Neither are the souls of the pious dead separated from the Church which even now is the kingdom of Christ. Otherwise there would be no remembrance of them at the altar of God in the communication of the Body of Christ. -- Saint Augustine of Hippo from “The City of God

Saturday, November 12, 2005

Blessed Maria Restituta Kafka


Martyr

Upon the implosion of the Holy Roman Empire, Austria like many nations were left to form independent countries. With the demise of the Holy Roman Empire the Habsburgs then gained control of Austria/Hungary and ruled it with a velvet glove.

It was in 1867 that both Austria and Hungary were co-joined under the leadership of Emperor Franz Joseph. But the unification of two diverse countries would hold complications as a Constitution evolved for the Austrian peoples.

When upon the death of Emperor Franz Joseph, his nephew Francis Ferdinand became Emperor in the year 1896, and it was during his leadership that the annexation of Bosnia-Herzegovina would have repercussions around the world and bring untold tragedy to many nations.

For in June 28 1914 both Emperor Francis Ferdinand and his wife were assassinated, which heralded in the First World War, which would impact the entire world with untold tragedy.

But it was in 1894 that the Kafka family would be blessed with another child as Helena joined her other five siblings. Though the family were not wealthy, still they managed well enough.

The Kafka family moved to Vienna when Helena was very young so she thought of herself as very much an Austrian and had the robust nature of a true patriot. Being that her family was not overly prosperous Helena found work in various occupations as a sales assistant before training as a nurse.

It would be her job as a nurse that would deeply move her for a love and compassion for the needy and infirm. And a longing in her heart to help assist and aid them in whatever way she could. For though Helena was a very practical and disciplined young lady, she had a growing love for our Lord and longed to serve Him through her prayer and her work.

Her parents did not share the same level of Faith as their daughter so when Helena informed her family that she was considering becoming a Religious her parents vehemently opposed it. But this did not stop the strong willed Helena, who though she loved and respected her parents, still her love for God was stronger and she could not neglect the calling she felt within her heart.

So in the year 1914 Helena joined the Franciscan Order of the Sisters of Charity, and took as her name Sister Restituta. Through her love of God Sister Restituta sought to ease His sufferings by serving the sick and ill in her vocation as a nurse. For by helping to heal and bring comfort to the sick, Sister Restitua knew that this was the most perfect way to love and serve her Lord.

And she served her Lord well for the next twenty years as a very competent nurse, for though Sister Restituta was not known for her charm, she was respected for her love of the poor and infirm.

But it was the Nazi Anschluss which overtook Austria that Sister Restituta showed an uncommon bravery, and vowed not to serve Hitler as she had been known to publicly call Hitler a 'mad man'. Sister Restituta was also puzzled in how much her beloved Austrians encouraged the Nazification of her beloved Austria, and unlike many of her fellow citizens she would not bend under the Nazi dictatorship!

She was openly defiant when it came to the Nazi's and wrote a poem mocking the 'German Dictator' as well as refusing to remove Crucifixes from the hospital rooms. If anything Sister Restituta placed even more Crucifixes in the hospital wards, which had been newly built.

This was too much for the Nazi's and when they ordered her to remove the Crucifixes Sister Restituta defiantly told them no! They would stay! The Nazi's were enraged and ordered her arrest, but still Sister Restituta stood firm.

The evil Nazi regime even tried to bribe Sister Restituta if she denied her religious calling and broke her Vows; they would then spare her life. Once again this most courageous of souls spurned the Nazi's offer as mere garbage from the sewer that was National Socialism.

The Nazi regime was incensed with this infuriating sister and ordered her death by beheading, upon hearing this order Sister Restituta remained resolute and stoic and said simply, "I have lived for Christ. I want to die for Christ".

Sister Restituta Kafka died by beheading in 1943.

Blessed Sister Restituta was beatified in 1998 by Pope John Paul ll.

To quote Pope John Paul II, "courageous witness to her conviction … The Church today does not need part-time Catholics but full-blooded Christians … Thank you Sister Restituta for swimming against the tide of the times!"

Peace of Christ to ALL

Copyright © 2005 Marie Smith. All rights reserved.

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