My beloved, you ought to never despair, because in the worst circumstances of your life, the Lord will stretch out His hand to deliver you. I could speak to you of hundreds of instances in my life when everything seemed lost on the horizon, when I saw no hope for me, yet at that very moment God opened a door…. Countless times in my life, especially when I was imprisoned [in the gulag-tr. note], God delivered me form sin and from this world.
I remember when I was appointed professor at the theological seminary. It was during the summer time and in the fall, the Patriarch Justinian came to me at the seminary and said:
“Prepare yourself for the priesthood!”
I did not have enough theological training at the time, as I completed only the college training, not yet the Seminary, so I had some knowledge but I wasn’t too confident! When I reflected on how Saint John Chrysostom fled when he was to be ordained a priest, and on St. Gregory [the Theologian], who also wrote of his experience, I too feared! If these saints fled from the priesthood as been a great responsibility, who was I not too? Then the patriarch came to me the second time that fall and said:
“Thursday you’ll be made deacon!”
As that following Thursday was dedicated to the seminary; and I was troubled again, especially when he added:
”And on Sunday, you’ll be ordained priest.”
And it was so. I tried to pray…. but he said: “You’re ready.”
And I was ordained a priest.
Many [terrible] things have happened in life, which can trouble many people. But God freed me from all as if my guardian angel would have pulled me by the neck and deliver me from everything; from great spiritual temptations while imprisoned, threats, etc. They all passed over me like a cloud, which God drove away. And even though I was in prison with no hope to be freed, God delivered me from this also.
When I go to visit my village and meet with my fellow primary-school mates, there are only two or three left [alive], and they have not lived the gulag experience, and from my fellow high school colleagues, there are only ten left.
All these things that God works with us, we ought to see. We must see the hand of the Lord over us in all circumstances. Let’s not be carried away by temptations that we’re strong, or wealthy, or smart, or that we can accomplish much…
My brother, let’s not give into any temptation, but we ought to always say: “God willing it will do this and that” … And it [His] will be done. Do not imagine that chance, luck or fate governs your life, as our life is in the hands of God. Let us remember what our Savior said:
“Not even one hair from your head will perish without My knowledge.”
(Excerpt from: Father George Calciu’ Living Words: “To serve Christ means suffering”, translations by EC).
On the parable of the talents
“He gave to every man according to his strength”, says the Gospel.
To some, He gave five talents. I assume this is the sum of qualities that God granted to some of us according to our human strengths.
He gave to some two talents, and to others He gave one talent. So everyone received something. There’s not one man in this world, who has not received something from God. No matter how much we like to complain or think that we have no grace or gift from God, yet we were granted something.And a talent doesn’t mean only one gift, for a talent was a coin of great value. Certainly, some have received a little more, and others less. But everyone has received enough for himself.
What does mean to multiply the talents?
In this parable we are told, “to invest them as to acquire interest”. This means to use your gifts for the purposes that God had entrusted you. Every one of us live in a society, is part of a community or a church. All of us strive to do something for the church, for the community and for our fellow man. How we labor with the gifts that God has entrusted us, can gain us double.
Yet, there are some who say: “God gave me a gift, what am I to do with it? I’ll keep it and return it to Him at the last judgment, for what belongs to Him is His. “
These are the people who live in neutrality. In our Christian understanding, the evil in itself did not exist, only the good. When the good is absent, evil is born taking the place of good. So no one can say: “I do not care whether I do good as long as I do not harm anyone. I do not care for my neighbor’ warfare for I do not ask him for help.”
To not do good means to partake of evil, for where goodness is missing, evil takes the lead.
If you do not care that your neighbor is ill, you’re doing the will of Satan. When you do not care that your neighbor lives in poverty and perhaps a little help from you can get him out of his misery, you have committed evil. In the battle between good and evil, salvation or perdition, there is no neutral zone, for we’re all created by God and He is asking us to be His laborers.
Christianity is the religion of active works. Jesus Christ was active. He came into the world wanting to save us all. He did everything that was need: He cared for the spirit but also for the flesh. He healed the sick, gave sight to the blind, cleansed the lepers, raised the dead, raised from the bed of suffering the sinner and the paralyzed. He conversed with the sinful women and with the publican. He called all to salvation. This means there is not one man in this world whom He gave no talent or who is not called to salvation. If one will not be saved, is because he did not want to be saved.
Everyone is called to serve the church, to serve God. Each one of you received one talent and God is asking you to use it. Multiply it by good deeds for your spiritual growth and for your salvation. Win the love of Him Who came into the world and was crucified for us.
So I ask all of you to contribute to the work of the Church by your good deeds, by your words and by your prayers. Preach the word of God outside the Church, oppose the sects that seek to dismantle the true Church of Christ, have love for one other, and live in unity.
Lets put off the quarrels! Lets put off the hatred! Lets renounce criticism!
Each one of us can be honored but also can be subject to condemnation. Lets seek neither praise nor criticism, but (seek) to serve Christ in a complete unity, as St. Paul says, “The Church is the Mystical Body of Christ. The Head of the Church is Christ and we are its members. If one member suffers, the entire body will suffer. If one member rejoices, the whole Church will rejoice”.
This is your talent. These are the five talents we received from our Saviour and we need to multiply them. The Church belongs to you all, it is not solely the priest’ work, and I ask you to sacrifice for the Church, to bear fruit, to use the talent that God has giving you that the church may grow and become to the world that Holy Church where God dwells, and where all can be saved. Amen!