by Fr. Walter Ciszek, SJ
Imprisoned in Russia for 23 years as a Vatican spy
These are some thoughts on discernment (whether as a priest he should leave his post and head into Russia) I shared these quotes a while back with the wretches, but I think we were only about 20 strong back then. So here you are:
"The moment Makar spoke of going to Russia my heart leapt. I was so excited, so seized by a deep interior joy, that I had to restrain my emotions in order not to seem foolish... It was as if my whole life, in God's plan, had pointed to this moment... It was not that easy,though. The next morning brought with it a flood of second thoughts.
Wasn't I interpreting the present situation as a 'sign' of God's providence only because I wanted it to be that way?
Wasn't I merely following my own desires and simply calling them God's will for me?
Anyone who has ever wrestled with his conscience over a particular course of action has experienced what I went through then. Any young man or woman who has felt called to a vocation and then hesitated, wondering if the call is genuine, knows the agonies of such second thoughts and how powerful the counter arguments can be."
[So, he decides not to go to Russia, and to stay where he was placed because "that much of His will was certain" but then: ]
"Yet hardly had I made that decision, in all sincerity and with firm conviction, than I was again distraught. I felt no peace, no joy, noease of heart at having finally resolved my problem. Prayer became difficult, almost impossible. I felt my faith was weakened... I was distracted by the feeling I had broken a pattern that had dominated my whole life up till now. For this decision was a break with the way I had always experienced and interpreted the workings of divine providence in my life, had always striven to see God's will in everything and follow it. Most important, however, was the loss of that deep interior sense of peace, that sense of joy and enthusiasm, that strong spirit of faith in God's involvement in my life which, up to now, had been such an integral part of all my spirituality."
[So he prayed to be totally open to God's will,]
"And immediately there came flooding back that sense of peace, that feeling of joy, that confidence in the simple and direct faith expressed in trusting in him alone... God's will can be discerned by the fruits of the spirit itbrings, that peace of soul and joy of heart are two such signs, provided they follow upon total commitment and openness to God aloneand are not founded on the self's desires."
- He Leadeth Me (the other book about his struggles)