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Sermons at the Feast of Archdeacon Stephen the First Martyr  

 (by Fr George Calciu – 2005)

  The Holy Scripture teastifies: “And as they were stoning Stephen, he prayed, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” And he knelt down and cried with a loud voice, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.” And when he had said this, he fell asleep”(Acts 7, 59-60).
  According to the Jewish law of the time, if someone was accused, those witnesses testifying against him had to also be the executors, if a death sentence was set. So, there wasn’t just an outside executioner with no conscience whatsoever and paid for such. In the case of Stephen, the accusers that most likely made use of their Jewish law, had to strip off their clothes, and place them at the feet of a very zealous  young Jew, who by being a minor, could not take part in the execution. This young man was named Saul and would later become the Apostle Paul, through conversion. Saul was a persecutor of Christians. And because he could not participate in the stoning of Stephen, he was happy at least to watch the clothes of those who killed Stephen.
  I was reflecting on this, making a parallel with what is happening today. If in times of persecution under communism and even in our times, when Christians were denounced to the authorities that convicted and inprisoned them, I thought that those who testified against them were not the executors. If they would have kept the Jewish law – “Those who have testified against him, kill him!” – I think that many would have been hesitat and would avoid to condemn. But because their denouncement was kept anounimously, they seemed to bare no responsibility; and because of this, the human villains and wickedness have multiplied. In this sense, I think that the Jewish law was better: You’ve testified against him, you will be responsible…! And perhaps many people would have given back.
Let us be attentive!

 

(Fragment from a Sermon delivered by Fr. George in 1999)

 

  Throughout Christian history and its martyrdom either earlier in the Roman times or later in the modern times, this martyrdom takes sometimes violent and other times less violent forms: trials, falsifying the truth, mockery and so on. All these take part in the string of Christian suffering.

  We live in a world where Christianity is not too applauded or loved. We live in a world in which modernism, science, libertinism (…) mock (in) Christianity and us. They say that to believe in God means to be mentally retarded, for indeed, those so called semi- docts (and when I say semi-docts I mean people who read a lot… scientists) fail to raise themselves outside the boundaries of intellectual, physical or sensual knowledge. For beyond all these, you ask yourself, is there something else? And they do not ask and know only in part.

  Peter Tutea (a Christian philosopher) used to say “all sciences  including mathematics reached a high school level, only theology goes beyond and has achieved a license,”… because theology works with things beyond the cognitive and sensory knowledge, it works with the absolute elements of the faith. And I agree with him. That is why, symbolically, he called those people who stayed at the “high school level”: “semi- docts”, because they have no power to know more.

  And they do not wish to raise themselves outside this box, because they are the prisoners of their intellect and senses, and the devil holds them back not allowing them to reach God, and because they feared nothing.

  It’s not so easy to deny one self and to ascend into the Divine. It is not simple for us to give up some things, (right?): to give up pride, your position, your economic status and to say, today is Sunday, I will not work and I will go to church; today is a feast day, I’m not going to attend a party, I will go to church, to glorify God” I can do the rest other days. It’s hard to do these things. (…)

  So I am very glad to see you here (in church) and I pray God to keep your heart clean and grounded in faith and despite our infirmities, to be numbered among those who renounce at least a part – of this world so we may receive Christ, to be near Him, to follow the example of St. Stephen and all the great martyrs and in a world where martyrdom is no longer asked of us, we are required at least the courage to confess Christ, to bear the scorn of those who know nothing but what they comprehend with the mind, to bear their shame because we know through faith more than anything: we know God and know Jesus Christ, in our hearts we caved the manger where He was born at Christmas, and we are ready to follow Him to His baptism (Theophany) and beyond, to death on the cross, that we may die with Him and be resurrected with Him! Amen.

 

(Translations by EC)

 

 

  One thing is truthful!

(My beloved) know that our relationship with God is not a joke; know that this whole world with all its civilization is a fad. You closed your eyes forever (when you die – transl. note) and will no longer know about civilization or the endeavors to the Moon or Mars, and so on … All are shadows/hollows; only one thing is truthful: our relationship with Christ, the immortality of our soul and what awaits us beyond death, aiming an eternal torment or the eternal life.

Father George Calciu

 

 

 

On the Priesthood

“What does the priesthood mean? It means to be an enduring witness to human suffering and to take it upon your own shoulders. To be the one who warms the leper at his own breast, the one who gives life to the miserable through the breath from his own mouth. To be a strong comfort to every unfortunate one, even when you yourself are overwhelmed with weakness. To be a ray of shining light to unhappy hearts when your own eyes long ago ceased to see any light. To carry mountains of others’ sufferings on your shoulders, while your own being screams out with the weight of its own suffering. Your flesh will rebel and say, ‘This heroism is absurd, impossible! Where is such a man, where is the priest you describe so that I may put my own suffering on his shoulders?’ Yes, nevertheless, he does exist! From time to time there awakens within us the priest of Christ who, like the Good Samaritan, will kneel down by the side of the man fallen among thieves and, putting him upon his own donkey, will bring him to the Church of Christ for healing. And he will forget himself and comfort you, O man of  suffering!”

