New Year’s Eve 1944

With the Feast Day of St. Ignatius Loyola around the bend, I think it is fitting to share some of Delp’s prison writings that convey the marks of Jesuit spirituality. In the latter part of imagesa letter that was written to a friend on the last day of 1944, one find the marks of indifference, self-surrender, and mission. 

Berlin-Tegel Prison, New Year’s Eve 1944

Outwardly they [Delp’s situation] have never been worse. This is the first New Year I have ever approached without so much as a crust of a bread to my name. I have absolutely nothing I can call my own. The only gesture of goodwill I have encountered is that the guard has fastened my handcuffs so loosely that I can slip my left hand out entirely. The handcuffs hang from my right wrist so at least I am able to write. But I have to keep alert with one ear as it were glued to the door–heaven help me if they should catch me at work!

And undeniably I find myself in the very shadow of the scaffold. Unless I can disprove the accusations on every point I shall most certainly hang. The chances of this happening have never really seriously occupied my thoughts for long although naturally there have been moments of depression–handcuffs after all are a symbol of candidature for execution. I am in the power of the law which, in times like the present, is not to be taken lightly…

Delp (1)On this altar much has been consumed by fire and much has been melted and become pliable. It has been one of God’s blessing, and one of the signs of his indwelling grace, that I have been so wonderfully helped in keeping my vows. He will, I am confident, extend his blessing to my outward existence as soon as I am ready for the next mission with which he wishes to entrust me. From this outward activity and intensified inner light, new passion will be born to give witness for the living God, for I have truly learned how to know him in these days of trial and to feel his healing presence. “God alone suffices” is literally and absolutely true. And I must have a passionate belief in my mission to humanity, showing the way to a fuller life and encouraging the willing capacity for it. These things I will do wholeheartedly–in nomine Domini. 

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