The cases in which people win against difficult diseases such as cancer impress both by the way in which the afflicted ones manage not to be brought down by pain and despair, and by the way in which God works in their life and of those around them, for the healing of their body and soul. The case of Daniela Popa, from Bucharest, is a special one, since added to her cancer problem was tuberculosis; and in addition to all that, God blessed her with being a mother for the third time. Daniela and Richard Popa understood the meaning of these trials, received them with open hearts, and through faith and much prayer they managed to defeat them.
Left: Mrs. Daniela Popa and her son, Antonie
Daniela: I found out about my illness in May, 2005, when my husband Richard was away in Mount Athos. I started having high fever, which was growing higher by the day. When Richard came back from Mount Athos, I had a biopsy taken and the result was lymphocyte depleted Hodgkin lymphoma [Hodgkin lymphoma is a type of cancer of the lymphatic system, where the lymphatic cells come to divide abnormally and spread outside the lymphatic system (editor’s note)].
How does the disease manifest itself?
D.: By fever, fatigue, sweat – I felt I lacked strength completely and my neck glands started to swell. At that point, the disease was in stage 2 and I decided to follow a naturist treatment. However, the treatment had no effect and the disease developed very fast; and in September, I got to stage 4. The fever was higher, my ganglions had grown bigger and I was itching all over my body. Continue reading →
I remember to this day the moment I saw it around my grandmother’s neck, although I was a little kid at that time. It surprised me very much. It simply gave my grandmother an air of nobility. It was like it was casting a light upon her sun-burnt face and upon the garments that she would wear for festive occasions, taken out of the chest where she kept them. It was like she was no longer the humble peasant woman that she had been until then, but a grand lady who was getting ready to face the requirements of city life — more precisely, of a wedding that was about to happen in our family.
I followed my grandmother with my child eyes, trying to figure out how an ordinary piece of jewelry could change her so completely. Yet perhaps it wasn’t that ordinary after all. Or maybe my grandmother wasn’t. But from that day on, to me, she preserved the enchantment of that mysterious transformation, although it was a necklace that she would rarely wear, if at all.
I didn’t see her wear it later on any longer, as life carried me away from the events that my grandparents took part in, but I will always remember that wonderful ennoblement, with some of the thrill that Vermeer must have felt in his heart when he painted the “Girl with Pearl Earring”. The only jewel that my grandmother – now gone far away, in the country of the beyond – had, is now lying in a vintage box, as if peacefully waiting for its time, again. And for its Woman.
[…] Huntington is what you call a politologist. […] I wouldn’t give any job to a politologist, because this is the type of person who thinks that they can philosophize without an entire philosophical basis. A politologist is a specialist who lacks width of vision and does not know how to connect things that only seem to be outside of his expertise.
Huntington’s idea – that the Carpathians could become a fracture line that will lead to inevitable conflicts (since the Western world stops at the Carpathian line, and beyond it, the Slavic-Orthodox one begins) starts from ignoring some actual facts. Only Russia, Bulgaria, and Serbia are Slavic-Orthodox. Greeks and Romanians are not Slavs. There is – it is true – a Slavic background among the Romanians, too, which it would be absurd to deny. Whoever denies it is just as passion-driven as the ones who at some point held that we were entirely Slavic. The Romanian people has some interesting “precedents”: the Cumans, the Pechenegs, the Slavs – in addition to its Latin background and perhaps, the Greek-Latin one, too.
Due to some sound problems, subtitles haven’t been added to Part 2, but they will be, soon. Many, many thanks to my friend Rodrigo, from Brazil, for his invaluable help in uploading this on the internet.
What I mean by that is that type of suffocating love, where one “takes possession” of one’s fellowman, and which starts to “model” everyone else according to oneself. I think that we have all done such things: for instance, parents who love their children to the point where children, when they grow up, they don’t know how to escape from their parents’ tyranny – which isn’t true tyranny, but which can be perceived as such in the other one’s heart. Therefore, one first misunderstanding, one first “hazard” of love is that of us acting like people who actually know what real love is about and who therefore think they can – or even must – impose it to others.
Love – says Apostle Paul – bears all things, believes all things, forgives all things. Loves does not get puffed up, seeks not her own, does not vaunt itself; love never fails. So in order for us not to get lost in our own deformed understanding of love, the Apostle lists the signs of true love: that is, to be near the other one as if you were not. Love does not seek her own. Every time we love, we restrain the other one’s space.
That kind of love never bears fruit. But humility has always convinced one. It has even convinced tyrants, many times.
(A fragment from a lecture by Hieromonk Savatie Baştovoi – “On the Hazards of Love”. Arad, Romania, Dec. 13, 2007)
Another case – which was just as frightful – involved a man who was ill and whom we had hosted at our monastery for three days, to attend the Holy Oil service. His wife had told us about some heavy sins that he had done in his life. For three days, we asked him to confess to whatever confessor he wanted – since we had several of them -, gently and patiently explaining to him that God had left us the power to forgive sins through confession. Yet he would not hear about any of that.
On the third day, at night, while we were at the Holy Oil service, he started to howl, literally, all of a sudden, saying that these frightful dark creatures were coming to take him away and that he could see his own sins on them. Extremely terrified, he asked us to confess him right away (now he had become wise). So everyone else left the room where we were and in between shrill moanings, all he could say was: “…I have done… I have done…” and he died in my arms.
I said the forgiveness words more out of a feeling of pity for him, since it had been his last wish – but he was dead. This account was told and retold throughout that region for many years afterwards.
Now THAT is what doubt does – that guilty lack of faith and self-deception which makes one believe that upon one’s death, there will be no demons and no angels coming for your poor soul. What a source of anguish and fear during one’s last minutes on earth, at a time when peace is so necessary! And what things man does not expose himself to, if death takes him by surprise!
Excerpt from “Iată duhovnicul – părintele Arsenie Papacioc” (“Ecce the Confessor – Fr. Arsenie Papacioc“) – volume 2
A brother went to Abba Pimen once and told him:
– Abba, I have many thoughts and put myself in peril because of them.
The elder took him outside and told him:
– Stretch out your arm and keep the wind away.
The brother said:
– I cannot do that.
The elder told him:
– If you cannot do that, neither will you be able to stop thoughts from coming into your mind. But standing strong before them is another thing.