domingo, 14 de abril de 2013

Elder Arsenie Papacioc: It’s me, Your great ascetic!

Elder Arsenie Papacioc: It’s me, Your great ascetic!

Someone knocked at Jesus’ door, and Jesus asked,“Who is there?”
“It’s me, Your great ascetic!”
“You’re not ready; I’m not opening the door for you!”
The ascetic was worried: “I wonder why?” And he went again to the door and knocked.
“Who is there?” asked the Lord.
“It is you!”
“If you are Me, enter!” – That is to say, God gathers with those who are gods by grace.
So it is not permitted to knock at Christ’s door with stains, since any little sin is not small! If should not be understood that the struggle is to become perfect only in not committing sins! This is a little brash, and it is not the way of humility. You have to believe that the grace of God is helping you and that if you’re something it’s only by God’s grace.
This is how I understood the words of St. Silouan, uttered to him by the Savior: “Keep thy mind in hell and despair not!” Our deeds can’t save us; therefore, we have reason for a continuous and authentic humility; not a rational humility, but a true humility.

Fr. Arsenie PAPACIOC, Part of a Whole

Part of a Whole
Fr. Arsenie PAPACIOC
The Christian concept of salvation is sacrifice.
The salvation of each and every one of us is on the Cross — as the Cross is the most praised thing on earth.
Which is why it was well-said that we must weep for the tragedy of the whole mankind as for our own sins.
…How, then, are we supposed to save the world? Well, by living a proper life yourself. By becoming God’s person; Christ’s person.
By knowing that one is a “branch” belonging to the same Stem, by knowing that it was for you that the Saviour spoke. So by achieving this personal fulfillment yourself, you will have contributed ENORMOUSLY (even when you do this secretly, hidden from everybody’s view, perhaps withdrawn in the wilderness or in your monk’s cell; wherever you are) to saving the whole unity - the whole humanity! Did you know that even the leaves and flowers rejoice, too?… Not only people…
So, we are part of a whole ensemble, of God’s whole Creation.
And if one fights with all one’s might to cast off passions and enrich oneself spiritually, then let me tell you this: you have contributed, alongside Christ, to the salvation of the world! Therefore, you never know if some time, somewhere, you, too haven’t been a saviour, yourself!

About Humility, with Fr. Arsenie Papacioc

About Humility, with Fr. Arsenie Papacioc

- Do they say anything about access to happiness?
- Well, of course… to happiness, too; the Savior handed us down His teachings and in addition to the fact that one must be «poor in spirit», He also told us what that entailed, to encourage us.
- Poor in spirit – does that mean stupid?
- Not stupid – humble! By the way, did you know that in the older editions, «humble» was actually termed «stupid»?
- Why stupid? Do stupid people have fewer ideas?… Are they less…?
- No!… They would use that term for a person who is more innocent… not stupid.
- More like children?
- Yes. You see? For that is what humble means. If a person is humble and someone else «pushes him around», he keeps quiet. He will keep to himself, he won’t go beyond his «boundaries». That is humility; the art of “knowing your place”, of limiting yourself to who you are. Why would you «step out» of it? You see what I mean? That is what «poor in spirit» means – humble by all means.
- Yes. But then He says…
- The Saviour had that quiet kind of behaviour. A brother once went to a Father who lived in the desert – who was a fallen man – to live beside him, although he knew about the elder’s state. And that Father would beat him up. Another another hermit saw what was going on and said to himself: “Either the apprentice is insensitive, or he is a great practicing monk”, as he could clearly see that the brother was in pain. So the Father would beat him up and the brother would keep quiet, he would just suffer through it all. One day, this other hermit went to him and asked him some questions, to test him. He asked him:
Brother, haven’t you received any wreathes today?” “No, Father, I haven’t – but I have received another beating though.” He showed him his bruises… and when the hermit saw that the brother was all too aware of what was going on, he realized that the brother was “poor in spirit”. You see? So there. But where do you think this brother sat, on the scale of the practicing monks? He was on top of that ladder… He was not stupid…
- He was spiritually high!
- Well, yes, of course – but humble. This man would humble himself. Another one did the same thing – only this man was very sinful – thinking the same thing: “Let me go to a bad Father”, because he wanted to suffer and “sacrifice” himself. And in the meantime he was praying, asking God to be able to fulfill all his duties next to that Father. And [he found him] and the situation was similar; the Father would torment him and beat him up. Now another neighbouring hermit had a vision of a very long list of sins that this brother had, some of which were erased by half, while others were still visible. So they were that brother’s sins. The hermit went to him and told him: “Oh, my brother, you have yet another period like this one, to go through. Go on, don’t give up!” Which meant that the brother was to go through a period that would equal the first one, since the hermit had seen that only half of his sins had been erased. And the brother replied: “Alright, Father, I will not give up.” You see, these were humble people, who would carry their cross. Moreover, Christ Himself humbled Himself.
They say a stranger once knocked on our Saviour’s door. “Who is there?” The man answered: “It’s me, Your greatly practicing monk”. “I won’t let you in”, the Saviour replied. And the monk was wondering - he had been honest, he had worked hard… “Why hasn’t He received me?!” He reanalyzed himself and then went back and knocked at the door again. “Who is there?” He said: “It’s You!” “If you are Me, come in, then! For now you are as humble as I am.” The first time, he had presented himself: “It’s me!”. I mean, who was he, when God astonished the heavens, the angels, with His humility? We do not have enough words to hope to describe Christ’s humility.
Excerpt from the book “Iată Duhovnicul: părintele Arsenie Papacioc” (“Behold the Confessor: Fr. Arsenie Papacioc”)

