CONTINUATION OF STUDIES IN VIENNA
1919 – 1920

Return to Vienna, enrolment at the faculty, residence

After having fulfilled his duty and consolidated the affairs among the miners in Maslovare, Ivan asked Kostić, the Chairman of the National Council in Banja Luka, an Orthodox priest, to relieve him of the duty of commander of the coal mine, in order to continue his studies. He got this permission and in January 1919, along with other Croatian students, he once more went to Vienna.

His firstly stayed with other colleagues in a Catholic Institute Augustineum where students of different nationalities were staying, and the head of the dorm was a Slovenian priest, Dr. Josip Ujčić.1 After a certain period of time, Ivan relocated to his former landlords. At the University, he enrolled in the courses of German and French languages and literature. He diligently read all the works necessary for the studies and was a frequent visitor of the Burgtheater, Staatsoper and Volkstheater. Abundant notes on all this are found in the Diary.

Relocation of the family to Zagreb

Easter and summer holidays of 1919 Ivan spent in Banja Luka, and in September that same year his parents moved to Zagreb, where his father got a job as supervisor of the state railways. They got an apartment in Starčevićev dom (present-day Starčević Square 6), across from the Main Railway Station. This is where Ivan lived, upon return from his studies, until his death.

Intensive spiritual life

During his stay in Vienna, along with diligent efforts needed for the studies, he dedicated himself to the deepening of his religious life and apostolic activity, especially in the Academic Society “Croatia”, as is visible from his Diary. He was a keen observer of Catholic life in Vienna, as well as in Zagreb.

His connection with God at that time was marked by a devotion to the Heart of Jesus and the liturgy. He renewed the devotion of the nine First Fridays and this is what he noted: “I received my ninth Holy Communion dedicated to the glory of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and I believe that I will contemplate the depths of the most holy Trinity. I must earn here somehow that immeasurable love of Christ, and I will strive, with God’s help, to continue the task of sanctity with a growing zeal.” 2

For his later spiritual life, as well as apostolate, the decisive breakthrough was liturgical spiritual exercises in the monastery St. Gabriel near Mödling, where a large missionary school was kept. This was during the Holy Week of 1920. It was here that Ivan got to know and was filled with enthusiasm for the liturgy of the Catholic Church from which he will later draw inspiration and strength for his inner life. Following his coming to Zagreb, he became a great promoter of the liturgical renewal among the Croatian people.

Renewal of the Catholic Academic Society “Croatia” in Vienna

With the arrival in Vienna, Ivan, along with three student colleagues immediately renewed the Academic Society “Croatia” which was inactive during the war. Along with Merz, the renovators of the Society were Dragan Marošević, Avelin Ćepulić and Mato Filipović, SJ. The rooms in Merz’s apartment were the premises in which Ivan and his colleagues from the “Croatia” Society regularly met. Soon, two worthy Croatian Franciscans joined them. As the Society’s secretary, Ivan tirelessly followed all public lectures about the Catholic culture, organizations and informed his comrades about them.

In the meetings, Ivan insisted on the importance of spiritual life. He particularly stressed this point in his lecture The New Age which he gave to his colleagues in February 1919, and which made a strong impact on all listeners.3 In this lecture, Ivan described the turnabout and yearnings of his life and laid down the goals of a modern Catholicism.

Due to new circumstances that came about with the founding of the new Yugoslav state, the “Croatia” Society changed its name to Jug (South) and accepted Slovenian students into its ranks.

Participates in the work of various societies and on Catholic manifestations

Apart from “Croatia” Society, where he served as secretary (Avelin Ćepulić was president), Ivan was also a member of the academic Marian Congregation which promoted a deeper spiritual life. This he mentions in his Diary where he gives summaries of the lectures he heard there.

A significant influence on Merz’s life was exerted by the academic society Logos, where Ivan was among the ten founding members! This society had the task to study religious issues and inner life. Subsequently it grew and advanced considerably. On the Annunciation day, 25 March 1920, Ivan was present at the Catholic Congress of the Vienna Archdiocese. He was especially impressed by the thoughts relating to the universal Catholic consciousness and he published an article about it in Croatian press.4

At the beginning of August 1920, Ivan took part at a great meeting of the Eagle Catholic Organization in Maribor, and on this occasion held a lecture about the International Catholic Students Union. “I spoke with passion, given to me by the holy Eucharist” he stated in his Diary, after the description of the Maribor gathering.5 During his stay in Banja Luka during the summer vacation in 1919, Ivan helped found a society for the youth and vacation courses.6 Already at that time in Vienna, Ivan’s Catholicism was not colored by culture, politics, social issues, or even esthetics, but was a Catholicism of Christ and the soul, a Catholicism of eternal values which encompass the entire person and hold everything else subordinate from the perspective of eternity.

Contributes to the resolution of problems in the Croatian Catholic Movement

Together with his colleagues, Ivan keenly followed the development of the Croatian Catholic Movement in his homeland, the umbrella movement to which, through the “Croatia” Society, he also belonged. He noticed certain irregularities in the Movement, a leaning toward excessive nationalism and a danger of a split within the Movement. He discussed these matters a lot with his colleagues, and on one occasion he presented his views in the form of a lecture. The motive of this discussion and Ivan’s reaction was the Luč Magazine in which the ideas were put forth which alarmed Ivan and his colleagues. The original manuscript of his lecture is lost, but Dr. D. Kniewald published it in Ivan’s first biography.7

Resistance to the Serbian terror in Vienna

In his Viennese Diary of 12 June 1919, Merz gives us this interesting note: “Yesterday in the canteen, the Serbs approached us with terror (Kostić, Dr. Jakšić, Adamović). They wanted us to make a vow of allegiance to the Serbian dynasty, central government and a unified people.” There is no mention on how the events evolved further.

However, Dr. D. Kniewald in Ivan’s biography gives us a broader context of the whole incident8, taken over from an article by Dr. Avelin Ćepulić who was a witness of this event. Namely, already in the first months after the founding of the new Yugoslav State, the Belgrade regime, through its envoys began openly or secretly persecuting all that was Croatian and Catholic, both within the country and abroad. In the Vienna case, Merz decisively resisted this Serbian terror, as he calls it himself, and with his example encouraged other Croatian students who followed suit. Below is the full description of the incident as it was described by Dr. Avelin Ćepulić, the witness:

“In its peaceful social work the “Croatia” Society was shaken by some unpleasant events which threatened our very existence (economic survival). Namely, in Vienna there was the so-called “Yugoslav canteen” for the students from our state, about a hundred of them. Here a group of students, Yugoslav nationalists (the ORJUNA Organization)9 took lead. For them the “Croatia” Society was a thorn in the flesh, especially due to its decisive influence and reputation among a greater part of Croatian students who suffered the Yugoslav and ORJUNA domination in the canteen with pain. In order for the ORJUNA group to get rid of the Croats, and their key opponent, the “Croatia” Society, they made a malicious plan. They decided that access to the canteen could be had only by those students who signed some political statement, injurious for the Croatian people.10 Refusal to sign this statement meant exclusion from the canteen! And at that time in Vienna the canteen was the only place where students could get food. And this is what happened: all the Croatian liberals and “great” Croats, whether the followers of Starčević, republicans, etc. signed humbly, without a word of protest this anti-Croatian statement. But then, the turn came for the hardest nut – the “Croatia” Society. They first invited Merz to sign the statement. “I am not signing!” the Orjuna Group was petrified. They never imagined that there could be a man whom they couldn’t break. They immediately convened an extraordinary meeting and removed Merz from the canteen. We, other members of the “Croatia” Society, took a different, somewhat easier road. We won for our cause the diplomatic envoy of the Kingdom of the Serbs, Croats and Slovenes in Vienna and he had to intervene. Due to his intervention, the Orjuna Group convened an assembly of all the Viennese students from our country and in this assembly, Merz’s unbreakable character made such a deep impression on all, including many liberals, so that we, the members of the “Croatia” Society, got the necessary majority and toppled the Orjuna from the helm.11

View of Vienna

Vienna, 17 February 1919 – (22 years and 2 months)

Review, critique and comment on Pestalozzi’s novel Leonard and Gertrude

This is a pedagogical novel in which we see a reflection of the misery of a part of the Swiss-German people. At a time in which the science and culture are at such a high level, the lower strata of the population live in darkness and evil. This part of Europe is worse than wild, uncultivated regions, because these people steered away from nature and degenerated. Pestalozzi lived among these people and he takes us into every hut, tavern, barber’s shop, introduces us to every priest and local potentate. He shows us in detail the degeneration of this village and indirectly points out the way in which this evil might be healed. This is the purpose of his work, as he was a practicing social worker and his main goal was to correct the people with this work. That’s why it is written in a plain style, so that everybody can understand it. (…)

(Here follows a detailed account of the content of the novel and writer’s guidelines how this social evil can be corrected: to improve education within the family, rulers must take care of the people like fathers, and the priest must be a medicine for the soul whose task is to instill a religion of the heart)

Vienna, 17 March 1919 – (22 years and 3 months)

Attends a workers’ theatre play with a Christian content

I learn and go into various organizations… Those around the Gral12 established a Christlich-deutsche Volksbühne and yesterday was their first performance: Der Abt von Fiecht. (On this occasion, I saw Kralik.) Male and female workers were actors and they played very well, with enthusiasm and the whole impression was very pleasant. In our country, it wouldn’t be a problem to create something like that and thus raise the self-awareness of the workers.

(Here follows a brief account of the content of the drama which is permeated with a Christian spirit. A soldier who fought against the Turks gets married. In the meantime, the Turks break into his town and he believes that his wife and daughter perished. He abandons the world and dedicates himself to God by building a monastery. In the meantime, he finds out that his wife and daughter survived the Turkish occupation. A complicated plot follows…)

Vienna, 31 March 1919 – (22 years and 3 months)

Serbian Freemasons against Croatian Catholicism

The Serbs have a strong Freemasonic organization. Their entire life, starting with Peter to the lowest person is in the service of Freemasons. Somebody, on the basis of documents brought out into the open things that shocked us. Were we all asleep and failed to notice what was going on around us? The only hope of the Church in Croatia, our Student Movement, has split into two, Hrvatska straža and Dan magazines are not published any more… Is this merely by accident? Or the torch of dissent was intentionally thrown into our ranks? In addition, we see centrifugal tendencies among the priests (Bosnian Franciscans). All the enemy press is in the hands of Freemasons. It is at the last moment that we organize ourselves and accept the battle. Christianity as a common denominator of Serbs and Croats for the moment seems a utopia, because the Freemasons are supporting Orthodoxy in the elements in which it differs from Catholicism. I don’t know if it will be possible to organize a part of Serbian Christian intelligentsia so that we jointly commence work on the resurrection of the Christian culture. But woe, I hold that it is too late; I wonder if one could find among the entire Serbian intelligentsia even a single one who is not imbued by liberalism.

May our dear Jesus help us to overcome Satan in ourselves and to love our Creator and our neighbor so that we may glorify and expand the most holy Church!

Vienna, 31 March 1919 – (22 years and 3 months)

Catholicism is our goal, not the means!

Already during the war, and especially during the study in Vienna, Ivan monitored with a keen eye the development of the Croatian Catholic Movement in his homeland. He noticed certain irregularities within the Movement, especially after Petar Rogulja published in Luč Magazine in 1916 his article “Before the Dawn” which provoked numerous debates and there was a danger that the Movement might split. Ivan discussed this matter at length with his colleagues, and on one meeting he openly declared his views in the form of a lecture. Here we bring the key thoughts from this lecture whose original manuscript is not preserved, but Dr. D. Kniewald published it in Ivan’s first biography.13 Although this text is not part of the Diary, we print it here because it rounds off the picture of his spirituality, his intellectual profile, his inner world and gives us a clear picture of his deep religious convictions, views and proposals how to preserve faith in everyday life of engaged Catholics.

“Brothers! We can’t go on like this. Our movement is being divided and is going down the wrong track. Religion became the means of nationalism. We shall not and mustn’t be Catholics in order to help the people, but will help the people because we are Catholics. Catholicism is our aim, not our means. One part of our generation in this war-time and political turmoil completely forgot the purpose of our lives and neglected the cultivation of ourselves while other brothers were on the battlefields, imprisoned or in hospitals. In those moments of suffering they were exclusively occupied by the cultivation of their souls. Thus, the circumstances created two parallel generations, the nationalistic-intellectual and the religious type. Both must now merge, but the leadership must be had by the latter type.

The basis of our life must be our regeneration in Christ, and everything else follows logically from this. But alas, how far we are from this! A part of our movement is permeated with the spirit of modernity and decadence. Leadership is in the hands of people incapable of carrying out this task. Instead of sowing everywhere the seeds of love in the spirit of Christ, to put balm even on the wounds of the enemy, what’s more, they attack with a liberal gesture all that was dear to us, even if it wasn’t perfect.

The only hope of Catholicism in our people is the Students’ Movement. This is our child and our greatest hope. The province, which elaborates all ideas more slowly, preserved something of the old idealism of the Movement, which was one of the most beautiful features in the cultural history of the Croatian people. Is there anyone here who forgot the joy when Luč came out? Is there anyone who doesn’t remember with pain and tears our “poet of eternal pen” or Roman Tieck, “the artist of the most holy Eucharist”? Where are these people today who would strive for inner greatness, for the perfection of themselves, who resolved life’s most difficult problems in a unique way and paved the way to a culture in its own right? The ties are broken, the gap is enormous. Our current ideology is a liberal decadence. The poets in Luč are tiny epigones of Verlaine and Baudelaire…Our poetry will never be great unless we reform the center of all life – the man. We ought to return to the faith in a radical way, it must permeate our whole life. The thought that we are allowed to do everything that doesn’t collide with a Catholic morale is unworthy of our mission. We must all be convinced that the founders of our Movement accomplished such beautiful successes because they were radical Catholics. A great part of our people (today) are in the Movement only because they are convinced that they will evolve favorably in this world. But, this is a poor religion; we are the members of the mystical Body of Christ and we know only one gravitational center and only one single life.

In order to bridge the gap which occurred between our old generation, which still has many worthy members, and the new one, we ought to transform the Luč magazine. As it is now, it is a bad epigone of modern decadence. Art is the best representative of the age and people and these two directions (Tieck and newer poets in Luč) clearly show that the connection between the old and the new generation is severed. It is like that in all other fields of life. The sense of Christian greatness has been forgotten amongst us…”

It was concluded that the opinion of “Croatia” Society about some issues which concern the Luč Magazine be sent to the editors. And really, in Luč No. 9, 1918/19, p. 246, in the same issue in which Ivan’s article The New Age was printed, the letter from the Viennese “Croatia” Society was printed too with proposals for the reform of Luč according to the ideas which Merz highlighted in his lecture.

