Imprisoned for his opposition to Hitler, Father Alfred Delp wrote “The Shaking Reality of Advent,” from which the following is an excerpt, in a Nazi prison shortly before he was executed in 1945.

She is the most comforting of all the Advent figures. Advent’s holiest consolation is that the angel’s annunciation met with a ready heart. The Word became flesh in a motherly heart and grew out far beyond itself into the world of God-humanity.

What good does it do us to sense and feel our misery unless a bridge is thrown over to the other shore?

What help is it to be terrified at our lostness and confusion unless a light flashes up that is a match for darkness and always is its master?

What good does it do to shiver in the coldness and hardness in which the world freezes as it goes deeper astray in itself and kills itself, unless we also come to know of the grace that is mightier than the peril of oblivion?

Poets and myth-makers and mankind’s other tellers of stories and fairy tales have often spoken of mothers. One time they meant the earth; another time they meant nature. By this word they tried to disclose the mysterious fount of all things, to conjure up the welling mystery of life. In all this there was hunger and anticipation and longing and Advent—waiting for this blessed woman.

That God became a mother’s son! That there could be a woman walking the earth whose womb was consecrated to be the holy temple and tabernacle of God!

So many kinds of Advent consolation stream from the mysterious figure of the blessed, expectant Mary. The gray horizons must grow light. It is only the immediate scene that shouts so loudly and insistently.

Beyond these is a different realm, on that is now in our midst. The woman has conceived the child, sheltered it beneath her heart, and given birth to the Son. The world has come under a different law. We are not speaking of only historical events that happened once, on which our salvation rests. Advent is the promise denoting the new order of things, of life, of our existence.

We must remember today with courage that the blessed woman of Nazareth foreshadows the light in our midst today. Deeper down in our being, our days and our destinies, too, bear the blessing and mystery of God.”

—Alfred Delp,
German priest
martyred under Hitler

Photo by Susan Forshey via Flickr. Used by permission.