Father Sigitas Tamkevičius writes:

    "... Working at the loom, all day long I can meditate, pray, and make the Way of the Cross. Such has been my Lent, and my retreat. After work, I don't feel like doing anything, or reading. And so it goes, day after day. Meditat­ing on Christ's Way of the Cross, in prayer I remember all the Veronicas and Simons of Cyrene who, one way or another, have been with me in prayer or by letter. By their idealism and solidarity, many have wiped away the sweat of my brow and many have lightened my burden. The assistance of some, I saw with my own eyes. About others, I knew. And still others, I unerringly felt next to me. God, how good it is to be alive when one sees alongside oneself, or at least sen­ses, so many good people and loving hearts. These people are the targets of the world's hatred, enmity, and suspicion. So to all the Veronicas and all the Simons of Cyrene, a thousand thanks!

"Not long ago, we all saw over Central Television, the film about Father Alfonsas Svarinskas. Looking on was the film's principle hero. Afterwards, our commentaries and congratulations followed. It appears that in any mirror, it is possible to recognize a good priest's face — of course, if only one's vision has not weakened too much.

"In the newspapers, I read many articles about priests. More and more men of ideals and sacrifice finish the seminary, and not a single hireling, not a single tax-collector, concerned only for his own welfare. What a great respon­sibility priests have for the welfare of the people of God! The Redeemer could possibly reproach more than one: 'Could you not watch with me for one hour?' (See Mt 14, 37)

"Only people who sacrifice can show and lead the way! Man today turns away in derision from those leaders who speak one way and live another. A priest by his life must glow like the sun. Otherwise, woe to him!

"I await Easter. The footsteps of Spring are already heard, and in the hills of the Urals, the sun is brighter and the wind gentler. When you receive this letter, it will most likely be Palm Sunday, or perhaps Easter. I greet everyone gathered at the empty tomb of Christ! He is not here! He is arisen! Alleluia!

"But for this reason, He is in us and with us, and not only when we pray in our room and suffer pain, but also when, uneasy on account of our own foolishness, we flee the Cross of Christ. He is always with us. Therefore at all times - Alleluia!

"I wish everyone pure Easter joy! To everyone who has known and con­fided in the Lord's love, I extend my hand and I remind them of the words of the Beloved Disciple of Jesus, 'Everyone who is born of God overcomes the world'. (Un 5,4)

"Everyone who celebrates the feast of the conquerer is himself a herald and bearer of the Lord's victory."

March 8,1988

Father Alfonsas Svarinskas writes:

"... I greet you warmly, and through you, all parishioners, friends, and acquaintances dear to my heart. May the Lord God keep you, may His grace lead you all to new heights of holiness.

"I rejoice that you received all my letters last year, but I received bare­ly a third of yours.

"I think that you're only partly right in saying, 'You don't hear any good news, but only bad news... ' Isn't it pleasant that several newspapers have devoted space to me in their pages, and that a film about me has been shown in theaters and over Moscow and Vilnius television. Moscow Television charges 362 rubles a minute. What a sum for a half-hour!

"Of course, there is much falsehood in it (for example, that I freely agreed to be filmed, etc.), but is that so important? They've publicized me throughout the Soviet Union. My friends have been congratulating me. At this time, I could win the elections. But just now, I don't need any of that! I'm a priest exclusively! And I'll remain a priest! It remains only to repeat with the saint, 'Not to me, Lord, not to me, but only to Your name give glory!'

"We need just one thing: always and everywhere to do the Will of God, which is Holy and undisputable. I have tried and I will try to do God's Will all my life, devotedly and with a smile in my heart and on my lips, since as Saint Luke says, 'God loves a cheerful giver!'

"Don't be surprised at my new address. It's all the same to me. My final address is heaven. This is the address not to lose and not to forget. They removed all of the Christmas wafers from your letters and from others, and threw them in the trash. Nothing is sacred to them. There is almost no sign of restructuring here!

"... I regret that it's impossible to answer everyone's letters. I think that everyone understands my situation well, will forgive me, and continue to write.

"I'm grateful to my brother priests for remembering me, and the Mass every month in Viduklė. And today, you'll be praying in the homeland, while I do here, together with Father Sigitas. Our thoughts are free; no one can restrain them or trammel them. I thank everyone, everyone, who remembers me in prayer, in speech or by letter.

"I'm glad that I can confess in Lithuanian now, and have some com­panionship. How many times I asked them to make it possible for me to get to confession, but always in vain. God has taken care of it in such a way that I don't owe anyone anything. Wondrous are the ways of the Lord!

