A Man of Enormous Christian Faith


Alexander Solzhenitsyn, the Nobel prize winner for literature who was exiled from the Soviet Union for his graphic portrayals of life in the Soviet labour camps, died 3rd August 2008 aged 89.

Solzhenitsyn’s main work was the massive Gulag Archipelago, first published in the West in 1973, which described the years of Stalinist terror using thousands of details and individual cases.

In 2007, the one-time exile received the highest Russian government award for his work in the humanities – the Russian State Prize.

Time Magazine Aug 4, 2008 stated:

“Solzhenitsyn was an icon of freedom to the Western world, but he did not return the esteem it heaped on him. As a man of enormous Christian faith, he regarded the West as spiritually deteriorated, and he sometimes baffled supporters and critics alike with his reactionary criticisms of western democracy.”

When Alexander Solzhenitsyn received the Templeton Award in 1983, he began his address with these words:

Over half a century ago, while I was still a child, I recall hearing a number of older people offer the following explanation for the great disasters that had befallen Russia: they said,

“Men have forgotten God; that’s why all this has happened.”

Since then I have spent well near fifty years working on the history of our revolution; in the process I have read hundreds of books, collected hundreds of personal testimonies, and have already contributed eight volumes of my own towards the effort of clearing away the rubble left by that upheaval. But if I were asked today to formulate as concisely as possible the main cause of the ruinous revolution that has swallowed up sixty million of our people, I could not put it more accurately than to repeat:

“Men have forgotten God; that’s why all this has happened.”

Sixty Million people suffered and died from deprivation, weakness, starvation, famine, cruelty or imprisonment in the concentration camps of Siberia. Solzhenitsyn said that he could not put it more accurately than to repeat:

“Men have forgotten God; that’s why all this has happened.”

St. Basil’s Cathedral in the Red Square in Moscow

A Prayer of Alexander Solzhenitzyn

How simple for me to live with You, O Lord
How easy for me to believe in You!
When my mind parts on bewilderment or falters,
when most intelligent people see no further than this day’s end
and do not know what must be done tomorrow,
You grant me the serene certitude that You exist
and that You will take care that not all the paths of good be closed.
Atop the ridge of earthly fame, I look back in wonder at the path
which I alone could never have found,
a wondrous path through despair to this point
from which I too could transmit to mankind a reflection of You rays.
And as much as I must still reflect You will give me.

                                                                                ~ Alexander Solzhenitsyn

 Acknowledgements:  Reference.