Fr. Walter Ciszek circa 1969 (6 years after his return from Russia).
I have a love for Russian/Eastern Catholicism...have for some time. In my search for good books to read that uplift my soul and strengthen my faith, I met Fr. Walter Ciszek. He was a Jesuit priest trained at the Russicum in Rome and sent to Poland in the late 1930's to serve the Polish people. He was a bi-ritual priest, trained in both the Latin and Eastern Rite. His love for Holy Mother Church was strong and powerful!
In 1939, he was in Poland when Hitler and his Nazi army invaded. It had always been Fr. Ciszek's dream to serve the Catholic faithful in Russia and the invasion allowed that to happen. Unfortunately (or as Fr. Ciszek would tell you), as part of God's will and providence, he ended up serving the people of that country as both a priest and a prisoner of war in his beloved Russia for 23 years.
He has written two books about his experience, With God in Russia and He Leadeth Me. He says With God in Russia was the book his Jesuit superiors begged him to write. It is more narrative and autobiographical in nature. I have read it and it is a moving and profoundly inspirational book with much wisdom and encouragement. It would be an excellent book on the study of the effect of WWII and Communism on the Soviet Union.
But, Fr. Ciszek says that "...to be perfectly honest, that [With God in Russia] was not the book I wanted to write. I felt that I had learned much during those years of hardship and suffering that could be of help to others in their lives..."
The book that Fr. Ciszek felt called to write is He Leadeth Me. It is a life-changing book. It's goal is spiritual in nature as it seeks to convert us to always and everywhere embrace the will of God in our daily lives. And Fr. Ciszek has learned much from his imprisonment that he can share with us. He has a gift for sharing profound spiritual truths in simple prose. And he is excellent at giving practical advice on how to achieve those spiritual goals! I highly recommend this special book to anyone who wants to learn how to joyfully live a life fully devoted to the Will of God.
I hope that Fr. Ciszek's book will continue to remain close to my heart and that I can anchor his holy thoughts and words in my mind. I know if I can do this, it will allow me to strive each and every day to seek the kingdom of God in my daily works and trials. This book has had such a profound effect on me that I feel strongly the need to share my love of it with others. I think it will be a book I gift other dear friends with as well.