One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich

“They were a luckless lot too. What harm did they do anyone by praying to God? Every man Jack of ’em given twenty-five years.”
Alexander Solzhenitsyn, One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich



The things that you find on the internet.  From 1963, broadcast on the anthology series Bob Hope Presents The Chrysler Theater, a televised adaptation of Alexander Solzhenitsyn’s searing masterpiece, One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich. Considering that the book, based on Solzhenitsyn’s experiences in the Soviet Gulag from 1945-1953, was published only in 1962 this was a rapid transition to television, attesting to the immense impact of the book.

Published in: on December 30, 2019 at 5:30 am  Comments Off on One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich  
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Nato v. Warsaw Pact


One of the great conflicts of history that never happened.  I suspect that wiser Soviet leaders understood that time was not on their side.  They realized that their economy was no match for the West, and the best they could hope for was to avoid a meltdown that would threaten their grasp on power.  The obvious solution, at least for a time, was military conquest of Western Europe.  However, the Soviet leadership had lived through World War II, and could never bring themselves to risk everything on the iron dice of war again.  However, a showdown with Nato could easily have occurred as a result of Soviet miscalculation.  When the Nato exercise Able Archer 83 occurred in 1983, the Soviets were alarmed and feared that the exercise presaged a Nato attack.  The world was very lucky that the Cold War never became a very Hot War.

Published in: on January 24, 2019 at 5:30 am  Comments (2)  
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With God in Russia

Fr_ Walter J_ Ciszek, S_J_


Perhaps there are braver men than Walter Ciszek, but they don’t come readily to mind.  Hard enough to be brave for a short period when the adrenaline is flowing.  Ciszek was brave under often horrendous circumstances for almost a quarter of a century.

Born in Shenandoah, Pennsylvania on November 4, 1904, the son of Polish immigrants, he grew to be  a wild, tough kid, a bully and gang member.   He therefore floored his parents when he told them he wanted to be a priest.  Entering a minor seminary he remained tough as he related:

“And I had to be tough. I’d get up at four-thirty in the morning to run five miles around the lake on the seminary grounds, or go swimming in November when the lake was little better than frozen. I still couldn’t stand to think that anyone could do something I couldn’t do, so one year during Lent I ate nothing but bread and water for the forty days –another year I ate no meat at all for the whole year –just to see if I could do it. “

Always looking for a challenge, Ciszek simply presented himself to the Jesuit provincial in the Bronx in 1928 and announced, “I’m going to be a Jesuit!”

In 1929 an announcement was made by Pius XI that he was looking for clandestine missionaries to the Soviet Union.  Ciszek promptly volunteered.  He was sent to the Russian Center, Russicum, in Rome in 1934 to study the Russian language, history and liturgy.  On June 24, 1937 he was ordained.

Assigned to the Albertyn Jesuit mission in Poland, Father Ciszek was present when the Soviet Union invaded eastern Poland in 1939.  Taking advantage of this calamity he decided to slip into the Soviet Union.  Obtaining the permission of Metropolitan Andrei Shetytsky, he entered the Soviet Union, along with two Jesuit friends, under the assumed name of Wladymyr Lypynski.  Traveling 1500 miles by rail,  he became a logger in the logging town of Chusov in the Urals, while carrying on his undercover missionary activities.  (more…)

Published in: on August 14, 2013 at 5:30 am  Comments (8)  
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