INCREASINGLY PRESENT IN OUR TIMES After the tempest of the War that passed over our parts sweeping off many things, destroying, breaking down all and sundry, the figure of Ivan Merz came to the surface fresh again, chaste and sublime in the post-war reality. Commemorations of the anniversaries of Ivan’’ death began in the Zagreb churches. Our bishops frequently led these commemorations, gave sermons.
In 1958 a big step was taken: Franjo Seper, Archbishop of Zagreb, initiated informative proceedings on the bishops’ level for declaring Ivan blessed.
In 1971 the first biography on Ivan after the War was published: “Fighter from the White Mountains”
In 1972 a memorial museum on Ivan Merz was opened by the Basilica of the Sacred Heart in Zagreb, the church Ivan had regularly visited.
In 1973 the “Herald of the Postulation” for Ivan’s beatification started to be issued, and that has since then been appearing.
In 1974 a new biography, an abridged version dedicated to the young was published: “A Friend of Young People – Ivan Merz”.
In 1975 at the Papal Institute for Liturgy in Rome, Dr. Marin Skarica defended his PhD dissertation, the first one on Ivan Merz as a promoter of liturgical renewal.
During the same year a group of catechists from Zagreb organized a pilgrimage of the young to Rome, on the occasion of the Holy Year. Fifty years perviously Ivan Merz had organized a similar pilgrimage for young people.
In 1976 the acquaintance made in Rome during the Holy Year induced young people from Italy, France and Ireland to come, about 200 of them, to an International Pilgramage to Zagreb and Marija Bistrica.
December 16, 1977 a great occurance: the body of Ivan Merz were transferred from the Mirogoj Cemetery into the Basilica of the Sacred Heart. Ivan became even closer to his friends and admirers.
In 1978 the 50th anniversary of Ivan’s death was celebrated. The celebration was marked by a number of manifestations. In May, on the actual anniversary of Ivan’s departure for eternal life Bishop Mijo Skvorc celebrated a solemn Holy Mass and gave a sermon in the Basilica of the Sacred Heartof Jesus, in the presence of masses of people.
The same day a book was published, containing Ivan’s most beautiful texts, selected from his rich spiritual heritage: “The way to the Sun”.
In October, a pilgrimage for the young was organized to Rome, on the occasion of Ivan’s 50th anniversary.
The main celebration of the 50th anniversary of Ivan’s death was in November: A Symposium at the Faculty of Theology on November 24 and 25; a solemn concelebration of the Holy Mass in the Cathedral which was led by the then Archbishop of Zagreb, Franjo Kuharic, and who also gave a sermon; and also on Sunday, November 25, the feast day of Christ the King, there was a solemn final academy in the seminary at Salata in Zagreb. Ivan’s 50th anniversary was celebrated in Dubrovnik and in Denmark in Copenhagen among Croatian guest workers.
In February of the same year the second PhD dissertation on Ivan Merz was defended. It was written and defended by the postulator of Ivan’s cause, Fr. Bozidar Nagy at the Papal University Salesianum in Rome. Its title is “Ivan Merz, a Man of Faith and an educator for Faith”.
On May 1, 1979 a pilgrimage of the young to Rome was organized again in the memory of Ivan Merz. This pilgrimage was part of the national pilgrimage to Rome for the jubilee of the Croatian Prince of a thousand years ago, Prince Branimir. On this occasion the then Archbishop of Zagreb, Franjo Kuharic mentioned Ivan Merz for the first time before the Pope in St. Peter’s Basilica. The same year, in the memory of Ivan Merz an exhibition of the photographs of the Torino Cloth was opened in the Basilica of the Sacred Heart in Zagreb. The exhibition was organized by Fr. P. Bulat on the stimulus he received during the 1978 pilgrimage to Rome. “A Collection of Works from the Symposium on Dr Ivan Merz” was printed the same year.
On White Sunday, as a part of the celebration of the Easter Season a Youth Festival of Spiritual Music, Poetry and Dances was organized at Salata in Zagreb. The idea for this festival came after the final solemn academy on the occasion of Ivan’s 50th anniversary.
