Thursday 23rd November 2017

Home » Featured Today » Currently Reading:

A Book Review… The Spiritual Riches Of A Heroic Priest

October 16, 2017 Featured Today No Comments

By MITCHELL KALPAKGIAN

With God in America, by Walter J. Ciszek, SJ; editors John M. Dejak and Marc Lindeijer, SJ. (Loyola Press: Chicago 60657, 2016), 253 pp.; $19.95. Available from www.loyolapress.com or call 1-800-621-1008.

An anthology of Fr. Walter Ciszek’s unpublished works in the form of writings delivered at retreats, reflections on biblical passages, letters to friends seeking spiritual direction, and the memoirs and reminiscences of many priests and friends who cherished his memory and whose lives he touched, this collection offers the great spiritual riches of a holy and heroic priest who is under consideration for canonization.
Volunteering to serve the Eastern Church in 1937 as pastor of a Polish church near the Russian border, Ciszek and other missionaries were apprehended by Russian officers and falsely charged with “spying,” a crime punishable by imprisonment in Moscow and exile in Siberia. Ciszek endured 23 years of confinement under the harshest conditions — 15 years in prison and eight in exile that included five years in solitary confinement.
While his first published book With God in Russia describes this time of isolation and the experience of suffering in the Soviet Union, With God in America centers on the final 21 years of his life after his transition and readjustment to the U.S. In the continuation of his vocation as priest, Ciszek led many conferences and retreats for religious sisters, offered spiritual counsel to all seeking his holy wisdom, and answered thousands of letters collected in shoeboxes that he considered his “apostolate of correspondence” to all who valued his moral judgment.
In With God in America the addresses to the apostolic sisters in retreat especially are rich in spiritual treasures. On the topic “The Presence of God,” Ciszek distinguishes between God’s “ordinary” presence in the world reflected in nature and the universe and His “supernatural” presence bestowed by sanctifying grace.
Contrasting a baby and a saint, he explains that the grace received by a child remains constant until he matures when it increases or decreases, but God’s supernatural presence “is surging in the saint, because each time the saint prays (or even thinks of God), God fills the soul with more sanctifying grace.”
Simplifying this point, Ciszek adds that “God is, and must be where the action is,” meaning that as often as man turns to God and thinks of Him, God responds: “Every time, then, that we turn to God in prayer, He turns to us. Every time we think of God, He thinks more of us.”
God as Friend and Lover always reacts when man initiates. In this way man experiences God’s presence more frequently and more deeply. Awareness of God’s ordinary presence in the beauty of creation leads to a keener sense of God’s supernatural presence in each person’s life: “As faith increases, our realization of God’s Holy Presence in us and in the world and people around us grows ever deeper.”
In the address entitled “Faith,” Ciszek warns of the danger of taking persons and blessings for granted, whether friends, family, or the gift of life lest the wonder of these great joys diminishes and loses its splendor.
Likewise, if someone takes faith for granted and equates it merely with knowledge of God found in dogmas and doctrines, he loses a sense of the personal “encounter” of God “where we stand on God’s level and know Him and love Him as a sacred, wonderful person.” Without this sense of God’s personal love and nearness to each soul, faith “can become sterile, impersonal knowledge.”
Without prayer, encounter, or relationship, faith diminishes as it becomes perfunctory and lacks spirit. Like life, faith either grows or starves. Alluding to Christ’s words on “faith” in the Gospels, Ciszek argues that Christ’s references always mean a trusting, living faith, a belief in Him “as a Person who can and will change our lives,” not “just some cold body of truths.”
He cites the prophets and psalmists who glorify God because of their living knowledge of His miracles and love in constant encounter (“The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want”). Saints like St. Patrick who pray “Christ with me, Christ before me, Christ behind me, Christ within me” sense divine Providence in the concrete realities of daily experience, “knowing Him in every action of every day.” This living, trusting faith that never excludes God transcends definitions and concepts.
However, when faith is taken for granted or becomes merely an intellectual state, man suffers the temptation of relegating God to a remote universe:
“Don’t we so often act as though God is somewhere out there in the vast, impersonal sky, too concerned with the really big things of the world to be thinking of us?”
Ciszek asks how seriously people believe in the power and efficacy of prayer: “…do you believe, I mean really believe, that you are talking to God: that He, the Almighty Creator of the universe, is really interested in every word you whisper?”
In the address entitled “The Mystery of Suffering,” Ciszek especially clarifies the meaning of Christian suffering found in no other religion or philosophy. Reviewing prior understandings of the role of suffering, he observes that Job’s friends regarded suffering as a sign of God’s disapproval or judgment. The Stoics viewed suffering as a test of human fortitude and heroism.
While Christ did not remove the anguish of suffering, He did provide “a reason for suffering” and an example of its profound purpose. Christ did not suffer the agony of the cross with Stoic apathy because “He begged, begged God to take it all away,” and He complained with the cry of “Why hast thou forsaken me?” Christ accepted suffering for only one good reason: “because He knew that His sufferings would purify the world and save it.”
Human pain, like Christ’s agony, is allowed and has purpose for the sole reason of redemption — “to be co-redeemers with Christ” and, in St. Paul’s words, “to fill up those sufferings that are lacking in the sufferings of Christ.” Just as man cooperates with God in the creation by being fruitful and multiplying, he also contributes to God’s saving work in the world to redeem sinners. Through suffering that man neither desires nor deserves that he would have rejected if possible, God will not only save souls but also “raise us up once more, even as He raised His Son.”
In his letters to persons seeking spiritual counsel, Ciszek consistently gives advice that follows a constant theme: fidelity to prayer and the fulfillment of daily obligations: “Take life as it comes, doing what it demands, and leave the rest to God.”
He advises people making difficult decisions to choose the alternative that “appears more reasonable” because of higher motives rather than follow sensual impulses — words of wisdom from St. Ignatius. Special lights from God are not required when the light of reason indicates the right course of action. As Ciszek’s life in Russia illustrated, a Christian must never hesitate in his abandonment to God.
Ciszek always turns to common sense as a sure guide, reassuring people that the state in which they find themselves is the condition where God wishes them to be at that present moment. Always realistic and down to earth, he advises persons to ground themselves in the here and now and not dwell in the past or speculate about the future: “Remember, your past is in the present, and the future is where you are now.”
With great simplicity he gives insight into God’s method of judging souls: “You are going to be judged on how you affected other people, either for the good or for the bad.”
In his biblical reflections on episodes like Christ telling the disciples to become fishers of men, Ciszek meditates on the topic of vocation — “to obey the voice of conscience without questioning” it in the way Peter, James, and John followed Christ. Whether it is marriage or religious life, every vocation carries with it a sense of the unknown and the risk of failure, but “the risk is always viewed as worthwhile.”
Although every vocation entails burdens and trials, “the principal factor in every calling is the deliberate effort to persevere” and never to let discouragement undermine the original commitment. All who are faithful to their vows receive “the grace to live that life as it should be lived and receive the graces and powers they need.”

