Tuesday, November 27, 2012

The Body

Years ago I read Walter Ciszek's book, "With God in Russia," and became entranced by his story.

Video on the life of Servant of God Walter Ciszek, SJ, 
featuring insights from his friend Daniel Flaherty, SJ, 
who helped Fr. Ciszek write "With God in Russia" and "He Leadeth Me."

American Jesuit priest Father Walter J. Ciszek spent 23 agonizing years in Soviet prisons and in Siberia's labor camps. "With God in Russia" describes his journey, struggles, physical and spiritual suffering--in painful honesty. And it made me want to know more about this faithful man who lived in complete reliance of God's will, no matter what hardship and suffering he endured.

That's when I picked up "He Leadeth Me," a book that has become a "go to" guide in my own spiritual walk. No doubt you'll hear more about it in the future!

Fr. Ciszek in Norilsk, USSR - 1955

For today, some excerpts from his chapter on The Body:
"'Man is a creature composed of body and soul.' We have recited that truth from the day we first learned our catechism. But until the body fails us, or pains us, or forces itself upon our attention by some little twinge or complete collapse, we tend to take for granted this first and most precious of God's gifts to man or to give it short shrift."
"What came to me in the prison camps was a tremendous respect and love for the poor old body. It was the body that bore the brunt of all suffering, though the soul might well experience anguish. And it was the body that had to sustain you, for all the strength of will and determination a might have. It was the body that felt the sting of the wind, the bite of the cold, the cramp of aching muscles, the raw lash of cracked and bleeding flesh, the gnawing agony of hunger in the belly, the soreness and numbness of overtaxed sinews... and yet somehow it always managed to get you through one more day. It was the body that underwent the suffering, felt the agony, and carried the heavy weight across its shoulders of this daily passion and slow death of inhuman work."
"It is in the body that we exist and work out our salvation. It is in the body that we see and take delight in the beauties of God's created universe, and in the body that we ourselves bear the marks of Christ's passion."
"God by his Incarnation took on a human body."
"For each of us salvation means no more and no less than taking up daily the same cross of Christ, accepting each day what it brings as the will of God, offering back to God each morning all the joys, works, and sufferings of that day. But those are abstract words."
"What it means, in practice, is spelled out as always by the poor old body. It means getting up each morning and going to bed exhausted. It means the routine, not the spectacular. It can mean drudgery, pain, putting aside pleasures, happiness, or the love the human heart craves until another time, so that what is necessary at the moment can be done. It means working for others, touching the lives of others, through the medium of the body."