The third issue of the publication Dievas ir Tėvynė (God and Country) has appeared. The article entitled "Mankind Has Always Believed in God" contains a rebuttal to attacks in the book by S. Markonis, "You're Not Telling the Truth, Father".
Most of the issue consists of the article, "I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life", in which the historicity of Christ is demonstrated from various sources.
The article, "What is Atheism?" shows how world-famous people regard atheism, and how atheism stands up under the realities of everyday life and in the light of the Sacred Scriptures.
The article "Faith—the Eternal Light" critiques the television film, "Do You Believe?"
The publication, medium in size, is 68 pages long.
A STRIKING ILLUSTRATION OF "FREEDOM"
The political and religious brain-washing of students in Lithuanian institutions of higher learning demands of Security agents ever increasing effort. Every institution of higher learning has assigned to it, permanent "bosses"—security agents, who, like spiders, weave their web: They recruit teachers, at least one student from each class, and administrative assistants to keep track of one another, to watch, listen, and report, so that "everything" might be known to Security; that everyone, no matter where they might be, or what they might be doing, would at all times feel a nagging fear, that his or her conversations would be overheard and reported, so that students and teachers would be permeated with feelings of extreme hopelessness: "Even though everyone sees clearly the most brazen lies and constraint, nevertheless there is nothing which can be done about it; it is no use kicking against the goad."
Security is quick to terrorize everyone, so that even in the depths of one's mind, a person would not dare condemn government force and deceit.
One of the "bosses" at the Lithuanian Academy of Agriculture is Daunys, an interrogator with Kaunas Security. Lecturer Zemaitis of the Department of Agrochemistry servilely helps him.
Word reached them that Virginijus Mačinkenas, junior scientific associate in the microelement laboratory of the aforesaid department, had begun to attend church quite zealously. "He is not to be allowed to do his thesis and must be watched more carefully," came the order from above.
In the spring of 1976, Virginijus applied to the seminary for admission. This was too big a matter for Daunius. The "boss" of the seminary arrived, a lieutenant colonel of Security who had the final word on which candidates could be accepted to the seminary.
For a long time he questioned, pleaded, and lectured the applicant on the realities of life. Finally he decided, "No, we'll never make an agent out of this one." It was not necessary to wait long for the decision of Security, bearing the stamp of the seminary rector.
Drivers at the Agriculture Academy, like chauffeurs of other institutions, sometimes pick up an additional bit of income on their day off by using the government bus to transport an excursion, a wedding party, or a group of mushroom hunters. In this illegal way they compensate for their poor salaries.
Virginijus asked a driver to take a group of pilgrims to Šiluva (One of the most popular Marian shrines — Transl. Note). This time the spider web immediately went into action. Lecturer Žemai-tis, like a good overseer and collaborator, used his own car on August 20, 1976, to take Virginijus to Security, where Daunys ranted for several hours, with fists raised, threatening prison sentences and legal suits. This was a great opportunity to get back at his scientific colleague, who went so far as to desire to become a priest.
Professor Baginskas, the department head, was ordered to discharge Scientific Associate Mačikėnas. How to do this quietly, so that "no dog would bark", was the problem of the department head. One thing he could be sure of: Higher authorities would in this case ignore any infringement of rights. Try not to obey, not to discharge the man, and you could suffer unpleasant consequences.
Thus it was that Mačikėnas was not accepted for the seminary, and on top of it, lost his position. Indeed, for religious believers, in the real Soviet world, there is "the greatest freedom and equality".
There is a completely different spirit among the friendly staff of the department or laboratory which is able to purge itself of Security informers and traitors. In those cases the limitless might of Security ends, and the threatening "all-knowing bosses" become sad parasites in the healthy body politic.
Kapsukas.On January 27, 1977, at Kapsukas—the former Marijampolė—the fiftieth anniversary of the death of the Servant of God, Archbishop Jurgis Matulevičius, was solemnly commemorated. Despite the fact that it was a weekday, and the event was poorly publicized, lest the government interfere with the process of canonization, the church was full.