The Empty Tomb

In a reflection on the episode when Christ tells the crowd that those who hear the word of God and do it are His mother and brothers, Ciszek offers this simple, straightforward exegesis: The love in family life between parents and children, husband and wife, and brother and sister “must be ordered to the love of the Father.”
Christ honors “the eternal significance of all human relationships” because these bonds of affection in the primary relationships of family form the charity that leads to the love of neighbor and also increases the love of God.
In another reflection based on the incident of the empty tomb, Ciszek sees the simple and humble women hearing the message of Christ’s Resurrection from the angel as the reward for their gift of faith, “a Revelation communicated to them by the power and pleasure of God.” These souls blessed with this extraordinary grace illuminate St. Paul’s term “fools for Christ.” As the “nobodies of this world,” they receive special favors from God for “constantly doing good unnoticed, while helping others without discrimination, and never tiring in their efforts” — a perfect definition of the Christian way of life.
These are a few of the spiritual gems from the treasury of Fr. Ciszek’s holy life and storehouse of wisdom. To read these writings is to deepen one’s faith, grow in the love of God, appreciate the miracle of human life, and wonder at the nearness, presence, and intimacy of God’s special love for each person.
Like the body that grows in health from the nourishment of food and the mind that expands in knowledge from great books, the soul increases in holiness from the spiritual depths of saintly lovers of God like Fr. Ciszek.

