September 19, Bl Gerhard Hirschfelder

September 19
In the Diocese of Świdnica
BLESSED GERHARD HIRSCHFELDER, PRESBYTER and MARTYR
Optional memorial

Bl Gerhard Hirschfelder was born on 17 February 1907 in Kłodzko (Silesia). On 31 January 1932 he was ordained presbyter of the county of Kłodzko, which then belonged to the Archdiocese of Prague. As a vicar and pastor of young people, due to his uncompromising involvement in the issues of youth, he came into conflict with authorities. He got arrested on the grounds of the sermon in which he said, “Anyone who tears faith out of the hearts of young people is a criminal,” and then deported to the concentration camp in Dachau. He died there on 1 August 1942 because of maltreatment, undernourishment and loss of strength.

Common of One Martyr.

[PDF Version]

OFFICE OF READINGS

SECOND READING

From the commentary on St Paul’s Letters written by Blessed Gerhard Hirschfelder before his departure to the concentration camp in Dachau
(Franz Jung [Hg], Aus dem Nachlass des Dieners Gottes Gerhard Hirschfelder, Münster 1999, pp. 14-15)
The love of community above all 

The faithful of a parish where a priest is sent expect of him to be with them for real. They come to him with so many woes and needs that a priest is often completely busy with visitors who complain about their lot and need consolation and help. One can then feel clearly what St Paul has in mind in 2 Co 11:28, when he speaks about “daily pressure.” It means that one has got to possess immense patience and have control over oneself, especially when someone comes at dinner time, late in the evening or any other inconvenient time. How easy it is then to multiply suffering with one incautious word and create a huge barrier for the relationship with the community. In order to avoid this, one can be sent away calmly and make an appointment for later, but beware! St Paul made use of a beautiful expression “become all things to all”. We must not close our hearts and our hands for others. Our eyes must then look with love, even if our own woes abound. We must receive everyone with the same kindness, like a father (1 Th 2:12) or mother (Ga 4:19; 1 Th 9:7); receive the first and the last. Surely, it is not easy to listen to someone without prejudice. Certainly, a good pastoral means is to become weak for the weak, but we need to go further: they must be lifted, made strong! Where a priest is not a father and support for the poor, his work shall remain fruitless. This does not mean neglecting the rich because they too are entitled to have a priest. None group may be valued above others if we are to become all things to all.

The love of community of St Paul is not exhausted by the words “become all things to all.” We must include there readiness to sacrifice (2 Co 12:15; Col 1:24). Clearly, a number of older priests are ready to suffer for his community, but is it not a young priest who is more attached to life? When anguish, illness or woes overwhelm a priest so that he wishes to die, then St Paul says, “Yet that I remain in the flesh is more necessary for your benefit (Ph 1:24). Here we have real selfless love of the community.

The real love of the community assumes too that we should have a clear aim of the work; not only get rid of faults, but work toward a positive aim. This is what St Paul has before his eyes (Col 2:1). Only in this way will a priest draw real joy from his work. Should it even be necessary to utter a serious or severe word, it will bring forth the desired result, if said with love (1 Co 4:14; 2 Co 2:4). As fathers of the community, we ought not to fear this. It often happens that a priest, wanting not to hurt the community, leaves unsaid what should be stated. This is a mistake because in this way the community suffers grave consequences. Obviously, critical words must be well thought out since then they will cause pain to the community without hurting it.[1]

RESPONSORY Matthew 5:11-12; 10

Blessed are you when they insult you and persecute you and utter every kind of evil against you falsely because of me.
Rejoice and be glad, for your reward will be great in heaven.

Blessed are they who are persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Rejoice and be glad, for your reward will be great in heaven.

CONCLUDING PRAYER

O almighty and merciful God,
you chose Blessed Gerhard, presbyter and martyr, to strengthen the love of Christ in the hearts of young people,
grant through his intercession that we may confess our faith with power and ardently work towards reconciliation and peace.
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.

Congregatio de Cultu Divino et Disciplina Sacramentorum. Probatum seu confirmatum, die 5 iulii 2013, Prot. 784/12/L.

[1] Translated by DChojnacki (2016).

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