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Catholic confraternity in Philippines promoting Blessed Ivan Merz
By Kruno Poljak, | Published  10/26/2007 | Croatians in B&H , Friends In Action , Religion , Croatian spirituality | Unrated
Blessing the Confraternity of Catholic Saints and Philippines

His Eminence Cardinal Josip Bozanić, Archbishop of Zagreb;
The Cardinal giving a gift to Prof. Dave Ceasar (born in 1985), Director for the Confraternity of Catholic Saints (CCS); source

The Confraternity of Catholic Saints (CCS) is a Roman Catholic organization of young people dedicated in promoting Holiness through the lives and works of the Saints. It vows obedience, loyalty and love to the Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI, its local ordinary and to the laws of the Roman Catholic Church.

"A confraternity dedicated to serve God and the Church, to tell people that holiness can be truly attained, and to proclaim the Gospel towards the growth of the People of God in faith, hope, and love."


- To promote the devotion to and lives of the Holy Men and Women recognized by the Roman Catholic Church by Canonization, Beatification, and Recognition of Heroic Virtues, including those from the churches in communion with Rome.

- To help parishes, religious congregations and associations foster devotion to their own saints (their patrons, founders, and/or members).

- To take care of relics of the saints that the confraternity members and/or the Diocese own

- To host a public viewing and veneration of the relics of saints in parishes, communities, schools, hospitals, houses, and offices.

- To help Holy Mother Church stop different kinds of abuses to relics of saints and report it to the competent ecclesiastical authorities (e.g. the Local Ordinary) and/or to the postulators.

- To conduct spiritual activities according to the spirituality of a particular saint through seminars, recollections, retreats, pilgrimages, etc.

- To visit the sick and those who need spiritual assistance and pray for them through the intercession of the saints.

- Offical Promoter of Blessed Ivan Merz
- Official Group-Promoter of Blessed Alberto Marvelli
- Registered Prayer-Group of the Servant of God Pope John Paul II
- Recognized Promoter of Saint Rite de Cascia (by the Mother Abbess)
Monastery of Saint Rita de Cascia, Cascia, Italy

For more information; request of prayer, prayer cards, relics, and information about the Saints; how to help or join the Confraternity, you may send it through:

Office : c/o DCFDC P.O. Box# 247 Araneta Center, Cubao, Quezon City, 1135 Philippines
E-mail: (Director's E-mail)
Skype: catholicsaints

The Apostles of Jesus at these present times and Princes of the Roman Catholic Church greeted by the Director of the Confraternity of Catholic Saints and who blessed, in the person of the Director, the Confraternity and the Filipinos.

The Lord Archbishop of Sarajevo, His Eminence Cardinal Vinko Puljić, Archbishop of Sarajevo, with Prof. Dave Ceasar

Blessing to Prof. Dave Ceasar from the Cardinal, His Eminence Cardinal Vinko Puljić, Archbishop of Sarajevo

His Excellency Most Rev. Franjo Komarica, Bishop of the Diocese of Banja Luka, giving a blessing to Prof. Dave Ceasar

The Lord Auxilary Bishop of Zagreb, His Excellency Most Rev. Valentin Pozaić, Auxiliary Bishop of Zagreb, with Prof. Dave Ceasar

I V A N   M E R Z

Banja Luka, Dec. 16, 1896 - Zagreb, May 10, 1928



Ivan Merz is a young layman from Croatia, who lived in an age full of big political changes that transformed Europe and left a strong mark on his life.

He was born on December 16, 1896 in Banja Luka from a liberal family when Bosnia was occupied by Austria-Hungary; he had his secondary education in the multiethnic and multi-religious environment of his native town; he finished his studies at the same time when in Sarajevo the crown prince Francesco Ferdinando was murdered ( June 28, 1914).

