(N.B. THE SERIES LABELLED “CHECKMATE” IS AN EFFORT TO TELL THE TRUE STORY OF THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN DIVINE PROVIDENCE AND THE POLITICAL HISTORY OF OUR TIME. NUMBERS “C” AND “D” REVIEW THE REAL HISTORY OF THE TWENTIETH CENTURY AND THE WORK OF THE BLESSED VIRGIN DURING THAT PERIOD. NUMBER “A” RELATES THE WORK OF OUR LADY IN THE CONVERSION OF THE AMERICAS. NUMBER”B” DISCUSSES THE WORK OF OUR LADY IN CONTAINING THE THREAT OF THE MUSLIM WORLD. THE CONTINUATION OF THIS STORY IN NUMBERS “E” AND “F” HAS YET TO BE PLAYED OUT. WE ARE IN THE MIDST, AS IS OBVIOUS, OF A COSMIC BATTLE, AND THE FEROCITY OF THAT BATTLE WILL BECOME GREATER. THAT MEANS THAT THE END IS APPROACHING. HOW LONG THIS WILL TAKE IS NOT OURS TO KNOW, BUT WE HAVE TO BE AWARE THAT THE BATTLE FIELD BETWEEN THE CREATOR AND HIS ENEMY IS WITHIN OUR SOULS. WE EXPECT TO EXPERIENCE MANY DIFFICULT TIMES YET TO COME. THE REASON FOR THIS SERIES IS THAT WE WILL REALIZE THAT THE BLESSED VIRGIN IS THE ONE TO WHOM THE CREATOR HAS ENTRUSTED THE VICTORY, AS WAS PREDICTED BY ST. DE MONFORT. SINCE SHE FUNCTIONS BY THE POWER OF THE CREATOR, THE VICTORY OF JUSTICE IS CERTAIN. THUS WE HAVE TO HAVE CONFIDENCE IN THE POWER OF THE CREATOR TO CARRY OUT HIS PROMISE THAT ALL THINGS WORK FOR THE GOOD OF THOSE WHO LOVE GOD. WE LOVE GOD BY DOING HIS WILL. THUS WE CAN NEVER BE AFRAID, OUR SAFETY LIES IN DOING HIS WILL.)
PART III — The Power and the Glory
First we have to understand about Communism.
This evil concept, that caused untold suffering, grew out of the vacuum left in Western Civilization as the result of the Protestant Reformation and the subsequent split of the West into two religious camps.
As a result of Luther’s attack on the Church in 1517, the northern part of Europe was convulsed in religious strife between the countries loyal to the Church and those adopting the ideas of Luther. This went on for thirty years, devastating Europe, until, as a way of co-existing on the same Continent; the warring powers signed a treaty at Augsberg, Bavaria, in 1555.
By the terms of that treaty, essentially, each country adopted the religion of the ruler.
Thereafter, in the Academic and Political world of Europe, the leaders tried to keep Religion out of the arena so as to be able to work with some sort of accord. Thus the Universities of Europe, and the Intellectuals formed by them, developed a non-committal attitude towards Religion. Eventually this gave rise to the notion that the Creator had formed the Universe and us and now it was up to us to work out our own separate destinies as best we can. With the development of Natural Science, as the result of the Italian Renaissance, more reliance was placed on the capacities of the human intellect than on the Providence of God.
This attitude is called the “Enlightenment”; which became the dominant concept in the Intellectual world. Notice that even today in the Universities, to speak of God and His Providence outside of courses in Religion or Theology is looked upon as some kind of childish medieval fantasy. Thus all important things concerning the City of Man are discussed without reference of any kind to the Creator. Only Man and his resources are considered. This is, on the face of it, a very strange concept; after all He is the Creator and certainly the only one who can perfect our Universe and Mankind corrupted by sin. Be that as it may, all intellectual activity since the Enlightenment labors under the illusion that we create ourselves.
Into the murky and fermenting hotbed of this “Enlightenment” grew the noxious weed of Freemasonry.
Freemasons ( we call them “Masons”) belong to a secret society that,really, is a kind of religion. It began in 1717 in Wales and quickly spread throughout Europe, especially in France. It is a kind of intellectual disease afflicting those with weak faith in the message of Jesus Christ. The British government used the Freemasons as secret instruments of their foreign policy in much the same way as the United States used them to disrupt the Latin American countries, especially Mexico. The movement became very strong in France and the Jacobins (as the Masons were called) were largely responsible for the French Revolution of 1789 -1791.
It was the Philosophers of the “Age of Reason” (who were Jacobins), like Voltaire, Rousseau, etc., who fostered and guided the revolution. The Masons pretend to be simply a fraternal organization devoted to good works; much like the Rotary. Actually, their “theology” is that the problems that afflict humankind —crime, cruelty, economic injustices, etc. — are due to the deformed political and social structures into which humans are born. Because Masons cannot admit the action of God in the work of human salvation, they have to adhere to the idea that there is no such thing as Original Sin, nor any sin; instead, we are all victims of a vicious system. I think you will recognize these ideas when you read Rousseau, for example. Hence,the objective behind Freemasonry and the French revolutionaries was to destroy all existing social structures, governments, family ,Church, etc., and then rebuild Society according to the dictates of pure Reason. The British government considered this a happy way to destroy her hereditary enemy, France. Also a handy way to destroy the Catholic Church — the real enemy.
Remember that the French revolutionaries desecrated the Main Altar of Notre Dame des Victories in Paris by enthroning a prostitute on it and proclaiming her the Goddess of Reason. In this regard, it is very instructive to meditate a bit on Chapter 17 of the Book of Revelation.
Anyway, the chaos that convulsed Europe as the result of the French Revolution and its ideas was the hotbed where Communism was born.
Communism, as a theory, came from the fertile mind of a brilliant Italian who took refuge in Geneva and there wrote books on his economic and political theory. His name was Filippo Buonarrotti; a lineal descendant of Michelangelo, the great Italian artist. Like Michelangelo, he was born in Tuscany in the town Massa Carrara.
Communism is a political theory of constant revolution. The object is to destroy every existing social structure by force: usually by fostering class warfare and inter-racial warfare. The plan is to destroy all the leaders and to reduce mankind to anonymous individuals without any history or moral or civil law. The destruction of the Family and the Church are the primary targets because these structures form human beings in ways different from those projected by the social engineers. That is why the Communists, once they took over the government in Russia, immediately passed laws abolishing private property and charity (so that everyone would depend on the State for everything), as well as legalizing divorce, abortion, and the encouragement of women to enter the work force so as to destroy families. It was in Soviet Russia that we first saw Women in the Industrial labor force and in the armed services.
The idea is to reduce all people to an unformed rabble, then rebuild Society on Rational grounds. In the words of Lenin:” on the ashes we will build our temple”. The rational structure was to be the Socialist State. Note how Communism carries out the Masonic agenda.
The thinker who had a major effect on the formation of Communism as a political system was Karl Marx who published his economic theories in 1844 in a massive work called “DAS KAPITAL.” It was he who developed the idea of using Socialism to form the new human being.
All this proved very attractive to Modern Man who relies on his intelligence and science to solve so many problems. The unfortunate reality, however, is that by its very nature Socialism is unworkable. Tragically, more than 500 million humans were killed in the effort to make it work. Our social engineers still cannot bring themselves to abandon this dream.
The theory of Socialism is very attractive because, simply stated: under government control, every one would put into the pot what he has and each would take out only what he needs. In this way greed would be eliminated because the needs of each person would be met by the state apparatus. Naturally, there would be no further need for Families or Religious Groups because the State would take care of all that the these archaic structures attempt to do for mankind, and do poorly. God, necessarily, is pushed out of all human affairs. Thus the Commitern in Russia, passed a law against Charity.
It all sounds very nice — it is a kind of Christian ideal where all share with our brothers so that no one does without. It is a Christian ideal, but without Christ. One thing we humans have to learn — and that we resist with all our might, is that Christianity without God becomes a Frankenstein monster that destroys us. The great agony of the contemporary world is that the governmental and social structures function with all the power of the Modern World but without reference to any moral codes except expediency. This is working, as is obvious, in such a way as to destroy us. Notice, for example, the current craze to experiment with the formation of human beings.
It is obvious to anyone who deals in the real world that Socialism is unworkable. The reason is that the story of the Fall of Man as recounted in Genesis 2 and 3 is not just a pleasant myth, but hard reality. It was a real historical event with real consequences on humans that we cannot ignore. Remember that our progenitors were tempted to “be like God and know good and evil.” The temptation was to be their own lawgiver; each person deciding what is best for himself (Freedom of choice); to decide what is good or bad based on reason alone — not God’s Will. Unfortunately, we subvert reason too easily to gain our own personal advantage thus the immediate effect of this is to make each human a potential enemy of every other human. It is very significant that the first recorded fruit of the rejection of the Law of the Creator was the killing of Abel by his brother Cain.
To this day, every human is born with the “instinct of self-preservation.” We naturally know that we “have to look out for number one.” The World teaches the lie that “God takes care of those who take care of themselves.”
Sin, personal and the Original, unfortunately, has a real effect on us as individuals and thus on Society. It makes us ever more self-centered and protective of ourselves; it makes us ever more indifferent to the needs of our fellow humans. It corrupts every structure in our Society.
In the late 1980’s there was an earthquake in Russian Armenia. Forty Thousand people were reported killed in the collapse of high-rise housing. In 1989, there was an earthquake in San Francisco of exactly the same intensity. I think that something like 16 people died.
Why the difference?
Well, the answer is human greed.
In Soviet Armenia the government provided raw materials to build worker housing. The builders used as little material as possible, selling the rest on the Black Market to enrich themselves. The poorly built houses killed 40,000 people.
In the 1970’s Communism was on a roll. Country after country fell to them: Cuba, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Angola, Vietnam, Korea, Portugal, etc. etc. Our “free governments” were paralyzed into inactivity. Many high officials in the United States, Canada, Britain, were secretly Communist sympathizers.
Yet, the midst of all this, the Communist world (which controlled some of the best grain-producing lands in the world) had to buy food from the Unites States year after year.
Human selfishness is the answer.
No Farmer who gets up at three in the morning every day to work in the fields until dark is going to work to grow extra food beyond his own needs. To work that hard for some fat bureaucrat is out of the question. Without the profit motive, people simply would not cooperate.
It is on the shoals of Original Sin that the Socialistic experiment in Soviet Russia failed. It is simply not going to work in the imperfect world we live in with people made imperfect by sin. The supreme irony is that by eliminating Christianity, the Soviet planners eliminated the only force that could possibly make Socialism work; The Charity of Christ.
The Free-Market aficionados talk about the superiority of the Capitalist system Actually, Capitalism works because it is based on human greed. Capitalism benefits 90% of those involved in free enterprise. But it works at the expense of the other 10% who have to fail and become
impoverished in order to make it work. Because it only functions with the concept of “Interest” It is a kind of economic
cannibalism. But, at least, it works. The price is the horde of “street dwellers” that populate our rich cities.
Now let is see how Our Lady defeated the Evil Empire.
+ + + +
B. MOTHER THERESA AND HER CHARITY.
One of the first things Pope Paul VI did after the Vatican Council II ended was to begin dialogue with other Christian groups, principally the Orthodox Christians of the Eastern World.
He found a ready response among the Orthodox Bishops who, by and large, are still very open to reunion; however the Monks (who have a great deal of power in the Oriental Churches) have constantly worked against the idea. To this day, they remain recalcitrant. Since the reasons are irrational, it is clear that a miracle must take place to effect reunion. Therefore, we must pray for the reunion of the Churches, and offer sacrifices.
To the Committee for Dialogue, however, the Pope appointed the brilliant theologian Rev. Louis Bouyer, Orat. The Committee met in the East and the West in alternate years. The late Fr. Bouyer, was an expert on the spirituality of the Oriental Churches as well as on the history of the Liturgy. He had been a part of the infamous liturgical commission under Pope Paul VI that “renewed” the liturgy after Vatican Council II.
Anyway, in the 1970’s Fr. Bouyer accepted an appointment to teach at the Saint Ignatius Institute at the University of San Francisco. Fr. Bouyer often talked about the events in Rome during and after the Council in which he had played such an important role as a peritus.
Once he was asked about conditions in the Soviet Union. To the surprise of his listeners, he said that the intellectuals and political leaders of the Soviet Union had lost confidence in Socialism. He said (and this was the era of Brezhnev) that all the young Communists saw that the system is economically unworkable. That is why the Premiership was passed around the Old Bolsheviks who were still committed to Lenin’s dream. He said that none of the young men had any confidence in the system. This was very surprising because from the “news” we receive in the US press, the Soviets seemed invulnerable.
Fr. Bouyer said that the political scholars of Europe were concerned because they felt that the Soviets would start a War to align the people behind the Government. Sure enough, the Soviets, under Brezhnev, declared War on Afghanistan, Christmas Day, 1979.
Unfortunately for them, that was a poor choice because they found themselves fighting a people who could not be conquered. The war became very costly to the Soviets: by 1986, the Soviets were pouring 12 Billion dollars a year into the War, and were not able to overcome the resistance. The cost of resistance was also very great to the Afghans. They lost one million people in casualties and another million fled the country into Pakistan.
However, their young and charismatic leader, Ahmad Shah Masud, held on to the mountains until the Soviets gave up in 1986.
In 1985, Mikhail Gorbachev came into power in the Soviets. He was the first Premier who was not an “Old Bolshevik”. Apparently he realized the futility of trying to made Socialism work and he was repelled by Stalin’s slaughter of so many people to try to make it work. Thus he attempted to save the power of the Communist Party by dissociating it from Socialism. He seemed to want to work toward a sort of State Capitalism, such as we have in China today where the Communist party is still in charge, but the economic system is closer to the Fascist system of Hitler. The Scandinavian countries are also examples of State Capitalism.
However, the events he set in motion got out of hand and the entire system was overthrown. The Soviet system fell apart as each country demanded independence.
What I would like to show you is how Our Lady triumphed without the shedding of almost any blood.
One strand of events involves Mother Theresa of Calcutta.
As you know, Mother Theresa founded an order of sisters to work with the poorest of the poor in India, back in 1946. The order was placed under the patronage of The Immaculate Heart of Mary. Mother Theresa had already consecrated herself to the Immaculate Heart and she also made the consecration according to the way of Maximilian Kolbe. In every one of the chapels of her sisters throughout the world, there is a picture of the Immaculate Heart of Mary over the back wall.
In 1986, a motion picture was released — a documentary about the work of Mother Theresa and her sisters called “MOTHER THERESA”. It was produced by two young Canadian women named Petrie. I suppose they had planned to enter Mother’s Order and so went to Calcutta. However, apparently, they felt that it was not for them; however, they accompanied Mother wherever she went, documenting her foundation and work. You probably have seen the motion picture they produced — a copy is in most Catholic homes.
The Petrie girls could never get the picture shown in a major movie house in the Western World . In San Francisco, it was shown in a little, largely unknown, movie house on 16th St. It was such a success that they held it over for most of the month. The film was also shown on local Public Television — they could never get it on Prime time Commercial TV .
Jan Petrie entered the film in the Moscow Art Festival of that year. That Art Festival was the darling of the Press in the US and in Britain — they being very sympathetic to the Communist cause.
The picture won all the prizes. Not only that, but the leaders and people of Moscow were fascinated by Mother Theresa. Remember, Charity had been outlawed by the Party seventy years before. They had never seen a person who only wanted to help the poor. And she wasn’t even the agent of any Government!
Well, Jan Petrie was inspired by the excitement that buzzed through Moscow to make an appointment with the Commissar of Public Health. She knew that if she went to the Commissar of Religious Affairs she would not stand a chance because it was an agency of the KGB (the secret police) who controlled the Orthodox Church.
Anyway, she took advantage of the great effect of the film to propose to the Commissar that Mother would be willing to send her sisters to Moscow to work with the poor. The Commissar was taken aback because, as you know, “they had no poor people”.
Jan assured him that the sisters would be glad to work in one of their Hospitals, free, functioning only a nurses and social workers.
Well, he decided to take a chance because (presumably) the people would love to have such a world-renowned figure in their midst. So, Sister Mala, M.C., who at the time was Regional Superior in Poland, and Mother Theresa immediately, flew to Moscow to confer with the Commissar.
The upshot was that he agreed to a six-month trial. They could have two rooms in the hospital; one to live in, and the other as a Chapel. The priest from the French Embassy could come and say Mass, but no one could attend except the Sisters. They could not talk about Jesus or try to convert anyone in any way; all they could do was help take care of the sick.
Mother grabbed the opportunity.
On a subsequent visit to the Gift of Love house for Aids patients in San Francisco, Mother told the story of what happened.
It seems that she was concerned about what would happen to the Sisters she would send, because of that law against Charity; her Sisters never accept a salary. Well, two months before they went, the law was , for some unexplained reason, repealed by he Soviets, without anyone asking!
Then, when she went with her Sisters to open the house, they unpacked to set up the Chapel first. To her dismay, she found that someone had forgotten to pack a picture of the Immaculate Heart of Mary that they always have over the back wall. She didn’t know what to do because it was impossible to purchase a religious item in Communist Moscow.
Well, that afternoon, a well-dressed lady came to see her. The lady only spoke Russian, but Mother, being from Yugoslavia, could understand what she was saying. She was profuse in her thanks to Mother for having come to Moscow. She said “Thank you, thank you, you have no idea how grateful we are for your coming” — or words to that effect. “Here I have a present for you”, and she handed Mother a package.
What do you think was in the Package?
A picture of the Immaculate Heart of Mary ; Imagine that!! –and that is how the Immaculate Heart of Mary got into the Soviet heartland.
After that many things happened.
For one thing, within a few months there was a major earthquake in Soviet Armenia. As described above, that earthquake was a devastating one. Sister Mala, now the superior in Moscow, immediately took advantage of the situation by offering Sisters to go to Armenia and help the survivors. Well, the officials were more than happy to give permission. This time without any restrictions whatever — they could have public Masses, teach catechism, anything — just go down there and help those people.
The first public Roman Catholic Mass celebrated in the Soviet Union in seventy years was celebrated in their house in Armenia by Father Brian Kalodiejchuk M.C., who was sent there as chaplain because he could speak Ukrainian and understood Russian.
Now the M.C.’s have houses in Siberia and throughout the former Soviet Union.
As a footnote: in 1995 Jan Petrie visited the Novitiate of the Missionaries of Charity at St. Paul’s Parish in San Francisco.
She was traveling around trying to get her documentary shown at a major movie house or on prime time Television. She still owed about $100,000 on the film and figured that if she could get it shown by a major network she would be able to pay her debts. She drew a blank everywhere.
She had shown the film to the President of CBS — who was a Catholic. She said that he was so touched by the film that he actually cried. He said that he wanted his wife and family to see it. So she asked him if he would put it on his network. You know what he said?
He said “No, this is not for the American People”.
It would be interesting to find out exactly what is for the American People. Perhaps we are finding out now.
C. REV. MAXIMILAN KOLBE AND THE MI
Another very important agent of Our Lady in this battle against Communism was Maximilian Kolbe.
St. Maximilian was born in Poland 7 January 1894, of a German-Polish family. He joined he Conventual Franciscans at an early age and was sent to study Theology in Rome. He made his first vows 5 September 1911.
While in Rome he became well aware of the work of the Masons in the destruction of Catholic Europe, because the turn of the century was accompanied by the successful extension of the French Revolution to most Catholic countries (e.g. Mexico, Central and South America, Italy France, Spain, Portugal, etc.) with the subsequent persecution of the Catholic Church in each case. He was inspired, with six fellow seminarians, to make his consecration to the Immaculata and to form the Militia Immaculata (the “MI”) on 16 October 1917, three days after Our Lady’s last visit to Fatima and the “Miracle of the Sun”. The members of the MI had the mission to work for the interior transformation of all souls to Christ through the Immaculata. They were to give themselves totally to the Immaculate Virgin, to be used as instruments, any way she wished for the Glory of God.
It is amazing how she used this insignificant, sickly, friar in her work of overcomming the most powerful tyranny we have ever seen, and with little or no bloodshed.
After his ordination, St. Maximilian returned to Poland in July 1919. With a complete lack of funds and total trust in God’s Providence, he began to spread the devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary by publishing a sixteen page magazine called “Rycerz Niepkalanej” (“Knight of the Immaculata”). It became the largest selling Catholic Journal in Poland with a circulation of 750,000 per month. He founded a friary called Niepokalanou (“City of the Immaculata”) which became the largest friary in the world with more than 700 friars.
His work aroused jealousy and suspicion, even within his own order, but he patiently kept to the task in spite of all opposition and never violated his vow of Obedience. No one ever became a Saint, you know, without having his Love for Jesus tried by persecution.
We are all familiar with his life story; how he wound up in Auschwitz, the notorious concentration camp that the Nazi’s set up in Poland for the killing of the Jews of Europe. There he gave his life to save a fellow prisoner who was a stranger to him. That act of Divine Love reverberated through all the prison camps in Europe; giving heart to those dwelling in the darkness of the times; reminding them that the invicable Light of Christ was a reality.
The Germans wanted to reduce the Poles to slave laborors. To that end, they tried to kill off all their intellectual leaders, especially the Catholic Clergy. Their intent was to destroy the Polish culture; they would punish anyone who was caught reading a book written in Polish.
It is hard to understand, in view of the cold, efficient, cruelty of the tyrants of the twentieth century how this sickly Franciscan who only taught devotion to the Immaculate Mother of Jesus, could possibly be the instrument through which all that overwhelmingly powerful evil was defeated. Especially since he had not the slightest idea of how Our Lady was using his efforts.
Yet, that is exactly what took place.
For one thing, through the magazine, which was read by almost every Pole, he strengthened the Polish people in their devogtion to Mary and their trust in her protection. The message of Fatima became widely known and a consolation to those people living under the guns of Communism. When Stalin and Hitler divided Poland and Middle Europe in 1939, the Poles and the Catholic Ukrainians and other Catholic groups in Russia were thrown together. Those who were under the Soviets were generally captured and, if they could work, sent to Siberia.
This flow of captives to Siberia increased after Hitler’s Wehrmacht was defeated in their attempt to conquer Russia. During the rest of the war, these dispalaced persons (including many priests and religious) were used as slave labor in the factories and mines of Siberia and the Ural Mountains.
This, however, played into the hands of the Lord, because there the Catholic Priests were very numerous. There were also Orthodox priests exiled, but fewer. Most of the Orthodox priests were married and had to compromise with the Communist regime for the sake of the safety of their wives and children. Thus, they were usually left alone if they practised their faith behind the closed doors of their churches. As a result, the Catholic Priests of Poland the Ukraine were the ones doing pastoral work among the exiles and prisoners. There were innumerable marriages, baptism, confessions, even ordinations in the underground Catholic Church of the exiles.
Also, the message of Fatima was made known to the entire Russian world. There are records of people in the Gulag as well as in the labor camps, making Rosaries and reciting it in groups when no Church services were avaialble. This kept Hope alive, and when the War ended and many returned to their homes and villages, they carried the message of the Immaculata with them.
For example, there was an Orthodox Priest named Gleb Yakunin who became active in 1975; he became a devotee of the Immaculate Heart of Mary and the promise she had made in Portugal to triumph over Communism.
There was a military coup in Portugal in 1975, during the time when the Communists were taking over so many countries. They established a Communist government. The people of Portugal were lacking leaders and succumbed. However, armed resistance began in Portugal, and, not by mere coincidenc, on 13 July 1975. That was the anniversary of the Blessed Virgin’s warning to Lucia against the errors to come out of Russia that would “provoke wars and persecutions of the Church”. On that day thousands of Catholics demonstrated in the northern part of Portugal and in one region, Catholic Farmers gathered to destroy the local Communist Party headquarters.
It was an unique counter-revolution because no one has ever been able to identify an organization that led to the fighting. Another strange thing was that the battle was universally against buildings and not people. Twenty-two Communist headquarters were destroyed in the first nine days. Within thirty days, every Communist headquarters in northern Poertugal had been destroyed, almost without exception. By August, Portugal was no longer under the power of the Communist Party. How this happed, no one had really been able to explain.
Several months before, the Orthodox Priest Gleb Yakunin wrote an open letter to the Portuguese People:
“By predicting at Fatima the destiny of Russia and calling upon all Christians to pray for Russia, our shared Heavenly Mother, the Very Holy Queen Mother of God, not only confirmed the justness of the famous word of an Orthodox Russian Bishop that ‘our earthly divisions do not reach heaven’ but by choosing Portugal as the place of her revelations, made spiritual brothers of our two peoples….
“…We beseech you: in defining your conduct in your present political and social building up of the new Poertugal, do not forget the tragic instructive experince of our country. If the Communists, by way of exception, may even achieve power by peaceful and democratic means, they will not accept either in theory or in practise, the possiblity of the tranferring of power by peaceful means…
“…Humanity is invited not to lose its historic memory. Its duty is not to repeat the historic errors, at least the most serious of them, because they will be made to pay too high a price.”
Sixteen years later, the same Orthodox priest in August 1991 was instrumental in rallying the Russian Poeple to the defense of the Parliament of Deputies in Moscow during the almost bloodless coup that ended the horrible rule of the Communist Party and the disassembling of the Soviet System. He led the defenders in the Rosary and encouraged trust in promoses of the Immaculata.
D. THE POLISH PEOPLE
The story of the sixteen years that led to the end of the Soviet system is truly a dramatic one, but it is really the story of Our Lady’s primary agents — the faithful Polish People. Their faithfulness was the rock that broke the jaws of the Bear ; and it was a faithfulness forged, in part, by the work of St. Maximilian Kolbe.
How Catholic was Poland? During the Communist years it became the most thoroughly Catholic country in the World. More than 90% of Poles were Baptized and buried as Catholics. Ninety five percent of Polish children made their first Holy Communion. They had 36,000 priests and religious; and 50% more religious establishments than before WWII.
l. The years of suffering
The History of Poland, like that of the Jews, is a perfect example of what will happen to the chosen instrument of the Lord. It is a prophetic statement of what happens when one is called to follow the Creator. We live as imperfect creatures in an imperfect world. We were created to love and serve Our Creator and be happy with Him in the next life. Since this is our destiny in Creation’s Plan — every one of us must understand that our only hope for fulfillment is in doing His Will.
I think we all understand that. Everyone who has opened himself to God’s Love gets a glimpse of a Love so profound and beautiful that we cannot help but want to give ourselves to it. However, since we are imperfect and want to cling to our own desires (to be “our own gods”), the process that God has to put us through involves dying to ourselves. That is why accepting the Cross in our lives is such an important step in our salvation, and one of the reasons that Our Saviour died on the cross as an example for us.
But the Cross involves suffering. Suffering is a necessary adjunct to being able to be an instrument of the Lord in His Work. The reason is that the Creative Force that is healing and perfecting us and the World in which we live is Divine Love. To be an agent of that Infinite Love one must be completely aware of the fact that we are creatures, otherwise we will act for our personal agendas and so block the power of God’s Love. The greatest Love is the suffering Love because it is the most unselfish. Divine Love is ours when we can be as generous, unselfish and dedicated to doing God’s Will as is Jesus.
This is true for us as individuals; it is also true for families, religious and natural. It is also true for nations like Poland.
If ever there were a people humiliated again and again it is the Poles. They are a Catholic country surrounded for 500 years by voracious and anti-Catholic enemies. Between the Lutheran Germans on the West, the Lutheran Swedes to the North; the Orthodox Russians to the East and the Orthodox Ukrainians to the South, the survival of Poland as a Catholic country is clearly a miracle. As a matter of fact, the Poles attribue thier survival as a People to the protection of our Lady of Czestochowa. On a hill, in that town, there is a monastery with an ancient picture of Our Lady with the Christ Child. The Poles have venerated that as a sign of her protection for centuries. Again, as a matter of fact, the reason that Gustavus Adolfus, the brilliant Swedish Lutheran military commander did not conquer Northern Europe was because he failed to conquer the fortress erected around that monasery. For many years, young Poles have made an annual pilgrimage to that shrine and it is a real link in the unity of that People.
The Polish nation was eliminated at the Congress of Vienna in 1814. This was a meeting of the surviving European Powers after the defeat of Napoleon. The representative of France under the Bourbon dynasty was Charles Maurice de Talleyrand-Perigord. This “diplomat” really can be considred the maker of post-Napoleonic Europe, designed to make France a major power again. Although he was an ordained Bishop of the Cathoic Church, he cynically participated in the partitioning of Poland between Prussia, Austria, and Russia, as a way of keeping France whole.
Ths state of affairs, where Poland was hostage to her enemies lasted one hundred years until the end of WWI. The Polish nation was once more reassembled, mainly because England wanted an ally on the other side of Germany and because it contributed to the destruction of the last Roman Catholic Power in Europe — the Austrio- Hungarian Empire.
Just to give you an insight into the utter callousness of modern International Politics — both the Prussians and the Russians always paid the Polish workers in a daily wage that included a bottle of Vodka. This calculated action was to make them haples drunkards who could not rebel against their over-lords. For the same cold reason, the Germans and Russians who partitioned Poland during WWII did the same thing.
After the fall of Communism. Westrn Observers were amazed at the fact that every night the young Polish workers were absolutely drunk. The Germans and Russians continued the policy paying the workers each day with a bottle of Vodka. The intellectual leaders of the Polish people, like the priests, would not drink any alcohol at all because they recognized that it was a policy designed to keep Poland enslaved.
Be that as it may — Poland was an independent Catholic country from 1914 until the Second World War. Hitler had developed the German Wehrmacht into the best fighting machine of our time. There can be no doubt that the German soldiers were, judging by their ability to fight, the finest in the world. He wanted to go to war for reasosns I cannot completely understand. There are minutes of his meeting with the German General Military Staff. The Generals did not want to go to war if they had to fight, again, on two fronts. They felt that a two front war was the cause of their defeat in 1918.
At that meeting, Hitler outlined his reasons for war — he wanted to conquer Poland. The excuse he gave was overpopulation (a very familiar excuse for killing –e.g. in the abortion disaster of our times). He pointed out that Germany was crowded and needed to find a place where the indusrial cities could grow food. He pointed out that those untermenschen, the Poles, had a lot of wheat lands that Germany could use. It is interesting to note that after WWII Germany was partitioned and many people fled to West Germany. They wound up with twice the poulation density (number of people per square mile) than in 1939. Within 10 years the utterly crushed Germans were importing workers from Turkey because they did not have enough people to man thier Industrial machine. So much for the argument that “overpopulation” breeds poverty and war.
However, that argument cleared the way. The German army used the plan that almost worked in WWI. This time it worked beautifully. In a few weeks, Paris was captured, the British Army fled, leaving their material behind, and (of course) Poland, which was attacked first, had been conquered and divided between the wolves. Poland had a fine army of brave men, but they were trained to fight according to the tactics of the previous century. For example, they depended on their Cavalry. The last Cavalry battle in history was waged between their valiant men and the whippet tanks of the Wehrmacht.
The Polish governement fled to London and formed the government in exile. Hundreds of thousands of Poles joined the British Army. Finally an army made of Polish patriots was formed. There is a military cemetry on Monte Cassino, where are buried the heroic Polish young men who fought the Germans along with our troops to capture that promontory.
As you know, the treaties of the tyrants of our time are not worth the paper they are writtn on. Neither the Nazis nor the Communists have ever kept their word — being utterly lawless. So, after France had been partitioned and England was on the total defense, in spite of his non-agression pact with Stalin, Hitler ordered the attack on Russia, 2 June 1949. The Russians were caught totally unprepared, and the Germans were hailed as liberators in Eastern Europe. They almost succeeded in conquering Russia. However, the German Armies of the South failed to take Stalingrad before the winter set in.
A Master Sargent of one of the German Mobile divisions that attacked in the north, being invited to talk ,(in 1995) at the annual San Francisco luncheon of the survivors of the Battle of the Bulge, recounted that the Northern German army actually had taken Leningrad. He remembered sitting with his General in the train depot within Leningrad when a telegram came from Hitler, personally. The General read it and broke out in furious anger. The telegram ordered him not to enter Leningrad, but to invest it and starve it into submisssion.
The well-disciplined German troops, like mindless robots, pulled out of Leningrad and invested it. The Russians started an airlift. Soon the anti-aircraft barrage made it impossible for the German planes to fly over the city. They never took it again and were caught out in the field in summer uniforms by the worst winter in memory.
It was so cold that the tanks and mobile armament were useless. Even the grease froze solid in the containers. Eventually they had to retreat. When they did, the found that they were no longer considered liberators. The people of Poland and Eastern Europe saw what the SS
troops did to the Jews and to their own intellectuals (like Maximilian Kolbe and the other Polish priests) and they turned against the Germans who had to fall back to Prussia.
Anyway, that was the beginning of the end of Hitler’s ambitions. The Russians formd armies of enormous numbers. Finally, the Germans were surrounded by overwhelming odds and, in 1945, Berlin was taken by Russian troops. The struggle between the Nazis and the Communists consumed an estimated 40 MILLION human lives. From a political standpoint, every one of that number died for nothing because there was no real choice between those two monstrous systems.
+ + + + +
2. Enter the Polish Pope
After WWII, Stalin’s Russia was very strong and the govenments of the West were very weak.
Confusion reigned in the Chanceries of the “free” world. Our government was riddled with Communist agents. The Communists controlled about 1/3 of the World and almost the entire world Press. The Catholic Church was everywhere persecuted behind the Iron Curtin. For example, the Uniate Church in the Ukraine was formally suppressed in 1945 and all of their buildings given to the Orthodox. The Church in the East became an underground Chuch with more and more of its leaders and clergy killed, or exiled to Siberia.
Poland had been callously betrayed into the hands of the Soviets by the agreements of Churchill and Roosevelt with Josef Stalin at Teheran and at Yalta. Churchill, it must be said, was the principal agent in throwing that nation to the wolves. The intention was to make it into a Soviet State. An “election” was held in 1947, at a time when 300,000 Soviet troops were quartered there as well as and army of 200.000 Poles led by Communist officers. The Peasant Party, in opposition to the Communists, polled 100,000 votes out of a reported 11 million voters. Only Communists manned most of the Polling Booths. As a result, a Communist government was set in place.
In 1949 Cardinal Wyszynski became the Arthbishop of Warsaw. He proved to be a courageous and indomitable Catholic leader.
After the War, among those released from the Nazi Prison camps, were several thousand Polish Priests. The U.S. and British Military Command in Europe under the naive (or worse) General Eisenhower, at the request of the Soviets rounded up several million people who had either fled the Soviets during the War or who had been prisoners of war, and shipped them back to the Soviets. Certainly, in the bleak history of cruel wrongs of the Twentieth Century, this was one of the most infamous acts of betrayal. They knew what awaited them — there were thousands of suicides; desperate men jumped off the ships into the sea; only a few thousand were ever heard of again.
Fortunately, the Polish Priests who had been liberated were at the Vatican when that happend and so escaped the deportation. After the infamous betrayal had been acomplished, a number of Bishops (including our own Archbishop McGucken) negotiated to have the Polish priests in exile come to work in various diocese of North America. San Francisco had about thirty. They were exemplary priests, holy and very well trained. In every way they were a blessing for us in those dark days –and not a few of them really saints.
One of those excellent Polish priests was Rev. Dubkowski. He was first appointed as Associate Pastor to Msgr. Raymond Cahill at Holy Cross Church in the Fillmore; and later he became chaplain at St. Mary’s Hospital in San Francisco. He had been incarcerated in the notorious Dachau prison camp and once was within a day of being killed. He had grown too weak to work and, one morning, saw his name posted on the list of those who were to report to another barracks. They all knew that that particular barracks was the staging ground for gassing useless prisoners. He forced himself to report for work and, that day, a food package arrived from Poland which gave him the strength to continue working. A week later, Dachau was liberated by the American army and he was saved.
From hims I learned that the Cardinal had opened clandestine seminaries. This was a very successful move; under the Soviets the Poles had a priest for about 834 Catholics. One priest for every thousand is considerd the ideal ratio. Compare that with the ratio in the U.S.; at present(2007) we have a priest for every 1,500 Catholics.
Fr Dubkowski (and, naturally, other exiled Poles) supported the seminaries by what funds they could raise. They could not send money to Warsaw, because it would be confiscated, so they collected and/or bought new and used clothing. This was shipped to the seminarians who sold the clothes and thus had funds to survive. Fr. Dubkowsi had rooms chock full of new and used clothes and he was constantly begging for more.
He reported that Polish Government was trying to eliminate the Church by imposing enormous taxes. When asked how they were paid. He said that the Cardinal just ignored the taxes, and since the people were so solidly Catholic the Government couldn’t do anything about it.
One strategy the Communists used to try and break the Church was to refuse permits to build new Churches.
The Government developed an Industrial City, for example, called “New City” (“Novy Huta”), near Krakow. They would not allot any land for a Church nor give a building permit. The Bishop of Krakow (Carol Wotyla) simply collected all the building materials available and the people erected a Church within a very short time, without any funds or permit. The Government also turned a blind eye to this.
About that time, a priest in the U.S. founded an organization known ast the “Blue Army“. It publishes a magazine and promotes devotion to Our Lady of Fatima. Their idea was to get every Catholic to say the Rosary for the conversion of Russlian in compliance with Our Lady’ request. It was pretty successful and developed a large membership among “ordinary” Catholics.
One of their projects was to buy an airplane (I think it was a 747, if I’m not mistaken) which they used to ferry pilgrims to Fatima very inexpensively. This project was carried out by a man named John Haford and it was very successful . Later, they acquired a statue of Our Lady of Fatima from Portugal, had it blessed by the local Bishop, and a group of them would fly the statue to various major cities in the world for veneration. When the statue came, once, to San Francisco, the traditional parishes (like St. Monica’s) vied with each other to host it for a few days. It was brought, I remember, to the Carmelite Chapel and to the Chapel of the Perpetual Adoration Sisters. When it came to St. Monica’s, by a strange coincidence, no one was around to greet the statue and set it up but the Church Organist who happened to there practising . He was an Anglican named Gordon Wilson who had been in the British Army during the War and had been captured to spend a long time in a Nazi Prison Camp. He suffered a great deal. For example, the efficient Nazis had the custom of pulling out all the teeth of the enlisted men (naturally, without anesthesia) to get the gold or silver of their filings. So our Organist, although a man with an excellent voice, was toothless. I congratulated him on being the only one in the parish to be on hand to greet Our Lady, and he said: “Well, we have a special relationship, she and I” — indicating devotion to the Mother of the Saviour. God Bless him, may he rest in peace, safe under Our Lady’s protection.
Anyway, there was a woman living in one of the facilities for the elderly at 580 Capp St. in the Mission District of San Francisco. When I met her she is over 90 years old and her name was Eleanor Jamrog. After the War she went to work for various Tour Ships and when she retired in the 1970’s, she became very active in the Blue Army. She went on many of the Pilgrim flights to various countries, including Israel, Egypt, China, Pakistan, etc. etc. — in all, 19 countries. She was on the flight that went to Warsaw in May 1978. She said that the planes were always full of pilgrims. That particular flight had 178 passengers and the plane was named “”Queen of the World”. They had been in Egypt and Tel Aviv before they reached Warsaw.
When they landed there was a Soviet Bomber sitting in the Airport, and a high-ranking Russian Officer came on board and talked to the pilot and to Mr. Haford. The upshot was that they could land and go into Warsaw, but the statue was not allowed to leave the airplane.
Naturally, they obeyed and when they went into Warsaw and visited the various shrines like Czestahow; they found that all the people had heard how Our Lady was being “held captive” aboard the plane and was not allowed to land. That it was by a decision of the Russian Army did not help matters. One of the priests on the pilgrimage, Fr. Chumsky (sp?) from New Jersey, got the idea of making an outline of the statue with wire coat-hangers and mounting it on a pedestal. They took that around to the various Churches. It became a symbol of the oppressive Communist regime. It became so notorious, that the Government was embarrassed. They contacted Cardinal Wyszynsky and told him that he had permission to bring the pilgrim statue into Warsaw.
He refused to do it.
Finally, in desperation, the Government gave him permits to build four churches as well as a major seminary in Warsaw before he would allow the statue to land! One of the Churches, dedicated 22 August 1979 has the name “Queen of the World” in memory of the plane that had carried the statue into Poland.
In a way, I feel a little sorry for the Polish Communist Government; they were dealing with forces too powerful for ordinary men.
Of course, there are many strands to the story of how Our Lady’s ultimate triumph was acheived; many small and unsung heros in the battle will remain unheralded until the General Judgement. However, there were two men who were particular instruments of the Imaculata making life miserable for the Communists: one was St. Maximilian Kolbe whose sacrifice gave the Poles the strength to maintain their Catholic identity and personal integrity through all their trials. The other was Most Reverend Carol Wotyla, at the time,Archbishop of Krakow. He had consecrated himself to the Immaculta as a young man, — following the suggestion of St. de Montfort. As you know, that consecration was, as in the case of St Maximilian , a total one. He gave himself heart and soul to be her agent in the world.
In October 1978, Carol Cardinal Wotyla was elected Pope. He took the name of John Paul II to acknowledge God’s plan since John Paul I had died within one month of having been elected. He was hailed by the liberals in governments and in the Chuch since he was a scholar of impecable credentials. They were certain that such an intelligent man would see the path of accomodation to the world’s ways as clearly as they did. Later, when they learned of his devotion to Our Lady, they changed their tune and they often refer to the Pope as “being out of touch.” As events have borne out, considering the times, he is probably the greatest leader of the twentieth century and, sadly — they wound up “being out of touch”.
I remember clearly that I had never seen a Pole in exile smile. Even the American born Poles were a grim and gloomy lot. They had been a seriously oppressed people for three hundred years and they had been callously betrayed by their British allies after the War. There was no sign of relief, although they clung to their identity and Faith. In 1970 there had been a strike of workers in the shipyards at Gdansk (= “Danzig”) on the Baltic Sea. It had been brutally put down and a number of strikers were killed. The cost of food and goods kept rising but the wages throughout Poland did not keep pace. All this weighed heavily on them.
However, the day that Carol Wotyla was elected Pope, all that changed. I remember that the Vicar for the Polish people in California, who lived a St. Anne’s Parish with Msgr. Foudy, was seen jumping up and down, clapping his hands for joy at the news. We had a number of exiled Polish scholars, priests and laymen, at USF. Never have I seen a people so changed. Smiles on all their faces. All at once they could understand the reason for the terrible trials Poland had gone through during the past centuries. It was clearly to prepare the people to produce a Pope! Yes, every Pole who suffered and died in the Soviet Gulag and work camps; every Pole that kept his faith throught the darkenss of Nazi domination — participated in the formation of that Pope. They share the glory that is his. He summarizes his people.
Not many people really grasp that. They think of the Papacy as a political position, rather than as Vicar of Christ on Earth.
Pople John Paul II asked to be able to return for a visit to his home country. The Government could not refuse such a simple request. He went back the first time in Januar 1979. The Government did everything possible to dicourage the people from attending the papal events. For example, at one Papal Mass scheduled near Warsaw, all the roads were blocked by the police. However, the people walked through the woods and across the fields to attend. The numbers were ennormous. There were cities where literally every lamp pole had a picture of the Polish Pope. The people were beside themselves with joy. Even, many of the Polish Communists were secretly elated by the election of that Pope.
In 1979, a non-Catholic exile from Czechslovakia, who was teaching Government at Boston University, wrote an article analyzing the reaction of Government leaders and intellectuals of Eastern Europe to the visit by the Pope. Now remember, the Pope did nothing more than visit the various parts of Poland dear to him and say mass. He did not talk politics at all!. However, the Political Scientist at Boston University saw clearly that the Pope’s visit showed that the Soviet System was doomed. He pointed out that no conquerer can control a people unless they are successful in changing them into themselves. It is simply too much of a drain on men and material to maintain a huge army in enemy territory. For example, the success of the Moslem conquests was due to the forced conversion of their subjects to Islam. The Germans never seemed to master that fact. That is why, although they are superb fighters and great strategists they could never subue the people they conquered. They always looked upon their opponents as inferior beings to be enslaved, not to become Germans.
So the scholars saw that the Communist leaders were now aware that they had failed to win the people to their side and that the vast majority looked to the West and , particulrly, to the Catholic Church. He predicted that in the ensuing chaos after the fall of Communism, the Church would be the only stable organization left. Now we know why Gorbachev went to ask the help of the Chuch for the peaceful dissasembling of the Socialist system.
From that time on, the Communists in Eastern Europe were afraid.
They knew that they had to tread carefully and not allow a confrontation that would cause the people to rise. On the other hand they still had to obey the Kremlin at the peril of their lives. For example, a canon of the Communist project is to socialize the peope by eliminating private ownership of land. All the sources of food, as well as housing, were to be under the control of the Party and the independence that comes from owning land had to be eliminated. The people had to be dependent on the Government for everything, even their food.
Well, they had begun a plan to nationalize the farmland of Poland, but after the Pope’s visit they were afraid to implement it for fear of a rebellion. So they put the plan on the back-burner along with all their dreams. As a result, when the Communist regime fell in 1989, 70% of the Polish people stilll lived on their own farms so the effects of dislocation from Government control were greatly muted. They had sufficient during all the chaotic times of change in the economic system. As a contrast, the Russian farmers, never owning their own land, did not know what to do or how to get the food to the people. As a consequence food rotted in the fields while the vast majority of the peoople, who were landless , starved in the cities as the Communist system broke down.
A new spirit was at work in Poland. In 1980 the shipyard workers on Gdansk struck again. This time they locked the gates and erected a cross in memory ot the workers who had been killed in the 1970 strike. Lech Walesa, an electrician who had been without work because of his union activities, climbed the fence and joined them.
The workers at most of the shipyards in Poland joined the strike. At first the demands were for a small amelioration of their wages; but the demands started to escalate until they dememaded the end of a one-party system in Poland. The Kremlin was alarmed and insisted that the strike be put down by force. The Polish Communist leaders were, by now, very cautious — afraid to provoke a revolution. Brezhnev, who was the General Secreatary ot the Party in Russia at that time, ordered the Russian Army to the Polish borders. The workers strike had great sympathy among workers all around the world. For example, the Communist Party in Spain and Italy (the strongest outside of Eastern bloc) threatened to withdraw from the Commitern if Russia invaded Poland. The President of the U.S. (I think it was Carter) informed the Kremlin that invasion of Poland would be considered a cause for war.
The Russian Army did not invade, instead general Jaruzelski, of the Polish Army, took over the Party leadership in Poland and declared a State of War within Poland on 12 December 1980. The Solidarity Party (initiated by the strikers) was outlawed, and Martial Law took over Poland. Needless to say, the strikers were forced back to work
The Communist Party well knew who their enemhy was. From what can be determened by their records, the head of the KGB, Andropov (resorting to the tried and true Soviet system of control), worked through the Bulgarian Communist Party to hire Mehemed Aliaga (a Turk) to assasinate the Pope. The attempt was made 13 May 1980. Pope John Paul II has always said that it was part of the prophesies at Fatima and that Our Lady saved his life. Indeed the first bullet missed a major abdominal artery by only a millimeter. Recently, the Pope took the bullet to Fatima where it now forms part of the Crown on the statue there.
The Pope survived and in 1983 he returned a second time to his home country. There is a Newsreel clip that shows the Pope standing in his usual calm and patient manner and Jaruzelski, reading welcoming speach so frighted that his knees are clearly knocking together.
Now the scene of action shifts to Russia.
D. THE DENOUMENT
l. Socialism rejected
Josef Stalin, who was the killer of twenty million of his own people while trying to “purge” his Party, died in 1953. The evidence we have, indicates that Lavrenti Beria, head of the KGB since 1939, knowing that Stalin planned ot have him denounced and fed into the purge, killed him. He certainly was the last person to see Stalin alive. Beria, from his potent position as head of the Secret Police, maneuvered to take Stalin’s place. However, the remaining “Old Bolsheviks” were deathly afraid of him and, with the aid of the Army under Marshal Zhukov, he was arrested at a meeting of the Communist leaders. Nikita Khrushchev organized the arrest. The story of how it happend is an insight into the workings of the “people’s paradise”; a governmental structure that outlawed Charity. They all came to the meeting armed, and at a signal, pulled out their pistols and aimed them at Beria while Khruschev grabbed the attache case where Beria carried his weapon. He was smuggled out of the building and, later, tried, and killed under Stalin’s purge law.
Nikita Khrushchev inherited Stalin’s power. The Soviet leadership was still committed to the Revolution, but the death of Stalin and Beria lifted the hearts of the members of the Communist Party who had been terrorized because the purge was against themselves. At the 20th Congress of the Comminist Party, 25 February 1956, Khruschev delivered what turned out to be the most important speech of his life. Seeking to dissasociate himself and The Party from the madness of the past, he denounced Stalin and his cruelties. He pulled away the cloak of falsehood that allowed Stalin to be glorified and made it clear that the terrible injustices would not be repeated.
He certainly was trying to restablish the image of the Party as benefactor of the people. The effect was a beginning of the release of prisoners from the Gulags. This increased the awareness of the Western World as to what Communism really was. It also inspired Mikhail Gorbachev, who was a young member of the party at the Congress.
Khruschev was the first ruler of the Communist Empire to leave his office alive. He was voted out of office by the Party leaders in 1964, and retired to die naturally in 1971.
Leonid Ilyich Brezhnev became head of the Party in 1964, and ruled during the time when the inefficiency and corrupion of the socialist system became more and more apparent.
When Brezhnev died in 1982, the “last Bolshevik”, Andropov, who was head of the KGB was moving to take his place. Gorbachev had worked for Andropov and, through his influence, was elected to the Politburo and became General Secretary. This was Stalin’s old position, and a powerful one because he appointed all the officials. He was the youngest member of the Politburo, being only 51 years of age.
Andropov was assasinated by the wife of one of his rivals who was being stalked by the KGB, and the leadership passed to 71 year old Konstantin Chernenko, who ruled for 18 months.
In December 1984, Gorbachev made a speech at a Party Conference that made explicit the failure of the Socialist system and he recommended that the Party repudiate that economic system. There is no doubt that Gorbachev was, and is, a sincere Party member who holds Lenin and his objectives very dear to his heart; he also has a strong loyalty to Russia. But he seemed to think that, because of the defects of the socialist system, the Party’s political future lay in the direction of government with officials elected by the people. Remember, the Soviet system was (like the Nazis) designed to have a trusted party member really in control of each segment of the government. So in the Soviet system, there were two, parallel, govenments — the bureacracy and the Communists; with all the power in Communist hands through control of the KGB.
In the ensuing voting, he found an ally in a Siberian named Boris Yeltsin, who became the head of the Communist Party in Moscow.
Gorbachev was elected to take over the Communist Party and the Soviet Governement by the Politburo. He was the first “new Communist” to come to power. In Febrary of 1986 he presided at the last Summit Converence of Party members. There he introduced the idea of having free elections and an end to the drive for an international revolution to take over the world, which was the Bolshevik dream. It is a measure of the growth of insecurity among the Communist leadership in Eastern Europe, infected by the events in Poland, that his ideas were approved.
In December of that year, he withdrew all Russian troops from Afghanistan, which had proved refractory to conquest.
The next year, November 1987, Gorbachev denounced Stalin as guilty of enormous crimes and publicly disassociated the government from the use of terror.
The year 1988 was the 1000th anniversary of the conversion of the Ukraine and Russia to Christianity. Also, that year was declared a special “Marian Year” by the Pope. At the Easter season, Soviet television was allowed to broadcast news of the services and Gorbachev publicly let it be known that he had been baptized as a child and met with the Patriarch and other Church leaders.
In May, Gorbachev addressed the Central Committee of the Communist Party, telling them that the government had to become independednt of the Party and that there had to be free elections in order to have the personal rights of citizens respected. In no other way could he see how the Party or Russia could be saved. In spite of the fact that he was sounding the death knell of their power, the Committee agreed!
In June of the Marian Year, the first Mass in 70 years was celebrated in the CATHEDRAL OF THE ASSUMPTION OF THE BLESSED VIRGEN MARY in the Kremlin, to celebrate the millennium of Christianity in Russia.
In late June of 1988, Gorbachev proposed radical changes at a Party Congress. He reviewed the economic disaster in which they were floundering. Infant Mortality in the Soviets was 50th among the nations of the world. On the Collective Farms, 40% of all fruits and vegetables and 25% of the grain rotted because they could not reach the markets, while the cities were going hungry. After reciting the long list of failures, he suggested the formation of a”Congress of Peoples Deputies” to be elected with 2,250 members. They would meet once a year and elect 400 to a Supreme Soviet for 5 year terms. The Supreme Soviet would then elect a President who would then appoint a Prime Minister to be the Executive.
He announced that the elections to the new Congress would take place March 1989. When the election took place, 1,125 seats were voted upon. The remainder were to be voted the nex year. The top vote-getter of all the Soviets was Boris Yeltsin who received 89% of the Moscow votes.
In spite of Gorbachev’s hopes, the election of the Congress signaled the move for independence throughout the Soviet Empire.
On April 9, in Tiflis, the capital of Georgia, 10,000 people demonstrated for independence. Soviet troops killed 19 and wounded 20 in supressing the demonstration.
The opening session of the Congress took place 25 May. The deputies denounced the killings in Tiflis. The commander of the troops was recalled in disgrace. From that time on, the Communist Party really lost control. An unknown engineer was nominated to run against Gorbachev. Boris Yeltsin called for direct election of the President by the people. Yuri Vaslov, an ex- Olympic Games champion whose father had been a victim the KGB demanded an end to the independence of the secret police from the rest of the goernment and its removal from the control of the Communist Party.
The Supreme Soviet met until August. On 10 July, Siberian coal miners struck. They were striking for SOAP with which to wash themselves. Soon most of the miners in the Soviet Union went on strike. At a meeting of the Communist Central Commettee Gorbachev refused to put down the strikes by force; declaring those methods would no longer be used.