Vienna, 2 April 1919 – (22 years and 4 months)

Review of the content and critique of Hebbel’s tragedy Mary Magdalene from 1844

This is an urban tragedy which carries all the features of Hebbel’s heroic tragedies and which by all means influenced Ibsen. The main protagonist, Klara is one of many Hebbel’s women who have a deep notion of female dignity, a notion which we, the world of today, cannot comprehend. Admittedly, this notion of female dignity he didn’t develop to the full; the work largely covers a real milieu and Hebbel keeps his moralizing tendency at the bottom of his soul. (…) Observed from the natural point of view, this work is an apology of virginity and love towards the father, two values which are embedded in the human soul by nature. (…)

(Here follows an extensive account of the content of the work and analysis of his characters.)

Vienna, 4 May 1919 – (22 years and 5 months)

Watched the drama Florian Geyer by G. Hauptmann

This is a drama without any action at all. It represents an epic event with modern naturalist technique. It all takes place during the peasant uprising in Luther’s time. I was in the theatre with Štitić.

Vienna, 12 June 1919 – (22 years and 6 months)

Serbian terror in Vienna

I am learning Gothic and Old German. Yesterday in the canteen the Serbs approached us with terror (Kostić, Dr. Jakšić, Adamović). They want us to pledge allegiance to the dynasty, central government and a unified nation.14

I read Othello and listened to Aida.

Vienna, 13 June 1919 – (22 years and 6 months)

Review and critique of Verdi’s opera Aida

It cannot be compared to Wagner. Music is not an integral whole with ideas of the work; there is no psychological action and different instruments don’t have their distinct role. (…) All the time I was looking for Wagner in Verdi, and I mostly listened to the orchestra. There are some beautiful melodies: the march of the victorious and the funeral song. The content is terribly shallow. (…) In a literary way, that shallow spiritual world-view is reflected, although the motif (Romeo and Juliet, Tristan and Isolde) is by itself magnificent. It is romantic, but doesn’t suit our age because it has no psychological motivation. Such love which is a deity unto itself and is not ennobled in any way is a psychological absurdity. For us who know what marriage means, this pagan immature love is immature in the same way in which we all know that the former slave trade was immoral.

(Here follows the account of the opera’s content)

St. Stephen’s cathedral in Vienna

Vienna, Sunday, 1 July 1919 – (22 years and 7 months)

Attends lectures at the Marian Congregation

Fr. Leifert spoke in the Marian Congregation15 about sacrifice; all the nations had it; sacrifice is gradual, it grows in geometrical progression: animal – robber – child – young man and all of this cannot destroy the immeasurable offence. Only if the sacrifice is immeasurable, the immeasurable offence can be expiated. In all world-views this tendency is present and already the old philosophers were asking themselves where does it come from. Plato answers them that it is based on old traditions. He goes on to the liturgy. If the scientists would discover on some island a tribe which preserved the costume, customs, language for two thousand years, people wouldn’t believe it. And in liturgy this is preserved. He mentions Luther’s revolution which finds it impossible to believe in a God who is sacrificed every day for our mistakes, but claims that he suffered this sacrifice only once; he mentions Calvin and Jansen and sheds light on the mystery of the holy Mass.

A meeting of all the Marian Congregations in Konzerthaus: Dreisekolinden sings. They speak about charity work, about the apostolate, director Smit reports on the activity of the Volksbund. They explain socialism as a pseudo-religion, a heresy against which they will fight successfully.

Pavešić and Poljaković brought the food for the canteen.

Vienna, 15 July 1919 – (22 years and 7 months)

Visit to the Jesuit monastery in Kalksburg, political situation in Russia

In Kalksburg we visited a Jesuit monastery. It is ideally ordered; an island of peace and contentment.

The Bolsheviks wanted to proclaim the Soviet Republic. They say there are many wounded.

I learn Old German. I make mistakes…16

Vienna, 17 July 1919 – (22 years and 7 months)17

Visit to a theatre

I saw Waves of the Sea and of Love by Grillparzer. It’s a soul drama, technically the end is pretty disjointed, and it contains several deep tragic moments which remind me of Vigny’s I love the majesty of human suffering.

Vienna, 20 July 1919 – (22 years and 7 months)

Review and critique of Mozart’s opera Don Juan

I am coming from Mozart’s Don Juan. The content reminds me of the novels from the beginning of the 19th century which describe sin interestingly and in great detail, and in the end, they conclude morally. Don Juan, a well- known character from world literature, a man without conscience who deceives and charms the girls… The text doesn’t match the musical composition by far.

(Here follows a brief review of the content of the opera)

Vienna, 25 July 1919 – (22 years and 7 months)

American charitable initiative for the students after the war

Americans are giving us for 30 crowns a day chocolate coffee with a white bread roll (Semmel). It is as if some religious spirit lies behind this gesture and generally behind this organized mercy. This behavior is like a balm for the old world torn apart by hatred.

Criticizes antisemitism of some Christians

I hold that the Christian behave in an un-Christian manner toward the Jews. It is as if they don’t understand the tragic fate of this poor nation that was predestined to have this magnificent past and to give birth to the Messiah; and now, it wanders as if under a curse, despised without a king and priests in foreign lands. I think Christians ought to show more mercy toward this interesting people, not only due to historical reverence but because some of them will convert at the end of the world. The grandfathers of these future converts are among us, and we persecute them. We ought to have more understanding and love toward this people and in such a way we will attract many into the embrace of our holy Church. We must be especially sensitive towards Jews who are suffering, and there are many today, so instead of opting for Bolshevism, they will come to us. The rich man and capitalism of any religion was and is our opponent.

Scheeben writes wonderfully.18

Banja Luka, 27 July 1919 – (22 years and 7 months)

Apostolic work with the youth in Banja Luka

We established holiday courses.19 The article The New Age appeared recently in Luč Magazine (Year XIV, No. 9–10, pp. 210–214).20 I am learning the whole day long.

Banja Luka, 29 July 1919 – (22 years and 7 months)

Arrogance – the characteristic of reformation and the mother of chauvinism

I am reading German poets from the 16th century. The flood of reformation has taken over the spirits; all the poetry is in its service. They debate the Church truths, but there are a lot of healthy things in this movement. It was necessary in order to regenerate old and worn-out representatives of the Church. But, arrogance is a trait of this movement and it is interesting to read Fischart and others who completely forgot the Christian community, holding national egoism above all. Reformation is the mother of national chauvinism; it “liberated” the spirits under the “yoke” of Roman universalism and created a national ideal which brought so much misfortune to the centuries that followed.

(In the continuation Merz quotes in German from Fischart’s poem which is imbued by pan-Germanic spirit, in which Germany is called “domitrix gentium”, i.e. the one which subjugates the nations and which contains very ugly references about the French)

Banja Luka, 31 July 1919 – (22 years and 7 months)

Luther is a very interesting personality. I quote from his letter that he wrote to his wife on 25 January 1546:

“It’s not that we were thirsty to drink (the river Saale), but we took good Rhine wine and beer with which we fortified ourselves and took solace until the river Saale stopped being angry at us. Because the devil is angry at us and resides in the water (The Saale flooded everything). It is better to keep safe than complain later, and it is not necessary to give the Pope and his entourage the insane joy (that I wanted to cross The Saale in spite of the flood).”

He is interesting and rather conceited, although a great spirit who clearly saw many mistakes of his people:

“Every nation must have its own devil, Switzerland hers, France hers; our German devil is becoming a good wine belly and must be called drunkenness, because he is so thirsty and cheerful that he cannot be cooled with such quantities of wine and beer. And such eternal thirst will remain the German torture (it scares me) until the Judgement Day” (Görchen 7, p. 95)21

Banja Luka, 3 August 1919 – (22 years and 8 months)

Compares literature of Catholic countries with Protestant Germany where it is practically non-existent

It is interesting to follow the development of German literature, the luxuriant works of the epic writer Wolfram, a deep lyric of Walther von der Vogelweide, the brilliant prose of the mystic Seuse, Mechtilda; then comes the reformation and a gap occurs. Are you seeking strong and deep values? All you will find is debate, national chauvinist brutality straining to the extreme. Hans Sachs draws his last strength from the Catholic tradition, whereas Fischart and all who follow don’t know poetry any more.

A void opened up overnight, at a time when in Italy the classics created universal works of art, in France and Spain the arts blossomed, in England the popular Catholic traditions led to Shakespeare and in Protestant Germany there is nothing.

Although some works of value do occur, this is only due to motivation from neighboring, mainly Catholic countries. This is a terrible national tragedy. And what follows afterwards?! I will think about it the next time.

And what is the situation in our country? Dubrovnik literature is great – it is Catholic. Serbs don’t have it. Reflecting on more recent times, they are too close to identify objectively permanent values. But, I am convinced that from a multitude of works some will crystallize which will sprout from the soil of Catholicism.

Banja Luka, 5 August 1919 – (22 years and 8 months)

Enthusiastic about the great names of Catholic faith, worried for the Church in his homeland

Oh, the study of literary history is hugely interesting. In the literary desert of the 17th century, among rough or refined formalists, among soul-less or bombastic dramatists, among idyllically beatified plump creatures (P. Gerhard), there rises the majestic appearance of the Jesuit Friedrich Spee, who in his work Cautio criminalis fights against the burning of witches, sings brilliantly and full of spirit about the betrothal of the soul and dies from a contagious disease while tending the wounded soldiers. I am overcome with enthusiasm for our holy faith which in desperate times gives birth to super-humans: St. Ignatius, St. Francis Xavier and others. I trust in God that even now such people will appear when the Church is shaken and threatened by collapse in our country. The movement against the celibate, against clerical discipline, the action of Freemasonic “reformers” to assist rebellious priests, all of these are the omens of an enormous cultural war in our homeland.

We ought to pray to the dear God to give us great people!22

Banja Luka, 21 August 1919 – (22 years and 8 months)

Review and analysis of the novel Simplicissimus by H. J. Ch. von Grimmelshausen

A very good novel and a consolation that it sprouted in the desert of Protestant literature. I don’t know of any older novel by a convert. The author crossed over to Catholicism and this deep ethical understanding permeates the entire work… The main protagonist Simplicius after many adventures during his life becomes a hermit, writes his experiences and is thankful from the bottom of his soul that God gave him the Grace of conversion. (…)

(In the continuation, there follows a review of the content of the novel and a judgement of its characters)

Banja Luka, 28 August 1919 – (22 years and 8 months)

Active in the founding of Catholic societies for the youth

In recent times, we founded a Youth Association and injected life into the High School Organization. We would have liked to set up a female organization, but the bishop forbade it, not wanting men to hold lectures for girls. We turned to the Zagreb Catholic Seniorate to help us in this matter.

Zagreb, 6 September 1919 – (22 years and 9 months)

Transfer to Zagreb, regrets leaving Bosnia, completed the Great Novena in the honor of the Heart of Jesus

We were transferred here. I regret leaving Bosnia and the people there. It will be hard for me to adapt to this mentality. Over there, the people have stronger characters; these here seem colorless and slack. French officers and soldiers! What a difference between the blonde Germans, their tall, muscular officers, well-trained soldiers.

Yesterday was the most important day in my life. I completed the ninth Holy Communion in honor of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus and I believe that I will contemplate the depths of the Most Holy Trinity. I must at least in some way deserve this immeasurable love of Christ in this life, so with God’s help I will try to continue the work of my own sanctification with greater force.

Zagreb, 1 October 1919 – (22 years and 10 months)

Review and analysis of Novalis’s novel Heinrich von Ofterdingen

This novel surprised me. I hoped that in it I would find a well-built, precise philosophy of life; whereas, what I found was a reverie of a lyric, poetic soul who judges history and great epochs in history without having glimpsed at life itself. In spite of great ideas, brilliant imagination, the novel doesn’t satisfy in the least. (…) One can perceive the great talent which Novalis has, but he is terribly lacking in experience. When a poet develops, two forces ought to exert an influence on him: pain and sin. He must enter into battle with them, overcome them and then create a poetic orientation with regard to these two ideas (Dante). (…)

(In continuation, there follows a retelling of the content of the novel and a critique of its characters)

Vienna, 9 October 1919 – (22 years and 10 months)

Review and analysis of the novel Lucinde by Fr. Schlegel

This is no novel. It has almost no content. Irony has destroyed every form. We come to the start only after several chapters. The idea is free love. It is an apology for individuals who create morals for themselves. (…) Therefore, the work has also a lascivious character. Fr. Schlegel wanted to resolve the meaning of love in a romantic way, something which was much debated and written about in his time (Schleiermacher). He only partially succeeded. (…)

(Here follows a short account of the content of the work and critique of its idea and characters)

Vienna, 10 October 1919 – (22 years and 10 months)

Human love is an image of the love between Christ and the Church

Romantic letters are interesting, especially the letters by Dorothea Veith and Karolina Böhmer Schlegel. One can study the essence of love from them. In their female souls, the image of the lover is projected. They live in the ideas of their lovers, think and conclude like them. He lifts them to his level and sees his product in their souls, sees himself. These letters confirm to me the teaching of the Church which says that marriage (love) is the relationship between Christ and the soul (Church). Christ projects by means of Grace his nature into the human soul, lifts her to his level, permeates her with his image, is reflected in her and loves her immeasurably.

Vienna, 12 October 1919 – (22 years and 10 months)

Christianity returns dignity to three classes: women, children and workers. The importance of Catholic organizations for children

In pagan times, these three classes were without any rights: women, children and workers. Demosthenes had a bad opinion of women, she was despised if she couldn’t give birth, in Rome they threw women into the Tiber River. It was similarly with children. Mothers often threw their children to the dogs. The workers were slaves. Cicero mentions that it is a shame to linger in a workshop. The Mother of God, the little Jesus and St. Joseph – the divine family (think of Raphael!) – isn’t it an allegory of the social renewal in Christianity and the liberation of the woman (Mary), child (Jesus) and worker (Joseph). History knows great social movements, for women and workers, and we are going through them; the movement for children is, admittedly, still to come. The Little Perica, the Little Haly of “the holy God”, children’s organizations of Guardian Angels all herald a children’s revolution. Psychologically it seems absurd that children lead social movements, but it happens. The child today is in a miserable situation; similar to the situation in which women were before. Some parents love their children with an animal love, and others neglect them completely so that masses of children live in total misery. Children, organize yourselves! When in a hundred or a thousand years a great children’s movement will be born as a product of extreme material necessity and which will, naturally, be led by the liberals, they will use this omission on the part of the Church by putting blame on her; they will not think of the divine prophecy which the Almighty has given us allegorically and factually in the Holy Family, they will not think that Christianity is the birthplace of the children’s movement, that at a time when there was no hint of such a movement the sanctity of children’s souls from the beginning of the world until its end was adored in the image of the Child. Catholics should begin with organizing children!

