Rupert Mayer was born in 1876 and became a Jesuit in 1900. He was known as ‘The Apostle of Munich’. In the First World War, he was an Army Chaplain working courageously in the trenches from where he used to crawl out into no-man’s-land moving among the wounded administering the sacraments; “My life is in God’s hands,” he used to say. He was the first German chaplain ever to be awarded the Iron Cross for bravery. In 1916 a grenade caused the loss of his leg and forced him to leave the front lines.
Upon the rise to power of Adolf Hitler, Mayer became a fearless and outspoken critic of the evil of Fascism or National Socialism. He was banned by the Gestapo from public speaking, but he continued to preach in Church against the activities of the Nazi party until he was finally arrested and imprisoned in 1940. He was moved between various prisons and concentration camps for the remainder of the war. He was so famous and well thought of that the Nazis were frightened to kill him and turn him into a martyr. On 1st November 1945, while preaching in Munich he suffered a stroke and died. Facing the congregation his last words were, ‘The Lord, The Lord, The Lord’.
Parents of the future Pope Benedict had a great devotion to Fr Mayer; he was beatified by Pope John Paul II in 1987. The saints are ordinary people who let God do extraordinary things with their lives. We are challenged to be like them by allowing God to work through our ordinariness. In what way would you desire to be like Rupert Mayer? Who are the ordinary saints in your own life? Maybe they are amidst your friends, or in your family? How do they inspire you – through their words and deeds? Picture them now and give thanks to God for them.
Evil flourishes when good people do nothing. If we are honest it is fear that often stops us from speaking out. Jesus knows our fears…. and as he greets the disciples, so he greets us saying ‘Do Not be Afraid’. What fears would you like to tell Jesus about – what fears can you hand over to Him?
Rupert Mayer was a man of incredible courage. But as he reminds us his courage comes from God’s will. What is God’s will for you – here and now – not in the future, but here and now, what is God’s will for you?
In what areas of your life do you need more courage? Where or how, do you need God’s courage to flow through you? Ask the Lord to be close to you there, that you can know his will and feel your courage grow. Father Mayer prayed this prayer:
Lord, let happen whatever you will; and as you will, so will I walk; help me only to know your will!
Lord, whenever you will, then is the time; today and always.
Lord, whatever you will, I wish to accept, and whatever you will for me is gain; enough that I belong to you. Lord, because you will it, it is right; and because you will it, I have courage. My heart rests safely in your hands!