Ivan Merz was born in the year 1896 in Bosnia. Like every young person Ivan attended school in a society that tended towards the more liberal way of thinking where great literature was extolled over the Churches Teachings. This did not deter the young Ivan who not only loved his Faith but tried his utmost to live it everyday.
This was the standout point with Ivan, unlike many of his contemporaries Ivan's focus was on God and living to please God by prayerfully doing His Will. This meant a great deal of self discipline as Ivan distanced himself from those who led loose lives with equally loose morals.
Ivan chose instead to concentrate on his education and attended the University of Vienna with the hope that he would be able to pass on his own love of the Catholic Church to a younger generation. Ivan's love of the Church was so fierce and so devout that he could not imagine a world where people could be happy without God, so began his longing to evangelize the Catholic Church to all he met and all he would come to meet.
Though Ivan did not feel a calling to become a Priest he did decide after much prayer to make a vow of chastity so that he could concentrate on spreading the Faith that he loves so well and so passionately. Ivan truly is a wonderful example of how a young man can live in the world without becoming corrupted by it nor of living in the world.
As in all things though what we plan does not always turn out exactly how we would wish, this was so with Ivan with the commencement of the First World War. A horrific war with devastating consequences for many families and for the world as a whole, it would also deeply impact Ivan's own life, and lead him ever deeper into prayer and trusting in God alone.
During this most brutal war the Italian soldiers were poorly equipped with some of the fighting in the mountainous regions. It led to much bloodshed and loss of life and through it all Ivan was able to maintain his Faith even if at times he felt himself in the pits of hell due to the suffering and devastation he witnessed. Though the First World War would become known as 'the war to end all wars' unfortunately history does not bear this out, but Ivan would not see the brutality of yet another World conflict.
Upon the finish of the First World War, Ivan returned to resume his studies and took a course on Literature whereupon he completed his studies in Paris in 1922. He then studied Philosophy specializing in the Liturgy and the influence of French literature within the Liturgy itself. Ivan undertook this course of study so he could help young people gain a new love and reverence for the Liturgical elements in the Mass and the deeper meaning within the Mass, so as to impress upon young minds the essentialness of the Liturgy in Catholic Worship.
During this time Ivan also started several groups for young people in order to teach and instruct them on the Faith one of these groups being, "League of Young Croatian Catholics". Through his in-depth and private studies of documents within the Magisterium, Ivan hoped to renew the love of young people towards the Catholic Church and to influence them to give their obedience to the Vicar of Christ and the Magisterium. This young man truly was an inspiration to many he met as he sought to convey his own passion for the Church to those who needed to hear that God can be found within the One Holy and Apostolic Catholic Church.
Through all this activity Ivan never lost track of prayer and devoted many hours in silent prayer in spiritual communion with the Triune Spirit, after all it was the source of Ivan's strength, for no good work for the Church has ever been accomplished without a deep and devout prayer life. Though Ivan would suffer the ridicule of some and the insults of others he did not allow this to affect his Faith or his peace of heart. This was a young man who's soul was immersed in the love of God which knew no bounds as he offered up these sufferings to our Lord and Savior. Ivan simply wished to spread the love of God to all and the joy he had found in the embrace of the Catholic Church.
Ivan would be spared the pain of having to endure yet another world war and also the pain of watching his own country erupt in civil war. Though Ivan suffered and endured much pain he was spared this searing affliction of his own war torn country.
Ivan Merz died in 1928.
Blessed Ivan Merz was Beatified in 2003 by Pope John Paul II.
Peace of Christ to ALL
Copyright © 2006 Marie Smith. All rights reserved.