The Grace of the Presence of Christ
Father Walter Ciszek, S.J.
The moment a priest appeared on the camp grounds by himself or with a fellow priest, he would be joined by passing prisoners. The moment it became known in a new brigade or new barracks or a new camp that a man was a priest, he would be sought out. He didn't have to make friends; they came to him instead. It was a very humbling experience, because you quickly came to appreciate that it was God's grace at work and had little to do with your own efforts. People came to you because you were a priest, not because of what you were personally. They didn't always come, either, expecting wise counsel or spiritual wisdom or an answer to their every difficulty; they came expecting absolution from their sins, the power of the sacrament.
To realize this was a matter of joy and of humility. You realized that they came to you as a man of God, a representative of God, a man chosen from among men and ordained for men in the things that are of God; you realized, too, that this imposed upon you an obligation of service, of ministry, with no thought of personal inconvenience, no matter how tired you might be physically or what risks you might be running in the face of official threats.
For my part, I could not help but see in every encounter with every prisoner the will of God for me, now, at this time and in this place, and the hand of providence that had brought me there by strange and torturous paths...