“Now, more than ever, we need to understand each other and all that is happening. This is no time to sit in judgment. I wish for mercy, not sacrifice, we hear in the Gospel; and it is mercy that I ask of you…” (Fr. Dimitri Dudko in a letter to his spiritual children)
"Concern is growing about the health of an Orthodox priest in prison in Romania.
"Fr. Gbeorge Calciu, aged 5l, was aentenced to 10 years in prison last March on unspecified charges. He is now reported to be close to death.
"His wife, Adriana, has told Swedish Mission contacts that he is practically blind, seemed to be drugged, and could hardly recognize her. His daily ration is two ounces of bread and even this is denied him during Christian festivals.
"When she saw him, he weighed about 120 pounds. He wears only a shirt and trousers .in an unheated subterranean cell and is only allowed to lie down between 11 PM and 5 AM. He has been periodically subject to interrogation and torture but apparently has not yet 'confessed'.
"He is regarded as a potential focus for Orthodox who seek a less subservient Church and as a fearless spokesman for human rights..." ('.'Christian Herald", 1/16/1981)
According to the latest report from SSRC, Fr. Gheorghe has been moved under secret police surveillance to a prison in Bucharest. It is possible that this could mean they are preparing to exile him in anticipation of the next Helsinki Review Conference scheduled to be held in Bucharest in 1983.
Fr. Gheorghe gave a series of Lenten sermons in 1979 which marked the beginning of this latest period of difficulties. These have been translated and are available from SSRC.
Pray that God would grant Fr. Gheorghe speedy deliverance and the restoration of his health, that he might continue to be an inspiration both for Roumanian Orthodox believers and for us here in the West--a candle which should not be hid but set upon a candlestand.
"As a result of the persecutions in the Soviet Union, the Orthodox Faith has survived and buried itself deeply in the hearts of men. Far from the prying eyes and probing of the KGB, it awaits the time when it can freely bear fruit in the open...
"The Russians have a saying which, loosely translated, means, "the well-fed man cannot understand what the hungry man is trying to tell him." This certainly describes life in the United States. Well-fed people simply cannot comprehend the lesson of the Soviet experience in Russia. At best, some westerners have reacted on a very superficial level, giving the impression that suffering Russia was being heard. One such moment was during the time that Alexander Solzhenitsyn was so popular in intellectual circles in the West. But that moment has now passed and we see that the West has not been able to understand that dreadful human experience which is the every-day life of all those living in the Soviet Union today and for the last 60some years."
(From a lecture delivered by Fr. Vladimir Derugin, Holy Protection Church, Palo Alto, Ca.)
The image that Fr. Dimitri Dudko has given of a suffering Russia on Golgotha should be close to us during this time of Lent. As we try to enter into the spirit of the fast, perhaps we can be more sensitive to the cries of our Orthodox brethren on Golgotha, whose sufferings we have yet to experience--or even to understand.
With the Cross before us, let us reflect upon the agonizing words of our Saviour, ',My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?" is this not also the cry of Christians who are led by psychological torture to feel forsaken by both God and man? Not only do they experience physical torture like the early Christian mar t yr s, they must also endure tremendous psychological pressure, often combined with drugs, by which the atheists try to extract 'confessions' and turn them into passive citizens.
As free Christians here in the West, what should our attitude be towards these tormented souls? Shall we sit in judgment upon those being crucified on Golgotha, or shall we hear their cry for mercy? Now, more than ever before, they need our encouragement and support.
The radiant feast of Pascha is approaching, a time for "mercy, not sacrifice", when the Church enjoins us to "embrace one another...and in the Resurrection let us forgive everything..." Now is the time to send Pascha greetings with Christian love to prisoners and their families.
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