Thursday, August 9, 2007

the events of August Ninth

Every day is an anniversary of some great event. The cyclical progress of each year suggests an occurrence or, more properly, a revisiting. History records. In the christian calendar each day commemorates events and people that can edify us. During that collection of events, that we assign the name of the second world war, there are three I will take note herein, they were among the myriad of martyrs, confessors and the innocents of World War II

August 9, 1942, Saint Teresa Benedicta of the Cross was martyred at Auschwitz. She was born Edith Stein. As a teenager she forsook judaism for unbelief. Reading Teresa of Avila she began a spiritual journey that had her becoming a Carmelite nun.

The nazi regime forced her out of academics and she eventually took residence in a dutch monastery. After the dutch bishops, in June of 1942, denounced the nazis at every mass in the country, the nazis arrested all catholic jews in the land. Along with others, Teresa Benedicta and her sister Rosa were put on trains to be executed. For bureaucratic purposes, being a religious was of no importance. The aryan death machine would kill christianized jews in retaliation for official christian protest.

A year later, Franz Jägerstätter would be martyred for harming the war effort and committing treason. He would not take a loyalty oath to Hitler, nor serve in his military. He was considered a religious fanatic by his austrian neighbors.

His story became known to the greater world through a book by Gordon Zahn, In Solitary Witness: The Life and Death of Franz Jägerstätter. The 1964 book was the impetus for Daniel Ellsberg releasing the Pentagon Papers.

Servant of God is the title Jägerstätter is currently recognized with, there are many now praying that he will eventually be canonized. He died for the love of God and for peace. He specifically saw, that a catholic could not participate in such an unjust matter. He said, "No", to the nazis and to their war. Such personal defiance was quickly and brutally countered.

Two years later a B-29 dropped the second atomic bomb. The secondary target, that day, was the only christian city in Japan, Nagasaki. Saint Mary's Cathedral, in the Urakami district, was the bombardier's cross hairs, as was Hiroshima three days prior, some seventy thousands died on that day, with more to succumb from wounds, radiation sickness and cancers to come. One day, consensus american historical reasoning will acknowledge this as, an exercise in, needless revenge and the use of novel ordnance. The japanese war effort was collapsing very rapidly. The japanese would surrender very soon. The bombings may have ended the war by minutes or may have extended the war longer for their inclusion.

postscriptum: Franz Jägerstätter was beatifed 26 October 2007 in Linz, Austria. We still await his canonisation.

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