Participating in the ceremonies were many priests and two bishops: His Excellency, the coadjutor bishop of the Archdiocese of Kaunas and of the Diocese of Vilkaviškis, Liudas Povilonis, and His Excellency, the exiled bishop of Kaišiadorys, Bishop Vincentas Sladkevičius, who presided at the High Mass. Those assisting at the services were pleasantly surprised to see the banished bishop in the pulpit. In a meaningful sermon, Bishop Sladkevičius urged all to walk the way of sacrifice.
There is no comparison between this celebration and the one held some years ago on the 100th anniversary of the birth of Archbishop Matulevičius. At that time, visiting priests were not even allowed to offer Mass in church, and the preacher on the occasion did not even dare mention that Archbishop Matulevičius had been the reformer of the Marian Fathers, and the founder of a congregation of sisters.
It would not even have occured to the organizers of the jubilee in 1971 to allow a bishop in exile to preach and to celebrate the main Mass. This change in climate clearly testifies that the sacrifices made in struggling for the freedom of the Church have not been in vain.
Vilkaviškis.On January 7, 1977, two young men were picked up by the Ministry of the Interior of Vilkaviškis: Vasily Orlov and Aleksandr Balučevskich. In broad daylight, they had broken into the church at Kybartai, damaged the cross standing on the altar, and taking another cross and a statuette of the Child Jesus, were trying to get away, when they were caught by some of the faithful.
The Ministry of the Interior of Vilkaviškis never did bring these youths to trial, but rather turned them over to the Communist Youth League since the burglars were members of the Communist Youth League.
In February of 1977, a questionnaire was distributed to medical workers in the Rayonof Vilkaviškis containing the following questions:
"What is your attitude towards religion? What reasons do you have for your religious beliefs? Do you observe religious holidays? Do you observe religious practices? What is your opinion of religion? Do you believe in superstitions? Do you have religious literature or liturgical articles at home? Are you raising your children in a religious spirit?"
The faithful are of the opinion that at the present time Rayon authorities should be more concerned about growing juvenile delinquency, drunkenness, and public dissatisfaction over the meat shortage, instead of worrying about people's religious convictions.
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Vilkaviškis.On February 11, 1977, the priests of the Rayon of Vilkaviškis were summoned before the Executive Committee of the Rayon. Vice Chairman J. Urbonas of the Executive Committee checked attendance, and another assistant, Ramanauskas, Chairman of the Planning Commission of the Rayon of Vilkaviškis, began a lecture on the economy of the Rayon of Vilkaviškis, and about future plans.
After the lecture, the priests began to ask what the receipts were in the Rayon of Vilkaviškis during 1976 for alcoholic beverages.
Ramanauskas read the following statistics: During 1976 in the Rayon of Vilkaviškis, 800,000 litres of liquor, 900,000 litres of wine, 35,000 litres of champagne, and 12,000litres of cognac were consumed.
Rayon Vice Chairman Urbonas acquainted the pastors with Regulation No. 28 of the Praesidium of the Supreme Soviet of the Lithuanian Soviet Socialist Republic concerning activities of religious groups.
Afterwards, the priests put many questions to the Vice Chairman, which Urbonas was absolutely incapable of answering. In his embarassment, Urbonas kept glancing at the clock, urging that the meeting be adjourned. But the pastors, as if by design, kept rising one after another and asking the Vice Chairman to explain why the Rayon government does not grant them the necessary building permits; why, at the Vilkaviškis hospital, Chief of Staff Sumskis interferes with priests who wish to confer the last sacraments on the seriously ill; why children in school are interrogated for going to church; why the Praesidium of the Supreme Soviet, after the Helsinki Accord, issued an order which discriminates severely against priests and faithful; why the registration of the religious community of Slabadai is being obstructed, etc.