Share Button

2017 The Wanderer Printing Co.

Bannon Discusses Growing Up in ‘a Very Observant Catholic Family’ in the South Where the KKK ‘Tarred and Feathered’ Priests

In a freewheeling new interview with author Keith Koffler, Steve Bannon recounted his upbringing in a “very observant Catholic family” in the 1950s and 1960s and how that molded who he is now. Koffler, author of Bannon: Always the Rebel, asked Mr. Bannon—Breitbart…Continue Reading

Bishop McElroy decries extremism on religious freedom, calls for solidarity in American politics

WASHINGTON (RNS) — In an address at Georgetown University, Bishop Robert McElroy of San Diego criticized both extremes in the fight over religious freedom and called for public consensus based on solidarity to heal our nation in this hyper-partisan age. McElroy…Continue Reading

Cardinal Burke makes ‘final plea’ for clarity to Pope Francis on dubia anniversary

ROME, November 14, 2017 (LifeSiteNews) – One year to the day after the dubia were made public, Cardinal Raymond Burke today is turning again to Pope Francis and to the whole Church in an urgent and final plea for clarity.…Continue Reading

Giving bishops final word on Mass translations would ‘destroy’ Church unity: Cardinal Muller

November 10, 2017 (LifeSiteNews) — The unity of the Church would be “destroyed” if bishops’ conferences, not the Vatican, had the final word over translations of liturgical texts, said Cardinal Gerhard Müller in a recent interview. The former prefect of…Continue Reading

Notre Dame reverses decision to end coverage of birth control in university insurance plans

notredame

In a reversal of school policy, the University of Notre Dame announced this week that it would continue to cover contraceptives for its employees, according to a report in the South Bend Tribune. The news marked a departure from Notre Dame’s announcement…Continue Reading

House Tax Reform Bill “Unacceptable” As Written, Say U.S. Bishops Chairmen

WASHINGTON—In a letter of November 9, Bishop Frank J. Dewane of Venice, Florida, Bishop Oscar Cantú of Las Cruces, New Mexico, and Bishop George V. Murry, SJ of Youngstown, Ohio called for amendments to the current draft of the House…Continue Reading

Truck honoring Dubia Cardinal stopped by police while circling Vatican

ROME, November 6, 2017 (LifeSiteNews) — Today in Rome, a publicity truck carrying billboard-size images of Cardinal Carlo Caffarra, the dubia Cardinal who passed away three months ago, and Pope John Paul II made its way through the streets of…Continue Reading

Trump admin asks Supreme Court to ‘discipline’ lawyers for rushing teen’s abortion

WASHINGTON, D.C., November 6, 2017 (LifeSiteNews) – The Department of Justice (DOJ) is petitioning the U.S. Supreme Court to punish the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) for lying to the government about the timeline of an underage illegal immigrant’s abortion.…Continue Reading

Christian nurse sues hospital for requiring her to assist abortions

DURHAM, North Carolina, November 3, 2017 (LifeSiteNews) – A Catholic nurse is suing Duke University Hospital, claiming that the university discriminated against her religious and pro-life beliefs by requiring her to assist in abortions. Sara T. Pedro was told during her employee…Continue Reading

It’s ‘impossible’ to change Catholic teaching against contraception: Cardinal

ROME, October 28, 2017 (LifeSiteNews) — The Church’s teaching against contraception as expressed in Humanae Vitae is an “extraordinary example” of how the “truth of faith” deepens and develops while “continuing to be identical to itself,” Cardinal Walter Brandmüller stated at a…Continue Reading

Thousands sign online petition to remove Madison’s bishop

MADISON (WKOW) — There’s an online petition being circulated to remove the Bishop of the Diocese of Madison. Bishop Robert Morlino is being criticized for his attitude about the LGTBQ community.  Earlier this week, an email was sent to priests in the…Continue Reading

Pontifical Academy of Sciences welcomes leftist California Governor Jerry Brown to keynote

ROME (ChurchMilitant.com) – The Pontifical Academy of Sciences is again throwing open its doors to abortion and population control activists. From November 2–4, the Vatican’s scientific academy will host a conference on the environment that will feature, among others, far-left…Continue Reading

Untitled 5 Untitled 2

Attention Readers:

  Welcome to our website. Readers who are familiar with The Wanderer know we have been providing Catholic news and orthodox commentary for 150 years in our weekly print edition.


  Our daily version offers only some of what we publish weekly in print. To take advantage of everything The Wanderer publishes, we encourage you to su
bscribe to our flagship weekly print edition, which is mailed every Friday or, if you want to view it in its entirety online, you can subscribe to the E-edition, which is a replica of the print edition.
 
  Our daily edition includes: a selection of material from recent issues of our print edition, news stories updated daily from renowned news sources, access to archives from The Wanderer from the past 10 years, available at a minimum charge (this will be expanded as time goes on). Also: regularly updated features where we go back in time and highlight various columns and news items covered in The Wanderer over the past 150 years. And: a comments section in which your remarks are encouraged, both good and bad, including suggestions.
 
