Flat Saints: Dietrich Bonhoeffer

During our month of saints, we are hearing the stories of seven different saints from Scripture and tradition and learning about the saints in as many ways as possible. Check out some suggestions here. Come back all this month, for posts about our saints and remember to share what you and your family learn about the saints this month on Facebook with a photo of your flat saint out and about and #CHFSaints.

You can find all blog posts in this series at the following links: Mary Magdalene, Saint Luke the Evangelist, Clare and Francis of Assisi, Monica and Augustine, ideas of All Saints Saint potluck.

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Dietrich Bonhoeffer (February 4, 1906—April 9, 1945)

Date remembered: April 9

Dietrich Bonhoeffer was a German pastor and theologian during the Second World War. He wrote many books that challenged the church in Germany and remain important to us now. All of his books focused on the person and work of Jesus Christ. When the activities of the church came under strict government control and Christians outside of the national church were limited in their ability to gather, Bonhoeffer ran an underground seminary that trained ministers. This seminary, called Finkenwalde, was eventually forced to close.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer, 1939, Photographer unknown

We know a lot about Dietrich Bonhoeffer because he wrote quite a bit. His friend, Eberhard Bethge was the first to pen his biography. From what we know it is clear that Bonhoeffer was so resolved in his belief and trust in Christ, that Christ and cross were all that ultimately mattered. He died at the young age of 39 at the hands of the Nazis.

A timeline of Bonhoeffer’s life may be found here.

At Home Discussion

In Life Together: The Classic Exploration of Faith in Community, Bonhoeffer writes of the practice of confession: “In confession the break-through of the community takes place. Sin demands to have a man by himself [sic]. The more isolated a person is, the more destructive will be the power of sin over him […]. Sin wants to remain unknown. It shuns the light.” When we confess in the congregation, we acknowledge and bring our own sin to light.

Read the Prayer of Confession from the Book of Common Prayer together. Students may already have the prayer memorized from our saying it together in the weekly liturgy. If they do not, try to memorize a part of it: the first five lines, lines six through eight, or lines nine through the end.

Discuss the question:

Why do we confess our sins all together every week?

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