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Posts Tagged ‘Fr. Alfred Delp’


Job 25-27The Storm Wind

Hurricane Gertrude hits the U.K. in 2017

Sunday, August 19, 2018

This weekend we have considered Job’s plight, and Job’s questions. We have observed Job’s interactions with his friends, and we have witnessed his fidelity, hope, and righteousness before insurmountable odds and circumstances. Today we return to a favorite from December 9, 2010 as we look at the next few chapters of this story.

Job refuses to bend to social pressure.  He refuses to cave in to public opinion.  He remains faithful to God.  He knows that only God has the power to give us immortal breath, only God has a love that will sustain us through all misery.   He knows that only God brings true and eternal serenity and joy.  Job responds to God’s call – even when this call comes to him through storm clouds.

Father Alfred Delp was a German priest condemned to death by Nazis in WWII.  He died in 1945.  His words are today’s MAGNIFICAT Meditation, and they refer to John the Baptist who, like Job, sought God, heard God, and were condemned for conveying God’s message. They were tossed by storms, but remained faithful to God.

When the Christian is asked, or asks himself, “Who are you?” this is primarily a questioning of his reality.  Are you a person whose concerns are with God?  Are you a person of whom it can be said that your heart and your mind are filled with a peace that surpasses all comprehension? . . . [T]he Calling-God [is one] who calls out in the midst of the wilderness through voices of men.  He has filled them, and their very being documents that such perfected people are among us, sent by God. 

Job tells us that only through, and with, and in God, can we weather the deadly winds whipped up by the storm.  His friends do not bring the voice of God to him, yet he persists in faith.

Fr. Delp and John the Baptist are destroyed by the winds.  Job is not.  Yet all three men tell us who God is by the manner in which they live their lives in the tempest, in the wilderness, and through the maelstrom.  What documentation of our faith to we show others when we weather the storms of life?  What is our story?  How do we live it when we are buffeted by the winds of the storm?


Cameron, Peter John. “Meditation of the Day.” MAGNIFICAT. 9.12 (2010). Print. 

Tomorrow, in praise of wisdom.

Image from: https://www.express.co.uk/news/uk/639377/Gertrude-chaos-hurricane-force-winds-transport-power-lines

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Job 22: Beyond Human Limits – Part III

Friday, February 9, 2018

Léon Bonnat: Job

Job understands the freedom God gives him to choose divinity, and it is the reason and foundation on which he stands.  Job knows in his bones that he is good and that he suffers innocently, mysteriously.  He knows nothing of the conversation that passed between Satan and God and still he persists in this endless and limitless hope.  He expands his own horizons and rises above them.  And it is in this expansion of his human self that he meets God.  It is through his defense of his innocence against the false sympathy of colleagues that he rises to this divinity planted in him by God.  He goes out of and beyond his former limits.

Fr. Alfred Delp, who died in a Nazi death camp,  concludes . . . Human freedom is born in the moment of our contact with God.  It is really unimportant whether God forces us out of our limits by the sheer distress of suffering, coaxes us with visions of beauty and truth, or pricks us into action by the endless hunger and thirst for righteousness that possess our soul.  What really matters is that we are called and we must be sufficiently awake to hear the call. 

On this last Sunday before we enter into the season of Lent, we will want to spend time with Job to see how he stretches himself beyond his humanity to meet his divinity.

When we use the scripture link and the drop-down menus to explore the story of Job, we find wisdom, strength, courage, and the freedom to choose the gift of humanity offered to us by God. 

Adapted from a reflection written on February 21, 2010.

Cameron, Peter John. “Meditation of the Day.” MAGNIFICAT. 21.2 (2010). Print.  

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Job 22: Beyond Human Limits – Part II

Thursday, February 8, 2018

Job’s “friend” in today’s Noontime lives by absolute, simplistic thinking.  Eliphaz tells Job that once he admits his sins, his pain and suffering will cease.  We know – because we have looked at this story many times and have paused to ponder the wisdom held within, that Job suffers innocently.  His goodness surfaces in a conversation between God and Satan.  The devil tells the Almighty that the only reason Job is so devout is because God cares for this servant so well.  It is true that for Job, life is good; yet God knows the depth of this man’s love for his creator. And so God tells Satan that he may do anything he likes to Job except terminate his life.  God believes that they will see deep fidelity from this servant; he knows that Job will remain faithful.  The devil delights in this bargain, believing that humans cannot suffer well, and so Job loses all: his family, his resources, his health.  His wife tells him to curse God and die.  His three “friends” sit with him and offer the kind of advice we read about today.  Job counters repeatedly, never giving in to the temptation to curse God and capitulate.  He never loses faith in God.  He never loses hope that all will be revealed.  He never loses the love engendered in him.  He questions God, he defends himself against the poor advice from his “friends” and he waits.  He is supremely patient.  And he is ultimately rewarded for his fidelity.