  We encourage you to become a daily visitor to our site. If you appreciate our site, tell your friends. As Catholics we must band together to rediscover our faith and share it with the world if we are to effectively counter a society whose moral culture seems to have no boundaries and a government whose rapidly extending reach threatens to extinguish the rights of people of faith to practice their religion (witness the HHS mandate). Now more than ever, vehicles like The Wanderer are needed for clarification and guidance on the issues of the day.

Catholic, conservative, orthodox, and loyal to the Magisterium have been this journal’s hallmarks for five generations. God willing, our message will continue well into this century and beyond.

Joseph Matt
President, The Wanderer Printing Co.

Untitled 1

Interview With Cardinal Burke . . . Discriminating Mercy: Defending Christ And His Church With True Love

Cburke3

  By DON FIER (Editor’s Note: His Eminence Raymond Leo Cardinal Burke, Patron of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta and Founder of the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe in La Crosse, Wis., graciously took time out of his busy schedule to grant The Wanderer a wide-ranging interview during a recent visit to the Shrine. Included among the topics…Continue Reading

Developing Lives Of Peace After The Heart Of Mary

By RAYMOND LEO CARDINAL BURKE (Editor’s Note: His Eminence Raymond Leo Cardinal Burke delivered the address below at the 32nd Annual Church Teaches Forum, “The Message of Fatima: Peace for the World,” Galt House, Louisville, Ky., July 22, 2017. The address is reprinted here with the kind permission of Cardinal Burke. All rights reserved. This is part one of the…Continue Reading

Today . . .

U.S. bishop defends pro-LGBT priest speaking at Catholic college as thousands protest

DALLAS, Pennsylvania, November 20, 2017 (LifeSiteNews) – A U.S. bishop is defending a local Catholic university’s invitation to a pro-homosexual priest to have him speak at its winter commencement in the face of almost 20,000 Catholics having signed a petition asking that the invitation be cancelled. Scranton Bishop Joseph C. Bambera is defending Jesuit homosexualist Fr. James Martin’s speaking engagement at Misericordia University’s winter commencement on December 17, saying that the priest’s latest book condoning…Continue Reading

Progressives hate everything old, including the elderly

November 17, 2017 (LifeSiteNews) – Earlier this year, Maclean’s Magazinepublished an article asking a question that seemed to capture the prevailing mood on the Left: “Should older people lose the right to vote?” Because old people are practically dead, the author explained, there are some today who feel that they vote with only a short-term vision in mind, and thus should be barred from interfering with the Progress that would be brought about should young people be allowed…Continue Reading

Venerable Solanus Casey: the priest who answered the doorbell.

Vatican City, Nov 17, 2017 / 06:00 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Venerable Solanus Casey, a Capuchin priest from Wisconsin, was humble before all else, said the postulator of his cause for sainthood. The life of Venerable Solanus Casey is the story of his “humility, his simplicity, as well as his acceptance of whatever life gave him,” Franciscan-Capuchin Fr. Carlo Calloni told CNA Nov. 15. Fr. Solanus Casey is an American-born Capuchin priest who died in 1957.…Continue Reading

Swiss Planned Parenthood president invited to speak at Vatican

November 18, 2017 (LifeSiteNews.com) – The Vatican’s Pontifical Academy for Life co-hosted a conference on the topic of end of life issues that included several speakers who oppose the Catholic Church’s teachings on the right to life, including the president the board of Switzerland’s Planned Parenthood affiliate, and the president of the pro-euthanasia Royal Dutch Medical Association. The conference, entitled the “WMA Europ

Catholic priests, activists to stand trial for pro-life witness inside abortion facility

November 17, 2017 (LifeSiteNews) – On Monday, November 20, six pro-lifers will stand trial in a State of Virginia courtroom for their defense of the unborn—facing a possible jail term of up to 90 days. On Friday, September 15, 2017 in three different cities across the United States, pro-lifers entered abortion centers to talk to women scheduled for abortions. By refusing to leave the clinics when told to do so by law enforcement, they offered…Continue Reading

Advertisement(2)

An Underground Priest In China Tells His Story

MADRID (CNA) — Fr. Joseph of Jesus is a Chinese priest, faithful to the Catholic Church. Life is not easy for Catholics in China. Those who adhere to Rome are persecuted by the Chinese government, which only grants freedom of worship to those belonging to the state-controlled Patriotic Church. Fr. Joseph recently shared his story…Continue Reading

