Advent is the time of promise; it is not yet the time of fulfillment. We are still in the midst of everything and in the logical inexorability and relentlessness of destiny.
To eyes that do not see, it still seems as though the final dice are being cast down here in these valleys, on these battlefields, in these camps and prisons and bomb shelters. Those who are awake sense the working of the other powers and can await the coming of their hour.
Space is still filled with the noise of destruction and annihilation, the shouts of self-assurance and arrogance, the weeping of despair and helplessness. But round about the horizon the eternal realities stand silent in their age-old longing.
There shines on them already the first mild light of the radiant fulfillment to come. From afar sound the first notes as of pipes and voices, not yet discernible as a song or melody. It is all far off still, and only just announced and foretold. But it is happening, today.
Alfred Delp wrote this in a Nazi prison shortly before he was hanged for “treason.” It appears in Watch for the Light: Readings for Advent and Christmas (Orbis Books, 2004).