– By Alfred Delp. Excerpted from Alfred Delp’s prison meditation on the Lord’s Prayer.

The God of life is a personal God and only when man enters into the dialogue with him does he begin to realize his dreams. In this conversation he learns the fundamental principles of his being-adoration, veneration, love, trust. Anything undertaken on a plane lower than this dialogue, no matter how much zeal and sincerity and devotion go into it, is in the end incomplete. Adoration is the road that leads man to himself.

The realm of the personal God is heaven, that is to say it is the sum-total of all that man considers to be his life’s greatest happiness. Fulfillment and more. It is not primarily a place or a period of time or anything like that. It is fundamentally God himself – a conscious union with him. Anyone who has achieved that union is in heaven. It is a union that uproots all our limitations and destroys our previous habits if we are fortunate enough to begin to experience it here on earth. The records of the world’s great mystics that have come down to us witness this. But for most of us the breaking up of our present form of our existence, that is our death, is the usual gateway to God. On that plane things merge into each other; the things a man loves or longs for, happiness, joy, heaven, and the things he reverently praises, God and his fullness are brought to one focus.

Love of heavenly things is something the Church often prays for as the summit of grace and fulfillment. It is important to throw a bridge across to fulfillment, to the future, to that which is hoped for not only as far as the desires of our nature go but also 8S far as our attitude and conscious effort are concerned.

We must aim at heaven with all our strength. Man will have to re-learn, much more positively and intensively than before, that life leads from the personal dialogue with God to the actual personal encounter and the experience of unity with God. He will have to learn that this is his heaven and his real, his only, home. Then he will learn to pray, not merely as a duty and in obedience, but with intense vitality and with all the driving force of his own free will.

From The Prison Meditations of Father Alfred Delp, first published in German as Im Angesicht des Todes by Verlag Josef Knechr, Carolusdruckerei, Frankfurt am Main,1958. First English edition © 1962 by Bloomsbury Publishing Co. Ltd. (New York: Herder and Herder,1963).