‘He Leadeth Me’ is an extremely valuable book



American Jesuit Father Walter Ciszek survived 23 grueling years in the Soviet Union after being captured during World War II. He endured solitary confinement, constant surveillance by the authorities, tortuous work camps in Siberia and unjust treatment in many ways – to put it lightly. And yet, he persevered. He kept his faith in the Good Lord. In fact, he shares with complete confidence that it was only through sheer, total reliance on God’s will that he lived through a myriad of hardships.

He shares his story in “He Leadeth Me,” which has become one of my favorite books. It’s a powerful combination of action, adventure, suspense and spiritual wisdom that can be applied to any person. That’s one reason why this book amazes me:  Father Ciszek takes his extreme circumstances, captivates the reader with his endurance of trials, humbly lays out his vulnerabilities and failings, and then shares how one can apply to any situation what spiritual growth he experienced and what he learned about growing in holiness. The excitement of his 23-year journey combined with the simplicity of his writing about the spiritual life make this an extremely valuable book.

Each chapter contains incredible insights. One that is foundational throughout the book is that the will of God is what He sends to us each day. Sometimes we “...seek to discover instead some other and nobler ‘will of God’ in the abstract that better fits our notion of what his will should be.” However, “the plain and simple truth is that his will is what he actually wills to send to us each day, in the way of circumstances, places, people, and problems” (p. 39).  Father Ciszek speaks of the difficulty of accepting God’s will, especially because it is so simple. Sometimes it’s so simple that we overlook it and become distracted by it – by the routine duties of each day. But he encourages all to truly take this divine truth to heart, to “...work at it, to face each moment of every day in the light of its inspiration…” (p. 40); and if we do so, we will have ultimate peace.

Father Ciszek delves into true freedom – beautiful reflections since he spent so many years in prison! He writes of humility and its importance, and how one must know his or her place before the Lord. If we lose humility, we begin to see burdens as only burdens instead of moments entrusted to us by God. Father speaks of the importance of work and the example Jesus gave us when he labored on earth. I won’t spoil it all – what a treasure lies in his words. I’ll end with a final thought that gives me encouragement to live the life God has given me:  “From the time of the apostles...there has been no other way for the spreading of the kingdom than by the acts and the lives of individual Christians striving each day to fulfill the will of God” (p. 170).