The Quaking World

From "Advent Of The Heart" by Alfred Delp, 1907-1945

Perhaps what we modern people need most is to be genuinely shaken, so that where life is grounded, we would feel its stability; and where life is unstable and uncertain, immoral and unprincipled, we would know that, also, and endure it. Perhaps that is the ultimate answer to the question of why God has sent us into this time. why he permits this whirlwind to go over the earth, and why he holds us in such a state of chaos and in hopelessness and in darkness, and why there is no end in sight. It is because we have stood here on the earth with a totally false and inauthentic sense of security. So now, God lets the earth resound, and now he shudders it, and then he shakes it, but not to call forth a false anxiety. He does it to teach us one thing again: how to be moved in spirit. Much of what is happening today would not be happening if people were in that state of inner movement and restlessness of heart in which man comes into the presence of God the Lord and gains a clear view of things as they really are. Then man would have let go of much that has thrown all our lives into disorder one way or another and has thrashed and smashed our lives. He would have seen the inner appeals, would have seen the boundaries and could have coordinated the areas of responsibility. Instead, man stood on this earth in a false pathos and a false security, under a deep delusion in which he really believed he could single-handedly fetch stars from heaven; could enkindle eternal lights in the world and avert all danger from himself; that he could banish the night, and intercept and interrupt the internal quaking of the cosmos and manoeuvre and manipulate the whole thing into the conditions standing before us now.

That is the first Advent message: before the end, the world will be set quaking. And only where man does not cling inwardly to false security will his eyes be capable of seeing the Ultimate. Only then will he get down to basics and preserve himself and his life from these pedagogical terrors and horrors into which God the Lord must let the world sink, so that we, as Saint Paul said, will awaken from sleep and see that it is just about time to turn around. It is just about time to change things. It is just about time to say: Fine, it was night, but let the night pass, and let us decide now for day. Let us decide with a determination that comes directly out of these terrifying experiences, out of these lived connections, and that is therefore completely unshakable, even in the midst of

If we want to transform life once more. and if it really ought to become Advent once more (Advent of the homeland, and Advent of hearts. and Advent of our people and Advent of all peoples and, included in all that, the coming of the Lord) then the one great Advent question for us is whether we can come out of these shakings with the resolve: Yes, arise! It is time to awaken from sleep. It is time for an awakening to begin somewhere, and it is time that someone places things again in the order that they were given by God the Lord. Moreover, now it is time for each individual to use every opportunity to guide life into this order now and to do it with the same “unshakeability” with which the Lord will come. Where life heeds your word, you must not misrepresent the message. Where life rebels before your very eyes, you must set it right. These days life lacks people who can come through the final shakings, as well as through these present shakings, with the knowledge and the consciousness: those who are watching for the Lord will not be affected, in the eternal sense, even if they are hunted off the face of the earth.

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