Waking Up to Ourselves

“The deepest meaning of Advent cannot be understood by anyone who has not first experienced being terrified unto death about himself and his human prospects and likewise what is revealed within himself about the situation and the constitution of mankind in general.

The entire message about God’s coming, about the Day of Salvation, about redemption drawing near, will be merely divine game-playing or sentimental lyricism unless it is grounded upon two clear findings of fact.

The first finding: insight into, and alarm over, the powerlessness and futility of human life in relation to its ultimate meaning and fulfillment. That powerless and futility are both boundaries of our existence and are also consequences of sin. At the same time we are keenly aware that life does have an ultimate meaning and fulfillment.

The second finding: the promise of God to be on our side, to come to meet us. God resolved to raise the boundaries of our existence and to overcome the consequences of sin.

However, as a result, the basic condition of life always has an Advent dimension: boundaries, and hunger, and thirst, and lack of fulfillment, and promise, and movement toward one another. That means, however, that we basically remain without shelter, under way, and open until the final encounter, with all the humble blessedness and painful pleasure of this openness.

Therefore there is no interim finality, and the attempt to create final conclusions is an old temptation of mankind. Hunger and thirst, and desert journeying, and the survival teamwork of mountaineers on a rope – these are the truth of our human condition. The promises given to this truth though, and we can and should rely upon them. The truth will make you free (John 8:32).

The truth is the essential theme of life. Everything else is only expression, result, application, consequence, testing, and practice. May God help us to wake up to ourselves and in doing so, to move from ourselves toward Him.”

Father Alfred Delp, S.J.


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