April 20

Dietrich Bonhoeffer (1906-1945) Lutheran pastor and martyr

On April 9, 1945, the German Lutheran pastor Dietrich Bonhoeffer was hanged nude on a stake in the concentration camp of Flossenbürg.
Born in Breslau on February 4, 1906, he inherited his mother's energetic calm and spontaneous need to help others. From his father he learned extraordinary foresight, the ability to focus his attention on any subject, an aversion for stereotypes, and a fierce attachment to reality and to all that is human.
Bonhoeffer earned a theological degree in 1930 and worked as a pastor for several years. In 1935 the Confessing Church, whose members were German Protestants unwilling to compromise their faith by obeying the dictates of the Nazi regime, asked him to direct its seminary for young pastors. Bonhoeffer moved to Finkenwalde, and for several years he shared everything with his students. He became convinced that Christians have a deep need to remain faithful to the earth, that reality in which they are called to invest the gift of faith as responsible members of creation.
After the forced closure of the seminary, Bonhoeffer left Germany for the United States, but was plagued by inner turmoil. He finally put an end to his hesitation and returned to Berlin, joining to his faithfulness to the earth the personal memoria of the Cross without which genuine Christian life is not possible.
He spent two years in prison, and on April 8, 1945, the Sunday after Easter, his fate was decided. Guilty of plotting against Hitler, he was sentenced to death by the Führer himself. "It is the end, and for me the beginning of life," he answered those who bid him farewell, conscious that the costly grace offered to every disciple of Christ had led him to make his Lord's passover journey his own.

Almighty and eternal God,
today we commemorate Dietrich Bonhoeffer,
a witness to Christ among his brothers and sisters:
he sought freedom in discipline,
the divine presence in action,
and testimony to the Gospel in the sacrifice of his life.
Make us capable of fighting courageously for justice as he did,
and grant that we may recognize the primacy of your will always.
Through Christ our Lord.


Jer 45:1-5; Lk 21:9-19


Awgen (Eugene, 4th cent.) monk

Today the churches of Syriac tradition commemorate Awgen (Eugene), the father of all monks of the East.
According to tradition, Awgen was an Egyptian pearl fisherman who decided to become a monk, and joined the monastery founded by Pachomius. After some time he left Egypt and headed east with twenty-eight disciples (or seventy, according to another source). He arrived in Nisibis and settled on Mount Izla, where he taught Syriac-speaking Christians about the Egyptian monastic tradition.
There is fairly strong historical evidence that Egyptian monastic colonies did exist in the region of Nisibis as early as the fourth century. Several of Awgen's companions, whose names appear in hagiographical accounts, were actual monastic founders in the Eastern Church.
Awgen is commemorated by Assyrian and Chaldean Christians on the first Friday of the Dedication, as well as on October 12 and November 21. Today's date is that most widely attested in West Syrian churches.



COPTS AND ETHIOPIANS (12 barmudah/miyazya):
Alexander (d. ca. 250), bishop of Jerusalem (Coptic Church)

Johannes Bugenhagen (d. 1558), reformer in northern Germany

Nathanael the Righteous, apostle

Theodore Trichinas (5th cent.?), monk
Athanasius of Meteora (d. 1383), monk (Greek Church)
Theotimus of Tomi (4th-5th cent.), bishop (Rumanian Church)

Awgen of Egypt, father of monasticism in the region of Nisibi