"The Christian must discover in contemplation, and in the giving of his life, those symbolic actions which will ignite the people's faith to resist injustice with their whole lives, lives coming together as a united force of truth and thus releasing the liberating power of the God within them." - James Douglass, Contemplation and Resistance.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Blessed Franz Jagerstatter

"Lord Jesus Christ, You filled your servant Franz Jagerstatter with a deep love for you, his family and all people. During a time of contempt for God and humankind you bestowed on him unerring discernment and integrity. In faith, he followed his conscience, and said a decisive NO to national socialism and unjust war. Thus he sacrificed his life. We pray that you may glorify your servant Franz, so that many people may be encouraged by him and grow in love for you and all people. May his example shine out in our time, and may you grant all people the strength to stand up for justice, peace and human dignity. For yours is the glory and honour with the Father and the Holy Spirit now and forever. Amen. (Diocese of Linz, Austria)." - Catholic Peace Fellowship

"...J├Ągerst├Ątter felt that refusing to cooperate with the Nazis was the
best thing he could do for his family. He would rather his children have a father martyred for following Christ than a Nazi for a father."

Let us rejoice for the Church, who has seen the glory of nonviolent resistance to fascism, made alive in the deeds of Blessed Franz Jagerstatter, who gave true witness to Christ by his refusal of Church-sanctioned violence.

While discussing the question "Catholic or Nazi?", Franz compares the German Christians of his day to the Christians of the first centuries: "The Christians of the first centuries could have used the same reasoning: let us make sacrifices to idols as the government demands; in secret we can still remain Christians." Gordon Zahn, In Solitary Witness: The Life and Death of Franz Jagerstatter.

The Christians of our times have made a similar surrender: Let me have the benefits of the corporate state and I will sacrifice to the idols of consumerism. In secret I will actually be a Christian, but externally I will remain silent in the face of the slaughter in Iraq rather than endanger the lifestyle that the slaughter is meant to support.

Speaking of the complicity of Austrian Catholics in the triumph of the Nazi cause, Jagerstatter says, "Almost all of us are quite willing to glut ourselves with the spoils of thievery, but we want to saddle the responsibility for the whole dirty business on one person alone!" Similarly, Christians, both liberal and fundamental, are more than willing to let the whole guilt of the Iraq war rest on the shoulders one now despised individual. The truth is that each one of us is complicit in the crimes of the Bush administration to the extent that we do not actively resist. Shall we be secret Christians and avoid the lion's mouth?

The Christian critique of the structures of domination is deeper than the Marxist one, but is not contradictory to the basic Marxist insight. Capitalism is an inherently inhuman and exploitative system, but the deeper question is why do we create such systems? Who are we that we create and maintain such a grossly anti-Christian system? The answer is that we are not followers of Christ, but of the powers that dominate this world. Christ has called us to acts of resistance against these powers, powers which are strengthened with every act of violence and weakened with every act of love.

God's kingdom lies within the movements of our heart and the acts of our hands. We are not spectators at a blockbuster movie that God will produce and direct for us, in which He will magically put an end to the structures of sin. We rub away the stones of sin each time we refuse to act with violence, each time we claim the power to act with truth.

"To the church we say:
Speak out and act against this war, from the pulpits (especially on August 1-19), from offices high and low. Read and live the gospel.
Lift up nonviolence; Honor Jagerstatter; remember the victims; repent our silence.

To the Pentagon and its recruiters we say:
End this war now. Obey international law. Leave our young people alone.

To the young people of our city we say:
There is hope in the communities of this city.
There is a future, economic and social, but we must make it ourselves.
We need one another; we need you here in the struggle for life and community.

To the dead of Nagasaki we say:
Forgive us even now. We commit ourselves to putting an end to these weapons.

To the people of Iraq, we say:
Forgive our silence and our complicity. Forgive our submission to these leaders.
We pledge to end this war. Refuse to pay for it. Refuse to fight in it." - Catholic Peace Fellowship

Blessed Franz Jagerstatter - Pray for us!

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