Father George Calciu

 

May His Memory Be Eternal!

 

 

Sunday of Luke 8:5-15
and of Holy Fathers from the 7th Ecumenical Council of Nicaea

350 holy Fathers of the Seventh Ecumenical Council, which gathered in Nicaea in 787 under the holy Patriarch Tarasius and during the reign of the Empress Irene and her son, Constantine Porphyrogenitus, to refute the Iconoclast heresy, which had received imperial support beginning with the Edict issued in 726 by Emperor Leo the Isaurian.  Many of the holy Fathers who condemned Iconoclasm at this holy Council later died as Confessors and Martyrs for the holy Icons during the second assault of Iconoclasm in the ninth century, especially during the reigns of Leo the Armenian and Theophilus.

“In this parable, our Savior creates four human typology. The first one represents the careless man. A mystical author and philosopher Sir Kierkegaard, called this type the wing man, or the taster understanding those wondering from flower to flower, seeking the joy of this earthy life and ending with their wings broken and trapped into the dust. These are people who reject God’s word but allow themselves to be dragged by all sorts of ideological, Gnostic or philosophical ideas. They have no stability and are berried by all the wrong teachings of this world; like a wall on which is written all the false ideas of the present and past times. Let us be attentive and reflect who among us is like the earth in which the seed falls but bear no fruit?

The second category is (represented by) those who hear the word of God, receive it with joy, but it is enough for one shadow to overcome them. It is sufficient for one disaster to strike, one persecution as it took place and it is still unfolding in our world today – especially in America where the persecution is very subtle and insidious – for them to be lost. And in many aspects, this is perhaps more dangerous than communism, when we knew who was (doing) good and whom evil. It was as the white and black. Now, we do not know where good and wrong is. Everything is gray shaded. So it is Europe, the “United Europe”. And we identify with those who hear the word of God, receive It and are joyful, then a tribulation strikes, or the hot sun… (cf. Luke. 8: 6) as the parable says. The hot sun warms and dries the soil and the seed from our soul, dies. 

You know that in communism, during the religious persecution, those who were patriots had separated easily from the traitors. Some had failed, others had compromised or committed evil, while others had suffered and if they haven’t been arrested, they resisted silently under grounds, praising God to help them in this troubled life. I wondered sometime: … how many people back then, had not compromise religiously?

And I was moved to see in the church, how people raised their arms to God screaming loudly Lord, have mercy on me! while I was reading the prayers for forgiveness and I was saying out loudly every name so that the Lord God may hear their prayers and send His mercy.

I was impressed to see such faith, which you do not find in the West. These spontaneous manifestations of the soul crying out to God.

But I was even more troubled when I saw that many of these people have a dual personality: in the church they are believers, they lit candles, they come and may or may not attend the whole service, but when they leave the church they become like beasts. Brother rises against his brother to fight for a piece of land… they deceive each other in many ways. This is a kind of doubled spirit.

In communism, this kind of duality was very different. Beck then many would listen to the Voice of Europe, went to church, but in public will cry that they do not believe and praised Ceausescu or others. This lie has been perpetuated for a long time.

Nowadays, a new form, more dangerous than before is being perpetuated in our country, because now we no longer fear any religious threat. Now, under the pressure of the times, or under the influence of many theories, or simply because it is convenient, some of us deny God and bring no fruit. Reflect on which one of us fit in this category, or we did not so long ago.

A third category of people are those dominated by passions. And they bear many, all sorts of human passions: fornication, drunkenness, greed, all those passions that make our heart a land filled with weeds, thorns and brambles. And even if the word of God touches us, even if we turn back to Him with love, our passions which we bared for sometime, are stronger than us. And this is because our repentance is not genuine! It’s just a moment of openness towards God which we do not immerse our heart in, we do not make of it the healing source for our soul, we opened for a time then we forget.

Our passions had flared within us stronger than the Call (to Christ) and the virtues that God sows into our heart. And we do not bring forth any fruit, and without fruit we are deemed for eternal punishment. Who among us can identify himself here? 

The fourth category of people are those who hear the Word, endeavor in struggle, serving the Lord with joy, are looking to fertilize their spiritual soil, to understand more deeply the word of God; they come to church to confess and commune and do good to those around them, and become a light for the world. Some may struggle less, others more. God has given everyone a talent: to some He gave one talent, to other He gave three talents, and to another He gave five talents. Everyone got something and each of us must bring forth to God a gift equal to the gift he received. Him who got a talent, needs to bring one more. Him who received two talents, let him brings two more, and him who were given five, let him brings five more. He, who bears fruit this way, is truly one who heard the word of God and was fruitful.

