Sometimes I think that those who have never been deprived of an opportunity to say or hear Mass do not really appreciate what a treasure the Mass is. I know, in any event, what it came to mean to me and the other priests I met in the Soviet Union; I know the sacrifices we made and the risks we ran in order just to have a chance to say or hear Mass. When we were constantly hungry in the camps, when the food we got each day was just barely enough to keep us going, I have seen priests pass up breakfast and work at hard labor on an empty stomach until noon in order to keep the Eucharistic fast, because the noon break at the work site was the time we could best get together for a hidden Mass. I did that often myself. And sometimes, when the guards were observing us too closely and we couldn't risk saying Mass at the work site, the crusts of bread I had put in my pocket at breakfast remained there uneaten until I could get back to camp and say Mass at night. Or again, during the long arctic summer, when the work days were the longest and our hours of sleep were at a minimum, I have seen priests and prisoners deprive their bodies of needed sleep in order to get up before the rising bell for a secret Mass in a quiet barracks, while everyone else clung to those precious extra moments of sleep. In some ways, we led a catacomb existence with our Masses. We would be severely punished if we were discovered saying Mass, and there were always informers. But the Mass to us was always worth the danger and the sacrifice; we treasured it, we looked forward to it, we would do almost anything in order to say or attend a Mass.

He Leadeth Me
Walter J. Ciszek, S.J.