According to his parent's will, and not to his own, he joined the military Academy in Wiener Neustadt but, disgusted by the corruption of this environment, he quit it after three months. In 1915 he started his university studies in Vienna, but in 1916 he was called up by the army to be sent, later on, to the front, where he spent almost all 1917 and 1918. At the end of the First World War he was in Banja Luka, where he experienced the radical political change and the birth of the new Yugoslav State. In 1919 and in 1920 he was back in Vienna, studying at the Faculty of Philosophy. In October 1920 he set off for Paris, where he attended some lessons at the Sorbonne University and in the "Institute catholique", preparing in the meantime his doctoral dissertation

He won his doctorate at the Faculty of Philosophy on the University of Zagreb 1923 by the thesis "The influence of liturgy on the French writers." Having passed the state exam, he was qualified for teaching French and German language and literature. So he became professor at the archiepiscopal gymnasium in Zagreb till his death ( May 10, 1928).

An ordinary life, at first sight, apart for the period spent at the front, and yet already present in the history of Croatian Catholicism. Still little known outside his native country, the character of Ivan Merz, whose canonization cause is proceeding on after the beatification, fascinates those who approach it. A catholic student and soldier, then an intellectual layman with a wide culture who, because of his love for God, employed all his own energies serving other people and educating the Croatian youth.

What strikes the most in Ivan Merz is his spiritual itinerary, which is, especially in the first period (a period of formation) very uncommon: without a family, without novitiate, without seminary, without a permanent spiritual guide, he found by himself his way to sanctity, so that he was defined as a "Spontaneous spiritual fruit", where the presence of the Grace is experimentally proved. There are only a few saints- and we dont know if we can find some among lay man and women - whose spiritual itinerary we can follow from so close as in the case of Ivan Merz, and this is due to his personal diary that he started writing while he was preparing his school-leaving examination and that he went on writing in the army at the front, and during his university days...

The character emerging from this diary is not that of a "born saint" man, but rather that of a young man fighting for the Good and winning his battle and therefore, with his example, swaying all those striving to accomplish the Christian ideal of perfection. He was afflicted with the question of love and then with that of pain and death that he overcame in the light of faith. In his diary, in the period of the War, it is possible to feel the deepness of his soul where material and spiritual poverty of the life in the army are mirrored and mingled together with the light of Grace. "There is no Holy Eucharist  he wrote in September 19, 1917 - I am living as a pagan or as a beast, as if the Agnus was no more in the centre of the universe, as if He did not exist at all".

"Oh God the Comforter, come and pervade me and my nature with atoms of eternity, so that, more similar to you, I can understand the developing of existence. The present state is busy with rum while the Holy Eucharist is of a minor importance. Where are the military chaplains? Why are they deserting their flock now when they need God the most? ".

"Oh God, the best would be if I was already with You, so, please, burn all the parasites of sin that crept into my soul with the flame of your Mercy, so that I can appear before You good and holy; or at least, to be inspired, while leaving, with a holy joy and an extraordinary will" ( July 13, 1918).

Even at the front Ivan was fasting: " 'Memento mori' - bacon is waiting there to set me a trap! Those who think that fasting is just a little something, do not really know what they are talking about. There is no spiritual life without fasting "Oh God, provide me with a strong will, even if I were barefoot and naked!" (August 23, 1918 ). The athlete of the Spirit came out of the moral ruins of the war being stronger and fortified.

"Never to forget God! Always wishing to join Him. Devoting every day, better dawn, some time to meditation, to prayer, if possible being close to the Eucharist or during the Holy Mass. At that hour all the projects for the day that starts have to be planned, all the faults have to be examined and the Grace to overcome weaknesses has to be asked. It would be terrible if this war could turn in no benefit for me! I must start leading a new life, regenerate from the spirit of a new knowledge of Catholicism. May God help me, because there is nothing a man can do single-handed." ( February 5, 1918 ).


Merz is coming out of the war as a mature man and Christian and as such, he took up again his studies in Vienna and continued them in France, devoting himself more and more to the Croatian Catholic Movement.


