I confess I do not read near as much as I once did. Writing takes time – and is a way of slowly digesting a lot of years of reading – and, I hope, to some benefit. Today, however, I came across an article of Frederica Mathewes-Green, written last June, that was deeply moving. I was looking for material on Fr. Roman Braga, the Romanian priest who is a survivor of the Communist prisons. Khouria Frederica offers an article that includes some interview material with Fr. Roman, as well as reflections of her own spiritual father, Fr. George Calciu, who reposed last November. He was a survivor of the prisons as well. It is a well-written piece (as always) with deeply moving insight of these modern-day confessors. The entire article may be read here. I heartily commend it to you.
As Dormition Monastery, where Fr. Roman is the spiritual father, is the closest monastery to my city (with mostly English services), I’ve had the honor of listening to Fr. Roman speak several times (our women’s group retreats). The last time I was there was several years ago, but I watched, fascinated, as Fr. Roman was transformed during the Divine Liturgy. He is ill, and coughs much. But vested, and praying the Akathist to the Sweetest Lord Jesus, as well as the Divine Liturgy, the coughing is gone and he walks easier and freer.
A parishioner and his son recently made retreat there. I was looking for a podcast by Fr. Roman today when I ran across Khouria Frederica’s article. I couldn’t resist posting the link. Our nation has been privileged to have priests such as Fr. Roman and Fr. George among us. Both have been too far away for me to get to know them but others have been greatly touched by their ministries and by an authenticity of Orthodoxy forged in battles none of us would want to undertake.
since you don’t have too much time anymore to read, I thought you might enjoy this visual and listening experience:
Thank you for posting Ms. Mathewes-Green’s thought provoking essay.
(By the way, one of the neat things about being Greek is being able to be named Sophocles)! Thanks for the experience… I note that you live in Henderson. Please give my greetings to Fr. Eric in Las Vegas. A very good man.
I will pass on your greetings. Glad you enjoyed it.
Very sobering. We would like to believe that we would confess Christ until the end—regardless the situation or circumstances, but the reality is we can in no way begin to imagine the pain, suffering, and horrors such people, like Fr. George, went through. And to speak with such boldness about our potential profession of faith during such circumstances only heightens our need for God’s mercy.
I’m reminded of that famous passage in Shusaku Endo’s work, Silence, where Rodriguez, in order to save other people’s lives, must simply renounce his faith by stepping on the face of Jesus. As Rodriguez contemplates those being tortured, Jesus himself calls out to him and breaks the silence:
God have mercy on us all. God have mercy on me, a sinner.
Recently, I had the great honor of producing a documentary about the Pitesti prison experience. This documentary features Fathers Roman Braga and George Calciu. The DVD also includes a one-hour interview with Father Roman. You can find this documentary, “Beyond ” at http://www.visionvideo.com