Child-bearing Helps Mother Defeat Cancer and TB

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

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St. Ignatius and Pig Slaughter

St. Ignatius the Theophorus (“the God Bearer”) is celebrated on December 20. He is believed to have been the infant that Christ took in His arms and given as an example of humility to His Apostles (Matthew 18, 2:4). The name “God Bearer” comes from his testimony in one of his epistles, where he says that he “bears Christ in his heart”. Tradition says that Ignatius was Bishop of Antioch, the third in succession to the bishop’s see, the first one having been the Holy Apostle Peter, and the second one, Evodius, according to testimonies by Eusebius, Origen, and Jerome.

Because he did not want to renounce his faith in Christ, he was thrown into the arena and was torn to death by lions, around 110, during Trajan’s reign (98-117). Parts of his relics are found in the Bishopric in Galati, at the Darvari Skete in Bucharest, and at Tismana Monastery (all in Romania).

Unfortunately, what everyone retains today is solely the pig slaughtering. I don’t know what the origin of that custom is. Some researchers say that this ritual of pig stabbing wasn’t done for the purpose of feeding one’s family, since it reminded of the sacrifices to the gods, who would be “born” and would “die” again during the periods of renewal of the calendar. Which is why on Ignatius’ day, each member of the family would be marked with a cross out of the pig’s blood and it was said that it was good to see blood on that day… Continue reading

On the Beginners’ Spiritual Shortcomings

Propensity for Haughtiness

They are more readily inclined to give lessons, rather than to receive them. They condemn within their heart those who do not understand faith as they do and they manifest that condemnation – at first, secretly held in their hearts – through their words – and that is when you feel like you hear the Pharisee who thought he was worshipping God when he was vaunting himself for his own deeds, while despising the tax-payer. That sort of attitude is to please the devil. All of these things drive one’s soul to pride and haughtiness. They are of no use whatsoever to the beginners (on the contrary, they change whatever else they have good in them, into sins), as they cease bearing with one another and if anyone comes up to belittle their fellowman, that pleases them. They will see the straw in their brother’s eye yet will fail to notice the beam in their own eye; they will make a big deal out of the other’s minor deeds and will efface their own – greater – faults.

They don’t like confessor Fathers who do not praise them for their actions and don’t appreciate their good behaviour – because such spiritual sons’ sole pursuit is to be praised and commended in everything they do. Continue reading

About Love

Excerpt from an interview with Hieromonk Savatie Baştovoi

I would also like to ask you, whilst remaining in the area of our discussion so far: what were those existential experiences that made you become a monk?

– Usually, people who have gone through atheism expect or think that one must have had some sentimental breakdown prior to going into monasticism as well as before any common conversion to Christianity. The reality is different. Usually, one assumes that he or she has had some disappointments [in love]. I have recently received a letter from a friend of mine, a poet who lives in Iaşi and with whom I used to go to the same literary club, who wrote to me: “You know, I, too, read the Holy Fathers, I like their writings; I go to church. I have also thought many times about taking the step you have – but you see, I still believe in love”. And I could not help smiling there, because… I believe in love, too; don’t I? And I believe even in the love between a man and a woman. But I have come to understand that the difference between the love poems I used to write – albeit very sincerely – and true love is like the difference between the dead Lazarus and the resurrected Lazarus. Continue reading

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: 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/

Afraid of Freedom

We are afraid of losing our pitiful psychological and physical comfort, hanging on to the sufferance we keep complaining about, which, if it weren’t for God’s mercy, would change into that “gnashing of teeth” that we would be left with after having rejected His gift until the end.

We are afraid of losing what we have and what we seem to be, by refusing to believe that it is precisely these riches and views that separate us from the Joy to which we are called…

Yet what a miracle that God has put pain inside us, which keeps calling out to us, is always there on our Way, and does not allow us to miss out on our becoming!

Mother Siluana

Source: http://maicasiluana.blogspot.com/2011/05/tocmai-aceste-averi-si-pareri-ne.html

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