The Kingdom of God is within you, Christ told us.
How obvious yet how profound these words seemed to me here in Norilsk. The visible Church, which is a reflection of God's Kingdom here on earth, was almost non-existent here in the vastness of Siberia. Christians here, even as I, had to attempt to serve God surrounded on all sides by an atmosphere of unbelief and godlessness, an atmosphere of atheistic propaganda that was almost suffocating. Yet my greatest consolation was the evident faith of the courageous Christians I served, a living witness in this desolate land to the power of God's grace and the existence of his Kingdom. Their faith, their courage, inspired me daily to offer up all my actions and works and sufferings of each day to the work of spreading the Kingdom of God upon earth.
What was I, in comparison to the millions of atheists in the Soviet Union? What was I, in comparison to the might and power of the Soviet Government? What were any of us, really, in the face of the system around us, with all its organs of propaganda and powers of persecution? Yet, in God's providence, here we were. This was the place he had chosen for us, the situation and circumstances in which he had placed us. One thing we could do and do daily: we could seek first the Kingdom of God and his justice — First of all in our own lives, and then in the lives of those around us. From the time of the Apostles — twelve simple men, alone and afraid, who had received the commission to go forth into the whole world to preach the good news of the Kingdom — there has been no other way for the spreading of the Kingdom than by the acts and the lives of individual Christians striving each day to fulfill the will of God.
Father Walter Ciszek, S.J. "For God all things are possible." excerpt from He Leadeth Me (San Francisco, CA: Ignatius Press, 1973).
Reprinted with permission of the publisher, Ignatius Press.
Father Walter Ciszek, S.J. was a Polish-American Jesuit priest known for his clandestine missionary work in the Soviet Union between 1939 and 1963. Fifteen of these years were spent in confinement and hard labor in the Gulag, including five in Moscow's infamous Lubyanka prison. He was released and returned to the United States in 1963. Father Ciszek is the author of He Leadeth Me, and With God in Russia.
Since 1990, Ciszek has been under investigation by the Roman Catholic Church for possible beatification or canonization. His current title is a Servant of God.Copyright © 1973 Ignatius Press
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