Remembering Fr. Dumitru Stăniloae

By Metropolitan Michel Philippe Laroche 

As a young priest, I knew Fr. Dumitru Stăniloae very well, in the 70-80s, as I met with him both in France, where I received him in my home, and in Bucharest. I had already met the great Starets Cleopa and Fr. Petroniu from Sihăstria Monastery, as well as Fr. Benedict Ghiuş, who reposed in the Lord at Cernica and who was my spiritual Father, and who all told me about the experience of the Jesus Prayer.

The conversations I had with Fr. Stăniloae concerned the great importance that he saw in publishing the Romanian translation of the Philokaly, which he considered the most important work of his life, and, more generally, its dissemination in both the Orthodox and the Catholic world – as his view was not ecumenical, but universal.

He never spoke to me about his practice of the Jesus Prayer, but his preoccupation and rigor regarding the publication of good translations of the Philokalic texts place him in the lineage of the great starets who all shared that interest – and to whom we owe, before him, the first schools of translation and publications of the Philokaly – such as St. Nicodemus the Hagiorite, St. Ambrose of Optina, and above all, St. Paisios Velichkovsky.

Fr. Dumitru’s very self-effacement before the Neptic Fathers provides the testimony (martyrium) to the fact that he lived according to their way of thinking and that he was a true hesychast.

One should not regard Fr. Dumitru as an isolated personality, even if he was a unique human being, but consider him as being part – in that incredible era or in full Ceauşescu regime – of the flourishment of the hesychastic Fathers such as the ones that I have mentioned above — without forgetting a host of simple parish priests, who bore witness to the Resurrected Christ, and forgotten monks, chased out of their monasteries, all of them silent heroes shrouded in the dust of history, whose names Christ knows them all. Father Dumitru is one of the emblematic figures of that period that was so rich in holiness.

* * *

Très jeune prêtre, j’ai très bien connu le Père Dumitru Stăniloae dans les années 70-80 tant en France où je l’ai reçu à mon domicile, qu’à Bucarest. J’avais déjà rencontré les grand Starets Père Cléopas, Père Pétronios du monastère de Sihăstria, Père Benedict Ghius qui finit ses jours à Cernica et qui fut mon Père spirituel, qui me parlèrent tous de l’expérience prière du Nom de Jésus. Les conversations que j’ai eu avec le Père Stăniloae concernaient l’immense importance qu’il attachait à la publication en Roumain de la Philocalie qu’il considérait comme l’œuvre la plus importante de sa vie et d’une manière générale de la diffusion de la Philocalie dans le monde tant orthodoxe que catholique, car sa pensée était non pas œcuménique, mais universelle.

Il ne m’a jamais parlé de sa pratique de la prière du Nom de Jésus, mais sa préoccupation et exigence concernant la publication de bonnes traductions des textes philocaliques le place dans la lignée des grands starets qui ont tous partagé ce souci et à qui l’on doit, avant lui, les premières écoles de traduction et éditions de la Philocalie, tels saint Nicodème l’Aghiorite, saint Ambroise d’Optimo, et surtout saint Paissi Vélitchkovsky. L’effacement même du Père Dimitru devant les Pères neptiques est le témoignage ( martyrium) qu’il vivait dans leurs pensées et qu’il était un authentique hésychaste.

Il ne faut pas regarder le Père Dumitru comme une personnalité isolée, même s’il est un être unique, mais le considérer comme faisant parti – à cette époque incroyable où en plein régime “Ceausescu”- du fleurissement de saints hésychastes tels ceux que j’ai mentionnés plus haut, sans oublier une multitude de simples prêtres de paroisse, témoins du Christ Ressuscité, et de moines oubliés, chassés de leurs monastères, tous des héros silencieux ensevelis dans la poussière de l’historie dont le Christ connait tous les noms. Le Père Dumitru est l’une des figures emblématiques de cette période riche en sainteté.

3 thoughts on “Remembering Fr. Dumitru Stăniloae

  1. I really like Father Michel Larouche who helps me with both his books!!!

    Maestro Urbano Medeiros
    C.P: 17O
    3566O-97O Pará de Minas – MG – Brazil

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