In the Womb of the Virgin Mary Formed by the Holy Spirit [Part I]

This post continues Alfred Delp’s meditation on the Litany of the Heart of Jesus. This section of the meditation is titled: Heart of Jesus in the Womb of the Virgin Mary Formed by the Holy Spirit. I offer you the first half of the section.

[translated from Alfred Delp: Gesammelte Schriften IV: Aus dem Gefängnis]


Berlin-Tegel Prison, November 1944

Heart of Jesus in the Womb of the Virgin Mary formed by the Holy Spirit.

The devotion to the Heart of Jesus is a unique intertwinement of earthly historical development and heavenly endowment and guidance.  One can know people by name, in whose life and with the date and hour often the historical moment, when the odd moment of this prayer was kindled as the light of God.

And yet its unfolding and its sudden blossoming do not rest as unrelated and unbeknownst event in the space of history. Others have exactly said the same thing—who here see the recapitulation/repetition of historical spiritual events—conversion and redemption.

MaryI have already said this. Yet I gladly repeat this thought, and will often in the individual invocations return to it, because, precisely, here, the message and its history mutually corroborate each other: that between heaven and earth there is no great chaos and, also, no great silence or a sort of generous neutrality, but rather, that living relationship, which goes back and forth—from this truth prayer, adoration, and religion live, and I have utterly and completely lived from it during the last few weeks. And it should remain that way.

I have already said this: that the first invocation describes the “theological location” of the prayer. Especially in this prayer, which recalls the great heights to which the human heart is capable of, one must also think of the kitschy degeneration that the human heart can fall, if left to itself.

As you know, it is a fateful question for the value and the height of a life as well as a spiritual reality, whether they can set the hearts of humanity in motion, whether this driving force is inherent in them, which calls the heart, whether they expose one to impetuous excitement, whether they raise, enable, and compel the hearts of humanity to greater and holier passions, where the Spirit glows and breaks down closed barriers and limits.

Whether they finally evoke a movement, which despite all the voraciousness, remain a glowing Spirit and spiritual glow; in other words: a glowing form, a glowing measure, a glowing clarity and order—initially and above all else, a burning and flaming passion, yet in the existing law and hierarchy of value.

This is the point here. Time will tell whether the inner motives of the devotion to the Heart of Jesus can move people in unheard of ways beyond themselves. The motives repeatedly confront people with the things, facts, and orders of reality, and to invite people to make honest and objective decisions.

The heart should sing and swing, but it should sing and swing in a real melody. A holy self-indulgence is worst. It is difficult, to an extent, to cure the one who consistently would like to have control…

The invocation itself continues the theological revelation of the “object” or the “subject” of the devotion to the Heart of Jesus. The “you” to whom the praying “I” in this prayer should enter into a unique relationship is identified more closely. It is not just about solely the “you”, who is the divine Person. It is about, at the same time, about the “you”, in which heaven and earth, divine grandeur and earthly limits all meet in one life.

This initially encourages the praying person into a contemplative encounter with the most intimate and trusted secrets of our faith—the womb of the Virgin Mary formed by the Holy Spirit…

He himself will be surrounded by the warm atmosphere of the heartfelt intimacy, which has from the very start defined Christian understanding of the relationship between God and the world. And this is the way it has remained.

He will, at the same time, marvel over and over to encounter the genteelness of God before the freedom of humankind. And this often forgotten law: whichever creature the Lord touches, He will lead it to its own perfection and fulfillment and at the same time beyond itself. He does not destroy the addressed “you”, but, instead, forms it into a more intensive and complete “I” than it could have ever become on its own.

While the other person, who inclines to assert himself and actualizes his own will, goes into and shuts himself, he sits in a small and cramp world, and has no clue about the great and vast wonders [of the world].

to be continued…

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