By Marcel Hila
The first part
Memorie.al / I remember how the Church of Our Lady of the Rosary was closed here in Shkodër. It was the last one left in service, since their closure began, after Enver Hoxha’s infamous speech on February 6, 1967. In those days and following, the tsunami began. They all locked, one by one. At that time I was a five-year-old child. This event, which had never happened before, created a great shock. The elderly, friends and acquaintances, mourned and were scandalized. War had been declared against God. “How far does the courage of this monster go?” – The terrified people asked under the sound!
It was the afternoon of March 19, as I was saying, the feast of Saint Joseph. My grandmother, a devout believer, took me to mass there. I also remember the priest, who, dressed in the robes of the celebrant, as soon as the mass was over, announced to those present, all old women, that, starting tomorrow, there would be no more celebrations and that this was the last. As soon as he said this word, he let out a wail, a long wail, full of pain inside. And the old women, instead of going out, approached him, as if asking him for help, or for him to show courage and courage not to shut her up and resist, or that they were all together crying their troubles closer to each other. – The other, after they received the news from him.
They started to cry. I, as a child, being small in stature, asked my grandmother to put me on a bench so that I could see better. I saw this scene. Of course, that group laments and those complaints caught my attention. The old priest didn’t speak, but I’m sure he was ready to cry with them. The mourning of those women that afternoon has never left my mind. That’s why I remember it in detail even today. The priest asked them to leave. They all came out. When he saw that there were no more people inside, he locked the outer door. Gone. I remember we left for home. The grandmother was crying all the way.
The churches were closed…!
Endless destruction began. In the days of 1967 and in the following years, only bulldozers and tractors could be seen on the streets, which destroyed and leveled the cult objects, which threw walls, campaniles and mosque minarets to the ground. Non-stop smoke and dust. The cathedral became the Sports Palace, where the works were done very hastily, because in 1973, Enver Hoxha would enter with pomp, as the guest of honor at the Women’s Congress; I remember him like now from the cinematographic chronicles how he was puffing and puffing, because he had entered the temple of God inside and he had no point of fear, but he was challenging him. He could say to him: “If you are, come out and show yourself, but you don’t exist, but even if you are, you don’t need anything anymore. It’s us, we who take your place”!
The Church of the Friars became a cinema, the Church of Our Lady in Bahçallek, is destroyed. There is a tombstone that said that exactly in this place, on November 29, 1944, the twenty-seventh Assault Brigade was established. Inside the church, have the communists formed a brigade??? What courage to lie and make fun of the houses of God! Then silence, arrests, detentions, sentences by firing squad, long prison terms, and accusations of high treason against the clergy, sabotage, and enmity towards popular power. The world was turned upside down. It was continuing with the violence of the beginning, of the years when communism was being installed.
Years pass. Priests, who remained alive, continue the ordeal. I remember the subsequent arrests of many of them. We learned that Father Aleksi, (Baqli), Father Leoni, (Kabashi), Father Zefi, (Simoni), Dom Shtjefen Kurti, Dom Frano Illia, Dom Mark Hasi, and many like these were sentenced. Those who are not arrested are isolated and do not even leave their homes, they are terrorized. They push life into deep fear. The brave Father Meshkalla moves, Father Donati also comes out, it’s Father Agostini’s turn, Father Viktori doesn’t come out anymore…! Many die in the greatest anonymity, in total abandonment! One for everyone: Father Mark Harapi, found dead, frozen on the main road. It was a cold winter.
Dom Mikel Beltoja is shot. Dom Marin February is shot. Dom Shtjefen Kurti is shot. Then again more years go by. Our entire generation knows nothing! Imagine others from all over Albania! Dense, strong, dazzling terr. poisoning by dictatorship, suffocating climate. Crime on foot. All my youth and that of my generation pass like this. The bridge was broken. We stayed on one side of it. Awaiting reconnection with the world Church. A spiritual paralysis fell upon many corners. Only some stalwart in religion kept the candle of hope burning. It was the time of the apocalypse. There wasn’t an open church, you didn’t see a celebration, and all of Albania turned into a desert.
And that the day would come when we would see that everything would be overturned, that those churches would be opened again, that… that God was not the defeated and humiliated one, but the patient one who wins?
That he would enter with strength and splendor again in the life of this country? It was a big deal, but we learned that later. That everything bad would break the neck and that what happened was just a dream full of anxiety until the unbelievable and that freedom became a reality? Yes, this is Resurrection. This must have been experienced by the apostles of Christ, the day when He, after leaving the tomb, entered the room where they were sitting, scared and shocked, where he no longer goes and greeted them as victorious and wished them peace.
And to those who did not believe this extraordinary thing, he showed them the wounds on his hands and on his chest, as if to tell them that it was He, He, whom they had seen on the cross, nailed, and to prove it to them that it was all true, that it was He who had escaped death for love. They were told that it was not a ghost, but the man Jesus, their friend, fellow villager from Nazareth. He asked them: “Do you have anything to give me to eat? Perhaps he also told them that I have been without bread for three days”?! They brought him a piece of baked fish, says the Holy Scripture.
