Fr. George Calciu (1925-2006) – a great Romanian Orthodox confessor and spiritual father

Father George biography at: Fr George Calciu biography

 

On the meaning of suffering

 

 – Father, tell us about your suffering in prison (the gulag)!

 – What can I tell you, in my arms people have died who were a thousand times more valuable than I,  in prison many who were more valuable than those who survived have died in the arms of other men, and yet I, a sinner, am here. And to speak of myself again, – whether to say what good I did or what wrong I did, it would sill come out as bragging. So, I find it very difficult to talk about these things.

  Generally many words of praise have been said (in relation to this); all this is dust and ashes, all vanity, but we continue to hold onto what we have received from God and what we have managed to keep through suffering, or through success, praise, or blame… Thus, we remain faithful to the Church and our nation.

  My life in (communist) Romania, was full of events for better and for worse. I do not accuse or blame anyone, all these were sent by God to exercise my soul.

  Someone asked me if my suffering in prison have helped me in aby way. I answered: “No, they have not helped me, but I’m the result of  this suffering. If I do something, if I am anything, if you see something in me, know that is because of suffering. Without this suffering, I have nothing!”

  Perhaps of all difficult questions for the human person, suffering is the most inexplicable. Why is suffering necessary? I have lived an experience of suffering that enriched my soul and I believe that suffering was necessary for me. But it is very difficult for someone to accept this principle.

  When we were in prison (concentration camps), we ask each other: “Why suffering, Why us? Of all the millions of Romanians, why have we been chosen to suffer? What is the purpose? ” And God wouldn’t reveal anything to us. Everyday we cried out to God to give us less pain, and He seemed to grant us even more suffering.

  Even after I was liberated from prison, I held within me this imprint of the pain, which seemed to mark my whole life thereafter. After the second imprisonment, I immigrated to the West and traveled through every country in Europe and America speaking about the result of communism. My intention was this: I could not keep silent as long as suffering, injustice, communism, the destruction of churches and the destruction of human personality took place in my country. In my wanderings I came upon a monastery and slept in its library. It was a Catholic monastery. In its library I found, among many books, a small booklet with Christian sayings. I opened it randomly at a page where I saw a reflection of Paul Claudel, a famous French writer. He said this: “Christ did not come into the world to eliminate suffering, Christ has not even come into the world to explain it. Rather, He came to fill  human suffering with His presence “.

  Have you heard? To fill human suffering with his presence! Then I understood that when we weep, or when we revolt or cry out “God, what are You doing to us?! … “He is present within us more than ever, despite all our sins, all our infirmities. He filled our suffering with His presence. Thus, I understood exactly the deep meaning of this pain: God is present in us!

(Nuns from Diaconesti Monastery singing at his 2 years memorial (Romanian)

 

   {…} If Jesus Christ’ suffering was for everyone, why people’ suffering  be useless and lost? God will remember everything . On the day of judgment, He will count him who suffered and has not cursed, him who suffered and prayed …. Hence, those who suffered persecution and prayed for their persecutors, prayed for the good and for the wicked, so God may return many from their unbelief and wickedness .

 

Other links: “Christ is Calling You!” Lenten Meditations with father George Calciu: http://www.orthodoxresearchinstitute.org/resources/sermons/calciu_christ_calling.htm

Christ suffers in us

  Having taken all our human affects, – i.e. the helplessness of our body: starvation, cold, or thirst – Our Lord Jesus Christ was sensitive to human suffering, to our needs. He was sensitive when someone was sick, and healed him. The Savior often made appeal to faith. Other times, when someone was seriously ill, He would not ask if the sick one thinks he can be cured, but Christ  will heal him by His word. Or Lord took pity when someone was in despair when their child had died, as was the widow of Nain.

  Christ felt for someone praying for parents or neighbor’s, as was the centurion.

 He felt for those who were hungry and thirsty. In fact, the Savior said: “He who gives a glass of water to one of the least of Mine, he gives it to Me“.  

  In so much Jesus had identified with us, that He took upon Himself all our weaknesses, all our infirmities, that anyone who suffers, Christ suffers with him! Anyone who is sick, Christ is sick with him! Everyone who hurts and weep, Christ weep with him!

  Do you to expericence Christ innocent suffering? Visit the hospitals for children, visit the orphanages. Christ suffers in them. A total likeness of our Savior with us. He takes upon all our sufferings, all our sorrows.

  So everything that Jesus did, was to strengthen the hearts of the faithful. He would often worked miracles, more precisely for our human weakness in thirst for a miracle. Even today we are thirsty for miracles, but a miracle is no substitute for faith. Faith, as the Apostle Paul says, is entrusted things unseen. This faith makes us see – if the tools are spiritual – what the eyes of the body cannot see and the mind cannot  reason.

  God reveals Himself to us in circumstances beyond our control and, our qualities. He was merciful to the thirsty and the hungry when the Apostles asked Him to send them away at dawn. Our Savior had multiplied the bread, blessed it and gave it to them. He is a God sensible to our pain, One sensible to our needs, participating in our suffering. God doesn’t regard someone as we often do – as spectators, but He gets involved in our sorrows.

  (Excerpts from the book: Father George Calciu, Living Words. “To serve Christ means suffering”, Bonifaciu Press, 2009) – (Translated from Romanian by EC)

(At Diaconesti Monastery – Romania) 

 

A Word on Anger

  Man today lives under such overwhelming pressure that his nerves are strained to the limit, and even the slightest provocation arouses in him the sin of anger.  Causes for anger could be the child who does not listen to us, or the husband or wife who contradicts us, or the driver who cuts us off with his car, or only seems to us to cut us off, giving a motive for us to be roused to anger.  Even if, through self-restraint, our anger is not outwardly expressed or is not heard by the one who provoked it, it is still a sin, because it harms our soul and our heart  It is an action against one’s own self, under the temptation of the devil to be angry.

 The savior warns us in severe terms concerning anger that gives birth to verbal conflicts and the use of abusive words.

I say unto you, that whosoever is angry with his brother shall be in danger of the judgment: and whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council: but whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire (Matt 5:22).

 …No one thinks evil without corrupting the heart in which God should dwell… [….]

I counsel my penitents that before they express their anger, be it in speech or gestures, be it only mentally, to utter three or five times, “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.”  And if they say the prayer quickly and inattentively under the oppression of anger, then they should concentrate with humility upon the word “sinner,” and their anger will abate.  Many of them have succeeded inn making their life, their family relationships, their relations with other people, and even their interior life change for the better.

 All the conflicts in the world have their origin in unabated anger.  One is angry and wounds the other, who then responds with greater violence and strength. Once this chain is begun, it cannot be stopped except through the appeal of prayer––genuine prayer. [...]

The Name of Jesus is sweet to utter.  It casts our the demons and brings the angels back into the heart, into the mind, and you will bear yourself in meekness before others.

(Excerpts from article “A Word on Anger” in The Orthodox Word No.261)

 

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