Word Magazine April 1983 Page 5-8
CHRIST IS CALLING YOU!
Sermons to young people by Father George Calciu-Dumitreasa. Given at the Chapel of the
Romanian Orthodox Church Seminary, Bucharest
Translation by Keston College, Kent, England
The former treatise have I made, O Theophilus, of all that Jesus began both to do and teach.
THE TIME HAS COME, young man, for you to hear a voice which has been calling you. It is a voice you have never heard before, or perhaps, one you have heard but which you have never understood or obeyed. It is the voice of Jesus! Don’t be shocked; don’t be amazed, and don’t smile incredulously, my young friend! The voice which calls you is not that of a dead man, but of One Who has risen from the dead. He does not shout after you from history, but from out of the depths of your own inner being. The words written and read from the New Testament today issue out of depths within you, yet unknown to you. Perhaps you have been ashamed or afraid to delve inside yourself and discover them. You believed that within you lay a wild beast, a sepulchre of instincts from which there would rise enchanting spirits. You did not see the face of an angel, and yet you are an angel. If this has never been told you before, Jesus is telling you now, and His testimony is true, for no one has ever caught Him in a lie.
What do you know about Christ? If all you know is what they taught you in atheism classes, you have been deprived in bad faith of a great truth — a truth which can set you free.
What do you know of the Church of Christ? If all you know can be reduced to the concepts of Giordano Bruno which were faithfully taught you in classes of so-called scientific atheism, then you have been despitefully thwarted from experiencing the light of true culture and the brilliance of spirituality which assures human freedom. In your classes did you ever hear these words: “Love your enemies, bless those who curse you, and pray for those who despitefully use you and persecute you”?
If you have never heard these words, my friend, who hindered you, and by what right? Who prohibited you from knowing that there exists a better way, juster and simpler than that on which you now wander blindly? Who has pulled the veil over your eyes so that you would not see the most wonderful light of the love of Jesus, proclaimed and lived out unto the final end?
Friend, I have seen you on the street, young, handsome. All of a sudden you change, your face becomes distorted, your instincts break loose as though under a spell and ravish your being in violence. Where did you learn such violence, young people? From whom? 1 have seen your mother meek and tearful and your father with his face stunned by pain. And I realize that you did not learn it from them. Then from where?
Lift up your ears and listen to the call of Jesus, the call of His Church. Outside of her, your unflinching violence will lead you to judgment and imprisonment, where your soul will be irrevocably destroyed. I have seen you in pain before the magistrates, where your actions have assumed horrific dimensions. I have seen you afraid, cynical, and full of bravado; and all these attitudes show me how near you are to the edge of destruction. And I ask myself once more: who bears the guilt for your fall?
Come to the Church of Christ! Only here will you find consolation for your ravished soul. Only in the Church will you find certainty, because only in the Church will you hear the voice of Jesus saying meekly to you: “Son, all your sins are forgiven. You have suffered much. Behold, I have made you whole; go and sin no more.”
No man has ever said such words as these to you. Yet you hear them now. Rather, you have heard of class hatred, political hatred — always hatred. ‘Love’ is a strange word to you, but now the Church of Christ shows the better way, the way of love. Up until this moment you were a slave of your instincts; your body was a simple instrument through which your instincts expressed themselves. But now you heard the words of Jesus, through His Apostle, pleading with you: Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?
(1 Cor. 3:15).
You have been told that you descend from the apes, that you are a beast which must be trained; but discover another fact — the wonder that you are the temple of God; in you the Spirit of God dwells. You are called back to your dignity as a metaphysical being; you are raised up from the low place to which false education has sunk you, and you assume the sacred office of being the temple in which God dwells.
We call you to purity. If you have not forgotten the meaning of the word “innocence”, if there is still an area within you of unaffected childhood, you will not resist this call. Come to the Church of Christ! And understand what innocence and purity mean, what meekness and love are. You will learn your place in life and the purpose of your existence. To your astonishment you will discover that our life does not end in death, but in resurrection; that our existence centers on Christ, and that this world is not a mere empty moment in which non-being prevails. You will receive hope. And your hope will make you strong. You will receive faith, and your faith will save you. You will receive love, and your love will make you good.
My friends, these are the first words which Jesus addresses to you in the midst of the turmoil of this world and the agitation of your passions. No man has taught you to fight your instincts, but Jesus calls you from out of the transparent dreams of innocence which still haunt you from time to time.
Jesus is seeking you; Jesus has found you!!
And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build My Church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. Matt. 16:18
YOU REMEMBER, young person, how I told you last time that a new voice is calling and that this is the voice of Jesus? But from where and to what does He call you? What alluring promise to assuage your thirst for knowledge and truth does the Saviour make? The voice of Jesus calls you to His Church.