Meanwhile, in Catholic Poland, the shipyard workers went on strike again — declaring the Communist Government’s ban on the Solidarity Party unacceptable. On 26 August, the Polish Commuinist Politburo voted to negotiate with Solidarity if they would go back to work. Lech Walesa agreed. It took personal action by the head of the Communist Party in Poland, General Jaruzelski, to insist that the politbureau negotiate in good faith. The negotiations reached an accord in Appril 1989, that effectively ended one-party rule in Poland. An election took place in June 1989 for 100 seats in a new “upper house’ of delegates. To everyone’s surprise(?), Soldarity captured 99 of 100 seats. On August 10, 1989, Taduse Mazowiecki , a Catholic Intellectual, non-communist, became Premier of Poland to form a new government. The Communist system in Poland had fallen without a shot!
2. The Grand Finale
Following the example of Catholic Poland, the story was repeated in country after country of the Soviet bloc. It was always the same scenario. The Communists, who held power through brute force and terror, were unseated and a non-communist government instituted with little or no bloodshed. As far as I can recollect, the only deaths were those of the Communist Boss in Romania and his wife. By 1990 the only Communist country in the West was Albania and the only Catholic country in the Soviet Union was Lithuania — which was struggling for its freedom.
The story of the fall of the East German Communist State is particularly revealing.
In Hungary, January 1989 found a new Communist leader, Pozgony, calling for a change. In May, the government opened the border to Austria, removing all the barricades. By August 1990, a non-communist government was formed; again, all peacefully
In opening the wall between Hungary and Austria, a crisis was precipitated in East Germany. Thousands of East Germans went through Hungary and passed through Austria to West Germany. On September 11, the Hungarian government announced that, in spite of German pressure, any East Germans in their territory would be free to go wherever they wished. The flood began.
These events do not appear in any secular history books, nor were they reported (as far as I can recollect) in the Western Media.
Leipzig is an Industrial City in East Germany. Catholics began the custom of gathering at he Church of St. Nicholas every Monday afternoon to pray the Rosary for freedom.
On 4 September 1989, 1,500 people gathered to pray. September 11 more came and 50 were arrested because the people left the Church to march, praying, through the neighborhood streets.
On 25 September, 8,000 came to pray, and march afterwards, shouting for freedom.
October 2, saw a gathering of 10,000.
Gorbachev visited East Germany on Sunday 8 October and warned the Communist leader Honecker not to put the movement down with violence. Honecker was an old-line Communist in the Stalin mode. His impulse was to use force.
On Monday 9 October, 50,000 people gathered. Honecker sent the secret police and soldiers with orders to kill if necessary. No one would fire on the demonstrators. On Tuesday, 10 October, the East German Politburo met and Honecker found himself without support from his fellow Communists.
Monday 16 October, 150,000 people gathered at St. Nicholas Churh to pray. Honecker resigned and fled to Russia. He wound up eventually in Chile where he died in 1991 — still a hard-line Communist.
October 30 saw 300,000 gathered for prayer in Leipzig. On 4 November 500,000 people demonstated in East Berlin and this forced the entire Communist government to resign on 7 November.
On 9 November the gates in the Berlin Wall were opened and hundreds of thousands of people poured through. By December 1, 1989, the Berlin Wall was torn down and a jubilant Germany was re-united again —without bloodshed!!
By 24 November, Czechoslovakia had voted out its Communist government and Havel, a Catholic, became Prime Minister of the new goernement. His first official act was to attend the singing of the TE DEUM in the Cathedreal of Prague on 29 December.
And so the story goes. Government after government collapsed and reformed as non-communist in all of the Soviet Bloc countries. Needless to say, these events had serious reprecussions in Moscow.
In order to understand the almost incredible events that occurred after that in Russia while we were distracted by the TV and the Ball Games, I have to explain a little about the structure of the Soviet Union. In case there are errors in all this, I defer to our Resident Expert, Michael Filice, student of Foreign Policy.
In 1922, Lenin designed the Soviet governmental structure that was put into place by Stalin in 1924.
The Soviet system was made up of 15 Republics in a Federal system called the “USSR” (“United Soviet Socialistic Republics). Each republic had its own constitution and local government. The only link among them all was the Communist Party which controlled the appointment of the leaders of the Republics and also the Armed Forces and the ubiquitous KGB. In every governmental and social unit there was, besides the official bureaucrats, a soviet (=”committee”) that was really in control and it was ruled by one or two members of the Communist Party.
One can see how Lenin thought in terms of including country after country into the Union until the Communist Party would control the whole world!
The Republic of Russia had 1/2 the population and 3/4 of the area of the USSR.
The satellite republics fell into 4 groups plus Moldavia.
The group of the Baltic States included Lithuania, the only Catholic Soviet Republic, Latvia, and Estonia.
The Western Slavs were: the Ukraine; a country about the size of France with a strong Uniate Catholic Church (suppressed by Stalin) as well as an Orthodox Church. The other Wester Slavs were the Belorussians (= “white russians”), having about the same religious structure as the Ukranians.
The Caucasian States were Georgia, Armenia, and Azerbaijan.
The Central Asian States were Moslem in religion: Kazakstan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Tadzhikistan, and Kyrgystan.
Aren’t you glad that the Soviets didn’t conquer us! Imagine dealing with that Language. The Slavic Languages are hard enough to master, but the Mongolians—-!!
After the amazing events of 1989 that led to the (essentially) peaceful libertion of all the Soviet bloc “allies” except for Albania, the example of Poland began to have a Domino effect within the USSR.
In January, 1990, the Ukrainians demonstrated in their capital, Lviv, calling for a “national rebirth”.
On 11 January 1990, 250,000 Catholic Lithuanians rallied at the Cathedral in Vilnius, the capital, in a call for independence. Gorbachev came to calm things down, but in the process he conceded that there was no fundamental objection to a multi-party system.
On 15 January, Azerbaijan and Armenia clashed ove ethnic Armenians living in the former Republic. The Soviets sent 11,000 Soviet troops to end the strife and 60 Azerbaijanis were killed. This caused a furor at the meeting of the Central Commttee of the Communist Pasty, because Gorbachev’s enemies accused him of reinstating the poltics of terror as played under Stalin.
That, of course, was a tender subject to Gorbachev who sincerely wanted an end to government by terror.
On 18 January a remarkable thing happened. 450 Communist Party members from 75 Russian cities met to form a new party : DEMOCRATIC RUSSIA. this, of course, started further ferment in the USSR to end the single party system.
The Central Committee of the Communist Party met on 4 February. The night before, 200,000 young people rallied in front of the Kremlin to demand an end to the single party system. One of the speakers was Father Gleb Yakunin who called for a return of Russia to Christian principles. Another speaker was Boris Yeltsin who said that the multiparty system was the last chance for the survival of the Communist Party. At the meeting of the Central Committee, Gorbachev told them that Russia and the other Soviet Republics, if they wanted to continue to exist, had to do so with governments democratically elelcted. In spite of his devoltion to the Communist agenda, he obviously saw that, considering the economic and social disasters of the Soviets,events were on a roll that could not be stopped without a major massacre, which he was unwilling to be part of, thank God.
On 7 February the Central Committee voted the end of the one party system — thereby, essentially, committing political suicide. Sure enough, on 15 March, the Congress of Peoples Deputies repealed Article 6 of the Soviet Constitution that mandated a dominant role for the Communist Party.
In spite of Mikhail Gorbachev’s attempts to shore up the dykes, on 11 March ,Lithuania became totally independent of the soviet system, followed on 30 March by Estonia
In May, the Congress of Peoples Deputies had to elect the President of the Russian Republic. Boris Yeltsin ran for the office, in spite of strong opposition on the part of Gorbachev. Yeltsin won with 535 votes againt 467 for his opponent on 29 May. On 30 May Boris Yeltsin declared the RUSSIAN REPUBLIC INDEPENDENT OF THE SOVIET SYSTEM.
Gorbachev was still head of the Commjunist Party. It is important to remember, to his credit, that this reluctant benefactor of mankind could have at any time unleased the terror system of Stalin and so initiate a blood bath that might have saved his power. Naturally, he was very much opposed to Yeltsin’s move, but he refused to resort to Terror and could see no way for the Party to survive except to go with the democratic flow. On 2 July the 28th and LAST Congress of the Soviet Communist Party convened; immediatelhy his leadershiip was challenged. In the only secret ballot ever recorded by the Communist Party, he was re-elected by a wide margin.
The opposition then resorted to their terrorist methods. In September there was an attempt on the life of Yeltsin which he attributed to the KGB. In November 1990, Vladimir Kryuchkov, head of the KGB met secretly with trusted Communist Party members to draw up plans to seize power and then re-establish the Soviet System. They drew up a list of all who were to be arrested and killed — naturally those wanting to democratize the soviets; and they prepared a decree abolishing all elected groups.
Remember, that the Communist Party was still officially in charge of the Armed Forces and the KGB . Gorbachev was being severely criicized by the old-ine Bolsheviks and was deperately trying to shore up the crumbling Soviet system while still carrying out the reforms he had initiated.
On 13 January 1991, Soviet troops killed 13 people in Lithuania and on 20 January they killed 5 in Latvia. This caused protest demonstrations in Moscow and an offer to the Baltic states of a mutual support treaty by Yeltsin. As a result, on 30 Jauanry, all Soviet troops were withdrawn from the Baltic Sates and they became de facto independent.