Vienna, 14 October 1919 – (22 years and 10 months)

Review and critique of the novel Siebenkäs by Jean Paul

I began reading the novel Siebenkäs. I couldn’t end it. It is hugely extensive, with terrible digressions, and the action is not moving forward. This is a bad Jean Paul, a formal ignorant, extensive to the extreme. It portrays tiny people who are happy with their small horizons. (…) The motif is the life of a provincial student, who happily completes his studies, gets married and finally dies.

(Here follows a brief review of the content of the novel)

Getting to know people and their characters, differentiates the exterior and the interior

Why is it more interesting to discuss in the dark? Why can one get to know a person better from intimate correspondence than from a conversation? Why shall we have a greater impact on people and why shall we get to know them better if we don’t observe too much the outer appearance (face, body, etc.)? Because, for instance, looking at a face we observe a man as he really is. In the face his mainly good and bad nature are crystallized. It is a reflection of the momentary spiritual greatness of a man. In a conversation, we match unconsciously the speech of this person with different movements of his body (face). If we listen to the same man in darkness, supposing we never even saw him, and if we enter into an idealistic conversation, we will grow to like this man, and the other way around. We will get to know his good nature and we will connect our deliberation to this nature, we will catch his sympathy and our action will be favorable. In letters too, good nature comes out because a man instinctively hides his mistakes in front of others, and we will get to know his good tendencies. The best way, therefore, to win a man for a cause…

Priests are advised not to look too much at people; in such a way, they will pay less attention to the exterior and the good nature of the persons they are dealing with will remain etched in their memory. In such a way, they will win over the people reacting to the good which they unwittingly observe in this person. In speech, like in a letter, the bad nature is also revealed, only this is not easily observable, because looking at another we see that the face matches the words. Not to look too much at people is a good means of asceticism; to emancipate ourselves from curiosity to which we are slaves!

Ivan Merz – student in Vienna. Painting by General Ante Gotovina in The Hague in 2009

Vienna, 16 October 1919 – (22 years and 10 months)

Review of the content and critique of the work Puss in Boots by Ludwig Tieck

Vienna, 30 October 1919 – (22 years and 10 months)

Review of the epic Savonarola by N. Lenau, comparison with St. Francis

Some kind of epic poem like the Croatian Kings. Romances are strung one beside the other, each a picture and a whole for itself. The work has a lyric character; religious battles which the authors present are something he has been through himself. (…) I don’t know enough history in order to be able to judge how much he sticks to the truth, but I can say that Savonarola was not, as Lenau presented him, a hero of Christianity, a saint. In several places, we have intimations of his spiritual battles, but this is not sufficiently elaborated. From this point of view, the work is a fragment.

Savonarola was a Protestant, Luther’s predecessor; for a Catholic reformer, the motif is the most holy Eucharist and in this work one feels the author’s terrible coldness. When Savonarola after a sermon turns to God for a blessing, we instinctively feel that he will turn toward the tabernacle. (…)

Lenau projected his feelings, the feelings of a lay protestant (even if he calls himself Catholic) into Savonarola’s soul. In his eyes, he is a great man, while in the eyes of a Catholic the real reformer is St. Francis who organized and built and thus fought decay. In today’s social century everyone acknowledges that the work of Savonarola, which consisted in negative criticisms, was not positive. This has always been the viewpoint of the Church, and the most recent events steered in that direction the liberals to whom, naturally, as far back as eighty years ago, the energetic and manly tone of Savonarola was more amiable than the positive revolutionary mission of St. Francis. Everything shows us that the Church is the only compass for the judgement of life and everything that proceeds from this. (…)

(Here follows an extensive retelling of the content of the epic and its analysis and critique of the characters, along with several quotations)

Vienna, 2 November 1919 – (22 years and 11 months)

Review, analysis and critique of the drama The Ancestress by Franz Grillparzer

The motif of the work is: a murderer kills himself. Crime is the death sentence for the perpetrator. The work is a national romantic tragedy of fate. There is something fatalistic in it – hereditary elements. Father a killer, brother a weirdo, son a killer who commits suicide. The idea is ethical compensation.

(Here follows an extensive review of the content and analysis of the drama according to the following criteria: motif, general character, idea, realistic background, vesture, etc.)

Vienna, 4 November 1919 – (22 years and 11 months)

Review, analysis and critique of the poem Field Flowers by Adalbert Stifter

Motif: ideal love towards a girl which (love), due to prejudices of the lovers, almost comes to grief, but thanks to the initiative of mediators ends up happily. The work is a pearl of German poetry. Everything is permeated with a wonderful atmosphere. Only, one feels that this is the work of a German who didn’t pass through the formal school of the French. Therefore, some descriptions are too extensive and the characters are too pale. The work lacks the succinctness and clarity of Turgenev who created a formally perfect work of art.

(Here follows a lengthy narration of the content of the poem and its characters, as well as an analysis of the work according to the following criteria; characters, detail, vesture, general characteristics, etc.)

Vienna, 9 November 1919 – (22 years and 11 months)

Review and critique of a cheerful drama The Broken Jug by Heinrich von Kleist

It is not a drama, but a genre. We are not interested in the unfolding of the plot because already at the beginning we know how it will end. The characters are well presented, and in their strong realism largely remind one of Molière’s characters. (…)

(Here follows a brief account of the content of the drama)

Vienna, 12 November 1919 – (22 years and 11 months)

Review, analysis and critique of the tragedy The Hereditary Forester by Otto Ludwig

An urban tragedy permeated by a wild, dark power. The characters, especially the Forester, are psychologically elaborated in detail. There is no doubt that this tragedy is an entity unto itself, but if we look at the tragic guilt, it seems that it is founded on rather shaky foundations. The guilt lies in Ulrich’s character: a stubbornness which he identifies with morality, honesty. (…) His natural legal feeling tells him that an offence must be followed by revenge. He finds “support” for this in the Bible. Doesn’t he know that God did not determine him to punish the crime, but that only He, or the people in His name – never an individual – is allowed to do this?! If we justify this poor knowledge of the Holy Writ, though it is inadmissible with a Protestant, then suicide is also psychologically justified. As he is a killer, he is convinced that he must meet the same fate. Therefore, he executes God’s revenge upon himself. All of these tragic acts are closely connected. If we allow one, we must allow the other. The content is, therefore, non-dramatic (it is epic) and the author was forced to invent various motifs and means to transform this epic content into a dramatic one. Ludwig presented the main protagonist, along with all his religious – Protestant milieu as if the God of Christianity didn’t exist for him. Leaving God aside, as well as the Bible and the entire Christianity, and looking upon the work from the viewpoint of a natural morality – of a naked natural man, we see these terrible moves which give such a gloomy feeling to the entire work: a noble and extremely stubborn old man, who loves to argue, does not yield an inch from his convictions. Stubbornness affects the crime. (…) Otto Ludwig extracted it completely from the Christian milieu and placed it in the world of Darwinistic morality. (…)

(Here follows an extensive review of the content and a critical analysis of the work according to literary criteria: exposition, plot, its unfolding)

Vienna, 16 November 1919 – (22 years and 11 months)

Review, analysis and critique of the drama The 24th of February by Zacharias Werner

An awful fate-tragedy. Werner has a strong dramatic talent; the work is technically very concise, but the idea and motivation are good for nothing. Werner surely wanted to continue Schiller’s efforts in terms of fateful tragedy, but in this work, there is no mention of a fate that could be connected to hidden forces in the character of individual persons.

(Here follows a review of the content of the drama and the critique of its author)

Review and critique of a short story Phantasies in the Bremer Ratskeller by Wilhelm Hauff

Thoughts and dreams of the poet on 1st September when the wine demons from folk superstition come to a gathering in a cellar of a German town hall. By family tradition, the poet wishes to slip into his soul to reflect on the past and present. He goes into the cellar of the town hall escorted by a servant, who doesn’t want to stay with him because he is afraid of ghosts which meet on that particular night. (…) The work is permeated with naïve humor. Although we should oppose the ethical character of the work, the poet by some humoristic gesture puts himself on the side of the reader. The work is worth reading, because it resurrects in a very nice way popular beliefs. We could classify it as a passage from a fable to a realistic novella. (…)

(Here follows a rather lengthy review of the content of the tale and its characters and the analysis according to the following criteria: motif, vesture, characters, detail, general character)

Vienna, 25 November 1919 – (22 years and 11 months)

Review, analysis and critique of the novel Der Oberhof by Karl Immermann

A rather awkward novel if we compare it to the novels of Russian literature which were set to understand great ideas in the development of mankind. Oberhof can be classified among the love novels which are known in hundreds of thousands, but this novel rises above the level of average literature for the ladies due to a realistic portrayal of the cultural background of Westphalian day laborers and petty bourgeois individuals. (…) An extract from folk art. A strong passage from a romantic novel toward a realistic one. The world-view is rather shallow; there is nothing idealistic in these people. The peasants are egoists, others are given in caricature, only the deacon is at a higher level. Lisbeth’s religion is very odd. Oswald has no world-view at all, except his nationalism. Therefore, the work rises only a little above the level of the 1830s. It draws value from the description of couleur locale23: the folk customs. The work has a certain cultural-historical value. (…)

(Here follows a lengthy account and critical analysis of the content of the work and its characters, following the criteria: motif, content, main plot, side plot, characters, detail, general character)

Members of the Academic Society “Croatia” in Vienna. Ivan is standing, second from the right. Spring of 1919.

Vienna, 26 November 1919 – (22 years and 11 months)

Review and critique of the short story Undine by Friedrich de la Motte Fouqué

Motif: love between a man and a nature spirit which ends tragically for the nature spirit. A romantic fable on the way to a novella. The beginning has an allegorical meaning; the relationship between this nature spirit (Undine) with God, by contrast to the man who possesses a soul. Unfortunately, the work becomes more and more fantastic as it evolves, the conception bursts and the artistic value plummets. If it had remained a fable without elements of a novella, it would have greater artistic value. (…)

(Here follows a critical review of the content of the work according to the following criteria: content, main plot, characters, details, general character)

Vienna, 2 December 1919 – (23 years)

Review and critical analysis of the work Isabella of Egypt by Achim von Arnim

Motif: the love of king and a Gipsy woman who wants to take her people back into Egypt. (…) From the moral standpoint, the work is bad: it often touches bare eroticism, attacks the Jews in a nasty way. Although it is a fable, the background is free love. The fable should extricate itself from the forces of the earth; it should obey the laws of logic which Armin just demolished. The work has no value, although the poet has unquestionable narrative gift. (…)

(Here follows a critical analysis of the work and its contents according to the following criteria: content, characters, vesture, details, general character, etc.)

Review and analysis of a folk drama The Perjuring Farmer by Ludwig Anzengruber

The perjuring farmer is a caricature, a criminal unworthy of being the main protagonist of a literary work. (…) The play is a tendentious folk drama directed against the pharisaic traits of his time (what a difference compared to Tartuffe!). If such people as Anzengruber portrayed really exist, why put this nasty life on stage? The idea is not artistically presented. Love is the basis of art; love hates the pharisaic frame of mind, but doesn’t hate the Pharisee. It seeks good traits in him. (…)

(Here follows a critical analysis of the drama and its contents)

Vienna, 9 December 1919 – (23 years)

Review of the tragedy Life and death of St. Genoveva by Ludwig Tieck

The content is epic, so there are not many dramatic elements in the drama (Frankish headquarters and battle with the Moors). Genoveva herself is an ideal, a maximum of moral strength and, therefore, constitutes an epic type. The end of the work which makes a strong impression on the reader (not the observer) is impressive precisely due to its epic character. In the tragedy, we expect that Genoveva will die not seeing her knight any more, but we are glad (epic joy) when they meet again. (…) The prologue and epilogue are held by St. Boniface. I cannot tell whether the work is based more on history or the legend, but it is a worthy attempt to use the riches hidden in Christian legends. (…)

(Here follows a lengthy retelling of the content of the tragedy and the analysis and evaluation of its characters)

Review of the work Promenades of a Viennese Poet by Anastasius Grün

Written in a 16-syllable line, the work is a wailing for freedom suppressed by the reactionary government of Metternich. The work was published in 1831, anonymously. It was dedicated to Uhland who was also fighting for political freedom. It ends with an anthem to a dead emperor who was the last representative of the idea of a united Germany. (…) It would be interesting to read this work once again. Nostalgia for freedom as an eternal value and the fury against slavery give a golden frame and nuance to all these pictures.

Zagreb, 24 December 1919 – (23 years)

Review of the poems The Songs of Mirza Shafi by Friedrich von Bodenstedt

Anacreontic24 poems without any value, reflecting a very low epicurean world-view. Every line is the proof of the poet’s shallowness.(…) It is a reflection of certain capit-alistic circles of that time who knew nothing about the strivings of mankind in their age.

Zagreb, 28 December 1919 – (23 years)

A brief critical assessment of the work Thus Spoke Zarathustra by Friedrich Nietzsche

A strong language, dithyrambic pictures, and in the background, there lurks the anima naturaliter christiana25. Other outpourings of force which brutally ruins everything in existence is the triumph of the animal in man. A sharp observer: the thoughts about marriage are Christian, the striving for Übermensch is the striving of man to become absolute; therefore, again a Christian striving. Only, Nietzsche does not deduce any logical laws from these natural tendencies instilled in a human soul (he doesn’t want to do that). Below the roaring laughter, arrogant exultation and a parody of Christ at the bottom of the soul – an eternal sadness. (…)

(Here follow several verses from the work itself, illustrating Merz’s last sentence about eternal sadness in this work of Nietzsche.)

