Zwei Dinge bedinke, woher, wohin
Dan hat dein Leben den rechten Sinn.
Consider two things: from where, to where
Then your life will have its true meaning. – FRANZ JÄGERSTÄTTER
“From the very beginning of the war, he contended that it was being waged by “bad men”, playing a “crooked game”. Quite simply, he concluded, “I cannot play the game. The game is a lie.”
On June 1, Pope Benedict XVI approved a series of decrees, issued by the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, that attributed martyrdom to Jagerstatter, a husband and father of three who was beheaded on August 9, 1943, for refusing any collaboration with the Nazis.
Jagerstatter is an example of a Catholic whose conscience forbade him to participate in war (see “In Light of Eternity: Franz Jagerstatter, Martyr,” published by the Catholic Peace Fellowship n 2003).
This young man, despite a wild and rebellious youth, in his adulthood became a devout Catholic, a third-order Franciscan, and a church sexton for his local parish.
Jagerstatter read and prayed over the Scripture and the lives of the Saints, and his conscience was shaped and formed by his active participation in the sacramental life of the Church. He understood that he was a part of the Kingdom of God and that, as a Catholic, his allegiance was to his “Eternal Homeland” – not to “the Fatherland.”
Although advised by his parish priest and local bishop that his duty was to serve his country and preserve his own life for the sake of his family, Jagerstatter held firm to his belief that to cooperate with the Nazis was to cooperate with evil, and so refused to join the military. Franz Jagerstatter was a conscientious objector, one to whom we look to, and now can pray to, for guidance.