In 1979, the Holiday of Christ the King was also celebrated at the Seminary at Fratrovac in Zagreb, for which stimulus had been received through the Merz celebration the previous year. Its theme was Branimir’s jubilee.
On the eve of Ivan’s birthday on December 15, 1979, a meeting of Ivan’s admirers was held in Zagreb. The concelebrated Holy Mass was led by the then Archbishop of Zagreb, who also gave a homily. The meeting was attended also by representatives from Banja Luka, Ivan’s birthplace.
In 1980 lectures were given on Ivan Merz and meetings of his admirers organized in Zagreb, Banja Luka, Subotica, Varazdin and other places.
Within the Section for Christian Views of the Institute for Philosphy and Theology of the Society of Jesus, following the example of Ivan Merz, a three-year systematic lecture cyclus for laymen began. Cyclical lectures have since then been given on philosophy and theology for laymen.
After Easter, another Festival of spiritual music and poetry was held for the young. The choir of young parishioners from the parish of Saint Fabian of Varazdin, the winners from the previous year, this year performed among other selections the poem by M. Preisler: “Brother Ivan”, for which they had themselves written the music and the arrangement.
On May 1, 1980, a group of young pilgrims went to Rome for the fourth time, motivated by the exemplary love and fidelity of Ivan Merz for the Church and the Holy Father.
In the meantime, interest started to arise for our Ivan abroad. Articles started to appear on Ivan in Catholic newspapers and periodicals in Italy, France, Germany and Ireland. Letters from these countries have been received at the Postulature in which people request more detailed information about our Ivan of whom they had heard for the first time. Also, the Chile radio station in the program for Croatian people spoke about our Ivan.
Out of the numerous songs that have been sung in the honour of our Ivan since his departure till the present day, we print here the last one, written by the well known Croatian poetess, Mira Preisler, for the 51st anniversary of Ivan’s entry into Life in 1979:
Your figure is growing lighter,
It is burning more and more in the hearts of the young,
you are becoming closer to all,
it is increasingly beautiful to keep vigil in your circle.
The more we listen to your thoughts
the warmer our hearts burn with fire,
the more we follow your work
the easier our lives move towards God.
Here are the young, burning with desire
to consecrate their lives in your light
to step thus towards one aim:
to dedicate our lives to God and our Mother.
Cordial hands are held out to you!
A MESSAGE TO THE YOUNG FROM THE SYMPOSIUM
On the occasion of the 50th anniversary of Ivan’s death, a Symposium on the Phenomenon and Significance of Dr. Ivan Merz in the Church in Croatia was held on the premises of the Theological Seminary in Zagreb on November 24 and 25, 1978. Eight lecturers tried to point out the greatness and value of this unique figure of catholicism in our parts. The lectures were published later in the periodical “Renewed Life” (Obnovljeni Zivot) no. 4 for the year of 1979, and later, separately, a Collection of Works was issued. There were no conclusions made at the Symposium, but the partakers decided to address a message to our young people, which is printed here unabridged:
“Ivan Merz, a young Catholic layman and apostle of Croatian youth, at his deathbed, in full consciousness gave his life as a sacrifice of life to God for Croatian youth, as testified to by witnesses of this act. After his departure for eternal life, Ivan became a model and a program of Christian life and work to many. As such, he entered into the line of great Croatian spiritual personalities, in whom the Church in Croatia takes pride. During his short but fruitful Christian life and work Ivan Merz left for the Church in Croatia a valuable spiritual heritage, that invites us to get acquainted, study and follow it because it represents a valuable contribution to the effective realization of the Gospel in the Christian history of the Croatian nation. We, who have taken part in this Symposium, who have gathered to study the phenomenon and significance of Ivan Merz in the Croatian Church, having in view not only his exemplary Christian life but also his sacrifice of life, given to God for the youth of our Homeland, we call the young to get acquainted with this unique figure of Catholicism in our nation. We are recommending that they study this heritage, and that they draw inspiration from it for the formation of their characters, for the realization of the Gospel’s ideas in their lives, and that they find stimuli in the apostolic activity of Ivan Merz in order to work in conjunction with the Church and its hierarchy like Ivan did on the building and expansion of Christ’s Kingdom among people.”