Zagreb, 5 January 1920 – (23 years and 1 month)

Review and critique of Goethe’s novel Wilhelm Meister

The novel of an old German type… As a novel, it isn’t worth much, because 1) from the formal side, it is too expansive, 2) the political background is too narrow, 3) realistic details are too schematic (we don’t know what the main characters look like), 4) the action does not develop biologically, but as if in a mirror. (…)

The society which Goethe portrays is ordinary people without any deeper education and without higher moral pretensions who live instinctively. As objective morality doesn’t exist for Goethe, it is natural that the entire life from love scenes all the way to bohemian rooms after a tumultuous night are described without any passion at all; it would be better to say that this life evolves biologically (we see it in the mirror of reflection) and every man of varied world-views can condemn or accept these acts in his own way…The idea of the work is to show how the strongest events influence the development of the soul. (…) As Goethe has no developed world-view, we can observe the evolution of his ideas only from the standpoint of natural morality. (…)

(Here follows a short account of the content of the novel, critique of its composition and the analysis of characters)

Zagreb, 7 January 1920 – (23 years and 1 month)

Critical review on a well-known book by Martin Luther To the Christian Nobility of the German Nation

The first part of this book of Luther26 describes corruption that was destroying Christianity, which provoked his energetic reaction and, at first, he was deeply convinced that he was doing the right thing. However, he lacked theological education and along with that, he became arrogant and started criticizing even those things which he didn’t understand. He ignored the entire Canon Law, as well as worldly laws, claiming that Bible was sufficient as a substitute for it. He claimed he knew Aristotle better than St. Thomas and demanded that pagan works must not be read. He recommended all the people to be engaged in land cultivation, in order to fulfill God’s commandment “in the sweat of thy face…” (theological knowledge!) and banned the taking of interest in financial dealings, although he admitted he wasn’t very knowledgeable in those matters. (…) According to him, a priest didn’t have to be anointed by another, but it was sufficient that the people choose him from their own midst. Along with all these segments which show lack of theological knowledge, there are places where he demanded the pope to live in poverty, public houses to be abolished, and other things. (…) In this work, Luther’s strong personality, as if chiseled in marble, can be seen fighting mercilessly against evil, but at the same time falling into a huge mistake of meddling into things he didn’t understand. It is tragic when influential people with such an authority err; they destroy century-old institutions and spoil the generations.

Zagreb, 8 January 1920 – (23 years and 1 month)

Short comment on the Book of German Poetry (1624) by Martin Opitz

An interestingly written scientific work. Develops a theory of German poetry. (…) Although he brings a lot of his own poems, he is a very bad poet. With him everything is form and reason. He uses mythological beings and relies on Ronsard and Henisius.

Short comment on the comedy Horribiliscribifax (1664) by Andreas Gryphius

The comedy continues in the tradition of scattered scenes of H. Sachs, who imitates Plautus. The moral decadence of soldiers is a cultural-historical document from the 30 years’ war. Gryphius is a sorry pinnacle. (…) There are many obscenities; of course, in presenting them Gryphius stigmatized the moral decadence of the army. He sticks to Opitz’s principles that comedy must present only bad people and mustn’t use common talk.

Zagreb, 12 January 1920 – (23 years and 1 month)

An extensive reflection on literary critique after reading the novella The Saint by Conrad Ferdinand Meyer

In a successful paper, Poets, readers and critics,27 Petar Grgec proves with a sharp eye how the value of works of art is very relative: it depends on the spiritual horizon of the epoch, poet and reader. We are going to like a work of art if the spiritual horizon of the poet is greater than that of the reader. It, therefore, happens that especially small people enjoy reading poets with a small artistic horizon but will cease enjoying them if with time, they develop and reach a higher level of spiritual horizon than the one in which the work was written. These are Grgec’s thoughts.

For this reason, I don’t like Meyer’s work. His spiritual horizon in the observation of history is minimal. Due to the fact that the protagonists of this story are important historical figures and that a reader who knows even a little bit of history has a formed view about St. Thomas of Canterbury, this novella seems to us to be a caricature of truth. Meyer could have elaborated this content literally, only with changed names and the work could be worth reading. As we know that the protagonists of this story are well known historical figures, we already have a predisposition for reading; every stroke which collides with history is painful and destroys the impression of the work. From this point of view, every serious reader will judge this work relative to the time when it was created (1880). More probably, he will lay the book aside dissatisfied: dissatisfied because he knows that such a development cannot correspond with the truth and that the historical background for the poet is only a means to achieve two things: firstly, to write an interesting story and secondly to show to the people his “correct” attitude which he has taken with respect to the Church.

Only a real Christian can be an objective critic

The evolution of literature has shown that an objective reader of the 1880s had the right intuition: we have today a range of excellent biographies of saints, works which are in themselves a poetic kind and which stand on the border between a novel (story) and a monograph. In this respect the classical representatives are Stolz’s St. Elisabeth, Jörgensen’s St. Francis of Assisi and, so they say, his most successful work St. Catherine of Siena. In art, the principle of truth and probability (even in a fable) should dominate above everything. Therefore, the authors of these works study history seriously, all possible manuscripts, visit the areas where their protagonists lived and give us a maximum of probability. If history or any other science in a couple of years would advance so much as to be able to explain certain events in the lives of these people or their age, we will not want to read these works anymore; the reader, therefore, seeks a maximum of truth. The most objective critics can only be great persons in the Christian sense because Christianity places demands upon their lives which in a span of two thousand years have proven to correspond to the most ideal condition in every epoch.

Interesting reflections about the legitimacy of fasting and its usefulness

Let’s take for instance the attitude towards fasting. Even before the war at a time of general European satiety people considered fasting a crazy absurdity with which religion meddles in the personal life of an individual. Many devout Catholics also viewed this demand of all positive religions skeptically. The time of European hunger has arrived; many prejudices have disappeared and the people became preoccupied with many spiritual values. In the eyes of those who were forced to starve, those who abstained from food willingly attained a special aura. These people instinctively felt that abstention from food is a postulate of love towards one’s neighbor. This is how one historical epoch proved that fasting is something elevated.

But, let us take another historical era, e.g. the time of Fichte’s idealism when youth, imbued with national enthusiasm tried, in a Spartan way, to gain healthy bodies and to be prepared for great acts by strengthening their will. Isn’t fasting, along with other means, one of the most successful means for achieving that aim? To the “Spartans” of that day surely everyone who reduced his bodily needs to a minimum was worthy of respect. Here, this is how another great epoch proved that the postulate of positive religions with regard to fasting is actually magnificent.

People who do not think observe everything from the current point of view and due to that are unable to objectively judge neither life nor art under the magnifying lens of eternal truths. Their means of measurement is too narrow; it is that small measure of an ephemeral world-view. But, there is a world-view which through the centuries builds its conclusions on an objective observation of everything that exists, life, art and which strings through the history its objective and harmonious critical view on all the events which develop and change. This organized critical view is the view of the Church which developed like a mustard seed into a great tree. The critique will, therefore, be the most objective when we observe the works in the light of Christian truths whose reliability has been proven by the centuries. In such a way, we shall arrive at a maximum of objective critique; it will become absolute only when God himself speaks through us.

Assessment and critique of Falstaff in the light of Christian principles

Here is a drastic example: is there anyone who didn’t laugh at Shakespeare’s Falstaff? Literary critique claims that Falstaff is one of the most successful comical figures in world literature. But try to bring into a theatre a man worn out by hunger and let him watch the gluttonous fatso, this huge barrel which thinks only of food and drink and other bodily pleasures. The hungry spectator will go mad looking at Falstaff, because hunger refined in him the sense of social responsibility and he will hate the man, both in life as well as on stage (and other arts!), who indulges beyond measure while the hungry ones suffer in greatest misery.

But literary critics who until now created critical norms, lived in the last three centuries satiated, just like Shakespeare, and simply failed to notice that Falstaff, in a very sharp external elaboration, is a mean man whom we cannot like. And if we had asked the opinion of the Church, she would tell us with her final stance that intemperance in food and drink is a sin, and the sin is nasty. Yes, but the critics are usually authorities unto themselves and do not wish to penetrate into the beauty of eternal ideas and observe art from that point of view. This is where the words of Grgec come true: “It is likewise hard to determine the highest level of poetic creative force for all people and all times. We listed some poets in a line of geniuses thus declaring the highest level of the poetic gift of yesterday. But who will dare to say that in the future someone will not appear who will supersede these geniuses?” We can imagine such people compared to whom perhaps Shakespeare will vanish like Ivo Vojnović or D’Annunzio have compared to Shakespeare. The evolution of world-views among the broad audience proved to us that even Shakespeare is not an absolute ideal any more: Falstaff’s appearance perhaps destroys artistic harmony. By this I do not mean to say that he descended to the level of D’Annunzio. We have proven that the doctrine of the Church with its objective critical apparatus, whose development is conditioned by historical development and different milieus (because all the teaching is concentrated like the mustard seed in the Gospel), is the most objective criterion for judging life and art.

View of Vienna

The doctrine of the Church is the safest criterion for literary critique

We could then maintain that every man can give his objective judgement only if he reflects what the Church thinks about that. In many ways – yes. If for example he sees an adultery in a novel, or a sodomy sin in a picture, and the author enjoys presenting it from the view-point of the freedom of marriage, and goes on enjoying it, every firm Christian will be able to say that this is evil, even if he couldn’t immerse himself into all the phases of this act. If he is convinced in the truthfulness of his world-view, he will be convinced in his right judgement too.

It is a completely different matter in a Christian professional critic. He will be able to immerse himself in all the phases which the work of art demands of him and will be able to sense the nuances of inconsequence, that line between the good and sin because he is going through it on a daily basis or tries to objectively experience the most valuable life – the Christian life – so that he is able to notice very easily when the logical and psychological development of the work of art begins to depart from the tracks of objective Christian truths. With this we come to the conclusion that a critic, who is gifted for this kind of work, must cultivate an intensive Christian life (the life of the Eucharist, abstinence, social life), and must strive to become as great a man as possible – he must strive towards sanctity.

Review and critique of the work Lost Son by Paul Heyse

The work elaborates the life and death of the archbishop Thomas Beckett, the English martyr whose execution was ordered by king Henry II. Merz narrates extensively the content of this work, expressing dissatisfaction in the manner in which this saint is presented and ends with the following critical remarks:

(…) We shouldn’t even think that Thomas Beckett as presented in this work is in anyway saint; a saint who joyfully and discretely does his penance, who shines with light everywhere he goes. There is not a word about the knowledge of religious life; generally, the psychological causality is too romantic and the work cannot satisfy more refined needs. (…) General character: realistic story, formally very elaborated. Everything is stylized as if a Frenchman was doing the concept. Objective tone is kept, although there are many details smelling of hatred towards Catholicism.

Review and critique of the work Huttens’ Last Days by Conrad Ferdinant Meyer

(…) The work is too tendentious; as a matter of fact, permeated with a hatred of the Roman Church. Only such a reader can enjoy this work who has the same limited historical level as C. F. Meyer, i.e. that reformation “liberated” the Germans from “the papal Antichrist”, from “ spiritual slavery”, etc. (…) Meyer has a terrible understanding of Catholic saints; he holds that they are gloomy figures, sad people, not full of happiness and joy. (…)

(Here follows a short critical review of the content of the work and its characters)

Zagreb, 14 January 1920 – (23 years and 1 month)

Review and critique of the novel Hadlaub by Gottfried Keller

Motif: the love of a medieval poet from the beginning of the 14th century which ends in marriage. Hadlaub, the son of a free peasant, comes to Zurich, learns to write, paint, sing. He falls in love with the daughter of a bishop and some nun; they seem to have gotten this child before their ordination. Here that strange passion of liberal authors is seen, including also Meyer, to present sinful relations in a beautiful way. This psychological absurdity shouts that it is a lie, a huge lie; it is impossible that a bishop or a nun could retain their peaceful and contented conscience, moreover living in a medieval religious environment, as if they were a family who got a child in a legal manner. The profile of the bishop and the nun are therefore false, and if we wish to enjoy reading this story, we must either forget about them or must imagine that they are a lawful husband and wife. Artistic pleasure seeks harmony between truth, goodness and beauty. (…)

Here follows a retelling of the content of the novel and its critical analysis according to following criteria: motif, content, characters, realistic detail, psychological detail, vesture, general character. Merz concludes his critical account with the words:

(…) A very fine irony weaves it way throughout the work, especially at the beginning where the author places the present and the future one beside the other. When drawing pretty faces of young girls, with the same stroke he shows their ugly faces as they will look like after several years; or when speaking about knights who are at the peak of their powers, he mentions how in a couple of years one of them will be torn apart by wheels. The tragedy of life in such a satanic manner seems to be hovering above the entire work like a bat.

Zagreb, 15 January 1920 – (23 years and 1 month)

Commendably about impressive letters by Terseglav from captivity in Russia

In today’s Narodna politika they published beautiful letters by Terseglav28 (editor of Slovenac) from captivity (Ekaterinburg). He writes about the great mission of new Russia which should unite with Rome, about the battle which we must start for the International. He ends how he doesn’t expect remuneration from people, but only from above; that for him the only goal is working for the glory of God and for the Church.

Critical review of the novella Landvogt auf Greifensee by Gottfried Keller

A beautiful, technically rather good novella. Every lady will talk about it with pleasure; doesn’t suit the higher needs. (…)

(Here follows a retelling of the content of the novella)

Zagreb, 16 January 1920 – (23 years and 1 month)

Critical review of the content of the drama Honor by Hermann Sudermann

Naturalistic and technically fine-tuned drama. When the generation which is portrayed in it dies, no one will bother to read it. This drama is very shallow and its notions of honor are very, very tiny. (…)

The very idea of relative honor is irrationally motivated. He tells the story of Taft (one of the characters in the drama) who was in Tibet visiting a nobleman, who sent him his own wife to bathe him. He didn’t even touch her and the entire people rose against him offended at his scorn of such a valuable gift. This is pure imagination: such a notion of honor cannot exist anywhere. Anima naturaliter christiana29 speaks against that. This is what we must take as a philosophical foundation and on it build a universal notion of honor. Everything which departs from the natural morality is dishonorable. On this the specific customs of various peoples, classes, persons are built and we find different concepts of honor which are subjected to age, customs, etc. Sudermann calls these passing “values” honor and shows their collision. But, from the philosophical point of view, this is not honor, these are only prejudices, and all the people, especially Robert (a character in the drama) are miserable when they act only instinctively, according to the drive of their interior, lacking in spiritual greatness to rise above their milieu. In a word, Sudermann showed a low level of humanity which lives without faith. (…)

(Here follows a lengthy retelling of the content of the drama and a critique of its characters)

Zagreb, 19 January 1920 – (23 years and 1 month)

Christian principles, if endorsed within the legislature, contribute to a general prosperity of the society

In the development of states one sees a tendency toward the Absolute. As Christianity is absolute truth, there will be progress in the development of everything, including state law, state institutions, if they put into practice Christian principles in their legislature, not only with regard to the demands of Christian morality, but the demands of Christian values, too. They demand of the person and of the state to restrain themselves, to become something more than their natural substance, i.e. to implement life norms for an individual, as well as for the greater organizational units which are otherwise contrary to nature. In America, for instance, they banned alcohol and thereby America came to a Christian thought by revolution: apstinentia vera pax invenitur30. Every real evolution – in the life of an individual or mankind – is a path toward Christian perfection. Everything else is decadence.

