Christmas Eve

My native land, like a mother you conceal within you

The hope of bright comfort.

That white Christmas Eve I hear you call your children

In my thoughts I fly to embrace you, my homeland, I speak with you.


I am greeted from a distance by Gediminas' city,

The steeple crosses, the Mother of the Gates in

history's night — Resolved to go a journey of a thousand miles,

I slump to my knees,

I kiss the ground, my native soil —

And you still call to me . . .

As though I see the house where I was born . . .


And the table Christmas Eve,

The white tablecloth, my mother's hair shines silver,

Her dewy eyes so kind, her hands folded for prayer after work . . .


Oh Lithuania! In the white dream I see you!


You still call, "Come home. Enough!" Through silver, snowy, icy,

Dense wire barriers, the little bells are ringing —


Midnight Mass — the guard's lock —

And again silence, deafening silence . . .

While the prisoner's lot is a poor shack,

   a day without a word of kindness,

An icy cold in the heart. . .

That white night, the star of Bethlehem,

Poured light into it

And days of freedom in the distance

Began to shine like a dream . . .



Balys Gajauskas

In the fall of 1984, prisoners Alfonsas Svarinskas, Balys Gajauskas and Viktoras Petkus were not allowed to see their friends or relatives. Viktoras Petkus has been denied visits from his friends and relatives five consecutive times, so it has been more than two years since any of his people have seen him. They were not allowed to give him clothing. It is already a year since any letter from Petkus has reached Lithuania. Letters to him from his relatives have received no reply. In 1983, in his last letters, Petkus writes that his health is failing, that he is tormented with constant migraine headaches.

Parcel Post receipts show that packages reach the prison, but whether they reach the prisoner is not clear.

Viktoras Petkus


Replies of the prison administration to inquiries about prisoner Viktoras Petkus are form letters that say nothing.


From the letters of Father Sigitas Tamkevičius:

". . .Thank you for your greetings, wishes and prayers. Thanks to all who send greetings and pray. How priceless is this spiritual communion! I constantly feel that invisible but very valuable support, for which distance and barriers are no problem. The month of September reminds me of some very special moments when we used to visit Mary of Šiluva. How special those trips were! How good it used to be to spend a half-day at Šiluva! We used to return a bit tired but spiritually enriched, having inhaled that atmosphere which restores us and makes us people after the mind and heart of Jesus. For the second year I visit Our Lady of Šiluva in my mind and heart. I bring to lay beneath her feet those same sorrows and joys as before. And just as before I feel her blessing hand . . . (Šiluva — site of Marian apparitions in 1608. — Trans. Note)

"May Our Lord Jesus Christ, who constantly strengthens me, be your strongest support also . . . with Him we can go through life peacefully, feeling that every day the mortal man in us is diminishing, and that we are drawing near to our journey's goal, eternity."

September 25, 1984

Father Alfonsas Svarinskas writes:

"I am thankful to everyone who remembers me. The Lord's support is very necessary for me, because my human powers are very limited.

"Fall came early this year. On October 7, snow fell and the cold set in. Now there is much snow, and yesterday morning it was -22 C. Today is already the second thaw (sic). . .

"I am working in construction, under the open sky. It is difficult. I am sixty years old! My work glasses are 5.5, and I have never had an axe in my hands. Everywhere you need practice and routine. I cheerfully accept my new cross. It will be a greater sacrifice to God. I have no complaints about my health; it's just that my heart can't take any strain. If it becomes very tired (that's not every day), then at night I don't fall asleep. My leg is not bothering me, I walk a lot and exercise. There is no great problem with my teeth, they removed two and substituted steel, but I broke my lower bridge, and for two years I have not been able to have it repaired. But this is tolerable.

"Buy me some eyeglasses and send them marked 'eyeglasses', so it won't count as a package, since I am allowed only two packages a year.

"In general, my spirits are good. I am reading, studying languages and trust firmly in Divine Providence.

"Forgive me if in my letters there are only material require­ments and nothing spiritual. There is much of the spiritual in my heart, but I would like at least one letter a month to reach you.

"I have one more request. November 2, they told me that the

Fr. Sigitas Tamkevičius

short visit in December has been taken away from me. I wrote my brother on the 1st, so I can tell him only through you not to come. I thank him very much for his fraternal love and his Christian sense of duty. May the Lord reward him. We probably won't meet again soon. We must live so as to meet in eternity. That's what is most important of all.

"My fraternal greeting to all colleagues and parishioners."

November, 1984