“The heroes of the Church can assist us in our lives. They were no ‘photocopied Christians’; rather, each one was original, irreplaceable and without parallel! The Church of today does not need part time Catholics. She needs full-blooded Christians!” (John Paul II, June 21, 1998, at the Beatification of James Kern).
Today marks the feast of Blessed James Kern; the gallant canon of Geras who offered his life in reparation for a schismatical priest.
The life of Blessed James has published by the canons of St. Michael’s, Orange and can be purchased from their web-site. The cause of this Norbertine blessed is promoted by the General Postulator of the Order, and by the abbey of Geras.
“Jakob Kern came from a humble Viennese family of workers. The First World War tore him abruptly from his studies at the minor seminary in Hollabrunn. A serious war injury made his brief earthly life in the major seminary and the Premonstratensian monastery of Geras – as he said himself – a “Holy Week”. For love of Christ he did not cling to life but consciously offered it to others. At first he wanted to become a diocesan priest. But one event made him change direction. When a Premonstratensian left the monastery to follow the Czech National Church formed after the separation from Rome which had just occurred, Jakob Kern discovered his vocation in this sad event. He wanted to atone for this religious. Jakob Kern joined the monastery of Geras in his place, and the Lord accepted his offering a “substitute”.
Bl. Jakob Kern stands before us as a witness of fidelity to the priesthood. At the beginning, it was a childhood desire that he expressed in imitating the priest at the altar. Later this desire matured. The purification of pain revealed the profound meaning of his priestly vocation: to unite his own life with the sacrifice of Christ on the Cross and to offer it vicariously for the salvation of others.
May Bl. Jakob Kern, who was a vivacious and enthusiastic student, encourage many young men generously to accept Christ’s call to the priesthood. The words he spoke then are addressed to us: “Today more than ever there is a need for authentic and holy priests. All the prayers, all the sacrifices, all the efforts and all the suffering united with a right intention become the divine seed which sooner or later will bear its fruit”.” – Homily of Pope John Paul II