Zagreb, 23 January 1920 – (23 years and 1 month)

A lengthy review of the content and analysis of the novel Debit and Credit by Gustav Freytag

(…) There are two ideas in this voluminous work: 1. Human happiness lies in work, and 2. in work for one’s nation. The author conducted these ideas through his work in a masterly way, but as it cannot be a human purpose, we lay aside this work with a question: why all this work, why all these troubles? (…) This glorification of work for the sake of the work is a terrible philistine philosophy which takes away human dignity. (…) From the ethical point of view the work is worthless, and therefore, from the esthetic point of view, too. It lacks poetry. Liberal authors suppress the religious element in these souls by force. To Anton (a character in the novel) it never occurred in his whole life that there is a God, never felt that there is some greater power, likewise, with almost all the characters in the novel. This, of course, is one big lie because every man, even if he lives outside of the human environment, must have moments when he feels a greater power that can destroy him. (…) The author’s world-view is, therefore, very shallow. His main protagonist whom he wanted to idealize confirms this. He works purely on an instinctual level, drinks brandy, smokes; when he becomes poor, he sacrifices tobacco, but there is not a word about some higher social consciousness. Anton is, therefore, the type of an industrious German from the second half of the 19th century, who created the mighty German state which was destined to collapse, because it was materialistic.

The work is a cultural-historical picture from the 1870s. It shows the ascent of the civil class and the decline of the aristocracy. The Polish uprising is the historical background. (…)

(In the continuation, there follows a lengthy critical account and comment on individual characters in the novel)

Zagreb, 25 January 1920 – (23 years and 1 month)

Attends a communist assembly

I attended a protest communist assembly. Comrade Delić and Dr. Radošević spoke against the white terror in Hungary. According to them, the situation in Hungary is terrible: white armies destroy, kill and butcher thousands of innocent people. Comrade Delić spoke in a very objective manner: he developed his thought on why the Hungarian Commune collapsed. The reason is the lack of international consciousness. One Serb used phrases against capitalism, including the Zagreb capital, while Dr. Radošević said very illogically that they would kill every socialist who would commit a crime; a moment later he praised the Russian Commune which abolished the death penalty. Communism has three quarters of truth in it. Those great ideas which move the masses are Christian property. Poor masses led by leaders without a soul!

Interior of the Vienna cathedral where Ivan used to come to pray

Zagreb, 29 January 1920 – (23 years and 1 month)

Attended two lectures of a new religion of “Absolutists”

I attended two lectures in the Evangelical school about a new religion called “Absolutists”. A certain Mr. Tomić, thin, meagre, short haircut, elongated face, dark complexion is the Zagreb representative of this religion. The audience consists of an intelligent class of workers, lower clerks and female accountants. The religion seems to be a Buddhist sect which could win a lot of people if they put it on a scientific basis. They are based on the theory of absolute evolution. Chaos breeds Cosmos. We are in the process of that development. Higher organisms are developed from lower ones. Man, therefore, developed from a monkey. Consciousness is eternal, but it expands. We must strive towards interior perspectives to get to know our inner universe. Happiness is within us, and the evolution of the universe, as well as that of man is a necessity. We must become aware of this necessary development and boost it with our consciousness. Pain is a conflict between desires and possibilities. Mr. Tomić spoke with conviction, with an enthusiasm which shows that he has internalized all these ideas and that he sincerely strives for truth. In every vibration of his voice one could feel the yearning for absolute happiness, and one could also feel the long wandering that he has been through until he finally found peace in this religion. The audience listened with attention; but, what is true in this religion, what they like, alas, is found in a more magnificent form in their own religion. They don’t know Christianity. What a happy moment it would be for Mr. Tomić if he finally, after this long search, got to know Christianity.

Such sects thrive in a diseased society and show that the Christians did not fulfil their task. These people desire to get to know Christianity individually, and therefore, societies are necessary where they can talk about these matters completely freely, without constraints. In all the possible societies, sects, beliefs, everybody can study the anima naturaliter christiana.31

Zagreb, 2 February 1920 – (23 years and 2 months)

Lengthy account and comment on Truth and Poetry – the autobiography of Johann Wolfgang Goethe 1749 – 1831

He grew up in Protestantism, the reason for his fall off from religion

Truth and Poetry is a wonderfully written Goethe’s autobiography where the author wanted to present the spirit in which he grew up and to bring close to us the cultural-historical milieu in which he developed. He succeeded in that, although he left out many things, added others, disturbed the chronological order, etc. It is especially interesting to study religious presumptions which had an impact on his development. Brought up in a Protestant milieu, where every house is a sect for itself, he never met persons with a broad Christian world-view. Quarrels among the Protestants were so miserable: divisions broke out due to dogmatic understanding and the religious life of Herrenhutters1 consisted more in a sentimental religious feeling, not in a rationally founded Christianity. Official Protestantism was boring to him. Already as a child he wanted to share his religious difficulties with someone, he tried confession, but in Protestantism confession is such a formal matter that he remained unsatisfied. It is also interesting what non-scientific works about Christianity Goethe read. As we gather from this autobiography, Goethe was gifted by nature and everybody admired him. Already in childhood he amassed a huge knowledge: he knew the Bible in minutest detail, wrote comedies, created verses with extreme ease, made drawings, danced, etc. He went through many religious difficulties in his youth, without finding anyone who could help him. He grew up in a Protestant milieu and felt instinctively that Protestantism cannot satisfy him. Therefore, he searched for Truth and one can say that he was searching for it his whole life. He lost faith in all authority, and therefore, he couldn’t believe that there is an objectively true religious system. Goethe is, therefore, indirectly a child of Protestantism. It is due to Protestantism that he dropped off from religion. Those grand ideas which he intuitively understood were Christian, something he admits on a number of occasions. The non-Christian elements, his leaning towards pantheism does not make Goethe great. And to take him as a religious authority, as is often done, is absurd: in religious matters, he is practically uneducated. One should only delve deeper into his development. He is an enormous talent and in his works, there are so many hidden truths that we can fully surrender to pleasure.

The influence of Christianity on art and culture

It is magnificent to think that all these authors, no matter how much they were conscious enemies of Christianity, cannot shake it off themselves and unwittingly they think in a Christian way. Equally, all great works of world art, even those made by the greatest enemies of Christianity, are a glorification of Christianity, because it exerts its influence, directly or indirectly, in their life. If it weren’t for that, the whole culture would collapse in an instant, and it is the element which keeps it upright. Therefore, it is pointless to ignore the works of non-Christians or to try to prove with all our might that certain artists had a favorable opinion of the Church. Nothing of this is necessary: everything great in life is the product of Christianity (animae naturaliter christianae2), of a direct or indirect influence of the Church.

Goethe is not a religious authority because he hasn’t experienced life sufficiently

Goethe cannot be a religious authority because he hasn’t experienced life sufficiently. He always had money: wherever he came, everybody received him with open arms. The entire history – from pain to pleasure – he got to know only indirectly, creating his observer’s judgement, but participating in the battle of life only very little. His only experience was in love and social relations. Due to that he couldn’t intuitively understand Christian truths. We can see this missing element in Faust too. He throws himself into the maelstrom of life with lots of money. Faust objectively experiences only love with Gretchen and in her he rises to the objective awareness of his sin, but in religious knowledge he lags behind because he hasn’t illuminated life from more than one side and thus cannot make an objective judgement about it.

Goethe never got to know Catholicism in a deeper way

That Goethe in his youth sincerely searched for Truth is proven by the fact that he involved himself with magic, hoping to come to some result. He never got to know Catholicism in a deeper way, and therefore, he couldn’t solve Faust’s problem (he met a Catholic priest for the first time in 1772). It is interesting that Goethe in his whole work only once spoke about a sexual relationship with his lovers. From his writings, we sense that he became “more liberal” when he became engaged to Lilia, because he describes the feeling of a fiancé who doesn’t have to restrain passion any more, etc. As Goethe had a very refined taste, he liked the liturgy and customs of Catholicism. About the nobility, he always speaks with veneration and this makes a philistine impression on us.

The work is of a great importance because Goethe knew all the important personalities of his day and he portrays them clearly, giving also his judgement about the others (in this he is very mild). (…)

(At the beginning of the review Merz firstly gives us a lengthy summary of each of the 20 books of Goethe’s autobiography. Then he makes a comment after which there follows a lengthy listing of important personalities of that time with whom Goethe was in contact)

Zagreb, 6 February 1920 – (23 years and 2 months)

A very extensive review of the content of the drama Kätchen of Heilbronn by Heinrich von Kleist

I don’t know the assumptions from which this romantic drama evolved, and therefore, I will analyze it only superficially. This work is the fruit of an unsure spirit with an incomplete world-view. There are no classical values, although I don’t deny that the idea of absolute faithfulness gives a special charm to the work. The rest is clumsily put together: the construction of the drama is clearly visible.

(In the continuation, Merz analyzes the drama at length according to the following criteria: 1. Exposition, 2. Plot, 3. Culmination, 4. Resolution of the plot, 5. Catastrophe)

Zagreb, 7 February 1920 – (23 years and 2 months)

Review and critique of the tragedy Penthesilea by Heinrich von Kleist

I haven’t been reading Racine for long, but I think that this tragedy is very similar to Phaedra and others. The content is antique3, and the main female protagonist is passion incarnated: here this is the passion of love and craving for fame. (…)

I think that the problem of the tragedy is based on the mystery of sin (iniquitatis): it marks the opposition between what a person is destined for and the nothingness of today’s cosmos. But, Christianity knows only relative tragedy, and if we were to observe this assault of passion from the objective point of view, we would reject this entire tragic motif, because all of these passions are sins. We should, therefore, measure ethical values outside of the Christian works with their own measurement. (“Where there is no Law, there is no transgression” (Romans 4.15). “But when the Gentiles, which have not the law, do by nature the things contained in the law, these, having not the law, are a law unto themselves.” (Romans 2.14) And their own ideal measure is the natural morality which in pagan peoples, I think, is possessed by a cultural ideology of their own. This is what we like in the classical dramas of Racine, Goethe, Ibsen. In Ibsen, only the costume belongs to the Christian epoch, but his protagonists behave as if Christianity didn’t exist at all. We must measure Christian protagonists with a measure of Christianity which is much greater, so that many protagonists, who would be great persons in popular measurement, would under this measure be pygmies.

Here follows a lengthy retelling of the content of the drama whose action takes place in ancient Troy, and the analysis of its characters – Ulysses, Achilles, Penthesilea, Hector, etc. and everything is intertwined with Greek mythology. The review of the drama follows these criteria: 1. Foreplay, 2. Exposition, 3. Plot, 4. Apex, 5. Resolution of the plot, 6. Catastrophe. At the end of the lengthy review of this tragedy and its analysis, Merz concludes his thinking with the following comment:

The tragedy of Penthesilea is a colossal phenomenon in which two strong characters collide so that, from this collision, both are blown up into pieces. But only that person is able to enjoy this drama who has undergoing similar battles between vainglory and love. The idea of love is that noble idea due to which we develop a liking of Penthesilea and Achilles, whereas vainglory destroys this harmony (we would say – sin), so that the main protagonists must perish, if this disharmony prevails. The pagans didn’t have a clear notion about moral compensation and they transferred that yearning inborn in human nature that every sin must be accounted for, into the other world. The one who sins against the order must die, this is their philosophy; we, on the other hand, see in it only the symbolized idea: evil must be paid for. But, as Christian economy links this world to the other one, this payment does not necessarily have to occur here. The important thing is that evil must be compensated for. (whatever we study, sin or goodness, everything is an apology of Christianity!) (…)4

Vienna, 22 February 1920 – (23 years and 2 months)

Visit to a monastery in Mödling, Rogulja’s death

Yesterday evening in the Academic Society South (formerly “Croatia”) Žaren gave a brilliant scientific lecture about Bolshevism. Earlier I visited, together with Ivanković and Fuchs, the monastery St. Gabriel near Mödling, examined the church, the colonial museum (brilliant Chinese woodcuts, the whole art chiseled in wood) and the printing shop.

Today Čepulić5 came from Zagreb bringing fatal news that Pero Rogulja6 has died. God have mercy on him! A terrible blow for us all! The strongest personality in the Croatian Catholic Movement. He died at the peak of his strength, just like the late Eckert7!

Korošec is the vice-president of a new ministry. Maybe the people will be a bit relieved of Pribičević’s terror.

Imperial palace Schönbrun in Vienna

Vienna, 25 March 1920 – (23 years and 3 months)

Impressions from the Catholic Congress of the Archdiocese of Vienna

A great Catholic Congress of the Archdiocese of Vienna. Austrian Catholics did an enormous amount of work lately. The networks of their organizations are everywhere; they have a strong press. I heard lectures about the work of Caritas which holds two-thirds of all charitable organizations and which is organized in an exemplary way. One priest spoke brilliantly about the international and inter-confessional organization for the protection of children and said that the Pope had given them 20 million lire. The thoughts with the greatest impact are those concerning the universal Catholic consciousness. So, in the afternoon, during a lecture about the press, one secretary of the Dutch Catholic cooperatives presented the work of the Dutch for the Catholic press: how the organizations on their own initiative began demanding papers on railway stations, etc. In Italy, it is the duty of every organized member to hold one Catholic paper.

The crowd was elated. There is a touch of the martyr’s élan in these worn-out people who, after bloody battles with socialists and atheistic capitalism remained enthusiastic followers of Christ and obedient to their archbishop F. Piffl8 whom they love immensely.

