Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Spirituality: Walter Ciszek

Written about Albertyn, Poland, where he was stationed in September, 1939,
at the outbreak of the Second World War
By Walter J. Ciszek, S.J. (1904 – 1984)

And so it is in each of our lives. It is a sad commentary on our human frailty that we fail to think of God or see him behind the comfortable routines of our day-to-day existence. It is only in a crisis that we remember him and turn to him, often as querulous and questioning children. It is in moments of loss or family tragedy or personal despair that [we] turn to him and ask, “Why?” [We] indeed are almost forced to turn to him, again and at last, for help and support and consolation. Mysteriously, God in his providence must make use of our tragedies to remind our fallen human nature of his presence and his love, of the constancy of his concern and care for us. It is not vindictiveness on his part; he does not send us tragedies to punish us for having so long forgotten him. The failing is on our part. He is always present and ever faithful; it is we who fail to see him or look for him in times of ease and comfort, to remember he is there, shepherding and guarding and providing us [with] the very things we come to count on and expect to sustain us every day. Yet we fail to remember that, comfortable as we are in our established order and the status quo, as day follows day.

So it was as the war [World War II] tore apart the fabric of our once peaceful lives, my own included, that I came to understand more clearly and in some small way this truth in all its terrible simplicity: “Do not be anxious, therefore, saying what shall we eat or what shall we wear, or where shall we sleep, for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. Seek first the kingdom of God and his justice.” We would survive, although the world around us had changed completely … One thing only need be of great concern to us in all this seeming upheaval and catastrophe: to be faithful to God and to look to him in everything, confident of his love and constancy, aware that this world and the new order was not our lasting city and more than the previous one had been, and striving always to know his will and to do it each day of our lives.

Walter J. Ciszek, S.J., He Leadeth Me, pp. 22-23.