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, He Leadeth Me, //
Ignatius Press with Doubleday, San Fransisco, reprinted 1995
0-89870-546-0, Library of Congress catalogue 94-73067
(originally Doubleday & Company, Inc., Garden City, New York, 1973)

The Lord's my shepherd, I'll not want

He makes me down to lie
In pastures green He leadeth me
The quiet waters by.
Yea, though I walk through death's valley
Yet will I fear no ill,
For Thou art with me and Thy rod
And staff me comfort still.

To my Russian friends,
Nikolai, Andrei, Ivan, Albert, Giorgi, Vladimir, Katia, Victor, Yekaterina

May He lead them as He led me.

And to my sister Helen Gearhart and my
dear friend Father Edward McCawley, S.J.,
whom He already leads.

Chapter One ALBERTYN..............................................................................................3
Chapter Two THE DECISION TO ENTER RUSSIA..................................................6
Chapter Three RUSSIA..................................................................................................9
Chapter Four ARREST AND IMPRISONMENT.....................................................13
Chapter Five LUBIANKA...........................................................................................16
Chapter Six THE INTERROGATIONS......................................................................21
Chapter Seven FOUR YEARS OF PURGATORY.....................................................25
Chapter Eight IN TRANSIT........................................................................................29
Chapter Nine THE BODY...........................................................................................32
Chapter Ten WORK.....................................................................................................35
Chapter Eleven THE PRIESTHOOD.........................................................................38
Chapter Twelve THE APOSTOLATE........................................................................41
Chapter Thirteen THE MEANING OF THE MASS................................................44
Chapter Fourteen RETREATS.....................................................................................49
Chapter Fifteen THE FEAR OF DEATH...................................................................52
Chapter Sixteen FREEDOM........................................................................................56
Chapter Seventeen THE KINGDOM OF GOD........................................................59
Chapter Eighteen HUMILITY.....................................................................................63
Chapter Nineteen FAITH............................................................................................66
Chapter Twenty HUMANITY....................................................................................69

timber barracks felt that I had learned
surrounded by barbed much during those years
PROLOGUE preparation for work in
wire and a "death zone". of hardship and suffering
Russia. But after I was
On October 12, 1963, I ordained, there was no Men died in those that could be of help to
landed at New York's way to send priests into camps, especially those others in their lives. For
Idlewild Airport after Russia, so I was assigned who gave up hope. But I every man's life contains
having spent twenty- instead to an Oriental trusted in God, never felt its share of suffering;
three years in the Soviet rite mission staffed by abandoned or without each of us is occasionally
Union and most of that Jesuits in Albertyn, hope, and survived along driven almost to despair,
time in prison or the Poland. with many others. I to ask why God allows
slave labor camps of never looked on my evil and suffering to
Siberia. Some of my survival as anything overtake him or those he
I was working there
friends and family on special or extraordinary, loves. I had seen a great
when war broke out in
hand that day said that I but I did give thanks to deal of suffering in the
September 1939. The
stepped off BO AC flight God for sustaining and camps and the prisons in
German Army took
no. 501 like some new preserving me through those around me, had
Warsaw, but the Red
Columbus, about to those years. almost despaired myself,
Army overran eastern
rediscover America and and had learned in those
Poland and Albertyn. In
take up again the life of a When my term at last ran darkest of hours to turn
the confusion and
free man. I felt nothing of out, I was not completely to God for consolation
aftermath of these
that. Nor did I know that free. Because I had been and to trust in him alone.
invasions, I followed
I had officially been "convicted" on a charge
many Polish refugees
listed as dead since 1947 of espionage, I could not "How did you manage to
into Russia. Disguised as
and that my Jesuit leave Siberia and return survive?" is the question
a worker, I accompanied
colleagues had said to the main cities of most often asked me by
them in the hope of
Masses for the repose of Russia, let alone leave newsmen and others
being able to minister to
my soul when it was the country. So I ever since my return
their spiritual needs. But
thought I had died in a remained in the villages home. My answer has
I didn't fool the Soviet
Soviet prison. I felt only and towns of Siberia, always been the same:
secret police. As soon as
a simple sense of working as an auto "God's providence". Yet I
Germany invaded Russia
gratitude to God for mechanic among other knew that simple
in June 1941, I was
having sustained me things, until I was finally statement could never
picked up by the NKVD
through those years and, exchanged in 1963 for satisfy the questioner or
and put into prison.
in his providence, two convicted Russian ever begin to convey all I
bringing me home again spies, thanks to the meant by it. Through the
at last. I was taken by train to
efforts of family and long years of isolation
the dread Lubianka
friends and the good and suffering, God had
Prison in Moscow for
It was shortly after I left offices of the US State led me to an
interrogation as a
home and family in Department. Upon my understanding of life and
"Vatican spy". I remained
Shenandoah, arrival, my religious his love that only those
there all through the war
Pennsylvania, to join the superiors and a number who have experienced it
years, undergoing
Jesuits in 1928 that I first of publishers convinced can fathom. He had
periodic and often
volunteered for the me that there was a great stripped away from me
intense questioning by
"Russian missions". Pope deal of public interest in many of the external
the NKVD. Then, after
Pius XI wrote a letter in the story of my years consolations, physical
five years, I was
1929 to all seminarians, inside the Soviet Union, and religious, that men
sentenced to fifteen years
"especially our Jesuit those years when I had rely on and had left me
at hard labor in the
sons", asking for men to actually been given up with a core of seemingly
prison camps of Siberia.
enter a new Russian for dead. So I agreed to simple truths to guide
Along with thousands of
center being started at tell that story and did so me. And yet what a
others, I was put to work
Rome to prepare young in the book With God in profound difference they
in labor brigades doing
clerics for possible future Russia. had made in my life,
outdoor construction in
work in Russia. I studied what strength they gave
the extreme arctic cold,
my theology there and me, what courage to go
or in coal and copper Yet, to be perfectly
learned to say Mass in on! I wanted to tell
mines, ill clothed, ill fed, honest, that was not the
the Byzantine rite in others about them—
and poorly housed in the book I wanted to write. I
indeed, I felt one reason ideas and my dreams for finish a task I feared all long and difficult process
that God in his this book. To me he is along to tackle alone. I of writing. Last of all, my
providence had brought more than a collaborator think it is obvious how deep gratitude to a those
me safely home was so or excellent editor; in the deeply indebted I am to not mentioned by name
that I might help others few brief years I have Dan for giving me so for all the help, large and
understand these truths known him and worked much of his time and small, they offered me
a little better. with him, he has become energy to accomplish during this time. To all,
one of my closest friends, what I felt had to be my prayers and good
So, even in the pages of almost a part of my soul. done. I am also indebted wishes.
If he had said no, I think to Father John B.
that first book, With
I would have abandoned Amberg, S.J., for
God in Russia, I tried to WALTER J. CISZEK, SJ.
there and then any idea permitting me to live at
say something of what I Canisius House July 31
of further writing once Canisius House, the
had learned and felt I
and for all. But he didn't Jesuit house of writers in 1912 Feast of St.
must say, to give some Ignatius Loyola
say no. He agreed to help Evanston connected with
hint at least of the truths
me again, and his Loyola University Press,
that had guided and
encouragement fostered and for letting me spend
sustained me. I knew I
my enthusiasm to push over half a year there
had not done it
ahead. seriously engaged in the Chapter One
adequately or properly
within the limitations of
final preparation of this ALBERTY
manuscript. I am no less
those pages, but I was I found, however, that
indebted to all the
consoled by the many this was a far more
difficult book to write— members of the Canisius "The Red Army is here.
letters and personal
and it took me a long House community for They've taken the town.
requests for spiritual
time to put into words tolerating my presence The Soviets are here."
guidance I received,
what I felt I wanted to and helping by their The news spread like
which indicated that
say. It took even longer congeniality to make my panic through the small
somehow readers of that
sometimes for Dan to stay with them a most village of Albertyn,
story had read far more
understand me, for it is pleasant and productive Poland, on October 17,
between the lines than I
hard for one man to experience, a time I shall 1939. I had just finished
had been able to say. I
catch another's spirit and never forget. I owe my Mass and breakfast on
knew then that I must
put into print the things deepest thanks of all, of that memorable morning
someday write this book.
that drive him on. Yet course, to the members when bewildered parish-
somehow, with God's of the community of the ioners came to the
I also knew, though, that John XXIII Center for mission to tell me the
help, the prayers of
I could not do it alone. Eastern studies at news. It was news we
many friends, and Dan's
Strong as the motivations Fordham University, of had feared ever since it
patient collaboration, this
were that compelled me which I am a member. It had become clear that
book has at last taken
to write it, strong as were was they who agreed to Germany and Russia
shape and is ready to
my desires, I knew only let me be absent from the were dividing up
appear in print, God
too well that my limited community for over six Poland. But now our
willing, after months of
talents as a writer were months and spend the fears were a reality. The
persistent effort. And
inadequate to the task. I time in writing, while Red Army was in
now that it has finally
never considered myself they took upon Albertyn.
been completed, I can
a writer, and I never will. themselves the
only hope and pray it
Yet the idea of the responsibilities of
proves helpful to those One by one the
message I had to fulfilling the work I
who may read it. parishioners came
communicate and share would have had to crowding to the mission
with others was so perform as an active
If so, I want to take to ask my opinion, to
strong within me that, member of the
occasion here to express seek my advice, looking
after two years of community if present.
my thanks and deep for a word of hope or
hesitation, I turned once Sincere thanks, too, to
gratitude to all who consolation. They were
more to Father Daniel L. Mary Helen O'Neill for
helped me in so many worried about their
Flaherty, S.J., who had the generous
ways—with their prayers families. They were
been such a help to me in contributions she made
and with their material worried about their sons
producing the first book, to aid me throughout the
and moral support—to in the Polish Army, or
and explained to him my
their husbands in the It is impossible to our mission was closed failings, why can't he at
government. They were describe the feeling that immediately; the Latin least allow his flock to be
worried about their comes over you at such a rite parish was allowed shepherded and
children and what would time. The feeling that to function for a while comforted during such
happen to them all. I somehow, in an instant for those few families calamities? Surely he
tried to be reassuring, of time, everything is who dared to attend. The could defend and protect
but what could I really changed and nothing rest of our mission build- his flock instead of
say? I had no answers to again will ever be quite ings were taken over by having it singled out for
their immediate the same. That tomorrow the Red Army and used special attack such as
questions of fact, and will never again be like to quarter troops. A this. The perplexity and
how could I reassure yesterday. That the very propaganda campaign pain grew within me as I
them about the future or trees, the grass, the air, was mounted against the saw the visible Church,
comfort them in the the daylight are no Church and against the once strong and
midst of the turmoil that longer the same, for the priests; we labored under organized, dissolve
had overtaken the town? world has changed. It is a campaign of constant under the attacks of these
What could I tell them a feeling impossible to harassment and invaders and watched
except to pray and to describe, and yet one incidents large and the people grow
trust in God? that every wife who has small. And it was estranged, pressured
lost a husband knows effective. Even the most ceaselessly into accepting
Even in that I felt foolish. well, one that every child faithful became cautious this new order. And
I had been with them a who has tasted evil for about visiting the church what of the young
little more than a year, I the first time or faced a or seeing a priest. Young people who were
had been ordained a little sudden crisis has people dropped away literally torn away from
more than two years. experienced. It is that quickly. Workers soon their parents and forced
How inexperienced and feeling that leaves the learned they could lose to join the Young
immature I felt at this heart saying, "Oh, if only their jobs if they insisted Pioneers or Komsomol
sudden crisis of such I could turn back the upon attending religious organizations, taught to
proportions. Supported clock to before it services. Our activity as report on any
by the routines of a happened, if only it had priests was limited "deviations" of the old
parish priest, I had never happened, if only I strictly to the church; we people at home? How
ministered to these had it to do over again." could not go to the frustrating it was to hear
people in their daily people unless they came the Church and priests
problems, helped them, My fears were vague that to us. Few of them dared and religious openly
consoled them, said morning, though the to do so. Soon our slandered in communist
Mass and brought feeling of inadequacy ministry consisted solely propaganda, and to
Communion to the sick, was very real. And the of saying Mass on know that the children
anointed the dying. I had fears themselves quickly Sunday for a few old had to learn and repeat
made many friends ceased to be vague and people. The Jesuit atheist doctrines every
among them, and they became quite real in turn. mission, which had day in school and in their
trusted me, young as I Arrests soon followed flourished for ten years class work. How could
was—the young the arrival of the Red in Albertyn, was God allow all this? And
American in their midst. Army. Property was destroyed in a matter of why?
But the war changed confiscated. There were weeks.
everything. The crises countless interrogations, I did not blame the
they faced now were not threats, and Again and again, as I people. I knew they had
family quarrels or intimidations, as the watched all this happen, not lost their faith but
sickness or the loss of a communists endeavored I had to force myself not were just afraid right
loved one. The advice to round up everyone to think of the question now to practice it openly.
they wanted now was they considered a threat that kept returning They came to me at night
not about things to them or to their new unbidden to mind: "Why to ask how they should
common to every parish order. has God allowed this evil conduct themselves, to
and learned by every to happen?" Why ask whether it was
priest. Suddenly, our In all this, the Church persecutions? If God wrong to cooperate with
whole world, theirs and itself became a special must allow natural the new order, to ask if
mine, had changed. target for attack. The disasters, or even wars they should let their
Oriental rite church at because of human children join the

Komsomol Israel had been broken trust in him alone, to must testify to him
organizations, or and led away in shame, remain always faithful, before all the world by
whether they themselves does the question recur to look to him and not to the witness of their trust
should join the labor again and again. To other gods, to rely on in him alone.
unions. And finally, they Israel, surely, it must him and not on rulers or
came to ask whether, have seemed the end of on chariots or bowmen. That same lesson each of
under the circumstances, the world, the end of the He was ever faithful and us must learn, difficult or
it was wrong not to come covenant, the end of so in turn must they be, not. How easy it is, in
to church on Sundays or God's special care for his even when he led them times of ease, for us to
feast days. And what chosen people. where they would not become dependent on
could I tell them? How go, into a land they knew our routines, on the
much heroism could I Yet, from our vantage not, or into exile. For he established order of our
ask of them? How much point in history, we had chosen them, they day-to-day existence, to
did God, who had know it was really quite were his people, he carry us along. We begin
allowed all this to the opposite. Israel's would no more forget to take things for
happen, expect of these troubles were in truth a them than a mother granted, to rely on
simple, ordinary people manifestation of could forget the child of ourselves and on our
of the backwoods of Yahweh's special her womb— yet neither, own resources, to "settle
Albertyn? providence, his special in their turn, must they in" in this world and
love for his chosen ever forget him. look to it for our support.
It was agony for me as a people. Like a fond and We all too easily come to
priest to ask these loving father, he was This is a hard lesson. equate being comfortable
questions, but it was trying to wean them And the Old Testament with a sense of well-
impossible not to ask away from trust in kings is a chronicle of the being, to seek our
them. They crowded to or princes or in armies or many times and the comfort solely in the
mind in times of prayer, the powers of this world. many ways God tried to sense of being
they came at Mass, they He was trying to teach teach that lesson to his comfortable. Friends and
came all through the them, again and again, chosen people. And it is possessions surround us,
days and nights. And I'm that their faith must only a record, too, of how one day is followed by
sure they came not to me be in him alone. He was very often, in times of the next, good health and
alone. It was not a crisis leading them, through peace and prosperity, happiness for the most
of faith, any more than it every trial and in every Israel came to take part are ours. We don't
is for anyone who has age, to the realization Yahweh for granted, to have to desire much of
ever suffered a great loss that God alone is faithful settle down in some the things of this world
or faced a family tragedy in all tribulations, that he routine and to accept the —to be enamored of
and asked himself the alone is constant in his status quo as the be-all riches, for example, or
same questions. It was love and must be clung and the end-all, to think greedy or avaricious—in
rather a crisis of to, even when it seems of the established order order to have gained this
understanding, and no all else has been turned as their support and sense of comfort and of
one need be ashamed to upside down. Yahweh is sustenance, and to forget well-being, to trust in
admit he has been still the Lord behind the their ultimate goal and them as our support—
troubled by it. Anyone events and happenings destiny as the people of and to take God for
who has done much of this world; he can be the covenant. Then granted. It is the status
reading in the Old found there and he must Yahweh would have to quo that we rely on, that
Testament is familiar be sought in them, so remind them again, by carries us from day to
with those questions. that his will may be the downfall of the day, and somehow we
"How long, O Lord, how done. It was he who had monarchy or by exile or begin to lose sight of the
long will you allow our chosen them, not they the destruction of fact that under all these
enemies to triumph over him. It was he who had Jerusalem, that he alone things and behind all
us?" Most especially in first made the covenant must be their ultimate these things it is God
the days after David, in with them, who had led hope, their sole source of who supports and
the ages of captivity, them and cared for them, support, for he had sustains us. We go along,
when the glories of the shepherded and fed and chosen them out of all taking for granted that
golden age of Solomon guarded them in every the people of the world tomorrow will be very
were but a memory by tribulation. Their part in to be a sign of his power much like today,
the rivers of Babylon and the covenant must be to and his love, and they comfortable in the world

we have created for princes or in kingdoms in moments of loss or these things. Seek first
ourselves, secure in the but to be faithful only to family tragedy or the kingdom of God and
established order we Yahweh as he was ever personal despair that his justice." We would
have learned to live with, faithful to them, and to men turn to him and ask, survive, although the
however imperfect it put all their trust in him. "Why?" — indeed are world around us had
may be, and give little So it has been almost forced to turn to changed completely. We
thought to God at all. throughout the history of him, again and at last, for would go on, today and
the New Testament. help and for support and tomorrow and the next
Somehow, then, God There have been changes consolation. day, picking up the
must contrive to break and upheavals in the Mysteriously, God in his pieces and working out
through those routines of Church herself, there providence must make each day our eternal
ours and remind us once have been persecutions. use of our tragedies to destiny and our
again, like Israel, that we It is not princes or rulers, remind our fallen human salvation. There would
are ultimately dependent structures or nature of his presence be a tomorrow, and we
only upon him, that he organizations, that and his love, of the would have to live in it—
has made us and sustain the Church. It is constancy of his concern and God would be there
destined us for life with God who sustains her. So and care for us. It is not as well. The Church
him through all eternity, must it be in Albertyn. vindictiveness on his would survive, perhaps
that the things of this God is constant in his part; he does not send us not exactly as we had
world and this world love if we will but look to tragedies to punish us known it at the mission,
itself are not our lasting him, he will sustain us in for having so long because the faith would
city, that his we are and every storm if we will forgotten him. The survive among the
that we must look to him but cry out to him, he failing is on our part. He people of God as it had
and turn to him in will save us if we will but is always present and always survived in times
everything. Then it is, reach out our hand to ever faithful; it is we who of persecution. One thing
perhaps, that he must him. He is there, if we fail to see him or to look only need be of great
allow our whole world to will only turn to him and for him in times of ease concern to us in all this
be turned upside down learn to trust in him and comfort, to seeming upheaval and
in order to remind us it is alone. The upheavals in remember he is there, catastrophe: to be faithful
not our permanent abode this world, or in the shepherding and to God and to look to
or final destiny, to bring Church herself, are not guarding and providing him in everything,
us to our senses and the end of everything, us the very things we confident of his love and
restore our sense of especially of his love. come to count on and his constancy, aware that
values, to turn our They can in fact serve expect to sustain us this world and this new
thoughts once more to best as signs to remind every day. Yet we fail to order was not our lasting
him—even if at first our us of his love and of his remember that, city any more than the
thoughts are questioning constancy, to make us comfortable as we are in previous one had been,
and full of reproaches. turn once more to him our established order and striving always to
Then it is that he must and cling to him again and the status quo, as know his will and to do
remind us again, with when all else that we day follows day. it each day of our lives.
terrible clarity, that he counted on is overturned
meant exactly what he around us. So it was in Albertyn, as
said in those seemingly the war tore apart the
simple words of the And so it is in each of fabric of our once
Chapter Two
Sermon on the Mount: our lives. It is a sad peaceful lives, my own THE
"Do not be anxious about commentary on our included, that I came to
what you shall eat, or human frailty that we fail understand more clearly
what you shall wear, or to think of God or see and in some small way N TO
where you shall sleep, him behind the this truth in all its ENTER
but seek first the comfortable routines of terrible simplicity: "Do
kingdom of God and his our day-to-day existence. not be anxious, therefore, RUSSIA
justice." It is only in a crisis that saying what shall we eat In the midst of the
we remember him and or what shall we wear, or wartime upheaval that
So it was with the people turn to him, often as where shall we sleep, for was Albertyn, Father
of Israel, who must learn querulous and your heavenly Father Makar suddenly
not to put their trust in questioning children. It is knows that you need all appeared one evening

like a bolt from the blue. Mountains. They had of my noviceship at St. patriarch Abraham must
Makar, a mischievous also been rounding up Andrew's in New York, have been, that call by
Georgian with long suspects of all kinds and when our novice master which he was told to
wavy hair, hooked nose, shipping them off to read us a letter from Pius leave his kinfolk in Ur of
and flashing black eyes, work camps in the Urals. XI asking for volunteers the Chaldees and
had been a student with Makar and Nestrov to join a new Russian journey to a land the
me at the Russian talked quite simply of mission just opened in Lord would show him. It
College in Rome before going with some of these Rome. Even as he read made it possible for me
the war and a constant laborers across the the letter, something to leave my family and
companion. Now he had Russian border. But they within me stirred. I could friends, to leave my
been sent by our Jesuit knew I would want to hardly wait for the Jesuit classmates in the
superior to Lvov to tell join them. The three of us conference to finish so I United States, and go to
us that the bishop had had been nicknamed "the could go to the novice Rome to study at the
decided, under the three musketeers" by our master and volunteer for Russicum. I was lonely
circumstances, to close other class mates in this new Russian enough and homesick in
the Oriental rite mission Rome. Even then, they apostolate. I remember the years that followed.
in Albertyn for the time had kidded us about our telling him, "Father, My father died while I
being. Our reunion in incessantly expressed when you read the was studying in Rome,
this war-torn town was desire to go to Russia— Pope's letter in there just and I could not be at his
an emotional one. Father and that was the now it was almost like a funeral. When I was at
Makar threw his arms proposal Father Makar direct call from God. I last ordained in Rome,
about me and embraced brought me along with knew I had to volunteer none of my family could
me with all his might; he the news that the bishop for this Russian mission. afford to make the trip to
gave me the triple kiss, was closing the Oriental I knew it from the very be with me. Yet through
European style. My rite mission in Albertyn. beginning, and as you those years I never once
reaction was equally kept on reading, that wavered in my
warm and exuberant. The moment Makar feeling grew until at the conviction that God had
spoke of going to Russia end I was fully called me for the Russian
Makar had come, my heart leapt. I was so convinced that God was missions; I never
however, with more in excited, so seized by a calling me, that Russia doubted that I would
mind than the message deep interior joy, that I was my destination in one day serve him there.
about the closing of the had to restrain my God's providence. I
mission. He had asked to emotions in order not to knew—I firmly believe! So one of my greatest
be the one to deliver that seem foolish. If I let —that God wants me disappointments came
message because he myself go, I thought, I there and I will be there shortly after ordination,
wanted to sound me out will act silly. I was so in the future." when I was told it was
on the possibility of elated I could hardly impossible for the
going into Russia. He speak. And yet, in that Of course the novice moment to send men
told me that he and very moment of elation master had been into Russia. I was
Father Victor Nestrov, and joy, I knew what my skeptical of such enthusi- assigned instead to the
another of my classmates answer would be. I had asm from a young Oriental rite mission at
from our years at the no doubts, no fears, no novice. And yet that Albertyn. It was an
Russicum, had discussed hesitation. I knew what I vision of the call to emotional letdown—
with their superiors the was going to do next, Russia never left me. I after all I had sacrificed,
possibility of Jesuits what I had wanted all never considered it an studied for, dreamed
accompanying labor my life, what the mission illusion, and it about, and trained for—
brigades to the Soviet to Albertyn had been influenced every yet even then, in that
Union in order to meant for in God's moment of my life. It moment of extreme
minister to their needs. providence. And not just was something disappointment, I never
The plan was simple the mission at Albertyn. intangible, sometimes doubted it was God's
enough. The Soviets It was as if my whole life, consciously remembered will that I would one day
were hiring large in God's plan, had and at other times be in Russia. And here
numbers from the pointed to this moment. I unconsciously acted was Makar, asking me if
occupied zones to work could remember vividly upon, but it was very I was ready to
in Russian factories that day so long ago, real. It was to me what accompany him and
around the Ural during the second year God's call to the Father Nestrov across the

Russian border! When I was more than ever thoughts of the good to Mass. Could I be any less
was calm enough to trust certain now it was the be done at home or in courageous? Is it not the
myself to speak, I almost will of God for me. And other possible ways of first obligation of a priest
shouted: "Of course, of underneath all my happy serving God and man, to remain with his flock
course! We'll go together. discussion with Makar of mistrust about the in all situations, but
We'll be in Russia in the future plans, I felt again motives swaying the especially when danger
spring!" that immense joy, that mind now this way and threatens them? Was I so
deep interior peace, that now that, doubts about sure God wanted me to
I was elated and Makar, intense conviction I had one's abilities to live up go into Russia? Hadn't
the happy-go-lucky felt when first I heard the to the call (and even he arranged it, so to
Georgian, was the perfect call to the Russian about the call itself), speak, that I was already
companion for my mood. apostolate on that day vague fears for the future in Russia? Could I really
We talked and talked; the years ago. and very real fears of believe that God wanted
plans he described were making a mistake right me to leave this very real
my plans. It was strange, It was not to be that easy, here and now, knowing a situation, these very real
we said, how God's though. The next decision must be made needs of his people in
providence worked in morning brought with it and yet knowing, too, Albertyn, to go chasing
mysterious ways. The a flood of second that it involves a some will-of-the-wisp in
Russian armies had thoughts. Had I let my commitment from which an unknown land among
overrun Poland and the enthusiasm for an old there can be no turning people who had not
mission at Albertyn, so I dream run away with my back, something that will sought for help or asked
was already to some better judgment? Could I change the whole course me to come? How could
extent inside Russia. The be so sure of God's will? of your life. Men faced I be so certain of God's
Russians had come to Wasn't I interpreting the with the possibility of a will?
me, so what was to present situation as a new and perhaps better
prevent me from going "sign" of God's job, women considering I was tortured by these
to them in return, even providence only because a proposal to marry, questions and these
though it meant crossing I wanted it to be that parents planning a move arguments. They made
a border forbidden to way? Wasn't I merely of one sort or another, sense both logically and
priests? And did not the following my own teenagers trying to spiritually, and I knew
bishop's closing of the desires and simply call- decide their future in a they were more than
Oriental rite mission at ing them God's will for changing world—all mere rationalizations.
Albertyn free me from me? Anyone who has knowing the troubling The mind comes up with
any responsibility to ever wrestled with his turmoil of doubts and rationalizations to justify
remain here longer? The conscience over a fears, of competing for itself a decision taken
refugees needed priests particular course of reasons and of answers, without sufficient reason,
in Russia, crossing the action has experienced that can afflict the mind or to justify doing what
border with them looked what I went through and paralyze the will in the will has already
easy enough, our mission then. Any young man or such a situation. So it determined for itself that
here was hampered by woman who has felt was with me then. And it is going to do. That is
Red troops—it was all so called to a vocation and the most chilling why such
providential that the will then hesitated, argument was this: Was I rationalizations are so
of God seemed clear. wondering if the call is not running away from often suspect, why
genuine, knows the my responsibility to the motives must always be
agonies of such second parishioners at Albertyn? examined so carefully.
Despite my excitement, I
thoughts and how Was I the hireling who But these were
sensed this was a
flees and leaves the
moment of the greatest powerful the counter arguments against doing
arguments can be. sheep untended in time
importance. It was a what I knew I wanted to
of danger? True, the
turning point, a new do, these were questions
Oriental rite mission was
departure, and it was Reasons and based on fact and on
being closed by the
going to influence my rationalizations boil reality, and they were
bishop. But the Latin rite
whole future life. Yet it through your mind. valid arguments.
parish remained. The
was what I had always There are present and Everyone who has had to
people, especially the old
wanted, hoped for, future responsibilities weigh the choice of a
people, still braved
dreamed about since that toward family and vocation against the call
persecution to come to
day at St. Andrew's. I friends to think of, of family, or who has

had to weigh the value of turmoil, my intellect so break with the way I had and joy of heart are two
some future course or actively involved in always experienced and such signs, provided
vision against the weighing reasons pro interpreted the workings they follow upon total
demanding realities of and con, that I could not of divine providence in commitment and
the present, knows the hear the voice of God. I my life, had always openness to God alone
force of the dilemma that talked it over with Makar striven to see God's will and are not founded on
troubled me then. and also with Father in everything and to the self's desires. That
Abraham, called by God Grybowski, the only follow it. Most the validity of a call can
to leave behind priest from the mission important, however, was be tested—whether it be
everything he knew and who would be left in the loss of that deep the call of a vocation or
cherished in order to set Albertyn if I were to interior sense of peace, of some new departure
out for an unknown land leave. I talked to the that sense of joy and within that vocation—by
on the strength of a parishioners, who enthusiasm, that strong the movements of soul
vague promise, must begged me not to go. spirit of faith in God's that accompany it. That
have known the full Finally, I decided I could involvement in my life the movements of God's
force of such counter not leave Albertyn. I which, up to now, had grace must always be
arguments. Or again, could not leave a church been such an integral accepted and understood
when called by God to where I knew I was part of all my in virtue of the life of
sacrifice his son Isaac, wanted. I could not leave spirituality. faith, because ultimately
who embodied the very a parish whose needs I the truth of every
fulfillment of that knew intimately, I could Accordingly, I was led mysterious action of his
original promise, how not run from danger or once more to reconsider grace is discerned in the
could Abraham be so from persecution, in the decision to remain at light of faith rather than
sure of the will of God? order to follow a vague Albertyn. I prayed that I by the powers of reason
How can anyone be and largely idealistic might be totally open to or of intellect.
sure? vision of future service in God's providence, that I
a distant land to an would trust only in him, There are movements of
I remember that crisis unknown flock. God, that like Abraham I the soul, deeper than
well. I had never before through my superiors, would be prepared to words can describe and
doubted that it was had assigned me to follow his call no matter yet more powerful than
God's will for me to go to Albertyn; that much of where it might lead, any reason, which can
Russia. From the day I his will was certain. In without thoughts of self give a man to know
first heard the call, that Albertyn, therefore, I or doubts or reasons of beyond question or
conviction had formed would stay. my own. I wanted to be arguing or doubt that
the core of my life. This totally open to God's "digitus Dei est hic [the
belief, this absolute faith Yet hardly had I made will, to hear his voice, finger of God is here]",
in God's providence, had that decision, in all and to leave self out of it. and the name of that
sustained me in all sincerity and with firm That was my prayer for reality is grace. God does
difficulties, had carried conviction, than I was guidance. And inspire men by his grace,
me through all again distraught. I felt no immediately there came does lift the heart, does
disappointments. I had peace, no joy, no ease of flooding back that sense enlighten the mind and
dreamed of it, hoped for heart at having finally of peace, that feeling of move the will. Faith is
it, trusted in it, given resolved my problem. joy, that confidence in required to accept that
myself up to it, found Prayer became difficult, the simple and direct reality, but it is a reality
comfort in it—and now I almost impossible. I felt faith expressed in nonetheless. Not all the
was faced with this my faith was weakened, trusting him alone. I logic and reasoned
spiritual dilemma. Was I that I had come to this knew then what I must explanations of the
really so certain of God's decision by listening to do. I experienced then theologians may serve to
will? Or was I really so the voice of reason rather what I had heard before convince those who do
sure, at least, that this than by listening to the from spiritual directors not have the gift of faith
opportunity to go into voice of God. I was or read in spiritual books of that reality, but it
Russia was God's will for distracted by the feeling I but never fully remains a reality. For
me right now? had broken a pattern that understood: that God's what it's worth, I can
had dominated my will can be discerned by testify to that. Only in
I turned to prayer, but whole life up till now. the fruits of the spirit it the decision to go on to
my mind was in such For this decision was a brings, that peace of soul Russia did I find the joy

and the interior peace moment in silence. There to serve as a toilet. We ten-year-old son, and his
that are marks of God's was no way of knowing had been hired by nephew—to live in that
true intervention in the what the future would Lespromhoz, a big Soviet paradise he had read so
soul. And so to Russia I bring, but we were at last lumber combine that was much about in
would go. doing what we had hiring men for work in communist literature.
dreamt so many years of the Ural regions. They Each of the others in the
doing, what we had were anxious to get car undoubtedly had
discussed so often cheap labor, especially reasons of his own for
Chapter Three during our student days refugees, from lands the joy that swept over
RUSSIA in Rome, what we had newly occupied by the us all in crossing the
planned so carefully Russian Army. Few border into Russia. For
"Look, Nestrov," I said, during the past months questions were asked. my part, I will never
"look at the rich black in Lvov. It didn't matter The great majority of the forget that feeling. It was
soil we're passing now. if no one else in that people in our car were a mixture of natural
There is no end to it." boxcar knew we were Jews who had fled before elation at having reached
Then suddenly I cried, priests. We knew it. To the Nazi advance into a goal, coupled with a
"Look at the signpost we them I was Wladimir Poland. Whole families deep interior peace and
just passed! It's the Lypinski, a Pole whose were on the train— joy. Enthusiasm and
border of Russia." I family had been wiped grandfather, hope mingled with the
leaped up off the out in a German air raid. grandmother, father, sudden realization that I
wooden planks of the Crossing the Russian mother, and children. would now be cut off
boxcars and cried to border gave me a strange Uprooted after genera- completely from the
everyone inside, "We're sense of exhilaration and tions, they were carrying supports I had known—
in Russia!" Immediately yet of loneliness, of a everything they owned from my Jesuit superiors
everyone in the freight beginning and an end. on their backs, like and colleagues, from my
car was up, crowding at Even the land itself refugees everywhere, to family, from the visible
the entrance, peering out seemed different. The a new life in an alien Church, from the power
through the slats in the vast sweep of the land. They talked for of the US Government to
side of the car, looking Ukraine, with seemingly hours during the jolting protect me in case of
back at the signpost that unlimited stretches of stop-and-go trip that serious trouble. For a
was already getting cultivated land rising at took better than two moment I thought with
smaller and smaller as times to gently rolling weeks, of the homes they sorrow and regret about
the train plowed slowly hills and pastureland. had left and their new the possibility of never
ahead. Despite the hopes. Together we returning to Europe, to
cramped wooden talked about the the United States, to
The enthusiasm of the
quarters of the car, opportunities that lay Shenandoah. Yet the
others in the car was
everyone's spirits soared. ahead of us in the Urals. strong realization rushed
infectious, a combination
Their faces lit up. They over me that I was not
of many causes. For one
slapped one another on cut off from God, that he
thing, it meant we were For all of us, therefore,
the back. Someone was with me, indeed that
nearing the end of our crossing the border into
started to sing. But I fell I was dependent only on
trip in the roughhewn Russia had a special
silent, looking out at the him in a new and very
confines of boxcar 89725. meaning. For Father
rich soil of Russia for the real way. My spirits
There had been twenty- Nestrov and me it was
first time, extremely soared, my heart beat a
five of us in the car when the fulfillment of a
moved. After a while, I little faster with
the trip started, but other dream. For Franck, a
turned to Father Nestrov happiness at this
workers had been piled Warsaw Jew with whom
and said quietly, "What realization, as I joined in
in at stops along the way. Nestrov and I had
did I tell you? Russia in the general celebration in
The car had two rows of become quite friendly on
the spring!" And then I that boxcar for special
rough plank bunks along the trip, it was also the
added, almost as an reasons of my own.
the wall, straw on the fulfillment of a dream.
afterthought, "Today is
floor, and a ventilator at He was a communist
the nineteenth of March,
the top of the car. The who had fled from Our arrival in the Ural
the feast of St. Joseph the
only other furnishings Warsaw just before it fell lumber towns of
were an old punctured to the Germans. He had Chusovoy and Teplaya-
oil drum that served as a determined then to take Gora soon ended our
Nestrov and I looked at stove, and a slop bucket his family—his wife, his euphoria. It was raining
each other for a long
when we arrived, bone- exhausting as it was, or a simple people with a influence to serve the
weary and long since out the constant discomfort, difficult lot in life that believers still in Russia.
of the food and the wretched housing, they accepted with Instead, we found we
provisions we had taken the lack of privacy, or resignation. They could not even bring up
for the trip. Starving, we gnawing hunger. All welcomed us in their the subject of religion
had to stand in the rain these were difficult company, conversed with our fellow workers,
while a Lespromhoz enough to bear, but we freely, and answered whether refugees or
representative checked would have endured practical problems with native Russians, let alone
us out and then slog them gladly if we could the cliches and bromides tell them we were
through the mud to a have achieved our born of common priests. And as this
camp a mile outside the purpose for coming to hardships or cultural realization dawned, our
city. At the camp, the Russia. The rudest heritage. But they would disappointment grew.
barracks were new and awakening of all, not speak of God or hear Because our hopes had
raw. Large sections in however, was our of God. been so high, our
the walls, where the growing realization that enthusiasm so great, our
timbers had warped, we might have no They were afraid. disappointment at being
were stuffed with mud apostolate at all here. Nestrov and I, too, unable to initiate any
and a plaster-like stucco. Though freedom of became cautious and type of apostolate at all
The work we were religion is technically even fearful; you could was just that much the
assigned was rough. In guaranteed by the Soviet not help it in that greater.
mixed brigades of men Constitution, atmosphere. We were
and women, we hauled proselytization is strictly afraid not only for Disappointment
logs from the river and forbidden. The ourselves and for what gradually gave way to a
stacked them in rows constitution guarantees we still hoped might feeling of disillusion-
over six feet high and freedom of atheist prove the ultimate ment and depression.
some thirty yards in propaganda, but those success of our apostolate, There were even times
length. The pay was bad who try to spread the but for the people among when I took pity on
to start with, and it truths of the faith or whom we hoped to myself and thought
depended upon how foster religion are in fact minister as well. They harshly about my fellow
many cubic meters of breaking the law. had so little in this life workers. I had given up
logs you stacked in a Nestrov and I had that we did not want to so much, sacrificed so
day. Newcomers, known this, of course, be the cause of further much, risked so much in
obviously, were not very simply as a matter of trouble to them. We order to bring Christ to
good at the work and so pure fact; now we began knew, and they knew, them—and would they
earned very little. to experience it as a fact there were informers and not even talk to me about
Nestrov and I, for of daily life. party members who such things? "We will
example, pooled our would report any never get anywhere
salaries for food but Nobody wanted to talk religious activities. It was here", I sometimes said
sometimes had only about religion, let alone even necessary not to say to Father Nestrov,
enough to buy a loaf of practice it. Though none anything to the children "because the people are
rye bread. There were of the workers in our about God, tempting as so full of fear." They
nights we couldn't even barracks knew that such a thought might be, would even hesitate to
afford that, since we also Nestrov and I were lest they in all innocence take the risk of having
had to pay for our priests, they were still tell others about our the children baptized in
lodging in the barracks reluctant to so much as conversation and so give secret or of receiving the
and that was deducted discuss any matters us away. sacraments secretly. Yet
before we even saw our dealing with God or these were the people I
paycheck. Our friend religion. We were had come to serve, the
We had hoped, when we
Franck, with his dreams accepted among them as people who were
made our plans to come
of a worker's paradise, fellow workers, in an deprived of all means of
to Russia, that we could
was stunned by it all. easy spirit of worshiping God. I
begin our apostolate by
comradeship. We shared ministering to the wanted to suffer with
Father Nestrov and I the work, the poor food, refugees, many of whom them and for them; if
were equally the poor housing, the would be Polish only they were willing to
disappointed. Not by the daily hardships. The Catholics, and then accept me, not as a
physical labor, refugees, especially, were gradually widen our fellow worker but as a

