SLAVERY to ideas is as serious a form of slavery as any other. Through His Church, Jesus offers you the deep mystery of His Divinity and His friendship. You are no longer called a slave but a friend if you discover the mystery of divine things.
Seven Sermons to Young People (Lent, 1978), Meditation 4 (Source).
FR Gheorghe Calciu-Dumitreasa (1925-2006) was a Romanian priest and an outspoken critic of Communism.
Between 1947 and 1989, Romania fell under Marxist rule.
A concerted effort was made to eradicate Christianity. Using perverted science and inhuman cruelty, the Communists sought to strip people like Fr Gheorghe of their own personhood, and supplant it with a now willing Communist identity.
Fr Gheorghe spent 21 years of his life in various Communist prisons, suffering particularly unpleasantly during the time of Nicolae Ceauşescu (who was Head of State from 1967). There is a series of videos about the absolutely scandalous prison at Pitesti at YouTube (Part 1).
Released in 1964, a year later he married his wife Andrea (who survived him together with their son Andrei).
Fr Gheorghe was taken under the wing of Patriarch Iustinian (1948–1977), who arranged for him to be quietly ordained in 1973. His protests continued unabated.
I declared communism, together with Marxism and materialism, to be a religion, a philosophy of hopelessness and despair, because a regime that demolishes churches to build taverns is a regime that has lost the notion of its true mission. (Source [PDF].)
On Patriarch Iustinian’s death in 1977, however, the new Patriarch, Iustin, proved sympathetic to the Communist regime. Still Fr Gheorghe did not fall silent, defiantly encouraging young people in his Lenten Sermons of 1978:
I speak to you that you might know that you can fly, and that only spiritual flight is truly exalted. The flight of materialism is flight with broken wings. …
I have said all these things to you that you might understand that through faith we shatter walls and break down the bonds of prejudice and abuse, even if we shall have tribulation in this world (John 16:33).
There is a continual battle between good and evil, between right and wrong, between freedom and captivity of ideas, between purity and corruption. All these battles take place on the one single field of combat — the heart of man.
I, the priest of Christ, address this heart; for as Pascal has said: “The heart has its own way of thinking, which reason ignores.” (Source)
He was imprisoned once more. Representations from the World Council of Churches, from Archbishop of Canterbury Robert Runcie, and perhaps more than any other from US President Ronald Reagan, saw him released in 1983, only to be immediately stripped of his priestly functions by the Patriarch.
After his release, Fr Gheorghe reluctantly left his beloved Romania in 1985 and settled in the USA, where the Romanian Church took no notice of his demotion. The Church there welcomed him to her heart, appointing him priest at the Holy Cross Romanian Orthodox Church near Baileys Crossroads in 1989.
Fr Gheorghe reposed on November 21, 2006.
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.
More about Fr Gheorghe
Orthodoxy Today has a biography, by Wesley J. Smith.
There is a biography in his own words at Orthodox Photos.
The blog Orthodox Word has an archive of material on and by Fr Gheorghe Calciu.
St Paul’s Greek Orthodox Church in Irvine, CA has a “Wisdom of the Saints” page, which includes a biography of Fr Gheorghe.
Two of Fr Gheorghe’s famous “Seven Words to Young People” are reproduced online at the Orthodox Research Institute under the title “Christ Is Calling You!”.
COME to the Church of Christ—to learn what innocence and purity are, what meekness is and what love is.
You will find your place in life and the purpose of your existence.
To your astonishment, you will discover that our life does not end in death, but in resurrection; that our existence centers on Christ, and that this world is not a mere empty moment in which nonbeing prevails. …
Jesus is seeking you; Jesus has found you!
DURING my imprisonment I served the Holy Liturgy every Sunday and Church holiday from memory.
At first the guards insulted me and beat me to make me give it up. I held fast and at last they left me alone. To their way of thinking I was crazy, but my craziness was the kind spoken of by Saint Paul: “For the preaching of the cross is to those that are perishing, foolishness; but unto us who are saved, it is the power of God. (l Corinthians. l: l8).