And the Lord said also:He who has ears to hear, let him hear.”  

Look around you and within yourself and sincerely see where you are. If you have good intention and do not try to deceive yourself or others, acknowledge exactly where you stand. Then truly, when our Savior had said “He who has ears to hear”, you are those who properly understood.

And your sincere look of where you stand – in this typology that our Savior had created – will convinces me that from now on you will truly begin to serve Christ and to bring forth fruit. Even thought it may seem small, let us strive for it.”

(Taken from: Father George Calciu: “To serve Christ means suffering”, translated by EC)

 

Fr George in the center

 

Its image is gentle but its intent, perfidious 

 

  There is a “spirit” unveiling in Europe and the world in general, a (proteic) New-Age kind of spirit that frequently changes its appearance and speech, striking the Christian world from all sides. Its image is generally gentle, its discourse attractive, but its intent perfidious. This spirit can speak in beautiful words about family, but its intent is to annihilate it. It can also sermonize on the Church, full of “love” for all, a sort of religious syncretism, but its urge is primarily to dispel Orthodoxy. It can speak about nations and their homelands as something that it tries to support, but its intent is to destroy both the Church and the nations. This spirit is called ecumenism.

  And this whole “beautiful” discourse, which takes on many faces, has only one purpose: the destruction of nations, the abolition of the Orthodox Church in particular and the establishment of a group of leaders, anointed by I do not know whom… to win over all nations to their spirit, to initiate them into certain social, political and religious orders, so that those leaders may always direct [world events]. Let us not be deceived! I live among these “speaders” of prolific and protean discourses that cover the world. And I know their hearts. They have no good intention for our Church! Under the guise of Christian love, of Christian peace, they hide their perfidious intent. And I came here to say: Do not get allured by it!

  In this “New Age” spirit I’m referring to, nothing exists with an absolute value.

  For their intent is to destroy all the elements of the Faith, the moral elemets, the elements of kinship  on which  we have relied, since – so to say – there is no absolute truth. The truth, according to them,  is that which I possess [i.e. subjective truth]. And therefore, when my neighbor is wrong, I cannot tell him: “You’re deceived!” Nor can he tell me that I have erred, because we are absolute entities [onto ourselves]. We have our opinions which are absolute, but before others, they hold no value! This game of hiding the truth is an insidious invention of Satan.

 

On the True face of Ecumenism

(An interview taken by a reporter in 2005)

 

Interviewer: – Father, can a Christian, a Muslim and a Jew live together in peace and harmony and what would be the secret?

Fr. George: – Their mutual respect; this is the only manifestation of good harmony. In no case, the participation in common prayer or services. These are things that break the elements of dogma of different religions.

Interviewer: – Does everyone worship in the same God?

Fr. George: – Not always… We only know One (Trinitarian) God, Who reveals Himself to us and we worship Him. Other forms of gods are distorted or false.

Interviewer: – What do you believe to be the greatest temptation that an orthodox faithful faces today?

Fr. George: – Ecumenism.

Interviewer: – …My next question was if you agreed with the existence of the ecumenical dialogue, but…

Fr. George: – No. Absolutely not. For that ecumenism is a more subtle form of masonry. Masonry tries to destroy the Orthodox faith and the Christian faith in general. Ecumenism is trying to cling on few ideas that seem very generous: why shall we argue among ourselves, let us live like brothers, let us love one another, we can worship together and pray together … things that are not allowed in Orthodoxy. All the 7 Ecumenical Councils forbid the co-prayer with those apart from Orthodoxy. If we do not obey these canons, and become subject to ecumenism and the pressures and promises of the West, which are all vein lies, it means that we violate all canons of the Orthodox Church, the only true ecumenical one.

Interviewer: – Under the current state of the media when Masonry is so publicized, please underline few elements as of what this anti – Christian movement means! 

Fr. George: – Masonry is a demonic organization that worships Lucifer, has some secrets and keeps them firmly, but reveals itself to the world as a charitable organization that takes care of the poor. Every Masonic Lodge deals with Unitarianism or an order, but beyond these facts, the Spirit of God is absent and all these are made up for deceit. So (my child), do not be fooled by it. Not everyone who speaks promptly in the name of God has Him in his heart, and they have Him the least. The greatest danger is this process of globalization and the anointing of some individuals entitled to lead mankind. Who is anointing them? They are the anointed sons of Satan and not sons of the living God.

  As for us been “small” and having no “powerful speech”, let’s keep our faith and let us not forget that we represent the true faith that saves, and lets strive with all out power to fulfill the duties to our nations and our Church.

