Wednesday, December 12, 2012

A Reflection on Fr. Walter Ciszek's "Albertyn"

      In reading the first chapter of Walter Ciszek’s He Leadeth Me, the following section grabbed me:
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 men turn to him and ask, “Why?” – indeed we are almost forced to turn to him, again and at last, for help and for 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 so long forgetting 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 the many 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.   (Ciszek 23)
     Contextually, Fr. Ciszek is discussing the 1939 Russian invasion of a small town, Albertyn, Poland and how it destroyed people’s ability to practice their faith and live freely.  People were comfortable and thought little of God while in that comfort.  Once the Russians invaded, everything changed.  But the depth of this message goes further.  
     How many times do we take our lives for granted and ignore God’s love and blessings?  Many of us truly believe that our achievements are due to our own actions and nothing else.  We walk around in our lives of spending, eating, and working and think nothing of God until we need him to fix something.  Only when we are broken, desperate, and can’t seem to remedy the hurt ourselves do we reach for God, finally, for “help and support and consolation.” The mystery Fr. Ciszek speaks of is at work in our world every day through “God in his providence” making “use of our tragedies to remind our fallen human nature of his presence and his love.”  When we hurt, of course, it is not God’s will.  For God “does not send us tragedies to punish us for so long forgetting him”; instead, it is our selfishness, worldliness, and lack of humility that is at fault.  God is always there, and due to our selfishness, we don’t care enough to look for him.  God is the one who provides us our daily bread, not ourselves.  Through faith, we need only collect a days worth of manna.  God will always provide.