The faith of the martyrs has always been an inspiration to me. Throughout history, men and women of all ages and states in life have laid down their lives in defense of the Church and Truth. Their executions have seldom been merciful. Rather, their deaths were calculated to inflict the greatest pain, humiliation, and terror. Miraculously, the opposite has happened. These gruesome executions occur even to this day around the World.
My love of 20th century spy craft led me to pick up the book Church of Spies
this summer. It’s a historical account of the subversion of the Third Reich by Pope Pius XII and the German underground. There were several groups operating in German territory seeking the overthrow of Adolf Hiter. The most audacious of them all was actually led by faithful Catholics. The July 20th plot, among others, was organized by this Catholic underground. Pope Pius XII lend his support to their effort. He pledged to help the post-Hitler German government negotiate a just peace treaty. The Catholic Resistance wanted so much more than a government sans-Hitler. They wanted to create a just society and pan-European peace. Many of their ideas, and survivors, helped to forge the European Union. Their hope was that by tying the economies of Europe closely together, they could prevent war.
The resistance had an impressive roster. Their members included the senior leadership of army intelligence and religious houses within Germany. These brave souls risked their lives, and those of their families, to show the world that a “Decent Germany” existed. Many paid the ultimate price in the closing days of the war. Their executioners faced justice at Nuremberg for their war crimes. I found that even reading the descriptions of their deaths was revolting.
One of those plotters who was executed in 1945 was a Jesuit priest named Fr. Alfred Delp. Fr. Delp lent considerable aid to the resistance. He mentored the members as they sought to forge a new government. I came across one of his letters in the October edition of Magnificat. I thought it was so apt for the time that we are living in.
Fr. Delp wrote that we are “incapable of living fully because we have not found divine freedom.” He Catholics to put their faith and the Gospel into action, and only then could they be free.
Pope Francis reminds us of this calling, but I think it’s important to go a step further. We've started to place more faith in politicians and government than in God’s Providence. Presidential candidates serve as our new saviors. Despite this grave error, God wants us back. As Fr. Delp wrote, He is always waiting for us, knocking on the door, and finding creative ways to call us back to true freedom.
There is Truth, God exists, and evil is all too real. Push back the darkness with the light of Christ that you carry within you, stand up for what is right, and answer that knock on the door.
Where divine freedom is concerned, there is no question of bargaining, of exchanging one set of chains for another as in the case in human affairs. With God the only way to complete freemen is complete surrender. - Fr. Alfred Delp, S.J