 

  (Taken from Fr George’ Living Words, translated by EC, to be continued)

 

 

 Reading from the Synaxarion:

  On the Sunday that falls from the 13th to the 19th of the present month, we chant the Service to the Holy and God-bearing Fathers who came together in the Seven Ecumenical Councils, that is: 

the First Council, of the 318 Holy Fathers who assembled in Nicaea in 325 to condemn Arius, who denied that the Son of God is consubstantial with the Father; the Fathers of the First Council also ordained that the whole Church should celebrate Pascha according to the same reckoning;

– the Second Council, of the 150 Holy Fathers who assembled in Constantinople in 381 to condemn Macedonius, Patriarch of Constantinople, who denied the Divinity of the Holy Spirit;

the Third Council, of the 200 Holy Fathers who assembled in Ephesus in 431, to condemn Nestorius, Patriarch of Constantinople, who called Christ a mere man and not God incarnate;

– the Fourth Council, of the 630 Holy Fathers who assembled in Chalcedon in 451, to condemn Eutyches, who taught that there was only one nature, the divine, in Christ after the Incarnation, and Dioscorus, Patriarch of Alexandria, who illegally received Eutyches back into communion and deposed Saint Flavian, Patriarch of Constantinople, who had excommunicated Eutyches;

the Fifth Council in 535, of the 165 Holy Fathers who assembled in Constantinople for the second time to condemn (which we celebrate on July 25th)

Origen and Theodore of Mopsuestia, the teacher of Nestorius;

the Sixth Council in 680, of the 170 Holy Fathers who assembled in Constantinople for the third time, to condemn the Monothelite heresy, which taught that there is in Christ but one will, the divine; and

– the Seventh Council in 787, of the 350 Holy Fathers who assembled in Nicaea for the second time to condemn Iconoclasm.

 

On the Importance of Holy Tradition

By Father George Calciu

  Faith has its place in a balanced Orthodox environment, and a natural relationship with the world. What I mean is that we live in the world and must do what it takes to survive in it, but not at the cost of compromises, betrayals, or renouncing Christ. Orthodoxy gives us balance.

  We (the cradle Orthodox), possess a very ancient tradition. I look at the American Orthodox. They are very passionate for Orthodoxy, but they’re locking Holy Tradition. So, in a sense, they are streams branching off the Russian, Bulgarian, Serbian, or Romanian tradition, since they do not have that traditional instruction from their ancestors, as we do. We stand on a firm rock: the teachings of the Holy Fathers, the ascetic experience of the desert’ monks, the entire Orthodox Tradition handed to us in patristic books or by Oral tradition; and these, regardless of our sins, constitutes a stone foundation, that unshaken ground where our feet may walk and not sink, like a boat in which Jesus is present. We do not sink because we hold fast to tradition. Yes, we are sinners, but God preserves us when we follow Him and the teachings of the Holy Fathers, even though sometimes we fail… But is there anyone without sin? Is there anyone who has not been tempted? Who does not dirty his soul with evil thoughts, deeds or lust? But aside from all these failings, we have an unshaking ground.

  This ground is the Orthodox Church, the tradition of the Holy Fathers, the Seven Ecumenical Councils, the struggle (experience) of the saints in the wilderness of Thebaida, Sinai…,in our country (Father refers here to Romania, his former country – tr.n.), and the monasteries found everywhere. Having this reaches, we do not sink.

 

“If I keep silent, I’ll be no different from unbelievers”

 

  The following beautiful story is found in the Paterikon (collection of the old sayings of the Desert Fathers – tr.n.): the devil – taking the appearance of a man – came to a very holy monk and asked him: “Are you that monk…I heard off?” “This is him.” “That monk, the liar?” . ” Yes, that’s me.” ” That wicked monk?” “Yes.” “The greedy monk?”. “Yes, indeed.” “The liar who teaches the word of God, but does not live it? ” “Yes , I am one.” “That monk, the heretic?” “No. Such, I am not!”

  So here is how far he would go! He accepted everything that demeaned him, but when he was tempted on heresy, he stood fast and said no. This is where the limit of tolerance is. When that tolerance goes beyond God and the Truth of our Christian faith, it becomes a blasphemy to our Lord and our soul.

  The Holy Fathers had settled in Councils all aspects of church dogma that nowadays are trampled on. In the decisions of the Holy Synods many things (happening today), were foreseen: from heresies, ecumenism, denying God, public fornication, accepting as virtues: vices and perversions, to the fact of being proud to declare yourself gay. There’s no passion that the Holy Councils have not anticipated or spoken on, as they declared: him who does these is a heretic and a lunatic departed from faith and the Church .

  Even (some of) our hierarchs have lost their sense of Christian dignity, which is incalculably greater than any human dignity. They place themselves under the attachment or helm of one or some another powerful elites of the day. I was greatly distressed by that. I had not yet wrote to the Patriarch (the former  patriarch of Romania, now with the Lord tr.n), but I ‘ll write him later; for in a discussion I had with His Beatitude, I said:

  “Your Holiness, God gave me a gift. He gave me “the gift” of suffering and through it I became wiser. Perhaps not wise enough considering all that I’ve been through (father is referring here to his 21 years of suffering in the communist gulag for having confessed the Christian faith – tr.n.), but the wisdom that God grant me gives me strength to speak up this word for Christ, for the Church and my nation;” and now I have to confess, for if I keep silent I’ll be like everyone else (who does not confesses Christ – tr.n). Because tolerance has a limit: that is not pushing beyond faith, or God. Beyond that, there is no tolerance.

  Many hierarchies are silent, because “the time has come” (cf. Apoc) when if you confess (the Truth), will not be accepted in Europe (in the European Union – tr.n)! Such as this Europe means the ultimate paradise!! Will we not be accepted in Europe? (transl. note: the EU). Very good. Then know, we’ll be accepted in heaven. There (is the place), where God receives us. […]

  I often wrote against ecumenism. I think I said everything I could have about this “heresy of our century ” as the Greek monks call it. I met many of the leaders of the “Ecumenist Group” and saw their compromised soul for the politics and their irrepressible desire to compromise others, even the Orthodox groups which defend the purity of faith. Whereever I go, the monks are wondering with pain and anxiety: “Where are we going with this? And to what limit shall we accept hierarchical compromise? Should we seek another  jurisdiction? Shall we run towards the mountains, the forests and desert in order to be saved and escape this satanic temptation? Will we be hunted like long ago the defenders of icons by the iconoclasts? ” …

  What I want to stress here is perhaps not the danger of ecumenism in itself – maybe things are not quite so serious as they may seem – but the distress that Satan is causing in the souls of monks through this ecumenism, and I mean not only in the hearts of monks from Romania, but throughout the orthodox world. This leads to anxieties and fear, and raises concerns for personal salvation from worldly dangers at the expense of sanctity and, the beginning of many compromises that once started, no-one knows where they will stop…

  What I wrote here, I wanted to express to the hierarchs. But I think such letter would be doomed to be forgotten due to lack of interest and may be a cause for anger. What remains for us is prayer for the guarding of monasteries,  for the inner peace of the monks and for the un-disturbance of the Orthodox life in our country and the world.

(Taken from Fr George’ Living Words, translated by EC, to be continued)

 

“Walking on the Sea” with Father George Calciu

  Why (get into) the boat? For it represents the Church. The church is built so much like a boat or shaped like (the sign of) the cross. The boat keeps you away from the waves of the see, but the Church from the waves of this life. And the Cross saves you from all hardships for Jesus Christ was crucified on it; and in that mystical sense, it is through the cross and our Savior’s blood shed there, that the church was founded. As for those who abandon the church, they are neither in her (the church) and nor can they be in Christ.

  Peter wanted to leave the boat (the Church) so he can be somewhat greater than the other disciples, on the waves next to the Saviour. It was a temptation that he urged Jesus to grant him the power to walk on see. So Jesus bid him to walk and he did, so long as he hasn’t doubted and his faith was strong.

  The Church is the only salvation of our souls. He, who places himself outside it, is a lost man. We are been saved only in her. It is inside this ship that we are washed off from our sins, and never outside it. Him who ventures to leave it, as did Peter, wanting to wonder further above the seas, after the heights of God must hold a great faith that the waves do not bend or disturb him no matter the winds, as long as his heart and mind are directed towards Jesus. But how many of us can really be saved outside this ship, such as to speak directly with God?

  The Protestants say: “I have my own relationship with God and have no need of a priest or the Church, I need no sacraments, and I speak directly with God Himself!”

  I do not know how much they’re speaking directly with God…, but from what I have seen, they are conversing more with their earthly interests then with God.

  Our Saviour will save you from certain trials (if you cry out to Him). He will reach out His hand and caught you, and say: “O man of little faith, why did you doubt?” (cf. Matthew 14, 31).

  We often travel the waters of this life and the temptations are many. In this world so troubled by snares, by wars and horrors, and by all means that will lead to its End, who can really come to Christ by walking alone on the sea? Who can venture so hard to cry out at his last minute, for Jesus to stretch out His hand and save him? For our own good and our salvation, it is best to remain in the Church. Amen!

(Taken from Fr. George’ Living Words: To serve Christ means suffering, translation by EC).

 

And suddenly they cried out, saying, “What have we to do with You, Jesus, You Son of God? Have You come here to torment us before the time?” (Mt: 8:29)

  Taken from “To serve Christ means suffering”

  Because the demon is a fallen angel, it is very difficult to be overcome by means of our intelligence and even by our (weak) faith and repentance. A demon possesses “intelligence” over us and greater power (to deceive) as it understands and sees things more clearly than us.

  Prayer is one of the most powerful tools we have received from our Savior Jesus Christ, a weapon which the devil flees from. The prayer of St Basil (the Great) was so powerful that when the saint began to pray, all demons fled. God granted St. Basil this extraordinary power which, He can also entrust to us – ordinary believers. Strive towards a deeper prayer, perhaps not one that would move “mountains”, but at least one that will clean us from sins and keep demons away. The way of fasting is also the way of purifying the flesh making it more transparent, for a gluttonous body is impenetrable to the (Holy) Spirit. The Spirit of God does not abide in a satisfied (fatty) flesh. For the fast that thins the flesh will make it hungry for the Word of God and, we’ll better understand His commandments and receive power to overcome the devil. However, the devil is not (always) defeated by everyone.

