Preface of a Saint (2)
[Common of a Martyr]
[Common of a Theologian]
[Common of a Prophetic Witness]
[Of the Holy Cross]
[Of the Reign of Christ]
[For Prophetic Witness in Society]
PRAYERS (traditional language):
Embolden our lives, O Lord, and inspire our faiths, that we, following the example of thy servant Dietrich Bonhoeffer, might embrace thy call with undivided hearts; through Jesus Christ our Savior, with liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Ghost, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
PRAYERS (contemporary language):
Embolden our lives, O Lord, and inspire our faiths, that we, following the example of your servant Dietrich Bonhoeffer, might embrace your call with undivided hearts; through Jesus Christ our Savior, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
This commemoration appears in Lesser Feasts & Fasts 2018 with revided lessons & collects.
Return to Lectionary
Last updated: 9 Feb. 2019
PASTOR AND THEOLOGIAN
(9 APR 1945)
was born in 1906, son of a professor of psychiatry and neurology at the
University of Berlin. He was an outstanding student, and at the age of
25 became a lecturer in systematic theology at the same University. When
Hitler came to power in 1933, Bonhoeffer became a leading spokesman for
the Confessing Church, the center of Protestant resistance to the Nazis.
He organized and for a time led the underground seminary of the Confessing
Church. His book Life Together describes the life of the Christian
community in that seminary, and his book The Cost of Descipleship
attacks what he calls "cheap grace," meaning grace used as an
excuse for moral laxity. Bonhoeffer had been taught not to "resist
the powers that be," but he came to believe that to do so was sometimes
the right choice. In 1939 his brother-in-law introduced him to a group
planning the overthrow of Hitler, and he made significant contributions
to their work. (He was at this time an employee of the Military Intelligence
Department.) He was arrested in April 1943 and imprisoned in Berlin. After
the failure of the attempt on Hitler's life in April 1944, he was sent
first to Buchenwald and then to Schoenberg Prison. His life was spared,
because he had a relative who stood high in the government; but then this
relative was himself implicated in anti-Nazi plots. On Sunday 8 April
1945, he had just finished conducting a service of worship at Schoenberg,
when two soldiers came in, saying, "Prisoner Bonhoeffer, make ready
and come with us," the standard summons to a condemned prisoner.
As he left, he said to another prisoner, "This is the end -- but
for me, the beginning -- of life." He was hanged the next day, less
than a week before the Allies reached the camp.
His works in print (paperback) include the following:
Martyred Christian (160 readings from his works, 288p)
and Papers from Prison
on the Word
Cost of Discipleship
Psalms: Prayer Book of the Bible
Some of his later writings insist that many Christians do
not take seriously enough the existence and power of evil. Because of
this and other statements of his, some theological advocates of "secularist
Christianity" in the 1960's attempted to claim him as their own.
In my judgement, a study of his writings (even his later writings) as
a whole does not support this claim. However, it is true that he never
had a chance to edit his prison letters and papers, or put them into context,
and accordingly it is not surprising that they contain some statements
that baffle the reader.
The following hymn was written by him in the concentration
camp, shortly before his death.
By gracious powers so wonderfully sheltered,
and confidently waiting come what may,
we know that God is with us night and morning,
and never fails to greet us each new day.
Yet is this heart by its old foe tormented,
still evil days bring burdens hard to bear;
Oh, give our frightened souls the sure salvation
for which, O Lord, You taught us to prepare.
And when this cup You give is filled to brimming
with bitter suffering, hard to understand,
we take it thankfully and without trembling,
out of so good and so beloved a hand.
Yet when again in this same world You give us
the joy we had, the brightness of Your Sun,
we shall remember all the days we lived through,
and our whole life shall then be Yours alone.
This hymn appears in the 1982 Episcopal Hymnal (695). The
translator is F. Pratt Green (1903- ) listed in hymnal indexes sometimes
under Green and sometimes under Pratt Green. The translation copyright
is Hope Publishing Company 1974.
The hymn appears as 637 in the current Finnish Hymnal,
translated by Anna-Maija Raittila, and beginning "Hyvyyden voiman
CHURCH LEADERS REMEMBER DIETRICH BONHOEFFER
(ENI) Fifty years after the execution of Dietrich Bonhoeffer at the age
of 39 on April 9, 1945, at the hands of one of Hitler's special commandos
in the concentration camp of Flossenbuerg, church leaders have paid tribute
to the German Lutheran theologian who joined the political opposition
to Hitler. At a recent memorial service in Flossenbuerg, Klaus Engelhardt,
the presiding bishop of the Evangelical Church in Germany (EKD), described
how Bonhoeffer refused to be placed on the prayer list of the Confessing
Church after his imprisonment in 1943. "Bonhoeffer believed that
only those who were imprisoned because of their proclamation or actions
in the service of the church belonged on the prayer list, but not those
imprisoned as political conspirators," he said. Engelhardt asserted
that the church today should think again about how it supports those who
exercise their resistance to injustice through political means. "Is
our Protestant church not in the position and not prepared to support
or pray for those who take the path of political resistance to inhumanity
or the perversion of law and order?" he asked. "They are among
those who hunger and thirst for righteousness and whom Jesus praises in
by James Kiefer