Fr Nicolae Steinhardt: Today, I know how to enjoy the smallest slice of bread

Fr Nicolae Steinhardt, the Romanian monk, spent many years as a political prisoner under the Communists.

In his famous “Happiness Diary”, he recorded what he had learnt.

Few of us can imagine what he went through. But there is something here, I think, for everyone who has felt ‘imprisoned’ in one way or another.


Fr Nicolae Steinhardt (1912-1989)

Fr Nicolae Steinhardt (1912-1989)


IN my small prison cell in Zarca, I kneel down and make an inventory of myself.

I entered prison as a blind man, who used to have some vague, self-produced glimpses in the dark, which split through it without clearing it up – and I am coming out with my eyes wide open.

I went in as a spoilt, pampered person.
I am coming out healed of all whims, airs, and fastidiousness.

I went in unhappy.
I come out knowing happiness.

I went in as a grumpy, irritable, fussy person.
I come out with no care for it all.

The sun and life didn’t use to tell me much.
Today, I know how to enjoy the smallest slice of bread.

I come out admiring courage, dignity, honour, and heroism more than anything else.

I come out feeling at peace. At peace with the ones I have wronged – friends and enemies – and even with myself.



I WAITED patiently for the Lord; and he attended to me, and hearkened to my supplication.

And he brought me up out of a pit of misery, and from miry clay: and he set my feet on a rock, and ordered my goings aright.

And he put a new song into my mouth, even a hymn to our God: many shall see it, and fear, and shall hope in the Lord.

Blessed is the man whose hope is in the name of the Lord, and who has not regarded vanities and false frenzies.

Psalm 39(40):1-4


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