Friday, August 09, 2002

August 9 ---- the martyrs, confessors, and innocents of WWII

August 9 is one of those days when a lot of commemorations come together "by chance" that are related; it could be called the day of all the WWII era saints someday. Today is the anniversary of the deaths of St. Edith Stein (Teresa Benedicta a Cruce) in 1942, of the servant of God Franz Jagerstatter in 1943, and also the anniversary of the destruction of Nagasaki in 1945.

St. Edith Stein was a philosopher, a Carmelite monastic, a Jewish convert, who died in Auschwitz for being "non-Aryan." She was living in a convent in the Netherlands when the bishop there publicly denounced National Socialism and its pomps and works, including its racial policies. In retaliation, the Nazi occupation forces arrested and sent to extermination camps all the "non-Aryan" Catholic clergy and religious, including St. Edith. The Catholics were the first to be taken from the Netherlands.

Franz Jagerstatter was a farmer in a small town in the mountains of Austria, who, after a very rowdy youth, reformed his life and set out to live the Gospel, fully supported by his wife. It was noted by the others in the village that even though he was "too religious," that his duties to the farm and to his wife and daughters were always well fulfilled. When the Nazis took over, he continued to greet people with the traditional "Bless God" and not with "Heil Hitler," and he would not contribute to any of the Nazi collections except the police pension fund (he said he'd worked them too hard in his youth!). Eventually the draft came even for married men with children, and Franz had to tell them that heavens no, he couldn't go; he was executed for that refusal on this day in 1943.

And on this day in 1945, the second of the two chosen cities was destroyed in an instant, in the blinking of an eye. See my post on the 6th for details. If the goal had been to destroy the Catholic faith in Japan, they could not have chosen more shrewdly; but that was not the goal, that was only accidental.

All the martyrs and confessors and innocents of the Second World War, remember us.

No comments: