Două din cele mai recente numere ale prestigioasei reviste din Statele Unite ale Americii The Orthodox Word („Cuvântul Ortodox”), publicată din 1965 de Saint Herman Press, o lucrare publicistică duhovnicească a obştii Mănăstirii Sf. Gherman din Alaska, aflată în Platina, California, au fost dedicate vieţii şi învăţăturilor bunului Părinte Justin Pârvu de la Petru Vodă. Materialul, scris de Simona Irime, a fost publicat într-o prezentare fără precedent, în două numere consecutive ale revistei, consacrate integral reliefării personalităţii marelui duhovnic al Ortodoxiei româneşti, fost deţinut politic anticomunist timp de aproape 16 ani. Fotografia cu Parintele Justin de pe coperta celui de-al doilea număr al revistei The Orthodox Word a fost realizată de Cristina Nichituş Roncea de sărbătoarea Adormirii Maicii Domnului, 15 august 2009, la Mănăstirea Petru Vodă, şi este cuprinsă şi în Albumul de fotografii şi vorbe de duh „Părintele Justin Mărturisitorul„. Publicăm mai jos un extras din concluziile materialului omagial-memorialistic scris de Simona Irime pentru The Orthodox Word, însoţit de fotografii de la acelaşi moment, al slujbei susţinute de Părintele Justin împreună cu un sobor de preoţi, la Adormirea şi Înălţarea Maicii Domnului 2009.
From this day, from this hour,
from this minute, let us strive to love God
above all, and fulfill His holy will.
—St. Herman of Alaska
THE ORTHODOX WORD
For the Mission of True Orthodox Christianity
Established with the blessing of St. John Maximovitch, Archbishop and Wonderworker of Shanghai and San Francisco.
Vol. 49, No. 6 (293) November–December, 2013 ISSN: 0030-5839
Front cover: Archimandrite Justin Pârvu blessing the people. This photograph, as well as those on pages 286 and 287, is courtesy of Cristina Nichituș Roncea, from her book Părintele Justin Mărturisitorul (Father Justin the Confessor) (Bucharest: Mica Valahie, 2013).
A Life of Sacrificial Love
The Life and Teachings of Elder Justin Pârvu
By Simona Irime
PART II (Conclusion)
Continued from The Orthodox Word, no. 292
10. The Exalted Spiritual Academy
The sixteen years of living “hand in hand with death” in prisons and labor camps—such as those in Suceava, Aiud, Sighet, Baia Sprie, Pitesti, Jilava, Periprava, and the Danube-Black Sea Canal—had been for Fr. Justin and many others a unique spiritual academy.
Reflecting on his prison years, Fr. Justin said, “There couldn’t have been a more profitable place for living an authentic monastic life as there. In prison I knew meekness, true humility, and the bodily detachment that can be attained only when you’re aware that there’s no escape. You would daily see your life drawing to an end, and the moment of death…. Prison forced you to learn asceticism, fasting, and prayer, as well as communion with, and love for, your neighbor.”1 There they experienced God’s constant presence in their midst: “God was closer to us in prison than in other situations. We saw His signs and miracles all the time. In prison, prayer seemed to receive a quicker answer. God was
there, with us. God was chased into prison by an institutional society that intended to exist without God.”2
That Fr. Justin greatly benefited from his time in prison can be seen from his own words:
“All that spiritual preparation made me earnestly determine
the rule of my monastic life, so that we [Fr. Justin and his brotherhood]
might be a true light, in union and oneness against the rulers of the
darkness of this world (Eph. 6:12), as the Holy Apostle Paul says.”3
Fr. Justin had been called to be a priest—a father for those cast into the
dark Communist prisons—and the governing regime could not make him
deny his calling. He decided to keep silent and descend into the depths of
humility and suffering for his brothers, especially the ill. He began to hear
their confessions, first of those in his own cell, mostly during the fasting
periods. Then he started to confess the people in other cells using Morse
code, since “everyone knew how to communicate by tapping on the wall.
We couldn’t talk with ease, especially when a conversation would be stirred
up by informers, who would record it and then use it against you.”4
Nothing could stop him from laboring for the salvation of others. Fr.
Justin felt responsible for helping them to transfigure their spiritual lives.
He said that this “became the fundamental joy of my life. Personally I
didn’t feel [physical] pain anymore. I was living according to my own vocation,
and was more joyful than I had been when I was free in the world.
This was also because our spiritual life deepened much more during imprisonment.
Those were extraordinary and unique days of sacrifice and
renunciation. It was painful to see a man dying before your eyes. This was
real suffering…. Those were days of light and joy, and life was abundant in
those moments. The prison was the best place for religious education….
