Father George Calciu was a saintly Romanian priest who was tortured in Romania’s worst communist prison, Pitesti. He was eventually released and sought asylum in the United States where he gained an understanding of America’s declining spiritual condition. The quotes below are excerpted from the book Father George Calciu— Interviews, Homilies, and Talks.
The blasphemy of secularism
Fr. Roman also told me that one of the things guards said to torture them was that the Lord Jesus had had an affair with St. Mary Magdalene. He commented to me that, in Communist prison, this constituted torture; in America, people will pay money to read it in a book, like The Da Vinci Code, or watch it in a movie.
Perhaps yesterday, when Communism tried to wretch any faith from your heart and to form you into a mere cog in the gears of the social machinery, you, out of a spirit of youthful revolt had more of Christ in your soul than you have today.
Today you are attacked from all sides with the sound of the rhythmic drumming of all the anti-Christian organizations, which wish to create an amorphous mass out of the world’s nations, easily led to their intended destination. So it happens in the political world—a few individuals are anointed in secret and installed to govern all people from positions of international power. They determine which nations have the right to bear children and which must abort them; they substitute themselves for God and sketch the destiny of nations according to their pleasures or interests. Whoever does not submit shall perish.
How to confess the faith?
I had learned from experience that people are changed only by the fire of your faith, by the dedication in your attitude to them and to God, because this is the most powerful proof.
Tell those who until now have oppressed your divine soul: “I believe in the Resurrection,” and you will see them coil in fear, for your faith has overcome them.
Stop engaging with the devil
To the devil’s [first two] temptations, Jesus Christ merely answered with a quotation from the Old Testament, but this [third] time he rebuked the devil. He said, Get thee behind Me, Satan (Luke 4:8). This signifies that we shouldn’t argue with the devil, because he is cleverer than we are. He is entirely spirit. In an argument with the devil, using rational arguments, we would be vanquished every time by the devil. Our attitude toward the devil, when he tries to tempt us through our egotistical mind—our desire to be great in this world—is to say, “Go back, Satan, leave me alone.”
You probably have experienced the devil’s temptations during prayer. When you start to pray, hundreds of thoughts start to go around in your mind—all kinds of things, all kinds of remembrances, all kinds of imaginings—because the devil is attacking you. He doesn’t like anyone praying.
…at the time of prayer satanic assaults are innumerable—thoughts besiege you, memories abduct your mind from prayer, past anger [i.e., remembrance of wrongs] becomes very present. All of a sudden, some unimportant matters—for example, “What time is it?” or, “Is it raining outside or is the sun shining?”—become very important, and the evil spirit drives you to interrupt your prayer “just for a moment” in order to look at the clock or the weather or some other unimportant thing.
You’re easier to destroy while isolated
I was very good friends with this young man and they knew that. So, after beating me and torturing him, they forced him to torture me and me to torture him—to destroy any connection between us, to isolate us. This is the tactic of the devil—to isolate everyone. God intended man to be in a spiritual community of prayer. Therefore, they isolated everybody; they made everyone to be alone. We can be one in Jesus Christ, but this was oneness in the devil. Everyone was completely isolated; no one believed in anyone; no one trusted anyone.
Spiritual happiness in prison
It is impossible for people outside of prison to understand. We were freed and we were very happy to be free, but we had a kind of nostalgia about the prison. And we could not explain it to others. They said we were crazy. How could you miss prison? Because in prison we had the most spiritual life. We reached levels that we are not able to reach in this world. Isolated, anchored in Jesus Christ, we had joys and illuminations that this world cannot offer us. There are no words to express exactly the feeling one had there. Those who have not had our spiritual experience cannot understand that we could be happy in prison. Many times were not happy at all, but there were moment of happiness there. When I took care of Constantine Oprisan in the cell, I was very happy. I was very happy because I felt him spirituality penetrating my soul. I learned from him to be good, to forgive, not to curse your torturer, not to consider anything of this world to be a treasure for you. In fact, he was living on another level. Only his body was with us—and his love. Can you imagine: we were in a cell without windows, without air, humid, filthy—yet we had moments of happiness that we never reached in freedom. I cannot explain it.
Falsehoods require force
Ideas are preserved through their truth. An idea which is maintained through force and violence is deeply undermined by the falsehood within it.
This book offers yet another confirmation of the happiness one can find in prison thanks to the forced detachment from passions and worldly attachments. While the teachings in this book don’t go as deep as I would’ve liked, and contain a fair amount of repetition, Father George shares a simple but powerful faith that can be used in times of persecution.
Learn More: Father George Calciu on Amazon