and dampens our horizons -- but only briefly. A new day does arrive, and that is our hope.
Let us give thanks for the night. Let it allow us to rest and renew. May it be a healing space to calm our fears, to dull the pain of life and give us grace to live a new day.