Blessed Priest and Martyr
* Ohlau, December 3, 1875
† Hof, November 5, 1943
Memorial: November 5
➚Bernhard Lichtenberg was born in Ohlau (Silesia) on December 3, 1875. An exemplary, pious priest (1899), Cathedral Parish Priest (1932), and Provost of the Cathedral Chapter (1938), he worked tirelessly and fearlessly in pastoral ministry and Caritas in Berlin. He was arrested by the Secret State Police (Gestapo) on October 23, 1941, for publicly praying for the persecuted Jews and for criticizing the “euthanasia” murders and then found guilty by a special court on May 22, 1942. Seriously ill after two years in prison, he died in Hof on November 5, 1943 while being transferred to the Dachau concentration camp. Pope John Paul II beatified him as a martyr in Berlin on June 23, 1996. Today, Blessed Bernhard’s grave is located in the crypt of St. Hedwig’s Cathedral, Berlin.
From the notes written by him in prison:
We are called upon to view, judge and respond to everything in the light of eternity.
Begin therefore, my soul, to say slowly and mindfully upon awaking in the morning, “Today I intend to regard everything in the light of eternity – anything that happens to me, joyful and painful, uplifting and depressing.” In a few weeks, I may perhaps add a second resolution, may even be forced to do so, as I have already come to realize my impediment: It is my impatience. Therefore, in future, I will say slowly and mindfully after the first resolution, “Today, I intend to take possession of my soul through my patience.” I know that I will lose patience a thousand times, but I will renew my resolve of patience again and again. Perhaps, after several months, I will know why I lose patience so quickly: I speak too readily, my heart is on my tongue, I am too quick at showing my displeasure – and I will add a third resolution: “Today, I will not sin with a single word.” And because a word always presupposes a thought, I will reformulate the third resolution and say, “Today, I will not sin with a single thought and a single word.” Now it seems that I have come full circle. Now I will act according to this recipe for a few years; and should I discover that I still have not become amor et deliciae [love and delight] of those around me, of my family, of my colleagues, then I will pause once again and delve yet more deeply into the matter: “Who and what stands in my way?” And I will discover: In spite of everything, I lack the right supernatural attitude. I just want to be people’s favorite, not God’s. I want to be praised and appreciated. It annoys me to be reprimanded, criticized, or spitefully judged; and so I will add a fourth resolution: “Today, I will do everything in a spirit of love and suffer everything for the sake of love.” Now I will faithfully act according to this recipe for a few years and then see how far I get, and may God take me to task pretty hard. And God is already doing so: “For the Lord reproves him whom he loves” (Proverbs 3:12). “For the Lord disciplines him whom he loves” (Hebrews 12:6). So often, I have found this to be true in my day-to-day pastoral work …
Blessed Bernhard, pray for us.
Please send information about answers to your prayers for the intercession of Blessed Bernhard Lichtenberg to the Diocesan Postulator:
Dr. Gotthard Klein