Thursday, December 12, 2013

God-conscious humanism

It's not easy to find small, "quotable", excerpts which will draw one into Fr. Delp’s incredible insights. His writing is dense. He covers a lot of areas: what’s wrong with the world, what’s wrong with the Church, ideas for how educate and how to shape history.

He’s writing in an extreme situation: facing his own execution. He has no idea if anyone will ever find or read what he is writing. Yet he writes with an intensity and honesty as if his life depended on it.

I find myself having to dig into him, listen closely, read slowly and reflect on almost everything. He's very deep and saying things that can only be heard in deep places.

Always, his vision is God-centered.

“Every meditation on humanism is historically handicapped at the outset. There has already been a humanism -- in fact there have been several. And unless the humanism of the future succeeds in cutting itself off completely from its predecessors it is hardly likely to inspire confidence. And quite rightly. But it is not easy to establish that we are dealing with true humanism and at the same time overcome, or rather transform, the versions that have gone before.

“The essential requirement is that man must wake up to the truth about himself. He must rouse his consciousness of this own worth and dignity, of the divine and human potentialities within himself and at the same time he must master the undisciplined passions and forces which, in his name and by bemusing him with delight in his own ego, have made him what he is. this is not a disparagement of passions. Woe to the man who tries to live without any -- that is the way to disintegration. Man must take himself as he is with all the undercurrents and the fire of his nature. But the destructive element in passions, the element which knows neither limit nor restraint, must be brought under control or it will tear man to pieces and destroy him. Man’s passionate preoccupation with self must be subordinated; he must retain all the strength and fire of devoted human love but without the blindness, the irresponsibility, the lack of instinct that makes it destructive.

“Man wants to be happy and it is right that he should. But by thinking only in terms of self man destroys himself for it is a limited concept and has no room for anything stronger than the human order. Left entirely to himself man is unhappy and intrinsically insincere. He needs other people to give him a sense of completeness; he needs the community. He needs the world and the duty of serving it. He needs eternity, or rather he needs the eternal, the infinite. And there we come to the new, God-conscious humanism.” (pp. 103-104)
- Fr. Alfred Delp SJ, “The Prison Meditations of Father Alfred Delp”, 1963 Herder and Herder New York
See also: The Prison Meditations of Father Delp

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