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Friday, December 3, 2010

Prayer Anton Luli, S.J.

On 19 December 1947, they arrested me and charged me with provoking unrest and with propaganda against the government. I lived in solitary confinement for 17 years and for many more in forced labor.

On Christmas night that year (how could I forget?) they dragged me from that place and put me in another lavatory on the second floor of the prison. They forced me to strip and hung me up with a rope passed under my arms. I was naked and could barely touch the ground with the tips of my toes. I felt my body slowly and inexorably failing me. The cold gradually crept up on my limbs and when it reached my breast and my heart was about to give in, I gave a desperate cry. My torturers had arrived; they pulled me down and kicked me all over. That night, in that placed and in the solitude of that first torture, I experienced the real meaning of the Incarnation and the Cross.

But in this suffering I had beside me and within me the comforting presence of the Lord Jesus, the Eternal High Priest. At times his support was something I can only all “extraordinary,” so great was the joy and comfort he communicated to me. But I have never felt resentment for those who, humanly speaking, robbed me of my life. After my release, I happened to meet one of my torturers in the street: I took pity on him; I went towards him and embraced him.

They released me in the 1989 amnesty. I was 79 years old.

This was my experience as a priest throughout these years. It is a very unusual experience compared to that of many priests, but certainly not unique. There are thousands of priests who have been persecuted in their lives because of the priesthood of Christ. Their experiences differ but they are united by love. The priest is first and foremost someone who lives in order to love. To love Christ and to love everyone in Him, in all life’s circumstances, to the point of giving up his life.

Everything can be taken from us, but no one can wrench from our hearts our love for Jesus or our love for our brothers and sisters.

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