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Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Prayer: Walter Ciszek, S.J.

After twenty-three years inside the Soviet Union, fifteen of them spent in Soviet prisons or the prison camps of Siberia – I have been asked… “How did you manage to survive?” … To me, the answer is simple and I can say quite simply: Divine Providence. But how can I explain it?

I don’t just mean that God took care of me. I mean that He called me to, prepared me for, then protected me during those years in Siberia. I am convinced of that; but then, it is my life and I have experienced His hand at every turning.

I had decided I was going to be a Jesuit, so one morning I caught the train to New York without telling anyone. Somehow, I found my way to the office of the Jesuit Provincial. The brother in charge of the door told me the Provincial wasn’t in. I wouldn’t tell him what I wanted; I just asked when the Provincial would be back. He said the Provincial would return that evening, and I asked if I could see him. The brother shrugged his shoulders and I left.

At 7:00 I returned to the Provincial’s residence and asked if he had returned. The brother told me to take a seat in the parlor. About eight o’clock, Father Kelly, the Provincial, came into the parlor and asked me what it was all about. I told him who I was, and that I wanted to be a Jesuit. He looked at me for a moment, then sat down. He wanted to know about my parents. I told him I was twenty-four years of age and the decision was mine to make. Then I reminded him of St. Stanislaus’ walk from Warsaw to Rome to see the Jesuit Provincial there. Father Kelly just stared at me, so I rushed on, trying to explain why I wanted to be a Jesuit…

Father Kelly returned to tell me things would probably work out all right, but that I should go home and wait for his answer…. It was more than joy – it was a deep and soul-satisfying peace. It was something more, too, than just the quiet and release from tension that follows the settling of any emotional problem – it was a positive and deep-seated happiness akin to the feeling of belonging or of having reached safe harbor, but deeper than that and a gift from God.

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