Resistance and Witness

We went to a museum that housed a memorial to those who resisted the terror of Communism and suffered and were tortured. My guide who grew up under the terror gave me such insight into the terror. We often think of the Nazism terror and forget the terror of Communism under such people as Stalin.

The walls were covered with pictures of victims of the terror and I noticed how many priests and bishops and religious were on the wall with those who witnessed to freedom. Our presentation in the USA often underestimates how the Church resisted both Nazism and Communism. I did not realize the extent of the resistance until I have visited these museums and seen memorials in churches. Maybe because they are understated and hidden but then perhaps that is the greatest witness.

Rom-101629The experience of such terror made me think about the 20th century that has been the bloodiest century that humanity has known and the most irreligious as well. It is hard to comprehend that the Communist butcher Stalin butchered over 20 million alone.

Then from 1939 to 1945 in WWII 50 million lives were lost, so many by the cruelty of the Nazis who imprisoned and murdered perhaps 6 million Jews and 5 million non-Jews. And, as Pope Francis recently referred to, the Armenian genocide.

Millions more in the Chinese civil war then add 90,000 American lives the Korean and Vietnam wars claimed, the millions that Pol Pot claimed and the millions in Nigeria and the Communist Derg in Ethiopia, and add the poison gas in WWI and the saturation bombing of WWII and such firestorms as Dresden, all this came to mind as I walked through a powerful museum memorial to those who suffered under Communism. Just a quick calculation is sobering in that the 20th century was the most barbaric and most irreligious century the world has experienced and our cultural elites insist religion is the main source of violence.

That is absolutely a thought driven by ideology and not reality.

I pondered so much that day. My guide said the Communists practiced what they called deportation. If you had a home they would evict you, take you to the middle of nowhere in burning heat and say good luck.  The inhumanity of it all, by a system that hated religion and did all it could to stamp it out.

As I looked at the pictures of all those clergy and Christians who resisted (for example, Father George Calciu) I stepped back for a moment and said a prayer through the intercession of Saint Vladimir . We saw a huge picture of him and my guide remarked that he admired him. I admire him as well and did not even know he existed until about a week ago.