Sunday, December 22, 2013

life remains an inscrutable mystery

"The threads of which life is made up are too intricately interwoven for man to be able to separate them.  Its burdens  and its rewards are such that man, left to his own resources, can neither bear nor understand.  When, after untold labour, he thinks he has reached the ultimate it always proves to be the penultimate; and so it goes on, always new signs, new missions, new information, new questions, new tasks.  Hence despite the mot vigilant care and all human endeavor, despite alertness and willingness, life remains an inscrutable mystery and often a disquieting one at that."  (pp. 54-55)
- 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

5 comments:

  1. I've gone over the Delp postings, and my impression of Delp is summed up in his words, that "life remains an inscrutable mystery...disquieting...." Wendell Berry, in Harlan Hubbard: Life and Work, writes about Hubbard's physical and emotional struggles and, at length, points to Hubbard's "principal motive" in his art, to preserve "the world's radiant beauty...it's blessedness or sanctity...make it visible to others." And in de Botton's and Armstrong's book, Art as Therapy, p. 212, the authors emphasize the importance of art as a way of helping us who lack hope--my thinking is that Hubbard, in his life and art, offer hope. de Botton and Armstrong go on to say that "Art should not berate us for our failings in the forlorn belief that self-disgust will lead us to goodness." Delp's words seem berating, less about hope; I agree with him that life is tough and complex. My last thought, which I add to this jumbled comment, is that Fr Richard Rohr writes about hope, acknowledging the wonderful mystery, and leads us away from the disquiet. With hope, I believe, we can be open to love.

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    1. Hang on, James … I think that Delp get there (sort of) in his Xmas writings. (Almost everyone I know gets RRohr's daily emails of hope these days.) I appreciate your comments. I still struggle with Delp. There is such an urgency and bite to his writing that he can come across as an evangelical preacher (REPENT!) … and I edit out a lot of that because it's too off-putting to me. Still, I think there is a treasure underneath that outward form of his personal situation and style. He didn't have the luxury of art, as did Berry or Hubbard or Merton.

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  2. Indeed, I'll hang on! I Maybe more than hope Fr Rohr provides a translation of what I learned growing up as a Catholic, through religious studies as a child and later in a Catholic university. Being able to understand helps--Rohr's words help. Delp's writing helps me understand his position of being locked up, our position of being locked up. In regard to luxury of art, that's what it seems like it has become. Maybe Hubbard is saying less about art as luxury, more about art as a gift of mindfulness. I think Hubbard implies his art is a springboard to mindfulness of our world and mindfulness of his imagination.

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    1. You didn't by chance go to the University of Dayton? (I studied there in the early 1970s)

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    2. Gannon College in the 60's, now U., in Erie, Pa.

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Pharisaism

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