Vienna, Easter Monday, 5 April 1920 – (23 years and 4 months)

A deep experience of liturgical spiritual exercises

I spent the time from Good Wednesday until today in St. Gabriel near Mödling. This was my most beautiful Easter; I lived through the artistic reflection of great events – Christ’s passion and his Easter – identifying myself with liturgical art. At the start, we fasted, kept silence and meditated. When the worldly noise dispersed and the soul remained still, facing itself, the mud of sin rose from the depths like a foam. This was something that accumulated almost unconsciously. After that, a brilliant singing of lamentations9, then a wonderful mass of Holy Thursday with its joy and holy Communion within the solemn mass, just like it was when Jesus established the Holy Eucharist, then the sorrow in the middle of that mass with rhythmical movements of all the religious and a brilliant accompaniment by the orchestra, etc. The unveiling of the cross and the suffering of the Stations of the Cross shook my soul deeply. On Saturday, again I felt that immense joy over the resurrected Savior which found such a wonderful expression in liturgy.

St. Gabriel monastery in Mödling near Vienna where Ivan performed liturgical spiritual exercises before Easter 1920. Here he developed a great love of the liturgy and later for the liturgical apostolate.

Reflections on liturgy as a central art

Just like theology is a central science, so the liturgy is a central art. It is fully objective and corresponds to Wagner’s ideal who wanted to unite all arts into one. Liturgy is the expression of the soul of the Church; it provides foundations to build a new theory of art. In it, like in a mirror, the life of Christ is reflected, not as it seems to us historically, but as it is seen by an objective observer unrelated to time and place, an observer of life from above, looking at the supernatural connection of all the events: for instance, as an angel is observing it. In such a way, art becomes an objective mirror for life which catches also those threads which an ordinary person doesn’t notice. Liturgy has reached its apex: it is the greatest art work in the world, and at the same time it is the central art because it artistically portrays the life of Christ which is the center of history. All other arts must use the same method as the Holy Spirit is doing in liturgy: the artist, for instance, must present the motifs of war, love, adultery, murder and many other topics of art in supernatural connection and the better he does it, the greater the value of the work of art. Of course, this demands that the artist is holy. Let’s take for instance when Christ says: Who looks at a woman with lust, commits sin in his soul. For Christ that is enough and he cannot elaborate this idea further because he must sow the seed of all ideas which rule and will rule mankind. Tolstoy elaborated this idea in the Kreutzer Sonata, and he did it very well: he observes human society objectively and it is reflected in a particular way in his soul. The image in this mirror shows all the threads of delusion and sin in which modern society has entangled itself… Tolstoy, therefore, uses the liturgical method. That saying in the Gospel is only a link which this novel elaborates. This method can be applied to all works of art, and if they are God-centered, they have artistic value.

The monastery St. Gabriel will remain in my memory for life. It shows how the Catholic Church sows everywhere new, beautiful flowers. There are around 300 German theologians who are going into Togo, New Guinea and other countries to spread the Gospel of Christ. Mostly these are strong, beautiful people, prone to silence and humble. They get up at 3:15 in the morning and concentrate all their love on the divine service. St. Gabriel is a small Beuron.10

Watched in the theatre the drama Devotion to the Cross by Pedro Calderon

Several days ago, I saw Calderon’s drama Devotion to the Cross. Only male roles. A romantic “destiny-tragedy”. (…)

(Here follows a brief content of the drama)

Visited a mental asylum

I was also in Steinhof and saw various mentally ill women. They are terrible. One Polish Jew knows that she has mania and behaves rather nicely. Another, a tiny woman, sings holy songs, lies on the floor and drags herself on the ground. A third shivers and continuously loses her associations. (…)

Vienna, 18 April 1920 – (23 years and 4 months)

Suggestions for a political battle against liberalism and communism

Yesterday there was an interesting session of South 11. Apart from Avelin, Žaren and Besednjak, there were Dr. Isisor Cankar, Dr. Šarabon, Ivančić and another elder. We wanted to send to the People’s Party a paper in which we would advise them what kind of counter-action to undertake against communists who are preparing to stage a revolution in Yugoslavia after the harvest. They already started campaigning among the army. Besednjak proposed that we too start campaigning among the army, and Ćepulić proposed that all non-communist parties forge a block against them. Some were for the coalition, others were against. There is a great confusion of views. In my opinion the liberal parties are an equally strong, moreover, even stronger enemy than the communists. Liberalism is destroying our morals, poisoning the people slowly, while the communists openly destroy the material culture thinking they will thereby destroy our faith. They have a clear program, and it can easily be foreseen that, should the revolution succeed, they will demolish our printing plants, destroy our system of cooperatives and shoot our leaders. But, this will only make us stronger. Therefore, I think that the principle of our tactics must be this: The People’s Party mustn’t go into coalition either with liberals or with communists. We mustn’t organize a resistance against the communist revolution because in such a way we would defend the capitalist economic system which is just as much non-Christian as is the communist one. The key thing now is to promote the idea of Catholicism among the people as a trait which shows us different from the bourgeoisie, as well as from communism. Even a thousand persecutions cannot destroy us if we have dedicated Catholics who will establish their organizations, as soon as the flood of communism subsides. We must precisely build our solid economic program and show the masses who suffer due to the capitalist setup, that it is not only the communists who are fighting for the rights of the poor, but primarily the Christians. We must, therefore, now fight with the communists and the bourgeoisie stressing what divides us, not mentioning what links us (e.g. us and communists the battle against capitalism), because Providence, it seems to me, gave the communists a mission to destroy capitalism and, thereby, establish a balance disturbed by liberalism – to create solidarism.

I am reading Goethe by Alexander Baumgartner. Goethe is very well presented from the esthetic point of view. I read The Leipzig Age – the work is bad indeed.

I am almost starving.

Vienna, 24 April 1920 – (23 years and 4 months)

Listens to the lectures and participates in the work of societies Logos and South

Yesterday I attended a Logos12 academy. The lecture by P. Streicher about the divorce of the Church and the state was interesting. He nicely proved that in principle there must not be any such divorce because the Church from the very beginnings (already in Roman times they requested the abolishment of deities) involved itself in the life of the state wanting to regenerate it. He also quoted the

Syllabus13 of Pope Pius IX from 1864 and the opinion of Lacordaire and Montalembert who demanded the divorce of the Church and the state for noble reasons, i.e. to free the Church from under the yoke of the state. Dr. Razowsky lectured about the Bohemian schism.

Tonight, there was the main assembly of South and Dr. Izidor Cankar spoke About the Faith as the Foundation of Culture. He mostly touched upon early Christianity which tried to regenerate only the souls, and everything else came spontaneously. Like that, he asks of us to regenerate our souls, to be the seeds of a new culture. We declared Avelin a senior and gave him the first issue of Naše kolo as a present.

Vienna, 25 April 1920 – (23 years and 4 months)

Impressions of a new artistic crucifix

Our age has found a lasting artistic expression in a big crucifix in the Carmelite Church Dobling, which was completed this year. In the passion of Christ all the pain of the millions is concentrated. Every toe, the hollow stomach, exhausted arms, muscles, everything is as if it was taken from war corpses, etc. Underneath stood the women who prayed. It seems, therefore, that the artist succeeded in presenting this gloomy age. The work made a strong impact on me, but I don’t know if it will have a lasting value. I should immerse myself in it to see whether from the crucifix the Gloria of conquered pain shines forth. I fear that the answer wouldn’t be completely positive; in this too, the work would be a reflection of the present age.

Hofburg – the old residence of the Imperial Habsburg family.

Vienna, 27 April 1920 – (23 years and 4 months)

Comment on the lecture of Fr. Schmidt about the Samaritan woman

Fr. Schmidt gave a lecture today about the scene with the Samaritan woman. He developed psychologically how Christ leaves Judea where the Pharisees threw John the Baptist into prison and want to catch him too. He moves out of the way and travels through the land of people whom the Jews scorn to quench his thirst for the souls. Samaritans had a Decalogue but didn’t believe in anything else. Jesus sits by a well, the Samaritan woman comes with a jug in her hand (it is noon) and he asks her water. Christ had a precise plan how to win this soul. He is not thirsty for water, but for something else. The Samaritan woman is wondering how come that he, being a Jew, asks water from her and speaks to her. When he mentions that he possesses a better kind of water of which one never thirsts again, she takes it literally and asks it from him, addressing him already as “Sir”, and when he finally tells her that she had five husbands and now lives with one who is not her husband, she remains embarrassed and addresses him as “Prophet”. And when she finally wants to know – a brilliant psychological finesse – what is the difference in cult between a Jew and a Samaritan, because this is where they differed, Christ rises above the national conservativism of the Jews, claiming that God can be praised everywhere, but it must be in spirit and in truth. Namely, he had in mind the liturgy, because that is what the Samaritan woman had asked. When Christ tells her that he is the Messiah, this intellectually and morally weak woman is crushed; we are curious what she will answer, but the evangelist brilliantly cuts this scene, the apostles arrive bringing food, and the Samaritan, shaken in her soul runs into town, forgetting her jug, to tell everybody of her encounter. Jesus stays two days in that town and they believed in him. We see that St. John the Evangelist loved the Samaritans because he described this scene in such detail. This is where the first Christian community was formed. Jesus proceeds to Galilee, and on the way a father comes, asking him to heal his son, asking him, however, without faith. Jesus tells him, almost bitterly that his countrymen want only to see the miracles (thinking how the Samaritans quickly believed) and orders him: Go, your son lives. When the father saw that everything transpired according to a certain order, he became a believer, along with his entire family. This is how Christ now won the entire family. It is clearly visible how Christ takes care to win individual souls and declines the psychosis of the masses.

Today the German nationalists and other Arians closed the University. They are mad at Jews who flooded Germany and Austria.

Vienna, 28 April 1920 – (23 years and 4 months)

Meeting with Yugoslav communists in their assembly

I attended the Yugoslav communist assembly in Café Schlosselhof. The communists wanted to protest in the name of all the students against the terror of the government who sent soldiers at workers in Ljubljana and shot several of them dead. They presented their program and showed a rather low level of education, being ignorant of communism itself. Besednjak and Kamušić opposed them well claiming that the communist leaders are to blame for sending the masses against the army battalions, thus playing games with their lives.

Vienna, 10 May 1920 – (23 years and 5 months)

Comment and critique of Goethe’s Torquato Tasso

I saw Torquato Tasso. The work didn’t make any impression on me, because I never had those feelings of Tasso. The problem which Goethe resolves here is not a general problem of humanity and as a work of art it can have an impact only on the person who went through a similar string of feelings. No! I think that not even such a person can fully enjoy the work, because the solution is bad. (…) It is characteristic of Goethe that his classicistic characters have no conscience. (…) Tasso is a poet governed only by his feelings. In real life, such a person would be sentenced. (…)

(In continuation, Merz criticizes this work in more detail and agrees with Baumgartner whose judgement of Goethe is unfavorable)

Vienna, 12 May 1920. – (23 years and 5 months)

Profit derived from suffering, desire for ascetic life, flame for limitless heights

Spiritually, I am most productive when I overcome resistance or when I suffer. Until now I suffered and overcame resistance (war, hunger), because Providence placed me in that position. It was then that I suffered gladly. But I still haven’t reached those heights to choose the more perfect way – the way of the suffering – willingly. If I correctly analyze my life, I am not spending much more energy for conquering myself, than, let’s say, ordinary liberals. I reached a certain height and now it is inertia which is keeping me here. But in me there is a flame for limitless heights, a burning desire for a serene embrace of the Son and the Father and the Spirit, and one can achieve that only by a disciplined, tactical conquering of oneself.

Wouldn’t it be possible not to think of food, not to eat to one’s satisfaction during lunch, sleep only six hours, receive the Communion daily, practice physical exercise daily and, along with all this loss of energy, systematically study for about ten hours and become proficient in science?! St. Catherine of Siena, pray for me to get that will of steel!14

Vienna, Ascension Day, 14 May 1920 – (23 years and 5 months)

Celebrants of the First Mass – missionaries and a heroic concept of Christianity

I was at St. Gabriel. Seventeen newly ordained priests celebrated their First Mass in a choke-full church. The preacher gave them a severe sermon: about the sacrifices in store for them across the ocean and the model of the missionaries – Jesus Christ who must live in them if they want to execute their heroic task, leave their homeland and parents and go to a far-away land to preach the Gospel and die there.

All these newly ordained priests are strong: they were mostly officers in the war, bony profiles. They make a heroic impression.

If we had missionaries down there, this heroic concept of Christianity would spread very strongly. Phenomena, such as e.g. epicurean Zagreb prebendaries and the secession of the yellow ones15 would be exposed to the people in their true light when compared with the heroes of Christianity. Blessed are the people who give birth to missionaries!

Narodna politika printed my letter Religious Regeneration of Austrian Catholics (in Croatian), and in one of the recent issues of Luč Magazine there was my letter about students in Austria.

Vienna, 16 May 1920 – (23 years and 5 months)

A rich activity of Catholic youth organizations in Austria and Germany

The Congregation16 of South functions pretty well already. In the afternoon, I visited Braunias and saw a Dutch Catholic high school paper and a report of Italian Catholic youth organizations (they reckon youth to be people between 16 and 40), which is very militaristic and national. I saw the paper Unitas which is a central organ of 33 academic Catholic societies. They are very dynamic; they want to unite the Scientific Association and other non-centralized groups. In addition, Dwickborn, the union of German Catholic abstinent sports high school organizations, published a small almanac and bought a tower somewhere on the Main River. No doubt, the Catholic high school organizations are very active in Germany.

Awakening and development of Catholic movements in European peoples

Together with Braunias I visited Dr. Katarn, the editor-in-chief of Gral, who asked me information about Yugoslav Catholic literature. Of course, I was in the position to give him the desired information. He will get in touch with Maraković and ask him for a letter to be published. From him I got the address of Terhünte who is an expert on the French Catholic movement. We also visited Isenkrake, the author of a work from experimental theology, etc.

The Germans are very active. They are at the threshold of the romantic era. The Catholic idea which enthused the intellectuals must now penetrate into the masses and create a unified Catholic organism which will by itself beget all branches of a great culture.

When one looks at the development of a universal Catholic movement in all the countries, one sees that the Church has completed a magnificent task; different nations, almost without any organizations with a Christian foundation, and without contact with each other, created independently similar institutions: that Dutch high school paper could be read with gladness by the readers of Zora and Luč and the other way around. Catholicism informed the souls, and from this ground a common consciousness has sprouted. It was only necessary to elect the president, vice-president, secretary, treasurer and the society is here. The consciousness of solidarity is already among the believers. The basis of a cultural, economic and every other kind of progress is: “But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.” (Matthew 6:33). The rest is growing, as the first centuries of Christianity show us. They only cultivated the spiritual, religious education and indirectly the cathedrals, Christian states, philosophy, etc. appeared.