Fr. Arsenio ,Don’t Judge Priests

Criticism is allowed, but passing judgement upon priests isn’t. As the saying goes, to criticize someone or someone’s work is to put a wreath upon it [and that is a good thing]. But to judge a person belonging to the clergy, to judge in a context where everyone tends to criticize precisely because the clergy are the ones who emanate the power and Grace of God and everyone points at them all the time… well, let us not forget they are human, too. Moreover, they have the possibility to save themselves more easily than you, because they have the Grace and the Church mysteries and works/duties than have been given to them — and last but not least, they must have some conscience, too!, don’t you think?
And let me tell you this – no clergyman becomes so without the will of God. God directs such a person’s life.
But we are going back to our earlier point: we tend to criticize everyone else but ourselves!
Think about it – when you go up there and meet Christ and it is shown that you judged the priest – that he did that instead of the other, or whatever. Things of that sort… so what you did was to judge the priest’s deeds and movements through life and that is a big mistake.
I’m telling you this once again: no matter what sort of cup you drink your wine from – whether it’s crystal or pottery, it’s still wine that you’re drinking. One drinks wine from the Holy Chalice, which contains the Holy Blood and Body of our Saviour. Because it is not the priest’s worthiness that is responsible for the wonderful transformations that take place then, when the wine changes into the Holy Blood and the bread into the Holy Body of Christ — but God’s Grace!
So, whether he is worthy or unworthy, the priest’s work depends on Grace, not on anything else. So don’t rush to judge him, because you’re making an enormous mistake. And here I must get back to a previous question – you should not judge anyone, not even some terrible murderer – let alone a priest! Why should you intrude in his life so! You will be condemned much more seriously because of that. You have come to Christ? Pray to Christ, to help him.
My dear ones, I repeat: we are responsible for all the mistakes that are done in this world – we are personally responsible for them, every one of us. There. So we must have this attitude of sacrifice. Because the Mystery of man’s salvation, for everyone of us, is carried out on the Cross. What we should understand from that is that the Cross is the earth’s greatest gift, of the greatest utility.
So what should your “sacrifice” be? Sacrifice your judging the other one because of some mistake s/he has made. And if you go as far as judging people within the Church wherein dwells the Grace of God and you judge the priest, you are making a terrible, terrible mistake! Make it a habit, all of you, to see Christ when you look at the Church, because there’s a prayer that the priest reads before the Heruvikon, which goes like this: “because You are the One Who brings, the One Who brings Yourself, the One Who is received, and the One Who is shared.” So what is the priest if he is in charge with such things? …It’s like… “Yes, but without you, my priest, I cannot do these things”, Christ replies – not without the Grace of priesthood. And, ok, maybe that guy isn’t a terribly sophisticated person, as a priest, but he does have the Grace, and that is a divine thing. So you condemn yourself terribly if you judge him. He is responsible for his deeds; but you, on the other hand, you will be held terribly responsible for your deeds and his deeds, too, because you have judged him.
There was this great hermit who one day, received the visit of a believer from his village, who had come to see him in the wilderness. In the hermit’s village was this very sinful man. The hermit asked the visitor: “Has that X fellow changed his ways or he’s just as I used to know him?” The man answered: “He hasn’t changed, Father.” And the hermit uttered only an: “Oh!” The next day, an angel came to the hermit and asked him: “God has sent me to ask you: where should He put the soul of that man, who just died last night – in Heaven or in Hell? Because you have judged him.” The hermit lamented and repented for the rest of his life to receive a sign of God’s forgiveness and still had none. And the man that he had judged had been a big sinner indeed! But he had judged him.
God, please, have mercy for him. God, please protect him.”, he should have said instead. I repeat and I stress this, and please forgive me for being repetitive: WE are guilty for the other people’s mistakes. The whole tragedy of humanity depends on the mess in our own lives.
Because if one talks about love, it’s love! There is no going around it. Look at things as they truly are. It’s like: I am a human being, with hands, fingers etc, there is no question about it whatsoever. With a heart, too! One cannot go around these things. The Christian teaching is about the integrity of the human being. So we are not to negotiate a whole series of things that can pull us behind – or stall our lives. I’m telling you – this judging of others that we do is so serious that (I think I have written it somewhere, too) I believe that most of the souls who are in hell are people who have badmouthed others. They all excuse themselves by saying: “But I’m not the only one who badmouths.” or: “Doesn’t s/he deserve to be judged?” No. If someone is guilty, you, too, are guilty for his guilt, because you haven’t prayed for him – and, of course, if you have judged him, you have made an even bigger mistake.