priest! to us if they knew we place and the same old Mass. Occasionally, we
were available. We could way. It is the temptation were able to get away,
At other times I felt serve the Church there, to say: "This life is not just the two of us, into
humiliated. The zeal of we could do nothing what I thought it would the forest and there
the communists, I here. This whole Russian be. This is not what I celebrate a Mass in
thought, put me to venture seemed now to bargained for. It is not at secret. We wore no
shame. And that they have been a mistake, an all what I wanted, either. vestments, the stump of
were effective there ill-conceived missionary If I had known it would a tree served as our altar,
could be no doubt. effort based on hopes be like this, I would and we had to be
Indeed, it was their very and dreams rather than never have made this constantly on guard
effectiveness that made on hard facts, a plan choice, I would never against discovery. In
me feel, as a priest, alien born of insufficient have made this promise. some ways, this need for
among my own people. I information and You must forgive me, secrecy in celebrating the
had come to serve and I misinformation. God, but I want to go sacrifice of the Mass only
could not serve, because back. You cannot hold served to emphasize the
no one would listen to That was the temptation me to a promise made in difficulties we had
me. What could Nestrov that Father Nestrov and I ignorance; you cannot encountered, the near
and I do against the faced at Teplaya-Gora. expect me to keep a impossibility of ever
power of this system? And though our covenant based on faith doing what we had come
The notion that we could situation may have been without any previous to do for the people to
ever effectively work in somewhat unique, the knowledge of the true whom we had hoped to
this country, under these temptation itself was not. facts of life. It is not fair. I minister. Yet the Mass
conditions, seemed in It is the same temptation never thought it would gave us strength. We
retrospect nothing but a faced by everyone who be like this. I simply preached little homilies
pipe dream. We had has followed a call and cannot stand it, and I will after the Gospel, first
entered upon what we found that the realities of not stay. I will not serve." Father Nestrov and then
thought was a great mis- life were nothing like the I. It was amazing how
sionary endeavor, full of expectations he had in It is a temptation that impressive the Gospel
zeal and enthusiasm, the first flush of his comes to every man and message could be in such
only to come smack up vision and his woman, sometimes circumstances; our spirits
against reality. Things enthusiasm. It is the daily. That it should would seem to drink in
here were not at all as we temptation that comes to have come to Nestrov the words, savor them,
had envisioned them, anyone, for example, and me in the terrible and feel the divine
and we were not at all who has entered surroundings of Teplaya- power in them. And, at
equipped to face things religious life with a Gora is not surprising in the moment of
as we found them. So burning desire to serve retrospect, and yet we Consecration, God
much for our hopes, our God and him alone, only almost gave in to it. We became present in a new
expectations, our to find that the day-to- spoke of finding ways to way in Teplaya-Gora. He
dreams, our convictions, day life in religion is return to Lvov. We was there, in answer to
above all, our humdrum and argued that it was only our petitions, where the
enthusiasm! pedestrian, equally as right to report to our sacrifice of Calvary had
filled with moments of superiors, that we should never been celebrated
human tell them of the true before. In that sacrament
Tortured by these
misunderstanding, daily circumstances in the we could offer up all our
questions and these
routines, and distractions Urals before any more sacrifices with his, could
doubts, Nestrov and I
as the secular life he left men were sent on such a ask his blessing on those
were sorely tempted to
behind in the world. It is mission. We continued for whom we labored
find some way to leave
the same temptation our work in the lumber and prayed in secret, for
Russia and return to
faced by young couples camps, looking always those who themselves
Poland, where we could
in marriage, when the for a chance to leave, and were perhaps praying in
at least act as priests
honeymoon is over, and resorted to prayer to secret, but who couldn't
again, even if with
they must face a sustain us in the worship him publicly.
difficulty in an occupied
seemingly endless future meantime. Those were my most
country. The people
of living together and consoling thoughts, my
there surely needed us in
scratching out an happiest moments, in
times of persecution; the Our one spiritual
existence in the same old what had turned out to
people there would come consolation was the

be almost a non- and he must rid himself the twenty-four hours of Our dilemma at Teplaya-
apostolate at Teplaya- of them insofar as they each day: the people, the Gora came from our
Gora. The consolation of prove a hindrance to places, the circumstances frustration at not being
that sacrifice, that him. Therefore, we must he set before us in that able to do what we
offering, would stay with make ourselves time. Those were the thought the will of God
me as we returned home indifferent to all created things God knew were ought to be in this
through the darkness things." Ignatius calls important to him and to situation, at our inability
and silence of the forest. that the Principle and us at that moment, and to work as we thought
Foundation of his those were the things God would surely want
And then one day, Spiritual Exercises, but it upon which he wanted us to work, instead of
together, it dawned on is also the most us to act, not out of any accepting the situation
us. God granted us the fundamental truth of abstract principle or out itself as his will. It is a
grace to see the solution man's existence and of any subjective desire mistake easily made by
to our dilemma, the God's providence. Those to "do the will of God". every man, saint or
answer to our four sentences put it as No, these things, the scholar, Church leader or
temptation. It was the plainly and simply as it twenty-four hours of this day laborer. Ultimately,
grace quite simply to can be put. How often day, were his will; we we come to expect God
look at our situation had Nestrov and I heard had to learn to recognize to accept our
from his viewpoint those words, read those his will in the reality of understanding of what
rather than from ours. It statements, prayed and the situation and to act his will ought to be and
was the grace not to meditated over them? accordingly. We had to to help us fulfill that,
judge our efforts by And yet, under the learn to look at our daily instead of learning to see
human standards, or by pressure of lives, at everything that and accept his will in the
what we ourselves circumstances at crossed our path each real situations in which
wanted or expected to Teplaya-Gora, we had day, with the eyes of he places us daily. The
happen, but rather forgotten them. We had God; learning to see his simple soul who each
according to God's accepted them as estimate of things, day makes a morning
design. It was the grace abstract principles of the places, and above all offering of "all the
to understand that our spiritual life, but they people, recognizing that prayers, works, joys, and
dilemma, our had not become part of he had a goal and a sufferings of this day"—
temptation, was of our our daily lives. At least purpose in bringing us and who then acts upon
own making and existed they had not so far been into contact with these it by accepting
only in our minds; it did operative in our things and these people, unquestioningly and
not and could not approach to life and our and striving always to do responding lovingly to
coincide with the real dilemma at Teplaya- that will—his will— all the situations of the
world ordained by God Gora. every hour of every day day as truly sent by God
and governed ultimately in the situations in —has perceived with an
by his will. If they had been, we which he had placed us. almost childlike faith the
would have understood For to what other profound truth about the
much earlier that our purpose had we been will of God. To predict
St. Ignatius puts it
sole purpose at Teplaya- created? For what other what God's will is going
starkly and forthrightly
Gora—as indeed in our reason had he so to be, to rationalize about
in his First Principle and
whole lives— was to do arranged it that we what his will must be, is
Foundation: "Man is
the will of God. Not the should be here, now, this at once a work of human
created to praise,
will of God as we might hour, among these folly and yet the subtlest
reverence, and serve God
wish it, or as we might people? To what other of all temptations. The
Our Lord, and by this
have envisioned it, or as end had he ordained our plain and simple truth is
means to save his soul.
we thought in our poor being here, if not to see that his will is what he
The other things on the
human wisdom it ought his will in these actually wills to send us
face of the earth are
to be. But rather the will situations and to strive to each day, in the way of
created for man to help
of God as God do always what he circumstances, places,
him in attaining the end
envisioned it and wanted, the way he people, and problems.
for which he is created.
revealed it to us each day wanted it, as he would The trick is to learn to see
Hence, man is to make
in the created situations have done it, for his sake, that—not just in theory,
use of them insofar as
with which he presented that he might have the or not just occasionally in
they help him in the
us. His will for us was fruit and the glory? a flash of insight granted
attainment of his end,

by God's grace, but every or ignore it in our daily Chapter Four risk. Father Nestrov and
day. Each of us has no lives. I had always known that
need to wonder about ARREST we might one day be
what God's will must be Like every divine truth, AND arrested; we had on
for us; his will for us is moreover, it is far from occasion discussed the
clearly revealed in every
IMPRISO notion of arrest as a
simple of execution. Its
situation of every day, if very simplicity renders it NMENT possibility. When our
only we could learn to at once almost arrest became a reality,
The German Army
view all things as he sees impossible not just of however, it happened so
launched its blitzkrieg
them and sends them to credibility but of human quickly that it all seemed
into Russia on June 22,
us. achievement, for our unreal. I could not
1941; the Soviet Union
poor human nature is too believe it was actually
immediately declared a
The temptation is to easily distracted. The happening to me. I was
state of war. That same
overlook these things as very circumstances of in a daze, disoriented.
night, at three o'clock in
God's will. The our lives—so constant My mind simply could
the morning, the secret
temptation is to look and so humdrum and not adjust itself to all that
police came to our
beyond these things, routine, and yet the was happening—
barracks at Teplaya-
precisely because they things that truly especially the total loss
Gora. Father Nestrov
are so constant, so petty, constitute the will of God of freedom and the
and I, along with our
so humdrum and for us each day—are also immediate deprivation of
roommates Fuchs,
routine, and to seek to the very things that serve all rights or the
Valery, and Janocz were
discover instead some so to distract us, possibility of any
arrested at gunpoint as
other and nobler "will of precisely because we are recourse. There was no
German spies. Hundreds
God" in the abstract that so involved in them, and way to argue, no way to
of others were arrested in
plead innocence, no way
better fits our notion of cause us to lose sight, the lumber camp that
however momentarily, of to tell anyone it was all a
what his will should be. night. We were detained
this great truth. And yet mistake. The secret
And that was our overnight in Chusovoy
to grasp this divine truth, police had their orders;
temptation at Teplaya- and then taken by train,
simple as it sounds, and they were men with a job
Gora, just as it is the under heavy guard, to
work at it, to face each to do. They simply
temptation faced by the oblast (district)
moment of every day in rounded us up like so
everyone who suddenly prison at Perm. There I
the light of its many head of cattle.
discovers that life is not was photographed—
inspiration, to attempt They wanted to hear no
what he expected it to be. front and profile,
insofar as we can to protests, they were in no
The answer lies in standard prison
recall it in every situation mood for arguments,
understanding that it is procedure—had my hair
and circumstance of our and they shunted aside
these things—and these clipped off, was
daily lives, to labor day all questions of
things alone, here and deloused, and put into a
in and day out to make it innocence or rights,
now, at this moment— large cell, perhaps thirty
the sole principle by brusquely and
that truly constitute the by thirty feet. It held five
which our every action is completely, by ignoring
will of God. The people when I entered in
guided and toward them.
challenge lies in learning the morning; by
to accept this truth and which we aim, is to come nightfall, it was crowded
act upon it, every to know at last true joy with more than a That experience is
moment of every day. and peace of heart, hundred. Threatened by something you cannot
The trouble is that like all secure in the knowledge the German invasion, the describe adequately.
great truths it seems too we are attempting Soviets seemed to be Anyone who has ever
simple. It is there before always and in everything arresting anyone of been arrested by mistake
our noses all the time, to do God's will, the only whom they had the or held overnight in jail
while we look elsewhere purpose ultimately for slightest suspicion. There will know the feeling,
for more subtle answers. which we exist, the end were teachers, ordinary but I cannot find words
It bears the hallmark of for which alone we were workers, minor officials to convey fully the shock,
all divine truths, created. There is no in the government, both emotional and
simplicity, and yet it is greater security a man lawyers, a few soldiers— physical, that comes over
precisely because it could ask, no greater just about anyone, it you in such an
seems so simple that we serenity a man can know. seemed, who might be experience. Helplessness
are prone to overlook it considered a bad security may be the closest one-

word description of that held by someone else thing as a change of Beyond all this misery
feeling, and yet how pale over my every action, my clothes, we slept on the we shared in common,
and inadequate it seems, every liberty, my every unwashed floor with there was one final
to express the reality. need. All prisons must insects crawling over us. humiliation I alone had
You feel completely cut create in their inmates, The air was always foul, to bear. In discussing
off from everything and especially in new and you could not get with others the various
everyone who might inmates, this feeling of the reek of that reasons for our arrests, I
conceivably help you, absolute frustration and nauseating stench out of made no secret of my
unable to make a move total helplessness. They your nostrils. You simply thought that one of the
to help yourself and cannot help but be had to learn to ignore it reasons, surely, for my
powerless to get in touch dehumanizing to some as best you could. arrest was the fact I was
immediately with extent, debilitating the a priest. If I thought this
anyone who might help, mind, degrading the It was all so degrading, revelation might serve to
totally at the mercy of person. But a Soviet so humiliating, that some emphasize my
those who have you in prison during wartime, men just ceased to think innocence, or give my
custody, not free to go the Soviet prisons run by of themselves as men. fellow prisoners a greater
anywhere or take any Stalin's secret police, And gnawing at the sense of trust and
action unless they allow were especially so. mind through it all was confidence in me, or even
it. It is as if an iron door People could disappear that feeling of give me an opportunity
has slammed on the into those prisons and helplessness and to serve them better or
world you know and can never be heard of again. injustice. Most of the console them in their
operate in, and you have Prisoners could be and men in our cell were anguish, I was in for a
entered a totally new were shot. Control by political prisoners like rude awakening. I was
universe with its own set authorities was absolute; myself; they really had treated instead with
of rules and powers and the prisoners' lack of no idea of why they were contempt. Apparently
boundaries. Those who recourse was complete. in prison. Few could the many years of Soviet
give the orders do not Fear and terror were the honestly accuse propaganda had had
have to listen, nor do favorite weapons of the themselves of any some effect. I was
they ever seem to have to secret police. If their deliberate transgression shocked to learn that
make an accounting to power of life and death against the state. Many many of my fellow
anyone. You, on the over prisoners was not of them tried to console prisoners looked on
other hand, are helpless total and complete in themselves at first by priests as parasites in
to say or do anything actuality, it surely believing that their arrest society, living a life of
that might affect your seemed so to the was a mistake, that ease paid for by the
plight for the better. prisoners and the general somebody soon would pennies of poor old
population at the time. A discover the blunder and women, or as immoral
Helplessness is the word. concern for sheer set them free. They were men given to drinking,
If I had felt frustrated at survival reduced quickly disillusioned, women chasers or
Teplaya-Gora because I prisoners under these bitter, raging with perverts. The more
could not work among conditions to a state of injustice. Yet what could educated prisoners or
the people the way I had docility and servility that they do, what recourse minor party officials had
hoped, that feeling of was truly inhuman. did they have? Their acquired a distorted
frustration was as rights were totally image of the Church
nothing compared to this The physical conditions, disregarded, they were from communist tracts in
sinking feeling of too, were inhuman. The considered traitors or which the political,
helplessness and cells were so badly worse, they were social, and human
powerlessness. Even overcrowded there was constantly under threat aspects of the Church
when I recovered scarcely room to move. of being shot. There was were described with all
somewhat from the There was no running nowhere to turn for help; their errors,
shock that followed on water, slop buckets indeed, every protest shortcomings, abuses,
the suddenness of my served as toilets. The was considered a new and injustices. A priest to
arrest, I could not windows were covered transgression, a new them, at best, meant a
overcome the shock by metal shutters, so violation, a new betrayal man out of step and out
occasioned by the total there was little light and of confidence in "the of place in a socialist
loss of freedom and the less fresh air. We were system". society; at worst, he was
sense of complete control filthy, we had no such a dupe in the employ of a

Church that was itself a humiliating. Just as we Surely he could and did not have to be,
willing tool of capitalism. all felt powerless to sympathize with my the product of our
defend ourselves in the plight; surely he would environment. The
I was stunned at the prison system itself, so comfort and console me. conditions were
depth of feeling and on this level too I found I degrading only if we let
prejudice against the was not even able to His way of consoling me, ourselves become
Church that came explain myself or defend however, as had degraded.
spilling out. The more so myself. Nobody would happened so often in the
under the circumstances. listen, very few in fact past, was to increase my As for the humiliation I
Most of us in this cell would even talk to me. self-knowledge and my felt because I did not get
were political prisoners, In the words of Isaiah, I understanding of both the proper respect as a
nearly all of us unjustly felt "despised and the his providence and the priest of God, was "the
suspected or accused of most abject of men". To mystery of salvation. servant greater than the
things we never did and both prison officials and When I turned to him in master"? Our Lord had
yet not given an fellow prisoners alike, I prayer in the depths of said to his disciples, "If
opportunity to answer was a thing of no value; I my humiliation, when I they despised me, they
the charges or to prove was worthless. And so, ran to him utterly will despise you." I had
our innocence. We added to the common dejected because I felt been taught from my
shared a common feeling of helplessness useless and despised, the youth to respect a priest
grievance and a common and powerlessness, I grace I received in return because he represented
sense of personal suffered the hollow and was the light to God among men. But as
anguish, outrage, sickening sense of being recognize how large an a priest I had also come
humiliation, and useless as well. admixture of self had to expect this respect
helplessness. There was crept into the picture. I (and even some
at least a minimal sense There was no one to turn had been humiliated and adulation) from others.
of camaraderie among to, no one to talk to, no I was feeling sorry for How then did I truly
the political prisoners in one from whom I could myself. No one think I was following in
the cell, a certain seek advice or appreciated me as a the footsteps of the
companionship in sympathetic priest, and I was Master? If I had been
misery. But not for me understanding, no one to indulging in self-pity. I more truly like Christ,
when it became known I offer me any consolation. was being treated should I not have
was a priest. I was cursed I had not seen Father unfairly, unjustly, out of expected rejection and
at; I was shunned; I was Nestrov since our arrest. prejudice. There was no humiliation? Why
looked down upon and The other roommates one to listen to my sad should I be shocked
despised. Against the from the camp who had story and offer me when it occurred?
background of my Polish been arrested with us sympathy, so I was Should I not rather
Catholic upbringing, must all have been in feeling sorry for myself. rejoice that I had been
where a priest was other cells. And so, as I That was really the allowed to imitate him
always treated as had done in every other extent of my more closely?
someone special whether crisis, I turned to God in "humiliation".
you liked him as a prayer. I sought his help, In how many other ways,
person or not, this his sympathy, his Yes, the physical too, had I allowed this
reaction to a priest on the consolation. Since I was conditions in this cell admixture of self, this
part of my fellow suffering especially for were inhuman. Maybe luxury of feeling sorry
prisoners made me by his sake, since I was they were even designed for myself, to cloud my
turns angry and despised precisely to be inhuman, to sap the vision and prevent me
bewildered. I was at a because I was one of his prisoners' wills, to from seeing the current
loss to understand it and priests, he could not fail destroy that one spiritual situation with the eyes of
furious at the added to comfort me when he power that makes men God? No man, no matter
injustice of this stupid, himself, in his human truly men and free and what his situation, is ever
blind prejudice. I was life, had fitted Isaiah's strong. But because the without value, is ever
very nearly reduced to description of "despised conditions were inhu- useless in God's eyes. No
tears. It all seemed so and the most abject of man was no reason that situation is ever without
totally unfair, so men." He too had sought I, or any other man, had its worth and purpose in
completely unjust, so for someone to comfort therefore to cease to be God's providence. It is a
degrading, so him and had found none. human. We were not, very human temptation

to feel frustrated by God does not expect a people God brings into Christ had set the
circumstances, to feel man single-handedly to his life each day. He is example for me, so could
overwhelmed and change the world or expected, as a Christian, I be to them an example
helpless in the face of the overthrow all evil or cure to influence them for of Christian charity and
established order— all ills. He does expect good. He may instead concern. If nothing else,
whether that order is an him, though, to act as he influence them for evil, if they insisted upon
NKVD prison, or the would have him act in but they will touch his shunning me, I could at
whole Soviet system, or these circumstances life this day—for God least pray for them and
"the status quo", or "city ordained by his will and sees to that—and he will offer up for them to the
hall", or "the rat race", or his providence. Nor will therefore have some Father of us all the
the "establishment", or God's grace be lacking to influence of some kind suffering and anguish
social pressures, or the help him act. The sense upon them. He will in that their rejection of me
cultural environment, or of hopelessness we all some small way at least as a priest caused me.
the whole, oppressive experience in such touch their lives, too, and Christ had prayed for his
rotten world! Under the circumstances really it is in that touching that persecutors, "Father,
worst imaginable arises from our tendency God will hold him forgive them." If I could
circumstances, a man to inject too much of self responsible for the good do nothing else at this
remains a man with free into the picture. Doing or ill he does. In that moment in the prison at
will and God stands so, we can easily be simple truth lies the key Perm, I could do that.
ready to assist him with overwhelmed by to any understanding of
his grace. Indeed, more personal feelings of the mystery of divine God does not ask the
than that, God expects inadequacy or sheer providence and impossible of any man.
him to act in these physical powerlessness, ultimately of each man's He was not asking more
circumstances, this by the realization of one salvation. of me, really, than he
situation, as he would man's seeming asks of every man, every
have him act. For these insignificance in a No, I was not helpless or Christian, each day of his
situations, too, these corrupt world. We tend worthless or useless in life. He was asking only
people and places and to concentrate on that prison at Perm. I that I learn to see these
things, are God's will for ourselves, we tend to was not terribly suffering men around
him now. think of what we can or humiliated because I was me, these circumstances
cannot do, and we forget rejected as a priest. These in the prison at Perm, as
about God and his will men around me were sent from his hand and
He may not be able to
and his providence. Yet suffering, they needed ordained by his
change the "system", any
God never forgets each help. They needed providence. He was
more than I could change
individual's significance,
conditions in that prison, someone to listen to asking me to do
his dignity and worth, them with sympathy,
but he is not for that something, as another
and the role each has someone to comfort
reason excused from Christ; to forget about
been asked to play in the them, someone to give
acting at all. Many men self and feeling sorry for
workings of his them courage to carry
feel frustrated, or myself, and to act in the
providence. To him, each on. They needed
disappointed, or even situation after the
individual is equally someone who was not
defeated, when they find example of Christ
important at all times. feeling sorry for himself
themselves face to face himself. He was asking
He cares. But he also but who could truly
with a situation or an me to forget about my
expects each man to share in their sorrow.
evil they cannot do much "powerlessness" against
accept, as from his They needed someone
about. Poverty, the "system", and to look
hands, the daily who was not looking for
addiction, alcoholism, instead to the immediate
situations he sends him consolation but who
social injustice, racial needs of those around
and to act as he would could console. They
discrimination, hatred me, this day, in order
have him act and gives needed someone who
and bitterness, war, that I might do
him the grace to act. was not looking for
corruption, and the everything that it was in
oppressive bureaucracy respect and admiration my power to do by
of every institution—all What each man can because of what he was prayer and example.
can serve as a source of change, first of all, is but someone who could That was all he was
bitter frustration and a himself. And each will show them love and asking of me or
feeling sometimes of have—indeed, must have respect even if spurned expecting of me. It was
utter hopelessness. But —some influence on the and rejected himself. As all I had to do, but it was

plenty—and it could not Lubianka and emerged covered on the outside there was no end to it, at
be done while I sat again for the famous with a hinged cover so least as far as the
feeling sorry for myself. "show trials" as hollow the prisoner could not prisoner could control or
Nor was I powerless to figures of their former see out. There was an foresee. The days seemed
do it, for it was within selves, their spirits iron bed in one corner to stretch out endlessly,
my power to do it and I spilled out in the depths with clean sheets, a hour after hour, with no
could count on his grace of dreaded Lubianka. blanket, and a pillow. variation other than the
to sustain me. And not Others were simply That was the only bit of fact the guard might
the least of his graces swallowed up into its furniture, except for a begin serving meals from
was the light to see and gates and never emerged parasha (a toilet bucket one end of the corridor
understand this truth; to again. Tales of terror, with a lid) in the corner instead of the other and
see that this day, like all torture, and summary near the door. No table, so vary by an hour or
the days of my life, came execution were no chair, nothing to sit more the prisoner's
from his hands and recounted as common on. Only during the constant craving for
served a purpose in his occurrences at Lubianka. hours allowed for sleep food. An hour can seem
providence. I had to It was not so much the could you lie on the bed. an eternity in such
learn to believe that, no NKVD's maximum Accordingly, prisoners isolation, and time has
matter what the security prison as it was spent their days standing little meaning at all after
circumstances, and to act their headquarters for or slouching against the a while. A week was
accordingly—with maximum mischief. For- wall or pacing restlessly simply seven identical
complete trust and tunately, I had heard and endlessly back and twenty-four-hour days, a
confidence in his will, his little of all this when I forth, up and down the month simply a
wisdom, and his grace. arrived there after the little six-by-ten-foot mathematical way of
long train trip from room. marking four such
Perm, alone, under weeks, thirty such days
guard. of sameness.
We were allowed a
Chapter Five
twenty-minute exercise
LUBIANK Lubianka had formerly period in the courtyard The world of the solitary
been a hotel. Its cells confined is a universe of
A of the prison each day if
were still more like hotel weather permitted, and its own. In Lubianka, it
Because I was considered rooms than prison cells. twice a day there was a was not only a very
a Vatican spy, a charge I They were small but trip down the corridors restricted world but a
never could get used to neat, very clean, with a up to the toilet, where we highly regimented one.
taking seriously but shining wooden floor, were allowed two There were exact rules
which the NKVD seemed and whitewashed walls minutes to empty the and regulations concern-
to take quite seriously and ceiling lit by a naked ing behavior within the
parasha and a hurried
indeed, I was transferred light bulb hanging from cells, or for walking in
wash-up at tap faucets.
under guard from the the center. There was a the corridor, or for the
Other than that, our
oblast prison at Perm to regular window in the few minutes spent each
whole universe at
Moscow and the room, but it was day in the toilet, or for
Lubianka was that little
Lubianka Prison. completely barred and the time of exercise in the
whitewashed room with
"Lubianka" was a covered over with a huge courtyard. Violations of
its bed, its barred and
dreaded word then in sheet of tin. Only a little these rules were
covered window, and its
Russia. The prison on bit of sky showed punished by further
solidly locked door with
Lubianka Street was through at the top, limiting the few things
that eternal, prying
spoken of in fearful where the tin had been left to the prisoner: e.g.,
peephole. Anyone who
whispers as the place tilted away from the the exercise period, or
has ever been "cooped
where the NKVD did its window frame to let in the food at meals. As the
up" in a hotel room for
best (or worst) work. light and air. The door days stretched out in an
any length of time, or
Men were broken there was a regular hotel-like endless string, such rules
confined to a sickroom or
in body and spirit. door, but iron-sheeted, gave a pattern to living
hospital room or
During the days of with a special bolt oper but they also became
dormitory room, knows
Stalin's terror before the ated from the outside another source of
the feelings that such
war, comrades from the and a round peephole for harassment; they seemed
continued isolation in
highest levels of the the guard to look to emphasize over and
close quarters can
party were taken to through that was over again the feeling of
produce. But at Lubianka

confinement and the unknowingly, to the crowded cells at somebody else, by asking
agonizing lack of any discover if their fellow Perm had been horrible advice (poor as it might
freedom. prisoner would tell them at the time, but in prove to be), by sharing
something he had not retrospect they seemed experiences and
And then there was the told the interrogator. It in every way preferable sympathizing with one
silence. Whether to was a trap, and yet the to the clean, another. Solitary
enhance the morguelike psychological need, bred whitewashed confined confinement, in short,
quiet of Lubianka, or of prolonged isolation world of solitary in must be very much like
simply for comfort and and silence, to talk to a Lubianka. In those what some theologians
cleanliness, the guards fellow sufferer crowded cells, at least, paint as the principal
wore special cloth shoes unceasingly, hour after there was always torment of hell: the soul
so you couldn't hear hour, about everything someone to talk to, at last recognizing its
them moving along the and anything, was someone to share your mistakes for what they
corridor until they were unbearable. There were misery, someone to show were and condemned
practically on top of your infrequent and sympathy or to give forever to the loss of
door. There was never unpredictable sessions advice or tell you not to heaven, constantly
anyone to talk to; there with the interrogators, give up, or how to tormenting itself with
were few sounds along too. They might occur survive. After you reproaches and tearing
the corridor except at daily for months at a returned from a session itself apart because it still
mealtimes. As a result, time, and then not again with the interrogator at sees and understands
prisoners became for several months, while Perm, you could tell and wants the things it
abnormally sensitive to the days, the hours, and somebody about it, you has lost forever, but
the slightest sound. You the minutes of silence could rehash it, you knows it is condemned
couldn't help straining and solitary routine could look together for to lose forever because of
unconsciously, nearly stretched out without weak answers or stupid its own choices, its own
always, to hear some- end. Individual sessions answers, or try to figure failings, its own
thing that would break with the interrogator out together what the mistakes.
the total and all- might last a few hours, interrogator had been
pervading silence that or go non-stop for driving at, what was The human mind is
seemed to close in twenty-four hours or behind the particular line restless, and it cannot be
around you and threaten forty-eight hours or of questioning and what confined. It will go on,
you constantly. The more, with teams of sort of an answer might every waking hour,
sudden sounds of the interrogators changing have gotten you off the thinking of something,
guard swinging open the places while the prisoner hook and satisfied some- recalling something,
peephole or of a door got no rest, no sleep, no body "higher up". There dreaming of something,
bolt being crashed back food at all. Yet bad as was no such sort of or dreading some future
made everyone jumpy. It such sessions were, human companionship happening with present
was a cause almost for much as you dreaded the to sustain you at fear and anxiety. You can
terror, and yet the trip down the corridors Lubianka. When you control this restlessness,
tomblike quiet was and up the stairs to the came back from an you can channel it, but
constantly terrifying in interrogators' chambers, interrogation session you cannot stop it. And
its own way. there were times in the here, you were on your when you are shut off
awful silence of own. You could only from all outside sources,
Lubianka and the torture yourself by going when you are left alone
I spent five years in
endless routine of over and over the session in silence and solitary
Lubianka, most of it
solitary confinement that in your own mind, confinement with this
alone in such silence.
you could almost look wondering whether surging sea of thoughts
Occasionally, I was
forward to such a terrible what you had said was and memories and
moved from cell to cell;
ordeal out of the sheer right, or what you might questionings and fears
sometimes, for a few
need to see another face have done better, that is the human mind,
days or a few weeks, I
and have someone to talk agonizing again and you either learn to
shared a cell with
to. again over every control and channel it or
somebody else. Yet even
question and every you can go mad. Time
that was carefully
The intolerable answer. Here there was may seem to stand still,
planned by the NKVD.
conditions, the cramped no relief to be sought by but the human mind is
Cellmates were used,
quarters, and foul air of talking it over with never quiet. An hour can
knowingly or

become an eternity, but in myself. I hardly my own powers in the had no way actually to
the human mind can fill thought the interrogators face of the full might and celebrate the Holy
every second of it with a would get me to admit to methods of the NKVD. I Sacrifice. I said the
million thoughts and a something I hadn't done never quite believed that Angelus morning, noon,
million questions and a just to prove their case; I I would actually be shot, and night as the Kremlin
million fears. Again and was naturally stubborn but the doubt and the clock tolled the hours
again, in the eternal and strong-willed and, fear began to filter into over Red Square a few
hours of Lubianka, I had besides, I had spent a my self-confidence. And blocks from Lubianka
nothing to do but go great part of my life the agonizing Street. At noon, I would
over my past life and developing willpower afterthoughts that filled make an examination of
future fears with ample and training the will. I the hours in my silent conscience as suggested
time for reflection and rather prided myself on cell after each period of by St. Ignatius in his
questioning. But above that and felt I could interrogation, the Spiritual Exercises. I
all I prayed. probably hold my own constant reviewing of would make another
with any interrogator. So questions and answers, examen before going to
At first I found it difficult again, since I knew I the agony of going over bed at night, and also
to believe that the Soviets hadn't done anything and over the same prepare the points for
could take seriously the greatly wrong and felt ground again and again, my next morning's
charges on which I was confident that nobody began to have their effect meditation. Each
being held and could make me admit to and to eat away at my afternoon, I said three
interrogated. I could tell something I hadn't done, morale. It was then, rosaries—one in Polish,
from their questions that I remained at first in especially, that I turned one in Latin, and one in
they knew everything pretty good spirits and to prayer. Russian—as a substitute
about me and everything expected the NKVD soon for my breviary.
I had done. Beyond that, to discover its own Very early in my stay at
I was the possessor of no mistake in treating me as Lubianka, as the endless Occasionally, too, I
terrible secrets. I someone special. tedium of solitary would chant hymns in
considered my case a confinement began to get Polish or Latin or
simple one and not really After a few sessions of to me, I decided to English, the hymns I
worth all the attention the Lubianka arrange some order and could remember from
they were giving to it. interrogations, however, division into the day. I my boyhood days or
And I believed that they and some seemingly made up for myself what from the years of Jesuit
would soon see it the endless months in we used to call in the training, or the chants I
same way. I was hardly solitary, I began to have Jesuit houses at home a had worked so hard to
worth all their effort, and second thoughts. It "daily order". As soon as learn from the Russian
nothing I had done was dawned on me that the we were awakened in the liturgy during my years
deserving of death. Since NKVD could wipe out its morning, I would say the at the Russicum in Rome.
I believed that, I was at mistake, if I were nobody Morning Offering; then, Sometimes I would
first rather untroubled. special, by a simple order after the morning trip to spend hours trying to
The interrogations were of execution. There the toilet and wash-up, I remember a line that
annoying and sometimes wouldn't be any lawyers, would put in a solid slipped my memory,
painful, but they didn't there wouldn't be any hour of meditation. The going over it time and
really disturb me in the trial, and there wouldn't 5:30 A.M. rising hour again until it sounded
beginning. I really felt be any appeal. The and seven o'clock right. Sometimes I think
that, sooner or later, the Soviet Union was at war. breakfast in Lubianka it became more a mental
"higher-ups" would Thousands were dying were almost identical to exercise than a prayer; it
realize what I already every day, and spies and the daily order in most of was a way of passing
knew— that I wasn't traitors were shot with the Jesuit houses I had time, and time was the
worth bothering about. very few questions lived in, so the days one thing I had plenty of.
My conscience was clear, asked. Interrogators had began to fall into a "Qui cantat bis orat [He
so my morale in the put it just that bluntly. I pattern for me again. who chants, prays
beginning stood firm and had failed by then to twice]" is an old
high. convince them of either monastic axiom. I would
After breakfast, I would
my innocence or my hesitate to argue that
say Mass by heart—that
For that matter, I had a insignificance, so I was God was doubly pleased
is, I would say all the
great deal of confidence also beginning to doubt with my hymn singing in
prayers, for of course I
Lubianka, but I'm sure torturously slow death what tomorrow would Even as a father guards
he must have by starvation. bring, what I should eat, his children, he guards
understood. Nevertheless, pray as I or what I should wear, us from evil—because
might, I never received but rather to seek the evil does exist in the
Being human, I made the an extra portion of food kingdom of God and his world. And just as he can
same mistakes in prayer or cup of hot water. justice, his will for me find it in his Father's
every human being and for all mankind. heart to pardon us, he
makes. I prayed for the The fasts, abstinences, expects us to imitate him
conversion of my and self-imposed "Thy will be done." That in pardoning his other
interrogators, for penances I had practiced was the key, but only sons, our brothers, no
example, but none of in the past made it slowly did I come to matter what their
them ever showed the somewhat easier, I guess, experience how perfect a offenses.
slightest sign of to bear the ordeals of prayer is the Our Father,
conversion. I also prayed hunger we endured the Lord's Prayer. "Lord, The Our Father is a
hard for more food. during those prison teach us how to pray", prayer of praise and
Prison food was always years. At least for me the the disciples had said, thanksgiving, a prayer of
poor and inadequate, but experience was not new, and in his answer the petition and of
the wartime rationing in except in its intensity. Lord had explained the reparation. It
Lubianka resulted in a And I learned soon whole theology of prayer encompasses in its short
more meager and more enough that prayer does in the most simple terms, and simple phrases every
miserable portion even not take away bodily exhaustive in its content relation between man
than normal. I was pain or mental anguish. and yet intended for the and his Creator, between
constantly hungry, so Nevertheless, it does use of all men without us and our loving,
much so that my first provide a certain moral distinction. The human heavenly Father. It is a
thought upon finishing strength to bear the mind could not elaborate prayer for all times, for
the last bit of thin soup burden patiently. a better pattern in prayer every occasion. It is at
or the last drop of hot Certainly, it was prayer than the one the Lord once the most simple of
water at any meal would that helped me through himself gave us. prayers and the most
always be a reckoning of every crisis. profound. One could
how long it would be to He begins by placing us meditate continuously
the next meal. There was Gradually, too, I learned in the presence of God. on each word and phrase
no way not to think such to purify my prayer and God the almighty, who of that formula and
thoughts in the extreme remove from it the has created all things out never fully exhaust its
hunger we suffered in elements of self-seeking. of nothingness and keeps riches. If one could only
those days; the bodily I learned to pray for my them in existence lest translate each of its
craving for more food interrogators, not so they they return to phrases into the actions
generated by each would see things my nothingness, who rules of his daily life, then he
minimal meal simply way or come to the truth all things and governs all would indeed be perfect
drove all other thoughts so that my ordeal would things in the heavens as his heavenly Father
out of mind for a while. end, but because they, and on earth according clearly wishes him to be.
And the actual pangs of too, were children of to the designs of his own Truly, the Lord's Prayer
hunger, when they God and human beings providence. And yet this is the beginning and end
returned, would be so in need of his blessing same all-powerful God is of all prayers, the key to
extreme that you could and his daily grace. I our Father, who every other form of
not believe any other learned to stop asking for cherishes us and looks prayer.
pain or sufferings could more bread for myself, after us as his sons, who
ever equal that torment. and instead to offer up provides for us in his If we could constantly
Frankly, thoughts of my sufferings, the pains own loving kindness, live in the realization
suicide would actually of hunger that I felt, for guides us in his wisdom, that we are sons of a
force themselves into the many others in the who watches over us heavenly Father, that we
your consciousness as a world and in Russia at daily to shelter us from are always in his sight
way to end that awful that time who were harm, to provide us food, and play in his creation,
agony. And some men, I enduring similar agony to receive us back with then all our thoughts and
have heard, actually did and even greater open arms when we, like our every action would
choose that form of death suffering. I tried very the prodigal, have be a prayer. For we
rather than the hard not to worry about wasted our inheritance. would be constantly

