May that which you, departing from your forebears' native land,
Left to blind fate of death and oppression:
Ancient tells, homesteads and the paths of dawn
Be light to the lost, when heaven is obscured,
When hopes and paths become confused.
What you, leaving homestead fences behind,
Took with you, when the painful switch touched the land —
Your ancients' blood - their name - in the flame of freedom in your hearts-
Bear as eternal memorial throughout this journey,
As a great treasure in your heart.
Both their sacred foot-prints, impressed in slavery,
And your days, dedicated to struggle and trouble—
The fate of your homestead, when a new mom dawns, -
Will remain a granite testament unfading
For days unending — to their children's children.
My brothers and sisters in Christ! Everything good soon passes. Not long ago, we enjoyed a welcome celebration, and today, it is already time for a departure ceremony. I sincerely thank my brother priests, my dear parishioners and all those who assembled today in Vidukl6 to pray together, to strengthen one another, and then go our separate ways through life. Such is God's will!
We have on earth no lasting city, but we seek the one to come. And that city to come, each one of us seeks his own way, we simply need to carry out our duties conscientiously, and have a healthy self-respect as Christians, Catholics and Lithuanians.
Today it is not easy for me to speak. As we part, so that you might not be sad, I promise that at the first opportunity, I will return to our homeland. When - whether in a week, a month or a year - makes no difference. But I will return; I will return, having done my duty. I still do not understand very well what God has in store for me, or what mission awaits me. I go as a priest, and I think that I shall be helpful to Catholics, first of all to my fellow countrymen, and later, if necessary, to others.
Let these, my poor words, be like a spiritual testament, a legacy of love. First of all, I thank everyone for your prayers and letters, even though most of them never did reach me. Once, speaking with the Procurator of Chusavov, I asked why they did not give me the letters, since people really were writing. The procurator replied, "Yes, a mass of letters comes for you, but what do they write? They write wishing you the strength to outlast everything and return to your homeland."
That, to their way of thinking is, in itself, a crime. I thank you for your moral support, your flowers. In camp, it was good to hear that for so many years, on the 26th of every month, you gathered in Viduklė to pray for me and for others who were suffering. I would never have thought of it; your lively faith and love came up with it. Prisoners of other nationalities were in awe and admiration: "The Lithuanians have a great source of strength in the Catholic Church."
So, my brothers and sisters, let us continue to be loyal to the faith. It is a precious gift. The guiding force of life, if we have a lively faith, we shall weather every storm in life without becoming lost or grounded; we shall not perish.
In ancient literature, the writer, Homer, describes how the Greeks attacked Troy, but were unable to take it. Then they came up with a ruse. They made a large wooden horse in which some soldiers hid. They left the horse, and pretended to withdraw. The Trojans hauled the horse into their city. During the night, the soldiers emerged, unlocked the city gates, and so the Greeks conquered Troy.
They have tried, they are trying and they will try to get a Trojan Horse into the Catholic Church of Lithuania. When they try to do so in the form of brute force, it is easy to recognize and resist. I have heard that in Lithuania, sects, various religious movements, have begun to manifest themselves. Some of these movements may not be a bad thing, but in our circumstances, there is a great danger of losing one's way, and of confusing others. Saint Paul says, "For even if we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a Gospel not in accord with the one we delivered to you, let a curse be upon him!" (Gal 1,8)
We have the gospel which was proclaimed to us six hundred years ago. We have the hierarchy of the Church, we have the Holy Mass and the sacraments; in a word, we have everything necessary for the redemption of souls, so let us listen sincerely to our shepherds, in the first place to the Cardinal, who lead the Catholic Church of Lithuania. Let us support one another, listen to one another; then we shall truly avoid all sorts of provocations and we shall not suffer harm. Let us not succumb to temptations, let us consult and ask, but the final word will be uttered by the leadership of the Church. Let us obey it. It sees better than we what the Church needs.
Christ has said, "This is how all will know you for my disciples: your love for one another." (Jn 13, 35) So my brothers, let us love one another, let us not become petty, let us not blame each other for trifles, let us be magnanimous with one another.
The Russians have a good saying: "Measure seven times, and cut only the eighth." Let do likewise. A thoughless word slips out and it can do much harm to another. Let us be careful in our choice of words. Better to suffer oneself a hundred times, rather than hurt another once. Let us love God with our whole heart; then all will go well. It seems to me that life is not so complicated, it's just that we ourselves sometimes become lost giving in to the current fad. If anyone would say there is no God, do not believe it.
