Szombathely, Hungary, Nov 11, 2017 / 15:03 pm
Besides the smiling Pope, John Paul I, several other people’s causes advanced towards sainthood this week. Among them is Servant of God János (John) Brenner, a Cistercian Hungarian priest whose martyrdom was acknowledged by Pope Francis this week.
Brenner was born on Dec. 27, 1931 in Szombathely, Hungary. A young person “full of life, joy and mischief,” Brenner attended Catholic schools run by the Cistercian order (a reformed order of Benedictines) for several years until the nationalization of schools by the communist government which came to power after World War II as part of the Eastern Bloc.
He felt called to the Cistercian order. He applied and was accepted as a novice to the order in Zirc in 1950, and took the name Br. Anastasius (Anasztáz).
However, only a few months after Brenner began formation, the communist government began suppressing religious houses. To protect the men in formation, the novice master moved the young brothers from the abbey to private apartments, where they hoped to continue formation in secret.
It was around this time that Brenner, along with a few other novices, moved to the local seminary to begin studying to become a priest, while continuing with his Cistercian formation through correspondence.
Despite the dangers and religious oppression going on around him, journal entries from Brenner at the time display a deep trust in God and a strong desire to do his will.
“There is no greater joy than when man who is nothing, can be even more annihilated in Christ and immerse himself into the infinite world of His soul filled with wonderful riches which are forever given over to us,” he wrote in 1950.
“Even if the road is rough, I look at your pain- ridden face and follow you. I ask you only one thing: May I always fulfill most precisely what you give to me as my vocation.”