Category Archives: Meditations
Snapshot of Divine Mercy
“Let the house of Israel say, ‘His mercy endures forever’” (Ps. 118:2).
Rudolf Haas was a member of the Nazi Party and an infamous commander of one of the most notorious places on earth: Auschwitz Concentration Camp in Poland. Born in Germany, he was baptized Catholic but left the Faith as a young man, and wandered about aimlessly for a time. He joined the Nazi Party, which ascended to power in Germany in 1932. Haas was a devoted and ruthless advocate of the Nazi program of racial purity and eventually the Final Solution, or murder of Europe’s Jews.
Rising through the ranks, Haas eventually became commander of Auschwitz Concentration Camp, the final stop for millions of innocent people, Christian and Jew alike. In the meantime in Krakow, a Catholic Jesuit priest came home to his community, only to discover that they had been arrested by German authorities, and taken to Auschwitz. Determined to join his brothers, this priest broke into the camp, and was quickly arrested. When taken before Haas, the guards expected him to be immediately executed. But, to everyone’s surprise, the commander (who was called an “animal” because of his cruelty to prisoners), released him, thinking the priest not worth his time. Little did the infamous commander realize the wisdom of this decision.
After the war, Rudolf Haas was arrested and condemned to death in Auschwitz itself. He feared his Polish guards most of all because many of their friends and relatives were victims of Nazi cruelty. But the guards were kind and gracious to Haas. This touched his heart, and he converted back to the Faith. At one point, Haas asked for a priest to hear his Confession. Sadly not one priest could be found, but he remembered the name of the priest he had released a few months earlier, and the search began.
When the priest came to Haas, he spent the entire day hearing the death camp commander’s confession of sins. A day later, Rudolf Haas was executed for crimes against humanity.
The lesson on this second week of Easter is clear: if we expect God to be merciful to us, we must show mercy to our brothers and sisters. As we say in the Lord’s Prayer, “Forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors.” May the mercy we show others be returned to us.