On February 16, 1977, the parish councils of the Rayon were summoned before the Executive Committee of Vilkaviškis. Vice Chairman Urbonas read them the new order of the Praesidium of the Supreme Soviet concerning the activities of religious groups. Urbonas tried to plant with the representatives of the Faithful the thought that without their knowledge the pastor may do nothing in the parish, while parish councils in all matters must consult with the Rayon government. Urbonas reminded those present that these laws were promulgated "not by us, but by order of Moscow."
On December 15, 1976, Vice Chairman A. Vaitonis of the Executive Committee of theRayon summoned the chairpersons of the parish council of the Rayon, together with the chairpersons of the committees of trustees. Vaitonis explained to those gathered together the order of the Praesidium of the Supreme Soviet, dated July 28, 1976, entitled "Rules Concerning Religious Groups". The Vice Chairman exulted that now there was a law which everyone would have to obey, under pain of punishment.
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Šiauliai.On the last Sunday of Advent, 1976, visitors to the Church of St. George in Šiauliai were amazed to hear their pastor, Father Jokubonis, in his sermon, thanking the government for its assistance in reconstructing the burned-out church, and asking everyone to write as much as possible overseas about the reconstruction of the church, so that even Lithuanians living the farthest away would learn the facts. The people of Šiauliai say that perhaps the atheists ought also to be thanked for burning down the church.
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Igliauka.In the Spring of 1976, the Deputy of the Council for Religious Affairs demanded that the bishop transfer to another parish the pastor of Igliauka, Father Alfonsas Svarinskas, and the pastor of Veisiejai, Father Albinas Deltuva. By shifting priests from parish to parish the atheists want to hurt pastoral work and to break the spirit of the priests.
The faithful of the above-mentioned parishes, having learned of the transfer of their pastors, began to knock on the doors of Rayon offices, of Deputy Tumėnas and of the Chancery, defending their pastors and asking that they remain where they were.
As Father Deltuva was leaving the Veisiejai parish, many people gathered to see him off. The officials of the Rayon of Lazdijai attempted to interfere with the send-off.
On the evening of August 16, 1976, Father Svarinskas offered his final Mass in the parish at Igliauka, and many of the faithful, including youth, knelt at the Communion rail. The following day, a large group of people insisted on accompanying their pastor to the parish at Viduklė. Hardly had the cars left Igliauka, than the militia arrived. However, they were too late to break up the demonstration.
At Viduklė, a large contingent of parishioners, together with several neighboring priests, was waiting for their new pastor. Singing Psalm 45, "God is Our Refuge and Our Strength", they all entered the church, where the new pastor offered Mass and preached an appropriate sermon.
A couple of days later, Raseiniai Security was checking with people to see whether the Lithuanian national anthem had not been sung. The security people have probably forgotten that the anthem used to be sung during the first years of the Soviet government in Lithuania, until 1948.
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Vosyliškis.On November 30, 1976, the administrative committee of the Rayon of Raseiniai, consisting of Z. Butkus, Secretary D. Kleivienė, (Mrs.) O. Pikelienė, V. Gylis and J. Laurinavičius, fined the pastor of the Parish of Vosyliškiai, Father Jonas Survila, thirty rubles for organizing a procession to the cemetery on the eve of All Souls, (November 1, 1976).
The above mentioned procession occured in Žaiginis, (Father J. Survila was substituting for the pastor of Žaiginis, Father B. Ra-davičius), which is a small, out-of-the-way village, with the cemetery near the church. The Rayon officials, applying the order of July 28, 1976, had to stretch their imagination considerably in order to fabricate an "offense".
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Viduklė.At the end of October, 1976, the pastor of Viduklė, Father Alfonsas Svarinskas, announced that on the Eve of All Souls a procession to the cemetery would be organized, to honor the dead and to pray for them. Since the atheists go to the cemetery at 7 p.m., the pastor moved the time of the procession forward one hour.
On October 27, Father Svarinskas was summoned to the Raseiniai Rayon. Chairman A. Skeiveris of the Executive Committee of the Rayon, and his assistant, Z. Butkus, forbade the pastor to go to the cemetery. According to them, the right to organize a commemoration of the deceased belongs exclusively to the atheists. The officials of the Rayon tried to support their order with secret instructions dated 1961.