  I have my own experience with this. Some years ago I had encountered a young (American) man possessed by an evil spirit. He was not acting evil; meaning by throwing himself down or by other frightful acts, but he had a total distrust in people. He feared God and the church but he was in much distress. When I was reading the prayers (exorcisms) of St. Basil over him, he was seized by a great tremor (fear). Perhaps – in those moments – his thoughts were in so much distress that he was responding by such inhuman/weird sounds.  The demon (inside him) never attacked me; the man didn’t try to hit me or to escape from under the Epitrachelion. But he passed through these “states” (crises) which were from the demon that dwelt in him, and until he opened his soul to confession, he was not freed. When he falls again in temptation, he returns to me, and I pray over him these prayers (of St Basil). If the devil takes possession over his heart, he manifests in the (weird) way I’d mentioned above, but if not, then he’s only overcome by evil thoughts.

  With time, the prayers began to work, but many temptations also aroused: he fights all sorts of images, distrustful thoughts that God had no power over him and that the prayers I read have not the same power as those of St Basil, al sorts of doubts to further distance him from the influence of prayer. But if you have a powerful prayer and have also fasted, know that the devil flees.

  Our Lord Jesus Christ works in those who believe and received God’s grace through the sacrament of the priesthood, regardless of their virtues or sinfulness. Some are attracted to the intellect of the priest, others by the power of his prayers, while others by his counsel. There is always something that draws you to the priest and through this God grants him power. This is the Grace that was given to him by the “laying of hands” by which he can “bound all that can be bound on earth and absolve all that can be absolved” according to the Gospel. Amen.   

 

(By Father George Calciu)

 The Christian faith is not a conditioned, intrigued attitude. The centurion had submitted his servants’ relationship to God: Lord if I’ll say to one of them “Go!” and he goes, if I say (to another) “Do this!” then, he does it. (cf. Mt. 8: 5-13) So even more he entrusted that, when the Lord commended the (evil) spirit to: “Free” (the man)! the spirit will free him, or if Christ will say: “Do not enter this man again!” the spirit will no longer enter.

  The centurion had great faith before any miracle was been fulfilled.

  Quite often we are guided by facts. We hear, (for instance), that an image of the Mother of God had appeared somewhere in the sky. We go there to see it, and may be we’ll believe. And we do not know what our faith is about….

  I was in Chicago (some years ago) to see a weeping icon of the Holy Mother of God. It was in 1987. We were three (Romanian) priests and served the Divine Liturgy for the Romanian nation. During the Liturgy, the Holy Mother of God shed three times tears from her icon. Her garment was soaked in tears. I saw people who came there to see that. And we also saw. Then we forgot. For the faith that rests only on miracles, is weak.

  If God strikes you now, for certain you’ll cry out, “Lord!”

  If some earthquake or a war will occur now, you’ll cry: “God, save me!” But after the earthquake passes, you’ll forget (God) again.

  Apart from this is the faith based on a close spiritual relationship with Christ when you know that you’re nothing without Him and that everything lays in His hands; that He can lay you down or lift you up; He can heal you or else let you perish, He can free you from tragedy or let you be pounded by it.

  The teaching is this: do not establish or base your faith on wonders (miracles)! Many times, our Savior appealed to His word, and the sick was healed. The centurion did not need our Lord to first commit a miracle in order that he may believe. Indeed, he only needed Christ to confirm that his servant will be healed. He came to Christ as to One Who he knew will cure his servant, to someone Whom he truly believed in, although he was not a Jew, but a novel Samaritan, a roman.

  When you’re longing for a miracle to happen, you might be saying: “Lord, if You exist, perform this miracle!” And God does not hear you. Or perhaps He will, if your soul really needs it. More so, believe in God before any miracle is to occur! Do not expect miracles, the deepest relationship with Christ is spiritual. Pray to the Lord and be in His presence, have Him abide in you! And God will answer you with His unseen wonders, through the strength of your spirit, rousing your greater understanding of His judgments. Not as we (tend to) understand historically and rationally, but in a deeper spiritual sense, when you see the hand of God in every thing. 

  There are many Great Fathers who have lived a highly elevated spiritual life and God rewarded them with great gifts. They were performing many wonders, but when someone would come to thank them for the miracle, they answered: “It is not me, but Christ Who made it happened. Give thanks to the Lord.”

  And Christ was elevating them in His light: either by a halo around their heads, (as Father Benedict Ghius from Cernica had) (a great elder from Cernica Monastery now with the Lord – translator note) or that they would (be able) fly, or move with great speed from one place to another: they were in one place, and within minutes they were many kilometers away. All these were miracles that Christ performed through them and for them, because they had with Christ a (personal) relationship of deep spirituality.

