Ave Maria Meditations
No, I was not helpless or worthless or useless in that prison. I was not terribly humiliated because I was rejected as a priest. These men around me were suffering, they needed help. They needed someone to listen to them with sympathy, someone to comfort them, someone to give them courage to carry on. They needed someone who was not feeling sorry for himself but who could truly share in their sorrow. They needed someone who was not looking for consolation but who could console. They needed someone who was not looking for respect and admiration because of what he was but someone who could show them love and respect even if spurned and rejected himself.
As Christ had set the example for me, so could I be to them an example of Christian charity and concern. If nothing else, if they insisted upon shunning me, I could at least pray for them and offer up for them to the Father of us all the suffering and anguish that their rejection of me as a priest caused me. Christ had prayed for his persecutors, “Father, forgive them.” If I could do nothing else at this moment in the prison at Perm, I could do that.
God does not ask the impossible of any man. He was not asking more of me, really, than he asks of every man, every Christian, each day of his life. He was asking only that I learn to see these suffering men around me, these circumstances in the prison at Perm, as sent from his hand and ordained by his providence. He was asking me to do something, as another Christ; to forget about self and feeling sorry for myself, and to act in the situation after the example of Christ himself … That was all he was asking of me or expecting of me … I had to learn to believe that, no matter what the circumstances, and to act accordingly – with complete trust and confidence in his will, his wisdom, and his grace.
Fr. Walter Ciszek, SJ