Once back in Zagreb, he gave a new direction to the youth's movement of the "Eagles', according to the Catholic Action's principles. As a mature man he became an example of apostle and thus a model for every priest or religious. Finally Merz was the "catholic man" par excellence, whose heart was beating together with the heart of the Church, that has no national or political frontiers; the Church that is the Mystical Body of Christ, gathered around the real Christ in Eucharist, represented by his vicar on earth, the Pope. The Church, the Eucharist and the Pope: three loves, or rather one only love, according to Merz, who was trying with all his might to instil it in the Croatian youth.

He, a layman, was the promoter of the liturgical movement in Croatia and was also a pioneer of the Catholic Action according to Pius XI's instructions, in order to put together an "elite" of apostles to work for the "renewal of everything in Christ". For a little longer than five years he was working, fighting and suffering for the establishment and strengthening of the Kingdom of God in his country. With this purpose he became the moving spirit of the youth's "Eagles" movement, to which, on his death-bed, he offered his own life. His wide culture, his experience of life and his deep catholic sense, make him a "European Saint', close to the German, Latin an Slavic world. Although almost eighty years have passed since his death, his character has lost no actuality, or better, from a certain point of view, its actuality has increased, because in the meanwhile the world has secularised even more, and is even more in need of witnesses of the "supernatural".

As a layman consecrated to God, he devoted himself for six years to the apostolic work of bringing up Catholic youth in Croatia. He promoted the liturgical revival and the Catholic Action of the Pope Pius XI. Completely devoted to the Church and the Vicar of Christ in Rome, Ivan lived a holy life imbued with the worship of the Eucharist. Although he was a layman he is called "the pillar of the Church" in Croatia.

In 1928, Merz passed away, leaving an example of how a man can live, fight and suffer for God's cause. Merz tried hard to give his life the "full meaning", heading for sanctity, and all his pedagogical task was devoted to the formation of apostles of sanctity. He died on May 10, 1928 with a reputation of a saint. His shrine is located in the Basilica of the Heart of Jesus in Zagreb, Croatia. The fame of sanctity soon surrounding him, pushed to the canonization cause, that was started in 1958. The Pope John Paul II. beatified him in his birthplace Banja Luka, Bosnia, on June 22, 2003, and put him as an example of Christian life especially to the young and lay believers. The Lord has granted numerous prayers and graces through the intercession of Blessed Ivan Merz.


Bienheureux Ivan Merz, in French (extensive presentation)

Prof. Dave Ceasar in the city of Zagreb, capital of Croatia

Prof. Dave Ceasar in Zagreb, near the Croatian National Theatre

Prof. Dave Ceasar with samica, a Bosnian musical instrument possessed by Blessed Ivan Merz, kept in the Basilica of Sacred Heart, Zagreb

Prof. Dave Ceasar with Ivan Merz's necktie - cravate
kept in the Basilica of Sacred Heart, Zagreb

Prof. Dave Ceasar at the grave of Marica Stanković in Zagreb


Prof. Dave Dela Cruz s Filipina hodočasti na grob bl. Ivana Merza

            U ponedjeljak 8. listopada 2007. stigao je u Zagreb iz Quezon-City-a s Filipina Prof. Dave Dela Cruz. Cilj njegova dolaska, odnosno hodočašća jest najprije pohod grobu bl. Ivana Merza, zatim posjećivanje mjesta, ustanova i osoba koje su povezane s hrvatskim blaženikom. Prof. Dela Cruz već se dvije godine posebno zanima za bl. Ivana i u stalnom je kontaktu s   njegovom Postulaturom. Osim što ga zanima kao uzor svetačkog života, bl. Ivan Merz mu je posebno zanimljiv zbog njegova liturgijskog života i naučavanja  budući da je i sam kao laik profesor liturgike.