You live within a family, within a society, within a world. You are bound to your family by the unbreakable bond of blood, which you cannot reject and which seeks vengeance, if ever you betray it, through your suffering. You live in the midst of a people with which you feel to be one metaphysical entity — not a group of isolated individuals, but one immense and united soul in which you are the whole and in which the whole lives through you. And finally you exist in a world of suffering and joys to which you respond because something in you unites and binds you inextricably to all your fellow human beings.
Where then is the Church of Christ to which you are called? She is everywhere. She holds within her all human life, and more, she contains all heavenly beings too. For the Church knows no history; her history is the spiritual present. Family and society bear within them the tragic fate of their own limitations through the circumscription of history. History is, by definition, the chronology of unhappiness, yet the road to salvation. But you, my young friend, are called to the Church of Christ which was conceived in God’s eternity and which bears within her perfection, just as the world bears within her her own limited nature. Society considers you as a simple constituting element, one brick lined up alongside other bricks. Your freedom is to function as a brick fixed once, for all time. Your freedom in society is the freedom of constraint and in this lies your drama. For your true freedom lies within you, but you do not know how to discover it in its true meaning, nor how to use it if you could discover it. You have been told that you are not free, that your freedom is the understanding of necessity and that necessity is imposed upon you from the outside by a foreign element. You are just like a lifeless construction.
In contrast, the Church of Christ is alive and free. In her we move and have our being, through Christ Who is her head. In Him we have full freedom. In the Church we learn of truth and the truth will set us free (John 8:32). You are in Christ’s Church whenever you uplift someone bent down in sorrow, or when you give alms to the poor and visit the sick. You are in Christ’s Church when you cry out: “Lord, help me”. You are in Christ’s Church when you are good and patient, when you refuse to get angry at your brother, even if he has wounded your feelings. You are in Christ’s Church when you pray: “Lord, forgive him”. When you work honestly at your job, returning home weary in the evenings but with a smile upon your lips, when you repay evil with love —you are in Christ’s Church.
Do you not see, therefore, young friend, how close the Church of Christ is? You are Peter and God is building His Church upon you. You are the rock of His Church against which nothing can prevail. You are a liberated rock, a soul that is fulfilled within His Church, and not one condemned to stagnation. Let us build churches with our faith. Churches which no human power can pull down. A church whose foundation is Christ. Let us build churches in our enlightened hearts where there shines the bright Sun of Righteousness, Who is Christ Himself, He Who has told us that by faith we are free from sin.
Feel for your brother alongside you. Never ask: “Who is he?”. Rather say: “He is no stranger; he is my brother, He is the Church of Christ just as I am”.
Friend, you look behind you and you tremble with fear. But look ahead; rejoice. History is a series of ossified events in which from time to time living testimonies of princely faith have been raised, now embodied in churches and monasteries. These are treasures of the Romanian, Christian soul. They are the spirit which gives life to our national identity. All which falls outside this spirituality is destined to perish. Mountains have been leveled, forests burnt down, and people have died, but churches have remained alive and monasteries continue as censers offering a continuous smoke of prayer to heaven. If we destroy the churches which express the national identity, we cannot affirm the continuity of a Romanian spirituality, nor can we sustain that we have preserved unaltered the tradition and soul of Romania. There are no references to Romanian princes destroying the foundation of churches, or of Michael the Brave ordering the disappearance overnight of an Enea Church. * No. Nor can any scientific atheism or scientific argument stop you, dear friend, from inquiring about the meaning of life, and about God and
This search is the proof of your freedom in the face of any constraint, and in the face of matter. It is your road to the Church, the gate through which you will enter into her. Do not waver on the doorstep, friend. Come in! How long will you stand in the shadows of the Church without knowing her? How many years will you hear the voice of Jesus saying to you: “He who comes unto Me, I will not cast out?”
The world will throw you on one side. It oppresses you and alienates you. Jesus wants to receive you, comfort you and return you back to yourself. Come and build churches with us. Let us reconstruct in our own souls an Enea Church, princely, Christ-centered, alive and immortal, until we see in truth a steadfast witness to our Christian faith and to our national identity raised up again on her site.
Without church or monasteries we are aliens. Whoever destroys churches, destroys the substance of our material and spiritual endurance on this land given to us by God. Young man, you are no longer alone; you belong to Christ’s Church.
We, according to His promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness. II Peter 3:13
YOUNG MAN, I am speaking with you again today because I have chosen you from all those to whom I could be speaking, for you are most ready to hear the Word of Christ. You are noble and pure. Atheist education has not yet managed to darken heaven within you. You still look upward, you still can hear calls from exalted places. There is no grounding the soaring of your spirit towards the heavenly spheres through the propagation of arbitrary concepts. The desire for heaven still exists within you. Materialism has not made you its prisoner.
Thus I call you seven times, young man. Seven are the praises of the day toward God, according to the Psalmist: Seven times a day have I praised Thee for the judgments of Thy righteousness (Ps. 118:164).