Partakers of the Symposium
This message was published by the official Herald of the Postulation for the Beatification of Ivan Merz, by a periodical written by the young for the young called “We” and by the Herald of the Sacred Heart.
The film of Ivan’s life has, dear reader, revealed in front of your eyes. Ivan lived a short life, an incomplete 32 years; but it was led by God’s mercy and it left a deep impression in the Church in Croatia; it lit a great light whose rays are shining even our present days. We have mentioned in the Foreword that due to the limited space at our disposal we would present only the most essential because a whole study or a complete book could be written on each chapter of this book, so rich is Ivan’s spiritual heritage regardless whether it is something he wrote or something others said or put on paper about him. We wish this book to be a stimulus for a better, more detailed acquaintance with Ivan and his life through literature already written about him. For, as pointed out by the then Archbishop of Zagreb, Ivan has many things to say to contemporary people. It is not by chance that Ivan appeared among us as a Catholic intellectual who himself found his way to faith and its values the hard way. There are so many today who are searching for the compass of their lives’ views and their correct activities. Ivan found it and he has shown it to us.
For those who wish to learn more about Ivan we are enclosing a list of books published on him. The older publications can be found in parish libraries, in convents and your friends might have them. We are recommending especially the last two editions that are still available. The book “Road to the Sun” contains Ivan’s most beautiful writings, giving insight to the wealth of his spirituality and the beauty of his thoughts. The “Collection of Works from the Symposium, 1978” contains studies on Ivan and on the most significant points of his personality and his apostolic work. In the Collection the most valuable study on Ivan so far has been included: “The Soul of Dr Ivan Merz” by D. Zanko.
Those who wish to learn about the progress of the beatification proceedings, about how Ivan acts today, about what are the initiatives and realizations in connection with him, about what his example stimulates and inspires us to do, will be able to read about all of these in the Herald of the Postulation. The prayers of many people who turned to Ivan in their needs have been granted. The boards of thanks (pieces of stone or marble, with words of thanks engraved on them) on his grave and gratitude expressed in writing in the Herald of the Postulation testify of this. Perhaps you will also feel the need to ask his intercession in prayer. If your prayer is granted, let us know by all means, since it is very important for the proceedings of his beatification.
All necessary pieces of information and literature about our Ivan, as well as the small pictures with a prayer for the novena, you can get on the address:
THE BOOKS OF IVAN MERZ
Ivan MERZ, “Put k suncu” (“The Way to the Sun”), Selected writings; Zagreb, Postulation of Ivan Merz, 1978, 179 pages
Ivan MERZ, “Put k suncu” (“The Way to the Sun”), Selected texts of Ivan Merz; Zagreb, The Institute of Philosophy and Theology and Postulation for Beatification of Ivan Merz, 1993, Second supplemented edition, 232 pages
Ivan MERZ, “The Influence of Liturgy on the French writers” (in French), Doctoral Dissertation of Ivan Merz; 1st volume of Collected Works; Publisher: The Faculty of Philosophy of the Zagreb University and the Postulation for Beatification of Ivan Merz, Zagreb, 1996, 303 pages
Ivan MERZ, “Plamen za visinama” (“A Flame for the Heights”), Zagreb, The Institute of Philosophy and Theology, 1999, 128 pages
Ivan MERZ, “Misli” (“Thoughts”), Postulation for Beatification of Ivan Merz, Zagreb, 2001, 64 pages
A complete bibliography of numerous articles, studies and brochures which were published by Ivan Merz in various periodicals, can be found in both editions of the book “Put k suncu” (“The way to the Sun”) by Ivan Merz.