In the scripture it says, "The fool says in his heart, 'There is no God." (Psl. 14, 1) There is a God, and He leads each one of us by wondrous paths; only one thing is needed, that we ourselves not oppose God's will, that we be good conduits.
Let us not give into the spirit of the times: let our churches be full. Let us go often to Holy Communion, so that strengthened by the Body and Blood of Christ, we might be able to fight the good fight and win it. Let us try as much as possible to deepen our faith. I have heard that the government will not stop priests from teaching catechism. We all need to prepare well and promote the teaching of catechism.
Nor is it just the children who need to be taught, but all of you brethren need to be taught and to learn, so during the winter, when there is more free time, let us come to church more often, even on weekdays, to hear the word of God. Most of us have completed education of one kind or another, so let us try to pick up a religious book more often. Look for them among the priests, and the more active laity. I think that in time, there will be increasingly more books. We must all become involved in teaching religion; only then shall we obtain good results. Let us resolve, every Sunday, and in leisure time, to devote at least an hour's time to our neighbor.
Let us visit friends, relatives and neighbors, and speak with them about God. We have done enough talking about the fading things of this earth. Besides, they will not disappear; the time has come to make an about-face and to speak about God. So let us resolve and act. When we accept Divine Truth more deeply, no Trojan Horse will be a threat to us. We ourselves will be able to separate the wheat from the chaff.
For one who wishes to be a Catholic, it is not enough to have a prayerbook and rosary, and to go to church on rare occasions. It is necessary that the Commandments of God be the cornerstone of our lives. Everything contrary to the Commandments of God should be foreign to our lives. The Catholic cannot be a passive observer. Life is not theater; for every minute, we will have to account, so I say that each one of us must be a soldier and struggle against current evils. One evil which we, in our time did not wish to admit and which has now become a serious illness in our society, is alcoholism. In Holy Scripture, it is stated that everything which God has created is good. Hence, a cup of wine is good, also. But when our society is sick, when it has lost its sense of proportion and does not have the will to control itself, we must set a good example of self-control. I think that at least until the age of twenty, young people should be abstainers. Let older people, if they cannot abstain from alcoholic beverages completely, practice temperence.
What does that mean? It means that from time to time, on the occasion of a celebration - never at funerals or memorial services - but at weddings or baptisms, when they meet some good friend they haven't seen for a long time, they will have no more than one hundred grams of alcoholic beverages. This limit was set earlier by the intellegentsia of Lithuania, which continues to work nicely for the good of the nation and it is known to us all by the name of the Restructuring Movement (Persitvarkymo Sąjūdis.) If you do drink, let it be not be in communal farm buildings, warehouses, the city park or the bushes, but only at a table covered in white. And that table must be covered in white only by your mother, wife, or sister. Let anyone who drinks alone not urge anyone else to drink. Keep this rule strictly.
God loves and guides the Lithuanian nation. He has given us many good priests, courageous laity and in recent years, the Blessed George Matulaitis, a Cardinal, and many other graces. And he gave them not in vain. It is a reward for those sacrifices which our fellow countrymen made during the post world war years, and which they are determined, if necessary, to make in the future. And I am convinced that in the future, much will still be required, life will demand more sacrifices.
When I was in labor camp, I used to say to my fellow prisoners, "Don't be dismayed, I shall return to Lithuania, but other priests will come to you.
To my way of thinking, God grant that a few priests be arrested every year for remaining faithful to Christ. There is no need to panic because of that, or to grieve hopelessly. Priests are very, very necessary in camp. Russia is looking for God, and we must show Him to her. It is the duty of the faithful — which you carried out — to pray for prisoners, including priests, to persevere and witness Christ as much as they are able. Let us not be afraid to suffer for God. Let us look at life, not through the ruble, and not exclusively in terms of the market, but with the eyes of the Christian. Let us seek first of all the Kingdom of God and His justice, and everything else will be added.
Let us struggle sincerely against alcoholism and drug addiction. Let us fight moral depravity, of which there is so much in our surroundings, and which they are beginning, publicly, to recognize as evil.