turning to him, aware of Father who stands never forget the human mind, our chief
him, questioning him, always ready to listen to experience. But I am not instrument in all human
thanking him, asking his our childish stories and speaking here of some communications, is also
help, or begging his to answer to our great mystical grace. I our chief stumbling
pardon when we have childlike trust. am speaking only of a block to prayer. It seems
fallen. And every true conversation with God, by nature bent upon
prayer begins precisely It sounds so easy when the spontaneous distraction rather than on
here: placing oneself in spiritual writers describe outpouring of a soul that recollection. It prefers to
the presence of God. It is it or novice masters has come to realize— be free, to wander
a phrase all spiritual speak of it. In fact, on however fleetingly—that ceaselessly, to seize on
writers use, it is a those rare occasions it is standing at the knee each new idea and
concept each may when it does happen, of a loving and explore its every
visualize in his own way, providing Father. direction rather than to
prayer is easy.
but the realization of it in Thoughts of praise and fashion its attention
Conversation with God
practice is sometimes of thanksgiving upon one direction and
comes easily whenever
most difficult to achieve. spontaneously arise, as remain pinned down. It
God is felt—there are no
Words do not make a well as questions and wants to be forever
other words to describe
prayer, even the words petitions and thoughts of occupied, constantly at
the experience—to be
of the Our Father taught friends and their needs, work, worrying,
present to the soul. But
us by our Lord himself, mingled with trusting remembering, planning
the human mind is so
or the words of any other confessions of failure and and scheming,
easily distracted. What is
familiar prayer made simple promises to preventing and arguing,
more, it is so easily
easy by constant follow in the future only searching and
deceived. It can say the
repetition. There is no what he would have us questioning —even, in
proper words and utter
formula that works of do. our attempts to pray,
pious formulas as easily
itself, no magic charm taking to itself God's part
as a dog can "speak" for
that must automatically Sometimes, by God's and answering our every
its supper. It has learned
be heard by God and grace, such a moment of petition, carrying on by
what to say, and it will
produce its effect. Prayer, insight and of prayer itself all sides of our
say the proper formula
true prayer, is a occurs almost attempt at a divine
upon the proper cue. Yet
communication—and it unexpectedly. But for the conversation. Or it will
such rote formulas are, in
occurs only when two most part, prayer flare up with pride,
and of themselves, no
people, two minds, are demands an effort on our impatience, ill feeling,
more prayers than are
truly present to each part. We must learn, bitterness, or hate when
the poor dog's barkings
other in some way. So in even as Christ himself least we want it to; it will
truly speech. God may
prayer we must do more did, to draw apart from feel injured or offended,
hear and understand, as
than merely visualize the circumstances that guilty or discouraged,
we may hear and feed
God as present as some surround us if we wish just when we have
the dog; some minimal
sort of father figure. His to be alone with the almost reached our goal.
communication has been
fictionalized presence Father. In the desert, in Sometimes, indeed very
achieved and no effort
will not do; his the mountains, in the often, the time we have
goes unrewarded with
imaginative presence fields, he simply retired, set aside for prayer
the Lord. But we have
will not do. By faith we leaving his apostles and passes simply in a
not, for all that, truly
know that God is present disciples and the crowds struggle to control our
learned how to pray.
everywhere and is that followed him, in restless mind, collect our
always present to us if order to pray to the thoughts, and focus our
we but turn to him. So it Real prayer occurs, as I attention upon God. And
Father. And for us,
is we who must put have said, when at last it is helpful and
especially, it is easier to
ourselves in God's we find ourselves in the consoling on such
find ourselves alone with
presence, we who must presence of God. Then occasions to remember
the Father if we can be
turn to him in faith, we every thought becomes two things: (1) that God
physically alone, if we
who must leap beyond the father to a prayer, himself has initiated this
can retire to a place of
an image to the belief— and words quite often conversation by inspiring
quiet where we can
indeed the realization — are superfluous. Such us to set aside the time
collect our thoughts.
that we are in the prayer is all-absorbing. for prayer; and (2) that
presence of a loving Once you have he appreciates our efforts
experienced it, you can Because the restless

to respond, and he conform our will to his. see his hand in all the your adversaries will be
blesses them. So there is truth in the past experiences of my able to withstand or
realization that even our life, to praise and thank contradict." How often I
Posture, like verbal most unsuccessful efforts him and ask his blessing would have loved to
formulas, is not essential to achieve union with on all those faces that have put down an
to prayer. Perseverance God in prayer are crowded to memory interrogator with a
is. Kneeling is not nevertheless an effort to (when there was no face brilliant remark, an
necessarily more respond to his to be seen each day unanswerable argument!
conducive to prayer than inspiration and his grace except those of my Yet it never seemed to
sitting, nor is standing to pray. They are efforts, guards), to ask his work that way.
necessarily better than therefore, to conform our pardon for my many
lying down. Yet mortal will to his and do his failures then and now in When I was first
man is a peculiar thing bidding. And the interrogations, to summoned for
made up of body and perseverance in such promise pardon and to interrogation, I felt
soul; so our efforts to efforts is, at the very seek to forgive those I completely at ease and
control the mind can least, practice in the habit sometimes felt were confident. I knew the
often be connected with of finding the will of God persecuting me, and to charge of espionage for
an effort at bodily at all times and in ask at every moment his the Vatican, under which
control. Relax the body everything. constant, fatherly I was being held and
and the mind goes protection against the because of which I had
running off to recreation. Lubianka, in many ways, evils that seemed to been brought all the way
We are creatures of habit, was a school of prayer surround me on all sides. to Moscow and to
and we can sometimes for me. I was alone, but I "Lord, teach us to pray", Lubianka, was totally
help ourselves achieve a did not therefore find it the disciples had asked. false and obviously (I
sort of self-control that so much easier to pray. "He said to them, This is thought) absurd. There
leads more readily to Though I was shut away how you should pray: was no way I could take
recollection by taking up in solitary confinement Our Father ...'" such a farfetched charge
a posture we from the ordinary sights seriously, and I was
traditionally associate and sounds we think of certain the NKVD
with prayer. Such an and spiritual writers "higher-ups" would be
effort, moreover, such speak of as "distractions",
Chapter Six THE equally unable to take it
perseverance is an it was impossible to INTERRO seriously once they dug
earnest of our desire to confine my mind and into my case and learned
respond to God's keep it recollected. I the facts. On that score, I
promptings and to do his learned to pray there "And when they bring was in for a rude
will. An attitude of quite simply as everyone you to trial and deliver awakening. I still don't
readiness to try over and must learn to pray. Weak you up, do not be know whether they
over again in our quest from hunger, weary and anxious beforehand what seriously believed the
to find God and his will pained after long hours you are to say; but say charge; perhaps someone
in prayer is itself a grace of interrogations, whatever is given you in "higher up" found it
and a blessing of major distracted by doubts and that hour, for it is not impossible or dangerous
consequence. What other growing fears for the you who speak, but the to admit that all this
purpose has man in life future, overcome by Holy Spirit." How often trouble had been taken
but to do God's will? anxieties and the did those words run over a nobody and so my
And every effort, at any abnormal sensitivities through my mind during interrogators were
moment, to follow the induced by constant the course of my instructed to prove there
promptings of his will is separation and interrogations by the had been no mistake.
itself both a grace and a loneliness, I had to learn NKVD in Lubianka. Or Whatever the reason,
blessing of no small to turn to God as best I those other words as they hammered away in
consequence. could and when I could. recorded by Luke: deadly earnest to get me
I had to learn to find him "Resolve in your heart to admit to the charge,
in the midst of trials as not to meditate fantastic as it seemed to
If we could achieve
well as nerve-racking beforehand how to me. They were relentless,
union with God in
silences, to discover him answer, for I will give and they were thorough,
prayer, we would then
and find his will behind you a mouth and and they were good at
see his will quite clearly
all these happenings, to wisdom which none of their trade.
and desire nothing but to

Once the interrogations preconceived and organizations that might on my part would
started at Lubianka after prejudged pattern; most be conspiring with me. prevent it. But worst of
the initial period of of it was even couched in Finally, he would accuse all, perhaps, I began to
solitary confinement, catch phrases. My me of holding back give up. I was tired of
they went on almost presence among the information from him trying to correct the
without letup. Sessions workers at Teplaya-Gora, and suggest that we get misinterpretations put
might last for days at a for example, was written down to business. upon every action of
time. All-night sessions, up as if I were an outside mine; I just became
though, were the usual agitator come to excite After I had been over the indifferent to what the
routine; for some reason the masses to revolt same questions and the interrogator said or
they seemingly were against the regime and same answers a number wrote. It just seemed so
preferred to day system. of times with a number useless to make the
interviews. I had a of interrogators, I simply attempt any more. I
number of interrogators, I tried in the beginning to gave up arguing. I simply shrugged off any
who employed a variety argue about such things, concentrated instead on more attempts and
of methods. They could or to get the interrogator trying always to give the confined myself
be by turns friendly or to change what he had same answer, for the wherever possible to yes
hostile, charming or written. If he bothered to least little variation on or no answers, or to a
vituperative, angry or take note of my my part would be noncommittal "I don't
dispassionate, complaint at all, the treated as a slip, a weak know."
threatening or the voice interrogator quite point in my story that
of sweet reason itself. But generally replied that he should be attacked and The law provided a
their goal was always the had written the facts as explored to catch me in a month's time for the
same. they appeared in the eyes lie or contradiction. And investigation of a case.
of Soviet law. The Soviet yet if I repeated exactly My case entered its
As the interrogations Constitution allowed the the same story time after twelfth month and the
progressed, a set pattern practice of religion on an time, gave the same interrogations still
of questions taken from a individual basis, but it biographical details and continued. My patience
printed form lying on the forbade the preaching of chronological sequences, and my self-confidence,
desk were asked of me religion. And the the interrogator might even my innate
over and over again. The provision was obviously get furious. He would stubbornness, were
interrogator wrote down a wise one, for under the take the very sameness gradually wearing away.
on big sheets of paper pretext of teaching of the answers as proof I was tired of the
every answer I gave. religion the Church was that they must be part of struggle, I was tired of
Quite often, he seemed to actually teaching hatred some carefully fighting, but above all I
pay little attention to of communism; the memorized lie. was tired of second-
what I actually said in statements of the Popes guessing myself in the
reply. He wrote on communism were As the months of silence of solitary
continuously, probably clear enough evidence of interrogations confinement after the
because it was expected that. He was not there, lengthened, my original interrogation sessions,
of him, and seemed to however, to argue the naive optimism and self- tired of the doubts, fears,
make little effort at all point. His job was not to confidence gave way to and the constant anxiety
really to understand discover whether I was resentment and repug- and strain. The last
what I was trying to say involved in some plot nance. It became almost interrogator seemed a
or explain. From time to against the government unbearable for me to face reasonable man, soft-
time, the interrogator —my presence in the another session. When spoken and humane. He
would sit back in his country as a foreign called by the guard for seemed to understand
chair and read me what priest was evidence another trip along the how anxious I was to end
he had written. He enough to put that point dimly lit corridors to the this constant
would ask me if it was beyond question—but to interrogators' offices, the questioning; he
substantially correct. I discover all the details of sense of revulsion would suggested we could put
would try to point out to the plot, including others be so strong that a an end to it if I would
him how he had simply who might have been physical tremor would only cooperate and tell
twisted the meaning of involved, how it was shake my whole body. It the whole truth. He
any factual content to financed, the means to be was something beyond spoke of getting it over
make it accord with a employed, and any my control, and no effort with, of getting out of

Lubianka and of solitary. that at this rate the know why, but I had not believe me and to change
That thought alone, the process would never really expected that. the charges brought
notion of being with end. I gave up. I Now I found myself against me. I prayed for
people again, was convinced myself that trapped, and I passed the the Spirit to move me—
enough to catch me off my efforts were useless night in new mental and I felt nothing.
balance. I really didn't and I let the process roll anguish and agony. I Feeling abandoned by
care any more what on with a shrug. After resented the seeming God, I knew I must do
would ultimately happen all, I said to myself, what kindness and gentleness something. I wanted to
to me. I just wanted to does it really matter? of the interrogator that throw that volume on
get all this rigamarole What difference can it had led me so sweetly to the table and tell the
over with, the sooner the possibly make to anyone this moment. I wished I interrogator right out
better. "Of course I'll tell except to me—and I could take back again that I would not sign a
the truth", I said, "and simply wanted out. I that promise to cooperate page of it. Fear stopped
cooperate with you." I convinced myself that, and the sessions that had me. I struggled with
didn't mean that I was for my part, I had told followed. Now what myself. I badly wanted to
going to tell any lies or only the truth and could I do? Refuse to show him who he was
agree to anything I continued to tell only the sign the documents? And dealing with: not a
hadn't agreed to before; truth. All the rest then what? This was the weakling, or an
but I wasn't going to mattered little, except critical hour, if ever, for intimidated priest afraid
fight, either, the that it would soon end. the Holy Spirit to to stand up for his rights,
interpretation that might intervene and protect me or an ignoramus who
be put on the facts I Once I had taken that and protect the Church. didn't know what was
admitted to. basic decision, it was It was now or never. going on. I wanted to
surprising how easy Martyrdom, perhaps, or speak out and end the
Too late, of course, I everything became. If I capitulation. Still deal right then and there.
realized the mistake I had any nagging doubts tormented by these Indeed, the words I
was making. I realized as at all, it was about what thoughts, I was wanted so vehemently to
well the motives would happen to me summoned next morning blurt out were on the tip
prompting my actions, after Lubianka. Come to the interrogator's of my tongue. I raised
the mental fatigue and what may, however, this office. He handed me the my head slowly and
the frustration, the desire ordeal would soon be volume of materials and looked at the
to be rid at last of the over. The end was in asked me to read and interrogator, who was
physical and mental sight. The feeling of sign each page. It was the busy with some other
strain of both the relief, of release from moment of decision, but papers. The words "I
interrogations and the tension and from I stalled for time. I began won't sign", however,
isolation. Accordingly, as struggling, permeated to read the materials never came. I was afraid,
we went over the every other thought. I with growing resentment and I was angry at
questions together for would have to let and incredulity. It myself for being afraid. I
the last time, I tried to tomorrow take care of seemed incredible that I made a strenuous effort
change course once itself. had ever agreed to go to overpower the fear
again. I tried to retreat along with this! I afflicting me, but
once more to the high continued to read, but I succeeded only in being
Tomorrow came soon
ground I had held so signed nothing. I tried to overcome by it. I was
enough. The interrogator
painfully and so think, only to discover disgusted with myself,
told me to get ready for
stubbornly for so many that somehow my mind terribly upset. I lowered
my final session. He
months. But my gentle, had stopped functioning. my head again slowly in
explained that I would
courteous interrogator All I saw before me was confusion and pretended
have to sign the
pressed home his a blank. I tried to ask the to be reading.
documents he had
advantage. He seemed so Holy Spirit to prompt me
written. I would be
hurt, perhaps annoyed, to say something to the But the interrogator at
expected to read and
at the "distinctions" I interrogator, to give me last took notice of me.
sign each page of the
wanted to make, the the words of wisdom "What's wrong, Wladimir
collected material. He
"clarifications" I tried to that would startle the Martinovich? Why are
warned me that this was
offer. He ignored them, interrogator and you not signing the
one of the most
he changed nothing, but persuade him now, at pages as you read them?"
important steps in the
he reminded me gently this eleventh hour, to At last I was forced to
whole process. I don't

answer, so I said, far too As I signed the pages, and my emotions, I under his inspiration and
weakly: "I can't sign this largely without reading turned at once to prayer his grace, I began to
the way it's written. It's them, I began to burn as best I could. wonder about myself
not what I said or did. with shame and guilt. I and my prayer. Why did
You know I'm not the was totally broken, My prayer at first, I feel this way? The sense
spy you describe so totally humiliated. It was though, was a matter of of defeat and failure was
cleverly and completely a moment of agony I'll reproaches. I reproached easy enough to explain
in this report." never forget as long as I myself for failing to after that episode in the
live. I was full of fear and stand up against the interrogator's office, but
At these words, my yet tormented by interrogator and speak why so strong a sense of
gentle and friendly conscience. After signing out, for failing to refuse guilt and shame? I had
interrogator changed the first hundred pages, I to sign the dossier. I acted in panic, I had
completely. He grew stopped even the reproached myself for yielded under the threat
pale and furious, unable pretense of reading the caving in out of fear, for of death. Why should I
to speak at first, rest. I just wanted to giving way to panic, and hold myself so fully
trembling with the finish signing them as acting sheerly out of responsible, why feel so
intensity of his anger. quickly as possible and some defense guilty, for actions taken
Only after several deep get out of the mechanism. And I did without full deliberation
breaths could he force interrogator's office. My not spare God from these or full consent of the
himself to say, quietly aversion to the whole reproaches. Why had he will? I had not been fully
and icily: "Do you thing was overwhelming; failed me at the critical responsible at that
realize, you stupid I condemned myself juncture? Why had he moment, I had been
American, the before anybody else not sustained my nearly out of my mind.
seriousness of this final could do the same. I was strength and my nerve? The act of signing had
procedure? It's a matter despicable in my own Why had he not inspired been prompted by an
of life and death you are eyes, no less than I must me to speak out boldly? almost animal-like urge
fooling around with. Do appear to others. My will Why had he not shielded for survival. It had
you understand? Either had failed; I had proved me by his grace from the hardly been conscious
you sign the document to be nowhere near the fear of death? And why and surely not deliberate
as it is, without any man I thought I was. I had he not, as a last enough to deserve the
change, or we will get rid had yielded, in that one resort, seen to it that I name human. I had
of you the same way we sickening split second, to suffered a heart attack failed, true; but how
get rid of every spy. fear, to threats, to the from all this tension, or a much guilt had there
There is a bloody war thought of death. When stroke, so that I would been and why should I
going on outside. If you the last page was not have been able to feel so ashamed?
don't sign those pages, I finished, I literally sign the papers? I had
can sign one right here wanted to run from the trusted in him and his Slowly, reluctantly,
and you'll be dead before interrogator's office. Spirit to give me a voice under the gentle
the sun sets! This is the and wisdom against all proddings of grace, I
end, one way or another. Back in my cell, I stood adversaries. I had faced the truth that was
Do what you're shaken and defeated. At confounded no one, but at the root of my
supposed to do, or die!" I first, I could not even had myself been totally problem and my shame.
was literally stunned into grasp the dimensions of broken and confounded. The answer was a single
submission. The sudden, what had happened to And if I was not worth word: 1.1 was ashamed
vehement change in the me in the interrogator's his intervention because I knew in my
interrogator, the quaver office and why. I was personally, how could he heart that I had tried to
in his voice that lent a tormented by feelings of have allowed me to sign do too much on my own,
note of terror and defeat, failure, and guilt. things that reflected so and I had failed. I felt
urgency to his threats, Yet above all, I was badly upon the Church? guilty because I realized,
my own interior turmoil burning with shame. Were not his honor and finally, that I had asked
and confusion, the shock Physically, I shook with his glory and the future for God's help but had
of it all. Spontaneously, spasms of nervous of his kingdom upon really believed in my
without thinking, I tension and release. earth at stake in all of own ability to avoid evil
picked up the pen and When at last I began to this? and to meet every
began to sign. regain some control of challenge. I had spent
my nerves, my thoughts, Little by little, surely much time in prayer over

the years, I had come to been telling me at that prove that / (that telltale nothing—not even make
appreciate and thank hour, I could not hear. I word, again) could prove our own mistakes.
God for his providence was so intent on hearing their equal and somehow
and care of me and of all only one message, the be better than my Learning the full truth of
men, but I had never message I wanted to contemporaries. our dependence upon
really abandoned myself hear, that I was not really God and our relation to
to it. In a way, I had been listening at all. It is an awful thing, this his will is what the virtue
thanking God all the dross of self that spoils of humility is all about.
while that I was not like This tendency to set even the best things we For humility is truth, the
the rest of men, that he acceptable conditions do out of the supposedly full truth, the truth that
had given me a good upon God, to seek highest motives. "Like encompasses our relation
physique, steady nerves, unconsciously to make gold in the furnace He to God the Creator and
and a strong will, and his will for us coincide tried them," says the through him to the world
that with these physical with our desires, is a Book of Wisdom about he has created and to our
graces given by God I very human trait. And the souls of the just. fellowmen. And what we
would continue to do his the more important the Somehow, by the trials call humiliations are the
will at all times and to situation is, the more and tribulations of this trials by which our more
the best of my ability. In totally we are committed life, our souls must be complete grasp of this
short, I felt guilty and to it or the more purified of this dross of truth is tested. It is self
ashamed because in the completely our future self if we are to become that is humiliated; there
last analysis I had relied depends upon it, then ultimately acceptable to would be no
almost completely on the easier it becomes for God. For each of us the "humiliation" if we had
myself in this most us to blind ourselves into trials will come in learned to put self in its
critical test—and I had thinking that what we different ways and at place, to see ourselves in
failed. want is surely what God different times—for proper perspective
must also want. We can some, self may be easier before God and other
Had I not even set the see but one solution to overcome than for men. And the stronger
terms upon which the only, and naturally we others—but we were the ingredient of self
Holy Spirit was to assume that God will created to do God's will develops in our lives, the
intervene in my behalf? help us reach it. In any and not our own, to more severe must our
Had I not expected him case, I am sure that this make our own wills humiliations be in order
to prompt me to give an tendency was strong in conform to his and not to purify us. That was
answer I had already me. I had been strong- vice versa. We can daily the terrible insight that
predetermined was the willed as a boy. When I pray for the grace to do dawned upon me in the
answer I would give? entered religion, I saw this, without always cell at Lubianka as I
When I failed to feel his this character trait as a meaning it; we can prayed, shaken and
promptings along the talent given me by God promise quite easily in dejected, after my
lines I expected—indeed, rather than as a flaw. I prayer that we will do it. experience with the
that I demanded—I was took pride in developing What we fail to see is interrogator.
frustrated and dis- it further, through how much of self still
appointed. It was then I ascetical practices such resides in that promise, The Spirit had not
felt he had abandoned as fasting, severe how much we are abandoned me, for the
me, and I proceeded to penances, exercises of trusting in our own whole experience had
try to do on my own will, and personal powers when we say that been his work. The sense
what I had already discipline. Had I failed to we will do it. In large of guilt and shame I felt
determined was the see that these were not tests or small, therefore, was rooted in my failure
thing that must be done. always done solely in God must sometimes to put grace ahead of
I had not really left response to God's grace allow us to act on our nature, my failure to
myself open to the Spirit. or out of some apostolic own so we can learn trust primarily in God
I had, in fact, long ago motive, but also out of humility, so we can learn rather than in my own
decided what I expected pride? Yes, I prided the truth of our total powers. I had failed and
to hear from the Spirit myself on doing these dependence on him, so I was shaken to the roots,
and when I did not hear things better or more we can learn that all our but it was a salutary
precisely that I had felt often than others, vying actions are sustained by shaking. If the
betrayed. Whatever else as it were with the his grace and that interrogator's threat had
the Spirit might have legends of the saints to without him we can do been totally sincere, then

the moment had been a not the Church that was find it perfectly is over. I even looked
matter of life and death. on trial in Lubianka. It understandable that forward to Siberia and
In that moment, I had was not the Soviet Peter, in his letters to the hard labor: physical
not seen death as God Government or the early churches, should suffering had merely to
sees it or as I professed to NKVD versus Walter have reminded his be endured; it entailed
believe it. Just as I had Ciszek. It was God Christians to work out no shame or guilt. My
always seen the sessions versus Walter Ciszek. their salvation in fear prayer at this period was
with the interrogator God was testing me by and trembling. For just no longer of petition and
from beginning to end, this experience, like gold as surely as man begins surely not of consolation.
sometimes consciously, in the furnace, to see to trust in his own It was a prayer of
often unconsciously, as a how much of self abilities, so surely has he suffering, of doubts, of
contest between his will remained after all my taken the first step on the fears, and of anxieties. I
and my own, so in this prayers and professions road to ultimate failure. was so shaken by the
moment of total crisis I of faith in his will. In that And the greatest grace revelation and
had seen death almost one year of God can give such a man realization of my own
solely in terms of self interrogations, these last is to send him a trial he weakness that I doubted
and not as the moment of terrible few hours, the cannot bear with his own my ability to survive
my return to God, as it primacy of self that had powers—and then another onslaught on my
truly is. I had reason, manifested itself and sustain him with his faith. I was afraid I
therefore, to feel shame been reinforcing itself grace so he may endure would, somehow,
and guilt. It had been a even in my methods of to the end and be saved. sometime, lose sight of
moment of utter failure prayer and spiritual God and fail completely.
on my part to abandon exercises underwent a I longed for the day
myself to God's will in purging, through when I would leave this
total Christian purgatory, that left me Chapter Seven prison and set out for the
commitment; I had failed cleansed to the bone. It FOUR labor camps. It would be
miserably to be what I was a pretty hot furnace, a fresh start, a new life.
professed to be, or to act to say the least, very YEARS OF Then perhaps I could
according to the nearly as hot as hell PURGAT forget my mistakes and
principles I professed to itself. Yet, thanks be to my weaknesses, and
believe. And yet that God, I did still endure—
ORY begin again a more
moment of failure was in and I had learned, to the Two weeks after I signed faithful service of God.
itself a great grace, for it depths of my shaken the false dossier
had taught me a great soul, how totally I admitting to things I had But it was not to be.
lesson. Severe as the test depended on him for never done, I was There were to be four
had been, God had everything even in my informed of the more years of
sustained me and was survival and how foolish punishment for my interrogations and
now instructing me by had been my reliance "crimes". Fifteen years at testing in Lubianka
the light of his grace. upon self. hard labor. The verdict before the Lord was fin-
was in the form of what ished tempering and
"He who endures to the Somehow, that day, I was called an purifying my soul. It was
end will be saved." That imagined I must know administrative sentence, not enough for me to
is the conclusion of all how Saint Peter felt not a judicial verdict. understand that the
the Gospel texts which when he had survived Since I had never been experience of Lubianka
speak of trusting the his denials and been brought to trial of any was designed by God to
Spirit and worrying not restored to Christ's sort, it was not passed by purge me of dependence
in advance what we shall friendship. Even though a court or a panel of upon self and to lead me
say in times of our Lord had promised judges. The verdict was to reliance only upon
persecution. I had taken that he, being once simply assigned on my him. After the terrible
those texts literally and converted, would own admission of guilt. time of the past year and
expected the Spirit to confirm his brethren, I No matter the niceties, its ultimate crisis, I had
instruct me so that I doubt very much that fifteen years was fifteen come at last to
might conquer my Peter ever again boasted years. understand that truth.
interrogator, my that he would never
persecutor. How foolish desert the Lord even if At least, I thought, the But understanding of
and how selfish! It was all others deserted him. I torture of interrogations itself does not lead to

practice or accomplish- way to step back from to rely again on my own how the Orthodox
ment; and it was to the the downward path I native wit and Church, unlike the
practice of purgation that seemed to be moving intelligence, to prolong Catholic Church, has
I was now led. I was told along. the arguments and condemned fascism and
by the interrogator at thereby to postpone the was helping the
first that this was a For "cooperation", it now need for any practical government in the war
period of "clarification". appeared, involved decision to cooperate. against totalitarianism.
There were things that something more than And yet I felt sick at But the Popes had
had to be cleared up, just clearing up some heart, because I knew attacked communism,
things we had not as yet things discussed in that every step I took especially Pius XII, who
gone into sufficiently. earlier sessions. along this path would surely must secretly
Since I had now agreed Cooperation now came make it just that much sympathize with
to cooperate, since I in to mean that I should more difficult and Mussolini and Hitler.
fact had cooperated by actively work with them dangerous to refuse in That led to long
signing the dossier, he in any number of the end to cooperate. Lie arguments about the
was sure that these next schemes that were once and innocence is Church. Finally, I
sessions would be most suggested one after the lost forever. Fall once, managed to convince
productive. For my part, other. Life in the camp and the vessel is broken. him that the Catholic
I felt an immediate surge was painted in its Perhaps it can be Church was, to me, at
of repugnance and blackest and bitterest mended and made least as meaningful as
foreboding. I was details, and it was serviceable again, but it the Communist Party
tremendously afraid. pointed out to me how can never again be as was to him. I felt toward
Having failed once, I was easily I could escape all good as new. So it is with her the same sense of
literally terrified that I that if I wanted to work fallen human nature or loyalty and allegiance
might fail completely for the NKVD. I was the broken human spirit. that he felt to the
this time and lose the last annoyed, and then Tortured by such Communist Party. I
thing I still clung to, my ashamed again of my thoughts, I grew could not help it; it was
faith in God. And I felt own indecisiveness. Why increasingly depressed. part of me. So we agreed
trapped. The mistake I couldn't I just stand up to disagree, and I felt I
had made in signing was and say no? Instead, I On the other hand, the had won another round.
now being used as a temporized. I took to interrogator grew bolder
lever to force me further. playing a game of cat and more confident. He All this time, I was
I cursed myself again for and mouse with the was so sure I was growing more and more
having made such a interrogator, asking for moving to join him that depressed. Whatever
mistake, but I could find time to think over his he even suggested a little victories I might be
no way back. The future various proposals. young girl for me to winning, I knew that I
seemed hopelessly marry. I managed to was simply postponing
marked by that one convince him that my the inevitable. I asked in
He never seemed to have
moment of failure. whole training up to this prayer for courage and
any doubt that I would
ultimately cooperate. He point as a priest ill suited wisdom to face each new
I was so desolate that arranged to have books me for marriage, and argument, yet deep
even prayer seemed provided for me, so I that it was hardly fair to down I knew that it was
impossible. I felt could spend my time in the girl. He seemed to all a big mistake. Every
endangered and reading. They were see the logic of this, and I time I brought myself to
threatened anew, but I largely books on the won that argument. Then the brink of calling a halt
could find no light or history or philosophy of he suggested that, since I to the proceedings,
consolation in prayer. I communism, or the wanted to remain a though, of taking some
found myself instead writings of Marx or priest, I should become a firm stand, I faced again
reproaching God for not Lenin. member of the Orthodox that awful moment of
sparing me this new Church. He explained decision and of weakness
ordeal. I found myself how easy it would be for —and finally of
When we got together
wondering why he him to arrange that, and indecision. I could not do
afterwards, the
permitted it to go on, day also to arrange for me to it. And I knew that every
interrogator would quiz
after day, without have a platform from time I approached that
me to see if I understood
finding some way to end which I might denounce decision and failed to
the arguments and how I
it, or helping me to find a the Pope. He stressed make it, the harder it
felt about them. I began
would ultimately be to know that when it and his agony in the abandonment to God.
make. passed I was horrified garden. "Father," he had And I did it. I can only
and bewildered; I knew said, "if it be possible, let describe the experience
Then one day the that I had gone beyond this chalice pass from as a sense of "letting go",
blackness closed in all bounds, had crossed me." In the Garden of giving over totally my
around me completely. over the brink into a fit of Olives, he too knew the last effort or even any
blackness I had never feeling of fear and will to guide the reins of
known before. It was weakness in his human my own life. It is all too
Perhaps it was brought
very real and I began to nature as he faced simply said, yet that one
on by exhaustion, but I
tremble. I was scared and suffering and death. Not decision has affected
reached a point of
ashamed, the victim of a once but three times did every subsequent
despair. I was
new sense of guilt and he ask to have his ordeal moment of my life. I
overwhelmed by the
humiliation. I had been removed or somehow have to call it a
hopelessness of my
afraid before, but now I modified. Yet each time conversion.
situation. I knew that I
was afraid of myself. I he concluded with an act
was approaching the end
knew I had failed before, of total abandonment I had always trusted in
of my ability to postpone
but this was the ultimate and submission to the God. I had always tried
a decision. I could see no
failure. This was despair. Father's will. "Not as I to find his will, to see his
way out of it. Yes, I
For that one moment of will, but as thou wilt." It providence at work. I
despaired in the most
blackness, I had lost not was not just conformity had always seen my life
literal sense of the word:
only hope but the last to the will of God; it was and my destiny as
I lost all sense of hope. I
shreds of my faith in total self-surrender, a guided by his will. At
saw only my own
God. I had stood alone in stripping away of all some moments more
weakness and
a void and I had not even human fears, of all consciously than at
helplessness to choose
thought of or recalled the doubts about his own others, I had been aware
either position open to
one thing that had been abilities to withstand the of his promptings, his
me, cooperation or
my constant guide, my passion, of every last call, his promises, his
execution. There had
only source of shred of self including grace. At times of crisis,
been no mention recently
consolation in all other self-doubt. especially, I had tried to
of the prison camps; the
failures, my ultimate discover his will and to
interrogator had been
recourse: I had lost the What a wonderful follow it to the best of
telling me he must make
sight of God. treasure and source of my ability. But this was a
a progress report to his
superior about my strength and consolation new vision, a totally new
cooperation; he spoke of Recognizing that, I our Lord's agony in the understanding,
execution as if it was turned immediately to garden became for me something more than
possible at their whim. It prayer in fear and from that moment on. I just a matter of emphasis.
wasn't the thought of trembling. I knew I had saw clearly exactly what Up until now, I had
death that bothered me. to seek immediately the I must do. I can only call always seen my role—
In fact, I sometimes God I had forgotten. I it a conversion man's role—in the divine
thought of death by had to ask that that experience, and I can economy as an active
suicide as the only way moment of despair had only tell you frankly that one. Up to this time, I
out of this dilemma. not made me unworthy my life was changed had retained in my own
Illogical, surely, but of his help. I had to pray from that moment on. If hands the reins of all
despondency and that he would never my moment of despair decision, actions, and
despair are like that. again let me fail to had been a moment of endeavors; I saw it now
Uppermost in my mind remember him and trust total blackness, then this as my task to "cooperate"
was the hopelessness of in him. I pleaded my was an experience of with his grace, to be
it all and my helplessness to face the blinding light. I knew involved to the end in
powerlessness to cope future without him. I immediately what I must the working out of
with it. told him that my own do, what I would do, and salvation. God's will was
abilities were now somehow I knew that I "out there" somewhere,
bankrupt and he was my could do it. I knew that I hidden, yet clear and
I don't really know how
only hope. must abandon myself unmistakable. It was my
to put that moment in
entirely to the will of the role—man's role—to
words. I'm not sure,
Suddenly, I was consoled Father and live from now discover what it was and
even, how long that
by thoughts of our Lord on in this spirit of self- then conform my will to
moment lasted. But I
that, and so work at will not be there to bear act of complete self- That moment, that
achieving the ends of his you up. It was something abandonment to his will, experience, completely
divine providence. I like that awful eternity of total trust in his love changed me. I can say it
remained— man between anxiety and and concern for me and now in all sincerity,
remained—in essence the belief when a child first his desire to sustain and without false modesty,
master of my own leans back and lets go of protect me, by the without a sense either of
destiny. Perfection all support whatever— experience of a complete exaggeration or of
consisted simply in only to find that the despair of my own embarrassment. I have to
learning to discover water truly holds him up powers and abilities that call it a conversion
God's will in every and he can float had preceded it. I knew I experience; it was at once
situation and then in motionless and totally could no longer trust a death and a
bending every effort to relaxed. myself, and it seemed resurrection. It was not
do what must be done. only sensible then to something I sought after
Once understood, it trust totally in God. It or wanted or worked for
Now, with sudden and seemed so simple. I was was the grace God had or merited. Like every
almost blinding clarity amazed it had taken me been offering me all my grace, it was a free gift of
and simplicity, I realized so long in terms of time life, but which I had God. That it should have
I had been trying to do and of suffering to learn never really had the been offered to me when
something with my own this truth. Of course we courage to accept in full. I had reached the limits
will and intellect that believe that we depend I had talked of finding of my own powers is
was at once too much on God, that his will and doing his will, but simply part of the great
and mostly all wrong. sustains us in every never in the sense of mystery of salvation. I
God's will was not moment of our life. But totally giving up my own did not question it then; I
hidden somewhere "out we are afraid to put it to will. I had talked of cannot question it now.
there" in the situations in the test. There remains trusting him, indeed I Nor can I explain how
which I found myself; deep down in each of us truly had trusted him, that one experience
the situations themselves a little nagging doubt, a but never in the sense of could have such an
abandoning all other immediate and lasting
were his will for me. little knot of fear which
we refuse to face or sources of support and effect upon my soul and
What he wanted was for
admit even to ourselves, relying on his grace upon my habitual actions
me to accept these
that says, "Suppose it alone. I could never find from that moment on,
situations as from his
isn't so." We are afraid to it in me, before, to give especially when so many
hands, to let go of the
abandon ourselves up self completely. There other experiences, so
reins and place myself
totally into God's hands were always boundaries many other graces, had
entirely at his disposal.
for fear he will not catch beyond which I would had no such effect. It
He was asking of me an
us as we fall. It is the not go, little hedges was, however, a
act of total trust,
ultimate criterion, the marking out what I knew deliberate act of choice
allowing for no
final test of all faith and in the depths of my on my part. I know it
interference or restless
all belief, and it is being was a point of no was a choice I never
striving on my part, no
present in each of us, return. God in his could have made, and
reservations, no
lurking unvoiced in a providence had been never had made before,
exceptions, no areas
closet of our mind we are constant in his grace, without the inspiration
where I could set
afraid to open. It is not always providing of God's grace. But it was
conditions or seem to
really a question of trust opportunities for this act a deliberate choice. I
hesitate. He was asking a
in God at all, for we want of perfect faith and trust chose, consciously and
complete gift of self,
very much to trust him; in him, always urging willingly, to abandon
nothing held back. It
it is really a question of me to let go the reins and myself to God's will, to
demanded absolute faith:
our ultimate belief in his trust in him alone. I had let go completely of
faith in God's existence,
existence and his trusted him, I had every last reservation. I
in his providence, in his
providence, and it cooperated with his knew I was crossing a
concern for the minutest
demands the purest act grace—but only up to a boundary I had always
detail, in his power to
of faith. point. Only when I had hesitated and feared to
sustain me, and in his
reached a point of total cross before. Yet this time
love protecting me. It
bankruptcy of my own I chose to cross it—and
meant losing the last For my part, I was
powers had I at last the result was a feeling
hidden doubt, the brought to make this
surrendered. not of fear but of
ultimate fear that God perfect act of faith, this

liberation, not of danger my life and future my mind—as indeed I interrogator explained, I
or of despair but a fresh destiny, I was relieved as was, because the fear of would not be alone in
new wave of confidence a consequence of all making a mistake had Rome. I would be part of
and of happiness. responsibility. I was left me now that I was a team and there would
freed thereby from conscious God was with be other information I
Across that threshold I anxiety and worry, from me. I think he was would be asked to pass
had been afraid to cross, every tension, and could suspicious, though, of along, other details I
things suddenly seemed float serenely upon the this sudden change of would be expected to
so very simple. There tide of God's sustaining heart. "Good," he said, provide for transmission
was but a single vision, providence in perfect "I'll tell the people back to Moscow. Should
God, who was all in all; peace of soul. upstairs that you are I fail to do so, should I
there was but one will ready and willing to act betray this trust, those
that directed all things, Filled with this new as chaplain wherever with whom I worked
God's will. I had only to spirit and transformed you're sent. I'll let you would see to my speedy
see it, to discern it in interiorly, I no longer know their answer as execution. Before I left
every circumstance in dreaded the next soon as I hear." for Rome, there would be
which I found myself, interview with the a month's training in
and let myself be ruled interrogator. I saw no The next time I saw him, certain techniques of
by it. God is in all things, reason now to fear him however, he had a new espionage that I would
sustains all things, or the NKVD, for I saw proposal. He told me probably need in Rome.
directs all things. To all things now as coming that the people upstairs
discern this in every from the hands of God. I wanted me, instead, to Through all this, I
situation and was no longer afraid of go to Rome and serve as remained at peace.
circumstance, to see his making a "mistake", since an intermediary between Where before, the notion
will in all things, was to God's will was behind the Kremlin and the of such cooperation
accept each circumstance every development and Vatican. Now that the would have upset and
and situation and let every alternative. Secure Soviet Union was a tormented me, I felt no
oneself be borne along in in his grace, I felt capable member of the Allies, such distress any longer.
perfect confidence and of facing every situation perhaps a sort of If these things were to
trust. Nothing could and meeting every concordat about be, then they were to be
separate me from him, challenge; whatever he communism could be —for a purpose God
because he was in all chose to send me in the arranged. I agreed, as alone knew. If they were
things. No danger could future, I would accept. far-fetched and absurd as not to be, then they
threaten me, no fear it all sounded. The would never happen. My
could shake me, except The change in me, in fact, notion of returning to confidence in his will
the fear of losing sight of was so striking that even Rome, to the free world, and his providence was
him. The future, hidden the interrogator noticed might in the past have absolute; I knew I had
as it was, was hidden in it. His newest proposal excited me—but it was a only to follow the
his will and therefore was that I might serve as measure of my new promptings of his grace.
acceptable to me no chaplain in a newly sense of abandonment I was sure, completely
matter what it might formed army of Polish that I was not the least sure, that when a
bring. The past, with all communists under excited by this offer more moment of decision
its failures, was not Wanda Wasilewski, or than any other. Whether came he would lead me
forgotten; it remained to perhaps as chaplain in I went to Rome or not on the right path. And so
remind me of the General Ander's army, was for God to decide, it happened. When at
weakness of human an army of Free Poles for him to arrange. I last the interrogator
nature and the folly of formed to fight on the stood ready to accept asked me to sign an
putting any faith in self. proposed second front. I any and all events as agreement covering the
But it no longer told him quite simply I coming from his hand. Roman business, I just
depressed me. I looked was willing to do either. Discussions of this refused. I had not
no longer to self to guide He seemed genuinely Roman business took up thought of doing so in
me, relied on it no longer pleased with the many sessions with the advance; in fact, I had
in any way, so it could promptness of my reply interrogator, yet through simply gone along with
not again fail me. By and my new disposition. it all I remained totally everything up to that
renouncing, finally and He told me that I seemed detached and perfectly point. But suddenly it
completely, all control of more relaxed and easy in relaxed. Naturally, the seemed the only thing to

