June 12, Bls Joseph (Józef) Czempiel, Emil Szramek and Companions

June 12
In the Archdiocese of Katowice
BLESSED JOSEPH CZEMPIEL, EMIL SZRAMEK, PRESBYTERS, and COMPANIONS, MARTYRS
Obligatory memorial

Joseph (Józef) Czempiel (1883-1942), parish priest in Chorzów-Batory, charismatic good-hearted sobriety pastor. He was a man of profound spirituality, propagator of numerous vocations to priesthood and religious life. Upon being arrested on 13 April 1940, he bade his relatives farewell, saying, “Stay with God. Greet my parishioners. I am going to die if it be God’s will.” His inmates said that “in his steadfast faith, he heroically and patiently imitated His Master by bearing the cross.” He was carried off from the Mauthausen camp on 19 June 1942 to be gassed in a so-called invalidity transport.

Emil Szramek (1887-1942), chancellor of the curia and, simultaneously, parish priest of the Virgin Mary Church in Katowice, historian and ardent patriot. He was a man of great faith and culture, outstanding expert on Silesia and its spirit. He got arrested on 8 April 1940. He was subject to constant insults and humiliation in the camps in Gusen, Mauthausen and Dachau. He was full of dignity and peace in front of the persecutors. Free or imprisoned, he was a spiritual support for others, as well as an extraordinary teacher of how to imitate the Divine Master in suffering and death. He departed this life on 13 January 1942 in great suffering and humiliation.

Common of Several Martyrs.

OFFICE OF READINGS

SECOND READING

From the bull “Incarnationis Mysterium” of indiction of the Great Jubilee of the Year 2000.
(13)
Martyrdom as the proof of the truth of the faith

A sign of the truth of Christian love, ageless but especially powerful today, is the memory of the martyrs. Their witness must not be forgotten. They are the ones who have proclaimed the Gospel by giving their lives for love. The martyr, especially in our own days, is a sign of that greater love which sums up all other values. The martyr’s life reflects the extraordinary words uttered by Christ on the Cross: “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do” (Lk 23:34). The believer who has seriously pondered his Christian vocation, including what Revelation has to say about the possibility of martyrdom, cannot exclude it from his own life’s horizon. The two thousand years since the birth of Christ are marked by the ever-present witness of the martyrs.

This century now drawing to a close has known very many martyrs, especially because of Nazism, Communism, and racial or tribal conflicts. People from every sector of society have suffered for their faith, paying with their blood for their fidelity to Christ and the Church, or courageously facing interminable years of imprisonment and privations of every kind because they refused to yield to an ideology which had become a pitiless dictatorial regime. From the psychological point of view, martyrdom is the most eloquent proof of the truth of the faith, for faith can give a human face even to the most violent of deaths and show its beauty even in the midst of the most atrocious persecutions.

Filled with grace during the coming Jubilee year, we shall be able with new strength to raise the hymn of thanksgiving to the Father, singing: Te martyrum candidatus laudat exercitus. Yes, this is the host of those who “have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb” (Rev 7:14). For this reason the Church in every corner of the earth must remain anchored in the testimony of the martyrs and jealously guard their memory. May the People of God, confirmed in faith by the example of these true champions of every age, language and nation, cross with full confidence the threshold of the Third Millennium. In the hearts of the faithful, may admiration for their martyrdom be matched by the desire to follow their example, with God’s grace, should circumstances require it.

RESPONSORY 

We are warriors now, fighting on the battlefield of faith, and God see all we do; the angels watch and so does Christ.
What honour and glory and joy, to do battle in the presence of God, and to have Christ approve our victory.

Let us arm ourselves in full strength and prepare ourselves for the ultimate struggle with blameless hearts, true faith and unyielding courage.
What honour and glory and joy, to do battle in the presence of God, and to have Christ approve our victory.

CONCLUDING PRAYER

O almighty and eternal God,
you let the blessed martyrs Joseph, Emil, and their Companions participate in the passion of Christ,
help our weakness with your grace so that we, imitating the martyrs who did not hesitate to die for you, may bravely confess you with our lives.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.
Amen.

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