Saturday, December 17, 2011


"Human nature is so constituted that it must have something holy that it can worship, otherwise it becomes cramped and distorted and instead of a holy object of veneration something else will take its place. I ought to know for I have just emerged from a murderous dialogue with such a self-appointed object of veneration. These substitute values are far more autocratic and demanding than the living God himself. They have no idea of courtesy or of waiting their turn, or of the blissful encounter, of voluntary persuasion, of gracious appeal. All they know is demand, compulsion, force, threats and liquidation. And woe to anyone who does not conform…

The cliché, the label, the uniform, the slogan, the ‘dominant trend of the masses’—these are our rulers. And pity the man who dares to differ, to proclaim his own thoughts or use his own name.

Prayer is our way to freedom and education in the method of prayer is the most valuable service that can be given to mankind. It makes it possible for the temple and the altar to occupy again their rightful place and for humanity to humble itself and measure its responsibilities in the name of God."

--Father Alfred Delp, S.J., condemned, beaten, imprisoned, and executed by the Nazis for the crime of being a Jesuit


  1. Alfred Delp, servant of God, priest and martyr, pray for us.

    Blessed Teresa of Calcutta, pray for us.

    Christopher Hitchens, rest in peace.

  2. Fr. Luigi Giussani often said that the what mattered most was the position of the heart: and the position that allowed our humanity to discover its destiny is 'sincerity.' I do not know the position of CH's heart, whether he faced these questions of destiny, faith and God with sincerity. but I did observe an admirable consistency and courage. That's a lot. It was at least enough to make us take note of his human adventure.

  3. Yes, Fr. Vincent! It's a lot to be ALIVE. It's a LOT to embark on the human adventure...

    Speaking of which, thank you for your really beautiful reflection in today's Magnificat Advent companion. I was just saying to a friend yesterday that in Verdi's opera, Rigoletto, Gilda (though she dies a martyr) is not a tragic figure, any more than Christ was a tragic figure. It is never tragic to fulfill one's destiny, for lack of a better term. Rigoletto, who operated from self-love (and here, as always, I must take a hard look in the mirror), was tragic...

    Advent blessings, hope and joy to you and your flock...

  4. You amze me. In a good way. Thanks.

  5. The most unique post on the recent death of Hitchen's yet.

    Today, elsewhere I commented: I'm neither quick to smugly judge him nor suddenly laud him as a writer and thinker as numerous Catholics are doing (both). Rather I pray that the mercy I seek from Christ on my death may have been his in those final moments and I reflect on the passage from St. Paul where he interprets Isaiah noting that even those who were not looking for God were found by him.

  6. The case of CH hits close to home, because my 19 year old son, home from college for the Christmas holidays, has adopted the New Atheism with gusto. CH's toxic influence on young minds makes it hard for me to say "rest in peace" with sincerity.

  7. I'll add this, from my FB page:

    The operative point here to me is Fr. Delp's observation that prayer is the highest activity of man. I believe that to be true. Thus the person of prayer interests and compels me in a way the person who is not of prayer, however precious he or she otherwise might be, however much we grieve the passing of any human being, simply can't.

    But what really compels me is the fact that we can pray whether or not we believe in God--because who among us can truly say we do? Mother Teresa in the anguish of her 50-year dark night continued to pray. She continued to pray even though she wasn't sure she believed. She continued to pray even though she yearned with all her being to "feel" Christ and she felt nothing. Fifty years. And that is simply sublime. That gives me inspiration, guidance, instruction, and a companion for my own journey.

    That reminds me that a life of prayer is with every human being, past, present and future; and for every human being, past, present and future...

  8. Heather, the capacity to pray requires that we at least want to believe in God. Blessed Teresa of Calcutta and St. Therese of Lisieux were both afflicted with the experience of unbelief, and thus had a special solidarity with atheists, yet both of them exhibited a strong desire to believe. Thus they were able to pray by a pure act of faith against their experiential unbelief. Was this also the case with Hitchens? I suppose that we'll never know, but there is no evidence of it in the man's public works.

  9. David, after our entire family converted to the CC (I was a Protestant minister), each making their own decision, it was a heart-break when one of our young adult children turned away. Thankfully we have a good relationship but it is still very hard on the soul of a parent. That said, for me to be true to the faith that we have embraced I must hold out for the hope of mercy for every soul; my son and CH both or neither.

    As I remember, I will pray for your son.

    Heather, yes, I agree on that operative point. Just to be clear, I was affirming your post from the beginning. I appreciate the extra, FB, insight.

  10. By the way, I'm painfully aware that my strong negative response to CH, even in view of his tragic death, is a failure of love on my part. In this failure, I, too, must be counted among the enemies of Christ.


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