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.

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– 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: http://www.razbointrucuvant.ro/2011/08/04/parintele-arsenie-papacioc-si-parintele-cleopa-cand-se-intalnesc-batranii-sfinti-si-se-bucura-ingereste-unul-de-altul-maica-domnului-cum-de-l-ai-adus-aici/

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.

Amen.

Fr. Arsenie Papacioc

 

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. Continue reading

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. Continue reading

Confessing upon One’s Deathbed

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

What’s It Like in Hell?

Fr. Arsenie Papacioc

Well, my dear ones, they say that they showed the torments of Hell to this fellow, once. And when he was taken there, he saw this man who was ankle-deep in a pond of fire and was crying out terribly. And our man asked him: “Why do you cry out so?” And that one answered: “Because I’m in this pond forever!” He walked on… then he came across a man who was standing in a pond of fire up to his neck. Yet this one was rejoicing every now and then. He told our man: “I’m in fire much deeper than others, but I am glad to see that yet another member in my family has become a priest, and in 40 years’ time, they will take me out of here.”

You see? Psychologically speaking, those 40 years were just a limited time to him, not an eternity. That man was happy, because he had hope.

My dear brothers and sisters, upon the Last Judgement, we will be asked: “Why didn’t you love?” We will be judged because we have hated, because we have badmouthed, because we have killed.

So why don’t you fight [to be good]? Why don’t you want to ask for the Lord’s Grace? When you’re faced with all sorts of temptations, just call out to Christ: “Lord, Jesus Christ, Lord, Jesus Christ!” Don’t just live in a state of inertia, live out every moment of your lives! It’s difficult, but God will understand – He wants to help you. He’s following our every move because He loves us.

Let us love each other!

You Don’t Have What You Have – You Have What You Give

Interview with Fr. Arsenie Papacioc

There is a comment in the Scripture that says: ‘there is no greater sign of love than someone putting his life on line for his friend’s sake’.

– That’s right. Because we are not created only for ourselves. You must understand this passage from the Scripture by all means: we do not come into this world only for ourselves, but for the entire Creation! That’s why I keep telling you that we are responsible for everything there is in the whole of Creation. We are born into this world for our fellowman’s sake, too. The more you live this life for the other one – whether he is a beggar or a needy person, etc –, the better. Give him something. Ok, sometimes you may not have anything in your pocket for him, but at least, don’t ignore him. For it was God Who arranged it so that you saw him. That was done to help you save your own soul.

Continue reading