Aleksander Zacepa – The Man Who Met God in the Trenches

soldier wriring in a trench

In 1972, in a clandestine magazine a prayer was published that had been found in the jacket pocket of a soldier, Aleksander Zacepa, composed just before the World War II battle in which he would die.

It says:

Hear me, oh God! In my lifetime, I have not spoken with you even once, but today I have the desire to celebrate. Since I was little, they have always told me that you don’t exist. And I, like an idiot, believed it.

I have never contemplated your works, but tonight I have seen from the crater of a grenade the sky full of stars, and I have been fascinated by their splendor. In that instant I have understood how terrible is the deception. I don’t know, oh God, if you will give me your hand, but I say to you that you understand me…

Is it not strange that in the middle of a frightful hell, light has appeared to me, and I have discovered you?

I have nothing more to tell you. I feel happy, because I have known you. At midnight, we have to attack, but I am not afraid. You see us.

They have given the signal. I have to go. How good it was to be with you! I want to tell you, and you know, that the battle will be difficult: Perhaps this night, I will go to knock on your door. And if up to now, I have not been your friend, when I go, will you allow me to enter?

But, what’s happening to me? I cry? My God, look at what has happened to me. Only now, I have begun to see with clarity. My God, I go. It will be difficult to return. How strange, now, death does not make me afraid.

– from a meditation by Father Raniero Cantalamessa, OFM Cap (“the Pope’s preacher”)

(Thanks to Joseph Novak, on Facebook)

Author: DanutM

Anglican theologian. Former Director for Faith and Development Middle East and Eastern Europe Region of World Vision International

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