Prof. Dela Cruz osnovao je na Filipinima Bratovštinu katoličkih svetaca čiji je cilj promicanje poznavanja i štovanja novijih blaženika i svetaca među koje je na prvo mjesto uvrstio hrvatskog blaženika Ivana Merza za čije je poznavanje među Filipincima njegova udruga učinila dosada veoma mnogo. Po svome dolasku u Zagreb, odmah nakon posjeta grobu bl. Ivana, Prof. Dela Cruz sudjelovao je jučer i na proslavi 50. obljetnice smrti službenice Božje Marice Stanković, bliske suradnice bl. Ivana Merza. Prof. Dela Cruz ostaje u Hrvatskoj do kraja ovoga tjedna i tijekom svoga boravka održat će i nekoliko predavanja o Filipinima. Može ga se kontaktirati preko Postulature bl. Ivana Merza. Više o Bratovštini katoličkih svetaca, te o djelovanju Prof. Dela Cruz-a može se pronaći na njihovim web stranicama:

Na dvjema slikama dolje: Prof. Dave Dela Cruz na grobu bl. Ivana Merza dne 8. listopada 2007.

Prof. Dave Ceasar near the altar of Blessed Ivan Merz
in the Basilica of Sacred Heart, Zagreb

Prof. Dave Ceasar near the monument of Blessed Ivan Merz
in the Basilica of Sacred Heart, Zagreb

Prof. Dave Ceasar kneeling at the same place where Blessed Ivan Merz knelt in the Basilica of Sacred Heart in Zagreb

Prof. Dave Ceasar's photo of Blessed Ivan Merz's prayer-book

Prof. Dave Ceasar's lecture for young people in Zagreb

... attentive listening of the audience

Prof. Dave Ceasar as a guest at the Catholic Radio station in Zagreb

Prof. Dave Ceasar in the Blessed Ivan Merz's museum in  the Basilica of Sacred Heart, Zagreb


Dave Ceasar's Journal

As sign of my love for Jesus and Mary and thanking for the wonderful trip to Croatia, Bl. Ivan and of Fr. Božidar, I offered a sacrifice. Going and climbing to the steps kneeling to pray for thanksgiving and asking God to reward those people who helped me to have a great experience in Croatia most especially Bl. Ivan and Fr. Bozidar. When I finished my prayer and sacrifice, I went to the shop to browse some interesting things. When I saw a sister, I asked her if there is a possibility to get a piece of the stairs... well, she went away and did not mind me. So, I continued my browse of religious articles, found good things and I am ready to pay. An old Passionist Sister noticed my CCS cross and asked me in Italian if I am a lay or priest. Of course, I answered her in a good way with joy and pride. She asked if what group am I belong. I answered her and explained to her the CCS. After some minutes, I extend to her my payment. Then she reacted, "no!" "it's yours" "God bless you and Filipini!" and continued more words which I did not understood. Then she smiled in reply I said, "thanks sister!"

Why is it that these things are happening? I was surprised but my spirit rejoices not because I took things for free but because of their generosity. Those people cannot give anything, but they gave themselves, their life - their whole life - in the service of God and Men. These things are only signs of their total oblation to God. It is very challenging for me to give more of myself to God. I thought everything I did was enough... I was wrong. God is so generous because he loved us so much, until now and til the end. These people are so generous because they are recipient of God's generosity - his love - and they want to spread God's love. I was a recipient of that love, I hope that I too can share this love to others.