So also for us, for us, for my generation and many of those who had seen humiliation, violence against the church, terror against the people, countless injustices, numerous murders over the years, starting from 1944 and continuing. They had seen suffering, prisons, crimes, persecution and were so hopeless, so exhausted, that they no longer believed that the day would come… the great day. We too were all like those two travelers who left Jerusalem on Easter day and headed for Emmaus, pessimistic and unbelieving, disappointed that He had not been the Messiah they had hoped for, but a false weakling, unbelieving that the man Jesus was already alive and walking at the same pace as them. So, even for us, the whole event of Jerusalem on the day of Passover, on the great day of the Resurrection, became a reality.
The revival began on November 4, 1990…!
Therefore, tonight I want to say a few words, better to say some impressions, about the great event of the opening of the Church on November 4 to 11, 1990. They are not history, but a kind of meditation on what happened and how it happened, to be pushed a little further and to say why it happened. I want to start with the act that can be grasped by any person when he finds himself in such situations: Why does God, when he is at play, not intervene, even when his people are humiliated and killed? Because anyone, when they see what’s happening, isn’t they shocked? Don’t you think the Great One of the heavens should intervene? That someone is tempted by this silence? Because God seems powerless! That in the weak, this silence of his gives rises to doubts and fears? Is God really all-powerful or a creation of the human mind, exactly, the fruit of man’s fear, who named him God and gave him all power?
The great mystery is his silence, when horrors occur on earth. An even greater mystery when it is publicly denied that it exists, when it is taken for granted even as powerless. And He does not appear, does not act. But the big mystery is that he doesn’t get angry, even when his servants drag him away, kill him in the streets, even desecrate his corpses! When the houses of God, built for centuries and thousands of years, collapse? He doesn’t speak! Can’t be heard. I leave the boilers alone to operate. But do you think about those of good will who ask God to say a word, to move just one finger, to do just one simple action and everything ends, everything falls into place?
Are these questions asked for the first time, here, in Albania? In these years we are talking about? No, they have been made for generations, thousands and thousands of years ago until now. The prophet Isaiah, most likely, shocked by the events that took place 730 years before Christ, with full faith in the Almighty Yahweh, sought His intercession, when Jerusalem was destroyed, when people were killed and beheaded, when the inhabitants called for help and He, the Most High, did not interfere… he very likely experienced the same dilemmas and uncertainties.
But then Yahweh became present, intervened and saved his people… and Isaiah, surprised and surprised by this way of acting, paints Yahweh with two brushes, enough to understand who He is the God of Israel: a hidden and patient God: Deus absconditus et patient. Even we, if we take these words as a guiding compass, can be sure that we get the correct answer.
Let’s move on to just a few facts that speak for themselves. Not more, because I don’t want to be long. In Turin, where once the Freemasons had set up the center where they planned the destruction of the Catholic Church, that frightening occult building, which evoked discomfort, exactly in this building today the Salesians are found, it is their largest center in Italy and, of course, the most great world Salesian. Let’s go to Paris. Voltaire lived and worked there for several years. He, there, used his talent to slander and blame the Catholic Church. He invented endless accusations against her. He was confident in the success of his lies, convinced that they would take hold and arouse anger.
He said that after twenty years the Catholic Church would no longer exist in the world, because he thought that, so strong were his ideas and what he was talking about, the blows he was giving to her were ominous and fatal and would level him, he would to eradicate it from the face of the earth. Charged her with the crime of the murder of Giordano Bruno, the persecution of Galileo Galilei, the crucifixions, the Inquisition. Voltaire said that: “Mankind will finally be freed, when with the last stone, of the last church, the last priest will be killed.” He wrote these tricks on the work table that was located in one of the luxurious rooms of a building. He was confidently awaiting the end of the Church, to which he prophesied its failure. Do you know what that place is today? That building where these words were written? It is the largest center for the publication and distribution of Bibles in all languages of the world.
So God followed everything with his eyes. After it was only a matter of style, that hidden, he observed without appearing and as a patient he allowed time for action for hours, but then intervenes in the events and puts an end to them. Why hidden? That this race of intellectual gangsters does not see him does not recognize him, and He hides from their eyes. And patient, because I let them do what this mass of monsters want, but in the end, they don’t win. But in this poor Albania, do we have such cases? Did we see him humiliated and rise victorious over his enemies? I say yes. We are not going far, but only here in our Shkodra.
The first case is Migjen’s house. When the young poet was in the hospital, in the sanatorium, in Italy, a nun, when she saw him at that age and sick and dying, expressed regret and said: “I will pray for you!”. He, to her kindness, answered with disdainful arrogance: “Don’t pray for me, because I have to go to hell again and again”! Where is Migjeni today, in hell or not, so where take his courage, we don’t know, but we know that his house became the House of Nuns and since the year 2000, that is, since twenty years, the sisters pray for him and for the souls of people in need. Didn’t he win God the battle with this light hearted daredevil?