do, and I did it. He even to grasp what they curious beyond belief, by the rough and ready
became violently angry were talking about. It almost addicted to realities of life. To put it
and threatened me with was a strange sort of stories of every sort, even another way, I had been
immediate execution. I disorientation, brought rumors. The habit of alone with God as it
felt no fear at all. I think I on I suppose from the recollection I had been were on the
smiled. I knew then I had long periods in solitary able to develop while in mountaintop, but now I
won. When he called for confinement and the solitary confinement had to come down once
the guards to lead me defensive mental habits broke down under this more into the hubbub,
away—and I had no developed during the bombardment. I was turmoil, and dissension
assurance but that they sessions of interrogation. continuously distracted, of the camp.
were leading me before a I found it a real strain, at even when I tried to
firing squad—I went first, trying to converse pray. The quiet, interior And, somewhat like
with them as if they were with the other prisoners. contacts with God I had Moses, the first thing I
so many ministers of Still, just being with enjoyed in prison, discovered was the
grace. I felt his presence others and hearing them periods of reflection or of presence of evil. Not as
in the moment and knew talk was enough to buoy contemplation, were less an abstract idea or
it drew me toward a me up. I did not know effective and frequent philosophical definition,
future of his design and for sure what lay at the now. but as an ugly reality,
purpose. I wished for end of this journey, or brutal, harsh,
nothing more. specifically where I was Nor was that the only uncompromisingly cruel.
going, but for the adjustment I had to For most of my journey
moment that was of little make. My desire to see across the vast stretches
consequence. I was still a God's will in every of the Russian Steppes,
Chapter Eight IN prisoner, but I felt free situation, to search out in the crude confines of
TRANSIT and liberated. It was and understand his the prison trains or the
almost as if I had risen providence at work in primitive transit camps, I
I left Lubianka, as it from the tomb of every circumstance, now traveled to Siberia with
turned out, not to face a Lubianka. began to bump up hardcase criminals. Not
firing squad but to begin
against the real world political prisoners like
the long journey from
I found myself quite once more. It had been myself, but the thugs
Moscow to Siberia, and I
literally hungering for easy during the periods who people the Russian
was overjoyed. Packed
news of what had of prayer and underworld—or for that
into the prison trains like
happened during my five contemplation to matter, I guess, any
so many head of cattle
years of imprisonment, imagine future happen- underworld. They were
during the grinding,
to say nothing of current ings and the way I would hard and tough and
seemingly endless trip,
news. I did know that try to respond to them. mean, with their own set
or herded into already
the war in Europe had In the light of the vision I of principles, their own
overcrowded and
ended during my last then enjoyed, it was easy standards of behavior,
primitive transfer camps
year in Lubianka. The to float freely and their own set of values.
and stockades, we were
bells in nearby Red euphorically into the Force and deception
subjected to conditions
Square had pealed future, ready to accept were the virtues they
that were deplorable—
excitedly, and the news whatever God might admired; if conscience
even subhuman— and
caused so much have prepared for me meant | anything at all, it
yet I was delighted
excitement and joy that there. But the future was was simply as a sign of
simply to be with people
one of the guards now the present and, as weakness. They had long
once again. To my
happily spread the word is always the case, it was since learned to despise
surprise, eager as I was
to the prisoners. It was a lot more unmanageable it and to live by their
for companionship and
one of the few times I and full of bustle than it own code. They were
conversation, I found it
learned anything about had seemed in the absolutely ruthless and
difficult at first to talk to
the outside world during abstract. Accordingly, without scruple.
others. I listened
those years. So now I my new spirit of interior Accordingly, they rode
curiously and avidly
craved information about resolve to search out and roughshod over the
while they talked, but
the war, about the understand and accept political prisoners with
spoke little myself. My
regime, about other God's will in every detail whom they came in
mind seemed to be on
prisoners, about the of every situation was contact; even the armed
some other track; it was
world at large. I was quickly put to a rude test guards were afraid to
hard for me sometimes
interfere with them horrifying and yet There was no avenue of political prisoner among
much or antagonize fascinating. For the first recourse, except to them. As soon as I was
them. time I palpably become as evil and shoved into the
experienced the power of perverted yourself and compartment by the
They did not hesitate to evil and how completely retaliate in kind. Some guards, I was completely
kill on the slightest it could overshadow the political prisoners did at their mercy. They took
provocation. Physical power of good. Good resort to this when their my extra clothes, which
violence for them was men, under the numbers permitted. But they then bartered with
simply the way to circumstances, were the underworld's the guards for more food
acquire mastery over and simply no match for domination of this prison —for themselves alone.
inspire fear in others. those who would lie, universe is rooted in They openly dared me to
Among themselves, there steal, bully, beat, curse, terror, and it has both a make a remark or do
was a certain hierarchy or even kill without long memory and an anything about it. When
based on strength and scruple. A man would organizational code that I glared at the leader of
toughness and mindless have to give up makes it possible to the group in silent anger,
cruelty. But they were everything that was best retaliate with terror at he cursed me, told me he
united against all in him, descend to the another time and in some didn't like the way I was
"others"; they stuck level of animal instinct other place. Later in the looking at him, and
together, they shared an and passion and hate, in camps, for example, I threatened to have his
attitude of despising order to compete with saw thugs walk into a companions beat me into
anyone who was not one these men or respond in barracks, pull from his submission.
of them. They seemed kind. And even then he bunk a political prisoner
particularly to resent and would be no match for who, with his friends, It was a rough
pick upon the political them in raw physical had beaten up a criminal reintroduction to the real
prisoners. They would violence or brutality. For who was bullying them world. I experienced
call them traitors, and these men were held earlier in another camp, physical fear, interior
felt thereby somehow back by nothing, they felt and stomp him to death anger, and a certain
justified in looking down no restraint, they had while the rest of the men amount of spiritual
on them. And because grown accustomed to a in the barracks stood confusion. This was the
the politicals were jungle where the stunned and silent. The situation, these were the
largely educated men, or strongest and most underworld boasted of people, I kept trying to
former party men, they savage ruled and the its ability to revenge its tell myself, that formed
castigated them as "tools weaker managed to own, and it was because the will of God for me
of the NKVD". All this, in survive by unprincipled of the fear such threats of today. I was not amused
their own code, gave cunning. And what they retaliation engendered by these rather rueful
them some sort of right did, they did openly. that its reign went reflections, but I was
to dominate and They were secure and largely unchallenged. confused. Unable for the
brutalize the political unchallenged in the moment even to pray or
prisoners. They took world they inhabited, a I had seen some of this in recollect myself, I sat in a
from them, as a matter of world with its own codes the prison at Perm. I had corner of the prison-car
course and without and rules and values as experienced hardly any compartment and
question, whatever they absolute as any "code of of it for the last five years watched anxiously what
wanted in the way of morality" ever devised. in Lubianka, because of went on about me.
food or clothing. Any Yet totally perverted. the solitary nature of
attempt at resistance or confinement there and I thought about the
opposition was met by What was more, they because the vast majority necessities of life. It
physical violence. Might simply took for granted of those confined at suddenly occurred to me
made right. Beatings their domination of other Lubianka were political how little I had ever had
were administered prisoners, as if they were prisoners. But now I was to worry about such
without mercy or destined from all eternity rudely reintroduced to it. things in the past. Even
compunction. to rule over the universe On the prison train that in prison, such things as
of the prisons and prison took me out of Moscow, I food, shelter, and
The criminal world, the camps by some divine was confined in a clothing— poor as they
criminal mind, was right. It was the compartment with might have been—had
something entirely new arrogance of evil that twenty thieves and been provided for me. In
to me. It was at once made it so frightening. criminals. I was the only a sense, in the words of

the Gospel, I had not had I felt out of place with banded together in a raising the doubts, that I
to worry what I was them, like an alien or an world of their own out of had promised not to ask
going to eat or drink or outcast. I was shocked by the same basic drive for in abandoning myself to
wear or where I would their language, with its friendship and for the will of God. And I
sleep —all this had been routine use of comradeship (even if in realized, too, that it's one
given to me in some blasphemy, but that was crime) that all men feel, thing to give up such
fashion during my nothing compared to the out of the same need for doubts and questions in
religious life or in the gulf between their whole a sense of belonging and a moment of grace and
work camps or prisons of view of life and mine. We of security, out of the inspiration and spiritual
the Soviet Union—I had had almost nothing in same need to share a insight, but another thing
only to worry about the common, except perhaps common goal and set of to prevent them from
kingdom of God and his our human instinct for values— though for arising spontaneously
justice! Now, as I survival, an instinct that them this often meant when the harsh and
watched the thieves and was causing me at the revenge upon society. rough circumstances of a
criminals providing for moment to tremble a Understanding all this in moment of daily life
themselves in a universe little. For the rest, they later years never led me drives from the mind
with its own set of scorned every value I to accept or condone everything except
standards and "justice", I esteemed. What I their actions in any way, thoughts of here and
began to wonder about considered virtues, for but I did learn to pity now. So I did not feel
my own survival. The them were simply signs them as human beings ashamed of such doubts
children of this world, of weakness; in their even as I feared them for and questions; I simply
surely, were wiser than code of morality, what they were and what recognized them for
the children of light. everything I had they might do. For the what they were and tried
How would I survive considered a sin was moment, however, in this to recollect myself to
among them? For them, looked upon as a virtue. prison car, all I knew was recapture my commit-
nothing existed beyond They were atheists, the fear; all I could see ment to God's will even
this material world and materialists, oppor- now was the worst side under these
this moment. They tunists, and absolutely of these men, and I sat circumstances.
survived because they unscrupulous. thinking apprehensively
had learned how to of my future among I did not know how I
survive. They were As I lived with men like them. What would the would react in the world
masters of the art of these during the long men I would meet in the into which I had been so
survival. Outside the years in the prison prison camps toward rudely thrust and in
bounds of civilized camps, I slowly learned which I was heading be which my future life
behavior or conscience, that such initial like? Would they be like would be lived for as far
they preyed upon impressions were not these professional forward as I could see. I
anyone weaker than altogether accurate. Little criminals? Would they only knew that it would
themselves and revenged by little, I came to have adopted the values be my life and that it was
themselves upon society understand that and the attitudes of these the life God wanted me
by crimes of violence and underneath their violent prisoners in order to get to live. I was to be a
theft. In their view, exterior and twisted along in the world of the laborer in a vineyard in
society owed them moral code these prison camps and to which the laborers might
something. So they took criminals were men, too; survive? If so, where be very few indeed. The
it. It was as simple as men driven by fear, would I fit in? Would I, harvest, however, would
that. perhaps more so than too, have to adopt the not depend on me but
most men, but still men wisdom of the children upon God's providence,
In all this, I could not nonetheless. Like all men of this world in order to even as had the sowing
help but think how they had had their share get enough food and of the seed. I did not
different their outlook on of hopes once; like all clothing to survive in the really know what God
life and their beliefs were men they could be world of the slave labor might expect of me in all
from my own. It was not haunted still by camps? Would I be able details, nor did I know
a thought that sprang out memories—of family, of to take care of myself? how much I could expect
of any notion of how loved ones, of better of myself. But that was
much better I was, how times now lost, of I realized almost precisely why I had
superior I was to them. opportunities missed. In immediately that I was resolved to accept all
Just the opposite, in fact. a sense, they were men asking the questions, things, come what may,

as from his hands. priesthood demanded of It was the peace, once existence is played by
me, as it demanded of again, that total that clay into which God
I thought again of that every Christian. abandonment to God's first breathed the breath
text: "The children of this will brings. Only this of life. "Man is a creature
world are wiser than the The children of this time I was not in the composed of body and
children of light." It world were dedicated to quiet confines of a soul." We have recited
seemed a peculiar thing surviving this life by solitary cell in Lubianka, that truth from the day
to keep running through whatever method I was in the corner of a we first learned our
my mind, and yet a possible. I, too, must be rough, jolting, profane catechism. But until the
strange and exciting totally dedicated, but prison car. My situation body fails us, or pains us,
challenge for a priest- with an added had not improved, but or forces itself upon our
apostle on a prison train dimension. I must not my disposition in the attention by some little
heading for the labor seek to avoid hardships acceptance of God's will twinge or complete
camps. The challenge or to soften their impact. had returned. Along collapse, we tend to take
seemed plain. Could my I must see in them the with it had come peace for granted this first and
sacrifice, could my total will of God and through and a renewed most precious of God's
dedication, could my them work out my confidence—not in my gifts to man or to give it
stamina in doing the will salvation. Otherwise, I own ability to survive, short shrift.
of God be less than that would be acting rather as but a total trust and
of the children of this a child of this world than confidence in God's My second day in the
world? They knew that a child of light. I would ability to sustain me and labor camps was one of
in order to survive a long be acting not out of faith provide me with those days. The first day
sentence a man had to but as a fatalist. I would whatever strength I was bad enough. I had
face and conquer one have survived a series of needed to meet the chal- been put to work
day at a time. Had I not moments, a succession of lenges he would send shoveling coal in the
resolved to see each day, days, but I would have me. What greater peace hold of a ship. The pace
one day at a time, as a made nothing of them and confidence could I was furious. All during
gift of God within whose nor of myself. I resolved require? I even looked the long winter months
confines I was to again, therefore, to forward to laboring when the waters were
accomplish his will? The accept each day and again in his vineyard. frozen, coal was stored
prisoners survived by every moment as from on the banks of the
taking life as it came, God's hands, and to offer Yenisei River at the arctic
rolling with the punches, it back to him as best I port of Dudinka. During
hoping only to survive could. I would not
Chapter Nine the relatively short time
each day as it happened, merely passively survive, THE each year when the ice
one day at a time. Surely like the children of this melted and the river was
my motivation ought to world, but with his help navigable, all that coal
help me see beyond that. and his grace I would "The spirit indeed is had to be loaded on
Each day to me should actively participate—and willing but the flesh is ships and moved out. So
be more than an obstacle I would survive. I never weak." How often during the prisoners at the
to be gotten over, a span doubted that, because I the long years in the Dudinka Camps were
of time to be endured, a did not fear non- labor camps did I think driven without rest,
sequence of hours to be survival. Death would of that Scripture text, twelve to fifteen hours a
survived. For me, each simply be a call to return sometimes in a spirit of day in the long arctic
day came forth from the to the God I served each gentle irony but mostly summer daylight. It was
hand of God newly day. My life was to do in the agony of piercing brutal work to begin
created and alive with the will of God, as the bodily pain or the with, but I had done no
opportunities to do his prayer our Savior taught despair of total work at all for more than
will. For me, each day us put it quite simply, exhaustion. And how five years. I was
was a series of moments "On earth as in heaven." often during those years physically in no
and incidents to be His will would did I think of how much condition to work. But I
offered back to God, to determine how long I the body means to man, was marched down to
be consecrated and would spend on earth. how essential its well- the hold of the ship,
returned in total being is to his well-being, given a shovel, and told
dedication to his will. how prominent a part in to spread the coal as it
In such thoughts and
That was what my every activity of human came cascading down a
prayers, peace returned.

conveyor belt, so that it Siberian labor camps. just enough shelter from the "indomitable human
would be loaded evenly. There was no gradual the piercing winds to spirit" as that which
breaking-in period. After make survival possible, carries man through
I worked until I was almost five years of nothing more. The food crises like this, but the
ready to drop—which constant inactivity in ration was just barely body surely merits more
was rather soon because prison, we arrived in the enough to sustain life attention than it usually
of my condition—and camp one afternoon and and provide the energy gets. Not the trained,
then had to go on began a full day's work needed to work. There beautifully conditioned
working for fear of my the next morning. From was a "guarantee ration", body of the athlete, but
life. There was no way I then on, unless totally which was enough to the weak, underfed and
could stop the conveyor incapacitated by illness keep you alive; but as an ordinary body with
belt, and if I stopped or relieved by some other added incentive, there which we are all
shoveling, I would have miracle, we worked with were "plus one", "plus endowed. It was under
been buried by the hardly a day off. It was two", and "plus three" the daily regimen of
roaring coal. So I had to the reason we had been coupons for extra rations work to exhaustion in
keep moving, stumbling sent to these particular of food given to those the camps, under the
and slipping over the camps in the far north. At who overfulfilled their constant torture of
shifting coal as the hold the transfer camps along quota of work each day. hunger and cold,
filled up, working the the route from Moscow, That incentive plan, through hurt and pain,
shovel as best I could the sick and the fragile deliberately or not, could distress and disease,
even after my arms and had been screened out. work in reverse upon the weariness beyond
chest grew numb and I There were no prisoners physically. If comprehension and
had no sensation at all in humanitarian motives you failed for several endurance beyond belief,
the mechanical motions I behind such medical days to fulfill your quota, that I came truly to
made. When I collapsed exams, but a policy for example, and were understand and
on the plank bunk of the rather of the sheerest given only the guarantee appreciate the catechism
prison camp that night, expediency. Siberia, the rations, the weaker you truth that man is a
every muscle and sinew government had became and the harder it creature composed of
in my arms and legs, my decreed, was to be was to fulfill your quota body and soul.
chest and back, felt industrialized; work in the next day. It was a
completely unstrung. that frozen country was a vicious circle. Yet men There is a strain in
nightmare; despite grand survived. Christian asceticism that
government promises tends to despise the
The morning of the
and big bonuses, there That we survived, under body, that looks upon it
second day, when the
were few volunteers; the circumstances, is a as the corruptible part of
signal to rise rang out at
manpower had to be tribute to the man and the source of
5 A.M., every muscle in supplied and the stubbornness and power corruption. Because the
my body had stiffened prisoners provided it. It of the human will soul is immortal and the
like twisted wrought was not worthwhile, driving the body beyond body is corruptible,
iron. It was agony even though, to transport and what a man thought he Eastern mystics
to attempt to get up. The feed a prisoner unless he could endure, and a especially tended to look
tiniest movement was could work. If detention tribute as well to the upon the body as a
like a scream of pain. were the only purpose to marvelous work of God's dumb beast that must be
Swinging my legs over be served, there were creation that is the beaten into submission
the side of the bunk was plenty of prisons where human body. No like a stubborn ass. "The
torture; standing up was the sick and the weak machine ever devised by spirit indeed is willing"
a near impossibility. and the exhausted could man could have to serve God and seek
How would I ever march be detained. So those withstood, day in and perfection, but "the flesh
down to the ship, let who were sent to the day out, the constant, is weak", is lazy and
alone shovel coal for frozen wastes of Siberia punishing grind of work slothful, is prone to
another fifteen hours were expected to work. in the severest kind of concupiscence and sin,
straight? It couldn't be J And work we did. weather that the human seeks its own pleasures
done. It was physically
body proved itself able to and distracts the soul
impossible. But I did it.
Living conditions in the withstand in the Siberian from seeking God alone.
camps were intolerable. slave labor camps. It is So the early fathers of the
That was my The barracks provided customary to speak of Eastern desert, for
introduction to the
example, sought to determination a man the world and to myself comfort. We excuse our
subdue the body by might have. It was the how tough I was. Yet it snappish, petty, ill-
extravagant penances body that felt the sting of was only now, when mannered conduct to
and excessive fasts in the wind, the bite of the each day ended with one another on the
order to attain mastery cold, the cramp of aching exhaustion and the body grounds that the body is
over the weaknesses of muscles, the raw lash of cried out for every extra having a bad day. We are
the flesh and so free the cracked and bleeding minute of rest, every constantly, day in and
soul from any tendency flesh, the gnawing agony little respite from work, day out, hour after hour,
to give in to the cravings of hunger in the belly, every extra crumb of under the influence of
of this sinful mortal the soreness and food, that I really came these mysterious
nature. This tendency to numbness of overtaxed to appreciate the workings of soul on
look on human nature, sinews. Frostbite and marvelous gift of life body and body on soul.
especially so-called stomach rumblings, God had given man in
"fallen human nature", as swollen feet, running the resources of the Theologians have written
ignoble and debased, eyes, chapped lips and human body. much about the
sinful and therefore battered knuckles, Incarnation as the central
contemptible, in constant sprains and cramps, and The intimacy that exists act of our redemption,
need to be checked and aches and bruises—all between soul and body is the high point in the
controlled by the nobler these the body patiently a marvel of creation and drama of salvation
part of man, has endured through the a mystery of human history. Spiritual writers
remained in some form long, long days of labor existence. Yet we do can write endlessly about
or other a part of in the driving snow or wrong to think, because it, talking about
traditional Christian freezing rain or spring the soul will be judged redemption and salvific
spirituality. And I think muck of the Far North, after death while the acts, about a new
it is wrong. It is and yet somehow it body crumbles in the creation and the
Gnosticism and always managed to get grave, that this mortal restructuring of the
Manicheism and you through one more handful of dust is any social order, about
Catharism and day. It was the body that less a gift of God, any mankind being elevated
Albigensianism and underwent the suffering, less noble or beautiful and made once again
Jansenism and every felt the agony, and than the immortal soul. It whole and holy, about
heretical tendency that carried the heavy weight is in the body that we expiation and atonement
sees matter as evil and across its shoulders of exist and work out our and reconciliation of the
the flesh as prone to evil. this daily passion and salvation. It is in the fallen world with the
For whatever reason, it is slow death of inhuman body that we see and divine will, about the
always the poor old body work. I had always in take delight in the new Adam and the
that gets the worst of it, many ways taken the beauties of God's created kingdom of God and the
as if the mind and the body for granted. As a universe, and in the body life of the world to come.
will never had any sinful youth, I had played at that we ourselves bear What we tend to forget,
thoughts or inclinations, many sports and excelled the marks of Christ's though, is the very folksy
as if sin did not consist in some, like baseball passion. The mysterious truth that God by his
precisely in setting one's and boxing. I had been a interplay of body and Incarnation took on a
will (not the body) scrapper. I had always soul is an essential human body. We don't
against God's will. wanted to outdo characteristic of our often stop to reflect on
everyone, be the best, be human nature. If the the most basic meaning
What came to me in the the strongest. I could body is sick or sore, tired of this doctrine: that
prison camps was a take punishment and I or hungry or otherwise God, too, knows exactly
tremendous respect and could dish it out. During distressed, it affects the how it feels to be cold, or
love for the poor old my early years in spirit, affects our tired, or hungry, or sore
body. It was the body religious life, I had even judgment, changes our with pain, because he,
that bore the brunt of all tried to outdo the personality. So slight a too, has had a body. He
suffering, though the legends of the saints in thing as a headache can has spent long hours, for
soul might well fastings and penances of affect our relations with years at a time, doing the
experience anguish. And every sort. But I did it those around us. It is routine and
it was the body that had not so much to punish through the body that we unspectacular work of a
to sustain you, for all the the body or attain express and experience carpenter, has walked
strength of will and perfection, as to prove to love and kindness and long days over dusty

roads with tired feet, has pronounced it in the first up each morning and and to dust you shall
curled his shoulders days of creation? I think going to bed exhausted. return." Traditionally,
against the night air or a so. And through it he It means the routine, not man has looked upon
chill rain, has been achieved our the spectacular. It can that divine injunction as
without sleep while redemption. By mean drudgery, pain, a curse and upon work
others slept, has been redeeming us, he did not putting aside pleasures, as a punishment for sin.
thirsty and hot and thereby free us from our happiness, or the love Many a man, surely, has
weary and ready to drop suffering or our pains or the human heart craves looked upon work itself
from exhaustion. our sorrows. Just as his until another time, so as a curse, a necessary
resurrection is our that what is necessary at evil—especially the
Christ must have known victory and our triumph the moment can be done. boring, day-to-day labor
what it is like to wake up over death but does not It means working for of a routine job. He does
stiff and sore on a dull, mean we do not have to others, touching the lives it because by it he earns a
gray morning, must have die, so his passion has of others, through the living, feeds his family,
had headaches and redeemed our suffering medium of the body. provides for their
toothaches and but does not mean we do How many times, tired welfare and their future
backaches and aching not have to suffer or feel and worn out and near and his own security
bones, must have been pain. Yet his example has collapse from the slave against old age. But he
anxious and annoyed taught us how to look labor conditions of the does not have to enjoy it,
and irritated at times. In upon our suffering in a camps, did I think I and by and large he does
the Incarnation God new way and so to look could not ask another not. And if ever there
came to know for himself upon our body in a new step of the body, did I was a man for whom
what a thing is the life of light. Redemption, think in pain and irony work was a curse and a
man, what a work of his salvation for every of those words "The burden without any
hands is this creature individual, consists in spirit indeed is willing redeeming features, it
composed of body and doing the will of God, no but the flesh is weak"? must be the worker in a
soul. From the dark of more and no less; Truly, man is a creature slave labor camp.
the womb to the black of "Father," said Christ at composed of body and
the tomb, through the moment of his soul, and we work out For him, Lenin's dictum
childhood to manhood supreme agony in the our salvation in this vale "who does not work does
and the last, slow long- garden, "not my will but of tears through the not eat" is maintained in
drawn-out agony of thine be done." Yet God medium of the flesh. It is its severest form. Every
dying, he has known for will not, has not, asked the first gift God and our labor to which he is
himself what it means to us to bear any more than parents fashion for us; it driven has been assigned
live in a handful of clay, he himself has borne in sustains and supports us a quota. If he fulfills that
to feel the cool touch of his Incarnation and through a long life and quota, he eats. If he does
mother's hand on suffering and death, nor makes possible both joys not, he receives just
fevered flesh, to taste the to experience anything and sorrows; and when enough rations to keep
salt of sweat and tears, to he himself did not at last we are parted him alive. And the quota
hear music and birdsong experience. from it in death, it surely itself is constantly
and the vilest of insults, deserves whatever rest it adjusted. If a prisoner
to stumble and fall, be For each of us, salvation can get before it rises to fulfills it every day, the
bruised and mangled means no more and no be glorified at the last quota is soon increased.
and torn. He cried out at less than taking up daily judgment. And if he overfulfills it,
last, as have all of us at the same cross of Christ, in the hope of getting a
one time or another, to accepting each day what "plus one" or "plus two"
be spared any more it brings as the will of ration, then the amount
burdens or suffering. The God, offering back to
Chapter Ten of work he did in
Incarnation, in short, God each morning all the WORK overfulfilling that daily
meant that God became joys, works, and quota becomes his new
"In the sweat of your
man, like us in all things, sufferings of that day. daily quota. If he wants
brow," God said to
says St. Paul, except sin. But those are abstract more food after that, he
Adam in the Garden,
words. What it means, in must overfulfil this new
"you shall eat your bread
Through it all did God practice, is spelled out as quota. For men driven to
till you return to the
find that the body of man always by the poor old work by hunger, and
ground, for out of it you
was good, as he had body. It means getting weak enough from
are taken; you are dust,
starvation, this last turn had to work to get the frozen Siberian crust. be it a clean-up
of the screw is the enough food to live on, In fact, the men in the campaign for the
crudest game of all. to survive, made them labor camps took a subways or highways or
report dumbly and certain delight in being public recreation centers,
I had plenty of chance to mechanically each able to sabotage the be it the unloading of
reflect on the nature of morning for the labor work whenever they freight cars or some
work and the reasons for brigades and march off could. And even if the other work requiring
work during my years in across the arctic wastes, brigadiers watched them heavy physical exertion.
the prison camps of arms locked behind their closely, even if they were The project matters little,
Siberia— whether it was backs, to face another forced to fulfill a certain and men of all
work on the docks, or in day's quota of work. The quota of work in order to professions participate in
the mines, work out in urge to survive was what eat, they still did their the communal effort.
the unsheltered frozen made them do it, the best to make sure the Doctors, lawyers,
tundra building a new thought of survival was work was sloppily done. engineers, professors,
prison camp from all they had to live for Far from taking any teachers, factory
scratch, or work on the and all they lived by. pride in their work, they workers, office clerks,
construction of new They did as much work found in it a way to schoolchildren,
plants to meet the Soviet as they had to in order to revenge themselves on housewives— all freely
Government's five-year survive, and avoided as those who had set them lend a working hand on
"industrialization" much work as they could to do it. such occasions.
quotas for the Far North. possibly avoid and still
We worked because we manage to survive. The Not for them the spirit of Nobody refuses, nobody
had to work in order to work was not important, the Komsomols, or the feels in the least belittled
eat, to live, to survive. To but the food was; and Young Pioneers, or the by participating in such
work was the purpose of even the food was Stakhanovites, or the organized work drives.
our having been important only because Shock Troops of Instead, each feels
deported to these camps, without it a man could Communist Labor. Not content and even
there was no other not survive for long. for them even the simple somewhat proud to do
reason for our existence. What was important was spirit of the ordinary his bit for the creation of
There were millions of to get through the day. communist worker, a better society. Yes, a lot
us, and it did not really At the end of each work convinced by constant of the talk on such
matter to those in charge shift, a man counted the propaganda that hard occasions is simply
of the camps who lived remaining days of his work is a virtue of "the rhetoric and lip service;
and who died; they long term and thanked new Soviet man". Such but a lot of it is not.
could not be bothered God that one more day preaching—in the There is a pride that the
feeding unproductive had passed. schools, in the ordinary Soviet citizen
mouths. We had been newspapers, on radio feels in being part of a
sentenced as enemies of There was nothing and TV, in factories and society that has made
the state; if our work ennobling about work in on billboards—makes no tremendous gains—
helped to build up the the slave labor camps. distinction between industrially,
state, it might be Except for the need to citizens. It demands the economically,
considered reparation work enough to get self-same sacrifice from educationally,
and we would eventually enough food to survive, the educated and the scientifically, socially,
be freed; if not, then the individual prisoner non-educated, the blue and perhaps culturally—
good riddance. felt no sense of purpose collar worker and the in the past generation, a
in the work, experienced intellectual, the peasant nation that has risen
Work was surely a curse no sense of and the city dweller. from the ashes and the
under these conditions. accomplishment. He did Everyone is expected to rubble of war to become
The prisoners hated not share in the official "volunteer" at certain one of the two
work, they hated the desire to industrialize the times for work that has recognized world
officials who made them Far North, to set new to be done, be it physical superpowers. Of course
work, and they hated the records of Soviet labor in the fields of a people will grumble and
government that had achievement, to tame the collective farm, be it the grouse about the price
condemned them to wilderness and tap the work of cleaning city they have had to pay,
these cruel occupations. wealth of natural streets of snow or about the lack of
Only the fact that they resources that lie beneath sweeping the city parks, consumer goods, about

the years of hardship and not the buildings, not the strength the heavy thought, "just a strong
sacrifice. Yet by the same tamed wilderness, not construction materials, back and a weak mind",
token they can be, and the construction they left crawling in the damp, as we used to say.
are, proud of the behind, but the fact that dark holes of new mines,
sacrifices they have they had survived to where death was always And yet I did take pride
made, and so can take walk away from it. one careless step or an in it. I did each job as
credit thereby for the accident away. best I could. I worked to
society that has been In all the years I served the limit of my strength
built by their sacrifices. in the Siberian camps, So I came, during all each day and did as
with few exceptions, I those years, to know much as my health and
There was none of that was assigned to the work at its worst—at its endurance under the
spirit among the lowest work and the most brutal, its most circumstances made
prisoners of the Siberian roughest brigades. That degrading, its most possible. Why? Because I
camps, even though we was my lot because of dehumanizing worst. saw this work as the will
did manage in the years I the charges on which I And I reflected a lot of God for me. I didn't
spent there to build had been convicted. about it, as I said; I build a new city in
whole towns, construct Moreover, the camps thought a lot about it and Siberia because Joseph
huge factory complexes, gave me an opportunity I prayed much over it. Stalin or Nikita
open up and work new to work again in some What was work to me Khruschchev wanted it,
mines, and complete all fashion as a priest, and I during those years, if not but because God wanted
the facilities necessary to took full advantage of it. a punishment, if not a it. The labor I did was
turn a frozen, barren The camp officials knew curse? Truly, "in the not a punishment, but a
wilderness into a all about such activities sweat of my brow did I way of working out my
functioning and through informers, and eat my bread", and little salvation in fear and
productive center of insisted that I stop. When enough bread at that. trembling. Work was not
industry. And we did it I refused, when I contin- What was there a curse, even the brutish
while living in the most ued to minister to my ennobling about my grunt work I was doing,
primitive conditions, fed fellow prisoners, I was work? I didn't even have but a way to God—and
at starvation levels, punished by being the satisfaction a father perhaps even a way to
without any but the most assigned to rough and mother can feel, help others to God. I
essential tools. We did it brigades, to the hardest worn out by work as could not, therefore, look
by forced labor, brute types of labor, to extra they may be, in having upon this work as
strength, and sheer heavy duty that would provided food and a degrading; it was
weight of numbers. We drive me to near modicum of comfort for ennobling, for it came to
did it not out of any exhaustion and leave me their family. I couldn't me from the hand of God
sense of challenge or little time or energy to feel the sense of himself. It was his will
pioneering, but as a function as a priest. No challenge, of self- for me.
punishment and because efforts of influential sacrifice, of patriotism a
we had to work if we friends or sympathizers Soviet citizen might feel My fellow prisoners, of
wanted to go on living. ever succeeded in getting who had volunteered to course, were quick to ask
But we did it. The me transferred to a better work for a year or two in me if I was crazy. They
industrialization of the brigade, except on rare the "virgin lands", could understand a man
Far North is now a occasions and for short leaving behind a family working to overfulfill a
reality, thanks to the periods of time. Through and all that was dear to quota if it meant more
convict labor of literally all the years in Siberia, him to travel to the arctic food, but not out of a
millions of men. Yet the my fortune was to in order to help build a sense of pride or
only sense of satisfaction belong to the lowest factory, open a new accomplishment. My
these driven, hungry, brigades doing the mine, or complete a strength and my limited
exhausted men ever had dirtiest work, digging housing project. And endurance after years in
in all those terrible labors foundations by hand, even my work itself prison rarely made it
was the satisfaction each carving out with pick offered little in which I possible for me to do
individual took in and shovel through the could take pride or much more than make
surviving just one more frozen ground long satisfaction: it was the my daily quota, not
day. And for those who sewer trenches, loading lowest, the commonest, overfulfill it, so they
survived to the end, that and unloading with my the roughest labor, could not understand
was their achievement— bare hands and brute requiring no skill or why I drove myself so

hard and did my best that respect from any week out, for some did. And he did it for a
each day. They asked me work any man anywhere twenty years. He did the reason. He did it for
how I could possibly might undertake. But work all of us have to do years on end, he did it
cooperate with the there was more to it than in our lifetimes. There for more than three
wishes of the that; there was the was nothing spectacular quarters of his life on
government, why I realization that work of about it, there was much earth, to convince us that
always did my best itself is not a curse but a of the routine about it, God has not asked of us
instead of sabotaging the sharing in God's own perhaps much that was anything more tedious,
work, how I could help work of creation, a boring. There is little we more tiring, more routine
to build a new society for redemptive and can say about the jobs we and humdrum, more
the communists, who redeeming act, noble of do or have done that unspectacular than God
rejected God and itself and worthy of the could not be said of the himself has done. He did
despised everything I best in man—even as it work God himself did it to make it plain that
stood for. Christian was worthy of God when he became a man. the plainest and dullest
prisoners, indeed, even himself. of jobs is—or at any rate
asked me if it were not Yet he did not think it can be, if viewed
sinful to cooperate with, There is a tremendous demeaning, beneath his properly in respect to
or at least give the truth contained in the dignity, dehumanizing. God and to eternity—a
appearance of realization that when If anything, he restored sharing in the divine
cooperating with, God became man he to man's work its work of creation and
communism. became a workingman. original dignity, its redemption, a daily
Not a king, not a essential function as a opportunity to cooperate
I tried to explain that the chieftain, not a warrior share in God's creative with God in the central
pride I took in my work or a statesman or a great act. Once again God acts of his covenant of
differed from the pride a leader of nations, as worked, and on the salvation.
communist might take in some had thought the seventh day he rested.
building up the new Messiah would be. The For our Lord, though, it For me as a priest, the
society. The difference Gospels show us Christ was not merely a thought of Christ the
lay in the motivation. As the teacher, the healer, symbolic action like that carpenter, Christ the
a Christian, I could share the wonder-worker, but of the politician who workingman, was
in their concern for these activities of his sweeps one section of a motivation enough. I
building a better world. I public life were the work sidewalk to launch a could work again as a
could work as hard as of three short cleanup campaign or priest, now, in the camps
they for the common turns the first spadeful of —but that was not the
good. The people who years. For all the rest of earth at a ground- only work God had sent
would benefit from my the time of his life on breaking ceremony. He me to do. "I have given
labors would be just that: earth, God was a village worked day in and day you an example", he said
people. Human beings. carpenter and the son of out for some twenty to his disciples at the
Families in need of a carpenter. He did not years to set us an Last Supper, "that as I
shelter against the arctic fashion benches or tables example, to show us that have ministered to you
weather of Norilsk, or or beds or roof beams or these routine chores, too, so also you must
people in far-off places plowbeams by means of are not beneath man's minister to one another".
elsewhere who would miracles, but by hammer dignity or even God's My ministry did not con-
have a better life because and saw, by ax and adz. dignity, that simple sist solely in teaching, in
of the natural resources I He worked long hours to household tasks and the healing, in administering
had helped to liberate help his father, and then repetitious work of the the sacraments —no
from this frozen earth or became the support of wage earner are not more than his life on
because of the materials his widowed mother, by necessary evils but noble earth had consisted only
which the factories I the rough work of a hill and redemptive works of the three years of his
helped build would country craftsman. worthy of God himself. public life. I was set here
someday produce. I Nothing he worked on, Work cannot be a curse if in the midst of the labor
could justify, therefore, as far as we know, ever God himself undertook camps to work as he
my cooperation in this set any fashions or it; to eat one's bread in might have worked if he
work for the good of all became a collector's item. the sweat of one's brow had been here, to set the
mankind if it came to He worked in a shop is to do nothing more or example of work he
that; it differed little in every day, week in and less than Christ himself would set if he were in

