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Ave Maria Meditations

On this memorial of the Martyr Saints Perpetua and Felicity, here are thoughts from a more recent martyr:

“Condemned to death…” Priest Memoir from Nazi Camp 

Condemned to death. The thought refuses to penetrate; it almost needs force to drive it home. The thing that makes this kind of death so singular is that one feels so vibrantly alive with the will to live unbroken and every nerve tingling with life. A malevolent external force is the only thing that can end it…

Up to now the Lord has helped me wonderfully. I am not yet scared and not yet beaten. The hour of human weakness will no doubt come, and sometimes I am depressed when I think of all the things I hoped to do. But I am now a man internally free and far more genuine and realized that I was before. Only now have I sufficient insight to see the thing as a whole…

All these long months of misfortune fit into some special pattern. From the first I was so sure everything would turn out well. God always strengthened me in that conviction. These last few days I have doubted and wondered whether my will to live has been sublimated into religious delusions or something like that. Yet all these unmistakable moments of exaltation in the midst of misery; my confidence and unshakable faith even when I was being beaten up, the certain “in spite of it all” that kept my spirits up and made me so sure that they would not succeed in destroying me; those consolations in prayer and in the Blessed Sacrament, the moments of grace; the signs I prayed for that were vouchsafed again and again–must I put them all away from me now?…

But one thing is gradually becoming clear–I must surrender myself completely. This is seed-time, not harvest. God sows the seed, and some time or other he will do the reaping. The one thing I must do is to make sure the seed falls on fertile ground. And I must arm myself against the pain and depression that sometimes almost defeat me. If this is the way God has chosen–and everything indicates that it is–then I must willingly and without rancor make it my way.

+Father Alfred Delp, S.J. ( a German Jesuit priest condemned to death by the Nazis in Berlin, Germany)


Sr. JosephMary f.t.i.

Author Sr. JosephMary f.t.i.

Our Lady found this unworthy lukewarm person and obtained for her the grace to enter the Third Order of the Franciscans of the Immaculate. May this person spend all eternity in showing her gratitude.

More posts by Sr. JosephMary f.t.i.

Join the discussion 5 Comments

  • Alex Benedictus says:

    Impressive! I have already read some other reportings of other peoples who were in concentration camps and their reportings (relatos) are very similar. Of course, the reportings of those ones who were Catholics are much more enlightening, but all of then tell us about thinking/reconsideration of the past and the thinking of death. Sometimes just the suffering and the closeness to death is able to divest (despojar) people of their arrogance and cruelty. I’m not say that is the case of that venerable priest, but can be for many people. I’m saying that because one time ago I have read a letter of a woman who was in a concentration camp and she said that she was very soberb and had many moral defects and the suffering undergone in the camps force her to repent of her sins. But I also know each one can respond in many different ways.

  • Alex Benedictus says:

    Dear Friars, have you heard about Cardeal Nguyen Van Thuan? He was a prelate who had lived for many years in a jail because of religious persecution. He wrote very interesting things about abandonment too. In Portuguese, there is a best seller of him whose title is “Cinco Pães e Dois Peixes” (Five Loaves of Bread and two fishes). I don’t know if that book has already been translated to English.

  • Sr. JosephMary f.t.i. says:

    Yes, I think this Cardinal may well one day be canonized.
    Ave Maria!

  • FI Griswold says:

    Ave Maria!

    Alex, yes, Cardinal Van Thuan’s book is in English. From what I remember it reads like the Imitation of Christ. Cardinal is well known among Vietnamese-Americans, especially Vietnamese-American friars! Ave Maria!

  • Alex Benedictus says:

    Father, thank your for your answer! I’m seeing it just now. Ave Maria!

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