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He Leadeth Me: An Extraordinary Testament of Faith Paperback – May 6, 2014
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From the Back Cover
Captured by the Russian army during World War II and convicted of being a "Vatican spy", American Jesuit Father Walter J. Ciszek spent some 23 agonizing years in Soviet prisons and the labor camps of Siberia. He here recalls how it was only through an utter reliance on God's will that he managed to endure. He tells of the courage he found in prayer - a courage that eased the loneliness, the pain, the frustrations, the anguish, the fears, the despair. For, as Ciszek relates, the solace of spiritual contemplation gave him an inner serenity upon which he was able to draw amid the "arrogance of evil" that surrounded him. Learning to accept even the inhuman work of toiling in the infamous Siberian gulags as a labor pleasing to God, he was able to turn the adverse forces of circumstance into a source of positive value and a means of drawing closer to the compassionate and never-forsaking Divine Spirit.
About the Author
WALTER J. CISZEK, S.J. (1904-1984), was a Polish-American Jesuit priest known for his missionary work in the Soviet Union during and after World War II. He was eventually arrested by the Soviets as a spy and spent fifteen years in the Gulag. He was released and returned to the United States in 1963, after which he wrote two books, including the memoir With God in Russia, and served as a spiritual director. Since 1990, Ciszek has been under investigation by the Roman Catholic Church for anonization. His current title is Servant of God.
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Top Customer Reviews
Fr. Ciszek is being investigated for possible canonization. He would be a saint along the lines of St. Peter, rather than along the lines of St. Therese of Lisieux. He volunteered for service in Stalinist Russia. He had always wanted to do the will of God, until he was severely challenged by repeated interrogations in prison in Stalinist Russia. His realization of his weakness was the turning point in his life, much as St. Peter's was after he denied Christ.
What we learn from this book is that we should accept and rely on God's will, with our eye on the ultimate goal (union with God), even in our seemingly insignificant daily activities. Now that you know what you would learn, you may decide that you need not read the book. Don't be deceived. You will not learn the lesson from reading that one sentence but rather by reading Fr. Ciszek's own account of his failings, his humility, and his reaction to adverse conditions in prison and out. His experiences, and his insight into his behavior, will burn the lesson into your brain. We all experience the same challenges and frustrations, albeit to a lesser intensity. For example, we are all sometimes placed with people who are obnoxious and overbearing, but not to the intensity of Communist prison guards. You can see how Father turns such circumstances into an opportunity to accede to God's will.
Father will teach you much about life. He will convince you that people can become so imbued with sin that they feel that society owes them something, thereby justifying their actions against society. He will also show that all work, even forced labor, is ennobling; that suffering is good; and that elaborate surroundings are not necessary for a devout Mass. He will show you that keeping people busy is effective in keeping them from a spiritual life - a lesson we might apply to ourselves or to our media-swamped teenagers. He also shows that the atheistic Communists were able to devise an effective moral code by brainwashing everyone, from childhood onward, to believe that living for others is what is good. Their moral code was not far from the mark, being the second great commandment. If they had included the first, reason rather than brainwashing could have been used.
With this book, you will humbly see your human weakness in the awesome sight of God.
The wisdom he learned after five years in solitary confinement and 20+ years at a Siberian slave labor camp is not just how to grow closer to God in the face of great upheaval and suffering, but how to know and live God's will in the face of the frustrating, the humdrum, and the mundane.
I can't recommend this book highly enough to everyone -- whether you're experiencing great suffering or just frustrated by the daily grind, you will undoubtedly find Fr. Ciszek's story life-changing.
This is a great spiritual treatise that we can use to learn and imitate what he did, especially when living in extreme conditions or just bearing with very difficult circumstances of life.