Monday, December 17, 2012

A Harsh Christmas - A reflection from Alfred Delp, S.J.

"This year the temptations toward a picturesque Christmas are probably reduced."
The harshness and coldness of life have hit us with a previously unimaginable force. Some of us, whose homes cannot even offer the cold shelter of the stable in Bethlehem anymore, perhaps begin to forget the picturesque little ox and little donkey and to approach the quesiton of what Christmas is really all about. Is the world more beautiful and life healthier because of that first Christmas? Because the angels finally and publicly sang their Gloria? Because the shepherds awestruck, ran and adored? Because King Herod panicked and murdered little children?

Release of tension (whether through avoidance, indifference, resignation, insensitivity, physical atrophy, destruction of the metaphysical nerves, overexertion,or weariness with life) is one of the deadly wounds from which modern man is bleeding to death. Eliminating the tension that strained one to the last nerve may have seemed life a relief at first, like liberation from an uncomfortable burden. Yet over time, one cannot avoid recognizing that these burdens are among the fixed conditions and prerequisites of life. - Alfred Delp, Letters
Title and quotes taken from A Spacious Place, by Christopher Page, 2 December 2010.  Rev. Page wrote:
If we are to truly live, we need to be willing to hold the tension of the fact that things are not always as we might hope they would be. Life is often painful, difficult, and messy. “These burdens are among the fixed conditions and prerequisites of life.” We can rail against them, fight with all our might to make the world different than we know it is, or we can accept the realities of life as they present themselves and live from that place of honesty, openness and surrender.

Like Father Delp in Germany in 1944, many people in the world today can only anticipate a harsh Christmas. It is important, particularly for those of us for whom Christmas may be less of a struggle, to hold tenderly the reality of suffering that this season embodies for so many. - Christopher Page


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