my place. For I was God, the very same gift than that. They knew pressure the NKVD had
Christ in this prison he gave to the first man, priests had influence on used against them; it was
camp. And part of my Adam, when he created other people. From the a fact of life, and a man's
teaching had to be that him in his own image point of view of those in first duty was to survive.
work, all work, any and put him in the charge of the camps, So fellow prisoners
work, has a value in Garden of Eden to till it therefore, that made might feel sorry for the
itself. It has a value and keep it as the priests especially man or they might hold
insofar as it partakes in steward of the Lord. dangerous no matter him in contempt, but as a
the creative act of God. It what they were telling practical matter they
has a value insofar as it their fellow prisoners. simply avoided him or
partakes of God's Accordingly, priests talked about nothing
redemptive acts. It has a Chapter Eleven were called in regularly with him except the most
value in itself and a value THE for interviews by the ordinary things. In so
for others. NKVD security agents. I close-knit a society as the
PRIESTH had my share of such prison camp, it did not
Through it I worked out OOD interviews. One purpose take long for word to get
not only my own of the interviews was a around about who had
For all the hardships and
salvation—by accepting sort of constant joined the ranks of the
suffering endured there,
the situations of each day psychological warfare, a informers. They made it
the prison camps of
as from the hand of God form of harassment and easier for the other
Siberia held one great
and laboring so that I intimidation, a not so prisoners, in one sense,
consolation for me: I was
might offer them back to gentle reminder that but it also served the
able to function as a
him somehow improved such dangerous enemies authorities' purpose as
priest again. I was able to
by my efforts—but also of the Soviet people as well. It generated a
say Mass again, although
for the salvation of priests were constantly feeling of mistrust
in secret, to hear
others, at least by the under surveillance. among the prisoners; a
confessions, to baptize,
example I could set for man was really afraid to
to comfort the sick, and
them. Beyond that, I From time to time in confide in anyone unless
to minister to the dying. I
could offer up my labors, these interviews, the he knew him
was able to speak to
my hardships, as a security agents would exceptionally well. And
others about God and
redemptive act for others deliberately let it be that made it all the more
instruct them in the faith,
and as a means of known that much of the difficult for any sort of
to strengthen those
reparation and priests' activities were organization or
whose faith was weak, to
atonement for my own immediately known to conspiracy to come into
help and enlighten those
past failings as well as them through informers. being among the
who were believers in
theirs. In the cruel prisoners.
name only but who
circumstances of the wanted to be more, who The camps were full of
camps, where men had might have said with informers, everybody In the same way and for
lost all sense and that man in the Gospel, knew that. Prisoners who much the same reasons,
understanding of the "Lord, I believe; help my worked in the camp I'm sure the security
dignity of work, I as a unbelief." offices frequently agents let it be known
priest had to serve as suspected or even knew that informers were
another Christ. By the for a fact who the constantly watching
Of course all this could
way I went about my informers were and priests, so that a man
not be done too openly.
work, every day, every would tip off their would be very slow to
The authorities in the
hour, to the best of my friends not to have engage in religious
camps did more than
ability and the last ounce anything to do with such conversation with an
simply frown on such
of my strength, I had to men. Some informers ever widening circle of
priestly activities.
try to demonstrate again were beaten up in people he did not know
Officially, of course, they
in the wind and snow retaliation; I knew of well. Another purpose of
were against religion and
and wilderness of Siberia cases where they were these frequent security
had the power of the law
what Christ had demon- even killed. But by and interviews with priests
and the Soviet
strated through twenty large the prisoners took was to find out just what
Constitution, which
years of carpentry at it for granted that such the prisoners were
forbade proselytizing, on
Nazareth: that work is people had simply caved saying. If they were not
their side. But there was
not a curse but a gift of in under whatever talking to priests about
more to their opposition
religion, they must be privileges for some creation of mixed were personally. They
talking to them about reason or other, there brigades, where the didn't always come,
something besides the would quickly be prisoners shared little or either, expecting wise
weather. So the NKVD intervention by some no common interest. It counsel or spiritual
men would try to find higher official to prevent was the reason why wisdom or an answer to
out what was being said my actually receiving it. brigades were changed every difficulty; they
in the camp, who were Meanwhile, the frequently. And finally, it came expecting
the ringleaders of harassment and the was the reason why no absolution from their
various groups, what interviews went on. secret was made of the sins, the power of the
was said privately in the use of informers by the sacrament. To realize this
barracks, how the There was no doubt that security organs. At all was a matter of joy and
prisoners felt about the priests were singled out costs, they had to be able of humility. You realized
regime, the system, the in this regard. But a to isolate potential that they came to you as
future. I consistently system based on fear and troublemakers or leaders a man of God, a
refused to cooperate in intimidation, as the of any sort. And it was representative of God, a
any such line of prison camps were, because of this potential man chosen from among
questioning; I had had a could not confine itself for leadership among the men and ordained for
bellyful of cooperation just to this religious nationality or religious men in the things that
with the NKVD in minority. Camp officials groups that they singled are of God; you realized,
Lubianka. More than were deathly afraid of out priests for too, that this imposed
that, I felt I had to be and constantly on guard surveillance as much as upon you an obligation
extremely careful about against little for any reasons of of service, of ministry,
giving even the external insurrections or revolts atheistic propaganda or with no thought of
appearance of among the prisoners. anti-religious personal inconvenience,
cooperating, lest there be They went to great persecution. no matter how tired you
any suspicion among the lengths to break up might be physically or
prisoners about placing nationality groups Nevertheless, the what risks you might be
the seal of confession in among the prisoners, or amazing thing to me was running in the face of
jeopardy. Of course there language groups, or even how little all these official threats. For my
was never any question people from the same security measures part, I could not help but
about that in my mind, town or other common affected a priest's see in every encounter
but I had to be especially background, i.e., those relations with other with every prisoner the
careful so no one else who had been to prisoners. The moment will of God for me, now,
would have such doubts universities or were he appeared on the camp at this time and in this
either. former party members. grounds by himself or place, and the hand of
Since the prison camps of with a fellow priest, he providence that had
I was punished for my the arctic circle, however, would be joined by brought me here by
lack of cooperation in included men from all passing prisoners. The strange and torturous
these sessions in many nationalities in the Soviet moment it became paths.
ways. I was assigned to Union and many men known in a new brigade
the lowest work brigades with common or a new barracks or a It was not always a
and even to the penal backgrounds such as the new camp that a man matter of preaching God
brigades, so that it would army, the university, or was a priest, he would be and religion. It was
be impossible for me to the party, it was sought out. He didn't enough at times simply
build up an apostolic impossible for the secu- have to make friends; to respect each of your
following. My brigades rity agents to prevent they came to him fellowmen in the camp,
were changed frequently, common interest groups instead. It was a very to do good to each no
my food rations were from forming or humbling experience, matter what he himself
cut. I was assigned to the associating with one because you quickly did or said, no matter
poorest barracks, another in non-working came to appreciate that it how he acted toward
allowed no privileges, hours. No doubt that was was God's grace at work you. Even the Christians
not even the ones I might one reason the working and had little to do with who came specifically to
have earned. And if the hours were stretched your own efforts. People seek advice needed
brigadier or the man in almost to the limits of came to you because you sympathy and moral
charge of the barracks human endurance. It was were a priest, not support more than they
put my name on a list of the reason for the because of what you needed a reminder of

their obligations or their purification I underwent something just to be with antagonistic and hostile.
failings. There was little in Lubianka so that I these men, and to see They and their followers
call to preach about sin could serve these them prove in word and were usually a close-knit
or damnation or hellfire tortured men, and I in deed their dedication group. They held regular
to men who experience thanked him, too, for the to God and to the flock prayer meetings, recited
daily the hell of mysterious workings of he entrusted to them day the Bible from memory,
loneliness and separation his providence that had after day. and instructed each other
and anxiety. A great deal brought me here. But to be faithful to Christ
of tolerance and a great above all I thanked him Not that all of them were while opposing anti-
deal of understanding for having chosen me to perfect. Indeed, there Christ—whether in the
were required of a priest be a priest and for the joy were even informers guise of communism or
if he wished to be he gave me now in being among the priests Catholicism. Perhaps
effective among these able to function as a themselves. We because they were so
unfortunate and almost priest again. sometimes knew it staunch and outspoken,
degraded human beings. because trusted prisoners or maybe simply because
Common sense and In every camp there were who worked in the they were such a close-
intuition, a feeling for the a number of priests. This, offices would tell us of knit group, the camp
finger of God's grace too, was a source of encounters they had officials were particularly
behind a question or a consolation to me. The seen. Sometimes these severe on the Baptists
conversation or an ones who had been there priests themselves would and did their best to
encounter, was much the longest were usually tell us privately how break up such groups. I
more necessary than the ones who had made they had been pressured was saddened and
textbook answers in the contacts necessary to into such cooperation, frequently puzzled at
theology. obtain what we needed and they begged our their attitude toward
for Mass. They were forgiveness. Strange as it other believers,
Before my own sad delighted to have may seem, these especially under the
experiences in Lubianka, another priest in the informers or suspected circumstances, yet one
where I finally came to camp, and quick to informers were never could not help but
understand that spread the word among excluded from our admire their dedication
everything depends on the prisoners. Such company. They shared in and the Christian witness
God and not on self in friendship was a joy in our Masses. We heard they gave to their beliefs.
matters spiritual, I had itself, but it also meant a their confessions and There were some who
always thought I had a chance to go to they heard ours; such felt that their relations
definite answer and an confession and the was the power of our with other Christians
explanation for all the sacraments again, to talk confidence in the seal of were not particularly
moral questions in every of spiritual things, to the confessional. And we Christlike or even
problem of conscience. share experiences. We could not bring ourselves charitable; yet if they
Having failed the test discussed together how to turn anyone away sincerely believed the
myself, however, having best to answer the from the grace to be Church somehow stood
learned God's truth the problems that the gained in the sacraments for anti-Christ, one could
hard way, I was able in prisoners brought to us, or in listening to the perhaps understand their
the camps to be of problems peculiar to a word of God. We all had fear of us and their
humble service to the prison camp and never our failings; each of us reactions. Certainly, in
men God sent my way covered in a course of knew only too well how all other ways they were
each day. We come to theology. We exhorted much we depended admirable; and they
know the workings of and encouraged one upon God and on his were never afraid to
the spirit in ourselves another, shared prayers grace. stand up for their faith,
slowly. How much more and short homilies. They to suffer for it, and so
slowly, then, do we may not have been the give testimony in their
Every camp also had a
begin to detect the most polished sermons, daily lives to their
number of Baptist
workings of that same but they were often religious beliefs.
ministers, but they
spirit in others? As I moving and most would rarely have
worked daily in the provocative because of anything to do with us. The same could be said
camps, I thanked God the circumstances under Most of them, in fact, of the few Orthodox
over and over again for which they were were fiercely anti- priests and monks I met
the awful period of delivered. It was Catholic, at times openly in the prison camps.

They were not very were wise in the ways of them, to be able again to sessions testifying to the
active, for the most part, the prison camp and the receive the sacraments. working of the Holy
but they seemed prison system; they They traditionally held a Spirit, no pomp, no
genuinely holy men. knew that priests were priest in great respect, splendor in our religious
They stayed away from the object of special and in the camps they services that could draw
controversy or even harassment by the did whatever they could the curious minds of the
much in the way of officials. Yet they saw to care for us, to shield ordinary worker to
public religious activity; these same priests refuse us, to make our participate, no religious
instead, they led a simple to become embittered, apostolate possible and pretense whatsoever, for
life of prayer and work. they saw them spend effective. They shared all our get-togethers for
In the barracks they kept themselves in helping with us the little extra the Eucharist or any
to themselves, rarely others, they saw them food they had. They spiritual services were
speaking to the other daily give of themselves stood on watch when we held in seclusion out of
prisoners. Some older beyond what was celebrated Mass, to warn fear of repression. The
prisoners, themselves required without us against the approach little that was done, the
Orthodox, visited them complaint, without of the guards or the simple way it was done
occasionally and spent thinking of themselves presence of informers. for God—be it a
some time with them in first, without regard for And they brought other clandestine Mass, a
private conversation, but their own comfort or prisoners to us. Not all of baptism, an office of the
they seemed to want to even safety. They saw them were the most dead, a sermon preached
avoid doing anything them make themselves exemplary Christians, of on the spur of the
that would call attention available to the sick and course, but they were moment, a sick call
to themselves or that to the sinning, even to believers. They might not made, a confession
would get them into those who had abused or always be able to explain heard, a mumbled word
trouble with camp despised them. If a priest the truths of the faith in a of advice or prayer while
authorities. Nevertheless, showed concern for such way to satisfy the walking about the camp
the other prisoners people, they would say, curiosity of those who or marching through the
showed respect for them, he must believe in had grown up in the snows to work,
left them alone, and something that makes Soviet system and heard everything done in a
wondered sometimes at him human and close to religion ridiculed or deep spirit of faith—was
their life of prayer. God at the same time. explained away in the the mission of the priest
This quality in a priest schools, but they were and the faithful alike in
The key word, in fact, of was what appealed most witnesses by their own the prison camps. On the
our priestly apostolate in to them. And it was this faith to the fact that faith one hand, the priest
the camps had to be the quality that led them to itself gave another never lost sight of his
word "witness". It was seek a new relationship dimension to life, that a own insignificance. As a
not so much a matter of with God by reconciling man could believe in laborer in this vineyard,
preaching God and themselves to his laws something beyond the he sensed the seeming
talking religion to the and to conscience. To material world and that impossibility of ever
men around you as it help prisoners return to a this belief gave meaning influencing in any
was a matter of living the belief in God they had and purpose to a life significant way the
faith that you yourself long abandoned or lived in circumstances masses of people living
professed. Many of them simply ignored for many that otherwise would be in a professedly atheistic
could not at first years was our greatest cause only for despair. It state. On the other hand,
understand a life joy and consolation. was through their belief, he could daily feel the
dedicated to God in however imperfectly power of God's grace,
work, in suffering, and in The Catholics of Polish, expressed, that others could trust completely in
sacrifice. But they began Ukrainian, Lithuanian, came to us to find out his divine providence.
by respecting it, and and Latvian descent more about a faith that His task, therefore, was
from that respect grew a were the primary objects could give such meaning to do what was asked of
sense of admiration and of our apostolate and the to their lives. him each day as perfectly
then of inquiry. It was nucleus of any prison as he could and leave the
not so much what you camp "parishes". They There were no startling rest to God.
said, but what you did, held steadfastly to the conversions, no miracles
how you lived, that faith and were overjoyed performed, no Being a priest also gave
influenced them. They to have a priest among sensational prayer new purpose and

meaning to the harsh are of God", says the Soviet Union, that God "Father, into your hands
labors and cruel ordination ceremony. wanted me there; and I commend my spirit",
sufferings men had to And the things that are whatever I did— and to trust that God
endure in order to of God are all the joys significant or not— would protect me as long
survive the labor camps and works and somehow confirmed my as I did my best in
in Siberia. In his role as sufferings of each day, belief, my confidence, in following his will. I
another Christ, as a however burdensome his will. The thought that never stopped to reflect,
mediator between God and boring, routine and I was doing his will, then, that those words of
and men, the priest could insignificant they may trying to fulfill whatever Christ had been uttered
offer up his suffering and seem. It is the priest's he demanded of me each in his final agony on the
his labors for his function to offer these day, gave me that cross, as a conclusion to
fellowmen. He could things back to God for confidence. No evil could his passion and his work
accept the works and his fellowmen and to touch me, ultimately, as on earth.
sufferings of each day serve as an example, a long as God was with
from God's hands and witness, a martyr, a me. How simple that Pain and suffering are
offer them back to God, testimony before the men sounds as I write it, even something we all prefer
not for himself alone but around him of God's as it seemed simple then. not to think about,
for all those around him providence and purpose. Yet it is no less true for something we would
who were struggling to After all the years of all its terrible simplicity, sooner avoid. I
keep the faith or had not isolation and loneliness just as all great truths remember that even as a
yet received the gift of in Lubianka, it was a joy somehow seem to come boy I used to hate
faith. It didn't make for me to be able to do out childishly or naively sermons or retreat talks
getting up in the that once again amid the simple when we try to about our Lord's passion.
morning to face another physical pain and state them in stock When teachers or retreat
day of rough and wind- suffering, the sorrow and formulas. Faith in God's masters would picture
whipped work any despair, of the prison reality and in his the agonies Christ
easier, or the work itself camps of arctic Siberia. providence, for example, underwent, I used to
any less exhausting, but is what underlies the shudder. It all seemed so
it added a dimension of catechism statement vivid and yet so useless;
expiation and sacrifice to "Man was created to there seemed to be no
our lives beyond the Chapter Twelve praise, reverence, and sense in it. The thought
sheer necessity of THE serve God and by this of pain repelled me,
survival and enduring means to save his soul." whether in the passion or
one more day. It gave APOSTOL Yet that is the great truth in life around me; life to
another sense of purpose ATE behind all human me was something much
and of dedication to the existence. too precious to distort by
My aim in entering
priesthood; it added a pain. So I wanted to hear
Russia was the same
sacramental element to At the beginning, too, I something else about the
from beginning to end:
the labor and the had only a vague passion other than the
to help people find God
sufferings of the day. It awareness of the pain pain, I looked for some
and attain eternal life.
made of every moment and suffering I would other significance to
How the work of saving
and of every effort a meet during my days in Christ's suffering. I think
souls would develop,
priestly work. For a the Soviet Union. If I first began to find it in
what form it would take,
priest is ordained to do anyone asked me the lumber camps of the
remained vague from the
more than simply whether I would be Ural Mountains with the
outset. Yet I was not
celebrate the Mass or willing to suffer and die pain and suffering, both
troubled by this
hear confessions, to for the faith, I would physical and spiritual, I
vagueness, for
console the sick and have said, "Yes", I encountered there.
underlying whatever
comfort the dying, to suppose. Such things are Because it was there that
shaky visions of the
offer words of easy to say when the I first began to
future I had then was the
consolation and spiritual threat is vague and faith understand pain and
certitude of faith and
wisdom to those in need. is strong. In all honesty, I suffering in the larger
complete confidence in
"Every priest is chosen never really gave much context of an apostolate.
the workings of divine
from among men and thought to the hardships
providence. I was always
ordained to minister to I would face in Russia. I
convinced, through Had I come to Russia
men in those things that found it easy to say,
twenty-three years in the because I wanted it? No,

I came because I was suffering on those who It was in the lumber interrogations. There
convinced God wanted follow him? The answer camps of the Ural were times then when I
me there. And my lies not in God's will but Mountains that the \ nearly lost sight of my
coming, my following of in the world in , which Polish and Jewish purpose in the agony of
the will of God, had we live and try to follow refugees with whom I self-doubt, the anguish I
meant sacrifices. It had his will. Christ's life and came to work first ! felt when tempted to
meant leaving behind suffering! were rebuked me for the way I believe I had been
my own country, the redemptive; his lived, for the abandoned by God.
Jesuits I had known and "apostolate" in the conscientious way I went Afterwards, in the
worked with, my family scheme of salvation was about my work. "What camps, it was easier once
and friends, and to restore the original are you working for?" more to put all the aches
everything that had been order and harmony in all they would ask. , "What and pains, the sufferings
familiar to me in the first creation that had been are you out to prove?" I and shortcomings and
thirty years of my life. In destroyed by sin. His knew they couldn't discouragements, into
a word, it had meant perfect obedience to the understand why I the context of the
breaking with all I had Father's will redeemed worked so hard, why I apostolate. It was then I
known and done before, man's first and should suffer hunger and could reflect on how
in order to adapt myself continuing disobedience hardship, working all unimportant my efforts
to an entirely new, to that will. "All day in a half-frozen river were in saving souls if
strange, difficult, and creation", said St. Paul, or out in a snow-covered conceived of apart from
strenuous life of "groans and labors up till forest, standing in line God's will. The thought
hardship in which to now," awaiting Christ's for hours to get extra that actions otherwise
carry on an apostolate. It redemptive efforts to bread, enduring sleepless worthless in themselves
is the same sacrifice restore the proper nights, putting up with could be somehow
demanded of and made relationship between inadequate housing and redemptive, could serve
by so many people: God and his creation. But tattered clothes. It meant the growth of his
missionaries, Christ's redemptive act nothing to them for me kingdom upon earth
servicemen, married did not of itself restore to speak of an apostolate, because they were
couples, young people all things; it simply made for me to say that I did it undertaken in obedience
leaving home for the first the work of redemption just to be with them, to to his will, and that such
time. Such sacrifice is the possible, it began our be available to them actions could even be the
first test of any vocation, redemption. Just as all under the urging of source of grace for
any calling to follow men share in the God's will. And yet that others, could share in
God's will. "In the head disobedience of Adam, was the truth of it. From Christ's work of meriting
of the book it is written so all men must share in a purely human grace for all—that
of me," the prophets had the obedience of Christ standpoint, my sojourn thought sustained me in
said of Christ, "I come to to the Father's will. in the Soviet Union could joy and drove me on to
do your will." That was Redemption will be \ have been considered the work ever harder to
to be the keynote of his complete only when all most stupid and achieve more perfect
life and of his vocation, men share his obedience. senseless action of my communion with God
as it is the keynote of So the world has not life. But I saw these and his will.
every Christian vocation, been changed overnight, hardships, this drab
and it was only in the and it is the world in reality, as an integral This simple truth, that
light of that faithfulness which we seek to follow part of my apostolate. I the sole purpose of man's
to the Father's will Christ's example that could not separate this life on earth is to do the
through sacrifice and afflicts us as it afflicted earthly reality from the will of God, contains in it
pain and suffering that him. It is not the Father, will of God, because the riches and resources
one should hear Christ's not God, who inflicts will of God has to be enough for a lifetime.
words on the cross, suffering upon us but worked out by each of us Once you have learned
"Father, into your hands rather the unredeemed here on earth. to live with it uppermost
I commend^ my spirit." world in which we must in mind, to see each day
labor to do his will, the The spiritual pain and and each day's activities
But why the passion? world in whose suffering, even more in its light, it becomes
Why pain and suffering? redemption we must than the physical pain more than a source of
Is God so vindictive that share. and suffering, increased eternal salvation; it
he must inflict pain and during my five years of becomes a source of joy

and happiness here on the Father. Such realities of life were for I was not a
earth. The notion that the suffering can only bring always at hand, always disembodied spirit.
human will, when united with it deep spiritual joy, demanding recognition, Hunger could distract
with the divine will, can for from it springs always demanding me, the interrogators
play a part in Christ's redemption and acceptance. I had could confuse me, a body
work of redeeming all salvation, the ultimate continuously to learn to aching in every joint and
mankind is victory over sin and accept God's will—not as worn down by a long
overpowering. The further suffering and I wished it to be, not as it arctic day of grueling
wonder of God's grace even death itself. By might have been, but as work could leave me
transforming worthless man's first disobedience, it actually was at the totally exhausted and
human actions into says St. Paul, sin entered moment. And it was very much discouraged.
efficient means for the world, and through through the struggle to It is much easier to see
spreading the kingdom sin, death. And only by do this that spiritual the redemptive role of
of God here on earth man's obedience, by growth and a greater pain and suffering in
astounds the mind and conformity to the will of appreciation of his will God's plan if you are not
humbles it to the utmost, God, will sin be took place. actually undergoing pain
yet brings a peace and eliminated and so and suffering. It was only
joy unknown to those suffering and death. Of course there were by struggling with such
who have never doubts, at one time there feelings, however, that
experienced it, Consoling as conformity was near despair. It was growth occurred. Each
unexplainable to those to the will of God may be not reason that sustained victory over discourage-
who will not believe. for the soul, as me then but faith. Only ment gave an increase in
productive of peace and by faith could I find God spiritual courage; every
In this subtle insight of joy as it may prove, it present in every success, however
the soul touched by cannot be gained simply circumstance, only by fleeting, in finding the
God's divine power lies for the asking. Nor, in faith could I penetrate hand of God behind all
the root of true interior my opinion, can a proper the mystery of his saving things, made it easier to
joy. And as long as this understanding of pain grace, not by questioning recapture the sense of his
vision persists, as long as and suffering be it in any way but by fully purpose in a new day of
the soul does not lose achieved without the cooperating with it in seemingly senseless
sight of this great truth, larger vision of salvation exactly the way he asked. work and hardship and
the inner joy and peace or the more immediate It was then, in differing suffering.
that follow upon it context of apostolate and measures and with
persist through even the of vocation. For my part, varying degrees of Day by day, I learned to
saddest and gravest at any rate, I learned it success, that the experience in some
moments of human trial only through the glimpses of his provi- measure the power of
and suffering. Pain and constant practice of dence ruling all things God as manifested in the
suffering do not thereby prayer, by trying to live would work to dispel the mystery of the passion.
cease to exist; the ache always in the presence of doubts and the fears that Pain and suffering
and anguish of body and God, by trying to see all were constantly on the comprised the sacrifice
soul do not vanish from things as a manifestation edges of the mind. So I needed in the passion for
man's consciousness. But of his divine will. It learned by trial and error saving souls. A similar
even they become a wasn't always easy, nor that if I wanted to sacrifice had to be
means of nourishing this did I always succeed. preserve my interior undertaken by all those
joy, of fostering peace Through the hardships peace and joy I had to called to the apostolate.
and conformity to God's of the Urals, through the have constant recourse to And yet the suffering
will, for they are seen as anguish of Lubianka, prayer, to the eyes of and sacrifice were
a continuation of Christ's through the sufferings faith, to a humility that touched by deep
passion—not in the and adversities of the could make me aware of spiritual joy, because in
distorted, senseless acts prison camps, my inner how little my own efforts them one saw God's will
of bloody butchery I had struggle of soul never meant and how accomplished in an
shuddered over as a boy, ceased. No matter how dependent I was upon otherwise frustrating life,
but as purposeful, close to God the soul felt, God's grace even for the great work of
redemptive, healing acts how blessed it was by an prayer and faith itself. salvation promoted. If
by which the world is awareness of his you look upon sacrifice
reconciled to the will of presence on occasion, the None of this came easily, and suffering only

through the eyes of The obstacles met with and by this means to redeeming the world
reason alone, your each day, the difficulties save our souls and help about them, of being the
tendency will be to avoid encountered in putting in the salvation of others. leaven in the mass. "For
as much of it as you can, such zeal into practice, No action, however who has known the
for pain in itself is never did not upset a soul on insignificant, if accepted mind of the Lord or who
pleasant. But if you can fire with this realization. and performed as from has been his counselor?
learn to see the role of For the actual conversion God's hand and in My ways are not your
pain and suffering in of people required much conformity with his will, ways, says the Lord; as
relation to God's prayer, much is anything other than far as the heavens are
redemptive plan for the persevering trust in God, redemptive and a above the earth are my
universe and each many trials and sharing in the great work ways above your ways."
individual soul, your sacrifices. The dedicated of salvation begun by Perhaps, in God's
attitude must change. soul instinctively Christ's passion. providence, there might
You don't shun it when it realized, in constant result from all this
comes upon you, but communion with God, Reflecting on these truths suffering something new
bear it in the measure that what was most was consoling, but it was and precious in the
grace is given you. You important in the Father's more than that. It opened mystical body: zealous
see in it a putting on of eyes was total surrender up to me a whole new Christians, with a new
Christ in the true sense to his will in the vision of Siberia and the ideal of dedication to
of the word. Out of this apostolate. Whatever he pain and suffering that offer the Church existing
insight comes joy, and an inspired or commanded went on around me. It in the world as a human
increase of hope; out of became paramount, not seemed to me that I institution. In God's
it, too, grows compassion the human effort or the could see arising out of providence, this Church
for others and a hope wisdom or the work the devastated and under persecution—
that they also may be resulting from personal blighted lives around these suffering
helped to understand the initiative. me, a whole new Church Christians—constantly
true meaning of life and to come—if only there enriched the Church
its trials, its joys and its Reflecting on such were laborers enough for upon earth, the mystical
sufferings. Fired with thoughts almost the vineyard. A Church body of Christ.
this enthusiasm, the soul habitually, amid the of men and women full
constantly yearned to exhausting labors of of sacrifice and total
communicate the endless days in the dedication was in the
wonders of God's grace camps of Siberia, made process of formation
Chapter Thirteen
to everyone. This desire, me conscious of my here. A Church formed THE
this zeal, knew no obligation toward God in out of a generation of
bounds, set no limits for MEANIN
fulfilling to the best of persecution and
its activity. Though its my abilities the daily frustration, tried as gold G OF THE
attainment in reality was
something that
rounds of prayer and in the furnace. A Church MASS
work and suffering, of new leaders, survivors
surpassed human effort, setting an example as of these camps and living Sometimes I think that
the soul on fire with this conscientiously as I in a militantly atheistic those who have never
understanding paid little could for my fellow country, yet aware of been deprived of an
attention to concrete prisoners, helping them how totally all things opportunity to say or
results. The most to see by word and by depended upon God hear Mass do not really
important thing was to deed that even the days alone, unable to worship appreciate what a
keep the flame of zeal of this most wretched publicly perhaps and yet treasure the Mass is. I
burning. Hence the existence in a frozen united to the entire know, in any event, what
constant need of daily wasteland could be mystical body of Christ it came to mean to me
prayer, the constant productive in bringing called the Church. That and the other priests I
efforts to see in the pain the kingdom of God saving remnant, perhaps, met in the Soviet Union;
and suffering of each day upon earth. No man's of which Isaiah spoke. A I know the sacrifices we
a true work of life, no man's suffering, people who accepted made and the risks we
redemption, a true is lost from the eyes of persecution with joy ran in order just to have
sharing in the saving acts God. For each of us has might see in their own a chance to say or hear
of Christ. been created to praise, trials and sufferings the Mass. When we were
reverence, and serve God true Christian work of constantly hungry in the

camps, when the food Rome at the Russian ordination, the privilege celebrate the Eucharist
we got each day was just college, dreaming of a of performing with my together. When we
barely enough to keep us chance to reach the own two hands the re- reached the lumber
going, I have seen priests Soviet Union, I had often enactment of Calvary, camps and found
pass up breakfast and wondered what I would my joy at the thought ourselves faced with
work at hard labor on an do if I could not say that I had been chosen barracks life in the
empty stomach until Mass. Sometimes, as from among men for the primitive, roughhewn
noon in order to keep the students, we talked things that were of God quarters of the camps,
Eucharistic fast, because about it. Rome, with its and could at last fulfill we found it equally
the noon break at the catacombs, probably the command Christ difficult to say Mass. We
work site was the time served as inspiration for gave his disciples at the were afraid to risk
we could best get some of those Last Supper: "Do this, in exposure; we did not
together for a hidden conversations. But our memory of me." From know how we would be
Mass. I did that often speculations surely were the day of ordination, accepted as priests and,
myself. And sometimes, somewhat romantic. We through the quiet years at least in the beginning,
when the guards were attended Mass every day at Albertyn and the we would only celebrate
observing us too closely at the Roman college, as turmoil and upheaval Mass when we were
and we couldn't risk we had done every day that followed the Soviet alone together. If we
saying Mass at the work of our lives at the takeover of Poland, there waited until we could go
site, the crusts of bread I seminary and in our was never a day that did off into a quiet corner of
had put in my pocket at Jesuit houses; we not begin for me with the the barracks during the
breakfast remained there prepared ourselves for sacrifice of the Mass. evening, it meant that we
uneaten until I could get ordination to say Mass in must fast all day and still
back to camp and say both the Oriental rite and It was only when Father do a full day's work with
Mass at night. Or again, the Latin rite. The Mass Victor and I began the the lumber gangs. Yet the
during the long arctic had a special meaning long train ride from Lvov barracks would be in a
summer, when the work for us as future priests, to the lumber camps of turmoil each morning as
days were the longest but I suppose it would be the Ural Mountains that everyone prepared for
and our hours of sleep true to say that we still our once idle daydreams work; it was hard to find
were at a minimum, I took it for granted about not being able to the time then for the
have seen priests and somehow. Not that it say Mass became a recollection we desired
prisoners deprive their became just another reality. It was only then in order to celebrate
bodies of needed sleep in religious ceremony; for that I first experienced Mass as we wanted.
order to get up before the me, at least, the Mass the very real sense of Accordingly, we did not
rising bell for a secret always had a special deprivation at not being manage to say Mass
Mass in a quiet barracks, meaning as a time of able to begin the day by every day, but we kept a
while everyone else particular intimacy with celebrating the Eucharist. supply of consecrated
clung to those precious our Lord each day. But it We carried with us bread hosts so we could at least
extra moments of sleep. was so easy to attend and wine and a little go to Communion every
In some ways, we led a Mass each day. It was Mass kit with a chalice day.
catacomb existence with always there, a part of and missal so we could
our Masses. We would the daily order, and the say Mass. But no one in The danger and the
be severely punished if thought that it might the boxcar full of difficulty of saying Mass
we were discovered someday be difficult to workers knew we were became a reality for us in
saying Mass, and there be able to say Mass was priests, and in the the lumber camps of the
were always informers. really only a daydream. crowded conditions of Urals. We began then to
But the Mass to us was It was something you the car we found it very do what we probably
always worth the danger talked about, something difficult to say Mass. We should have done before:
and the sacrifice; we you read about in the did the best we could. At we began to prepare
treasured it, we looked history of the Church every opportunity, ourselves to say the Mass
forward to it, we would persecutions, but not particularly at stops by heart. We were afraid
do almost anything in really something you along the way when we we would lose our Mass
order to say or attend a had ever had to suffer or would leave the boxcars kit, the chalice or the
Mass. experience. I remember to stretch our legs and missal; but we were
the thrill of my first Mass forage for extra food, we determined that as long
When I had been in after the day of seized our chance to as we had bread and

wine we would try to say those Masses in the You cannot explain all communion throughout
Mass somehow. Over forests in the Urals. this, I know, to those the day, but I literally
and over again in the who do not believe. Even hungered to be able to
evenings, when others At other times, Father for many Christians, I receive him once again.
were chatting or reading Victor and I would say fear, the notion of the Every day I said from
or playing cards, we Mass sitting on the edge Blessed Sacrament as the memory the prayers of
would repeat to each of our beds across from bread of life is somehow the Mass and sometimes
other the prayers of the one another. We only a poetic or symbolic I think these prayers
Mass until we had pretended to be reading phrase used by Jesus in served only to emphasize
learned them by heart. or talking softly as we the Gospel. Yet what a my sense of deprivation
How often, in the years said the Mass prayers. source of sustenance it from the Eucharist. In
that followed, I thanked We could not use the was to us then, how those days of torment
God for this interlude in chalice in the barracks, so much it meant to us to and stress, of darkness
the lumber camps of the our cup became a have the Body and Blood and humiliation, I knew I
Urals and the time of common drinking glass of Christ as the food of desperately needed that
training and of grace that and our host a piece of our spiritual lives in this source of strength the
was given to me to leavened bread. If people sacrament of love and bread of life might have
prepare for the years stopped to chat, we tried joy. The experience was provided—and I could
ahead. to break off conversation very real; you could feel not have it. I prayed to
as pleasantly and as its effects upon your God, I talked to him and
After a few months, quickly as we could and mind and heart, upon asked for help and
when Father Victor and I so recapture our your daily life. For us it strength, I knew that he
had adjusted somewhat recollection and continue was a necessity, to foster was with me. All this I
to barracks existence as a our secret Eucharist. I the life of the soul, just as had, and yet I could not
way of life, we were able worked outside with the much as our daily bread have him in my hands, I
to find more and more lumber gangs, but Father was necessary to sustain could not have his
occasions to say Mass. Victor worked as an the body. There were so sacramental presence.
We would walk out accountant in the many of the exiles here And the difference to me
together, for example, company offices, so he in the Urals who were was very real. It was a
into the forest and there always kept the Blessed deprived of it and hunger of the soul as real
offer Mass on a stump of Sacrament wrapped in a seemed indifferent. God to me as the bodily
a tree. I could not help purificator inside his in his own way took care hunger I constantly
thinking how the forests wallet in the pocket of of these spiritually experienced through
sometimes resembled a his coat. That way, we starved people, I have no those years. I have often
cathedral—the tall rows could at least receive doubt, just as he was wondered, in the years
of towering trees arching Communion each day if taking care of us in a since, whether I would
over us, the hushed Mass became impossible. special way. Who of us have failed as badly,
silence, the natural Later on, after we had can fully understand the have come so close to
beauty around us, the made friends with the ways of God? For us, despair, if I had
silent whiteness of the scrubwoman who took though, this bread of life, somehow had available
snow in winter. Even care of the barracks, we this Eucharist, was truly to me that bread of life.
time seemed to stand still would sometimes leave a source of communion
as we offered the eternal the Blessed Sacrament with him and with those When I reached the
sacrifice of Calvary for carefully hidden inside a to whom we longed to prison camps of Siberia, I
the many intentions that bundle of clothes in her bring him. learned to my great joy
filled our thoughts and little private office and that it was possible to say
our hearts, not the least living room. She was a The five long years in Mass daily once again. In
of which was the thought Catholic, as we came to Lubianka brought this every camp, the priests
of the deprived know, and she helped us home to me more and prisoners would go
thousands of the Church in many ways. It was one forcefully than ever. I to great lengths, run risks
of silence here in this of her greatest joys to was deprived of that willingly, just to have the
once Christian land for have the Blessed spiritual food and the consolation of this
whom we had come to Sacrament in her room reality of that sacrament. For those
work as priests in secret. and to know that the communion. I turned to who could not get to
I shall never forget, as Lord she worshiped God in prayer, made Mass, we daily
long as I am a priest, dwelt under her roof. frequent acts of spiritual consecrated hosts and

arranged for the soul. Distractions caused these men. Priests in the Ukraine or
distribution of by the fear of discovery, Poland or Lithuania who
Communion to those which accompanied each The bread and wine for had not yet been
who wished to receive. saying of the Mass under Mass were smuggled in arrested, or who had
Our risk of discovery, of such conditions, took to us by the people of been released from the
course, was greater in the nothing away from the nearby arctic towns, but camps and returned
barracks, because of the effect that the tiny bit of they generally came all home, made it a point to
lack of privacy and the bread and few drops of the way from the look after fellow priests
presence of informers. consecrated wine Ukraine. It wasn't really serving terms in the
Most often, therefore, we produced upon the soul. possible to buy Mass camps. Nuns, too,
said our daily Mass wine in the Siberian worked marvels in
somewhere at the work Many a time, as I folded stores, for all the wines helping prisoner priests.
site during the noon up the handkerchief on available there contained According to camp rules,
break. Despite this added which the body of our impurities. People who a prisoner had the right
hardship, everyone Lord had lain, and dried had themselves survived to write his immediate
observed a strict the glass or tin cup used the camps and returned family twice a year.
Eucharistic fast from the as a chalice, the feeling of home to the Ukraine, Packages could also be
night before, passing up having performed however, would send a received occasionally,
a chance for breakfast something tremendously small wooden barrel of when permission was
and working all morning valuable for the people of Mass wine, about four granted to the prisoner
on an empty stomach. this Godless country was quarts, to friends they by the chief of security;
Yet no one complained. overpowering. Just the had made in the towns usually, two packages a
In small groups the thought of having around the camps. These year were the limit.
prisoners would shuffle celebrated Mass here, in friends, with the help of Prisoner priests,
into the assigned place, this spot, made my some sympathetic truck therefore, informed their
and there the priest journey to the Soviet driver who drove in and relatives where they
would say Mass in his Union and the sufferings out of the fenced and were and hinted in their
working clothes, I endured seem totally guarded prison working letters that the priests at
unwashed, disheveled, worthwhile and zones to make deliveries home be told about them
bundled up against the necessary. No other of construction materials, and about other priests
cold. We said Mass in inspiration could have would then manage to who were with them.
drafty storage shacks, or deepened my faith more, smuggle the wine in to a Since priests in the
huddled in mud and could have given me prisoner priest. There Ukraine and in occupied
slush in the corner of a spiritual courage in was, in fact, a regular countries were under
building site foundation greater abundance, than traffic in smuggled into strict surveillance,
of an underground. The the privilege of saying the camps. Vodka and though, it was generally
intensity of devotion of Mass for these poorest foodstuffs were the nuns who managed
both priests and and most deprived delivered in this by free to look after the needs of
prisoners made up for members of Christ the people in the towns who deported, exiled, and
everything; there were Good Shepherd's flock. I took pity on the imprisoned clergy. Many
no altars, candles, bells, was occasionally prisoners so it was not of them had managed to
flowers, music, snow- overcome with emotion just Mass wine that get work in local
white linens, stained for a moment as I reached us regularly. The hospitals when their
glass or the warmth that thought of how he had night shift usually had a convents were closed,
even the simplest parish found a way to follow better chance of and it was they who
church could offer. Yet in and to feed these lost and concealing the goods, for supplied priests in the
these primitive straying sheep in this the night guards were camps with Mass bread,
conditions, the Mass most desolate land. So I frequently not as strict as wine, and Mass books.
brought you closer to never let a day pass the day guards; only Pages of the books
God than anyone might without saying Mass; it skeleton crews of would be mixed up with
conceivably imagine. The was my primary concern prisoners worked at newspaper and used as
realization of what was each new day. I would night as maintenance packing. Other pages of
happening on the board, go to any length, suffer men so the guards were the missal would be used
box, or stone used in any inconvenience, run fewer and security much to wrap the Mass bread.
place of an altar any risk to make the less tight. The guards paid little
penetrated deep into the bread of life available to attention to such "scrap

