Perhaps what we modern people need most is to be genuinely shaken, so that when 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, 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 maneuver 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.
--Fr. Alfred Delp, S.J.
This is meditation for the first Sunday of Advent in Magnificat. I don't understand all of it but I'm really struck by the idea that God is shaking the world even as man believes he has control of it. The words meant more when I realized, checking their source, that they were written during World War II, possibly while Fr. Delp was a prisoner of the Nazis, soon to be executed.
I've seen Fr. Delp's name in Magnificat before, but nowhere else that I can remember, and I didn't know that he was active in resistance to the Nazis. which I guess makes him a martyr. There's more information at Wikipedia. The words above are taken from a collection of his writings called Advent of the Heart, which I think I want to read.
I hope Our Lady would take the title of this post in the affectionate tone in which I first heard it, which was from the lips of a college teacher in reference to his own wife's gravid condition. She was within earshot, if I remember correctly, and seemed to be more amused than not.
This painting is on the cover of this month's Magnificat, and I found it startling. I don't think I've seen another picture of the pregnant Mary that's quite so...pregnant. And I think it's good to be reminded of the elemental physicality of her condition, which sometimes gets missed in the devout respect shown to her, and especially as it would have been two days before the Birth. I would hope the homely comparison would have amused her as it did my teacher's wife (I think).
It occurs to me that many people today may not have seen a washtub. Here's one in operation (picture lifted from an interesting-looking blog called Old Picture of the Day:
A few nights ago I was looking for Advent music to post this weekend. I came across this hymn, which I hadn't heard before. I played it once, only half-listening, shrugged, and then ran out time for looking without finding anything better, so ended up not posting anything. But we sang this today at Mass, and by the third verse I was thinking "Actually, this is great."
Finally, something a bit more seasonally appropriate. Not Advent-specific, obviously, but at least on the general subject. My friend Robert has been praising a collection of Christmas songs by Kathleen Battle, and it was while listening to one of them that I ran across this. Even though Christmas is only three days away, I decided to post this instead.
The Christmas album, by the way, seems very good on the basis of the selections I heard. In general I tend not to like classical singers in non-classical material--the singers tend to overpower the songs. But these performances seem to be like the Ave Maria, very restrained and pure. It's called A Christmas Celebration.
This is a catchy, slightly noisy pop song (using "pop" in the broad sense, without trying to pin it to any of the myriad sub-genres of pop/rock--emo? post-punk? whatever). It was a free download from eMusic quite a while back, like maybe eight years or so. I liked it but never investigated the group further. I happened across it the other day and it struck me as appropriate for (almost) Advent.
Instead of attempting to free ourselves from the things of the senses, or abstracting from them, we should try to probe deeper into them; not stopping at their external appearance, which changes, but seeking what is hidden deep in their substance; their being, in a word. For God is Being. And thus we shall find him beneath the veil of the senses.
This is the meaning of the Incarnation. God became tangible, in order to teach us to find him in all that we touch and see and feel; for we are necessarily bound to the senses in this life. Jesus did not do away with these external contacts; what he taught us is not to stop at them.
I heard this song used in an Advent context somewhere recently, and looked for it on YouTube, but didn't find it. So I'm trying something new: uploading my own copy. TypePad has an audio feature which I've never used before. There's a little play/pause control on the left side of the panel above, or should be, which appears when you roll the mouse over it. This is illegal, so I will probably take it down after a week or two. May I suggest that if you like it you purchase the album? which, as I never tire of saying, is my favorite single Christmas album.