Monday, August 6, 2012

The peace of abandonment to God's will--on a prison train to the labor camps

"...I thought again of that text: "The children of this world are wiser than the children of light." It seemed a peculiar thing to keep running through my mind, and yet a strange and exciting challenge for a priest-apostle on a prison train heading for the labor camps. The challenge seemed plain. Could my sacrifice, could my total dedication, could my stamina in doing the will of God be less than that of the children of this world? They knew that in order to survive a long sentence a man had to face and conquer one day at a time. Had I not resolved to see each day, one day at a time, as a gift of God within whose confines I was to accomplish his will? The prisoners survived by taking life as it came, rolling with the punches, hoping only to survive each day as it happened, one day at a time. Surely my motivation ought to help me see beyond that. Each day to me should be more than an obstacle to be gotten over, a span of time to be endured, a sequence of hours to be survived. For me, each day came forth from the hand of God newly created and alive with opportunities to do his will. For me, each day was a series of moments and incidents to be offered back to God, to be consecrated and returned in total dedication to his will. That was what my priesthood demanded of me, as it demanded of every Christian.

The children of this world were dedicated to surviving this life by whatever method possible. I, too, must be totally dedicated, but with an added dimension. I must not seek to avoid hardships or to soften their impact. I must see in them the will of God and through them work out my salvation. Otherwise, I would be acting rather as a child of this world than a child of light. I would be acting not out of faith but as a fatalist. I would have survived a series of moments, a succession of days, but I would have made nothing of them nor of myself. I resolved again, therefore, to accept each day and every moment as from God's hands, and to offer it back to him as best I could. I would not merely passively survive, like the children of this world, but with his help and his grace I would actively participate—and I would survive. I never doubted that, because I did not fear non-survival. Death would simply be a call to return to the God I served each day. My life was to do the will of God, as the prayer our Savior taught us put it quite simply, "On earth as in heaven." His will would determine how long I would spend on earth.

In such thoughts and prayers, peace returned. It was the peace, once again, that total abandonment to God's will brings. Only this time I was not in the quiet confines of a solitary cell in Lubianka, I was in the corner of a rough, jolting, profane prison car. My situation had not improved, but my disposition in the acceptance of God's will had returned. Along with it had come peace and a renewed confidence—not in my own ability to survive, but a total trust and confidence in God's ability to sustain me and provide me with whatever strength I needed to meet the challenges he would send me. What greater peace and confidence could I require? I even looked forward to laboring again in his vineyard..."

From Walter J. Ciszek's book He Leadeth me

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