paper" in the packages, precautions were taken. saying Mass with a few places of work. All of this
but some pages of the Prisoners moved about companions, and made made it difficult to have
books would naturally constantly in the straight for us. They many prisoners in
be lost or thrown into the barracks; there were made us get up and attendance, so we would
wastebasket. Prisoners informers in every work stand aside while they consecrate extra bread
who worked as janitors brigade. To go to a searched. They threw the and distribute
in the offices would be barracks other than your particles of consecrated Communion to the other
alerted, therefore, to look own was strictly bread onto the floor and prisoners when we
for and save these forbidden, and you under the bunks amid all could. Sometimes that
discarded pages before would be asked to leave kinds of rubble. The meant we would only
they could be burned. the minute someone consecrated wine, see them when we
For a promise of a noticed you didn't though, wasn't touched, returned to the barracks
portion of the package, belong there. It wasn't for alongside the tin cup at night before dinner.
hungry prisoners, just the guards who were used as a chalice there Yet these men would
whether Christians or so strict. The prisoners were other tin cups actually fast all day long
not, were always willing themselves took such standing on the stool we and do exhausting
to do this favor and so precautions, because had been using as an physical labor without a
outwit camp authorities. expert thieves were altar. Every priest at bite to eat since dinner
always on the lookout for some time or other the evening before, just
Wine was a little a chance to steal during his life in camp to be able to receive the
different problem, but something, anything that experienced the same Holy Eucharist—that
the nuns sent the wine, was better than what sad business. It was was how much the
as I have said, to they had. If we got distressing, to say the sacrament meant to them
designated people in together outside the least, and it made us in this otherwise God-
nearby towns. Then, in barracks, the guards worry about every Mass forsaken place.
various ways and became wary and for fear of the same risk
through various people, suspicious of such small of discovery and Our rare free days, when
small amounts of wine groups and ordered sacrilege. all the prisoners were
were smuggled into the everyone to return to the allowed to rest in camp,
camp. Even at the risk of barracks. Generally, therefore, we were the hardest of all on
being caught and preferred to say Mass which to say Mass. It was
punished, faithful Saying Mass in the camp somewhere at the the easiest time to say
prisoners willingly barracks was difficult working site, even Mass for a large group,
cooperated in helping us and dangerous, and we though it meant we had though, if we could get
keep a supply of Mass attempted it only on rare to fast all morning and together on some pretext
bread and wine at occasions, or because of then give up the few or other in the prison
various locations in the some urgent necessity. moments of rest allowed camp yard, and
camp. As a result, every Then we would have to to prisoners during the occasionally we did risk
priest in the camp huddle together in a luncheon break. Even such a Mass, especially if
received what was dark corner, while then, we could not invite the day coincided with a
needed to say Mass friendly prisoners stood many people to attend special religious feast or
daily. If he needed watch in the corridors to the Mass lest a daily festival. But generally on
something, he had only warn us of the approach crowd in the same place such days I would say
to ask and it was of the camp guards. At might draw attention to Mass early in the
provided for him if at all their signal we would our activities. We usually morning, half lying on
possible. So even in the hastily consume the chose a shack or some the bunk while most of
often impossible species of consecrated corner of a foundation the prisoners still slept. I
conditions of the prison bread and wine and far from the current would procure the wine
camps, a priest who let it quickly break up the working areas-- the night before in the
be known that he wanted group. Only once was I sometimes it took fifteen camp clinic or the camp
to say Mass could always actually caught. Three minutes or more to reach disinfecting room, where
do so. And we did. guards, obviously the shack or building friends who worked
directed by informers, where Mass was to be there kept the wine
Within the camp, came suddenly into the said—and we had to hidden for the priests. I
though, Mass could only corner of the barracks start on time in order not held the bread in my
be said if the greatest where I was seated to return late to our hands wrapped in a

piece of white cloth as I they said, in order to these that I had been Chapter
lay on the bunk, and I express their faith in God chosen, and was
said the prayers of the and their gratitude to privileged, to bring the Fourteen
Mass by heart. Before the him for having sent a bread of life. "Unless you RETREAT
signal to rise was given, I priest into their midst. eat my flesh and drink
would have finished my Surely the hundredfold my blood," Christ said to
Mass on these occasions that Christ once his disciples, "you shall Life in the prison camps
and then be able to promised to those who not have life in you. He was a matter of endless
distribute Communion left father, mother, who eats my flesh and and relentless routine.
to others under cover of families, and country on drinks my blood shall There were no
the general commotion his behalf was here have life and have it diversions, no holidays,
and moving about that handed out, not in any more abundantly." These no vacations, no
always followed the spectacular way but in men, with simple and recreational activities for
rising signal. Time and the ordinary and simple direct faith, grasped this the prisoners. Work was
again I was amazed at actions of these generous truth and they believed the order of the day,
the devotion of these believers through their in it. They could not every day, day after day,
men. Most of them had small and continuous explain it as a theologian and one day followed the
really had very little favors. For what they might, but they accepted next with grinding and
formal religious training; sacrificed, insignificant it and lived by it and boring regularity,
for the most part they as it might seem, was were willing to make distinguished only from
knew little of religion actually a portion of all voluntary sacrifices even all other days by a
except the prayers and they had to survive on. in a life of almost total change in the weather or
beliefs that pious parents deprivation, in order to the work to be done.
or grandparents had And the desire for receive this bread of life. There were days when
taught them. And yet survival was uppermost Mass and the Blessed the prisoner could take
they believed, and were in the minds of everyone Sacrament were a source pride in what he had
willing to make unheard- in the slave camps of of great consolation to accomplished that day,
of sacrifices for the Siberia. To live through it me; they were the source even if it just meant
consolation of attending all and see freedom in of my strength and joy taking satisfaction in the
Mass or receiving the end was the secret and spiritual sustenance. fact he had accomplished
Communion. hope everyone But it was when I the quota of work set. A
cherished. The instinct to realized what the Holy man needs something,
Christian prisoners in live, to survive, Eucharist meant to these some sense of
general showed great especially for those who men, what sacrifices they accomplishment to
respect for the priests in had a family or loved were willing to make for maintain his sense of
camp. Most of their free ones to return to, was the it, that I felt animated, human dignity, of his
time they sought to strongest motivation of privileged, driven to value and worth as a
spend in their company. every hour of every day. make it possible for them person; even under the
Even those who did not How conscious these to receive this bread of most stringent, most
actively practice their men were of every day life as often as they repetitious and boring
faith often preferred to they lived. They counted wished. No danger, no routine, a man seeks for
spend time in the group it both as one day less in risk, no retaliation could something to maintain
around a priest. They their sentence and yet prevent my saying Mass his sense of dignity and
defended and supported one day less in their each day for them. "As of worth. Sometimes, in
and encouraged the lives. No one wished, often as you do this, do it the harsh conditions of
priests as much as they even for his bitterest in memory of me." Life the camps, a man could
could. Somehow, they enemy, the misfortune of in the labor camps was get that satisfaction only
felt an obligation in this dying in these camps Calvary for these men in from the knowledge that
regard. From time to away from everything a many ways every day; he as a person had
time, they would even man held dear. And yet there was nothing I survived the system one
offer him a portion of each day, they knew, would not do to offer the more day.
their own scarce ration of was a step in the long sacrifice of Calvary again
bread so he might have slow march toward for them each day in the Days of labor in the long
something extra. They death. Mass. arctic twilight seemed
wanted to make this endless, and followed
sacrifice on his behalf, It was to such men as one another in a

seemingly endless became habitual, a escaping it, nowhere individual priests
stream. The work was matter of boring routine where a man could go to dispersed all over the
hard, the conditions without end or without live peacefully, to work Soviet Union do to
harsh, and meant to be hope, except that of and live normally, as he combat atheism and the
so. Labor was the penalty ultimate survival. chose. propaganda directed
a prisoner must pay for against the Church and
his transgressions The body might adjust to To survive in this religion? What real
against the state. He these conditions but the situation, a man needed chance had the Church
received only enough mind could not. more than food or even to survive under such a
food to keep him alive, to Deprived of books, or intellectual sustenance, system, where the people
make it just barely even much chance for he needed spiritual were constantly
possible for him to long conversations, each strength. Accordingly, I bombarded with reports
continue work, and he man was left to his own organized a retreat that discredited religion
worked each day until thoughts of the freedom movement in each of the as superstition, where
near exhaustion. he had lost, the life he camps as best I could. I the practice of religion
Constantly hungry, led, and searched for began with the priests, was discouraged in so
always tired, the pris- some meaning to it all. who agreed to the idea many ways and made
oners were thus kept in To offset this, the eagerly. They, more than difficult by so many
submission with little prisoners were others, certainly realized subtle pressures, where a
thought of revolt or of constantly bombarded the need for a strong man could lose his job or
escape. For stretches of a with propaganda about spirit of faith, a the possibility of an
month or more, prison the value of work, about deepened spiritual life. education for his
authorities would keep their responsibility to Many of them, too, felt children because he was
us at work without a share in building up the this need especially known to be a believer,
single day off. Signaled socialistic society they because they were on the or the children
awake by an iron gong at had damaged by their brink of discouragement themselves were made
5 A.M., marched out to transgressions, about the and sometimes of fun of in school because
work for twelve to need for even greater despair. Priests were the their parents were
fourteen hours a day, sacrifice, greater efforts, object of special harass- believers, or were taught
marched back to camp higher goals, and more ment in the camps, to despise the religious
for a meager meal of work. Constant as they under constant practices an older
soup and kasha, always were, such exhortations surveillance by the generation still clung to
the same, then dropping made no impression at authorities and always and talked about at
exhausted on plank all on the prisoners. In its suspect. They were home? How could a few
bunks in the barracks— insistency, in its constantly called in for priests, their numbers
such was the prisoner's unsparing repetition, questioning, continually dwindling because
routine as one day such propaganda watched by informers, seminaries were closed,
blurred monotonously seemed only another threatened, moved about ever hope to have much
into the next. Prison form of constant from barracks to effect against the full
officials set the regime to harassment. The prisoner barracks to prevent any power of the government
keep the prisoners recognized it for what it chance they might have and its propaganda?
occupied to the was, muttered about it, of influencing other How could they do
maximum degree ignored it. He suffered it prisoners. Hampered in much good at all, when
possible and so keep patiently for the most their work by this even those who still
them in submission, but part, like everything else, constant bullying, it was believed or wanted to
they also had to meet a longing only to survive easy for them to get believe in God were
quota of work set in to be free at last. And yet, discouraged. afraid to come to them or
Moscow and so gain the the prisoners would tell be seen with them for
praise of higher you, even the end of the fear of reprisals at work,
Worse yet were the
authorities they sought camps would not mean or the condemnation and
larger doubts that
after so scrupulously. the end of the party line, hostility of friends or
assailed them when they
The prisoners had no or freedom from the neighbors, or pressures
were tired and
choice but to conform to pressure to work ever brought indirectly to
discouraged. What could
the pattern set for them harder to build a new bear upon them and
a handful of priests in
—the same daily routine order, the new socialist their families in so many
the camp do, they would
year after year until it world. There was no ways? Humanly
say, or what can

speaking, the task life of prayer and excitement, I had to find answer the call of Christ
seemed hopeless and the dedication without the a quiet place somewhere in a special way, even
future at best uncertain. support of the externals to be alone with my though it meant they
It was all too easy to to which they had so exercitant. In the might have to imitate in
become discouraged, so long been accustomed. In evening, after work, it a special way his
the comfort of one giving retreats to priests was much easier to get suffering to redeem the
another's company and in the camps, I could together and spend an world. They had
the idea of retreats or take only one at a time. I hour or more with the responded to his call to
days of recollection was followed the method of prisoner priest to whom I labor with him, to suffer
eagerly accepted by St. Ignatius, since it was was giving the retreat. with him, even to die
them. what I knew best, with him, in order to
recalling the meditations Retreats for priests, bring others into the
Many of our priests were from memory and under these kingdom he came to
older men, who tired adapting them to the circumstances, generally establish. These prisoner-
easily. Unused to hard situations and lasted three days, priests, especially, had
physical work and circumstances of the occasionally five days, been asked "to drink the
constantly bullied by camp. Points for each of never much more than a cup that I must drink", as
prison authorities, they the meditations were week. Whenever he once said to John and
were frequently ill and given in the morning at 6 possible, I tried to get James. They had
required medical A.M., before all the other priests to help me answered the call and
attention. Yet even the prisoners left the camp in this work. Sometimes made the promise, and
limited medical care for work. At least half an there were as many as Christ would be no less
available in the camp hour was required to three of us engaged in ready with his grace to
clinics was often denied give the points properly, giving the individual see them through to the
them by the officials yet it was difficult to do, retreats, so the others completion of the task to
because they were because at that time in could have a choice of which he had called
priests. Their physical the morning the whole spiritual directors. For them.
weakness and sickness camp was in turmoil. my part, I concentrated
only increased their Prisoners poured out of on the key meditations of It was easy to lose sight
sense of despondency the barracks, rushing in the Exercises of St. of this vision, to become
and discouragement, all directions—to the Ignatius: the Principle discouraged, to feel
their fear for the future kitchen, storehouse, shoe and Foundation, the helpless and useless as
of the Church as well as repair shop, bakery, the Kingdom, the Two priests in the drab lives
for themselves. Life in warehouse, and Standards, and we led and the
the camp deprived them infirmary. Everyone meditations on the conditions under which
of any of the external seemed anxious, con- passion of Christ. I felt it we tried to work. But
practices of religion they cerned about something extremely important, whoever has an easy life?
had known throughout important, in a hurry, given our circumstances, The vision of the
their long priestly lives. intent on seeing the to strive to get them to kingdom, the call of
Even at Mass, the doctor in order to get out realize again God's plan Christ to labor and suffer
external forms pre- of work, scrounging for for man's salvation, to with him, has overtones
scribed by the Church extra food, on the increase again their trust of a great and noble
had to be largely lookout for an extra piece in him, to strengthen crusade— yet we must
discarded. Mass was said of clothing he might steal again their resolve to see each of us translate that
sitting down, sometimes to guard him against the his will in the events of vision and retain that
walking about, arctic cold, or on watch every day—even such spirit in the routine,
sometimes half reclining, lest anything of his own days as we were humdrum events of
for the prescribed be stolen. The camp experiencing—and to every day, even days in a
external rituals would guards, too, ran about strive to their utmost to prison camp. It would be
only have called atten- like madmen from fulfill that will with easy, we think to
tion to what we were barracks to barracks, complete confidence in ourselves, to be
doing and brought the watching the prisoners his providence and his constantly on fire with
guards upon us quickly. and yelling at strays to power. that vision if we could be
It was hard for many of return to their barracks a Francis Xavier or a
the older priests, try as and get ready for work. Richard the Lion-
As priests, I emphasized,
they might, to practice a In the midst of all this Hearted, converting the
they had chosen to

Indies or scaling the fit to place them, this was boldest of them after suffering with Christ, is
walls of Jerusalem, where they must labor Pentecost! Twenty no more spectacular for
sword in hand, caught and suffer and perhaps centuries later, the the most part than the
up in the tumult of battle die. Not in the Indies of kingdom of God was still routine of daily living.
to win some great the sixteenth century, not a mustard seed, and Perhaps a priest
victory. We forget that in the Holy Land of the priests like themselves experiences no
Xavier, too, lived one twelfth century, not even still faced the impossible spectacular successes, at
day at a time, frustrated in the equally humdrum task of making men who least as man measures
and perhaps and frequently had never believed, or successes, no miraculous
discouraged, each frustrating routine of a who had yielded up their conversions, no
twenty-four hours filled parish life filled with beliefs under the enthusiastic displays of
with as many defeats days of people's pressure of daily life or a devotion, nothing dra-
and frustrations as problems and this barrage of propaganda, matic at all. Yet he must
victories, each hour world's concerns, but listen again to the good come to believe, and be
made up of sixty minutes here in the seemingly news of salvation and firmly convinced, that
of humdrum things and hopeless conditions of a God's love—and come to Christ is the guarantor of
little people busy and camp where men believe in him. That good his success. Christ has
concerned about many struggled simply to news reached men one at arranged for him to be
other things, day after survive and took pride a time, by God's grace here, this day and among
day, week after week, and comfort in having and according to his these people, in order
month after month, year survived just one more providence, not in some that the kingdom of God
after year. As he went day. great and visionary may be advanced in this
about trying to preach crusade or overnight place and among these
the gospel, how often They had to convince through some people. As a priest, he
must Xavier have themselves, these miraculous event. Each must be a witness in a
wondered whether it prisoner-priests, of the day, every day of our special way to the power
would ever be possible need to renew their faith lives, God presents to us of the kingdom to
to reach the millions of in the belief that Christ's the people and transform all things
people around him? victory was the opportunities upon human, even the
How often must he have guarantee of their which he expects us to tortured and twisted, the
felt discouraged at the victory. The kingdom of act. He expects no more humdrum and the
individuals he met each God had to be worked of us, but he will accept seemingly insignificant.
day who failed to out on earth, for that was nothing less of us; and In fact, it is the
respond to his the meaning of the we fail in our promise unspectacular and the
preaching? How often Incarnation. It had to be and commitment if we seemingly hopeless that
must he have despaired worked out by men, by do not see in the are the real challenge.
of the evil in the world other Christs; it had to be situations of every For these things, too,
around him, or felt worked out this day, moment of every day his must be transformed and
helpless in the face of it? each day, by constant divine will. redeemed if Christ's
effort and attention to victory is to be complete.
I had little need to speak just those persons and That is how the kingdom The kingdom of God will
much of the power of circumstances God of God has been spread not be brought to
evil to these prisoner- presented to them that from the time of Christ's fulfillment on earth by
priests. It was tangible. It day. The "kingdom of coming until now. It one great, sword-
was all about us. That God" had indeed been depends on the faith and swinging battle against
there was a force of evil begun on earth with the commitment of every the powers of darkness,
loose in the world, doing coming of Christ, but the man, but especially of but only by each of us
battle for the minds of world had not visibly the priest, every day of laboring and suffering
men, was as realistic as changed at his birth. his life. Every moment of day after day as Christ
the barbed wire that Twelve Galilean every man's life is labored and suffered,
fenced us in and the fishermen had been precious in God's sight, until all things at last
propaganda that instructed to tell the and none must be have been transformed.
bombarded us daily. So good news to the whole wasted through doubt And this process of
this was their battlefield, world—and how and discouragement. The transformation continues
this was where Christ in hopeless a task that must work of the kingdom, the to the end of time.
his providence had seen have seemed even to the work of laboring and

Only a deep renewal of missed for the building surprised us about these precious in God's sight.
faith in Christ, a renewed up of the kingdom of men: the simplicity and That was why he had
vision of how his God. directness of their belief not, and would not,
kingdom is won in this in God and the tenacity abandon them. Over and
world and a renewed With this in mind, too, of their faith and trust in over again we spoke of
sense of dedication to his we also tried to give him. Even the God's providence,
will, could dispel the retreats to the other consciousness of their though, as more than just
discouragement prisoners whenever we sins and failings his care and concern for
sometimes felt by these could. It was not always expressed in confession them, that care and
prisoner-priests, easy, for even those who served only, it seemed, to concern they already felt
frightened because the still kept their faith were strengthen this faith. If so strongly. We tried to
power of evil and the not anxious at first to God had preserved him help them see that their
seeming hopelessness of speak much at length this far, a prisoner would lives, too, had meaning;
their cause dawned on about religion. Prisoners tell you, if he had not that their work and their
them with all its clarity in general were slow to rejected him with all his sufferings had a value
in the camps. The trials speak about such things transgressions but had each day; that there
they were undergoing anyhow, preoccupied as kept him alive until now, could still be dignity in
and had undergone were they were with the then surely he would not what they did in God's
severe; perhaps, problem of sheer abandon him. That was eyes, if not in men's. So
humanly speaking, too survival. Theirs was a the source of their we taught them to say
much for the priest to simple faith and an even confidence and trust in the Morning Offering—
confront alone. Even the simpler morality. Lying, him. God could be to dedicate to God all the
chance to talk with other cheating, and stealing counted on when man prayers, works and
priests in the camp and were a way of life in the could not, he would help sufferings of each day in
discuss the problems of prison camps; the even if friends and all conformity to his will—
religion, of the Church prisoners justified it in else failed. He had as a means of winning
and the priesthood, their own minds as the proved that up to now. grace for others,
proved insufficient to only way to survive and God was a prisoner's especially for their
dispel all doubt and as a way to cheat the ultimate hope of families and friends.
restore peace of mind. system of its absolute survival, his last resort.
But the meditations of domination over their No matter what a man In that way, no matter
the retreat did seem to lives. There were few had done, how he had how harsh the conditions
help these priests of little tender consciences in the failed God or his in the camps might be,
faith to renew and regain camps about such fellowman, God had not how cruel and useless
faith once again, to view matters. A man did what yet abandoned him and the work might seem, it
the events around us in he had to do to survive at could be counted on to took on new meaning
the light of the kingdom all costs. They might sustain him again and added value. It was
and the work of salvation mention such things in tomorrow. something of which a
in the world as it is. The confession because they man could be proud each
retreat could not change had learned to, but it was Retreats for these day, because it was his to
things in the camp or hard for them to feel any prisoners were more of a offer back to God. Each
make life better for the compunction. Sometimes mission, really. We tried day of labor and
priest, but it had its effect it was almost as if they to build on the hardship, like the grains
on his soul nonetheless. were asking God's confidence and trust in of wheat ground up to
It renewed his vision of approval of these God that they already make the host at Mass,
his own life, and the lives practices rather than his clung to and counted on, could be consecrated to
of the men around him, forgiveness or pardon. to encourage them to God and be transformed
in the light of God's They wanted to be become still closer to into something of great
providence and Christ's "straight" with God, but God through the value in God's sight; it
transforming power. It they also had to survive sacraments, through was a sacrifice each man
gave him new strength in this cruel and unjust more frequent confession could offer back to God
and new spirit to face the system— and they and Communion. And throughout the long,
challenges of each day, hoped he would we tried, moreover, to hard days. The grinding
under the crudest of understand. help them understand routine of daily labor,
conditions, as oppor- that their lives were not even here in Siberia,
tunities that must not be lost or wasted, but still could have a meaning,
That was what really

did have a value, even as happening. Then the what I should be doing— looked forward to it.
the lives of all men realization that we were indeed was trying to do What was there, then,
everywhere—no matter actually looking into gun by rotely reciting the act about this moment that
how dull or routine or barrels awaiting only the of contrition without so terrified me, so
insignificant they might command to fire came comprehension or completely unstrung me
seem to the eyes of men crashing into my meaning—in the last and made me incapable
—have a value and a consciousness with a moment of life left to me of functioning, of
meaning in God's force that stopped before the veil parted praying, even of
providence. everything. My stomach and I would stand before thinking? Was it just the
turned once and went God. suddenness, the surprise,
numb; my heart stopped; that had betrayed me?
I'm sure I forgot to I have no idea how long
Chapter Fifteen breathe; I couldn't move that one moment lasted. That had to be part of it.
THE FEAR a muscle in my body; my Suddenly there was a Then, too, there was the
mind went blank. shot in the distance, physical fear. Everyone,
shouts, and a group of sometime in his life, has
DEATH The first thought I officers dashed out to experienced the effects of
Facing a firing squad is a actually remember stop our execution. All I a sudden fright, a bad
pretty good test, I guess, thinking was a question: know is that when the scare—a close call in an
of your theology of "Is this the end, Lord?" I moment passed, my accident, perhaps, or an
death. I didn't exactly know I started the act of heart was pounding, unexpected fall, maybe
pass the test with flying contrition, but I every nerve and muscle just a sudden, loud,
colors. Perhaps it all just remember the sensation shaking, my knees weak strange noise. Animal
happened too quickly, of realizing that another and trembling, my mind instinct takes over at
without any warning. part of me could not once again able to follow such moments; the mind
There had been a revolt understand the words I the sequence of events in goes blank, the body
of the prisoners at Camp was mumbling. The a coherent way. When reacts: muscles tense, the
5 in Norilsk, and when other part of me focused we were finally marched heart quickens, the
troops were called in to on the fact that in a off again, I tried to figure stomach tightens, nerves
put down the revolt they fraction of a second I out what had happened tingle. And when the
divided the prisoners up would stand before God, to me. moment passes, if it
into small groups and dumbfounded and passes without physical
marched them off. I was unprepared, unable in Often enough, during the contact or bodily harm, a
rounded up in a group of the suddenness of my years of prison, of reaction sets in as the
thirty, one of the first confusion and total interrogations, of life in body grows limp. Those
groups herded out of the terror to feel sorry for my the camps, I had lived are simply the physical
camp and led down to a sins, numbed into with the thought of signs of fear, and it is not
sandpit about a mile absolute inactivity, death. On more than one surprising that the body
away. We had no idea unable so much as to occasion, I had been told should fear injury or
what disciplinary elicit a simple act of faith I would be shot, and I even death. I cannot be
measures would be in the God I had learned knew those threats were sure—perhaps I will
taken against us, but we to trust implicitly in truly meant. I had seen never know for certain
never for a moment every action of every men die around me of until the moment of
thought we would see day, let alone think with starvation or illness or death approaches again
the soldiers line up five anticipation of meeting sometimes just out of a —but I suspect that most
yards in front of us with him face to face at last. I lack of wanting to live of my panic before the
rifles ready, waiting only can still remember any longer. I had faced firing squad in that
for the command to vividly my awareness of death in my mind time sandpit outside Norilsk
shoot. The command was the moment, and the and time again, had was due to such animal
given, the rifles raised, second fear that gripped helped others in their instinct in the face of a
cocked on another me, when I realized I was final moments, had lived sudden and totally
command, and leveled at incapable of performing with the talk and unexpected physical
our heads. For a any Christian act to presence of death. I had danger.
moment, as if in a dream, redeem myself, thought about it and
none of us really paralyzed and terrified reflected on it, had no For the thought of death
understood what was and yet conscious of fear of it, sometimes itself does not terrify me,

had not terrified me all Redeemer. From the day over death. He was not dedicated communist
through the war, or death came into the just a religious leader, a could work to build a
prison, or the prison world, God has great teacher of ethics or better society for his
camps. Death must come promised a conqueror of morals, he was the heirs, for those who
to all men at the end of death. And the good Promised One, the came after him, but he
this earthly life, but it is news to be preached Savior, the Messiah. His himself could not
not therefore evil. If the throughout the world death and resurrection survive. Men are
good news of was that the Redeemer are the central facts not exhorted to take pride in
Christianity is anything, had come, death had just of Christianity but of their work, to build a
it is this: that death has been conquered! This is all human history. Men better tomorrow for all
no hidden terror, has no the joy of Easter, this is lived in expectation of mankind, but this can be
mystery, is not the peace it brings. "O his coming and his their only hope. Marx
something man must foolish and slow of heart victory over death, until and Lenin laid down the
fear. It is not the end of to believe," he said to the at last he came; since foundation of the
life, of the soul, of the two disciples on their then, the "good news" of doctrine: today's
person. Christ's death on way to Emmaus, "ought his victory over death communists should
Calvary was not in itself not the Christ to have has been proclaimed consider it a privilege
the central act of suffered these things, everywhere and has and an honor to be the
salvation, but his death and so entered into his sustained in peace and pioneers of a new social
and resurrection; it was glory?" The victory of joy those who have order, a grandiose
the resurrection that God's "anointed one", the believed. revolutionary tide
completed his victory Messiah, was to be over sweeping on to
over sin and death, the the "kingdom" of death Perhaps nowhere on worldwide communism.
heritage of man's original and of sin, but how earth is the contrast Life therefore requires a
sin that made a could he triumph unless between those who total sacrifice of self to
Redeemer and he first suffered death believe and those who do the great cause of
redemption necessary. and then broke its not believe more striking building communism,
This was the "good chains? Easter was the than it is in the Soviet and no thought of death
news" of salvation, victory, Easter was the Union. Death is very should be allowed to
meant to remove "good news" the apostles nearly a taboo subject in detract from this
mankind's last doubts, were sent to preach to the communist milieu. In purpose. As a result,
last fears, about the the ends of the earth. an ideology of atheistic practical measures were
nature of death. For the And the joy of Easter is materialism, death is taken in the Soviet Union
resurrection was a fact, a the joy of that good obviously the end of to avoid mentioning
fact as certain and as news, while the peace of everything for a man. It anything about death.
sure as death itself, and it Easter is the peace that is a special tragedy for
meant that death held no comes from knowing the young, who are cut When death occurs, of
victory over men, that that the thing men had off from life just as they course, it affects the
life beyond death is a feared most—the end of are beginning to live: it is immediate family and
certainty and not just a life, annihilation, death— tragic for those in middle relatives and friends as
human hope or fable. really holds no fear at all. age, who have reached well. If a party
This was the fact that the peak of their powers; functionary or some
made new men of his That is not a Christian for the old, who have distinguished worker
once fearful disciples, fable; it is a fact, and the lived a full life, it may dies, there will be some
this was the "good news" proof of it is the come as a release but it is display and eulogies of
they preached. The little resurrection. "If Christ be no less an end to life and his achievements. A
sermons recorded in the not risen," said St. Paul to therefore tragic. A man bouquet or two of
Acts of the Apostles his Christians, "then your might survive in the flowers, with slogans
center on this theme: faith is in vain." You memory of his loved attached, mark the grave
God has raised Christ up cannot be a Christian ones, a famous man's as a sign of distinction
from the dead, he has and doubt that fact. reputation might keep and honor. Perhaps a
risen, and of that fact we Christ's coming upon his name alive somewhat band accompanies the
are witnesses. earth, his taking on of longer than most, but for funeral cortege, and
human flesh, had no the rest death meant not party colleagues pay
From the fall of Adam, purpose if it was not to only the end of this life their last respects by
God had promised a die and then to triumph but of all existence. A attending or speaking at

the graveside. The assigned to be used for blessed medals or icons, The Tuesday after the
ordinary citizen, funerals, which must and try if possible to Sunday after Easter (Low
however, dies and is skirt busy intersections have the grave blessed Sunday) is a special day
buried nearly unnoticed. or main thoroughfares, again by a priest on the for the commemoration
so that other citizens day of the anniversary. of the dead. Crowds
Funerals generally take would not be Soviet law, however, flock to the cemeteries,
place after work, so that unnecessarily distracted now forbids priests to bearing food and
those who wish to attend or affected by the sight of bless graves at the flowers, almost as if for a
may do so; work cannot a funeral procession. The cemetery, so the people picnic. The graves are
be interrupted because of less people witness such ask that the office of the cleaned and decorated
someone's burial. The sad scenes, said officials, dead be sung at the and then the family sits
ordinary coffin consists the better. For church for the dear one down to a meal at the
of a few planks held communism lays stress whose anniversary they graveside. Passersby are
together in the form of a on the joys of life, on celebrate. invited to join the meal
trough, covered around man's progress, not on or to drink a toast. On
with a cloth like gauze sorrow and despair. And At home, relatives and that day, too, Christians
dyed red. That is all. The yet the passersby along friends are invited to a used to ask the priest to
cost of such a coffin is at the line of march were meal especially prepared sing a special requiem
most five rubles. The touched. Many stopped for the occasion. Rolls of service, called the
truck used to transport and stood with heads all kinds are baked, Panikhida, at the
the coffin to the cemetery uncovered to show their stuffed with meat or fish graveside. There were
is loaned free of charge sympathy for the dead or cheese or vegetables times, during my later
by the enterprise where and for the grieving such as cabbage, carrots, years in Norilsk, when I
the comrade worked, family. Others actually and onions. Big pancakes was kept busy from early
and it, too, is available knelt on the sidewalk are served with sour morning to late at night
only in the hours after and made the sign of the cream, butter, or some going from grave to
work—when the factory cross, remaining in that jam if it can be gotten. grave to sing these
five-year plan will not be posture until the Then a big bowl of services for families.
interrupted by the use of procession passed, for cooked rice with raisins This, too, is now
a truck for some other the thought of death and honey is placed in forbidden and indeed the
purpose such as a touches human nature the center of the table at Komsomol organizations
funeral. That the truck much too closely. the end of the meal. Each and the League of
had spent the day guest takes a spoonful of Militant Atheists crusade
hauling gravel, men, dirt, There has always been a the honeyed rice as he constantly in the press to
and other materials strain of mysticism in mentions the name of the have these annual
mattered little to the Russia on this subject, as deceased person whose observances banned, on
driver or the people who the writings of anniversary is being the grounds that they
would use it after hours Dostoyevsky, Tolstoy, celebrated, expressing at lead to public disorder
as a hearse. A few and other great Russian the same time his and drunkenness. But
strokes of a broom writers clearly show. sympathy for the family the observances
sufficed to clean the dirt Even among non- and recalling the good continue, and it is a rare
from the platform; the believers, the strain of deeds of the loved one. It sight to witness how, on
tailboards would be mysticism remains to is a sort of religious that day, everyone comes
lowered, and the truck this day. It is quite ceremony, reliving in to the cemetery to pay
would be ready for the common, especially in spirit the presence of the homage to the dead.
funeral. the towns and villages, departed in the company Communists as well as
for the anniversaries of of family, friends, and non-communists come to
the death of loved ones relatives. Tears are shed, show their respects, not
No pomp accompanied
to be strictly observed. the day of burial is only to then-own
the funeral procession. A
On the day of the relived in words and departed relatives but to
small group of the
anniversary, family and memories; in this way a those of friends and
immediate family,
friends visit the grave at solidarity of the living neighbors as well,
together with a few
the cemetery and with the dead is upheld, sharing with them their
friends, followed the
decorate it again with paying tribute in the memories and feelings of
slowly moving truck in
flowers. Christians will fullest manner possible grief, finding in all this
silence and deep sorrow.
also place upon the grave to those who have died. some consolation and
Side streets were

