Thursday, November 29, 2012

Fr. Walter Ciszek and the kingdom of God

I'm following up on yesterday's blog about American Jesuit priest Father Walter J. Ciszek, author of "With God in Russia" and "He Leadeth Me."

As you may recall, Ciszek, who was captured by the Russian army during World War II and convicted of being "a Vatican Spy," spent 23 years in Soviet prisons and labor camps in Siberia. 

His account of those years as described in "He Leadeth Me," is an extraordinary and genuine testament of faith, and an intimate and deeply honest peek into one man's faithful heart. On his chapter titled "Retreats," Ciszek describes his efforts to engage and sustain the spiritual being of other prisoners, as well as fellow prisoner-priests. 

Fr. Ciszek married a couple (seated at his right and left) in Norilsk, USSR in 1955.

But don't take my word for it. Here are a few excerpts from Ciszek's unfolding understanding on the kingdom of God
"They had to convince themselves, these prisoner priest, of the need to renew their faith in the belief that Christ's victory was guarantee of their victory. The kingdom of God had to be worked out on earth, for that was the meaning of the Incarnation. It had to be worked out by men, by other Christs; it had to be worked out this day, each day, by constant effort and attention to just those persons and circumstances God presented to them that day."
"Each day, every day of our lives, God presents to us the people and opportunities upon which he expects us to act. He expects no more of us, but he will accept nothing less of us; and we fail in our promise and commitment if we do not see in the situations of every moment of every day his divine will."
"That is how the kingdom of God has been spread from the time of Christ's coming until now. It depends on the faith and commitment of every man... Every moment of every man's life is precious in God's sight, and none must be wasted through doubt and discouragement. The work of the kingdom, the work of laboring and suffering with Christ, is no more spectacular for the most part than the routine of daily living."
"The kingdom of God will not be brought to fulfillment on earth by one great, sword-swinging battled against the powers of darkness, but only by each of us laboring and suffering day after day as Christ labored and suffered, until all things at last have been transformed. 
"And this process of transformation continues to the end of time."

[Note: go here to view video clips of people who knew Fr. Ciszek, speaking about their memories of him."