Job has the freedom to choose how he will react to the circumstances in which he finds himself.  Eliphaz baits him – much like the devil baits Jesus in today’s Gospel (Luke 4:1-13).  Jailed, and later executed by the Nazis, Fr. Alfred Delp understands this kind of suffering. He writes . . . During these long weeks of confinement I have learned by personal experience that a person is truly lost, is the victim of circumstances and oppression only when he is incapable of a great inner sense of depth and freedom.  Anyone whose natural element is not an atmosphere of freedom, unassailable and unshakable whatever force may be put on it, is already lost; but such a person is not really a human being anymore; he is merely an object, a number, a voting paper.  And the inner freedom can only be attained of widening our own horizons.  We must progress and grow, we must mount above our own limitations.  It can be done; the driving force is the inner urge to conquer whose very existence shows that human nature is fundamentally designed for this expansion

Tomorrow, the freedom to suffer, and final words from Father Delp.

Cameron, Peter John. “Meditation of the Day.” MAGNIFICAT. 21.2 (2010). Print.  

Adapted from a reflection written on February 21, 2010.

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Job 22: Beyond Human Limits – Part I

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Alfred Delp, SJ

When you make a decision, it shall succeed for you, and upon your ways the light shall shine. 

The Book of Job speaks to those who suffer innocently; and thus it prepares us to better understand the great sacrifice that Christ made on our behalf.  Today we read the words of Eliphaz who urges Job to admit guilt so that he may prosper, and we understand that Job’s true freedom comes not from avoiding his calamity, but through going beyond human limits, by turning to God in the midst of this personal cataclysm.

Many times we witness God’s hand in turning harm into goodness. We see those who walk in pride fall by their own hands.  We listen attentively to the stories people tell of having been saved, converted or transformed.  Through these stories, it is easy to fall into the thinking that those who suffer must have somehow brought the negative consequences they endure upon themselves. We have heard – or we have thought – if the poor would only work they would not be poor, if that woman had not worn that dress she would not have been raped, if the people in that country would choose good leaders they would not experience famine, if people would just behave there would be no genocide.  This is simplistic, black/white, off/on, binary thinking.  Situations are either good or bad; decisions are either yes or no.  With this kind of absolutism, there is no room for the in-between-ness that is the reality of human existence.  Nor is there much of a reason to invite Christ into our lives because this kind of living follows a rulebook of regulations and checklists that lead us to see life as best lived by following rules; and this stiffness leads us to think of ourselves first.  Christ calls us to liberate ourselves from this bondage and it is this kind of “setting free” that is addressed in yesterday’s MAGNIFICAT Meditation from the writings of Father Delp.  He died in 1945, condemned to death in a wave of frenzy in Germany during World War II.  He writes about the freedom Jesus offers to Levi, the tax collector, in Matthew 5:27-32Humans need freedom.  As slaves, fettered and confined, they are bound to deteriorate.  We have spent a great deal of thought and time on external freedom; we have made serious efforts to secure our personal liberty and yet we have lost it again and again.  The worst thing is that eventually humans come to accept this kind of bondage – it becomes habitual and they hardly notice it.  The most abject slaves can be made to believe that the condition in which they are held is actually freedom. 

Tomorrow, Job’s goodness amidst evil, and more from Father Delp.

Adapted from a reflection written on February 21, 2010.

Cameron, Peter John. “Meditation of the Day.” MAGNIFICAT. 21.2 (2010). Print.  

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Titus 3:4-7:In Partnership with God

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Michelangelo: Creation of Eve

From the Letter of Paul to Titus: It wasn’t so long ago that we ourselves were stupid and stubborn, dupes of sin, ordered every which way by our glands, going around with a chip on our shoulder, hated and hating back. (MSG)

Father Alfred Delp, S.. was hanged for high treason against Hitler’s Nazi Reich just a few months before the end of WW II. Hitler hoped to erase Delp from history by ordering that his body be cremated and his ashes scattered; but despite this effort, Delp and his words are remembered today. We might take them in as part of our Lenten journey. From Prison Writings,

Toil, heat, and grief express fundamental conditions of human nature which always make themselves felt as long as one is on one’s journey through life. They are not always so abnormally prevalent as they are today but they are nevertheless an indispensable part of our existence. And only when we fail to go through life in partnership with God do these things get the upper hand, bursting all bounds and overwhelming us with trouble of all kinds.

