Advent Meditation by Blessed Franz Jägerstätter, martyr
“Heaven Send Down Righteousness, and Clouds Water It”  from December A.D. 1941

We’ll sing these words for only a short time, and then we’ll once again celebrate Christmas. Christ surely wanted to bring peace and freedom to all people. Yet there are many who do not celebrate Christmas every year because peace is lacking in their hearts.

Christ said to his disciples: “Peace be with you” [John 20:19]. Do these words no longer have value for us contemporary Christians because almost the whole world lives without peace? It appears that we are again living in a pagan world and that Christ must be born again and come to redeem us. However, this situation need not discourage us nor weaken our faith, for even nineteen hundred years ago – while Christ himself taught and preached – not everyone found peace.

“Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace among those whom he favors (Luke 2:14). Christ surely wanted to bring peace to all people. Yet peace will only come to people of good will. So it always was, and so it will also remain as long as there are people on this earth. For as much as Christ did for us, he could do no more, I believe. He gave his is last drop of blood for us. He even left behind his own flesh and blood for us as food and drink. If we no longer have peace, the cause is now entirely within us. St. Anthony taught that no one is more fortunate and no one is more blessed than those who bear Christ in their hearts.

No well spring puts forth both sweet water and sour water at the same time. And so it is also with the human heart. For people who have Christ dwelling in their hearts will have no room for discord and envy, hatred and jealousy, vindictiveness, pride and arrogance, deceit and immorality, all of which are the work of Satan. Christ and Satan cannon rule at the same time in someone’s heart. If we want to make the world better, we must begin with ourselves. Who would go to their neighbor to extinguish a fire if their own house were burning down?

Is it right for us to pray that others know peace if we ourselves do not have it? An old adage applies here: “Those who are stuck in a swamp are not able to help others out of it.”

Would everyone have peace if God were not to stop the ravages of war, which God could easily do? Definitely not! God will not place peace and eternal well-being in us without our cooperation, for God will allow the whole world to fall to ruin rather than to take away our free will. Christ said that the kingdom of heaven suffers violence and is being torn apart, but God will not change his words now or in eternity (see Matt 11:12).
An alarming instance of this truth occurred for us in 1918. In that year, the ravages of the war came to an end. But did this end bring peace to people’s hearts? The war’s destruction and killing stopped, but the fires of hate and discord burned within people. The human family had not improved itself. Instead of thanking God, people ravenously plunged into a quest for pleasure and experienced innumerable troubles and emotions. A child had almost no place remaining in the world. Political parties sprang up, and hate and discord burned even more intensely in people’s hearts for the next twenty-one years until they ignited in the Second World War.

Many people still hold the view that only a few people bear the responsibility for all of the ravages of the war that has engulfed the whole world. But at the same time they are anxious about this war. This anxiety has sprung up in part because of the war’s possible damage to temporal goods. But it has also come about because people hold that they are blameless for everything that happens in world events. But they are seemingly too little concerned about seeking peace for themselves in order thereby to help others attain peace.

If we want to attain peace for ourselves and also for others, we must strive to imitate those who have brought peace to us. God will not remove from his compassion anyone who truly has the will for self-improvement. We may quickly have answers when we receive admonishments concerning peace, especially if we are going to lose. What is the source of these admonishments that arise in our consciences? It must be remembered that things will go better in eternity for the greatest sinners who have acknowledged their guild, repented, and have a sincere intention to improve, than for those who in their entire lives have committed perhaps only a few mortal sins, have no concern about their venial sins and have no desire for self-improvement.

No century has unfolded without a war and its ravages. War has affected people who had obtained peace for themselves and had shied away from no sacrifice for the sake of peace – which they themselves experienced and tried to bring to others. Among these peace-seekers were our saints, who saw themselves as fortunate if God sometimes sent them great suffering. Many even prayed for suffering, for they did not desire earthly fortune and material success. Patiently they bore their crosses following their Savior. God did not impose peace on these holy men and women, but they themselves often made great efforts for it as they overcame the world. Indeed, even the most Blessed Virgin Mary had to exert herself in order to obtain great grace from God. She herself spoke of this to St. Elizabeth, the abbess of the Monastery of Schönau at Bingen. The Blessed Mother [reportedly] said: “My daughter, know that I saw myself as nothing and as less worthy of God’s grace than others and hence persistently asked God for grace and virtue. And I obtained them but not without my effort. God gave me no grace without my having prepared myself for it by means of fervent requests, continuous prayer, works of penance, and great exertions.

If God sent great grace to the spotless recipient not without great efforts on her part, how much less shall we sinful people attain perfection without our great efforts? Therefore, may no sacrifice be too great for us so that we obtain true peace and so that those who already have peace may preserve it. Whoever does not find peace in this world will not find it in eternity. These short lines of the Christian blessing for houses actually say it all: “Where [there is] faith, there is love. Where there is love, there is peace. Where peace, there is blessing. Where blessing, there is God. Where God, [there is] no need.” Ω