November 1, 2007
Solemnity of All Saints
After this I had a vision of a great multitude, which no one could count, from every nation, race, people, and tongue. They stood before the throne and before the Lamb, wearing white robes and holding palm branches in their hands. They cried out in a loud voice: "Salvation comes from our God, who is seated on the throne, and from the Lamb." Revelation 7:9-10
Rejoice and be glad, for your reward will be great in heaven. Matthew 5:12
(From Benedictine Daily Prayer: A Short Breviary)
Almighty God, you have gathered the saints of all times and places into your kingdom. Rejoicing in their fellowship, we pray:
Lord, we thank you for the whole creation, the beauty of this world and the wonder of life. With the saints we say:
We thank you for the blessing of common life, of family and friends, of life which surrounds us on every side. With the saints we say:
We thank you for setting us at tasks which demand our best efforts, for sharing the burden and delight of creation with us. With the saints we say:
We thank you for the disappointment and failures that lead us to acknowledge our dependence on you alone. With the saints we say:
Above all, we thank you for your Son Jesus Christ, for the truth of his Word, the example of His life, for His triumph over death. With the saints we say:
We thank you for the gift of your Spirit, in whose powers the oppressed find refuge, the poor are lifted up, and the dead gain eternal life. With the saints we say:
Let us praise our Father as Jesus taught us. Our Father…Amen.Study
The saints also remind us that Christ should play as important a role in our lives as He does in theirs. “We need the prayers of the saints so that what our own powers cannot obtain for us, their intercession may win,” concludes St. Bernard.
Even though they walked on earth just as Jesus did,
Yet even while they seemed to be with us, they were not so in reality, for their minds were turned to God. They lived on earth as citizens of heaven, having no lasting city, they sought a heavenly one; having no earthly riches, they sought the riches of heaven. They were strangers and sojourners as their ancestors were. Strangers to the world, to the things of the world, and to the ways of the world, their whole heart was absorbed in the things of heaven.”
Just last week, another person took one more step closer to the cloud of witnesses, to the community of saints. He was a man who truly did not live as a citizen of earth or Europe or
When the Austrian people cast a near-unanimous vote in 1938 to accept Nazi occupation of their homeland, Franz wrote later "I believe that what took place in the spring of 1938 was not much different from what happened that Holy Thursday nineteen hundred years ago when the crowd was given a free choice between the innocent Savior & the criminal Barrabas."
Blessed Franz faced the momentous decision in 1943, when he was drafted into the Nazi army. He told his wife he would refuse to take the oath of loyalty to Hitler when he showed up for service. Everyone involved knew that this meant arrest and death. Jägerstätter was immediately sent to prison; and could be taken out for execution at any moment without warning. He lived his life "hour by hour", praying the Rosary and conversing deeply with God in his heart. At one point he wrote to his wife, "There is practically nothing to do here in the prison, but that does not mean that I have to let my days pass by without putting them to some use. AS LONG AS I CAN PRAY, and there is plenty of time for that, MY LIFE IS NOT IN VAIN." As a citizen of the kingdom of heaven he could in no way serve the powers of darkness.
In his last letter to his wife, he wrote: "...It was not possible for me to free you from the pain that you must now suffer on my account. How hard it must have been for our dear Savior when, through His sufferings and death, he had to prepare such a great sorrow for His Mother -- and together They bore all of this out of great love for us sinners..... And now your husband, son, father, son-in-law and brother-in-law greets you once more before his final journey. The heart of Jesus, the heart of Mary, and my heart are one in time and eternity...."
His 94-year-old widow Franziska and his surviving children were joined in the ceremony to beatify Blessed Franz last Friday in Linz by 5,000 faithful and three dozen bishops from Austria and abroad.
Bishop Dr. Ludwig Schwarz of
“The Church is hereby expressly recognizing the courageous attitude of this faithful man, who still has so much to say to us today.
“The commemoration of Blessed Franz Jägerstätter stands within the context of many interrelated aspects: his wife, his children and his family, the Church, through his beatification, questions of saintliness and martyrdom, social and political issues in the examination of our own wartime past, the war generation, inhumanity and the terror of the Nazis, and the ethical and educational issues of war and conscientious objection, non-violence, peace education and disarmament, of authority, conscience and obedience.
“Blessed Franz Jägerstätter is a prophet with a global view and a penetrating insight which very few of his contemporaries had at that time; he is a shining example in his fidelity to the claims of his conscience, an advocate of non-violence and peace, a voice of warning against ideologies, a deep-believing person for whom God really was the core and centre of life. His prophetic witness to Christian truth is based on a clear, radical and far-sighted analysis of the barbarism of the inhuman and godless system of Nazism, its racial delusions, its ideology of war and deification of the state, as well as its declared program of annihilating Christianity and the Church. His educated, mature conscience led him to say a resolute ‘No’ to Nazism and he was executed due to his consistent refusal to take up arms as a soldier in Hitler’s war.”Action
Pick one of the saintly beatitudes in Matthew 5 that you will concentrate on living out for the next 30 days until it becomes a habitual part of your lifestyle.
 Sources for this discussion of the life of Blessed Franz include the web site www.justpeace.org, and two books: No Strangers To Violence; No Strangers to Love by Boniface Hanley O.F.M., Ave Maria Press, 1983 and In Solitary Witness: The Life & Death of Franz Jaegerstaetter by Gordon Zahn, 1982. In addition, to the above are notes from a reading of In Solitary Witness by Gordon Zahn at St. Columbkille’s Catholic Church,