BIOGRAPHIES AND STUDIES ON IVAN MERZ
Dragutin KNIEWALD, “Ivan Merz – Zivot i djelovanje” (“Ivan Merz – Life and Work”), Zagreb, 1932, 254 pages
Various authors, “Bozji covjek Hrvatske – Dr. Ivan Merz” (“God’s Man of Croatia – Dr. Ivan Merz”), a collection of essays and articles; Zagreb, 1938, 80 pages
Josip VRBANEK, “Vitez Kristov Ivan Merz” (“Christ’s Knight Ivan Merz”), Zagreb, 1943, 254 pages
Bozidar NAGY, “Borac s bijelih planina – Ivan Merz” (“A Fighter from the White Mountains – Ivan Merz”), The Institute of Philosophy and Theology, Zagreb, 1971, 372 pages
Bozidar NAGY, SJ,“Prijatelj mladih – Ivan Merz” (“A Friend of the young – Ivan Merz”), Zagreb, 1974, 132 pages
Marin SKARICA, “Ivan Merz – iniziatore del movimento liturgico in Croazia” (“Ivan Merz – an initiator of the liturgical movement in Croatia”), Rome, 1975, 511 pages, A doctoral dissertation in Italian. An excerpt has been published.
Bozidar NAGY, “Ivan Merz – covjek vjere i odgojitelj za vjeru” (“Ivan Merz – A Man of faith and an educator for faith”), Rome, 1977, 354 pages, A doctoral dissertation in Italian; An excerpt has been published.
“Pojava i znacenje dr. Ivana Merza u Crkvi u Hrvatskoj” (“The Phenomenon and significance of Dr. Ivan Merz in the Church in Croatia”); A collection of works from the Symposium held in 1978 on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of Ivan Merz’s death; Zagreb, 1979, 130 pages
Bozidar NAGY, “Tko je Ivan Merz”, kratak prikaz zivota i djelovanje Ivana Merza (“Who is Ivan Merz”, A short survey of the life and work of Ivan Merz), Zagreb, 1980, 88 pages
Dragutin KNIEWALD, “Sluga Bozji – Dr. Ivan Merz” (“The Servant of God – Dr. Ivan Merz”), the second edition, Zagreb, 1988, 318 pages
Dusan ZANKO, “Svjetlo na gori – Dr. Ivan Merz” (“The Light on the Mountain – Dr. Ivan Merz”), Zagreb, 1990, 75 pages
Karoly KNIEWALD, “A lelek tuzharcosa – Dr. Ivan Merz elete” (A translation of the biography of Ivan Merz into Hungarian), Szalesi Muvek 1940, 193 pages
Bozidar NAGY, “Ivan Merz, istaknuti laik u svjedocenju Evandjelja” (“Ivan Merz, An outstanding Layman in Witnessing the Gospel”), Publisher; The Postulation for Beatification of Ivan Merz, 1st edition 1995, 2nd edition 1996, 56 pages
Symposium on Ivan Merz in 1996 – works published in the periodical “Obnovljeni zivot” (“The Renewed Life”), no. 3 /4 , 1997
Dr. Djuro GRACANIN, “Moje uspomene na licnost dr. Ivana Merza” (“My Memories of the Personality of Dr. Ivan Merz”), Sarajevo, 1933, 15 pages
Fabijan VERAJA, “Ivan Merz, Pioniere dell’ Azione Cattolica in Croazia” (“Ivan Merz, a pioneer of the Catholic Action in Croatia”), Positio super vita, virtutibus et fama sanctitatis, 1998, 1104 pages
Various authors, “Ivan Merz un laic d’avant-garde” (“Ivan Merz, Avant-garde layman”). The whole of issue 385 of the French periodical “Christ source de vie”, May 2001, is dedicated to Ivan Merz. His life and work has been described on 30 pages in French.
PERIODICALS ABOUT IVAN MERZ
The Herald of the Postulation – “Ivan Merz”. It is a periodical for promotion of the knowledge and respect of Ivan Merz. It has been published in Zagreb since 1973.
“Orao zlatnih krila” (“An eagle with the golden wings”), a paper for promotion of the respect of the Servant of God Ivan Merz. A founder and an editor is Marko Sinovcic. The paper has been published in Buenos Aires in Argentina since 1981.
“Rycerz krzyza bialego” (“The Knight of the White Cross”), a periodical in Polish. A publisher and an editor is Jozef Staszkowian, Gromadka, Poland. It has been published since 1993.
There are also translations of Ivan’s biography “The friend of the Young” in German, Italian and Polish.