"Lately, my health has deteriorated somewhat: my spine hurts, and my blood pressure is elevated. Illness would keep me from working or lifting any­thing heavy, but reality demands it. I received a release from work for four days. I'll be able to rest and get some sleep, and afterwards, we'll see. I did not return to the kitchen since there it's necessary to work twelve hours and to lift 40-50 liter pots.

"I'm going to try to improve my health, but the possibilities here are less than limited. Once again, may His holy Will be done!

"I look through the Lithuanian newspapers. Especially interesting was the last plenary meeting of the Party. It appears that there is no basis for praise. It's too bad that the moral outlook is not improving. The newspapers say that bootlegging has spread. Moreover, the name of Lithuania is often mentioned in connection with drug smuggling. So after all this, can we really speak about suc­cess or culture?

"It's too bad that I have been transported far from Lithuania and can­not join actively in the struggle for a brighter future for the country. Let our brothers not slumber and struggle against this evil with all the means at their disposal, otherwise history and God will condemn us. How terrible it is to die without leaving the stamp of one's humanity.

"Working in the kitchen, I had very little free time, so I barely managed to read the newspapers. Never mind any kind of serious work or self-education. So I have fallen well behind in my program. The condition of my health con­stantly reminds me it is necessary only to learn the language of holiness. It alone is a guarantee of a happy eternity.

"In general, I am completely at peace and happy with the direction of my life; I do what I can and everything else I leave to heaven. If there is a pos­sibility, I will work in the service of the altar. If not - God will not blame me. I have provided myself with everything. Thank God, I'm not hungry. In spirit, I am completely free, not forgotten, and loved by my friends.

"Everyday, I watch television for about a half-hour for domestic and foreign news, so I am informed at least for my own needs.

"I am spending Lent peacefully. January and February were moderate­ly eventful months. Every day, I would sing songs and hymns.

"Now it is Lent. Each day, I meditate on the Passion of Christ: Wed­nesday, Friday and Sunday, I go in spirit with the people from Vidukl6 to the Kalnai (a popular pilgrimmage site - Trans. Note). I keep asking God all the time that Viduklė not get tired on the road to God.

"On Sundays and holydays, my soul is in Lithuania, and especially in the parishes where I worked. Those days are especially difficult for me. But once more, I offer this sacrifice for my personal sins and those of my nation.

"It would be good if one of the priests wrote to me about the liturgical changes. They thought they would publish all ten volumes by 1985, i.e., in ten years. But now, I read somewhere that they had published only four. Why? What was done in Lithuania in honor of the Blessed Archbishop Jurgis, and what does the Code of Canon Law allow to be done?

"In closing, I again greet everyone sincerely."

February 26,1988

From a letter of Gintautas Iešmantas:

"... Seven years ago, during my defense statement at my trial, I ex­pressed the idea that I would be happy if my steps would provide hope to at least some people, and show them the way. At that time, in a poem I read which I composed in the dungeons of the KGB, I expressed the hope:

"We have sacrificed everything for you, O Freedom:

Tranquility, love, success, desires,

Our family pleasures we have spread beneath your feet,

We dedicated boldness, longing dreams. Not terrible to our hearts appeared the dangers,

With which you sign our steps at war.

You are our star, our hope and our redemption.

If only our hearts would flame with longing!...

"I see that our waiting and hopes were not in vain, the best news is that young hearts are responding. After all, the hope and future of our country is our youth. The ice floes will move only when those setting out on the road of life see Truth become fired up with desire for truth and freedom, find the strength and reason to renounce material goods and profit, and dare to sacrifice themselves for a high and noble purpose.

"There is no need to apologize for seeing your way late. It is never too late. My journey to light and Resolve was somewhat longer and more complex. You saw the star just in time, in your youth, when everything still lies before one. However, this is not enough. It is necessary also to trust the Truth found so that you can climb the scaffold for it with light heart. Without wavering or doubt. But this is possible only when you are sure that that truth is the real Truth, and it alone must become the essence and deciding factor in human existence.

"When one does not have firm convictions, one often looks to others. It is not independent. And seeing that there is nothing to depend on, becomes confused, disillusioned and even broken. In camp, I met such people... "You set forth on a road,

where there is nothing to distract you. You remain a support to yourself,

when in the storm it seems Towers crumble, icefloes split. Glowing with victory in the battle,

you are obliged to help others understand. Are not the proud oaks a source of strength to us? You were nothing. Today you have to exceed yourself,

forgetting it was late. You have been able to throw off your dream with a flight of fancy.

Even in darkness, remember there is light. You are the continuation of its restlessness.

"See what a task is waiting! We are in a situation where only we can help ourselves. Compromises cause damage, not easily reparable, to the goal which we are seeking."

December 28,1987