Blessed Franz Jaegerstaetter: The German Martyr Who Chose Christ Over Hitler

Blessed Franz Jaegerstaetter: The German Martyr Who Chose Christ Over Hitler

On June 1, 2007, Pope Benedict XVI approved a decree of martyrdom from the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, concerning the heroic death of Bl. Franz Jägerstätter, a devoted husband and father of three young daughters who was beheaded on August 9, 1943, for refusing to enlist in the German army. He persisted in his conscientious objection despite pleas from his parish priest, bishop, friends and neighbors to not do so. Bl. Jägerstätter explained his reason, "Everyone tells me, of course, that I should not do what I am doing because of the danger of death. I believe it is better to sacrifice one’s life right away than to place oneself in the grave danger of committing sin and then dying."

Thomas Merton’s essay "An Enemy of the State" includes this meditation from Bl. Franz Jägerstätter in which he elaborates on his decision not to fight:

"The situation in which we Christians of Germany find ourselves today is much more bewildering than that faced by the Christians of the early centuries at the time of their bloodiest persecution … We are not dealing with a small matter, but the great (apocalyptic) life and death struggle has already begun. Yet in the midst of it there are many who still go on living their lives as though nothing had changed … That we Catholics must make ourselves told of the worst and most dangerous anti-Christian power that has ever existed is something that I cannot and never will believe … Many actually believe quite simply that things have to be the way they are. If this should happen to mean that they are obliged to commit injustice, then they believe that others are responsible. … I am convinced that it is still best that I speak the truth even though it costs me my life. For you will not find it written in any of the commandments of God or of the Church that a man is obliged under pain of sin to take an oath committing him to obey whatever might be commanded him by his secular ruler. We need no rifles or pistols for our battle, but instead spiritual weapons, - and the foremost of these is prayer."

Wed, 06/07/2017 - 10:40
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