Karlskirche in Vienna

The merits of Jesuits for European culture

I notice that the Jesuits have a huge importance for the European culture. The Reformation was the beginning of anarchy and the current phase is liberalism and bolshevism. When we observe the cultural workers from the other side: in The Netherlands, the Jesuits publish Bouchershow, in Germany they are in charge of an intellectual Catholic cultural movement (Stimmen der Zeit). Katann is from Kalksburg17, Maraković is a Jesuit pupil. The activities among the students here are organized by the Jesuits. Indirectly, I myself am greatly indebted to Jesuits through Ljubo and Nino.

Vienna, 27 May 1920 – (23 years and 5 months)

He gave a successful lecture thanks to the Holy Spirit

I thank the Holy Spirit for having granted my prayer for the success of my improvised lecture On the French Catholic organizations. I read only Teschunte and combined some thoughts about the Catholic International (Kipa, Osterr. Korrespondenz, etc.).

Vienna, 8 June 1920 – (23 years and 6 months)

Debates in the Academic Society South, a beautiful lecture by Fr. Kronseder

Fierce debates are going on in South18 on whether to accept the Serbs in the society, in order to initiate among them a movement analogous to ours. Moreover, the Slovenes want the change the name from “Catholic” to “Christian”.

Fr. Kronseder gave an excellent lecture in South about religion and personality. The Germans generally impress me. The lecture was loaded with interesting scientific material. Not one word was superfluous, and all were true. The last part especially impressed me. He spoke about schismatic circumstances, churches, monks, Mt. Athos, although he was never there in person, everything agreed with what we know from experience in minutest detail. A spirit of greatness descended on us as we listened to him. When we compare a deep life and thorough knowledge of many Catholics in Vienna, we feel so tiny with our writing in various papers; when we observe our inner struggles and our religious life and compare it with the life in the homeland, we seem great, but when we compare it with the inner life of Fr. Schmidt, Fr. Kronseder, we feel our superficiality, rottenness, decay.

God, help me to dig my way out from superficiality and lies!

Members of the Academic Society “Croatia” in Vienna on 20 June 1920. Ivan Merz in the upper row in the middle. The Society accepted Slovenian students and, due to new political circumstances after the war changed its name to Jug (South).

Vienna, 21 June 1920 – (23 years and 6 months)

Public morals in Germany declined due to reformation

Why in the 16th or 17th century a Shakespeare was not born in Germany? Probably because due to the reformation, the public morals of the masses declined and such a milieu could not give birth to a genius. Works characteristic of the morals of that time are Foly’s Gartengeschenk, Schumann’s Nachtbüchlein, etc.

Zagreb, 3 August 1920 – (23 years and 8 months)

Participated at the Eagles’ camp in Maribor – review and comment

The Eagles’ camp in Maribor has passed. We travelled from here by a special student train, male and female students. In Maribor, we slept on hay in a school building. I slept in the League’s19 room with Galkovski, Prikryl, Protulipac, Radić, Lj. Maraković, Meyr and Harting (delegates from the Catholic Students’ Secretariat of Germany and Austria). Among us there was complete harmony. Other university students and high school pupils lay in the corridors and other rooms also on hay. The solemn event began in a choke-full large hall. Mika Galkovski and Protulipac spoke. His speech touched a nerve especially when he started naming the government’s persecutions in the abolishment of Mary’s Congregations, etc. The academic part was boring. Žaren expressed our needs in the area of economy and the study of socialism, bolshevism, but he never mentioned a thorough Christian foundation for all that. The presentation of academic holiday societies was more lively after Žužek got up, a socialist type in our ranks, demanding that we address the practical social issues by going into different classes and studying their needs first-hand. He claimed that only a socialist, more specifically, a Christian-socialist economic order can dismantle capitalism today. Christian socialism, he claimed, is a notion subordinate to solidarism. Feudalism, capitalism and other economic systems were good in their own time, but today’ society can be healed only with socialism. He opposes the name Christian social because, he says, even the rich among our ranks are social, but not socialist, because if they were such, they would give their rooms at the disposal of workers without a flat, etc. Dr. Lovrenčić attacked him with fury claiming that thereby disagreement is sown into our ranks, and as to the name “socialism”, this is only giving-in to atheistic liberalism. He stressed the religious moment which is in peril. His speech was greeted by thunderous applause. I saw that Dr. Lovrenčić is a true character from the old Slovenian Catholic generation which created firm foundations on which Catholic Slovenia began to rise.

Solemn parade of the “Eagles” passes through Maribor, 1 August 1920.

The presentation of the League, although terribly tiring, was nevertheless interesting and showed the different currents reigning among our students. The most interesting was the Krek affair20 and for a while we feared that due to it there would occur a rift in the students’ movement. God heard our prayers and the spirits were reconciled. The followers of Krek promised that they will obey the episcopate.

Maraković warned us in a touching way to agree that Krek must obey the spirit of the Church. The debate lasted long, because many of Krek’s followers didn’t fully live through this idea in a revolutionary way and they clamored, not wishing to subordinate themselves to the episcopate.

The solemn procession was great; several thousand male and female eagles, Slovenian and Bohemian passed beside us, then the folk costumes from all our regions, etc. Simple exercises on the ground were well executed, but the speech by Kerstovic well characterized the state of Catholic thought among the intellectuals of present-day Slovenia. He greeted the regent Aleksandar, he acclaimed him, etc. Not a word on the Catholic mission of the Eagle21. Our religious mission, contrary to the liberal Falcon was not stressed anywhere, so that the camp cannot claim the results which were expected of it. Among present-day Slovenians everything is work and organization, and the religious moment is pushed into the background. Therefore, we see that with them everything is cold, without enthusiasm. Among the Croats, the religious idea is much stronger, and the organization will sprout by itself in several years’ time.

An especially beautiful picture happened out in the field – a wheel dance in Croatian folk costumes, led by Ljubo Maraković. As if somebody sowed white and colorful flowers on the green grass and it danced to the tunes of the folk band.

Maraković was everywhere and observing him closely I became convinced again that he is truly permeated with a living faith.

My presentation about the Catholic International Student Union had about a hundred listeners. Maraković presided at the session and heartily welcomed Bohemian and German representatives (Dr. Färber, Meyr, Harting, Kohl and Winter). I spoke with fervor which I got from the most holy Eucharist.

With regard to the International, we made several practical conclusions (exchange of pupils, publication, etc.)

A big “Eagle” rally from several Slav countries in Brno (Bohemia) in 1922. Members of the “Eagle” organization from Croatia took part, among them a young man Alojzije Stepinac who carried the Croatian flag in the solemn “Eagle” parade.

Zagreb, 6 September 1920 – (23 years and 9 months)

Folk assembly in Ivanić-Grad, criticizes bourgeois Christianity

Yesterday in Ivanić-Grad the youth society organized a folk assembly. Dr. Maraković, Kolarek, Mrs. Bedeković, Jesih, Fr. Rihtarić and others including me went there. After the mass and a terribly abundant lunch, Dr. Velimir Deželić gave a lecture about Christian education. All the girls were in folk costumes (red flower motifs). Members of the Third Order and Domagoj22 in the morning sang a most beautiful old Slavonic mass, and in the afternoon the Loreto Litanies in Croatian and Ave Maria. The folk festivity followed. Medical student Ivančević spoke, Horvat recited a poem, one pupil recited Šenoa’s A Friar’s Will. The Ivanić-Grad town choir did a good job singing. After the wheel dance, they went on dancing in one hall.

Impression: strange are the ways of the Lord. Grace acts everywhere and people are not aware that they are merely puppets of great ideas which move all. The citizens are terribly bourgeois. They observe the faith, but this faith mainly consists in this: we need faith in order to live well and be contented here on earth. The words of my landlord are characteristic: he complains that he can hardly breathe after eating well. Naïve! He eats three different kinds of meat for lunch, and almost no cabbage along with it. This bourgeois Christianity is a terrible danger for us and it is largely responsible that the Christian ideology is being discredited everywhere.

Critical remarks of the clergy, stresses the importance of fasting for spiritual life

The idea of asceticism has not yet penetrated among the people at large, or among the clergy. Wherever I come, the parish priest speaks of Christianity in idealistic terms, toasts for half an hour with a glass of wine to the faith and the homeland, and fills his stomach with geese, ducks and other heavy food. One can perceive inner struggles in him due to this; for instance, he excuses himself that he cannot go with us (it is night time!), because he is overcome with tiredness. And this tiredness he explains with this: he couldn’t fall asleep until 3 a.m. This is not an accusation, but it characterizes the level of the inner life of a spiritual leader of a provincial town. It goes without saying that the morals of the citizens who orient themselves according to this priest must be even lower. The quantity of food which my landlord, a rope-maker, consumes is not relevant for his inner life at all: he works a lot, and therefore, he must eat a lot and eat well. Eating for him is a morally indifferent act.

In order for Christianity to rise, the clergy must be holy in the first place. They must always have before their eyes Christ on the Mount of Olives how he overcomes the assaults of all the crosses, Christ who overcomes the devil who tempts him to turn stones into bread. The education of the will is an actual topic for the Croatian clergy!

This superficial Christianity of the Zagreb Theological Seminary is seen also in the smoker’s anthem which praises tobacco as a distraction. The theological seminary with such a superficial spirit must produce priests for whom the ideal of Christianity is bourgeois morality: be a Christian to live well on earth. That’s why we have such conflicts with the clergy who cannot understand the élan of our Catholic movement which spreads Christ’s religion inside and outside of the church, which does not try to win followers with preaching, but creates personalities which leave a lasting trace on their environment.

The ascetic-abstinent idea, along with the following of Christ’s passion must be spread. I realized with fear that even our best men, to whom I must give thanks that I found my way to God, didn’t get acquainted with that idea. They ought to have lived for several years among the hungry and the miserable, only then they would reach those perceptions.

I think I prefer the socialist masses exhausted by hunger and misery to the well-fed Catholic bourgeois individuals.

Zagreb, 30 September 1920 – (23 years and 9 months)

Contacts with international Catholic organizations

The paper Le Sémeur (September 1920), Montréal, Canada, published the invitation by South for them to come to Maribor.

Zagreb, 7 October 1920 – (23 years and 10 months)

Unsuccessful attempt at reconciliation of the People’s Party and Christian Socialists

It was an interesting evening. The civil Marian Congregation invited all congregations to a meeting in order to bridge the gap between the People’s Party and Christian socialists, to bring together these two movements present in Catholic life in Zagreb. Under the chairmanship of Bishop Lang, Mr. Zatluka began to defend himself before anyone accused him of anything, stressing that the Christian Socialists already published their stance and that they will go to the elections as an independent party. He stressed that they are firmly on the Catholic path, but that in politics they will continue in the direction which they are pursuing now, even if requests from the highest tried to persuade them to merge with the People’s Party. He also stressed that they are advocating the Croatian standpoint. Fr. Jesih replied saying that his party is led by a higher motive and that for them there is no gap between the life in the Church and outside of it. They want to introduce Christianity also into politics and do not wish to separate the two as Mr. Zatluka does, claiming that Catholics can work for opposing social and political programs. Mika Galovski stressed that today we are not only speaking about political and social programs, but about the existence of Christianity in our homeland. There must be one united Catholic party which will fight against materialism following the directives given in different papal encyclicals. One who is following Rerum Novarum23 cannot advocate division according to the social program. Zatluka always stressed that he cannot give in. The meeting ended without unification.

The lecture of minister Korošec to members of Domagoj about the actual political situation in the country

After that, Dr. Korošec24 gave a lecture to the members of Domagoj25 in the Catholic assembly room about our internal and external position; he claims that we lost Dalmatia because the delegation in Paris made a mistake by saying off-the-record that it is not interested in Istria and Gorica. From now on, our government will cultivate for several years friendship with Italy to prevent her from interfering with us on the Adriatic, and when we shall be strong enough, this tactic will change. However, in Italy irredentism is spreading, and the students are the best option to exert this kind of influence. We shall unite with the Bulgarians if our state survives and when the parties become consolidated enough (he holds that the state will survive because there are no political options threatening her existence). Already now we are in friendship with them. The small Entente has a defensive character against Hungary. It is a treaty only on paper, without signatures, because the Bohemians cannot give a real power of attorney, as their army is contaminated. Our army, he claims, is the best in Europe, the only problem being that we only have ammunition for less than three months, and no army can accumulate enough supplies unilaterally. Recently, our army penetrated into Italy on a punishment expedition and demolished everything within a 15-km range. We are now under the interest sphere of France; Germany and Austria under the sphere of England, Hungary and Romania under the Italian one. Our goal is also Istanbul. There will be no peace in Europe until Russia is consolidated.

In the internal politics, everything is confused. Our agreement with the radicals is a concubinage because they too are liberals. Of the opponents, he holds that Dr. Spalešković is the most reliable politician. In the program of Congregations, we must begin a public battle because Grdić is supported by Pribičević. Likewise, we must fight against the Jews (quota clause on the universities, etc.).

Criticizes Korošec’s political views

I got the impression that we Catholics don’t have a politics of grand moves whose aim would be the spreading of Christ’s Church. Korošec thinks like all other politicians. To him also, the Italians, Romanians, etc. are friends or enemies for political reasons, instead of trying to introduce Christ’s principles into the affairs of the state: love among the states, self-discipline within every state, promotion of peace, and not contemplating already now a war with Italy, Hungary, etc.

Two currents in Catholic ranks

There are two currents in Catholic ranks: to one of them the Church is alpha and omega, and the other one wants the Christian principles to permeate the entire public life, because they are the best guarantee that it will flourish. The other of the two currents subordinates Christ to public life. The Croats are closer to the first option, Slovenians to the second. The development in Croatia is more of a personal character. Zatluka has no modern Catholic upbringing, and besides, for him religion is independent from politics.

Minister Korošec said that in Zone A in Carinthia there are statistically 500 German votes more, and we spent 35 million crowns for the agitation, corrupting the people in order to get Zone A also. Slovenians are now forcing a plebiscite, because they ran out of suits and the money with which they bribed, so that every delay means a loss of votes.

Zagreb, 13 October 1920 – (23 years and 10 months)

Impressions from a visit to Meštrović’s exhibition

The Germans won the plebiscite in Carinthia.

