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Advent of the Heart: Seasonal Sermons and Prison Writings, 1941-1944 Paperback – October 1, 2006

4.9 out of 5 stars 8 customer reviews

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About the Author

Delp was a German Jesuit executed by the Nazis for anti-Hitler activities. During his months in prison he composed a series of books.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Ignatius Press (October 1, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1586170813
  • ISBN-13: 978-1586170813
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.8 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #747,383 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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By Stephen M. Beall on July 19, 2007
Format: Paperback
'Advent is a time of being deeply shaken, so that man will wake up to himself.' This is the message of Father Alfred Delp, a German Jesuit who perished in a Nazi prison shortly before the end of World War II. Readers of this book are bound to be shaken up themselves, when they recognize the courage of the man and the relevance of his teaching.

For English speakers, this will be the first introduction to the sermons of Father Delp, who preached in Munich parishes from 1941 until his arrest in 1944 for membership in an anti-Nazi circle. The book combines some of his Advent sermons with meditations that he scribbled while handcuffed in his prison cell. The arrangement of the texts adds to their power, as we see the insights of the preacher tested in the crucible of torture and imprisonment.

Sixty years later, Delp's reflections do not seem quaint or old-fashioned. His main theme is the power of Absolute Love to overcome the ideologies, technologies, and fashions that oppose it. Advent is an annual invitation to repentance in the deepest sense: the recognition of one's sinfulness, weakness, and dependence on God. The reader will be struck, however, by the optimism and 'humanity' of Delp's sermons, and especially of his prison writings. His faith in divine and human love remained unshakable, even when he was in the clutches of the Gestapo.

As a preacher, Delp remained close to the words of the day's Liturgy, and so the book includes the Latin and English texts of the Mass for each of the four Advent Sundays. Helpful footnotes unpack his references to forgotten catechesis (e.g., the 'four last things') and his indirect attacks on the Nazi regime.
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Jesuit Father Alfred Delp is a martyr to truth because he stood up to Hitler and the Nazi party. Not only was Delp a hero, but also those in his congregation who took notes and transcribed his homilies to be distributed around Nazi Germany and to the world. This preceded the Soviet dissident period of the 1960s through the1980s when people challenged the Soviet leadership’s dictatorial government in "samizdat" or, self-published, clandestine, writings smuggled out of the USSR.
I found the Chronology prepared by the translator contrasting Father Delp's life of sanctity with the rise of Hitler to totalitarian power very interesting. It is quite striking because it also shows the parallels in the rise of another relatively unknown, a politician eight decades later, into the heady heights of power.
It's well worth reading.
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I've read thru a couple Advents with Fr Delps writings as inspiration. I especially enjoyed his writings as related to the pre-councilliar missal. For me and the Church, Latin remains the language of the liturgy. And, that really comes thru in how Fr Delp relates the coming of Christ, his persecuation and coming martyrdom with Hope and Faith. Extraordinary holy man.
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It is a little depressing, but really takes you back to that era and what was happening in Germany and the extent that the government went to suppress religious expression.
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