Fr. Arsenie Papacioc, How Can We Bear Witness, Today?

How Can We Bear Witness, Today?

Father, how can we witness Christ nowadays?
- It’s very simple. Especially today, when Christ has so many adversaries. My dear ones, what we lack today is love for our neighbour – and THAT is our “homework”: “Do you say you love Me? Then give to the poor…” You know, it’s like Christ is telling us: “We will meet again, and it is I Who will ask you questions, and it will be more difficult for you then”.
And there’s no need for the world to know that I’m giving this shirt, for example, to someone; or a penny; or that I’m feeding a dog.
Let me tell you what happened to me once. A man was smoking on a sidewalk one day and there was this stray dog that was looking at his hand; he was following the movements of his hand – he thought the man was eating. Poor animal! – what I would have given him, since I could see the real problem! But I’m saying this about a man – as little as you have, give him something. Even if you don’t have much yourself, either. At least live in that state of mind, in that willigness to live the moment as you should do.
How would anyone dare to say that he did not know that he should have given to his neighbour – that he should have fed the hungry one?
You hurt someone? Let me tell you this: you hurt Christ. It doesn’t matter if that person is full of scab! or sins – you should know this: he is not there, near you, for nothing! There is a reason for everything. So you either avoid the situation, or you put it to good use. Therefore, life is worth living it right [every minute of it].
I once met someone – he had 56 suits. He would not have had time to wear them all!… For [the Scripture says] “You, fool, tonight your soul will be required of you”. If everything you have, you have FROM ME – since no hair on your head will move without my will -, well, I have also given you this command: take care of the poor.
Fr. Arsenie Papacioc in a televised programme on Romanian Orthodox TV channel, “Trinitas”, today, December 31, 2010

A Few More Words of Advice from Fr. Arsenie

A Few More Words of Advice from Fr. Arsenie
Father, can we overcome hardship?
- You can, if you want. You cannot do anything, if you don’t want to. Love thy neighbour! Well, not like you would love your own wife and children – nobody asks you that. But don’t harm him. THAT is an act of love. Because you don’t realise – if you want to shake heaven and earth, how much power lies in the simple fact of saying: “God, please forgive him!”
Everyone will realise then how important it is for one not to hate, in this world. If you can help someone – and also feel sorry for your own lack of control and proper Christian attitude – then fine.
How does one get one’s peace of heart?
- Let us fulfill Christ’s word; let us follow Christ. [And think about our guardian angel] – our guardian angel is given to us by God; he has unspeakable beauty! [To think that some say there are no angels, and no devils, and no God.] But what if there is God? What have you got to lose? Think about it that way: what if there is this great chasm and a narrow bridge over it – and there’s someone who says that there is nothing there (as the chasm is covered up with leaves and all you can see is a harmless path) – what do you do then? You must cross over to the other side, because — what if it’s all true? It is NOT WORTH risking your life by not believing. One can risk one’s money, one’s reputation – but not one’s life.
And that’s confessor father’s advice, I’m telling you. [smiling]
Fr. Arsenie Papacioc in a televised programme on Romanian Orthodox TV channel, “Trinitas”, December 31, 2010

Fr. Arsenie Papacioc, About the Mother of God

About the Mother of God

- We know that you have great respect for the Theotokos, Father; would you please tell us a few words about her.
- Oh, the Mother of God! I’ll tell you this: a young girl, who led a good Christian life and was very earnest in her faith, once addressed herself to the Holy Theotokos: “Holy Mother of God, please show your mother’s love towards me.” – and the Theotokos replied to her: “Show your daughter’s love towards me”. That was her answer. So be the Mother of God’s sons and you will see the results.
Consider the Mother of God’s importance. The Lady of the heavens and earth! What God can do through His power, His Mother can do through her prayer. She stands by every Christian, for anyone who needs her.
There is no prayer, no matter how small – but said from the heart, of course – that the Mother of God does not lend her ear to, that she will not bow to hear.
You see – God sits in the glory of heavens, but He will enjoy dwelling in a Christian’s heart, by descending into it. Let alone the Mother of God! – who is a created being. Have unflinching faith in the Mother of God, every one of you.
Fr. Arsenie Papacioc