There is more than that: What about the Department of Internal Affairs, right here in Shkodër? Wasn’t it the place where the persecution of the whole population was conceived and implemented, but specifically, the Catholic Clergy? This building once belonged to the Franciscan Friars, which was violently taken down in 1946 and became a place of torture and interrogation, a place of macabre. The people of the Church were also massacred, tortured and drowned there. But today we all know that it has been delivered from the hands of the devils and God showed his triumph when he decided to use it for the glory of his Name. The Sisters of the Cloister live there, without interruption, 24 hours a day, they pray without stopping and turn to the God of heaven for the forgiveness of sins and the conversion of sinners. Would it have occurred to anyone that this building of fear, torture and terror would be used as a place of worship for God? Never! Are you saying all this is a coincidence? I do not believe.
And the fact that at the building of the Presidium of the People’s Assembly, today the seat of the Presidency of the Republic, there, in April 1985, he was crying with tears and tears, the dead dictator, right there, in September 2014, was sitting, as good friend, welcomed by the highest authorities of the state and the Albanian people, Pope Francis, the head of the World Catholic Church. But it doesn’t end there. And that house where Enver Hoxha lived, in ‘Blok’, that building that was guarded so much that no one entered without permission and saw a super fine check, exactly that big hall, on the second floor of the house, where in the photo and in any of the short films it is shown filled with books and with a table in the middle, which was the working room of the ‘Great Devil’, where he made plans for the war against religion? That very room today is occupied by evangelical believers, and an unceasing prayer is addressed to Christ, right from there.
Enough of the room where God was ignored, where He was fought, where a heartless bastard remembered that He didn’t exist and, if he had to, had to give way to Him. So, the very place where the great and patient God was challenged, who gave time and long years of power to the monster, and which that criminal took as an opportunity to make a cult for himself and darken the living and true God, exactly so from that place, like the flame of a candle, a thread of prayer is not interrupted and rises as a request for the great Mercy to have compassion for those who err, to do justice for those who are trampled underfoot, to show up when it doesn’t seem like it and to let go of patience and enter the battlefield at the right time.
Coincidentally all this? I do not believe! It’s just that we have to consider these features of the portrait of the God of Israel, as Isaiah has brought them to us, as he felt them, as Yahweh revealed them to him, because it does not enable much to anyone, but to the witnesses of selected and these, then, others, in centuries. This is what the distant Prophet in the centuries tells us: Yahweh does not appear when evil-doers attack without scruples, and this Yahweh endures a long time, before he goes to the battlefield for the victorious war. That is exactly where the power of evil seemed to have undisputed success, exactly in that place evil was broken. Today we can easily ascertain that these places, symbols of the triumph of temporal evil, are places symbolic of the shot again in the hand by the victorious God of heaven.
God seems to let go, as if he retreats and leaves, as if he leaves a people in the hands of the wicked, just as he did with the desolate Job, whom, without his knowledge, he left in the hands of Satan to slaughter him. Are you saying he did the same with us? Are you saying that the devils have asked this land and the people of this country forever? We don’t know maybe. We only know that, after the terrible test, the great God, after seeing the strength of Job’s endurance, healed him, freed him from the hand of the devil and returned all the things that were lost and taken from him. Even we Albanians, after this terrible trial, freed us and returned to us what we temporarily lost: he returned to us the freedom to believe in God, the main one.
So the same fate for us? Yes! Do not discuss it! The trill at the beginning of the book of Job, that initial machination, which God argues with the Devil, when the latter asks Job to test him, and the Great God lets him do what he wants with him, but only not took his own life, do you think it is an invention, the work of fairy tales? No!!! Be sure not! Why? Because it is the word of God. God does not lie, because it is the truth. Are you saying that the ending is not believable at all? That after the trial he returned all his house, katandi, wealth and children? No! Do not think this, nor be tempted to give useless and wrong explanations, guessing that it is folklore, an oriental trick, an ancient saga as an artistic form, no, no! Because even the end of that book is the Word of God.
So let’s be sure that it is not a literary invention of Middle Eastern antiquity! Definitely not. Why? Here, come right up close, right up close and prove it. You will find the case of the vision that Pope Leo XIII had, when with his eyes open, while he was celebrating mass in the Vatican, on the morning of October 13, 1884, he looked up, just above the altar, and saw the demon and Jesus arguing, just like the devil who argued with God and asked the desolate Job to test him and deal with him; so even the pope did not hear that the devil asked for time and reinforcement of the power of his followers to destroy the Church and the world.
– “How long do you want?” – the Pope heard Christ asking the Devil. The answer of the demon was: “From 75 to 100 years”! Nothing”! And we saw that communism was given enough time and we saw devils that the world had not seen even in those cruel and barbaric times. Demon’s followers were guaranteed power and plenty of time to commit atrocities. But we saw that, despite the fact that there were ten-year-olds at his disposal and a lot of crucibles, the devil did not win. And let go of all that he seized by violence and injustice. Memorie.al
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