Can we imagine ourselves in partnership with God? What is it like to have an intimate relationship with one who is capable of great authority and great love?

Paul to Titus: But when God, our kind and loving Savior God, stepped in, God saved us from all that. It was all God’s doing; we had nothing to do with it. God gave us a good bath, and we came out of it new people, washed inside and out by the Holy Spirit.

How might we use these verses in our Lenten journey toward Easter peace?

Michelangelo: Creation of Adam – Detail

More from Delp: I am not concerned here with the material needs of humankind but with our own degeneration, our blunted faculties and spiritual poverty – all the burdens in fact which the kind of existence one leads have introduced into one’s life and which have now become characteristic of one’s nature. Just as there are virtues that can be acquired so also there are faults that result from repetition such as habitual unawareness of individuality, perpetual relinquishment of powers of decision, permanent weakening of the sense of reality, and so on. Faced with these shortcomings we find ourselves under a terrible strain and utterly helpless.

Do we see Delp’s description of his society reflected in our own? Are there any parallels to discern or lessons to learn? What do we do when we feel helpless or under great strain? Whose counsel do we seek? What transformation do we hope to experience?

Delp: One must accept responsibility for the misuse of one’s free will. Being prone to such errors of judgment the only thing one can do is to turn again and again to God praying earnestly that the Holy Spirit may take pity on one’s failings and let the healing current flow freely through one’s life.

Where do we turn when we are overwhelmed by our own shortcomings or those of others? What are the prayers we offer to God? How often do we allow the Spirit’s healing current to flow freely through our lives?

Both Delp and Paul remind us of the great partnership we are offered, and the consequences of this gift.

Paul to Titus: God’s gift has restored our relationship with him and given us back our lives. And there’s more life to come—an eternity of life! You can count on this.

Partnership with God is the eternal transformation we seek. It is the gift we already hold. We are even now beloved children in God’s kingdom of mercy, forgiveness, redemption and love. Let us move forward in our Lenten journey, and forward into the world, transformed in this belief. Let us behave as if we hold these truths in our hearts. And let us be eager to share with others the promise and goodness of God’s love.

Delp, Alfred. Prison Writings. Orbis Books, Maryknoll, NY, 2004. To learn more about Delp, visit: http://www.americamagazine.org/issue/642/article/martyr-nazis  

For more on Michelangelo, the Italian Renaissance, and his paintings in the Sistine Chapel, click: http://www.italianrenaissance.org/a-closer-look-michelangelos-painting-of-the-sistine-chapel-ceiling/ 

Cameron, Peter John. “Meditation of the Day.” MAGNIFICAT. 17.3 (2017): 260-261. Print.  

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Matthew 2:1-12: Do Not Fear – Part XIV

Sunday, January 8, 2017

tissot-the-magi-in-the-house-of-herod-719x596x721

James Tissot: The Magi in the House of Herod

Matthew describes divergent reactions to the news that a new king has come to Judea. Scholars from the east spend time and finances looking for this new leader. King Herod and the city of Jerusalem show us a different response. What is our own reaction to this news?

Magi from the east arrived in Jerusalem, saying, “Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we saw His star in the east and have come to worship Him.”

When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him.

In the Day by Day meditation presented in today’s MAGNIFICAT, Fr. Alfred Delp has more words for us about the magi. They are the men with clear eyes that probe things to their very depths. They have a real hunger and thirst for knowledge. And we might ask . . . what is our own hunger? After what do we thirst?

Delp’s words mean more to us when we remember that he died in a Nazi concentration camp: I know what that means now. They are capable of arriving at right decisions. They subordinate their lives to the end in view and they willingly journey to the ends of the earth in quest of knowledge, following a star, a sign, obeying an inner voice that would never have made itself heard but for the hunger and the intense alertness that hunger produces. And we might ask ourselves . . . are we willing to subordinate our lives to such a quest? Are we willing to give up the familiarity of our fears to follow the star, the sign that Christ wants to move and act in us? Do we genuinely welcome the newness of the Christ child? Are we willing to accept this gift of Epiphany, this revelation, this surprise?