For those who can read Filipino.. :)  - an excerpt from the Journal

Patungo kami sa Bistrica, ang main Marian Shrine ng buong Croatia at kalapit na mga bansa. Grabe ang tao! Dahil ang araw na ito ay pilgrimage ng 2 diocese sa Bosnia at ang mamumuno ng misa ay ang nag-iisang Cardinal-Archbishop ng Bosnia na concelebrated ng Bishop ng Banja-Luka kung saan ipinanganak si Bl. Ivan. Pagdating na pagdating namin sa Shrine, kasunod namin ang Bishop of Banja Luka na talaga nga namang tuwang tuwa na makita ako dahil nakita daw niya ako sa internet at magkakilala sila ni Fr. Bozidar. Binati, yinakap at binasbasan niya ako inbehalf ng CCS at mga Pinoy. Pagpasok sa rectory ng Shrine, biglang dumating ang Cardinal-Archbishop ng Bosnia at tuwang tuwa ng makita ako& ganun din ang nangyari at binigyan din niya ng pagbabasbas ang CCS at mga Pinoy sa aking katauhan. Pagkatapos, nagtungo kami sa ilang mahahalang site sa shrine at binisita ang Carmel Monastery. Nagulat ako kasi pinatawag kami ng Prioress ng Carmel dahil alam niyang darating ako. Pagtungo sa parlor, aba! Nandoon siya at matagal na nag-usap tungkol sa CCS at Carmel Spirituality na talaga nga namang nakakapuno ng espiritu. Natapos ang lahat sa isang shopping sa Carmel. 11am ng pinuntahan namin ang square na kung saan doon gaganapin ang malaking gathering para sa Misa. Grabe! Yun pala ang square kung saan nagtungo si Pope John Paul II at ginanap ang beatification ni Bl. Stepinac. Natapos ang Misa at picture-picture ng kaunti at nag-shopping, thanks to Fr. Bozidar's gift. Natapos ang lahat sa isang hapon ng siesta at pahinga dahil bukas, Monday, rampa na naman ulit dahil huling araw ko na sa Zagreb!


Unang Araw sa Croatia Oct 11, '07 3:37 AM
for everyone

Grabe ang biyahe namin ni Fr. Bozidar dahil ang train mula Roma papuntang Venice ay nalate at naiwan kami ng tren papuntang Zagreb. 9pm na kami nakaalis ni Fr. Bozidar sa station ng tren ng Venice pero, kahit na nalate, binisita namin ang isang magandang Simbahan ng Venice ang Madonna de la Lourdes na kung saan nagsimba kami at si Fr. Bozidar naman ay nagconcelebrate. Maganda ang simbahan, liturgical siya at talaga nga namang unique sa ibang mga simbahan na nakita ko, at sa wakas ang misa ay sa Italyano kayat naintindihan ko at nakakasagot ako&

Around 5am na rin kami nakarating sa Zagreb, Croatia, grabe ang lamig, as in malamig!!!

Dito ako ngayon nagiistay sa bahay ng mga Heswita sa Zagreb. Dito sa bahay na ito ay may parokya at university. Nameet ko ang mga sikat na professors dito ng Theology at Philosophy. Iba talaga ang mga Heswita!

10am na kami nakaalis ni Fr. Bozidar pagkatapos ng isang maikling pagtulog. Pinuntahan namin ang mga sumusunod:

1.      Ang Basilica of the Sacred Heart na kung saan laging nagsisimba si Blessed Ivan Merz. At sa wakas! I met him! I already met our Blessed, our beloved Blessed!!! Si Blessed Ivan Merz!!! Doon sa Basilica ay ang kanyang tomb at talaga nga namang lubos ang aking kasiyahan dahil nakita at nabisita ko na ang aming "Kuya" si Blessed Ivan! Inalay ko sa kanya ang isang regalo ng pasasalamat: rosaryong paborito ko, dahil sa pagtulong niya sa akin na makapunta ako sa Rome at Croatia, ang isang Krus ng CCS, dahil sa kanyang walang sawang pananalangin at pagtulong, isang maikling sulat ng pasasalamat, at ang mga prayer intentions mula sa Pilipinas. Doon sa Simbahan, nakaupo at nakaluhod ako kung saan lagi pumipwesto si Blessed Ivan tuwing nagsisimba. Grabe talaga!!! Ibang ang presence ng holiness, as if nandoon si Blessed Ivan na katabi ko.