  It is that filial relationship when you offer your soul to Christ and He sends you the Holy Spirit, Which works within you. This is beyond any earthly reward. What does it mean when your car brakes down and God sends someone to help you? There are small things … and so your spiritual relationship with Christ, Who deeply dwells in the Christian soul, and the presence of the Holy Spirit in your heart? Thy makes you gentle, forgiving, to neither bring anger against your neighbor, but nor to hold it within you; to be a beacon of light for all, even if you’re small, all these are true miracles which Christ calls us to.

  Preserve your relationship with Christ as did the centurion and you’ll receive Godly rewards. Think rightness, and do not allow the evil spirit to win over you. Do not tempt God, neither you say, “Oh Lord, come and abide in my heart”, while you converse with the devil, even you may feel you’re fighting against it. But as the centurion cry out:”Lord, say only with Your word and my heart will be healed.” Amen!

(taken from “To serve Christ means suffering” , translation by EC)

 

The Healing of the Paralytic and the Loneliness of Contemporary Man

 

By Fr. George Calciu

   What is more srtiking in today’s Gospel (John 5:1-15), is the loneliness of the sick man.  

  Have you heard? “Sir, I have no man to put me into the pool when the water is troubled, and while I am going another steps down before me.” (Jn. 5: 7). 

  The most tragic state of man is loneliness, he’s total isolation. According to Saint Cyprian of Carthage: “Everyone falls alone, but we are been saved in the community”, in the community of the church. To be alone means to fall, to get lost. Being along implies thinking only of oneself, (or perhaps not even so) because you’re overwhelmed by the suffering in which you lie. You are overpowered by the futility of life. If your life is lonely and bereft of God, it becomes useless and lost -a life whose meaning has vanished from the moment you became isolated.  

  This paralytic did not even have a relative, or a friend to put him in the pool when the water was troubled, so that he  could be healed. 

  How many times do we find ourselves in this situation? How many times do we feel alone or sick or disable, or bereft of anyone to help us to be healed or relieved from our suffering? Or perhaps, in our loneliness and pain we cannot find someone to share [our sufering], because as a German proverb says: a pain shared is halved, but an unrequited pain is doubled. So it happened with this (paralytic) man.

  But our merciful Lord asked him: “Wilt thou be made whole?” (John 5:6).  Such a question addressed to the sick, may seem unnecessary. Of course he wants to be healed.

  However, our Savior’s was alluding to something else. This man was sick for his sins, and when he was asked: “Wilt thou be made whole?” our Savior was in fact asking him: “Do you want to repent of your sins?”  The proof of this is revealed to us later, when Jesus met him in the temple and said: Behold, thou art made whole: sin no more, lest a worse thing come onto thee ” (Jn. 5:14).

  What is even more striking to us and to others, is that the moment Jesus healed the paralytic man, those around him instead of rejoicing seeing him healed, the scribes and the Pharisees became angry and said: It is the Sabbath, it is not lawful for you to carry thy bed.”(john 5:10) They did not say: “We are greatful that you are healed! Go and give thanks to God”. Rather, they were only interested in the formality of the law, which stated that on Saturdays, one should not work. They sacrificed man in order to obey this Law.

  And they have asked him: “Who is the Man that healed you?” But he didn’t know “who it was” (cf. John 5:12-13). But when Jesus met him in the temple, he went away and told the Jews that: “It was Jesus Who had made him whole” (see Jn 5:15).

  He’s intent was not to denounce Jesus to the Jews,  rather his sincere will to say to anyone: “This Man helped me! He healed me! He stood by me in misery! “

  We all feel the need to proclaim it when someone had helped us. We feel the need to reveal a miracle. Not for praise, but to escape the loneliness, the sickness and the pain! I feel the need to proclaim who brought me to the Faith, who absolved me from my sins and the wickedness of my heart: a priest, a believer, a friend … I feel the need to say: “He helped me!” So it was with this paralytic.

  My beloved faithful, our contemporary society and most authorities, not only the communists – are increasingly isolating us, in order that we may become lonelier, less bound to each other and less communicative, in order that they may lead us to their intended destination. They are trying to isolate us, because communities are much harder to lead than isolated individuals.

  The communists have done it through violence. The West doesn’t use violence but another method: proclaiming that you are  “unique”, that you have “many rights”, you are an “independent man”, that you need to be alone, not confined to your parents, not obedient to them or to anyone as a child, because you are a “free man”.

  This misunderstood freedom is a revolt against God, it is nihilism.

  Thus, we have reached the state that we see today, with all the crimes that haunt the world…where  14 year-old children shoot their teachers, their friends, and their parents.

  We broke the human ties with those we live near. That spiritual relationship between my brother and me, between my parents and me, between parents and children, between friends has vanished. And in this disintegration of the personality, which leads towards a demonized world, we are growing increasingly isolated.