The prisons formed character and taught people ethics.”5
The prisons were true universities of life. They enabled the prisoners to learn a great deal from each other in different disciplines, especially theology. As Fr. Justin recalled,
“We all learned from each other. That was how we kept the flame of life burning,
that was how we stayed alive…. We believed wholeheartedly that it was absolutely
wrong not to resist together, not to fulfill our duty—a sacrificial one.”6
Their youth, zeal, prayer, and love for God and neighbor helped the prisoners survive the dreadful circumstances they found themselves in. In the words of Fr. Justin,
“The [prison] cell was my kellion, in which I was able to conduct my
monastic rule in stillness. In a cell containing five to six people, prayer
went on without ceasing. We recited prayers and Akathists we knew by
heart. We memorized one Gospel in a week, and knew it as well as we
knew the Lord’s Prayer.”7
Since books were totally forbidden in prison, some were smuggled in, hidden in the seams of coats. Reading and learning a few pages or a chapter at a time, while tucking the book under a blanket so the guards would not notice anything during their rounds—which took place every ten minutes—gave the prisoners unspeakable nourishment, strength, patience, steadfastness, and endurance. Thus they knew the New Testament, the Psalter, and even the Philokalia by heart, and were able to remain human, to be truly free, even while behind bars.
Fueled by love and the grace of the Holy Spirit, Fr. Justin would serve the Divine Liturgy on his own chest, or on the chest of the gravely ill, as often as he could. A small piece of bread weighing less than an ounce, which he would tuck into the seams of his coat, was enough to prepare Holy Communion for a hundred people. When necessary, Holy Communion would be either hidden at a latrine or given in secret when someone passed by his cell. The hiding place would be communicated using Morse code. Physical suffering was not an obstacle in his continuous labor for others. As he recalled:
„For some time I had suffered from hepatitis, and I ended up in the
infirmary. I had consumed my last little particle of Holy Communion,
and didn’t have even a single fragment left. Constantin Șerban,
a twenty-eight-year-old man, with a wife and two kids at home, was
in the same cell with us. He was suffering from cirrhosis and was beginning
to decompose. He screamed, moaned, and wept, day in and
day out. He hadn’t received Holy Communion in four years. He was
spiritually burdened. What could I do? I confessed him at night or
early in the morning, between 4 and 5 am, for five minutes at a time.
The guards would check on us through the peephole while making
their rounds, peeking into each cell to see if you were on your knees
or if you were trying to pray over someone.
We were witnessing the degradation of our own bodies, their process
of dying. There was a point when we would become unable to feel
anything, except our spine. There was a deep peace…. Going beyond
this point would make us expect death and prepare for it. Constantly
living this reality and having it always before your eyes was a frightful
thing. You would not be astonished when your colleague in the next
bed didn’t respond to your call. He could have reposed. Many deaths
occurred that quickly.
Due to the advanced level of starvation, our bodies began to swell all
over: our legs, fingers, and head. We wondered why we were becoming so
fat. The doctors among us explained that when a body loses its normal
ability to function, it is unable to eliminate the water retained in its tissues.
If you pressed a spot on your skin with your finger, a hole would
form, and the skin couldn’t recede. This state meant death was a matter
of hours away. We were all very young, twenty-two to thirty-five years
old. When you entered that state there was a chance you would lose your
self-mastery and not know what you were saying or doing.
So, what did I do to commune in time this young man with
cirrhosis? I said to the others, “Boys, we have to ask to be seen by
the doctor. Since we’re so weak, we have the right to get some wine.”
And it was given to us. Then, in a corner, out of sight, I served the
Divine Liturgy alone, with a small piece of bread I had and all the
prayers I knew. This was how I served the Divine Liturgy whenever I
could. Thus, I was able to give Holy Communion to that man, who
died three days later.8
Something similar happened in the infirmary at the Gherla prison, where Fr. Justin served the Liturgy on a dying man’s body. As he recalled:
„I never served a Liturgy—wearing all my vestments and doing
everything according to the Typikon—with more fervent prayer than
I served there, on that body. I finished reading as much as I could from
the Psalms and the prayers, and we communed the more gravely ill
ones, holding a towel to their neck. The most grievously ill man was
all puffed up due to cirrhosis, and died two hours later. The other
three died that week…. While serving, I truly felt the warmth, the
fervor, of the Spirit.
There are many similar cases. People sacrificed themselves even
there. Their sacrificial state surpassed the magnitude of [their own]
suffering. If a sick man in your cell was in agony, living his last
moments, you would give him two or three spoonfuls from your ration
to get him back on his feet. There were healthy and strong men who
would give up their food [as Fr. Justin often did], fasting for two or
three days. Thus they saved other people’s lives…. The prisons taught
us one thing: that we’re one in Christ! It didn’t matter if you were
an intellectual or a simple man.9
Full version at / Integral la The Orthodox Word (293), Editia electronica, care poate fi comandata de aici sau Editia print, care poate fi comandata de aici. Primul numar despre Părintele Justin (292) poate fi comandat de aici.
1 Florin Stuparu, Justin (Bucharest: Scara Press, 2009), pp. 10–11.
2 Graţia Lungu Constantineanu, Părintele Iustin Pârvu, Viața și învățăturile unui
mărturisitor (Fr. Justin Pârvu: The life and teachings of a confessor) (Iași: Ediția a doua,
2007), pp. 117–18.
3 Ibid., pp. 137–38.
4 Ibid., pp. 120–21.
5 Ibid., pp. 12, 128.
6 Ibid., p. 127.
7 Ibid., p. 138.
8 Ibid., pp. 90–91.
9 Ibid., pp. 118-20.
Source/ Sursa: ParinteleJustinParvu.Ro
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