Fr. Arsenie Remembers

In the Wilderness with Fr. Cleopa – Fr. Arsenie Papacioc Remembers

Let me tell you what obedience means. This heavy rainfall came upon us once while we were in a forest with not so tall trees; the trees were not higher than a regular house. Father Cleopa was sitting in one spot, I was in another one, looking for thicker shrubs for us to take shelter under. However, Fr. Cleopa kept calling me from under the branches to come sit next to him in that particular spot. There were about 30 meters between the two of us. I kept telling him that my spot was better and saying “No!”, but upon a second thought, I said to myself: Wait a minute. Why don’t I just listen to Father Cleopa! So I just ran out from there and the instant I left it, lightning struck down that exact spot where I had been sitting a second before. I was SO impressed. Obedience is SUCH a precious thing.


– When we got back from the wilderness, in 1954, Patriarch Justinian shared this view that he had in our regard: to send us to all monasteries in Romania at least twice a year, to confess and provide spiritual advice to all fathers there. Yet, I told him that I felt differently, because monasteries have their own Confessor Fathers and it just wasn’t right to barge in on them, lest you should create some antagonism: “Who are these? What are they? Some desert-dwellers? Now, I wouldn’t call THOSE any sort of great saints!” and the like.

So I told our Patriarch that we should keep our own monastery, Slatina, open for everyone who would want to come and get spiritual profit. And that’s exactly how it happened.

After I was arrested in Suceava, we were taken by car to Bucharest, to be tried. The investigation lasted 90 days and was very bad. Beatings, physical aggression, they would pull my beard in all possible ways… In the end, the investigator himself got scared, too. He was a very aggressive captain. He cut my beard in half (and my beard remained just as long). And I said to him: “You will answer for that before God!” You know what he told me? “That’s alright, it’s not the beard that makes one a monk!” When he said that, I told him: “It wasn’t you who spoke, but the Holy Spirit”. Only Holy Clement of Alexandria has a commentary about the beard; he says: “The beard has much spiritual influence over one’s way of thinking”.

Excerpt from:

Elder Cleopa (April 10, 1912 – December 2, 1998)

Once, a Christian lady wanted to meet Elder Cleopa, as she had never seen him. Upon passing by his cell, she bowed and said in her mind: “I kiss your hand, Father”. Right then she heard in her mind the Elder’s voice, saying: “May God’s peace be with you, my daughter”. Then, with a heart filled with peace and joy, she walked on.

From “The Life of Elder Cleopa” by Archim. Ioanichie Bălan 


The Soul’s Journey after Death

By Elder Cleopa

Brothers, never forget that our soul is immortal. Let me tell you one thing: we are mere strangers and passers-by here on earth. Listen to what the Psalm book says: Unworthy is man on earth and a stranger, just like all his ancestors. Nobody stays in this world. We are not here to stay. Down here is a ceaseless passing-by; we come by birth and leave by death.

Divine Jove says: From my mother’s womb I have fallen into the pit. Did you hear? That is all that life on earth seemed to him after 400 years. As after having put him through all that trying time, God gave him another 140 years of life – after having tested him with so much torment and so many illnesses – and that’s all that life seemed to him: that from his mother’s womb he had jumped into a pit. Life seemed like a mere jump to him.

Don’t you know what the Holy Spirit compares us to? Man is like grass; his days are like the flowers of the field; that is how he will bloom. And again: His days pass like shadows. And again: My days have gone down like shadows and I have withered away like grass.

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The Four Laws by which Christ will Judge the World

By Elder Cleopa

Pr CLEOPA_mai micI have said a few words about death. I will now say something about conscience. Whoever will guard his/her conscience clean will undoubtedly be prepared and happy when death comes. One’s conscience is the just judge that God has placed within us.

One’s conscience cannot ever be a mere reflection of matter. It is God’s voice in man and it always reprimands him when he goes astray: “Man, why did you do this or that?”

This law of one’s nature is also common among the Chinese, the Christians, or the Buddhists, Brahmans, and Mohammedans. It is the first law that God placed in man’s soul ever since He created him, based on which the world guided itself until the written Law. An non-believing lawyer asked me once:

–         Father, I just cannot come to terms with the idea of the Last Judgement!

–         Oh, why can’t you, brother? How come?

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The Old and the New Calendar

About the Old Calendar, Stylists, and Slătioara

By Fr. Cleopa

The thing that happened once to a priest here, Calistrat Bobu, my God! He was a very good priest. Very good. But one day he dropped by to see a nun who was living in the forest (as at that time there were about fifty hermits living in the woods around here) and she told this young priest: “The Holy Grace doesn’t descend upon you, people, because you have shifted to the new calendar!”

Father Calistrat came back home and told our Father Superior. My Father Superior back then was from the Holy Mountain: Hieroschemamonk Ioanichie, from whom I received tonsure. He was the kind of monk that would only eat on Saturdays and Sundays, and during the rest of the days — nothing. On Sundays, he would only ask me: “Would you happen to have a little bit of cabbage juice and a bit of wheat broth?” Continue reading

About Prayer (7)

By Fr. Cleopa

But let us pray as we can, as we have seen that the Savior didn’t overlook the Canaanite woman’s prayer. She wasn’t Jewish, she was a Phoenician from around the Tyre and the Sidon. Now, Phoenicians were pagans. Yet she had heard of the Savior and how He worked miracles and came along [to see Him, too]. On seeing so many people around Him, the poor thing started crying: Have mercy on me, O Lord, the Son of David; my daughter is grievously vexed with a devil!

As a pagan woman, she hadn’t even known how to call out so she had asked around among the Jews to find out how to call to Him properly. She didn’t even know His name. They must have told her: “You just call to Him this and that way, woman!” So she cried out as the poor and upset mother that she was. And “she took upon herself the face of her daughter”, as listen to what she cried out: Have mercy on me, O Lord, as my daughter is grievously vexed with a devil! She didn’t say: Have mercy on my daughter, O Lord!

Fragment arcadă_ornament

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About Prayer (6)

By Fr. Cleopa

Therefore, our duty is to pray as we can, however we can, starting with the opening prayers: “Heavenly King…”, “Holy God…”, “All-holy Trinity…”, “Our Father…”, “The Creed” and all the other ones. We should pray as we can, but we should do it often.

Because – listen to what the Holy Fathers say! St. Theophane the Recluse is a most-legitimate witness, who says: To the one who prays often, the prayer itself will turn into his greatest praying teacher. Prayer itself can teach him to climb all the way up from the lowest steps of prayer to the highest ones – to ecstasy and spiritual prayer”. So, prayer itself was teaching the Saints how to pray, because they were always praying.

Coloană Sf Petru şi Pavel_micşorată

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About Prayer (5)

But you will ask me: “What about us, Father, what should we do, most of us who live in the world, who don’t know this technique and philosophy of high prayer? Will our souls be lost for that matter?” No, they won’t! But since the issue of prayer was brought up, I have just shown you what true prayer is. If I don’t pray, it doesn’t mean that I should not tell others, either. I have never prayed like that myself, in my life! But that doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t know about it. Ignorance is the soul’s blindness.

But you know what the devil does to pride and insensitiveness? If we shed a tear during prayer, do you know what he says? “Wow, now you prayed really well!” Eehhh!… And how much more do we really have left, to reach true, pure prayer! How far the sky really is from earth! I told you – prayer grows without limits – because it is uniting with God. It has no boundaries.

UŞĂ_Biserica Sf Apostoli Petru şi Pavel_micşorată

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