It was one Sunday and I was isolated. It was one of the days without food and I couldn’t serve the Divine Liturgy because I had no bread.
The Orthodox Liturgy is celebrated with bread and wine, and the central moment is then when the Holy Spirit descends and transforms bread and wine into the Body and Blood of Christ in a real though invisible way. In prison we had no wine, but we had bread and through necessity because of these extreme circumstances, I felt my service was complete.
On that Sunday I asked the Lord to help me forget my sadness at the impossibility of serving the Holy Liturgy for lack of bread. Nevertheless, a thought came to me: to ask the guard for some bread.
The most evil of the guards was on duty and I knew that my request would make him angry; he would insult me and he would ruin the peace I had in my soul for that holy day. But the thought persisted and grew so strong that I knocked on the iron door of the cell.
A few minutes later the door was violently opened and the furious guard asked me: what was the matter? I asked him for a piece of bread, no more than an ounce, to use for serving the Holy Liturgy.
My request seemed absurd to him; it was so unexpected that his mouth dropped open in amazement. He left slamming the door as violently as he had opened it. Many other hungry prisoners asked him for bread, but I was the first to ask for bread in order to serve the Divine Liturgy.
I regretted my impulse, apprehensive about what would happen next. Twenty minutes later the door of my cell opened half-way and quietly the guard gave me the ration for a whole day: four ounces of bread. He shut the door as quietly as he had opened it. And if I had not been holding the bread I would have thought that it was all an illusion.
The Holy Liturgy I celebrated with that bread was the most profound and most sublime Holy Liturgy I have ever experienced. The service was two hours long and the guard did not disturb or insult me as at other times.
Later, after I had finished the Liturgy and the fragrance of the prayer was still in my cell, the door opened quietly and the guard whispered: “Father, don’t tell anyone I gave you bread, or you’ll ruin me.”
I responded: “How could I tell this to anybody, mister first sergeant? You acted as an angel of God because the bread you gave me became the Body of Christ and your deed is now recorded in eternity.”
Without answering, he quietly shut the door, looking at me until the last moment. After that he never insulted me and during his eight hours of duty I had the most peaceful time of my imprisonment.
WHEN he did not break, the government decided to have him killed by two cellmates, convicted murderers who had been promised leniency if they would kill him.
He was made to stand in a corner of the cell and not allowed to eat, drink, speak or relieve himself without permission, and he was often beaten.
After three weeks, the other two prisoners were summoned by the head of the secret police.
When they returned, Father Calciu said, his tormentors were subdued.
Taken to a small prison yard, his cellmates told him to stand in one corner while they conferred.
Ready to die, Father Calciu confessed his sins and prayed for his family.
Fifteen minutes later, the men approached him. “And the youngest one said, ‘Father,’ – and that was the first time they called me Father – ‘we have decided not to kill you’.”
That Sunday, he asked their permission to celebrate Mass.
He was making preparations and turned to see the two criminals kneeling on the cold concrete floor.
HE spent years in solitary. He knew nothing of his family, and they, nothing of him.
One night, Fr. George heard the joyful peal of many church bells: It was Easter.
Early the next morning, the worst guard in the prison—who delighted in torture—entered the priest’s cell.
He should have turned his face to the wall.
Instead, Fr. George looked his tormenter boldly in the eye and proclaimed, “Christ is risen!”
Rather than delivering a blow, the guard paused, and blurted out, “In Truth He is Risen!” and nervously backed out of the cell.
That was when Fr. George experienced a vision of what Orthodox theology calls the Uncreated Light:
“He shut the door and I was petrified, because of what he had said. And little by little, I saw myself full of Light. The board against the wall was shining like the sun; everything in my cell was full of light. I cannot explain in words the happiness that invaded me then. I can explain nothing. It simply happened. I have no merit.”