Wednesday, April 08, 2015

Following one's conscience - even when you are the only one doing so - there's a saint for that.

Blessed Franz Jägerstätter, husband, dad, martyr.

What did Franz do?  He went against the State, the clergy, and popular opinion.  On August 9th, 1943, Jägerstätter was executed in Berlin as a conscientious objector to the Nazi army.

“A human being must always obey the certain judgment of his conscience. If he were deliberately to act against it, he would condemn himself.” - CCC

Franz Jägerstätter was born on 20 May 1907 in St Radegund, Upper Austria, to his unmarried mother, Rosalia Huber, and to Franz Bachmeier, who was killed during World War I. After the death of his natural father, Rosalia married Heinrich Jägerstätter, who adopted Franz and gave the boy his surname of Jägerstätter in 1917. 
Franz received a basic education in his village's one-room schoolhouse. His step-grandfather helped with his education and the boy became an avid reader. 
It seems Franz was unruly in his younger years; he was, in fact, the first in his village to own a motorcycle. However, he is better known as an ordinary and humble Catholic who did not draw attention to himself. 
After his marriage to Franziska in 1936 and their honeymoon in Rome, Franz grew in his faith but was not extreme in his piety.

In the mid to late 1930s, while much of Austria was beginning to follow the tide of Nazism, Franz became ever more rooted in his Catholic faith and placed his complete trust in God.

Jägerstätter was at peace with himself despite the alarm he could have experienced witnessing the masses' capitulation to Hitler. Mesmerized by the National Socialist propaganda machine, many people knelt when Hitler made his entrance into Vienna. Catholic Churches were forced to fly the swastika flag and subjected to other abusive laws. - Finish reading here.

What can one person do?

Jägerstätter was the only one in his village to vote against Anschluss.  His Catholic neighbors did not support his objection to the war.  Neither did his spiritual advisers support him.  He stood alone.

Today many people feel alone in their conscientious objection to state approval and state ordered acceptance of gay marriage.  Individuals - business owners especially - are punished because they will not violate their conscience and support gay marriage.  Many Catholics are among those who would tell them: "Just bake the cake!"  "Just do the flowers!"  "Just hold the reception!"  Even religious leaders back off from the issue, withholding their support for the individuals who object to gay marriage and other moral compromises rapidly infecting even the Church ...

Something for our times - a letter Franz Jägerstätter wrote from prison:
“Today one hears it said repeatedly that there is nothing any more that an individual can do. If someone were to speak out, it would mean only imprisonment and death. 
True, there is not much that can be done anymore to change the course of world events. I believe that should have begun a hundred or even more years ago. But as long as we live in this world, I believe it is never too late to save ourselves and perhaps some other soul for Christ. 
One really has no cause to be astonished that there are those who can no longer find their way in the great confusion of our day. People we think we can trust, who ought to be leading the way and setting a good example, are running along with the crowd. No one gives enlightenment, whether in word or in writing. Or, to be more exact, it may not be given. And the thoughtless race goes on, always closer to eternity. As long as conditions are still half good, we don’t see things quite right, or that we could or should do otherwise…. 
“If the road signs were stuck ever so loosely in the earth that every wind could break them off or blow them about, would anyone who did not know the road be able to find his way? And how much worse is it if those to whom one turns for information refuse to give him an answer or, at most, give him the wrong direction just to be rid of him as quickly as possible?”  - Franz Jägerstätter: Letters and Writings from Prison

Remember - we are not alone - even if friends, family, church people and pastors abandon us - we have the communion of the saints and our Lord Jesus Christ.  Trust.

1 comment:

  1. Glad I read this before going to bed. I had been meaning to get to it. Everything written, I agree with and can only hope to stand strong should I ever have to make a choice.

    A trusted friend once told me long ago, "You know, one day, you will have to choose between God and your family. Some in your family do not understand your faith...pray to become strong and to be ready."

    I hope I will choose Christ.


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