2.      Binista namin ang cementerio na kung saan ang mga mahahalagang tao ay nakahimlay: Una, binisita namin ang original tomb ni Blessed Ivan at nandoon pa rin ang kanyang parents at friends. Siyempre, kuha kaagad ako ng "Ex Rupe Sepulcro" ni Blessed Ivan& hehehe& Ikalawa, binista namin ang tomb ng mga Franciscan na pari na kung saan nakahimlay ang paring special sa puso ni Fr. Bozidar na balang araw ay ipoprocess din for canonization. Nandoon din si Fr. Karlo Kaic, OFM, na naging missionary sa Philippines. Sunod ay binisita namin ang tomb ni Servant of God Marica Stankovic, na nagdiriwang ng 50th death anniversary kasabay ng Independence Day ng Croatia mula sa Communist.  Kuha din siyempre ako ng "Ex Rupe Sepulcro" ni Servent of God. Si Marica ay matalik na kaibigan at isa sa mga nainspire kay Blessed Ivan upang mahalin ang buhay layko. Pagkatapos, binisita din namin ang himlayan ni Pres. Franjo Tubman, ang "Cory" ng Croatia, na president ng 1st republic of Croatia at "Moses" ng Croats. Nagtungo din kami sa himlayan ni Fr. Franjo Jambrekovic, ang Spiritual Director ni Mother Teresa of Calcutta, na talaga nga namang mararamdaman mo ang holiness ng pari na ito na tumulong upang si Mother Teresa ay maging banal din. Huli ay binisita namin ang tomb ni Prof. Marakovic, ang professor ni Blessed Ivan Merz. Kahit patay na sila, buhay na buhay pa rin ang kanila kabanalan at kabayanihan na talaga nga namang nakakainspire upang tayo'y [ako'y] maging banal.

3.      Umuwi muna kami ni Fr. Bozidar para sa aming lunch. Grabe ang sarap ng pagkain dito! Tataba na naman ako!!! Anyway, after we ate lunch, tulog muna& uso siesta dito noh.

4.      Kinahapunan, alis uli kami kasi aattend si Fr. Bozidar sa isang conference sa canonization process ni Servant of God Marica Stankovic. Doon una kong nameet ang postulator ng Servant of God.

5.      Iniwan muna namin si Fr. Bozidar, kasama ko si Joseph, kaibigan niya, upang ikutin ang "heart of the city". Una, punta muna kami sa magandang Cathedral ng Zagreb. Ay naku po!!! Napakaganda! As in! Doon ko nabisita ang mga tomb ng bayani at malalaking tao ng Croatia. Doon din aking nadalaw ang tomb ng Cardinal-Archbishop at Martyr ng Croatia, si Blessed Stepinac. Grabe ang kanyang story, as in! Sunod, doon din ang relic ng isang Archbishop ng Zagreb, Bl. Augustine. Pagkatapos, nagtungo kami sa Piazza, sa shrine ng Golden Gate at simbahan ng Santa Catalina at San Francisco de Assisi na talaga nga namang napakaganda.

6.      6pm, bumalik kami sa Cathedral para sa misa ng independence day at 50th death anniversary ni Servant of God Marica Stankovic. Ang auxiliary Bishop ng Zagreb ang nag-preside, at talagang mamamangha ka sa solemnity at ganda ng Liturgy! Liturgical sila!!! After the Mass, mineet ko ang Bishop at nagusap sandali at binigyan ako ng blessing, in behalf ng CCS at ng mga Pinoy. Tuwang tuwa siya ng makita ako kasi nga madalang ang pinoy sa Croatia.

Natapos ang lahat sa isang masarap na hapunan, salamat at Chicken steak ang pagkain kung hindi patay na ako balik na naman ako sa bewang na 32 hehehe.

Unang araw pa lang ito ngunit punong puno na ng kasaysayan sa aking buhay. Salamat Panginoon sa magandang handog na ito!


Dave Ceaser:
Life with Ivan
Life in Zagreb

Dave Ceasar's favorite links:
Feb 27 - Opus Dei - Writings of the Founder
Feb 27 - Saint Josemaria Escriva - Founder of Opus Dei
Feb 27 - Opus Dei - Finding God in daily life
Feb 27 - Diocesan Ministry for Liturgical Affairs - Diocese of Cubao
Jan 6 - The Official Website of Blessed Ivan Merz
Jan 6 - The Roman Catholic Diocese of Cubao Official Website
Jan 6 - Vatican: the Holy See
Young forces in Croatia:

Formated for CROWN by prof.dr. Darko Žubrinić
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