Sunday, June 8, 2014

Catholic Review: He Leadeth Me

He Leadeth Me by He Leadeth Me by Walter J. Ciszek, S.J. with Daniel L. Flaherty, S.J., May 6, 2014. 208 pages. Published by Image. Source: Blogging for Books.., May 6, 2014. 208 pages. Published by Image. Source: Blogging for Books.
Captured by a Russian army during World War II and convicted of being a "Vatican spy," Jesuit Father Walter J. Ciszek spent 23 agonizing years in Soviet prisons and the labor camps of Siberia. Only through an utter reliance on God's will did he manage to endure the extreme hardship. He tells of the courage he found in prayer--a courage that eased the loneliness, the pain, the frustration, 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 amidst the "arrogance of evil" that surrounded him. Ciszek learns to accept the inhuman work in the infamous Siberian salt mines as a labor pleasing to God. And through that experience, 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.

He Leadeth Me is a book to inspire all Christians to greater faith and trust in God--even in their darkest hour. As the author asks, "What can ultimately trouble the soul that accepts every moment of every day as a gift from the hands of God and strives always to do his will?"




Going in I had a vague idea what to expect from He Leadeth Me, but the further I journeyed through the book alongside the author and his trials as he was held within various prison camps in Russia for twenty-three long years, the more I realized that it was about more than his time there. This book comprises one of the best stories of one man's faith and belief in God during a long span of hardships and to come to know the love and strength he garnered from his trust in the Lord.

I know there is really no way that one, especially myself, can honestly do Walter J. Ciszek's He Leadeth Me justice. There is entirely too many things I have personally taken away to be able to fully put into words how I hope to enact what I have learned, to put not only one's faith but to trust that all things good or bad come from God for the good of myself, without rambling on. So, instead, I am going to try and talk solely about his book and maybe, just maybe, find the words to say why I found this to be such an incredible read.

For me, I really enjoyed the simplicity in how Walter Ciszek describes his doubts regarding his call to serve the Lord in Russia, and how through many setbacks he comes to see that it is not his strength or will that will serve to preserve him, but that of the Lord. I just really enjoyed seeing how he went from saying he trusted in the lord, to actually putting his full trust in the Lord's plan for how he would do God's will.
   It's not all that often that someone openly shows how they went from self reliance to total trust within the Lord without coming across as overly preachy. Just the way he was able to convey what he dubbed his conversion pulls one in. Especially when, like myself, you look in the mirror and question, am I following the path that has been set for me or am I striving to do what I think I should be doing. Seriously though, while He Leadeth Me is short, there is so much within it that can lead you to take a deep introspective look at yourself.

I had chills reading a few chapters of this one. Not just for the things he suffered while in the prison camps; because while mentioned, his time there was not the basis of the book, it was his journey to a stronger trust in the Lord. But because of some of the similarities between Communist Russia and the way God has been pushed out of some many aspects of the American culture. It was pretty disturbing to see how far we have strayed from what this country was founded on.

That aside...

Simply put, there is much one can learn just by reading this one, and what makes it even better is the way it's written. Walter J. Ciszek and Daniel L. Flaherty write with an ease that makes you want, no, need to follow the thread till the very end.
   I am recommending He Leadeth Me for two very simple reasons. The first being that is written in a highly readable way; in fact, in one that demands your attention so you can see for yourself what they are trying to impart. The second being that I enjoyed hearing about the strength of faith that was presented to him in the people he encountered while being held in the labor camps. Their honest faith and what they, and all the priests, went through to continue receiving the Sacraments was extraordinary.

Final Verdict: He Leadeth Me- A hard truth learned, but written so simply that there's no way to be confused as to what the authors were trying to convey within their book.

He Leadeth Me earns

this book was received from Blogging for Books in exchange for an honest review.

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