More from Delp: What are we looking for anyway? And where will we find genuine yearning so strong that neither fatigue, nor distance, nor fear of the unknown, nor loneliness, nor ridicule will deter us? And we might ask . . . are we willing to take on these questions each day as we rise, each Noontime as we pause, and each evening as we retire?

Herod responds to this mystery of knowledge, redemption and love with his familiar fears. He flies into a rage and lashes out at this child who represents something new. The magi, on the other hand, tell us how to take in the gift of this child who grows to be a man willing to sacrifice all in order to save us.

bhreligion-science-and-the-journey-of-the-magiThey rejoiced exceedingly with great joy. After coming into the house they saw the Child with Mary His mother; and they fell to the ground and worshiped Him. Opening their treasures, they presented to Him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. And having been warned by God in a dream not to return to Herod, the magi left for their own country by another way.

As we close this Christmastide, we reflect on our willingness to give our fears to the Christ who is able to turn harm into good. As we carry this season of joy into the new year, we consider our openness to the journey of life in Christ, the quest for a food that satisfies for eternity. And we consider our persistence in the pursuit of the star that will lead us to Christ and his surprising offer of eternal peace. This is an Epiphany worth celebrating.

For a homily on spirituality versus religion, and today’s feast as a journey of seeking – our quest for God, and God’s relentless quest for our hearts, click on the image of the Magi and the Holy Family. 

Cameron, Peter John. “Day by Day.” MAGNIFICAT. 8.1 (2017): 115-116. Print.  

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Micah 6: Path to Perfection

Thursday, June 16, 2016Micah6-8

Adapted from a Favorite written on June 16, 2009. Yesterday we considered false prophets and false leaders; today we reflect on who and what and how a true leader is and how her or his leadership impacts the world.

Is this coincidence that here I am on an SSND retreat and for the first time as a Noontime reflection this citation of Micah 6:8 appears?  I do not know.  These words that stand high on the cafeteria wall above the statue of the Blessed Mother regulate the small detains and the big events of our lives at NDP.  They are words that are important to anyone who believes that God is the creator of all good.  They are words to live by.

Micah speaks to those who turn their gaze away from social injustice and in this chapter we hear the Lord ask: My people, how have I offended you?  I who took you out of Egypt and slavery, I who gave to you as guides Moses, Aaron and Miriam, I who saved you from pagan nations, what have I done that you ignore me? 

Today’s Gospel is Matthew 5:43-48 and I am thinking about today’s MAGNIFICAT Meditation by Fr. Alfred Delp, a priest condemned to death in Germany in 1945.  He wrote about the path to perfection which Micah foretells and which Jesus describes.  The essential requirement is that humanity must wake up to the truth about itself.  We must rouse our consciousness to our own worth and dignity, of the divine and human potentialities within ourselves, and at the same time we must master the undisciplined passions and forces which, in our name and by bemusing us with delight in our own ego, have made us what we are . . . Humans want to be happy and it is right that they should.  But by thinking only in terms of self we destroy ourselves for it is a limited concept and has no room for anything stronger than the human order.  Left entirely to themselves humans are unhappy and intrinsically insincere.  We need other people to give us a sense of completeness; we need the community.  We need the world and the duty of serving it.  We need eternity, or rather, we need the eternal, the infinite. 

The people to whom the prophet Micah spoke were not much different from us today in that these were people of means who sought to enjoy the gifts of life.  What they forgot – and what we may also forget if we do not remind ourselves – is this: We are made by God, in God’s image to bring our diverse expressions of God together into one body, the body of Christ.  When troubles assail us, as they always do and are meant to do, we might smile as we step into them, seeing them as opportunities to serve God rather than as obstacles to pleasure.  Life and its turmoil is our playground where we are given the chance to interact justly, wisely and humbly with God guiding and speaking to us constantly . . . telling us how to go and where to go.

This is the mystery we are offered.  It is the mystery we might share for eternity . . . if first we remember to respect good, to love with fidelity, and to obey humbly.  We are not asked to be perfect by God for this is an impossibility; but it is true that God asks us to seek perfection in our search of him, and in our desire to be God’s instrument.  In this way we do become perfect.  If this is our path, the humble, loving and wise path described by Micah, then we cannot misstep.  It is in this kind of journey that we find true, deep and ever-living happiness . . . through our perfect desire to be with and follow God . . . lovingly, justly, wisely, humbly.

Cameron, Peter John, ed. “Meditation of the Day.” MAGNIFICAT. 16.6 (20o9). Print.  

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