As part of our ongoing observance of the 200th birthday of Blessed Pauline von Mallinckrodt, we continue to post excerpts of Als Antwort auf Gottes Ruf (Bonifatius, 2016), the history of the Sisters of Christian Charity since 1881, by Sister Anna Schwanz, SCC, translated by Sister Mary Perpetua Rehle, SCC.
"In 1938 [in Germany], religious persecution took on greater proportions, sometimes gently and masked, then again brutal and open, by spying on priests and the faithful, disruption of church services, the elimination of prayer in schools and the removal of crucifixes from classrooms, the restriction of religious instruction and even the disbanding of the Catholic Youth Associations and the seizure of their entire resources because of 'subversive activities.'
"The contest against the Church was, at the same time, a contest against religious Congregations. A secret instruction of February 15, 1938 stated: 'The Congregations are the militant arm of the Catholic Church. For that reason, they must be pushed back, constricted and finally exterminated from their fields of influence.' Whenever the Sisters could serve a good cause, the courageously set to work. Some missions provide opportunities for meetings to groups who had been disbanded. There were days of reflection for pupils before their graduation and for various other groups. At such gatherings, one always had to reckon with the appearance of the Gestapo and the fear of being taken away by them was great.
"The solidarity of the Sisters during difficult times showed itself even more strongly during the destruction of foundations in Germany and at the beginning of reconstruction. A selection from a Circular Letter from Mother Anselmis during this time emphasizes this: 'My dear Sisters, what makes me very, very happy, despite all the heartache . . . never has holy love, the main rule of our beloved convent family celebrated such triumph as in this time of inner and outer distress. In my long life in religion, I have never had the opportunity to witness a closer unity of Sisters with one another and a greater willingness to help and to support each other. We must thank the dear Lord for that, but also our blessed Mother Pauline, who instilled such a spirit of harmony and love into her Community. Holy Love was to be its life, its soul and its guiding principle. Thanks be to God, dear Mother Pauline, your foundation has faithfully preserved this original spirit. The year 1945 is the proof of it.."