The pastor of Viduklė tried in vain to argue that the Soviet constitution guarantees freedom of conscience, that the Soviet government signed the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and that Leonid Brezhnev himself signed the Helsinki Final Act. The officials would allow no discussion, categorically declaring:
"Who do you think you are, refusing to obey? The heads of all the collective farms listen to us. If you go to the cemetery, we at the Rayon will not stand for it..."
At 6 p.m. on November 1, 1976, both priests of Viduklė together with a crowd of a thousand or so left the church for the cemetery, which is located at the edge of town. The faithful maintained good order, singing the Litany of the Saints as they processed.
In town and at the cemetery, there were many security agents and officials of theRayon administration, observing the procession and the services at the cemetery.
At 6:50 p.m., the faithful, singing "God is Our Refuge and Our Strength" (Psalm 45)returned to the church. The people were happy that for once, after so many years, they were able decently, without the "help" of the atheists, to pray for their dead.
On November 16, 1976, the pastor of Viduklė, Father Svarinskas, was summoned before the Administrative Committee of the Rayon of Raseiniai, and accused of organizing a procession along Tarybų Gatvė, thus obstructing traffic. Moreover, he disturbed the populace, thus transgressing the order of the Praesidium of the Supreme Soviet of the Lithuanian SSR, dated July 28, 1976.
By decision of the Administrative Committee, the pastor was fined 50 rubles.
Thus, even after the Helsinki Accord, the basic argument of the atheists in Lithuania is force. However, many priests are no longer swayed by this argument.
The pastor of Viduklė took this decision of the Administrative Committee to the People's Court of the Rayon of Raseiniai.
On December 20, 1976, The Court of Raseiniai, presided over by the People's Judge E. Jaras, with the People's Associates R. Milašius and (Mrs.) E. Miknienė participating, and (Miss) B. Balčiūnaitė as secretary, with Prosecutor (Miss) V. Petrauskaitė in attendance, rejected the complaint of Father Svarinskas in secret session.
Judge Jaras declared the judgment of the court final and not subject to appeal.
Citizens of Vidukliai were ordered from the court room. It was their good fortune that the doors in back were slightly ajar, so that the people were able to hear the proceedings. It was strange that such a minor case had to be hidden from the populace which, according to the atheists, was so disturbed by the All Souls procession.
This case reminded people of the trial of Father Prosperas Bubnys in the same courtroom, where he was sentenced to a year of imprisonment for teaching catechism to children. This unfortunate trial, which compromised the atheists so badly, remained a topic of conversation among the people of Raseiniai for a long time.
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Palanga.During the summer of 1976, the choir members of the church in Palanga began learning the hymn, "God, Our God, Hear Our Country, Lithuania". Immediately, the pastor, Monsignor Barauskas, appeared and forbade the singing of the hymn. It remained unclear to the choristers, whether the pastor did so under duress from government officials, or on his own.
Žemaičiu Kalvarija.Throngs of hundreds of thousands of people annually participate in the great religious festival at Žemaičių Kalvarija (Calvary of the Samogitians). Children, youth and adults devoudy receive the Sacraments, assist at Mass, and make the Way of the Cross.
During the festival last year, the Faithful noticed the Deputy for Religious Cult, Tumėnas.
"Perhaps the man has converted," remarked those who saw him. Alas, they were mistaken.
Tumėnas, accompanied by two high-ranking clergy, passed by the enthroned Blessed Sacrament without genuflecting, and the priests respectfully seated him in the sanctuary, right by the main altar.
The people, packed elbow to elbow, knelt at the consecration, while Tumėnas remained seated. Is this proper? Why is this atheist given a place of honor?
"We believers never mount your rostrums, nor do we crash the gate at your Party conventions. The Deputy for Religious Cult, as an atheist, has no place in the sanctuary, because his behaviour offends the sensibilities of the faithful," write some Samogitians to the Chronicle.