Today we will speak of heaven and earth. I will not frighten you with colorful descriptions of the end of the world. We stand before death daily. Its presence is more suffocating than life itself. For it is more real than life. Death is our nightmare by day and by night. You live with death by your side, friend, and yet you have not grown accustomed to its presence because you are alive and authentic — more alive and real than you think.
Heaven and earth — the concepts remind me of a poem I once heard recited by the poet himself on the television. He held his right arm up as he spoke. His face was a picture of forced inspiration and his voice recited in a monotone. He was trying to induce some kind of trance among his hearers that they might imitate him. Each verse was supported by a chorus of children chanting an artificial litany spontaneously prescribed: “Can you count us, heaven, one, two. . . three. . .“ and so forth up to ten. It was a curse, a defiance, thrown up at heaven. The poem was essentially saying that heaven might be able to count the poet and his companions one, two, three. . . — good and well, but it could not overcome them. That was the gist of it. He was an atheist poet; suited for the materialists.
But to which heaven did he address himself? Was it to the regions made up of the successive strata of the atmosphere? If so, his monologue was senseless. The poet was obviously addressing someone who could hear and even count, at least that is what one surmises from the conviction with which he spoke. How strange!
For it was not a matter of inventing a trivial personification for the sake of the poem’s rhythm, but the poet himself actually believed in the depth of his being that his appeal or invocation was being heard and that it was an act of heroism. He addressed the metaphysical heaven which tortures him, diminishes him and denies his affirmation. It is this heaven I want to talk to you about, my friend.
In the beginning God made the heaven and the earth (Genesis 1:1). He created a heaven and an earth, an imminent and a transcendent, a given material and an aspiration after perfection, a temporal space and a spaceless, timeless existence. From the moment of creation to the present we keep within ourselves the nostalgic memory of our integration with God’s heaven. We have never forgotten that there is a place in heaven to which we, or rather heaven within us, aspire.
Tell me, young man, how much have you believed the statements which you have heard repeatedly to the point of obsession, at school, on the radio, on television, in the newspapers and at young people’s meetings — that say that you descend from monkeys? And how honored this revelation has made you feel! Noam Chomsky has said that the most stupid human beings can learn to speak, but the most intelligent monkey has never reached such a height of achievement.
You are heaven and earth; darkness and light; sin and grace. I know, friend, that you are tortured by questions concerning the meaning of your life in this world, and on the purpose of the world in general. Do the ready-made authoritarian statements in answer to your limited question satisfy you: namely that heaven is a fiction and matter is everything? “It is matter speaking to you through your internal and external senses.” Matter organized its own structure and evolution by certain laws of great complexity before even the slightest rudiment of the human brain was formed. Thus once the higher brain of man appeared — the only method for matter to recognize itself — it could not recognize itself any longer. And from that time until now human intelligence has been struggling in a sterile and vain effort to discover laws which heed matter fixed in a period when there was nothing but darkness and non-consciousness!
What do you think of this joke of non-intelligence which stuns all human intelligence, even that of the collective? Do you not see that the most elementary logic obliges you to admit the presence of an intelligence outside of this world?
But I call you to a much higher flight; to total abandonment; to an act of courage which defies reason. I call you to God. To the One that transcends the world so that you might know an infinite heaven of spiritual joy, the heaven which you presently grope for in your personal hell, and which you seek even whilst in a state of non-deliberate revolt.
This heaven with its divine hierarchy and its divine light gradually descending only to return to its source which is God, does not count us in twos or fives or tens. For my friend, you are not a piece in a machine which drives you round; in the eyes of heaven you are a soul, a whole being, so free in your actions, so priceless in your worth, that God Himself, in the guise of the Second Person of the Trinity, came into the world to be crucified for you.
How ridiculous to you the poet’s curse seems. He believed so much in heaven that he needed to have a chorus of children to hide behind as a shield! Do not believe in the all-powerful nature of matter. This earth is finite. We can destroy matter in minutes through fission and achieve oblivion if we do not recognize the presence of God. The absolute claims of materialism are supported on a limited premise. You will see that the attributes of matter are purely spiritual notions — such as infinity, eternity and self-creation.
To deny the existence of heaven is to deny all existence which does not fall into the orbit of my feelings. It means that I admit that for those moments when I close my eyes or block my ears, the world becomes nonexistent.
And now I want to recite to you the most beautiful poem ever written about heaven and earth: In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by Him, and without Him was not anything made that was made. In Him was life; and the life was the light of men. And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not. (John 1:1-5).
How can darkness confine light, or matter confine the spirit, or atheism destroy faith and constrain freedom? The heavens number you one by one; for each of you is a unique irrepeatable creation: man.
*A church destroyed by the Romanian Communist government.
Father George is a prisoner for his faith in Romania — see the December, 1982 issue of The WORD, page 20.