Father Walter Ciszek spent 23 years in Soviet prison and work camps. Never allowed to celebrate Mass publicly, he memorized the Mass and with scraps of bread celebrated the Eucharist for himself and his cellmates. Eventually he was released and returned home to Allentown.
My dear friends, we are rapidly approaching the holiest week of the year: the inner sanctuary of our Catholic life. The Gospels are preparing us with the dominant themes in Holy Week: Light, living water and now eternal life.
The prophet Ezekiel said. “I will open your graves and have you rise from them.” The raising of Lazarus is a major Gospel of Life; in it so many realities of our own spiritual journey exist in and through the lives of Lazarus, Martha, Mary and Jesus Himself. Lazarus is dead four days, that’s really dead! He is surrounded by stonewalls and shrouded like we can become through sin. But ultimately lent comes to this, can I trust myself completely to God.
Father Ciszek, in his book, He Leadth Me, wrote: “I could never find it in me before, to give up myself completely. There were always boundaries beyond which I would not go. But through the loneliness and the hardships of prison, the self-doubt, the indignity of the guards and the true suffering of the camps, God in his providence had been a constant in his grace, always providing opportunities for this act of perfect faith and trust in him, always urging me to let go the reins and trust in him alone. I trusted God before but only to a point. Only when I had reached the point of total bankruptcy of my own powers had I at last surrendered.”
To prepare for this holy week, go to confession release from your hearts that which shrouds you to the worldly, allow Christ to call you from the stony walls you yourself have built up, unleash the grace of the Living Spirit, entrusted to you at Baptism. Be free to enter more deeply the sacred walk of Christ’s Paschal Mystery.
G.K. Chesterton once wrote: “If seeds in the black earth can turn into such beautiful roses, what might the heart of man become in its long journey to the stars?”