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Grūstė. (Rayon of Mažeikiai). Since days of old, in the cemetery of Grūstė stands a large, beautiful chapel, which the local inhabitants love and willingly visit. Annually the Feast of St. Mary Magdalene is celebrated there, with great crowds of the faithful participating.
In the fall of 1976, members of the staff of the museum of atheism in Vilnius and of the Folk Institute of the Rayon of Mažeikiai showed up and demanded that the caretaker open the chapel. The visitors said that they wished to examine it as an architectural monument. Entering the chapel without waiting for an invitation, the "guests" fell to taking down the stations of the cross. The caretaker protested, and a disturbance broke out. People who were at the time caring for their relatives' graves ran in and demanded to see their permit.
The atheists, having stolen seven of the stations of the cross, got into their cars and left. The remaining seven stations the faithful themselves took possession of.
A few hours later the people again noticed the same car approaching. Now the "guests" had some kind of permit from the government of the Rayon of Mažeikiai. They demanded that the chapel be opened. Not finding the other stations of the cross, they angrily went their way.
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Druskininkai.A day honoring the dead was proclaimed in town for November 1, 1976.Participants in the solemn procession, consisting of representatives of various organizations and sanatoriums visited the graves of Soviet soldiers, made political speeches, and played mournful music. With this the commemoration of the dead ended.
The next day was All Souls. After dark, the parish cemetery lit up with thousands of candles. Not only relatives of the deceased, but also hundreds of vacationers from all corners of the Soviet Union headed for the cemetery. They were fascinated by a spectacle, such as one will never see in Russia.
As the people dispersed from the cemetery, suddenly an explosion was heard. A few minutes later, there was a second xplosion, then a third, and thus one after another, a dozen or so reports. No one doubts that these were the atheists' "bouquets". More than one person, especially women up in years, were severely frightened.
Visitors to the cemetery, parishioners as well as vacationers of other nationalities, were disturbed by this.
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Kaunas.The specialist in the amber cleaning and polishing section of the Kaunas art-works production center at Druskininkai (formerly the "Metalistas" amber works), newly appointed as Party secretary, found a decorated Christmas tree in the office on Christmas eve. She hurled it to the ground and broke all the decorations. Going to the other sections, the Party Secretary demanded that all Christmas trees be destroyed under pain of various punishments and unpleasantness, which could last all year: the abolition of bonuses, etc.
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Šiauliai.On October 25, 1976, Mečislovas Jurevičius was summoned before the interrogator, Lieutenant of Militia Kerbedis, in the Department of Internal Affairs (VRS — for Vidaus Reikalų Skyrius—Lithuanian version of the Russian MVD — Transí. Note) at No. 19 Kapsuko gatvė.
The lieutenant posed a number of questions and wrote up a report.
"How much was your sentence, and for what?" asked the militiaman.
"I was sentenced according to Paragraph 58 to twenty-five years, plus five years deprivation of rights."
"When were you arrested and when were you released?"
"They arrested me on May 29, 1950, and released me June 29, 1956."
During the interrogation, Senior Lieutenant Skarbauskas entered the room. He deluged the prisoner with various questions:
"Why aren't you working? You're making a great mistake. You should have gotten a job, and after that tried to clarify, seek justice, and to struggle. Besides, couldn't you come to an agreement to be excused from work on religious holidays?"
Jurevičius explained that he had worked an extra day which he had requested should be credited to him against Christmas Day.
In return for the overtime work which he did at the request of the shop management, the supervisor allowed him to choose any day off except Christmas. Jurevičius submitted a certified request in writing, asking for December 25th off. His request was ignored, even though Party member Čepukaitis was given the day off, perhaps to observe who was going to church.
Earlier, the management of the shop used to let Jurevičius take off on religious holidays. However, when on May 20, 1973, Jurevičius erected a shrine on the Hill of Crosses, the persecution and tension began.
The militiamen asked the suspect what he desired.
