Blessed Franz Jägerstätter was an Austrian conscientious objector during World War II. He was sentenced to death and executed by the Nazis on the 9th of August 1943, and was later declared a martyr and beatified in 2007. His words here, written shortly before he was beheaded, are a powerful witness to the “Christian difference” in the face of war and the ever-present reality of human violence:
Just as the man who thinks only of this world does everything possible to make life here easier and better, so must we, too, who believe in the eternal kingdom, risk everything in order to receive a great reward there. Just as those who believe in National Socialism tell themselves that their struggle is for survival, so must we, too, convince ourselves that our struggle is for the eternal kingdom. But with this difference: We need no rifles or pistols for our battle, but instead, spiritual weapons—and the foremost among these is prayer. . . . Through prayer, we constantly implore new grace from God, since without God’s help and grace it would be impossible for us to preserve the Faith and be true to His commandments. . . . Let us love our enemies, bless those who curse us, pray for those who persecute us. For love will conquer and will endure for all eternity. And happy are they who live and die in God’s love.
Pope Francis sounded a similar note this past Tuesday as he commented on that day’s Gospel:
Jesus doesn’t need an army to cast out the demons, He has no need of pride, no need of force, of arrogance. ‘What is there about His word? For with authority and power He commands the unclean spirits, and they come out.’ This is a humble word, meek, with so much love; it is a word that accompanies us in the moments of the Cross. Let us ask the Lord to give us today the grace of His Light, and to teach us to distinguish when the light is from Him, and when it is an artificial light, made by the enemy to deceive us.