To despair is to give up all hope.
Jesuit Father Walter J. Ciszek certainly knew what it was to despair.
He was captured by the Russian army during World War II and convicted of being a “Vatican spy.” He spent some twenty-three agonizing years in Soviet prisons and the labor camps of Siberia. In his deeply personal story, He Leadeth Me, he relates how it was only through an utter reliance on God’s will that he managed to endure.
And yet he tells of the courage he found in prayer – a courage that eased the loneliness, the pain, the frustration, the anguish, the fears, the despair. For, as Ciszek recalls, the solace of spiritual contemplation gave him an inner serenity upon which he was able to draw amid the “arrogance of evil” that surrounded him.
Sadly, I think we are not only currently experiencing a period of great despair in our own Country,
but also that we are in need of profound prayer in our World today.
He Leadeth Me is a book which, even in today’s current dark times, will inspire all Christians to greater faith and trust in God.
May you too, be inspired…
(The following is written in Father Ciszek’s own words & borrowed from He Leadeth Me, pages 191 – 194)
“We are not alone in our faith.
We are members of the Church, the Mystical Body, the kingdom of God here on earth.
Yet the Church is more than a sacramental system – it is a community of believers. And as members of that body, we cannot remain aloof or indifferent to others or to the good of the whole. Each of us must do our part to strengthen this body and extend this kingdom.
Our personal lives, then, cannot be developed apart from the Church.
Whatever the problem, we have an obligation flowing from the faith we share to seek a solution within the Church and not outside it. We simply cannot separate our personal lives from that of Christ, or from the body of which he is the head, because of some personal feeling of dissatisfaction or hurt. We cannot naively pretend that God can be found anywhere – that he can be served and loved and invoked as Savior – and ignore the Church he founded. The Church is full of human failings because it is composed of human beings; it has its share of scandals and bad leaders, of mediocre minds, of selfishness and skin-deep spirituality, of fallible and imperfect men who do not always practice what they preach.
Nevertheless, it remains the institution Christ founded to preserve and guard the faith, the Mystical Body wherein even the weak can be made strong.
A man of faith is always conscious of God, not only in his own life but in the lives of others. This is the basis of true charity, of that great commandment by which we are instructed to “love God with our whole mind and our whole heart and our whole soul, and our neighbor as ourselves.” Faith, then, is the basis for love; it is in the insight of faith that we understand the fatherhood of God and the brotherhood of all men. Love, Saint John writes repeatedly, is the one thing that fulfills all the commandments and the law. But prior to love, and bolstering it at the core, is faith; we must have faith before we can love, or we will surely end up loving the wrong thing – loving ourselves more than God, or loving creatures for themselves – and this is the meaning of sin. To increase our love, to love properly, we must strive always to increase our faith, and we do this by means of prayer and the sacraments.
….Only by a lively faith can a man learn to live in peace among the tensions of this world, secure in his ability (with God’s help) to weather the crises of life, whenever they come and whatever they may be, for he knows that God is with him. In the midst of suffering or failure or even sin, when he feels lost or overwhelmed by danger or temptation, his faith still reminds him of God. By faith he has learned to lift himself above the circumstances of this life and to keep his eyes fixed upon God, from whom he expects the grace and the help he needs, no matter how unworthy he may feel.
Faith, then, is the fulcrum of our moral and spiritual balance.
The problems of evil or of sin, of injustice, of sufferings, even of death, cannot upset the man of faith or shake his trust and confidence in God.
His powerlessness to solve such problems will not be a cause of despair or despondency for him, no matter how strong his concern and anxiety may be for himself and for those around him. At the core of his being there exists an unshakable confidence that God will provide, in the mysterious ways of his own divine providence.
And yet faith also teaches him that he cannot be indifferent, that he cannot just shrug his shoulders and sigh, “God will provide.” He knows that he must, in the words of one spiritual maxim,
‘work as if everything depended upon him and pray as if everything depended upon God.’ “
Will you please join me in doing the work?
hugs n’ blessings to all the happy faithful willing to do what is necessary!