  Let us remain united in faith and love with one another, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Let us stay united in the community of the Church, because the Church of Christ is the only beneficial social group. Other groups lead to self-destruction. They attempt to destroy humankind, to make man an instrument of business, a mare cog in this complicated mechanism of human society.

Excerpt from the book: “Father George Calciu’ Living words: To serve Christ means suffering”. 2009 @ Bonifaciu Press. Translation by EC.



“The most devastating illness of human Soul: doubting”

by Fr. George Calciu

  The Apostle Thomas represents those who are dominated by rationality and who need evidence. They are not unbelievers, but they need evidence to strengthen their faith. The moment they are given proof, their faith deepens, up to the ultimate sacrifice, as it was with the Holy Apostle Thomas.

  Why Thomas was not with the disciples? All disciples were gathered together in a house for fear of the Jews, as the Evangelist John relates in today’s Gospel. But Thomas was not with them. It is possible that Thomas was the most courageous of them and went outside to gain information and to hear what else was said about Jesus, or perhaps he went out to bring food because the other apostles didn’t have the courage to do so.

   Thus, when Jesus came, he was not with them.

  When they told him: “We saw the Lord!” Thomas answered “Unless I see in His hands the print of the nails, and place my finger in the mark of the nails, and place my hand in His side, I will not believe.”  (John 20.25).

  The day when Jesus appeared to His disciples and Thomas was not with them, the disciples doubted Him. Even when our Savior said to them “Peace be with you!“, they did not believe it was He until Jesus Showed them His hands and His side (cf. John 20, 20) saying: See my hands and my feet that it is truly Me, handle Me and see, that the spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see me have (Luke 24, 39). So who is the unfaithful: Thomas, who has not seen the Lord and he doubted, or the disciples who saw Him and doubted? 

  Our Savior knew of Thomas’ doubt and came especially for him. Jesus came into this world not only for believers and sinners, but also for those who live in doubt.

  To doubt is a demonic act. The demons constantly seek to inflict our soul with doubt by suggesting to us: “Well, I believe in God, I believe that Jesus Christ came into the world, died and was crucified for our salvation, but was He the Son of God? “ Or perhaps: I believe in such and such miracle, but…is it really authentic?”

  In the book of Revelation, the angel of the Lord, addressing to the Churches of Asia Minor, said to the one in Laodicea: I will spit you out of my mouth because you are neither hot nor cold, but lukewarm” (cf. Rev. 3:15-16)

  God does not love the lukewarm. Perhaps, God knows that he who advocates strongly “against” Him, can be converted. St. Paul was a great persecutor of Christians, but when our Savior met him on the way (to Damascus), he returned to the Faith and became one of the greatest apostles. It is easier to convert such a man than one who is a lukewarm. The lukewarm lives in the warm water: he neither “boils” nor “freezes”, nor is he good for anything.

  Thomas was not a lukewarm man, he had faith, but he needed some evidence. Our Savior appeared to him and said: “Reach hither thy finger, and behold My hands; and reach hither thy hand, and thrust it into My side; and be not faithless, but believing.”  (John 20, 27).

  The Evangelist John does not mention whether Thomas put his hand on our Savior’s side, but we know what Thomas said: My Lord and my God! “ (John 20:28)

  He saw Jesus and understood that the proof was right before him. There was no other evidence for him to seek when Jesus was right there in front of him shining in the light of the Resurrection, entering through the locked doors and through the walls, a bright Savior shining forth everywhere.

   Our Savior said something not for Thomas but for us: “Because thou hast seen Me, thou hast believed?” (John 20:29). 

  Jesus did not say: “Because thou hast touched Me, you believed!“…  instead He said “Because thou hast seen Me!”  andBlessed are those who have not seen (Me) and yet have believed.” (John 20:29)

  This blessing is for us all, pious Christians. This blessing is for us who come to church to confess that Christ is the Son of God, Who suffered, was crucified, died, was buried, rose again on the third day according to the Scriptures and ascended into heaven. This is the foundation of our faith!

  The lesson that we draw from today’s Gospel is that Jesus Christ came for everyone. He didn’t only come for those who believe or for Jews, or only for sinners. He came for the lukewarm as well, if they  “warm up”.

  So He came for the doubtful. And all of us have doubts … We doubt because we asked for something and God did not grant our request! But merely one cry in a “time of need” does not show faith. It rather shows human weakness. We must have a strong, steadfast faith, one that is indisputable. And today’s Gospel is for all of us who doubt.

  When Jesus appeared to Thomas, who doubted Him, Thomas seeing our Lord, fell at His feet and said: My Lord and my God!”  Let us also fall at the feet of Jesus and cry out: My Lord and my God! “

 

(From: Father George Calciu’ Living Words: “To serve Christ means suffering Bonifaciu Press, 2009) translation by EC.


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