Saturday, April 23, 2011


"Room Four [the “Death Row” hospital ward of the TB sanitarium/Soviet prison at Tirgul-Ocna, Romania] was the scene of great kindness and humanity. Prisoners from other wards often came to spend the night with us, helping the dying and offering comfort.
At Easter, a friend from his hometown brought a gift wrapped in a piece of paper for Gafencu, the former Iron Guard trooper. “It’s been smuggled in,” he said. “Open it.”
Gafuncu undid the paper to reveal two lumps of a glittering white substance—sugar. None of us had seen sugar for years. Our wasted bodies craved it. All eyes were on Gafencu, and the prize in his hand. Slowly he wrapped it up again.
“I won’t eat it just yet,” he said. “Someone might be worse off than I during the day. But thank you.” He put the present carefully beside his bed, and there it stayed.

A few days later, my fever increased and I became very weak. The sugar was passed from bed to bed until it came to rest on mine.

“It’s a gift,” said Gafencu. I thanked him, but left the sugar untouched in case the next day someone should need it more. When my crisis passed, I gave it to Soteris, the elder of two Greek Communists, whose condition was grave. For two years the sugar went from man to man in Room Four (and twice it returned to me). Each time the sufferer had the strength to resist it.

--Richard Wurmbrand, Christ in the Communist Prisons

Reading this morning’s Gospel, John 20: 1-9, I noticed something new:

“They both ran, but the other disciple ran faster than Peter and arrived at the tomb first; he bent down and saw the burial cloths there, but did not go in. When Simon Peter arrived after him, he went into the tomb and saw the burial cloths buried there, and the cloth that had covered his head, not with the burial cloths but rolled up in a separate place.”

But rolled up in a separate place…Jesus had folded his clothes. After all he’d just been through, Jesus had folded his clothes.

What courtesy, what delicacy, what a connotation of prayerful calm, what attention to the homely details of life! What an example for those of us in necessarily less straitened circumstances. Surely no matter how depressed or despairing, we, too, can make our bed and straighten the kitchen. Even if we’re sick and confined to bed, we can “fold” our thoughts. Even if we’re dying—which we all are by the way—we can direct them toward prayer…

It’s been a long haul, as Lent always is. After the Easter Vigil Mass at St. Mary’s of the (Yucca) Valley, I’m leaving the desert, back into L.A….wishing all of you a love-filled Easter Day...


  1. Happy Easter Heather!!!

  2. You have put me in mind of this poem by Hilaire Belloc:


    Of Courtesy, it is much less
    Than Courage of Heart or Holiness,
    Yet in my Walks it seems to me
    That the Grace of God is in Courtesy.

    On Monks I did in Storrington fall,
    They took me straight into their Hall;
    I saw Three Pictures on a wall,
    And Courtesy was in them all.

    The first the Annunciation;
    The second the Visitation;
    The third the Consolation,
    Of God that was Our Lady's Son.

    The first was of St. Gabriel;
    On Wings a-flame from Heaven he fell;
    And as he went upon one knee
    He shone with Heavenly Courtesy.

    Our Lady out of Nazareth rode -
    It was Her month of heavy load;
    Yet was her face both great and kind,
    For Courtesy was in Her Mind.

    The third it was our Little Lord,
    Whom all the Kings in arms adored;
    He was so small you could not see
    His large intent of Courtesy.

    Our Lord, that was Our Lady's Son,
    Go bless you, People, one by one;
    My Rhyme is written, my work is done.

    Happy Easter to you all!

  3. Very Beautiful, Heather!

  4. Just--thank you for this website. What good fortune for me when I stumbled upon it a few months ago. How I appreciate your own words and those you quote from others. God bless!!

  5. Thank you, all. So glad to hear someone stumbled in a few months ago and has stayed, and the Hilaire Belloc poem fits beautifully with the image of Christ neatly folding his burial "clothes" St. Therese of Lisieux said, "To pick up a pin for love can convert a soul"...Happy Easter...


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