December 2013/January 2014 - Vol. 71
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Aim at Heaven with All 
Your Strength

Excerpted from Alfred Delp's prison 
meditation on the Lord's Prayer

The God of life is a personal God and only when man enters into the dialogue with him does he begin to realize his dreams. In this conversation he learns the fundamental principles of his being-adoration, veneration, love, trust. Anything undertaken on a plane lower than this dialogue, no matter how much zeal and sincerity and devotion go into it, is in the end incomplete. Adoration is the road that leads man to himself. 

The realm of the personal God is heaven, that is to say it is the sum-total of all that man considers to be his life's greatest happiness. Fulfillment and more. It is not primarily a place or a period of time or anything like that. It is fundamentally God himself - a conscious union with him. Anyone who has achieved that union is in heaven. It is a union that uproots all our limitations and destroys our previous habits if we are fortunate enough to begin to experience it here on earth. The records of the world's great mystics that have come down to us witness this. But for most of us the breaking up of our present form of our existence, that is our death, is the usual gateway to God. On that plane things merge into each other; the things a man loves or longs for, happiness, joy, heaven, and the things he reverently praises, God and his fullness are brought to one focus.

Love of heavenly things is something the Church often prays for as the summit of grace and fulfillment. It is important to throw a bridge across to fulfillment, to the future, to that which is hoped for not only as far as the desires of our nature go but also 8S far as our attitude and conscious effort are concerned. 

We must aim at heaven with all our strength. Man will have to re-learn, much more positively and intensively than before, that life leads from the personal dialogue with God to the actual personal encounter and the experience of unity with God. He will have to learn that this is his heaven and his real, his only, home. Then he will learn to pray, not merely as a duty and in obedience, but with intense vitality and with all the driving force of his own free will.

Go to next meditation > I Must Take the Other Road



Return to Joy in the Face of Death - Alfred Delp S.J., by Jeanne Kun, with excerpts from the book, Even Unto Death: Wisdom from Modern Martyrs, edited by Jeanne Kun, The Word Among Us Press, © 2002. All rights reserved. Used with permission. The book can be ordered from WAU Press.


A selection of meditations from prison 
written by Alfred Delp 


> The People of Advent
> True Happiness
> God Alone Suffices
> The name Jesus
> No Death Can Kill Us
> Aim at Heaven with All your Strength
> I Must Take the Other Road


Alfred Delp was a German member of the Society of Jesus, who was executed for his resistance to the Nazi regime.

Alfred Delp was born in Mannheim, Germany, to a Catholic mother and a Protestant father. Although baptized Catholic, he was raised and confirmed a Lutheran. At the age of 14 he left the Lutheran church and was confirmed as a Roman Catholic. In his later life Delp was a fervent promoter of better relations between the churches.

Delp joined the Jesuits in 1926. In the next 10 years he continued his studies and worked with German youth, made more difficult after 1933 with the interference of the Nazi regime. Delp was ordained in 1937.
Unable for political reasons to continue his studies, Delp worked on the editorial staff of the Jesuit publication Stimmen der Zeit (Voice of the Times), until it was suppressed in 1941. He then was assigned as rector of St. Georg Church in Munich. Delp secretly used his position to help Jews escape to Switzerland.

Concerned with the future of Germany, Delp joined the Kreisau Circle, a group that worked to design a new social order. He was arrested with other members of the circle after the attempted assassination of Hitler in 1944. After suffering brutal treatment and torture, Delp was brought to trial. While he knew nothing of the attempted assassination, the Gestapo decided to hang him for high treason.

Delp was offered his freedom if he would renounce the Jesuits. He refused and was hanged February 2, 1945. His body was cremated and his ashes spread on an unknown field.

While his physical remains disappeared, Alfred Delp left behind letters smuggled out of prison. They reveal a man of courage who told the prison chaplain accompanying him to his death, In half an hour, Ill know more than you do.

[biographical source: IgnatianSpirituality.com]


[Selection from The Prison Meditations of Father Alfred Delp, with an Introduction by Thomas Merton (New York: Herder and Herder, 1963)] 
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