The Church Militant
Cardinal Kazimierz Swiatek, the Archbishop of Minsk in Belarus, has published some diaries -- excerpted in the Italian paper Avvenire -- detailing and reflecting on his years in a KGB gulag north of the arctic circle and on the faith of the people. He's no chest-thumper, but a man clearly humbled by suffering. I was struck the moving tribute he pays to the babuske (literally "grannies"), who clung tenaciously to the faith in appalling circumstances:
I have always held that a woman's witness to her faith is one of the most precious things in life. It is the proverbial "babushke" women who managed to preserve faith in God during the years of persecution, when there were neither churches nor priests to be found. We must be grateful to them for the faith which has not disappeared forever from these heavily oppressed lands. It is these women to whom we owe gratitude for teaching at least the Our Father and Hail Mary to their grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Even if they haven't paid for the faith with their blood, their lives still bear the signs of martyrdom. They are heroic figures, even if a monument to their names will never be erected. Honor and glory to you, dear ladies, beloved babushke of gold!
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Posted by: patriot6908 -
Nov. 18, 2003 12:48 PM ET USA
And it's often the elderly, devout men and women whose prayers in the dark silences before Mass keep the Catholic Church in the US from declining even further. I have personally known several who were walking saints, filled with love and generosity, especially to children and the young. May we all become the babushke of our own lives.