– 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?
[…] Times were rapidly succeeding one another and godless communism was thrusting its claws ever more deeply into the country’s body. By providing Christian help to the anti-communist fighters in the Făgăraş Mountains, Father Arsenie got into the Security’s “visual field” and was arrested in 1948, for the first time. Forcibly moved out from Sâmbăta to Prislop, he eventually became Abbot of the latter and after the monastic abode was changed into a nunnery, he stayed there as a Confessor Priest, until 1959, when the communists dismantled the monastic community. In between, he had been arrested once more and taken to the Canal*, where he had spent almost a year. Then followed his exile to Bucharest, where he was kept outside actual priestly activity, being retained only as a church painter, always under the dog’s eye of the atheistic regime. During the last part of his life he grew very attached to two places: Drăgănescu (where he painted the church for 15 years, starting from 1968 and left us a true “sermon in images”, even if perhaps artistically somewhat unusual by the traditional iconography canons) and Sinaia (where, in 1969, he had his cell and his painter workshop, where he would retire more often and where he reposed in the Lord in early 1989, aged 79).
Mother Arsenya of Russia
As to fasting and its importance, Mother Arsenya used to say: “Many learned people of our times say that fasting and all the other churchly rules are just some empty rituals, a mere appearance that leads to nothing. For my part, the more my life passes on, the more I am convinced that all the rules that have been established by the Holy Fathers are the greatest gift that God has given us and that they all bring salvation due to the Grace that lies in them. Scholars say: «All of these are trifles; it is the truths of the Gospels that matter.»”
Yet I am telling you that it is impossible to know and gain an insight into the truths of the Gospels directly, by avoiding the rules of the Church and neglecting them. It is only through them that we are led to the high truths of Christ’s teachings. When we talk about fasting, we talk about refraining from eating much and from doing anything that lacks measure, in order to render our bodies lighter, thinner, and apt for spiritual feelings.