"I want to return to work at the Workshop for the Blind. I demand that my work record, which indicates that I was discharged for taking unauthorized leave from work, be corrected, and that I be reimbursed for being laid off."
The interrogators indicated that there would be no such thing. Senior Lieutenant Skarbauskas threatened to give him no peace until he obtained work.
Upon completion of the interrogation, Jurevičius refused to sign the record.
Pasvalys.In Pasvalys, Joniškis, Radviliškis and other cities of Lithuania, the atheistic government forbids the body to be brought into church for funeral services. There was a similar order earlier in Lazdijai, Prienai, Vilkaviškis, Kapsukas and elsewhere: people were required to leave the casket outside the doors during the services. Where the people energetically protested, this order was rescinded.
Paberžė.On December 27, 1976, the pastor of Paberžė (Kėdainiai Rayon), Father Stanislovas Dobrovolskis, was summoned to Vilnius by the KGB. Two security agents lectured Father Stanislovas for several hours on what to do and what not to do, in order to be a loyal citizen of the Soviet Union and a priest.
The teachers from the KGB suggested to the pastor of Paberžė that he was the most restless priest in Lithuania, and that he must be engaged in some illicit activity. The security people officially warned Father Stanislovas about his sermons, which they termed anti-Soviet. The official warning was filed with the Office of the Chief Prosecutor of the Lithuanian SSR.
Father Stanislovas had in several of his sermons urged the faithful to straighten their spines, which had bent under Hitler and Stalin; in other words, he urged them to be informed Catholics.
The name of the pastor of Paberžė is known not only in Lithuania, but widely throughout the Soviet Union. The KGB knows that many tourists visit Father Stanislovas, to see his interesting museum.
They are afraid that the priest might infect these tourists with "anti-Soviet" ideas.
At the present time, they would like to transfer Father Stanislovas from Paberžė.
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A Lithuanian's Lament
"The sky is grey over our country, the clouds will not disperse..."
How can the nation's sons and daughters rejoice when the attempt is being made to root out of their hearts that which they hold dearest, that which their parents and great grandparents guarded so zealously, even at the cost of suffering and death? This is our holy faith. It was a comfort to Lithuanians exhausted by serfdom, who on their way back from work levies used to seek solace at their moss-covered wayside shrines.
Our faith, which shone in all its glory as a beacon to our parents, brothers and sisters at the dawn of our independence, strengthened us in the confusion following the war, and sustained our martyrs in prison, is today being undermined by all means possible. The faithful are hindered from practicing it freely. The baleful eye of the atheist follows them even to church.
Hear this: Albinas Morkūnas, employed as a specialist at the Vienybė factory, assisted at Mass at Easter in the parish church of Žemaitkiemis. For this "offense" he was relieved of his position as chairman of the local union executive board. Instead of being first in seniority, he wound up last.
Among us there are not scores, but hundreds of such cases. There are many in our factories and schools who on account of their religious practice, wear the opprobrious name of "fanatic". However, the more a Lithuanian is subject to attack, the more courageously he professes his faith. From the hearts of those who love God and country, rises a plea for help:
"O God, will it continue like this for long? How much more will this misfortune last? Strengthen our flagging spirit, O Holy One hanging on our wayside crosses!"
Jurbarkas. As reported earlier, in August, 1976, the graves of priests buried in the churchyard of Jurbarkas were desecrated, and the statue of the Good Shepherd there was vandalized.
On December 15, the People's Court of the Rayon of Jurbarkas tried the perpetrators of this criminal atheistic act: Jonas Puišys and Jonas Matūzas. Both of them, having spent three months in jail, left the trial free men.
During the trial, both of the accused clearly admitted that the originator, leader and co-perpetrator of this criminal plan was Gintautas Čiumielius. Since he is a member of the Communist Party, Secretary of the Communist Youth Organization, and an auxiliary militiaman, he participated in the trial merely as a "witness".
This farce of a trial surprised even the lovers of comedy.
"A hawk does not strike out a hawk's eye..."
"Out of the sack protruded an awl..."
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