some bond of union with fact that her husband eternal life. They took joy sorrow in our separation
them in expressions of had died in prison, away in the fact that they from family and friends,
tender and moving love. from home and family. would one day be no doubt, the human
She considered that a together with their loved sorrow of which no one
One could sense in all great tragedy, not just for ones again, and need feel ashamed. And
this, among these simple him but for the family. sometimes longed to be yet, as St. Paul says, we
ordinary people, She often told me how free of the sorrows of this Christians do not grieve
communists and non- sorry she felt for me, life and to be at peace at as ones who have no
communists alike, a alone in the Soviet Union last with God forever. hope; we believe in the
desire somehow to pre- without a family, and resurrection, as we say in
serve a link with those told me how she prayed Salvation, these simple our profession of faith,
who had died, to keep I might someday return people would say, is not the Creed, and in the life
their memories alive at to the United States and measured in terms of of the world to come.
least, to cling to some die in my own country how well we make out in Death is not a tragedy in
small hope that death with my family and what we do here on our belief, but only an
was not the end of man's relatives close by. She earth; it depends ordained passage from
existence. It was an thought that dying in a ultimately on our belief this life to the next.
instinct, deep in the strange country would in God and our
Russian character and be a terrible thing, to die abandonment in him. In Death may be feared by
tradition, that all the without a loved one at failure or in success, in those who do not
learned assertions of the your bedside the greatest health or sickness, in believe, who have no
would-be experts on the tragedy. sorrow or joy, man must hope. It may be feared by
question of death in the turn to God, must trust those whose faith in
press, on radio, and on The fear of death, the fact in God, believing in him Christ and the
TV, could not shake. The of death, affects all men; more each day, loving resurrection is weak, or
people sensed deeply and yet the strain of him more each day, in those who fear to meet
what life meant to them, mysticism about death preparation for a future God face to face because
and they could not bring that runs so deep in life with him. There was of what they have done
themselves to believe Russian literature and something beautiful in or how they have lived
that death was the end of folk customs seems to their simplicity, in this period of testing
all. The family at least heighten the poignancy something that all the we call life on earth. Men
must remember. of this universal theologians and books of may legitimately worry,
phenomenon even more. theology could not too, about those they
I think, for example, of It is to these fears that the match in their approach leave behind; Christians
"good news" of to death. That I should have always prayed to be
the dear old babushka
Christianity speaks. I find it in the Soviet delivered from "a sudden
(grandmother) of the
found it especially Union startled me at and unprovided death".
family with whom I lived
among the simple first. It taught me much. But death itself is not a
for six years in Abakan
people, the good people, And coupled with my thing we fear. It is a
before my final return to
for whom the desire or own experience, it made homecoming, the return
the United States. She
the expectation of an me think, and think of the prodigal son,
loved to talk with me
afterlife was not a deeply, about the perhaps, to the
because I would listen.
fantasy or an illusion, as meaning of death for a welcoming arms of a
Somewhat forgetful, she
they so often heard it Christian. loving father. We expect
would tell me the
described by communist it, as all men must, but
experiences of her
propagandists. It was What is there to fear in we expect it in
seventy-six years over
more than a belief; it was death? It means no more confidence and even joy,
and over each day. She
something real, and no less than the end buoyed up by our faith
often talked of her
something that all the of our testing period here in Christ and his victory
departed husband: how
assertions of the learned on earth; it is a return, a over death.
she had visited him in
materialists, the proofs of going home, to the God
prison, how he suffered
science, and classroom and Father who first Christ has risen, and our
being sick, how she did
demonstrations could created us. It is not the faith is not in vain. The
everything she could for
not shake. Death to them end of life; the fact of the resurrection is a fact, a
him till the very day of
was not an end, but a resurrection proves that fact of recorded human
his death. Her greatest
beginning, a passage into beyond a doubt. There is history and of what the
sorrow came from the
theologians call course they knew and I years and nine months of restricted certificate or
"salvation history". So knew that my term was my fifteen-year sentence. polozenie pasporta. With
death for us is not an officially fifteen years, So, in the next few it, I was restricted as to
enemy, a thing to be but that fact was evenings after work, I where I could live and
dreaded, a word we shrugged off almost as a began a round of medical where I could work. I
prefer not to think about sort of legal fiction; examinations and the red wasn't allowed, for
or play down as do the besides, there were so tape of paper work that example, to live in any
communists. We think many technical preceded a prisoner's "regime city", i.e., the big
and speak about it not as violations and minor release. The night before cities like Leningrad,
an end to everything but infractions of the camp I was actually to be Moscow, Kiev,
as the end of our rules going on at all released, I didn't sleep a Vladivostok, Tashkent, or
probation. We can times that officials could wink; I simply couldn't in any of the border cities
anticipate it daily, and always find some excuse believe that after fifteen from which, presumably,
even eagerly, because of to tack on an added term years I would really be I might try to leave the
our faith. We can learn to if they wanted. They free again. About nine country. I could visit
yearn for it, prepare were in charge, their o'clock the next morning such places for periods
ourselves for it, and word was law, and the the foreman called me not to exceed three days,
embrace it gladly, in joy prisoner had no recourse from the barracks and with the express
and in peace, when at to the courts or much took me to the KGB (the permission of the police
last we are called home hope of appealing to internal security police) and the government.
to our heavenly higher authority in such office, where I sat for And, with a polozenie
inheritance. This we a case. Even my fellow about two hours signing
pasporta, one of the first
believe; this essentially is prisoners, in casual documents and filling
things I had to do in any
what it means to be a conversation, nearly out forms. I kept
city was report to the
Christian—one who always took it for expecting some trouble
police and register my
believes in Christ, the granted I would never or possibly another
presence there.
promised Redeemer and see the end of my term or interrogation, but the
victor over sin and death. the outside of prison- men on duty went about
camp barbed wire. They it all quite routinely, After the officials had
would wag their heads paying no more attention explained all this to me,
sympathetically and to me than they would to and checked out my
Chapter Sixteen shrug their shoulders, any other prisoner being camp documents for
what seemed the
FREEDO but they accepted it as set free. Finally,
hundredth time, they
just another fact of the everything was in order
M systematic injustice we and one of the officials told me to go directly to
had to endure, explained in great detail Norilsk when I left the
Many a time, during the
regrettable but a my new status. camp and report to the
years I was in prison or
foregone conclusion. police there. The police,
the labor camps of
After a while, even I they said, would give me
Siberia, officials and Those who leave the
came to believe it and a formal set of identity
interrogators told me I prison camps are not
accept it as a fact of life. papers so I would be
would never again go fully free; instead of the
able to settle down in the
free in the Soviet Union. passport issued to and
city as a free citizen. By
Sometimes they said it One spring morning, carried by all Soviet
noon of an April day in
sarcastically, sometimes however, in the prison citizens, ex-prisoners get
Siberia, all the paper
threateningly, sometimes camp of Kayerkhan, I a so-called "document of
shuffling and
merely matter-of-factly. was called to the camp liberation," which is a
explanations were over,
When I was called in for office before work and certificate stating that
and I walked out the
interrogations in the told I would be liberated you have completed
main gate of the camp
prison camp, as all in ten days. Checking my your sentence. Even
for the last time.
priests were on a regular records, the camp then, a distinction is
Automatically, after I
basis, it was almost a officials had found that made. A prisoner may
had gone about fifteen
certainty that sometime according to some new either be fully liberated
paces beyond the gate, I
in the conversation a regulations I was entitled and rehabilitated, or only
stopped and waited for
camp official would to three months off my partially, as in my case.
the guards, as we
assure me I would never term; I actually served, As a convicted spy, I got
prisoners did every
see freedom again. Of therefore, only fourteen what is known as a
morning on the way to
work. The guards at the remembrance of what it camps. Some fell into fits freedom in man, the
gate watched me and had once meant to be of depression that freedom of the soul, and
laughed—nine out often free. The strict regime of gradually grew more the freedom of mind and
liberated prisoners made the prisons and the intense under the will. These are the
the same mistake out of camps only aggravated pressures of camp life; highest and noblest
force of habit. this feeling, for there some of them simply faculties in man, they are
everything was fixed; not gave up even the thought what make him the sort
I was so self-conscious, I only was there of hope and the will to of man he is, and they
didn't know how to walk confinement behind bars go on. Few such people cannot be constrained.
like a free man. My arms, or barbed wire, but the ever survived. It was Even in prison a man
dangling at my sides minutest details of the only those who accepted retains his free will, his
rather than folded daily order were fixed the bitter loss of freedom, freedom of choice. Even
behind my back, felt and inflexible. The galling as it was, and in prison, a man can
strange. I turned to take prisoner made no resolved to follow their choose to do good or
a last, long look at the decisions for himself. instincts for survival who evil, to fight for survival
camp, almost as if I'd There was a fixed time to managed at last to walk or to despair, to serve
have to tear myself away, rise, a fixed time to out of the camps again. God and others or to
and then put my hands report for work, a fixed They banded together turn inward and selfish.
in my pockets and time for recreation or and formed friendships, Free will remains and so
walked toward the town exercise, a fixed time to almost like fraternity freedom remains, for
of Kayerkhan. There was retire at night. There brothers, because instinct freedom is simply
a train at the station. I were fixed times, too, for told them that a man defined as the state of
climbed on board and no the meager meals, and if alone ran the risk of being free, not coerced
one challenged me or a man missed them for losing out in the long by necessity or fate or
paid the slightest any reason, he simply run. Being with others, circumstances in one's
attention to me. I went hungry. But worse constantly choices or actions.
couldn't believe it. The than all these physical communicating with
restrictions was the them, gave a man some
conductor, a woman, That freedom is
collected my fare. I kept awful realization, beaten assurance. He had lost
absolute, and yet
expecting her to ask me into a man by bitter everything, his life was
freedom itself is not an
questions or to raise a experience and always exposed to the
absolute as many today
difficulty of some sort. constantly repeated by danger of sickness or a
would have us believe.
She just smiled politely. I officials, that a prisoner physical disability, even
Young people, too, often
sat down in the seat was a person without of death, and yet he was
yearn for freedom and
looking out the window, rights and to be treated not alone. Someone in
independence as if these
almost in tears—a free as such. He became, in the barracks cared—even
were somehow
man, treated like a free truth, a thing rather than if he could not do much
absolutes. They speak of
man. I kept waiting for an individual, with no to help but could only
freedom as of a good in
something to happen, for respect for his dignity or console. Even this much,
itself, as if it existed in
somebody to shout or his person or even for his however, served to
some ideal order,
something to stop the existence as a human restore to some degree a
unfettered by obligations
train or someone to point being. He was a number, prisoner's sense of
and duty. This drive for
at me. Yet nothing and most often human dignity, his sense
independence and
happened. The train addressed by the guards of worth as a person. He
freedom on the part of
began to move, and I was and officials simply by in turn could feel
the young is a natural
free at last. his prison number. sympathy with his
thing, a part of the
friend's loss of freedom
process of growing up, of
Some men were simply and uncertain future,
I guess perhaps you have becoming mature
shattered by this could share his hope of
to be deprived of individuals, of cutting
realization. Some took survival, his memories of
freedom in order truly to the apron strings and
refuge in thoughts only the past, his thoughts of
realize how precious a preparing for adult life.
of the past, trying to blot the future.
gift it is. Certainly one of Yet parents fail in their
the greatest torments to out the awful realities of duty to their children if
those in prison or in the the present and in that The body can be they let this tendency go
prison camps was the way find an escape from confined, but nothing unchecked, unrestrained,
knowledge and the grim life of the can destroy the deepest and do not insist that

children exercise their will always find glory and beauty in some more deeply each day,
freedom in the context of difficulties in this life way. Only to man and that true freedom meant
duties and obligations at that cannot be solved the angels has he given nothing else than letting
home and in school, to and so render to each the power of freely God operate within my
parents and family, to man the full freedom he choosing to love and soul without
friends and to those in desires. serve him. He has made interference, giving
authority. For the adult us a little less than the preference to God's will
world that a child so I sat in the train headed angels, has given us as manifested in the
ardently desires to attain, for Norilsk, exhilarated intellect and free will— promptings, inspirations,
that he looks forward to by my new freedom, and and that is the hallmark and other means he
so eagerly and yet thinking such of man, at once his chose to communicate,
impatiently, is also a thoughts. What did it crowning glory, his most rather than in acting on
world in which freedom mean for me to be free, precious gift, his most my own initiatives.
is greatly modified by for any man to be free? I terrifying responsibility.
circumstances, by was out of the prison Only man can freely For those who do not
concrete obligations and camps and free from the choose not to serve his believe in God, I
limitations, and it is only rigorous daily order, free Creator. suppose, such thoughts
in this real world of daily to order my own life, free will seem sheer nonsense
life that human freedom, to make each day's It is in choosing to serve or unexplainable
such as it is, exists, and decisions for myself. In God, to do his will, that stupidity. For me,
not in some ideal order. that sense I was free, yet man achieves his highest however, there could be
I was not free of all and fullest freedom. It no doubt: the fullest
In a democratic society, restrictions. There were may seem paradoxical to freedom I had ever
freedom quite often certain restrictions on me say that our highest and known, the greatest
suffers from its abuse by especially as an ex- fullest freedom comes sense of security, came
others rather than any prisoner, there would when we follow to the from abandoning my
legal restraints to its always be special least detail the will of will to do only the will of
exercise, yet suffer it restrictions on me as another, but it is true God. What was there to
does. Sometimes it long as I carried the nonetheless when that fear so long as I did his
happens, it seems, polozenie pasporta. Yet other is God. I could will? Not death. Not
because the laws or those these restrictions differed testify from my own failure, except the failure
who enforce them are too only in detail from the experiences, especially to do his will. "For if God
permissive and fail to restrictions that bind from my darkest hours is with us, who can stand
punish adequately those every man in every in Lubianka, that the against us?" Choosing to
who transgress the rights society: the rules and greatest sense of do his will and
of others. In a totalitarian observances, laws and freedom, along with experiencing the
state, on the other hand, customs, even the peace of soul and an spiritual freedom that
freedom suffers from "accepted" traditions of abiding sense of security, followed was my
lack of exercise, for the family, church, society, comes when a man greatest joy and the
laws are stringent, the or culture. No man's totally abandons his own source of tremendous
penalties severe, and freedom is absolute. will in order to follow interior strength. For to
authorities themselves the will of God. Never know that he directed
curtail the rights of again could I doubt that me in all my actions, that
Ultimately, the only
citizens. The fact is that the greatest assurance I he sustained me with his
absolute freedom we
the causes which limit could have in my life grace, gave me a sense of
have resides in a man's
the freedom of man in came from knowingly peace and courage
free will. And that
the concrete and real and willingly following beyond description. Even
freedom was given us by
world we live in are God's will as manifested in moments of human
our Creator, essentially,
many, whether it be to me. I knew only too discouragement, the
so that we might freely
freedom of speech or of well how shallow and consciousness that I was
choose to love and serve
conscience, whether it be unsafe it was for me to fulfilling God's will in all
him. All other creatures
civil or social or religious follow my own will, my that happened to me
serve him out of
or personal freedom. No own inclinations and would serve to dispel all
exigency; by their very
matter under what desires, unless they were doubt and desolation.
being and existence they
aspects you consider the in conformity to his. I Whatever the trials of the
witness to his power and
notion of freedom, you realized then, and I felt it moment, whatever the
his love, or reflect his
hardships or sufferings, make us fit instruments explanation. Chapter
more important than all to achieve his designs,
these was the knowledge not only for our own The train ride from
that they had been sent salvation but for others Kayerkhan to Norilsk THE
by God and served his as well. The service of was not such a long one.
divine providence. I God must take
It brought to mind again,
could not always fathom preference over all else. however, that first long M OF
the depths of his train ride into Russia GOD
providence or pretend to A spirituality based on from Lvov, when I had
understand his wisdom, The first thing I did
complete trust in God, been so sure that I was
but I was secure in the when I reached Norilsk
therefore, is the surest doing the will of God.
knowledge that by was look for a Ukrainian
guarantee of peace of That had truly been my
abandoning myself to his priest, Father Viktor,
soul and freedom of reason for coming, but
will I was doing as who had been in one of
spirit. In it the soul must how imperfectly I had
perfectly as I could his the camps with me and
learn to act not on its understood it then. How
will for me. released four months
own initiative, but in much I had learned in
earlier. I knew that he,
response to whatever the meantime, how often
too, had been given a
Spiritual freedom of this demands are imposed by I had failed, how painful
restricted passport and
sort, as I knew from God in the concrete the lessons had been.
sent to Norilsk. After
bitter experience, is not instances of each day. Its And now I was going at
asking around, I finally
something that can be attention must always be last, as a free man, to
found him in a shanty-
attained overnight or centered precisely and begin again what I had
town out on the edge of
ever possessed in its final primarily on God's will dreamed of doing then:
the city. A random
form. Every new day, as revealed and serving the people of the
jumble of shanties, huts,
every new hour of every manifested in the people, Soviet Union as a priest
and shacks (called
day, every new places, and things he sets insofar as I was able,
circumstance and before us, rather than on helping them attain boloks) that had once
situation, every new act the means required to eternal salvation by housed a large group of
is a new opportunity to fulfill it. Then no matter serving and loving God. Chinese "volunteer"
exercise and grow in this what these means Physically, I might not be workers in Siberia, it was
freedom. What is demand— suffering, as free to do as much as I still called "Shanghai
required for growth is an risk, loneliness, or might wish; I had to Town" by the people of
attitude of acceptance physical hardships such register with the police Norilsk. Its huts and
and openness to the will as hunger or sickness— as soon as I reached shacks were made of old
of God, rather than some the consciousness of Norilsk, and I would boards and packing
planned approach or fulfilling God's will in surely be kept under crates, built one onto the
calculated method. Even accepting them makes surveillance. But other like a series of
ascetical practices such the sacrifice easy, the spiritually I had never dominoes. The walls
as penances, fasting, or burden light. There is no felt freer, or more secure were usually double,
mortifications can be other reason to accept in the conviction that made of odds and ends
hindrances rather than sacrifice or mortification; God watched over me of thin scrap lumber,
helps if they are self- indeed to seek them for always and directed me then filled with ashes for
imposed. Striving any other motive than along the paths marked insulation. Some of the
instead to eliminate all conformity to the will of out by his divine better ones were covered
self-will, to accept God's God is the sign of some providence. with tar paper or clay or
will revealed in the spiritual distortion. But plaster on the outside. I
circumstances of daily accepting whatever found Father Viktor
life, is the surest way to comes or happens as the living in one of these
achieve growth in will of God, no matter boloks together with
conformity to the will of what it costs spiritually, another priest, Father
God. It will provide psychologically, or Neron, who had also
more than enough virtue physically, is the surest been an inmate in the
to be practiced, suffering and quickest way to a prison mining camp of
to be sustained, pain to freedom of soul and Kayerkhan I had just left,
be borne; more spirit that surpasses all but he had been liberated
importantly still, it will understanding and before I was sent there.

In this little bolok, church. On most union officials or the state in every
perhaps ten by ten feet evenings, too, there was supervisors where they conceivable way.
square, they had two generally a congregation worked, about practicing Everyone, from the
beds separated by an of some sort: for religion so openly. But I youngest child to the
altar; for this little room, confessions, or baptisms, was amazed and con- oldest grandparent, was
in fact, served as their or a wedding, or a soled by the constancy of constantly exposed and
chapel too. They were so Panikhida, the very their faith and their subjected to the influence
cramped and crowded beautiful Russian memo- courage in the face of of such propaganda. The
that I asked Father Viktor rial service chanted for these minor effect of all this upon
if he knew of some the dead. persecutions, so I was once Holy Russia has
family in the determined to continue been to change the entire
neighborhood with The crowds were so to help them as long as I social life of the country,
whom I could stay. But great, in fact, that I soon could. Even if it meant the manner of thinking
he and Neron wouldn't began taking a valise full being arrested again, or and behavior of the
hear of it. They were of Mass equipment sent back to prison or the average citizen. And yet,
delighted to see me and provided by Viktor every camps, I was willing to for all that, it has not
insisted that I stay with Sunday morning to run that risk in order to affected the faith of
them. They cooked me a another part of the city— serve as a priest for these millions of believers.
dinner on the little to an old prison camp, courageous Christians.
electric stove that served actually—to say Mass for Even as atheism exerts its
both for cooking and for another "parish" of Poles, Frankly, I often marveled influence everywhere in
heating the bolok. Then in one of the old camp at the way these people the country, so do the
we talked for hours. That barracks now used for had clung to the faith in Orthodox Church and
night we placed three city housing. Before this professedly atheistic the other religious sects,
chairs in a line, in the Mass, I'd hear country. Atheism was despite the
little space between the confessions; then, after taught and preached overwhelming odds
two beds in front of the Mass, I'd have baptisms everywhere, in the against them and the
altar, and I slept there, and weddings, in ever newspapers, on radio great difficulty under
using my padded prison increasing numbers as and television, in the which they labor. The
coat and pants—the only the people found out I schools, and in books churches are few and far
clothes I had to my name was available every and periodicals of all between. No Bibles or
—as mattress, blanket, Sunday. I registered with sorts. The Soviet religious literature can be
and pillow. As soon as the police as I had been Constitution, of course, bought or published. No
we got up in the instructed to do, then got guarantees every citizen Church periodicals or
morning, we cleared out a job, and was finally the right to practice religious papers or
the beds and prepared to able to get a little bolok religion, but it forbids pamphlets were avail-
celebrate Mass. of my own. There, too, I any formal preaching or able to the people. At
said Mass every day for a teaching about religion. some of the Orthodox
By six-thirty, there were constantly growing In fact, the law has been monasteries, however,
ten or twelve people in number of people, but I interpreted to mean that small icons, prayer
that little room for Mass. continued to say Mass on children under eighteen beads, candles, and holy
On Sundays, the people Sunday for my Polish years of age are not cards with a short prayer
jammed not only this "parish" out in the old allowed to attend church, printed on the back are
room but the corridor camp barracks. even in the company of still available, and the
beyond the open door as their parents, and priests people cherish and
well. To accommodate are forbidden to give treasure them. The
I was constantly under
the growing crowd, religious instructions to churches hold services
surveillance by the
Viktor and Neron said youth. The same article on Sunday or Saturday
police, of course, and so
two Masses every of the constitution that evening. To hold services
were my parishioners.
Sunday and preached a guarantees freedom to on other days, such as
Occasionally I would be
sermon at each, and practice religion but not major Church feasts, the
called in for questioning
there might be sixty or to preach it also priest stationed at the
and warned against
more people at every guarantees the freedom church must depend on
"agitating" of the people.
Mass. For this of atheistic propaganda. the good offices of a
I knew that some of them
And that guarantee was committee which
ramshackle bolok was, in were also interrogated by
exercised to the full by arranges for all services
effect, their "parish" the police, or harassed by
and administers the affairs. Few could or did, however, despite some Communist Party
church affairs. however; and if they did, government interference officials are baptized in
nothing was ever heard and control, despite the secret.
These church committees publicly about such propaganda and the
are directly responsible protests or denunciations constant petty There are very few
to the government. Their of the government. This harassment that takes Catholic churches in
job is to oversee silence of Church place in office or factory Russia, except for those
everything, even the authorities sometimes or school, the Orthodox in the territories
sermons—which must be gave rise to rumors Church continues to occupied by the Soviet
strictly confined to among the people. From exert a strong influence Union in World War II.
religious topics, usually time to time, you would throughout the country. Most of the Catholics in
short, and carefully hear individuals angrily Russia today, in fact, are
selected to avoid any condemn those at the Churches that still stand remnants of those
allusions to politics or head of the Church, or have not been closed "volunteers" who came
criticism of the calling them prostitutes are generally crowded, to the Soviet Union
government, party, or or communist agents. Yet and not just with during the war to work
system. The Orthodox for the most part dwindling numbers of as I did in the lumber
Church, which is still the everyone realized that old people as the camps and factories, or
"official" religion of the hierarchy and other Komsomols and the prisoners who have not
Russia, receives some Church authorities could League of Militant been allowed to return to
government subsidies for not escape the pressures Atheists boasted, but their homelands. The
the maintenance of of the ruling regime, and with young people too. "parishes" I served in
historic Church the people's esteem for Some of them come to Norilsk are a good
structures, as well as a the Orthodox Church the churches precisely example; there were
small salary for the priest and its clergy remained because they are not similar clusters of Poles
which is doled out by the high. supposed to and, like or Germans or
church committee. It is young people Lithuanians scattered in
paradoxical, to be sure, Everyone realized, too, everywhere, they want to many of the smaller
that the atheistic the retaliations that show their towns and villages, very
government of the Soviet would follow any independence. Others few in the big cities. They
Union has a special attempt by the churches come at first just out of were delighted to be able
Ministry of Cults to oppose the curiosity, others out of a to have a priest among
(Religious Affairs) that government or refuse to vague desire to them, and the sacrifices
even provides funds for go along with the rediscover an ethnic or they would make, the
church affairs; but this Ministry of Cults. It was cultural link with old distances they would
same ministry also serves quite easy for the traditions. Many of them travel to attend Mass and
as an organ of tight government. A petition are searching for the sacraments, were a
control over the churches would be drawn up, for something, something continuing source of
and all their affairs. The instance, with a certain even they do not fully amazement and
organized Orthodox number of signatures, understand and cannot consolation to me.
Church and its hierarchy, requesting that the clearly express. They Otherwise, they had to
therefore, can do little to church be closed for know from parents or attend the services held
counteract the strong reasons of public order, grandparents how things in the Orthodox
influence of the or safety, or something were in "the old days"; churches.
government which of the sort. Or perhaps they wonder if they are
works against the purity the city would suddenly missing something or Orthodox priests for the
of its spiritual structure. plan some new can find something of the most part, though,
construction project, and peace and security the would not permit other
The people were well the church would be one "old folks" seem to have Christians to receive the
aware of what was going of the buildings listed for had in God. So they sacrament of baptism,
on. Sometimes they demolition. Naturally, come. And so the faith, Holy Eucharist, or
grumbled about the fact the government would in God's providence, penance. In this regard,
that the clergy and always approve the remains strong and they were quite strict and
bishops didn't react to petition or the new continues to grow; most unyielding. Some
such government construction plan. baptisms continue, and of the Catholic priests of
interference in church Despite such pressures, even the children of the Byzantine rite were

much more open to the There were other convinced that they the mustard seed, like
Orthodox faithful. We religious sects in Siberia, alone practiced the the leaven in the mass.
heard their confessions as throughout the Soviet purity of the Gospel The faith of these
and baptized their Union, some of them message and looked on courageous Christians in
children, blessed their flourishing. They didn't other Christians as Siberia, as throughout all
homes, visited their sick, build churches where sinners who needed of Russia, was ample
buried their dead. Such they would gather for conversion, on priests as testimony to that.
priests, however, were services; the homes in agents of the devil or the
few in number. The which they gathered on Scarlet Woman of Christ is indeed a king,
Orthodox and Catholic Sundays or at other Babylon who led the as he said to Pilate, but
faithful displayed among times served them well people astray, and they his kingdom is not of this
themselves more of that enough. They kept no said so bluntly and world. It is not a
spirit which came to be records of their activities. openly. Some of my most kingdom in opposition to
known after Vatican II as But whenever they unpleasant experiences the Soviet Government
ecumenism; but the assembled in common in the camps had been or any other government;
churches officially still prayer, with readings with people of this sort, it is not a kingdom based
clung to the strict from the Scriptures, they and they would have on territory or buildings
interpretation of laws were somehow drawn little to do with me as a or structures. It is a
established long ago and closer together and priest. kingdom of justice and
intended to protect the inspired to seek out love and peace—as the
faithful from falling into others to join them. The Nevertheless, I admired Church sings in the
error, laws that informality of their these people and the preface of the Mass of
prohibited inter- services, the conviction staunchness of their faith Christ the King—a
communion with other of their religious beliefs, in the face of the constant kingdom of truth and
Christian denominations. the spontaneity of their propaganda and life, a kingdom of
Such laws seemed to prayers, made them persecution that holiness and grace that
have little relevance to aware of the presence of surrounded us all. I exists in the hearts of
the situations in which God in each other and in marveled often, too, at men and is founded on
we found ourselves in the community of the ways of divine their faith and belief in
Siberia, and the faithful believers gathered providence and the the words of Christ. "I
were the first to sense together. They were mysterious workings of did not come into this
this. They wanted to strong in their faith, not grace in preserving the world to bring peace but
worship God, to practice afraid to practice it or faith in Russia, despite the sword," St. Matthew
their religion, and to speak of it openly to the full might and power records Christ as
them it was the same others, seemingly much of an atheistic system proclaiming, yet the
Triune God who was less afraid of persecution determined to stamp out revolution he preached
worshiped and adored in than other Christians or religion, despite even the was not against the
the churches, the same terrified by official all too human failings of powers of this world, but
Christ who was offered repression. They were the churches themselves. a revolution to be
in the sacrifice of the the bane of the secret It dawned on me at such accomplished in the
Mass no matter which police and the Ministry times how futile were the hearts of men. "Repent,"
rite was celebrated. They of Cults, for they refused attempts of man or of he said, "do penance,
sympathized with one to be intimidated— and government to destroy change your hearts, for
another, supported one they had no churches to the kingdom of God. You the kingdom of God is at
another, helped one confiscate. can close churches, you hand."
another, told one another Unfortunately, they often can imprison priests and
where a Mass would be carried this same ministers, you can even God in his providence
celebrated or a priest intransigence over into set men and churches to does not leave men at
could be found. It was their relations with other fighting among peace until they are
they who first followed Christians; they were themselves, but you converted in a crisis that,
the promptings of the outspoken in their cannot uproot thereby sooner or later, must
Spirit and broke down criticism of the the good seed existing come to every heart.
the barriers; it was the established churches, among the tares and God's grace demands the
priests who reluctantly especially the Orthodox cockle, that good seed total transformation of
followed. Church and the Catholic which is the kingdom of man, for man belongs to
Church. They were God. It will remain, like God. Only in faith, only

by a change of heart, can offer us the opportunity dedication— and the on all sides by an
a man enter the kingdom to perform action after practice of these things atmosphere of unbelief
of God. Sooner or later action in proof of our does not come easily to and godlessness, an
man must learn that this dedication to the the young, or the tired atmosphere of atheistic
changing and unstable kingdom. Whether we adult, or the old. Yet that propaganda that was
world cannot be the are married and taking is what the kingdom of almost suffocating. Yet
source of his security, of care of home and family, God is all about. my greatest consolation
true peace of heart. "Seek or studying in school, or was the evident faith of
first the kingdom of working in an office or a Knowing how little of the courageous
God," says the Lord, factory or on a farm, grace is accepted and Christians I served, a
"and all these things will whether we are realized in our own living witness in this
be added to you." That is dedicated to the priestly personal lives, we can desolate land to the
the source of our or religious life, matters imagine how much of his power of God's grace
ultimate peace and little—in whatever we grace is spurned or and the existence of his
security—God's do, we must always seek rejected by those around kingdom. Their faith,
providence— but we first the kingdom of God. us. In this way we come their courage, inspired
must learn to accept him That is, all of our actions to understand, too, why me daily to offer up all
on faith, to seek his will of every day must be there yet exists so much my actions and works
in all things and follow accepted as from God evil, sin, violence, wars, and sufferings of each
it, to place our and referred back to him, hatred, immorality, day to the work of
confidence and trust must be done in a way persecution of religion, spreading the kingdom
completely in him. Once that fulfills his will, for in and denial even of God of God upon earth. What
we have done that, we this way alone is the himself in the world was I, in comparison to
must live in that spirit kingdom of God today. These things must the millions of atheists in
daily in all we do, in all promoted and spread follow, so long as men the Soviet Union? What
we say, in all we think. upon earth. refuse to accept God's was I, in comparison to
And living in that grace and do his will. the might and power of
manner, whatever we do We experience daily just The kingdom of God, the Soviet Government?
here on earth will help to how difficult it is, reintroduced among men What were any of us,
spread the kingdom of therefore, to promote the by the Incarnation of really, in the face of the
God. kingdom of God in our Christ—who came to set system around us, with
personal lives by us a most perfect all its organs of
fulfilling his will in every example of a man totally propaganda and powers
Our primary
respect. No one who has dedicated in all things of persecution? Yet, in
responsibility, then, the
tried seriously to live and at all times to the God's providence, here
main object of all our
each day in this way will will of the Father— we were. This was the
efforts, must be the
say it is an easy task. It cannot and will not be place he had chosen for
transformation of
can only be done with established until all men us, the situation and
ourselves, of our hearts
the help of God's grace. live each day of their circumstances in which
and our lives. Insofar as
That grace is always lives according to his he had placed us. One
we succeed at this, we
given to us, but we must example. thing we could do and
promote the spreading of
learn to recognize it in do daily: we could seek
God's kingdom, for by
the people and first the kingdom of God
doing this, we are at the "The kingdom of God is
circumstances presented and his justice—First of
same time disposing within you", he told us.
to us by God's all in our own lives, and
ourselves to help others How obvious yet how
providence, in the then in the lives of those
and contribute even profound these words
thoughts and around us. From the time
further to the spreading seemed to me here in
inspirations that tug at of the apostles— twelve
of the kingdom. What Norilsk. The visible
our minds and our simple men, alone and
this means in the Church, which is a
hearts. We know that we afraid, who had received
concrete is that each of reflection of God's
do not always respond to the commission to go
us must faithfully fulfill kingdom here on earth,
God's grace, for his grace forth into the whole
the duties of our daily was almost non-existent
always demands of us world to preach the good
life. The circumstances here in the vastness of
sacrifice, renunciation of news of the kingdom—
and people that God Siberia. Christians here,
self-will, effort, and an there has been no other
each day presents to us even as I, had to attempt
untiring spirit of way for the spreading of
through his providence to serve God surrounded

the kingdom than by the When all the outside in the midnight back to my room alone
acts and the lives of arrangements were more cold. There was barely and sat down at the little
individual Christians or less completed, I room to move anywhere, table in my bolok,
striving each day to figured I would have to but by twelve o'clock I completely exhausted.
fulfill the will of God. begin at 5 P.M. on was vested—I couldn't Yet I was deeply
Friday, work around the lift my arms because of satisfied; I knew a joy
clock, and hope to finish the crowd, so someone that day I have rarely
in time for the Easter had to pull the vestments known. I felt that at last,
Chapter Mass. over my head—and in God's own good
Eighteen ready for Mass. The altar providence, I was
All day Friday, I heard a was covered with flowers beginning to live my
HUMILIT and candles; we even dream of serving his
tremendous number of
Y Easter confessions, as I had a choir. As I began flock in Russia. "And all
had every night that the solemn intonation of this," was the thought
An Easter ceremony will
week after work. On the Easter Mass, the that kept flashing
always be the highlight
Friday evening, after the chapel seemed to through my mind, "all
of my memories of
Good Friday services, I explode with sound. An this took place in Russia,
Norilsk; unfortunately, it
set out to begin my tour Easter Mass is a joyous in Norilsk!"
was also the cause of my
of the city. Every place I one to begin with, but
leaving. The preceding
went, there were people the enthusiasm of the
Lent had seen some of Within the week, though,
waiting—even in the people that night I shall
the busiest weeks I've I was summoned from
middle of the night or never forget. Tired as I
ever spent as a priest. work to the office of the
the long cold hours of was after more than
Fathers Viktor and KGB. The agent in
early morning. I got back forty-eight hours without
Neron had left Norilsk charge wasted no time.
sleep, hurrying from
and I was alone, yet our to my bolok Saturday He greeted me abruptly
place to place, I felt
congregation was bigger morning in time for with the statement:
suddenly elated and
than ever. All during services at 6 A.M. It was "Wladimir Martinovich,
swept along. I forgot
Lent I spent my free time jammed with people, your missionary work
about everything but the
hearing confessions and many of whom had been here in Norilsk is not
Mass and the joy of
baptizing; on Palm there overnight in order needed. Do you
Sunday I said three to get a place before the understand?" He told me
Masses and preached at altar for this long Easter sternly to get a ticket on
each of them, telling the Vigil service. Many of The crowds were so the next available flight
people that the full Holy them, too, stayed in the great it was impossible to to Krasnoyarsk and to
Week services would be chapel after the Saturday distribute Communion, report to the KGB there.
held. After the Masses on services until it was time because no one could "If you attempt to come
Palm Sunday, the people for the Easter midnight move. Communion had back here, you will be
crowded around to make Mass, with nothing to eat to be distributed after arrested and put into
arrangements for the all day, so they could be Mass. The services ended prison. I'm in charge here
traditional blessing of the close to the altar. After at 3 A.M., but at nine and those are orders." I
Easter food. Because I the services, I started o'clock the next morning just looked at him and
was alone and there was making the rounds I was still distributing said nothing. After a long
so much to do, I formed again, doubling back to Communion to a pause, he said coldly:
constant stream of "You may leave." As I
a committee of men to my bolok every few
organize this blessing of people. I could hear the turned to leave, however,
hours to bless the baskets
the Easter baskets. In a crowds outside, going he added: "When you get
of food which filled my
special notebook we home through the Easter your ticket, I will
little room from wall to
sketched out a map of dawn, shouting the personally escort you to
wall, a new batch every
the city of Norilsk, traditional Easter the airport."
time. By 11:30 P.M.
picked out certain greeting: "Khristos
Saturday, I was back
assembly points and set home but I could hardly voskres!" (Christ is The flight from Norilsk
specific times, so that risen!), and the joyous to Krasnoyarsk is a long
get near the bolok. Even
anyone who couldn't
the corridors and the answer, "Voistinu one, possibly as much as
make it to my little bolok vestibule were jammed; voskres!" (Indeed, he is four hours. I had never
could meet me there for crowds of people were risen!). After it was flown before, and I was
the blessing of the food. swarming around finally all over, I came tense and scared as the
plane took off. I leaned fundamental truth: the humiliations arise out of unspectacular they may
back hard in the seat and true relationship the circumstances, seem to us. Yet it is
shut my eyes, trying not between God and man. situations, and people precisely because our
to move a muscle; I could "Humility is truth" is a that God presents to us daily circumstances often
feel the drumming of the spiritual adage that sums each day—and all these seem so insignificant and
motors in my head until it up well, for humility is are but a manifestation unspectacular that we
my ears popped, but I nothing more or less of his providence. So we fail so often in this
was even more conscious than knowing our place must learn to discern in regard. It is the seeming
of an uneasiness at the before God. Christ's such things, even in the smallness of our daily
base of my stomach. whole life, from birth to humiliations, occasions lives and the constancy
Once I got used to it, I sat death, was a perfect act for a deeper conformity of things that cause our
there thinking of the of humility that flowed to the will of God. Christ attention and our good
people I was leaving from his total submission had to suffer opposition intentions to wander
behind, saddened by the to the will of the Father. and contradiction and, away from the
thought that I could do It reached its crest on the yes, humiliation, in realization that these
nothing for them any cross, where he died doing his Father's will; things, too, are signs of
longer but commend humiliated and deprived yet he was constantly God's will. Between God
them to God. I tried hard of everything. "Learn of intent on forgetting self and the individual soul,
to resist the thoughts of me," he said to his entirely and glorifying however, there are no
anger that had been disciples, "for I am meek the Father by his actions. insignificant moments;
burning within me since and humble of heart." If we are truly to imitate this is the mystery of
my visit to KGB Even after a great deal of Christ in our lives, we divine providence.
headquarters, and I still experience in the must learn to do the
felt humiliated by the spiritual life, though, same. We see examples of this
way they could order me most of us are seldom in lives around us every
around even though I humble when We must constantly day. Young people
was supposed to be a humiliated. We return to the catechism planning to get married,
free man. I consoled constantly need to truth we learned as choosing a profession, or
myself, as always, with remind ourselves of the children: that God made answering a vocation to
the thought that God humble Christ, the Christ us to love, reverence, and the priesthood or
knew what he was doing who did always the will serve him in this life and religious life, feel an
—I kept repeating, "Thy of the Father, if we are so to be happy with him enthusiasm and an
will be done", but it was ever to learn. in the next. We are not interior joy they never
hard to understand. saved by doing our own knew before. Then, as
It is only natural to will, but the will of the the years go by,
After a while, as I resent humiliation. We Father; we do that not by difficulties increase and
prayed, the thought recoil from humiliating interpreting it or there is a constant need
came to me that doing experiences because they reducing it to mean what for more sacrifice and a
the will of the Father is are an affront to the we would like it to mean, renewal of spirit in the
not always an easy task dignity of our persons— but by accepting it in its initial promise or vow
— the words of our Lord which is another way of fullness, as made taken. And then it is that
I had been repeating to saying that our pride is manifest to us by the the test of one's humility
myself were uttered in hurt. That is the key to situations and —the realization of one's
the agony in the garden. the problem, and it is circumstances and place before God—really
They were Christ's own then that we do well to persons his providence begins. Then it is that the
prayer just before the recall who we really are sends us. It is so simple difficulties of a man's
hours of his greatest and who God is. If we and yet so difficult. Each calling begin to become a
trials and humiliations. see nothing beyond the day, and every minute of burden. "My yoke is
We often use them as an experience except the every day, is given to us sweet and my burden
example of obedience, hurt and the by God with that in light", said Christ, but
but they are in fact the unpleasantness, it can mind. We for our part the burdens of life, the
most perfect illustration only be because we have can accept and offer back sacrifices and self-
of the virtue of humility. lost sight, for the to God every prayer, denials, the humiliations,
For humility, after all, is moment at least, of God's work, and suffering of can be so only if we see
based on a very simple will and of his the day, no matter how in them the express will
recognition of a providence. For insignificant or of God. Can there be

anything more consoling changing world. But persists in doing exactly times had I determined
than to look at a burden, ultimately, what they are those things that are to try to see always his
or a humiliation, not just trying to explain is the slowly alienating him will in all things, and
as it is in itself but as the radical change in from God and his would I now hesitate to
will of God entrusted to themselves that has vocation. Even the accept this abrupt end to
you at that moment? brought them to the feelings of remorse that my apostolate in Norilsk
Viewed in that way, no point of interior crisis in afflict him are not seen as because it made no sense
matter how heavy or a vocation they once a grace from God to lead to my human wisdom?
trying the burden or the embraced with so much him back, but are
difficulty, I am able to joy and enthusiasm. interpreted instead as Was it really concern for
carry it in a spirit that signs that his original the courageous
indeed can make it light, How can all of this decision to follow this or Christians I was leaving
for the realization that it happen so suddenly, that vocation must behind that saddened
comes from God and is seemingly in so short a somehow have been a me, or was it personal
his will for me carries period of time? The mistake. disappointment in
with it a feeling of answer lies in a loss of having to end my first
enthusiasm, of accom- the virtue of humility, a So I sat on the plane really rewarding
plishment, of loss of the vision of life heading for Krasnoyarsk, experience as a priest,
importance, that brings as significant in God's asking myself why I just when things seemed
joy and consolation to sight, a loss of the vision should suddenly feel so to be going so well?
the heart. that sees all things as resentful at having to Could I imagine, was I
coming from the hand of leave my "parish" in afraid, that God had no
But unfortunately those God. Once this vision is Norilsk. Was it because I other way to take care of
who have lost a true lost, then the self very felt humiliated at the his people? "So I will
sense of humility— that subtly begins to assume way I had been ordered have him wait until I
constant realization of greater importance and to leave by the KGB? come", our Lord said to
the relationship between God's will begins to After all these years of Peter, "Follow thou me."
each individual and God grow less and less trying to see God's will Christ had called Peter
—have also lost thereby important. It's not our in the twists and turns aside, but Peter was
the ability to look upon failings or faults or sins my life had taken in spite concerned about John.
their burdens in this of themselves that bring of my own dreams and And now Christ, through
way. They see instead this about; it is a lack of intentions (sometimes in the KGB, was calling me
only the burden, the humility. No matter how direct contrast to what I from Norilsk. Why
difficulties, the badly the humble man had intended or should I doubt that he
humiliation; and they fails, he will reckon his devised), after all the would provide somehow
become depressed. They accounts with God and years of coming for those I was leaving
begin to pity themselves, start over again, for his gradually to see God's behind—even as he had
to question things in humility tells him of his hand and his providence provided for them before
their married lives or in total dependence on in the strange and often I came. My first concern,
their vocations that they God. bitter events I had instead, should be to
valued highly before. experienced, why should follow wherever he led,
Sacrifice, work, and In this lies the difference I now hesitate to imagine to see his will always in
dedication seem between the truly or understand that this the events of my life and
meaningless; charity, humble person and one move, too, was from follow it faithfully,
patience, and love who lacks humility. The God? "My ways are not without question or
become merely empty former sees the blame in your ways," says the hesitation.
words. They begin to himself for the disorders Lord, "and my thoughts
question now even the of his life, for his failures are not your thoughts; Yes, I was disappointed.
wisdom or the validity of and his faults, and he for as far as the heavens No, I didn't have the
their initial decision, to strives to recapture again are above the earth, so answers to all the
look for freedom or some a sense of dedication to are my ways above your questions that plagued
way out. Perhaps they God's will. The latter, far ways." How many times me, nor could I sort out
justify it with the data of from blaming himself for had I finally come to completely the thoughts
science, or psychology, any faults or failings, understand this in that filled my mind as
or arguments about tries to justify his actions reflecting on my own the plane flew closer to
changing times in a in some way or other and experiences, how many Krasnoyarsk, but one