I just came from Meštrović’s exhibition. I was flooded by streams of fresh ideas. The crucified Christ, Christ and Magdalen, Christ and the Samaritan woman, Pieta, Christ drives the Jews from the temple, Madonna with child, Christ and the seducer, Japanese Madonna caryatids, etc.; everything is pure lyrics, subjectivism to the point of absurdity. Expressionism of the form. Non-anatomic forms reflect a powerful inner life. Self-taught Meštrović came into the world and the suffering of mankind became a problem for him. He, who until now was a liberal, who elaborated a religious motif only scathingly, at once saw that there is a world out there which was always involved with cardinal problems of mankind. He got involved with the Christian religion and projected into the outer forms of Christianity his own soul and this soul gave birth to new forms. There is no doubt about that.

Meštrović’s relationship with God and Christianity

Meštrović is a man immensely gifted by God, but the modern subjectivism found in him a typical representative. He was in America. Maybe the religious movement of the Quakers made an impact on him. He liked their yearning for the limitless and the subjective interpretation of the Gospel. Here one sees the self-taught Meštrović. Until that moment he never knew Christianity: he didn’t study e.g. the descriptions of milieu from which Christ arose and all the phases of life where he suffered, why he worked; he didn’t have a living Christ in front of himself, as e.g. a Catholic when he lives the life of the liturgy. But once the exhausted, colorless liberal Meštrović got hold of the Gospel and in it Christ’s passion, all those streams of ideas gushed forth at once! Meštrović sees Christ sub specie26 of his own ego; this is not the historical Christ, but, from the ocean of these ephemeral strokes of our century, here and there a trait of the real historical Christ penetrates. Meštrović is a pure lyricist who gave the pieces of his soul to his Christ; the soul which, under the ruins of ideological values of the 20th century, found slowly his way to Jesus Christ.

Ivan Meštrović: Pietà

Critical review of Meštrović’s works and their value

We ought to admire Meštrović for being able to express his inner life with such magnificent moves. Artists are the kind of people who, by expressing their inner life and their way to Jesus Christ, show the direction which the environment from which Meštrović emerged has taken. This is civilized western Europe which is in the state of conversion and in no way the Yugoslav milieu. Meštrović is foreign to us and God help us that our nation never gets to the stage of those nations to whose psychological disposition Meštrović’s crucifix corresponds.

A woman who prays is wonderfully stylized. In the Madonnas also, pure subjectivism; the entire life of Christ, Mary with the child, etc. are all artistic conceptions of a non-religious observer on whose soul Grace is knocking all the time. Will she ever find the way into it?

Every work of art, if technically successful, is a document about the relationship of the artist with God. Therefore, the works of art can be even against God, but they reflect this relationship. This is best seen in lyric art. If e.g. the artist observes Christ’s life in a completely wrong way, e.g. as Meštrović largely does, and he is able to incarnate this wrong observation of life in a single work, he is documenting his inner level. Though he might be a technical virtuoso and create a masterpiece, it is still not a real work of art, because a real work of art demands, along with the technique of expression, a correct understanding of the ideas which move the world. Therefore, we have two kinds of art: the first comprises works which brilliantly express the inner life irrespective of the correctness of the understanding of life, and the second are works which, along with formal correctness express a good understanding of life. The works of the first category are documents of the artist’s relationship with God and do not fall under a proper definition of real art.

Zagreb, 14 October 1920 – (23 years and 10 months)

Materially well-off and can study the problem of the cross

Materially, maybe I will never in my whole life be as well-off as I am now. All my wishes are met. I can take a shower every evening, lie on a clean floor, get up at 5 in the morning, go to mass and frequently receive the most Holy Eucharist. I have enough food, bar meat, my suit is not torn, collars always clean. I, therefore, have everything my body demands. Therefore, it is the family which gives you the strongest means to be spiritually vigorous. I can now theoretically study the problem of the cross and may God help me to create such a strong foundation that I never succumb to the cross in practice.

Ivan Merz kneels in prayer in front of a crucifix. Work by sculptor Kuzma Kovačić in 2012. The sculpture is placed in front of the parish church of the Visitation of Mary in Banja Luka where Ivan Merz was baptized.


NOTES

 

1 Herrenhutters – a Protestant sect
2 Latin: Souls are Christian by their nature
3 From ancient Greek history and mythology (Troy, Ulysses, etc.)
4 This is the end of the 16th notebook of Ivan Merz’s Diary, covering a period from 17 July 1919 until 6 February 1920.
5 Avelin ĆEPULIĆ (1896–1938), at that time a student of medicine, was Merz’s close friend and upon return to Zagreb became his co-worker in the leadership of the Croatian Eagle Association and an engaged Catholic layman. As a physician, he was a great benefactor of the poor people of Zagreb whom he treated without charge.
6 Petar ROGULJA (Sarajevo, 1888–1920), Catholic journalist and politician. Graduated from the Zagreb University. He was involved with social issues and was inspired by the ideas of Janez Krek. He wrote numerous articles and discussion papers about the aims and guidelines of the Croatian Catholic Movement. His booklet Before the Dawn (In Croatian) (Zagreb, 1916) marked the beginning of ideologization and politization of the Croatian Catholic Movement. He was editor of The Rijeka Paper (Rijeka), News (Zagreb) and National Politics (Zagreb). He was a member of the Croatian Catholic Seniorate, and Co-founder and first president of the Croatian People’s Party.
7 Rudolf ECKERT (Travnik, 1889 – Rijeka, 1915), a Catholic journalist. From 1907 until 1911 he studied in Zagreb. In 1909 he was elected president of the Croatian Catholic Society Domagoj, and already the next year became the editor of Luč Magazine (Zagreb). In 1911 he went to Munich, and in 1913 to Luvain to study national economy, sociology and philosophy. One of the ideologues and most important promoters of the ideas of the Croatian Catholic Movement. He was the editor of The Rijeka Paper (Rijeka) and News (Zagreb). He was a member of the Croatian Catholic Seniorate. After being drafted in the Austro-Hungarian army, he got ill and died in Rijeka with a reputation of holiness.
8 Cardinal Friedrich Gustav PIFFL (1864–1932), the archbishop of Vienna
9 Lamentations – part of the Old Testament, allegedly by the prophet Jeremias, which were sung in the rites of Holy Week before the liturgical reform.
10 Beuron is a Benedictine monastery in Germany, which was the center of liturgical renewal in Germany and in Europe in the 19th and 20th century.
11 South (in Croatian Jug) was a new name for the former Academic Society Croatia which, after the creation of the new Yugoslav state united with the remainder of Slovenian students whose society Danica was relocated to Prague. The change of name is reported in Luč Magazine of 5 March 1920, No. 8 and 9, p. 70 with these words: “We recently changed the name Croatia into South, because with the departure of Danica from Vienna we, the Croats and the Slovenes, are organized in a single society, and, with regard to that, the old name is not suitable any more. We wish to give to the name of our society a purely Yugoslav character”. South in 1920 numbered 47 members: 27 Slovenians and 18 Croats. These were the first years of the new Yugoslav state when it was not yet transparent what negative consequences it will have for the Croats. Therefore, there was an initial enthusiasm for the Yugoslav state.
12 Austrian society for Catholic intellectuals in Vienna
13 Pope Pius IX published in 1864 the encyclical Quanta cura against the modern deviations and a well-known supplement Syllabus, in which he condemns more than 80 misconceptions of that time with regard to the Christian faith and the Catholic Church.
14 This is a draft-proclamation of his future rules of life – Ascetic rules which Merz compiled in Paris. He speaks about it in his Paris Diary of 4 November 1921. Ivan perfected these decisions in the course of the years to come.
15 Members of a group of Croatian priests and their associates in the first half of the 20th century who advocated the abolishment of the celibate, and their movement was called “the yellow movement”.
16 This is the Marian Congregation, an association for the promotion of spiritual life, which was established for the benefit of Catholic students from the Kingdom of the Serbs, Croats and Slovenes within the Academic Society South.
17 I.e. pupil of a Jesuit high school from Kalksburg in Austria.
18 See footnote of 18 April 1920
19 League is an abbreviation for the Yugoslav Catholic Students’ League, a name covering the united Croatian Catholic High School Youth, the youth of the Croatian Catholic Movement.
20 For Krek, see footnote of 7 May 1917
21 Eagle – an abbreviation for the Eagle Catholic Organization.
22 Domagoj, a Catholic society for students established in Zagreb on 10 November 1906 as part of a greater Croatian Catholic Movement.
23 Rerum Novarum – encyclical of the pope Leo XIII about social issues, published in 1891. This is the first Church document in recent history, on which the social teaching of the Church is based.
24 Dr. Anton KOROŠEC, Slovenian Catholic priest and politician, minister in the government of the State of the Serbs, Croats and Slovenians.
25 Domagoj – See note earlier, of 6 Septemeber 1920
26 Latin: sub specie – in the light of
1 Dr. Josip UJČIĆ (1880–1964), Croatian priest from Istria. Following his service in Vienna, became university professor in Ljubljana and finally the Archbishop in Belgrade.
2 Diary, 6 September 1919
3 Dr. Avelin ĆEPULIĆ, From the Student Days of Dr. Ivan Merz (in Croatian), Orlovska misao, June 1928, No. 9, pp. 130–134.
4 Religious Renewal of Austrian Catholics (in Cro.), Narodna politika, Zagreb, No. 48, 17 April 1920, p. 2.
5 Diary, 3 August 1920.
6 Diary, 28 August 1919.
7 D. KNIEWALD, Dr. Ivan Merz – Life and Activity (in Croatian), Zagreb, 1932, pp. 108–109. Due to a great importance of the thoughts expressed there, we printed this lecture in the text of the Diary where it chronologically belongs.
8 D. KNIEWALD, Dr. Ivan Merz – Life and Activity (in Croatian), Zagreb, 1932, p. 110.
9 ORJUNA is an acronym for the Organization of Yugoslav Nationalists. Orjuna was formally founded in Split, following the establishment of the new state – The Kingdom of the Serbs, Croats and Slovenes, later called the Kingdom of Yugoslavia. It was founded by a group of young followers of the politician Svetozar Pribičević (at that time a hardline Serbian nationalist). The goals of Orjuna were a battle against communism and the Croatian national movement, as these were the forces that threatened the new state. The central ideological concept of Orjuna was a unitary Yugoslav nation, along with favoring of the Serbian national mentality. In the Orjuna perspective, Croatian national identity was unfit for the formation of a unitary Yugoslav nation.
10 This is a statement of full submission “to the dynasty, central government and a united nation”. See Diary of I. Merz of 12 June 1919.
11 Dr. Avelin ĆEPULIĆ, From the school days of Dr. Ivan Merz (in Croatian), Orlovska misao, Zagreb, June 1929, No. 9, pp. 130–134.
12 Gral – A German monthly magazine for Catholic literature and Christian world-view. Published between 1905 and 1937. At the advice of Dr. Maraković, Merz read it while still in Banja Luka.
13 D. KNIEWALD, Dr. Ivan Merz – life and work, (in Croatian) Zagreb, 1932, pp. 108–109.
14 See ORJUNA in the introductory part of the Viennese Diary . Note No.: 9
15 MARIAN CONGREGATION – a Catholic association for the cultivation of spiritual life among the lay faithful of all ages. It was founded by the Jesuits at the very beginning of the foundation of their order. This model of promoting spiritual life spread through the entire Christian world. After the Second Vatican Council, the name was changed so that these associations today are called Communities of Christian Life.
16 This is the end of the 15th notebook of Ivan Merz’s Diary, covering a period from 23 November 1918 until 15 July 1919.
17 This is the beginning of the 16th notebook of the Bl. Ivan Merz’s Diary, covering a period from 17 July 1919 until 6 February 1920.
18 Matthias Joseph SCHEEBEN (1835–1888) was a theological writer well known in the 19th and the beginning of the 20th century. While in the Military Academy (1914) Merz read his book The Art of Prayer (in German) which he liked very much and about which he made notes in his Diary. This book was recommended to him by his teacher Dr. Ljubomir Maraković. It is evident from this entry that even after the war Merz continued reading his works, but this time there is no mention of the work he was reading.
19 Holiday courses were summer gatherings for the youth with a cultural, religious and recreational character, organized by the members of the Croatian Catholic Movement.
20 The article The New Age (in Croatian) is Ivan Merz’s first published work. Here he summarized the experiences he went through on the battlefield in World War I. The article was written as early as the beginning of 1917. Merz presented in full the content of this article as a lecture which he held in the Croatia Academic Society in Vienna in the spring of 1919. His colleagues that were listening remained under a deep impression of his powerful thoughts. The article The New Age was published again in the 2nd volume of his Collected Works, Zagreb, 2011, pp 17–22.
21 These Luther’s texts Merz quotes in German.
22 When Merz was writing this text and the last sentence, he didn’t have an inkling that God predestined him to become one of these great people. Five years after his death, Dr. Č. Čekada in the Sarajevo Catholic Weekly (in Croatian) wrote this sentence: “Ivan Merz never put on a cassock, but he was a pillar of the Church of God” (Čedomil Čekada, “Our saint in a tailcoat”, Katolički tjednik (Catholic Weekly), No. 19, Sarajevo, 7 May 1933, No. 7, p. 4)
23 French: local color, i.e. milieu in which the plot unfolds.
24 ANACREON (550–495 BC), an ancient Greek poet who often used the motifs of love and wine and glorified the brighter sides of life in his poems. Such poetry later became known as Anacreontic poetry.
25 Latin: The soul is Christian by nature.
26 This is the first of three main Luther’s works with which he started the reformation in 1520
27 Hrvatska prosvjeta, Year VI, 1919, Nos. 11 and 12.
28 Franc TERSEGLAV (1882–1950), Slovenian Catholic journalist, writer, translator. Student of bishop Antun Mahnič and Janez Krek. A pronounced Catholic personality in Slovenia. The writer of numerous works on the topic of religion and an engaged Catholic layman. During World War I he was on the Russian front, and then, until 1920 in captivity in Siberia. In 1910 he wrote a handbook for the members of the Slovenian Eagle Organization entitled The Golden Book of Slovenian Eagles which was translated into Croatian and adapted by Ivan Merz in 1924.
29 Latin: Soul is Christian by its nature.
30 Latin: Real peace is attained by renunciation (From the booklet The Imitation of Christ).
31 Latin: Soul is Christian by nature.