Thursday, September 24, 2009

Inspiration and consolation

Yesterday I shared with you a quotation by Mother Maria Skobtsova who died in the gas chambers of the Ravensbruck concentration camp in 1945. I had not heard of her before yesterday and I have found myself absolutely fascinated by her story and genuinely inspired by her witness. The following quotation was found in an essay by Jim Forest called "Mother Maria Skobtsova: Saint of the Open Door":

“The way to God lies through love of people. At the Last Judgment I shall not be asked whether I was successful in my ascetic exercises, nor how many bows and prostrations I made. Instead I shall be asked, Did I feed the hungry, clothe the naked, visit the sick and the prisoners. That is all I shall be asked. About every poor, hungry and imprisoned person the Savior says ‘I’: ‘I was hungry and thirsty, I was sick and in prison.’ To think that he puts an equal sign between himself and anyone in need. . . . I always knew it, but now it has somehow penetrated to my sinews. It fills me with awe.”

-- Mother Maria Skobtsova

Here's something that was remembered about her by another prisoner at Ravensbruck:

“She used to organize real discussion circles … and I had the good fortune to participate in them. Here was an oasis at the end of the day. She would tell us about her social work, about how she conceived the reconciliation of the Orthodox and Catholic Churches. We would question her about the history of Russia, about its future, about Communism, about her frequent contacts with young women from the Soviet army with whom she liked to surround herself. These discussion, whatever their subject matter, provided an escape from the hell in which we lived. They allowed us to restore our depleted morale, they rekindled in us the flame of thought, which barely flickered beneath the heavy burden of horror.”

-- Jacqueline Pery

Reading about Mother Maria these last two days has gladdened my heart and strengthened my own motivation to persevere. Deo gratias!

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