thing I knew: I had long would have planned done. And just as surely situations and
ago determined to strive them or wished them. as we begin to fail in circumstances. Isn't it
to see always his will in That's what humility humility, we begin to about time you learned?
all things. I had means—learning to lose sight of God and his Isn't it time you learned
promised to abandon accept disappointments grace, to exclude him to to be meek and humble
myself completely to his and even defeat as God- some extent from our of heart, to give up your
providence. This was a sent, learning to lives. own will and strive to
new day, perhaps a new persevere and carry on conform to God's, to seek
chapter in my role of with peace of heart and Be thankful then, I first the kingdom of God
spreading the kingdom, confidence in God, thought to myself, that and his justice—and not
and my job was to accept secure in the knowledge God in his loving care worry about where this
without question the that something sends humiliations your plane is taking you, or
situations and worthwhile is being way. Be thankful for the what you will meet
circumstances of this day accomplished precisely KGB, lest you begin to there, or what you are
without looking back. because God's will is at think that Easter in leaving behind?
This was no time, after work in our life and we Norilsk was somehow
all I had learned and are doing our best to your doing. It was God
come to understand of accept and follow it. who planted the seed in
the mysterious ways of the hearts of those
his providence, to begin For it is not man or what people, Fathers Viktor Nineteen
rejecting the workings of he does that counts most and Neron who watered
his grace and his will. FAITH
in the plans of divine it, and it was only
My task this day, as providence, but rather because God in his Within a week of my
always, was to yield that a man accepts in providence put you there arrival in Krasnoyarsk, I
without hesitation and confidence and fulfills to at that time that you "inherited" a parish in a
without questioning the the best of his ability enjoyed the harvest and way that could only
wisdom of his will, to each day what God has the consolation of those confirm once again my
accept it in all reverence chosen for him. "For the days. Be consoled, you confidence in and
without trying to make it foolish things of this idiot, I said to myself, wonder at the workings
conform to my will or world God chooses to but don't be fooled! It of divine providence. I
understand it fully with confound the wise," says was the same God who had gone to the police
my limited human St. Paul, "and the weak arranged for that joy in station to register, as
wisdom, to abandon things of this world God order to strengthen and instructed by the KGB
myself once again in chooses to confound the console you and who has chief in Norilsk, and I
complete trust and strong." That God could now arranged your met there an old
confidence to the use someone like myself, abrupt and humiliating Lithuanian gentleman.
mysterious workings of stubborn and sometimes departure from the scene He could tell by my
his grace and his stupid and full of to remind you once more accent, I guess, that I
wisdom. failings, was the one that all things on this wasn't a Russian, and he
thing I had learned earth are governed by his asked me my nationality.
My life, like Christ's—if through trial and error, providence and not I told him I was Polish.
my priesthood meant through suffering and man's efforts. That was He asked me if I was
anything—was to do defeat, and now was no yesterday, and today is Catholic. Rather
always the will of the time to start backsliding. today. You haven't done guardedly, because I
Father. It was humility I True humility consists in anything yet in the didn't think the police
needed: the grace to learning to recognize this Soviet Union except by station was the place to
realize my position relationship always; we his grace and his will; be discussing such
before God—not just in must remind ourselves every time you tried to things, especially for me,
times when things were over and over again of do something on your I told him I was. He
going well, as they had the fact, for it is all too own, to plan ahead, to asked me if I knew any
been in Norilsk, but easy for proud human work out answers priests. Before I could
more so in times of nature suddenly to think beforehand, you made a answer, he told me he
doubt and that this or that miserable mess of your was a member of a
disappointment, like accomplishment is due efforts and had to learn parish on the outskirts of
today, when things were to the efforts we made all over again to look for the city. There were
not going the way I and the work we have God's will in the many people in the

parish, he said, but their and none was available. position to argue for personal considerations.
priest had died in the So when I finally told the long. Their faith was to them,
past week. Now they parishioners that I was a quite literally, a matter of
were looking around priest, they were They drew up the life and death. They were
desperately for another overjoyed. I also told petition and asked for an willing to sacrifice
priest. For a moment, I them, though, about my appointment with the everything else for it. It
thought this might be experiences with the head of the City Council. was not a matter of
some kind of trap KGB in Norilsk, and I He wouldn't give them a doctrines or rules or
arranged by the KGB; warned them I would direct answer, though, or practices for these
nevertheless, I continued surely be under close sign the necessary people; it was a matter of
talking with the old surveillance here in document; he insisted it belief and deep
gentleman at length and Krasnoyarsk. My story was a matter for Moscow conviction. To them, God
agreed to go with him to didn't bother them at all; to handle. Undeterred, was as real as their own
meet some other they begged me to stay the parishioners decided father, or brother, or best
members of the parish. I with them as their priest to send a committee to friend. They turned to
didn't tell him yet that I and, when I accepted, Moscow with their him in difficulties,
was a priest, but I they asked me there and petition. I was amazed at trusted in him, feared his
couldn't help marveling then to lead them in their boldness and even a judgment of their
to myself at the manner giving thanks to God for little embarrassed at their failings, and stood ready
in which God arranges answering their prayers faith; in fact, I was to lose everything in the
things. This parish on the and sending a priest. I ashamed to realize that world rather than offend
outskirts of the city even did so with a feeling of in some ways their faith him.
had its own church, a emotion, almost in tears, was greater than mine.
big, one-story, and the first little sermon They never for a moment No, they weren't perfect,
barracklike building. The I preached to them that doubted that God would either as people or as
whole inside was the day was on the arrange to have their Christians; they weren't
chapel, a long, high- providence of God. petition answered saints, but their faith was
ceilinged room that favorably— just as he a matter of principle and
could accommodate The people wouldn't had answered their of practice in their lives
more than 200 people. It even hear of my getting a prayers for another each day. They didn't
had a beautifully carved job; they told me how priest. And they were talk about it, but you
altar, stations of the cross much there was to do in not afraid to stand up could observe it in the
along the wall, and a the parish and they before the City Council, way they approached the
confessional to one side promised to take care of or even the Kremlin, and problems of daily living,
—for all the world like a my needs. Besides, they testify to their faith. They in the way they talked
parish church anywhere. wanted a full-time priest. knew, as did people about things, in the way
There was a sacristy They intended to draw everywhere in the Soviet they thought and reacted
behind the altar, and up a petition to the City Union, that their actions on various occasions. It
beyond the sacristy a Council, telling them that might cost them their was a simple faith, direct
room for the priest to live they had a priest and jobs or bring even worse and childlike, the sort of
in. I was so delighted I asking that the church reprisals, and yet they faith our Lord praised so
wanted to move in right not be confiscated. I was never hesitated. explicitly in the Gospels
away! afraid of the move, whenever he
frankly. I knew the city How could you explain encountered it. "I have
The parishioners kept officials would want to such faith in a country not found so great a faith
telling me how badly know who the priest was where atheism and fear in Israel", he said of the
they needed a priest— and where he had come were the order of the centurion, for example.
not just for religious from; I was certain that day? There was no That was how I felt here
reasons but for political my stay in Krasnoyarsk explanation except the in the parish church of
ones as well. For town would be a short one traditional one: such Krasnoyarsk.
officials were already under the circumstances. faith was a gift from
talking of taking over But the people were not God, as faith always is. Perhaps it was an old-
their church building to be dissuaded—and God was a reality for fashioned faith. It
and putting it to other after what I had just seen these people, a reality centered for these people
uses, on the grounds that of the workings of God's that they clung to and in the Church and the
the people had no priest providence, I was in no placed ahead of all other sacraments, in devotions

and novenas and not merit it—God gave it Offering is still one of the strengthen the faith of
prayers. Perhaps it to us as a free gift—but it best practices of prayer— his followers. If we are
wasn't too sophisticated, is ours to preserve or to no matter how old- serious about preserving
and some of their ideas lose. It is ours to cherish fashioned some may our faith, we must surely
on good and evil, on sin or to take for granted, think it. For in it, at the make use of them—
and penance, on and if we begin to take it beginning of each day, especially the sacrament
suffering and for granted we will we accept from God and of penance, our means of
redemption, on death surely lose it. So we must offer back to him all the peace and of
and resurrection, on strive instead to be ever prayers, works, and reconciliation with God,
grace and the more conscious of it, to sufferings of the day, and and the Mass and the
sacraments, might not be jealous of it and guard so serve to remind sacrament of the
have pleased a more it, even as the Jews from ourselves once again of Eucharist.
discriminating Old Testament times his providence and his
theologian than I was. until today cherished kingdom. If we could
Yet the Church is more
But it was also a faith and still jealously guard only remember to spend
than a sacramental
that had been tested and the realization of their the day in his presence,
system, it is a community
purified in the fire of selection as God's chosen in doing his will, what a
of believers, a Mystical
constant low-keyed people, even as these difference it would make
Body, the kingdom of
persecution, had been simple Christians of in our own lives and the
God here on earth. As
attacked and ridiculed by Krasnoyarsk guarded lives of those around us!
members of that body,
atheist propagandists on and practiced their faith. We cannot pray always,
we cannot remain aloof
all sides and at every We must make it the in the sense of those
or indifferent to others or
level— and it had unspoken principle that contemplatives who have
to the good of the whole.
survived. It was too guides our every action, dedicated their whole
Each of us must do his
precious a thing to these the center of our being lives to prayer and
part to strengthen this
simple people to be and of all that we do penance. Nor can we go
body and extend this
traded away in exchange each day. It must become around abstracted all
kingdom. Our personal
for social advancement, as real for us, as day, thinking only of
lives, then, cannot be
or a better job, or even in necessary to our lives, as God and ignoring our
developed apart from the
exchange for the best the air we breathe—for duties to those around
Church. Whether we
education for then- without it our lives have us, to family and friends
experience a crisis in our
children, whom they no meaning and our soul and to those for whom
own lives or sometimes
dearly loved. For them, may die. We must we are responsible. But
feel alienated by other
faith was a way of life; it constantly work to we can pray always by Christians, we do wrong
was at the center of their strengthen it and make it making each action and both to ourselves and the
life, of their day, and of operative in all we do. work and suffering of the Mystical Body of Christ
all then-actions. They day a prayer insofar as it if we leave the Church.
rarely discussed it or The surest way to do has been offered and Whatever the problem,
argued about it with this, I think, is by prayer. promised to God. we have an obligation
others, they probably In prayer we speak to flowing from the faith we
could not have explained God, we ask his help, we Moreover, we are not share to seek a solution
their beliefs very well if seek his pardon or we alone in our faith. We are within the Church and
they tried, but it was promise amends, we members of the Church, not outside it. We simply
there at the heart of their thank him for favors the Mystical Body, the cannot separate our
being; they believed in received. But we cannot kingdom of God here on personal lives from that
God and his Church. pray as if we were earth. We are members of Christ, or from the
They trusted in him, talking to the empty air; of this Church through body of which he is the
turned to him in so in the very act of baptism—the sacrament head, because of some
difficulties, gave thanks praying we of the life of faith—and it personal feeling of
to him in moments of unconsciously remind is in and through the dissatisfaction or hurt.
happiness, and fully ourselves of the reality Church that Christ has We cannot naively
expected to be with him and the presence of God, given us the means to pretend that God can be
for all eternity. thereby strengthening strengthen our faith: his found anywhere—that
our belief in him. And sacraments. They were he can be served and
That is the faith we all that is why, again in my the means established by loved and invoked as
share, of course. We did opinion, the Morning Christ precisely to Savior—and ignore the

Church he founded. The we do this by means of There are moments of grace and the help he
Church is full of human prayer and the crisis in every life, needs, no matter how
failings because it is sacraments. moments of anxiety and unworthy he may feel.
composed of human fear, moments of
beings; it has its share of Jesus himself, in the frustration and Faith, then, is the
scandals and bad midst of his busy public opposition, moments fulcrum of our moral and
leaders, of mediocre life, would withdraw sometimes even of terror. spiritual balance. The
minds, of selfishness and from his disciples and The kingdom of Christ— problems of evil or of
skin-deep spirituality, of retire to the mountains to that kingdom of justice sin, of injustice, of
fallible and imperfect pray. We must follow his and peace, of love and of sufferings, even of death,
men who do not always example if we wish to truth—has not yet been cannot upset the man of
practice what they preserve and strengthen achieved here on earth; it faith or shake his trust
preach. Nevertheless, it our faith, to keep has begun, but much and confidence in God.
remains the institution constantly before our remains to be done His powerlessness to
Christ founded to minds the fact that our before it can reach its solve such problems will
preserve and guard the whole life is from God fullness and all creation not be a cause of despair
faith, the Mystical Body and a going to God, to be will have again been or despondency for him,
wherein even the weak ever mindful of his will made new according to no matter how strong his
can be made strong. in all that we do. By the mind of the Father. concern and anxiety may
prayer, we refer to God Evil still exists alongside be for himself and for
A man of faith is always all that happens in our justice like the cockle those around him. At the
conscious of God, not life each day, whether among the wheat, hatred core of his being there
only in his own life but good or ill. For there is alongside love, the bad exists an unshakable
in the lives of others. no difference between a with the good, the sinner confidence that God will
This is the basis of true man of faith and a man along with the saint. provide, in the
charity, of that great without faith (or of little None of us, then, can mysterious ways of his
commandment by which faith) with respect to the escape the tensions of own divine providence.
we are instructed to "love routine experiences all of this imperfect world—
God with our whole us undergo every neither sinner nor saint,
And yet faith also
mind and our whole moment of our lives, day bad or good, the weak or
teaches him that he
heart and our whole in and day out, for weeks the strong, the sick or the
cannot be indifferent,
soul, and our neighbor as and months and years at healthy, the simple or the
that he cannot just shrug
ourselves". Faith, then, is a time. Our lives learned, the indifferent
his shoulders and sigh,
the basis for love; it is in externally are little or the dedicated. Only by
"God will provide." He
the insight of faith that different from the lives of a lively faith can a man
knows that he must, in
we understand the those around us; what learn to live in peace
the words of one
fatherhood of God and makes the difference, among the tensions of
spiritual maxim, "work
this world, secure in his
the brotherhood of all what must make the as if everything
men. Love, St. John ability (with God's help)
difference, is the faith depended upon him and
writes repeatedly, is the to weather the crises of
that inspires all our pray as if everything
one thing that fulfills all life, whenever they come
decisions and choices depended upon God."
the commandments and and whatever they may
and actions. Without He recognizes that it was
the law. But prior to love, be, for he knows that
faith, our lives are just so by the Incarnation that
and bolstering it at the God is with him. In the
many empty and boring the kingdom of God was
core, is faith; we must midst of suffering or
routines, hollow at the established. For it was in
have faith before we can failure or even sin, when
core, as day succeeds day the mystery of his
love, or we will surely he feels lost or
with little sense of Incarnation that God
end up loving the wrong overwhelmed by danger
meaning or feeling of became man in order to
thing—loving ourselves or temptation, his faith
accomplishment. With set us the most perfect
more than God, or loving still reminds him of God.
faith, however, even the example—and to teach
creatures for themselves By faith he has learned to
most boring and routine us by this example how
—and this is the meaning lift himself above the
action of every day has his kingdom must be
of sin. To increase our circumstances of this life
merit and significance for extended on earth. The
love, to love properly, we and to keep his eyes
us—and for the kingdom kingdom of God will
must strive always to fixed upon God, from
of God. grow upon earth, will be
increase our faith, and whom he expects the
brought to fulfillment, in

the same way it was Chapter Twenty Accordingly, when I got grown fond of these
established: by the daily to Abakan I went to people who treated me
and seemingly hidden HUMANI work at the city garage, like a member of the
lives of those who do TY ATK-50, and found a family and I was glad to
always the will of the room as a lodger in the remain close to them.
My stay at the parish in
Father. home of an invalid and Moreover, my new
Krasnoyarsk didn't last
his wife. Ironically, he lodgings also afforded
very long. The secret
It was this faith that was a man who before me somewhat more
police showed up one
impressed me so much his illness had been the privacy and a better
morning at I A.M. and secretary of the City chance to say Mass each
in the Christians of
gave me forty-eight Council, a party man and day without fear of
Krasnoyarsk and in the
hours to get out of town. still a staunch interruption. There was
other believers I met in
They didn't waste time in communist. Because he generally no one home in
the Soviet Union,
argument or explanation. was an invalid and living the new house when I
whether Orthodox,
They simply stamped my on a small pension, finished my shift at the
Baptists, Evangelicals, or
permit to live in however, he and his wife garage except for
the members of various
Krasnoyarsk "canceled" were happy to rent me Babushka, the old
sects I came in contact
and told me I would be their spare room in order
with. Hampered by grandmother, and so I
arrested if I was still to supplement the family
difficulties and every usually had an
there two days later. income, even though I
form of subtle opportunity before
They ignored my was a bit vague on how
persecution, restricted by dinner for Mass or quiet
questions and went and why I had come to
law, they nevertheless prayer. Babushka and I
about the proceedings Abakan and how long I
retained their belief in quickly became great
quite matter-of-factly, for intended to stay.
God and all that it meant friends, and she always
the most part in silence.
in practice. Their prayers had a cup of hot soup or
When they had finished,
and their sufferings can I lived with him and his kasha waiting for me
the agent in charge said
only foreshadow, I wife for more than two when I came home at
with cold precision:
know, a future harvest of years, until he told me night.
"Wladimir Martinovich,
faith in this land once with embarrassment and
you have been warned
known as Holy Russia. chagrin that his old These years in Abakan
repeatedly and this is
The kingdom of God cronies at the City were my first real chance
your last chance. You can
survives and is spread by Council had been asking to become intimately
either go to Abakan or
the active and about me and involved with daily life
Yeniseisk, that's all." I
unshakable faith of such "suggesting" that it didn't and family life in the
had never heard of either
people as these; it look good for a party Soviet Union. I spent
town, but he told me
remains, too, in the man like himself to have long hours in
Yeniseisk was in
hearts of the masses who someone like me living conversation with these
northern Siberia and
know instinctively there with him. By that time families and their
Abakan to the South. I
must be more to life than we were good friends, friends, and I came to
had had enough of
the future promised by and he was deeply know a good cross
northern Siberia, so I
communism. No one ashamed to ask me to section of people— from
chose Abakan. "Very
knows better than those move; yet he was also the workers I knew at the
well," he said, "now let
who are constantly concerned about losing garage and elsewhere, all
me make one thing clear:
attacking that faith how his membership in the the way up to party men
in Abakan you will do no
firmly its seeds remain party and his meager who were constantly
more of the work you've
planted in Russia; only pension. By that time dropping in to chat with
been doing here and in
God in his providence too, though, I had made their former City Council
Norilsk—or else you will
knows how soon it will many friends in the colleague. His home, in
wind up where you
flower. neighborhood and it was fact, was a meeting place
started. Do I make
easy enough for us to of sorts, with a constant
myself clear?" He didn't
arrange that I should stream of visitors. That
say anything about being
move in with the family too was an advantage for
a priest or about religion,
next door, who were also me, for people could
but we both knew what
good friends. I was come to visit and talk
he meant.
delighted with the with me privately about
arrangement, for I had religion without calling

much attention to they are looking for obligation to be human, mankind has never yet
themselves or to me in answers. They are not to be conscientious succeeded in doing.
the constant goings and sure religion is the human beings, honest,
comings around the answer, indeed they are men of their word. These There is no doubt that
house. At first I was suspicious of religion basic characteristics of such constant
extremely cautious here and the churches, but human nature are propaganda has an
in Abakan not to they are looking for more constantly instilled in the effect. One obvious
mention that I was a satisfactory answers to minds of children and all achievement is a spirit of
priest or to engage in any their inner longing and Soviet citizens with a comradeship unrealized
apostolate. But little by questions than fierce insistence. The anywhere else. Another
little it became known; communism has yet communist man, the is the very real pride the
friend told friend and offered. man of the new social people take in their
soon I was busy again. order, must be superior accomplishment,
Not, however, in any By its very ideology, to all human beings, for whether it be the
formal way or with large communism concerns on him depends the fulfillment of a five-year
groups, but with itself with the question of conversion of the world plan, or the construction
individuals and couples. humanity; to this end it to communism, to of a new dam or factory,
I gave advice, I directs all its efforts. No freedom and or a good harvest, or
counseled, I heard social system in the brotherhood and justice simply of having filled
confessions and baptized world gives such for all. the daily norms set for
children, I anointed the prestige to man as does their individual jobs. A
sick and the dying. Once communism, at least in The party and the sense of having enriched
again, I was amazed at theory and in government use every the motherland in some
the faith and the con- propaganda. Literature, means at their disposal way or other makes
stancy of these people culture, education, work, to educate citizens in this people feel a part of
and the sacrifices they science, law, medicine, new spirit of things and proud of the
were willing to make for labor, and all the riches communism. All the system. They cannot
their faith. And I grew to of the country are meant communications media, understand capitalism
love these Russian to serve the good of the the theaters, art and and say so openly. They
people as never before. people. There are slogans literature, the schools have heard their system
everywhere that read, and labor unions and and their achievements
The ordinary Soviet "All for man." Gorky's clubhouses built all over extolled over and over
citizen is not taken in by saying that the word the country for that very again through a
all the propaganda. Like man resounds purpose stress the same generation, and they
any human being, he beautifully is often theme. Even have come to believe it;
yearns for a richer and quoted, and children in entertainment and art are they simply take it for
fuller life, he seeks a school and workers in not free from this granted and think that
deeper meaning to life factories are repeatedly frequently annoying somehow or other that's
than the material things told there is nothing in insistence on the virtues the way things must be.
promised (but not yet the world more precious of the new communist Nor is there anything
delivered) by than the human being man: on the dignity of surprising about this. In
communism or the called man. Special work for a cause, on the the West the same
"glorious revolution" of expressions in daily need for honesty and the psychological effect is
building the perfect usage have been created observance of law, on produced by advertising
socialistic society. He is to emphasize the brotherhood and on the all sorts of new products
proud of his country's goodness of human necessity to give and —cars, homes, soaps and
achievements, proud of nature. A whole morality accept fraternal deodorants, styles, or
what has been has been constructed on comradely correction. even pornography. The
accomplished in a few the subject, and it The highest ideas of American way of life is
short generations, and he permeates the new social human love and charity pictured in full color,
doesn't much question order. When are stressed; selfishness and people come to
the system he lives reprimanded by and sloth and greed are believe they must have
under. But he and his authorities or by a the chief enemies. The these things—even to the
friends are troubled by comrade for some failure goal is to provide for the extent of going into debt
the same problems as or wrongdoing, citizens common good of all, to or getting a loan in order
people everywhere, and are reminded of their do for humanity what to have the latest and feel

up to date with the latest day living. One can be the stupid guy at the much vaunted
styles or developments. dedicated for a while to next workbench on the "humanity" then? Or
the goal of serving job, or the cheating abortions. Just take
Yet none of these things suffering humanity, one butcher or shop clerk, the abortions. Here in our
really satisfy people. can be inspired by the discourteous and little town alone there
Perhaps there is an notion of brotherhood as impatient bus driver, the were fifty-six abortions
unconscious, a goal, but human nature rude and ill-tempered daily—just check the
conditioned-reflex being what it is —and traffic policeman, the official statistics— and
acceptance of the human failings all too shouting party member what about the rest of
premises and goals so prevalent—it is difficult or social climber, the the Soviet Union? Is that
constantly repeated, but to support and maintain bad-tempered shop any way to foster
there is also a vaguely these moments of foreman or union boss, humanity?
realized and perhaps inspiration without some the neighbor's
equally unconscious deeper and more undisciplined spoiled Abortion is legal in the
feeling that there must be significant motivation. In brats. You can Soviet Union. Anyone
more to life than material Marxist ideology, in sympathize with the sick who wants one can have
possessions and atheistic communism, and the suffering and be it performed. The
accomplishments, man and the material moved to help them, you government says it had
whether individual or world are all there is; for can be stirred by the to be legalized in order
collective. Over and over the rest, there is only a stories of victims of war to prevent private
again, I took part in vague vision of some or natural catastrophes, abuses. The wages of
discussions with future perfect society, but it's hard to feel much husband and wife
ordinary workers and some more elevated and sympathy or brotherly together make it hard to
husbands and wives and better stage of mankind love for those with support more than one
grandmothers of that will exist in a golden whom you rub elbows or two children, so
families, from the most age to come for which every day and observe everyone wants an
simple to the most even the most doctrinaire with all too human abortion. Yet the
sophisticated apologists of failings. What claim does question haunts them.
communists, on the communism have long the man on the street The hallways of the
meaning of life and the since given up trying to have on me? Why should clinics adjoining the
question of morality. It set a date. Suddenly, I treat that ape down the abortion rooms were full
wasn't necessary for me today's communists find block or at work as a of posters, not praising
to initiate these themselves in the "comrade" out of some abortion but informing
discussions; the constant position of those first- noble but totally abstract patients of the possible
repetition of the slogan and second-century idea of brotherhood? detrimental effects on
"All for man" is the Christians who began to Love for family and both mind and body
communist equivalent of realize that the Parousia, friends is one thing—it such an operation could
TV commercials, or a the second coming of springs from something have. The doctors,
news report or documen- Christ, was not just inside human nature and mostly women, and the
tary or even some around the corner. the bonds of mutual nurses and other
cultural program or Ironically, the future sharing and sacrifice— personnel would try to
piece of entertainment, golden age of but love for mankind in dissuade patients from
was enough to trigger communism is now general, what is that? the operation. Women
reactions and start the treated by the ordinary confided years later that
discussions. citizen, and especially And how could you they could not rid
the young, with the same explain the larger evils of themselves of feelings of
contempt that communism? These guilt about it. And these
The betterment of
communist spokesmen people knew of the were not "believers", but
mankind, the abstract
used to reserve for their terrors of Stalin's time; women and girls who
notion of humanity, or a
"pie in the sky" practically everyone in had received a complete
glorified concept of man
descriptions of religion. our group had a friend atheistic education in
are very tenuous ideals
that quickly lose their or a relative or at least Soviet schools.
power to inspire or to Man, after all, is only knew of someone who
satisfy in the face of daily man—especially if he is had been to the slave Even for communism, it
experience and the the fellow next door with labor camps of Siberia. is a basic question of life
constant grind of day-to- all his petty failings, or Where was the system's and death, of wrong and

right. If life at its very greed of the Church and because of this disorder love and justice and truth
root can be treated so how the priests and we call sin. I talked about and honesty and self-
lightly, people would monks sell candles and God's promise of a sacrifice and conformity
say, who is going to stop icons for money, the redeemer, and the to the will of God, which
such a mentality from sexual perversions of coming of Christ. I spoke form the basis of
spreading? Society? priests and nuns, the of the example he set us Christian morality and
Hardly. Society cannot political influence and of one perfect human the perfecting of the
even handle properly its power politics of the life, in which every kingdom Christ had
present problems of Church under the Tsars, thought and action was come to establish upon
crime and other social the weird ascetical dedicated to doing God's earth. Finally, I spoke of
disorders. And when a practices and penances will, the will of the faith and the hope it gave
society actually endorses of "holy men", even the Father, and so restoring to men, not only of a
evil, where will it end? tortures of the again that perfect order better future life, of "pie
Can man alone be Inquisition. Every charge which had originally in the sky bye and bye",
trusted to solve that the Church or been God's plan for all but of the possibility of
mankind's problems? churchmen have ever left mankind. I talked of how redeeming this world
Look at history, and the themselves open to by he had suffered every and all mankind.
depths to which civilized their human failings is indignity a human being
countries have sunk, recounted in great detail could surfer, from a I wasn't out to convert
time after time. in the courses on atheism humble birth, to poverty, anybody, but those
in the schools and to thirty years of the themes were my
Little by little, in such displayed in the public dullest and most routine contributions to the
conversations, I would museums of atheism. life of work in a small discussions that arose
bring in the notion of That is the only side of and backward village, to spontaneously about the
God and religion, of the Church the ordinary rejection and suffering meaning of life and of
fallen human nature and citizen of this generation and pain and finally humanity, about
redemption, of Christ has ever heard about, so death, the end that faces brotherhood and a sense
and his kingdom. Of his antipathy to the every man. I spoke of his of dedication to work for
course, it depended on Church and to religion, resurrection and victory a better life, about evil in
whom I was with and based on these half- over death—that central the world and morality,
how ready they were to truths and distortions, is fact of all Christian belief about freedom and
listen as to how far I understandable. I didn't which gives us absolute peace. If I didn't make
would go or what I try to defend these assurance of life beyond believers out of anyone
would say. My closest things—God alone death, of life beyond this in the course of these
friends knew I was a knows whether they can life, the assurance that rambling conversations, I
priest and would be defended—but tried there is a meaning to at least presented them
sometimes listen eagerly; instead to steer the man and to his existence with an alternative to the
with others, I would conversation back to the here on earth that party line and the
simply state truths of faith that had transcends death. doctrines they had heard
unashamedly that I was some bearing on our and come to believe and
a "believer" and wait for earlier conversation I told of how his coming sometimes question. I
their reaction to see about the meaning of life was the beginning of a offered another answer
where the conversation and the brotherhood of new age, of a new at least to the questions
might lead. man. kingdom, the beginning that troubled them, and
—but only the beginning made them aware that
Some were curious and I talked about God as I —of a re-creation of the for those of us who
would question me believed in him, about world according to God's believed, at any rate,
further, some would just creation and God's plan original plan which all of there was a meaning to
shrug, and some would for man and the world. I us now must dedicate man and his existence
bitterly attack religion talked about the Fall and ourselves to perfect and here on earth that went
and the Church. Their about sin, of man's bring to completion. I beyond the purely
attacks would always rejection of God and his explained his teaching on human and material. It
center on the abuses that plan, of the disorder that the fatherhood of God, wasn't a matter of telling
are the highlight of all had come into the world which alone made sense them that I had all the
atheistic propaganda and the evils that had of the brotherhood of answers and they had all
against religion: the plagued the human race man, of his teachings on the questions and

problems; I was trying to good people? And what have responded to its Others may feel that my
show that the doubts and was it that made them go harsh demands with a beliefs in this matter are
the longings expressed, to their death still great deal of self- too simple, even naive;
the inner stirrings of believing? They wonder, sacrifice, in a spirit of they may find that my
their hearts and souls, as well, what there is dedication and a sense of faith is not only childlike
came from a spirit in about religion that brotherhood that might but childish. I am sorry if
man that was natural but prompts the neighbors well be the envy of many they feel this way, but I
more than material. I and fellow workers they a more Christian have written only what I
echoed St. Augustine's know about to continue country. Surely the seeds know and what I have
saying that man's heart practicing their faith in of faith that God will experienced. Many
was made for God alone the face of ridicule and plant in his own good people, from newsmen to
and it is restless until it harassment, of petty time must find in such housewives, asked me
comes to rest in him. Nor persecution and loss of hearts as these a fertile over and over again how
was it a question of my social privileges, of soil and a rich harvest at I managed to survive the
giving long sermons or personal suffering and last. years in Soviet prisons
explanations of the sacrifice. Is there really and the labor camps of
Church's doctrine or the something to it, they ask, My apostolate to these Siberia. My answer has
Creed or salvation and can it really matter people, again in the always been—and can
history—as the above so much, make so much strange and mysterious only be—that I survived
synopsis might make it difference to a man's life? ways of divine on the basis of the faith
seem—for the evenings providence, has ended. others may find too
were filled with The example of such But I remember them simple and naive. So I
questions and counter- courageous Christians, with fondness and have offered this
questions, with the curiosity and sadness; I pray for them explanation in answer to
arguments and rebuttals, questions they inspire, daily. I still remember the many questions
with explanations that do not make many them along with my asked of me, in the hope
led to further thoughts converts—nor did my Russian Christians of that it might prove
and questions and long conversations and Norilsk and helpful to those who
explanations, and explanations. But they Krasnoyarsk, with my were interested or
generally with good must surely prepare the fellow prisoners and seeking an answer. To
humor underlying ground for the seeds of friends in the labor those who feel
honest sincerity. faith, which God alone camps, in my Mass each disappointed, who find it
can plant in the hearts of morning—and I offer up hard to accept so simple
Most ordinary Russian men. God, in the all the prayers, works, an explanation, who had
citizens know that wonderful ways of his and sufferings of each perhaps hoped to hear
religion still exists in the divine providence, uses day for their eternal from me some secret and
country, and many of many means to attain his salvation and happiness mysterious formula that
them are eager to learn end. Even communism with God. That is my would help change their
more about it. Many of itself, though its express role in the kingdom now lives or strengthen their
them, too, can still recall aim is the destruction of as then, in conformity faith and cannot accept
how their parents and religion and all belief in with God's will for me, what I have written, I can
their grandparents clung God, has a purpose in his and I accept and embrace only express my regrets
to traditional beliefs and plan. It is ruthless and it daily as I have ever and my sympathy.
practices, how they cruel and violent, but it done.
wanted the children at has also destroyed much Perhaps my words might
least baptized, and they that was corrupt and has have more meaning to
recall with a mixture of started to build a new some if I were a
fondness and nostalgia society dedicated, EPILOGUE theologian and could
the goodness of that ironically, to humanity. I have written much in better explain the
generation they were On a purely natural this book about the will workings of grace and
later taught to ridicule in level, its concern for man of God and his the movements of the
school because of the has done much good; its providence. I am afraid soul I have learned only
"superstitious" beliefs. people, through some readers may feel by experience, but I am
Was it religion, they now suffering—and, that I have made too not and cannot. All I can
asked themselves, that undoubtedly, much much of it, and to them I do is state as plainly and
made those old folks unnecessary suffering— can only apologize. as honestly as I know

how the simple truths I terrible thing about all of it, but I believe it. I do that every action of ours,
myself learned only by divine truth, indeed, is not apologize for my no matter how dull or
trial and error, truths its simplicity. Whether it faith, nor am I ashamed routine or trivial it may
that I came only be the secrets of the of it. seem in itself, has a
gradually to appreciate physical universe he has dignity and a worth
even in my own life after created (like Einstein's E What I have tried to beyond human
much anguish of soul = mc2), or the Ten show in the pages of this understanding. No man's
and a great deal of Commandments, or the book, however, is how life is insignificant in
prayerful reflection, Beatitudes, or the truth that faith has affected my God's sight, nor are his
truths that sustained me we learned in the life and sustained me in works insignificant—no
finally through the long catechism—all can be all I experienced. That matter what the world or
years of doubt and simply stated. And yet faith is the answer to the his neighbors or family
darkness, of hardship how curious it is that this question most often or friends may think of
and suffering. It is my very simplicity makes asked of me ("How did them. Yet what a terrible
hope, indeed my prayer, them so unacceptable to you manage to survive?") responsibility is here. For
that what I have learned the wise and the proud and I can only repeat it, it means that no moment
and come to understand and the sophisticated of simply and can be wasted, no
so slowly and painfully this world. "It is the unashamedly. To me, opportunity missed,
might be of service to simple things of this that truth says more than since each has a purpose
others. God is a very world", says St. Paul, that man has a duty and in man's life, each has a
patient teacher, and I "that God has chosen to obligation toward his purpose in God's plan.
was a most stubborn confound the wise." Has Creator, as many have Think of your day, today
pupil. I am convinced, God really planned it so, tended to interpret it. To or yesterday. Think of
though, that he taught or is it just that we in our me, it says that God has a the work you did, the
me the lessons I have human wisdom are too special purpose, a special people you met, moment
tried to repeat in this proud to accept the utter love, a special by moment. What did it
book not for myself simplicity of divine providence for all those mean to you—and what
alone, but that through wisdom? Why must we he has created. God cares might it have meant for
them I could be of help always look for more for each of us God? Is the question too
to others. It was in that sophisticated, more individually, watches simple to answer, or are
belief I set out to write meaningful, more over us, provides for us. we just afraid to ask it for
this book, conscious of relevant answers, when The circumstances of fear of the answer we
the limited ability at my he has set the truth each day of our lives, of must give?
command and all too before us in so stark and every moment of every
aware that I have no simple a fashion? day, are provided for us The air is full these days
special claim to a hearing by him. Let the with talk of peace, of
or to credibility, yet theologians argue about commitment, of
Man was created to
convinced that one how this is so, let the fulfillment. Yet no one
praise, reverence, and
purpose at least (in the philosophers and can know greater peace,
serve God in this world
mysterious workings of sophisticates of this no one can be more
and to be happy with
his divine providence) world question and committed, no one can
him forever in the next.
for my return from the doubt whether it can be achieve a greater sense of
That is the fact of the
Soviet Union was to tell so; the revealed truth we fulfillment in his life than
matter; you believe it or
the story I have tried to have received on God's the man who believes in
you don't—and that is
tell here. Somewhat like own word says simply this truth of the faith and
the end of it.
Isaiah, I am embarrassed that it is so. But maybe strives daily to put it into
Philosophers may argue
about it all, but driven we are all just a little practice. If it all seems
about it, and they have;
nevertheless to speak afraid to accept it in all too simple, you have
some have managed to
what I have been given its shattering simplicity, only to try it to find how
convince themselves and
to speak. for its consequences in difficult it is. But you
others of its truth, while
others have not. But it is our lives are both terrible have only to try it to find
For all my apologies, the first truth of the faith, and wonderful. out as well the joy and
therefore, I am not and those who have faith the peace and the
ashamed of what I have accept it; those who do It means, for example, happiness it can bring.
written here—simple as not, do not. I cannot that every moment of For what can ultimately
some may find it. The myself convince anyone our life has a purpose, trouble the soul that

accepts every moment of
every day as a gift from
the hands of God and
strives always to do his
will? "If God is for us,
who can stand against
us?" Nothing, not even
death, can separate us
from God. Nothing can
touch us that does not
come from his hand,
nothing can trouble us
because all things come
from his hand. Is this too
simple, or are we just
afraid really to believe it,
to accept it fully and in
every detail of our lives,
to yield ourselves up to it
in total commitment?
This is the ultimate
question of faith, and
each must answer it for
himself in the quiet of his
heart and the depths of
his soul. But to answer it
in the affirmative is to
know a peace, to
discover a meaning to
life, that surpasses all

That is the only secret I

have come to know. It is
not mine alone; Christ
himself spoke of it, the
saints have practiced it,
others have written
about it far better than
1.1 can only hope that
what I have written will
strike a responsive chord
in some, will prove a
help to others, however
few. And I pray that you
may be one of them.