The release this week of Valkyrie, a movie about the 1944 plot to assassinate Hitler, makes this a good time to mention Father Alfred Delp (1907-1945), a German Jesuit executed for his opposition to the Nazi regime. Ordained in 1937, Delp’s preaching and writing focused in large part on was the incompatibility between Christianity and Nazism. In 1943, he joined a resistance movement planning for the future of a post-Nazi Germany. In July 1944, a few days after the execution of Claus von Stauffenberg (played by Tom Cruise in the movie), Delp (who doesn’t appear in the movie) was arrested for his alleged complicity. On February 2, 1945, he was executed. The meditations he wrote during his time in prison have been published. One entry reads: “Trust life, for God lives it with us.” His meditation on the meaning of Advent, written a few weeks before his impending execution, is worth quoting:
Advent is a time when we ought to be shaken and brought to a realization of ourselves… This shocked awakening is definitely part of experiencing Advent. But at the same time 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 inner light in our hearts. Being shattered, being awakened – only with these is life made capable of 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 in these times reach us. These golden threads give the world a taste of the abundance it can have.