Precious heritage (2015)
Fr. Martin Fuchs´s sermon on 18th October 2015 in Prague, Czech republic
21st Sunday after Pentecost
It was in winter 1945. The German Eastern Front could no longer be kept. Most of the residents in Silesian villages decided to flee. In endless treks the fugitives moved in snowstorms and in freezing cold towards the West. Many of them found an early grave at the roadside. Also Gerhard´s mother remained at the wayside.
Gerhard was only an eleven year old boy and had already suffered a lot. His father was missing in Russia for years. In his arms Gerhard hold his three year old sister. Also this little child could not suffer the harsh privations. She got ill and fell asleep in his arms – forever. He had to bury her in the snow.
All the fugitives were brought to a refugee camp near Dresden. The Red Cross gave orphans to foster parents. Gerhard came to a farmer who had lost his two sons in the war. That’s why the farmer and his wife decided to adopt the child.
They received Gerhard in their house and loved him like their own son. But they wanted to wait with his adoption in order to get to know him properly. However, this took many years. The reason was simple, Gerhard was a Catholic and they were – like all residents of the village – Protestants. They would have been looked at by their neighbors if they had given house and home to a Catholic.
But the farmer and his wife did not want to force Gerhard to change his faith. They concealed their plans as long as they could. They thought that he would certainly understand their situation one day. They liked him very much. He had suffered a lot and throughout the years he became a hard-working and industrious man. He also respected, honored, and loved his foster parents as if they were his biological parents.
Now he has already reached the age of 17. They could no longer conceal their plan from him. That’s why his father called him and revealed their decision to him: “Look, Gerhard, we shall grow old soon and we have to think about to whom we will leave our property. You can imagine that we have thought of you. We would like to have you as our heir. But there is one thing you will have to understand: Our whole village and all our relatives are Protestants. What would they say if we gave our farm into the hand of a Catholic? If you decide to convert to Protestantism, you will become our heir. Gerhard, we don’t want to force you to change your faith. You should decide quite freely. But if you want to keep your faith, we must look for another foster son and you must leave and go elsewhere.
Certainly this is not difficult because you are a grown man and you can easily manage your life for your own. In such a case we would support you as much as we can, too, and you are always welcome any time you visit us.“
Gerhard could not speak any more. With tears in his eyes, he went upstairs to his bedroom. He could not sleep all night. The next morning his parents noticed that he had already packed his luggage. He came downstairs to say goodbye: “Now – under the circumstances – I have to leave. I thank you for all you have done, it was a beautiful time, I will never forget what you have done and I promise to repay you as well.“
It was very hard for him. He, however, could understand his foster parents. They were deeply religious Protestants. But he also valued his faith above all, the Catholic faith, which his real parents had left him and which he knew better and more accurately than all other boys of his age. He knew it is the true faith of the true Church of Christ.
The faith is the greatest good we can have here on earth. To give up faith would mean to go away from God, from our Creator, from our Redeemer and from our Saviour.
To keep the faith, we must be willing to make any sacrifice as the above mentioned story from the Second World War shows: the expulsion from the country, the loss of the family members, the renunciation of the inheritance and so on.
Did not our Saviour say: “He that loveth father or mother more than me, is not worthy of me; and he that loveth son or daughter more than me, is not worthy of me. And he that taketh not up his cross, and followeth me, is not worthy of me.“? St. Matthew 10:37-38
Our nature cannot give us the strength to make such sacrifices, it is only given to us by a grace of Our Lord. That’s why we must pray for it. But since many people pray no more, they have not enough strength to confess the Catholic faith, to avoid mixed marriages, not to undergo abortions and not to use contraceptives – briefly: They have not enough strength to lead a Catholic life.
In all situations the Catholic faith will give safety to our life according to the Sermon on the Mount given by our Saviour: “Every one therefore that heareth these my words, and doth them, shall be likened to a wise man that built his house upon a rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and they beat upon that house, and it fell not, for it was founded on a rock.“
On the other hand, those who do not live according to his words will perish:
“And every one that heareth these my words, and doth them not, shall be like a foolish man that built his house upon the sand. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and they beat upon that house, and it fell, and great was the fall thereof.“ St. Matthew 7:24-26
The kings and princes in the Middle Ages were convinced of this truth. They fought for the Catholic faith. They kept the Catholic faith! That is why they fought against the Muslims! Our ancestors wanted to protect the Catholic faith in the European countries.
But what the Muslims had not reached at Tours and Poitiers (France) in 732, at the battle of Lepanto in 1572 and on the Kahlenberg near Vienna in 1683, they are going to reach now. The war in Syria is a good opportunity to create the state of emergency in Europe and to preach the Allah‘s teaching. And they are successful in entering our society. Catholic faith and Catholic culture disappears more and more every day.
This will not only have temporal consequences but also - and especially - eternal ones. Did not our Saviour say: “Go ye into the whole world, and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized, shall be saved: but he that believeth not shall be condemned.“? St. Mark 16:15-16
Let us pray even more during this month of October which is especially devoted to Our Lady. Let us pray the daily Rosary in our families so that we can gain indulgences. Let us pray and meditate on the life of Our Lord! Amen.