On 19 February, Boris Yeltsin publicly called for Gorbachev’s resignation. The Supreme Soviet countered by calling for Yeltsin’s resignation as president of the Russian Republic. On 24 February, 500,000 people marched in Moscow in support of Yeltsin. On 8 March the Coal miners struck again — not for soap, this time, but for an end to the Soviet system. There were also demonsrations in other major cities of Russia. The army would not act to suppress these movements.
Gorbachev ordered troops to enter Moscow, contrary to a resolution by the Congress of Deputies, because the Communists wanted the Democratic Russian party outlawed. Hundreds of thousands of people surrounded the Congress building and the troops, although ordered by their Commander to shoot, refused to do anything. That was the beginning of the end.
On 4 April, the Congress voted Yeltsin broad powers to handle he crisis and he scheduled an election of the President by direct vote of the people for 12 June. He won the election — the first populrly elected ruler of Russia in 1000years !!
In the same election, the people of Leningrad not only elected a Mayor of Yeltsin’s party, but voted to change the name of the city back to ST. PETERSBURG.
On 17 June, the Soviet Prime Minister asked the Supreme Soviet for power to rule by decree –apparently hoping to declare Martial Law. His bid was rejected and, on 25 July, Gorbachev called for dropping the name “Communist” from the Party and proposed forming a Union among the former Soviet States by means of a treaty that would eliminate the power of the Communist Party.
These events really stirred up the hornets!
On 5 August, Glorbachev left for vacation near the Black Sea. The consiprators under Kryuchkkov decided they had to act immediately. On 18 August, the conspirators together with the Commanders of the Red Army visited Gorbachev at his vacation place. They told him of their plans. He retorted that they were insane and that it would percipitate a diastrous civil war that would destroy Russia. He called them “traitors.” They decided to go ahead and warned him not to interfere. It was agreed that they would report that he was sick and they had to take over the government by fiat.
They flew back to Moscow and had the vice-president of the Soviets sign a decree of ememrgency because Gorbachev was “too sick to lead” in this crisis. Thus, at 4:00 am on 19 August he STATE COMMITTEE FOR STATE EMERGENCY IN THE USSR was officially proclaimed and all military units were placed on the alert. Three divisions occupied Moscow and the Special Forces were sent to arrest Yeltsin and imprison all the leaders of the Russian Republic.
At 6 :00 am, Radio Moscow announced the coup and all radio, Tv, and other news media were taken over by the KGB.
Boris Yeltsin was 18 miles from Moscow when he heard of the coup at 6:07 am. He gathered all the leaders of the Russian government in his home to plan the resistance. They set out for Moscow in a convoy of cars. There were three KGB officers delegated to kill him on sight if he attempted to leave his home. They refused to shoot and Yeltsin and his party arrived at the Government Center at 10:00 am.
When he got there he desperately sought a way to alert the pople and rally them to defend the governemt.
At this crisis, there enters another of Our Lady’s agents, like Kolbe, unconciously playing a key role in these dramatic events.
I don’t suppose any of you youngsters ever heard of Fr. Werenfried Van Straaten. It is a name never mentioned any more and rarely seen even in the past in he secular press. Well, this relatively unknown member of the Premonstratatian Order of monks (known as “Norbertines”),now gone to his reward, was one of the great heroes of the Cold War.
After Germany collapsed at the end of WWII, there was a famine in Central Europe and chaos caused by the 14,000,000 German Refugees fleeing Soviet control. Fr. Werenfried was a Norbertine Monk in Belgium, which, as you remember was ruthessly conquered by the Nazis at the beginning of the War. However, this holy monk, seeing the need of his country’s enemy, in 1947 went to all the farmers in Belgium and Holland that he could reach, begging for their spare food and he sent what he could collect to East and West Germany for distribution by the Catholic charity outlets. Well, this project grew and grew and soon he was being called by people of Europe the “Bacon Priest”, because he was collecting food and funds for all the parts of Europe where there was a need during that dark time. He formed an organization called AID TO THE CHURCH IN NEED, which is still in existence. This marevelous organization has raised funds for the building of seminaries and Chuches for both Catholic, Orthodox, and Protestant people behind the Iron Curtin as well a giving food where needed. Today,they raise some seventy million dollars a year for distribution to 144 different countries where there are desperate needs, irrespective of the political of religious environment. This saintly priest went to his reward 31 January 2003. God Bless his noble soul!
At one point, he had raised money and bought a transmitter which he sent to Moscow with the intention of using it to evangelize the unchurched there. Naturally, the government would not let him put it up so it was stored in a warehouse in Moascow.
In the emergency facing the government of the Russian Republic, someone remembered the existence of the transmitter. It was set up and that was the radio that Boris Yeltsin used to rally the people of Moscow and St. Petersburg to the defense of the Congress of People’s Deputies and for the resistance against the Bolshevik coup.
And it worked!
People came by the hundres of thousands to surround the Government center to protect it against the Red Army and the KGB.
Ten Red Army tanks rolled into Moscow and surrounded the goverment building with their weapons pointed at the building. As people gathered to impede the tanks, Boris Yeltsin showed himself to be an inspired leader.
In, what has been called “his finest hour”, Bloris Yeltsin strode alone to the tanks and addressed the Commander: “Are you going to kill me?”. The Colonel denied that he would. Yeltsin climbed on the tank and from the turret addressed the surrounding soldiers. He warned them that the coup meant going back into dictatorship and a civil war. He warned them not to lead the country back into the night. He was the duly elected President of the Republic of Russia.
The tanks turned their guns around to defend the Parliamentary building.
More and more people came to defend the government. Yeltsin sent an emergency cadre of govenment officials to a secret location in the Ural Mountains in case of Civil War.
By 6:00 pm, 25,000 civilians were around the building, unarmed, but ready to die rather than let it be taken. At 10:00 pm, Fr Gleb Yakunin addressed the people from a balcony encouraging them to trust in he portection of the Virgin, assuring them that God would not abandon them. He led the people in prayer. All night he went about with another Orthodox Priest hearing confessions.
After midnight a paratroop battalion arrived with a detachment of KGB agents who had rebelled against the coup. They came to defend the Parliment Building.
On the morning of 20 August, there were 50,000 defenders around the building. In St. Perersbug 180,000 people demonstrated to support the government. The leaders of the coup realized that they had to take the Parliment building by force immediately. An armed attack was scheduled to begin at 1:00 am in the morning. A few minutes after midnight the Soviet Army started to clear away the obstacles set up as barricades. One detachment drove in with tanks, firing over the heads of the defending people. Three young men were killed. That was the only loss of life that took place during these dramtic events. The tanks withdrew, refusing to fire on the massed people.
At the other barricades the Soviet Army did not try to enter. There was one push at one barricade and they were met by Russian Women carrying signs; “Russian Soldiers, don’t shool your Mother.” The troops withdrew..
It is a remarkable coincidence — that really is not a coincidence, that this is also what happend at the end of the story of the tyrant Marcos who had taken over the Philippines. The leader of the opposition forces as a young man namd Aquino who was in exile in San Franciso. As Aquino’s party gained strength in Manila, Marcos invited hiim to come back for a parly and to arrange for free elections. Marcos publicly assured him of safe conduct. As soon as he landed at the Manila airport, government gunmen killed Aquino.
That, of course inflamed the people and hundreds of thousands demonstrated in the streets of Manila demnding free elections. Marcos sent out his soldiers with orders to disperse the crowds even, if neccary, by force. When they went out, they were faced by women saying Rosaries who shouted to the –“Go ahead, kill your mother,” Of course they refused to fire and that was the end of Marcos. He had to resign.
In Moscow, the crisis at the Parlimentary building came at 2:00 am. Three helicopters came to land a detachment of the 103rd Paratroop Division on the roof. The defenders had no anti-aircraft guns. All seemed lost as they aproached to land on the roof. Fr. Yakunin asked those around him to join in a prayer for a downpoiur of rain that would make the landing impossible. The downpour came, the communist coup was defeated.
At 8 :00am, 21 August, the Command of the Soviet Army met and decided to remove all troops from Moscow. At 2:18 pm Kruychkov and the other memers of those inolved in the coup flew out of Moscow to go to the Crimea to strike a deal with Gorbachev. They landed just ahead of 50 Russian offices sent to arrest them. They ordered the soldeirs with them to shoot down the aircraft . The soldiers refused. THE END.
Everyone knew that the end of Communism and its terror had come. On 22 August, the FEAST IF THE QUEENSHIP OF MARY , the Congress voted to renounce the Red Flag and adopt the ancient flag of Czarist Russia..
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I have written this account of the extraordinary events of the 20th Century because we live in very difficult times, again, and I want all who read these lines to be completely unafraid and free of anxieties. Have faith in Jesus the Lord.
The events recounted here actually happened. So you can see that any worry or anxiety is fruitless. The Lord created us, he has not abandoned us and if we do as he asks we will be perfectly safe no matter what happens on the world. The Bible speaks the truth: (Romans 8) “We know that all things work for the good of those who love God”. John 15 makes it clear who it is who loves God: “If you love me you will do my will.”
It is clear that Our Lady has been given the task of the defeat of Evil. Events show that she has vastly more power than all the forces of Evil combined. What do we have to fear as long as we have such a powerful mother?
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The Rise ad Fall of the communist REvolution. Christendome Press, FRont Royal V
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