Monday, December 5, 2011

Advent Is a Time to Wake Up

Father Alfred Delp, a German priest who was imprisoned and executed by the Naziis in WW II wrote this from his prison cell.  “Advent is a time for rousing.  Human beings are shaken to the very depths, so that they may wake up to the truth of themselves.  The primary condition for a fruitful and rewarding Advent is renunciation, surrender ... a shattering awakening; that is the necessary preliminary.  Life begins only when the whole framework is shaken.”[1]
Advent can be a time for the framework of our lives to be shaken and stirred.  It can be a time to be roused from sleep into wakefulness.  If nothing in life has awakened us then we have a need to waken ourselves.
            There are several tests out there that offer Christians a chance to show how much they really know about Christmas.  It’s easy to get tripped up and think there were three wise men standing next to the manger, or that the Little Drummer Boy was there, too.  But these tests are challenges of the details of the story, and do not speak to the spirit of it.  Mastery of the facts isn’t what Christmas is about; the Advent season is one where the mystery of God’s love is opened to us as we progress toward Jesus’ birth.  
           That wonderful line of Kierkegaard comes to mind: “It is so much easier to become a Christian when you aren’t one than to become one when you assume you already are.”  Advent is a time to shake loose of all the assumptions we make about Christmas, ourselves, the world, and the Christ child.  When we assume we already are awake and alive to Christ we may discover that our soul has been asleep. 

Grace Always,

[1] Alfred Delp, S.J., The Prison Meditations of Father Delp, 1960 MacMillan, p. 40.

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