Alfred Delp Advent of the HeartIf you are looking for spiritual reading for Advent, but dare I say, for life, I would recommend a book by Jesuit Father Alfred Delp, Advent of the Heart: Season Sermons and Prison Writings, 1941-1944 (Ignatius Press, 2006).

Spiritual reading expands the mind and the heart; it challenges our sense of complacency and comfort; spiritual reading pushes back the boundaries of ignorance.

Born in 1907, Alfred Delp was a baptized Catholic and raised in the Lutheran community until he was 14 when he reverted to the practice of Catholic faith. He joined the Society of Jesus in 1926 and ordained a priest in 1937. The Society missioned Delp to work as an editor and then as a pastor of souls.

Father Delp was an outspoken critic of the Nazi regime and a leader in the Resistance movement. The powers that be accused Delp of conspiring against the Nazi party –he was tortured, imprisoned, and executed on February 2, 1945.

Advent of the Heart contains some his meditations from prison during the Advent season as well as his sermons he gave on the season of Advent at his parish in Munich.

The publisher writes,

His [Delp’s] approach to Advent, the season that prepares us for Christmas, is what Fr. Delp called an “Advent of the heart.” More than just preparing us for Christmas, it is a spiritual program, a way of life. He proclaimed that our personal, social and historical circumstances, even suffering, offer us entry into the true Advent, our personal journey toward a meeting and dialogue with God. Indeed, his own life, and great sufferings, illustrated the true Advent he preached and wrote about.

 From his very prison cell he presented a timeless spiritual message, and in an extreme situation, his deep faith gave him the courage to draw closer to God, and to witness to the truth even at the cost of his own life. These meditations will challenge and inspire all Christians to embark upon that same spiritual journey toward union with God, a journey that will transform our lives.