SCOTUS Will Hear California Forced Abortion Speech Law

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The Supreme Court on November 13 agreed to review the California Reproductive FACT Act, which compels pro-life crisis pregnancy centers to post notices regarding the availability of free and low-cost abortions in their physical clinics, printed material and online. The court agreed to hear National Institute of Family and Life Advocates (NIFLA)…Continue Reading

A Book Review… The Sacred Heart Vs. Secularism

By DONAL ANTHONY FOLEY Cor Jesu Sacratissimum, From Secularism and the New Age to Christendom Renewed, by Roger Buck (Angelico Press, 2016, 482 pages; $21.95 paperback, $10.12 Kindle). The Cor Jesu Sacratissimum of the title is the Latin for “Sacred Heart of Jesus,” and the premise of Roger Buck’s sizable volume is that the Sacred…Continue Reading

Neither Left Nor Right, But Catholic… Questions In The Aftermath Of The Las Vegas Tragedy

By STEPHEN M. KRASON (Editor’s Note: Stephen M. Krason’s Neither Left nor Right, but Catholic column appears monthly [sometimes bimonthly]. He is professor of political science and legal studies and associate director of the Veritas Center for Ethics in Public Life at Franciscan University of Steubenville. He is also co-founder and president of the Society…Continue Reading

A Movie Review… “The Star” Shines For Christmas

By REY FLORES As children, many of us grew up watching television, particularly memorable special broadcasts of The Wizard of Oz, Rankin and Bass’ Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, and of course, all the holiday-themed Peanuts animated specials. My favorite was A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving where Snoopy and his little bird friend Woodstock fix a Thanksgiving…Continue Reading

Advertisement

Our Catholic Faith (Section B of print edition)

Advent And The Time Of Testing

By FR. ROBERT ALTIER First Sunday Of Advent (YR B) Readings: Isaiah 63:16b-17, 19b, 64:2-7 1 Cor. 1:3-9 Mark 13:33-37 As we begin a new Church year, we kick off with a question that burns in the hearts of many people: You are our Father, our Redeemer; why do you let us wander from your ways and harden our hearts…Continue Reading

Fr. Brian Harrison Says… It’s Not “Dissent” To Criticize “Confusing Cascade Of Papal Novelties”

By DIANE MONTAGNA ROME (LifeSiteNews) — Earlier this year, a group of over 60 scholars issued an almost unprecedented “filial correction” to Pope Francis, charging him with permitting the spread of seven heresies. This measure, unseen since the fourteenth century, has generated controversy around the world, while the number of signatories has risen to 250 professors and priests since it…Continue Reading

A Leaven In The World… The Kingmakers Reject A Papal Favorite

By FR. KEVIN M. CUSICK The approval of one’s peers is a highly prized trophy in the complicated world of adult professional relationships. Many work for years in obscurity with little acknowledgment. The opportunity to be championed and appreciated is a blessing not to be taken askance when other forms of promotion are no longer possible for those already at…Continue Reading

The Sacraments Instituted By Christ… The Cisterns Of Grace

By RAYMOND DE SOUZA, KM Part 3 In the last article, I finished the text with a prayer for the bishops of Malta, who now allow people living in adultery to receive Holy Communion. May our Lady guide them to repentance, and to correct their wrong teaching, lest they answer before God our Lord for leading people into committing a…Continue Reading

The Recipient, Minister, And Celebration Of Holy Orders

By DON FIER A significant reform of Vatican Council II, as we saw last week, was the restoration of the permanent diaconate in the Western Church “as a proper and permanent rank of the hierarchy” (Lumen Gentium, n. 29 § 2). An ordained ministry that has always been retained by the Churches of the East, it can be conferred on…Continue Reading

Catholic Heroes… St. Vicente Liem De La Paz

By CAROLE BRESLIN Vietnam received its first missionaries of the Catholic Church in the 1500s. These missionaries were predominantly Portuguese in the 16th century, with French Jesuits and the Dominicans coming in the 17th century. Throughout the following centuries the priests and missionaries suffered excruciating tortures and martyrdom. When the Communists captured northern Vietnam, Catholics fled to the south and…Continue Reading

Catholic Heroes… St. Margaret Of Scotland

By CAROLE BRESLIN Quite frequently saints have left their home country and died in another country, but most of them died in a foreign land because they left to serve as missionaries to Asia, Africa, or America. The land of Hungary, however, has seen a few saints depart because they were of royal families, including St. Elizabeth of Hungary, who…Continue Reading