Upon my return, I travelled throughout Lithuania, and became convinced, once again, that the apple does not roll far from the tree: where parents are serious Catholics, there, the children also are loyal to the faith, and decent. There are exceptions: when the parents are good, the children get off the track. In that case, let us pray. Let our example be Saint Monica, who, for long years prayed to the Lord for her son, Augustine. Let us trust God, and pray.
As Catholics, let us avoid giving anyone bad example. The people of our age, as never before, are effected by good or bad example. Let us give only examples of good behavior, and so witness Christ.
Let me take this opportunity to thank the youth of Viduklė. By their behavior, they served the Church and gave me much joy. During the trial, the Secretary of the Communist Youth organization at the Raseiniai Professional School complained that it is difficult to work with pupils from Vidukle. "No matter how I talk to them, they used to say, The pastor told us that we must not party during Lent.' Constantly... The pastor told us!" said the Secretary.
The young people did well. The atheists listened and marvelled at the fact that young people of today listen to their pastor. I think, my brothers and sisters, that you will continue listening to me.
In my lifetime, I have seen and experienced much. I have known trouble and suffering, but I am glad that my heart is free of hatred. I forgive all those who gave me pain, and I, myself, ask God and you for forgiveness, if I have hurt anyone, or not done everything I could have and should have done.
Once again, thank you for praying for me and for keeping your faith alive. It is good for a priest to feel that people love him. This love gives him strength and reinforcement to procede along the road of life, to carry conscientiously his burden of duty and sacrifice.
I visited several parishes. I really did not deserve the love which you showed me. I am a rank-and-file soldier of Christ. I think that by your behavior, the love you show, your giving example to others and especially, to the young priests of Lithuania, once again, you witness convincingly that no one,
Father Svarinskas preaching in Kybartai.
neither the atheistic government, nor prison, nor labor camp, can compromise a priest. Only he can compromise himself.
While I was in camp, I longed with all my heart to see Lithuania, to travel its roads once more. I thought about the land of my forefathers, and sang. I sang as well as I knew how, so that later, no one would say that the Lithuanians in the Urals did not sing songs or hymns. Some old prisoners, seeing it, said, "His long sentence has made him take leave of his senses." They often do not understand us believers, they do not understand where we get the strength, often at the most critical times. We draw our strength from the Cross of Christ, from prayer.
Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us continue to pray for one another. I don't know where I shall end up. I would like, on my knees and in my heart, to visit all the holy sites as we did in Šiluva. In gratitude for so much kindnes, I really will remember all of you and our common needs and goals in my prayers. I very much want this to oblige you to do nothing but good, to be good members of the Church.
I could go on for a long time, but this is enough. We have seen one another, renewed our strength, refreshed ourselves, and now we can go on to seek the city to be, which we do not have here on earth. I believe that we shall really meet once more in the homeland. Three times I returned from forced exile in the East; I will return also from the West.
May the anticipation and pleasure of our meeting stir our energies, so that we might live on and work actively. If I do not come back on my own, they will bring me back, so that I might be buried in Viduklė, at the statue of
Mary, and that the people of Vidukl6 would sing the Hills (A popular local devotion - Trans. Note) one last time for me. This I pray God, and I long for, but may His holy will be done. Most important is that we will meet in heaven.
I will end with the words of the great President, Ronald Reagan, "May God bless you all!". Amen.
I call the nation, smothered by the GPU
And scattered, like the leaves of fall:
To a new high-road, a new life,
Where the northern winds will never overcome.
I call Lithuanian to stand by Lithuanian,
And Living heart by living heart,
That unperishing in the midnight dark,
They might arise to live and flourish in the mom!
Take leave of darkness and of twilight,
Ignite a new flame in your hearts,
To the slave leave the slave's fearsome night! -
I call, your forebears' spirit...
I call upon millions of working hands
To bind the sheaves of a new work-day...
To the bams of new joy, new harvest store-rooms,
Not a prisoner's house, nor bogs, nor graves.
I call in the name of your suffering country,
In the voice of tell and meadow and of forest:
Do not take vengeance, lest the stains of vengeance blood
Fall as a curse on the children of your children!...
I call from the ages: He is not worthy of the future,
Who did not dare to bear the present for the nation,
Who seared the step-son's wounds, opened in the heart,
With the flame of a hypocritical fire.
I call with the voice of the gods of your fathers of old
And with your baptismal metanoia bright:
"Stand firm for ages here, as the sun stands!-
I call, the spirit of your forebears.