Friday, March 23, 2007

Is There Anything the Individual Can Still Do? Franz Jagerstatter

Bio: An Austrian peasant, Franz Jägerstätter refused to serve in the Nazi army following Germany’s invasion of Austria. His courageous and singular refusal was based in a deeply pietistic Catholicism. His story, and his reflections, are a moving testimony to the moral responsibility of the individual as opposed to the obligations of the state. The excerpt that fol lows is from a letter written during his imprisonment.


"I believe that should have begun a hundred or even more years ago. But as long as we live in this world, I believe it is never too late to save ourselves and perhaps some other soul for Christ. One really has no cause to be astonished that there are those who can no longer find their way in the great confusion of our day. People we think we can trust, who ought to be leading the way and setting a good example, are running along with the crowd. No one gives enlightenment, whether in word or in writing. Or, to be more exact, it may not be given. And the thoughtless race goes on, always closer to eternity. As long as conditions are still half-good, we don’t see things quite right, or that we could or should do otherwise."

"I realize, too, that today many words would accomplish little more than make one highly eligible for prison. Yet, in spite of this, it is not good if our spiritual leaders remain silent year after year. By “words” I mean, of course, instruction; but example gives direction. Do we no longer want to see Christians who are able to take a stand in the darkness around us in deliberate clarity, calmness, and confidence—who, in the midst of tension, gloom, selfishness, and hate, stand fast in perfect peace and cheerfulness— who are not like the floating reed which is driven here and there by every breeze—who do not merely watch to see what their friends will do but, instead, ask themselves, “What does our faith teach us about this?” or “Can my conscience bear this so easily that I will never have to repent?”

If road signs were ever stuck so loosely in the earth that every wind could break them off or blow them about, would anyone who did not know the road be able to find his way? And how much worse it is if those to whom one turns for information refuse to give him an answer or, at most, give him the wrong direction just to be rid of him as quickly as possible!"

1 comment:


Very inspiring website! Thank you and keep it up!