Claudiu has written 102 posts for My Orthodoxy

If God Chooses Whom to Show Mercy to And Whom He Likes, Then What Is Our Role in Our Own Salvation

God does not love certain persons in a subjective manner, He loves everyone in a perfect manner because subjectiveness is a consequence of not loving everyone, that is of an imperfect love. He loves us all the same either we are saints or flagrant sinners.

That is the very reason why He was crucified for everyone, for everyone’s salvation and He wants all of us to open our heart and mind and receive Him within our person continuously.

How we open up to Him and what we do out of love for Him and for our fellow humans, for whom He let Himself be put to death in a shameful manner so that the world may have life, is part of our contribution to our own salvation which is a co-production/co-operation with God.

According to Saint Gregory Palamas, Our Most Holy Lady has not received special grace to live a Godly life, but the same grace all people receive in order to save their souls. But her longing for God was so great that She did not commit any personal sins in Her entire holy life.

The same for our Saviour, Saint Maximus the Confessor says, He facilitated the receiving of so much grace by the human nature which He assumed within His Person, that it was necessary for Him to bear the tremendous anguish of crucifixion. And He did that in order to strengthen His human nature, that is to fill it with grace, to make it become fully godlike so that we can appropriate from His deified humanness the strength to fight against the passions within us and to defeat them just like the Lord did: through the struggle of our entire being while being fortified by His grace.

Therefore, our Lord Christ did not show favouritism towards Himself while on the Cross or in any other moments of His earthly life, nor did He show favouritism towards His Mother or His Holy Apostles. On the contrary He told them and us: if they persecuted Me, they shall persecute you as well.

However, beyond any reasonable doubt the tripersonal Love, our Trinitarian God shows His overwhelming love in all those who love Him and live a holy life in communion with Him.

And the Gospels which speak of “His beloved apprentice” refer to the Lord’s most loving response to the apprentice’s complete love. That is why Saint John was loved by the Lord in a special manner: because the former also loved Him tremendously.

(Father Dorin Picioruş – The Series “Awkward questions”)

Translated by Claudia






Alone Before Christ


Sometimes I feel lonely and abandoned and no one can help me… not even the saints… I am all alone with Christ, it’s just me face to face with Christ, just my being and Christ, just my sins and Christ… I have a feeling of loneliness before the Supreme Being, I can feel my helplessness before the Immensity, therefore the feeling of loneliness… and truly there is no one that can help me…

And although I can feel He is not far away from me, I have the feeling that none of us can get closer to the other… It feels like that moment when I will stand alone before Him and nobody will be able to help me, it feels like the day of the Final Judgment is only moments away and yet I am not terrified, but torn by my own loneliness, I feel completely forsaken and helpless before my own perverted nature.

And yet I wonder, why should I be afraid in my relationship with Christ? I think it is because I can feel the falsehood of my own life, my countless betrayals of His kindness… I can feel my mocking of Him… what else could I expect of Him after giving Him so much of my wickedness? Countless offences, countless betrayals… It is that feeling we have when we offend someone greater than us who loves us and we know they do and we wait for their decision to be made: will they forgive us again or is this the last time we see their face?

And I feel all of that because I want to love Him as well, I want to reply to His heartbreaking calling: Man, I love you unboundedly! But I remain the same traitor, hardhearted and helpless in my desire to reach Him, to touch Him… I wish I were able to feel His presence all the time, to stand by Him, to endure because I am aware He is right next to me…


Translated by Claudia

Love the Lord Your God with All Your Heart

  1. During this week follow the footsteps of our Lord Jesus Christ and always be by His side, unlike His judges and tormentors. And love Him with all your heart.
  2. Travel spiritually back to those days and events and kiss the lap and sleeves of His robe. Don’t turn your heart away from Him. When you hear his persecutors whispering: “He is guilty!”, shout into their ears: “He is just!” Love the One Who loves you with all your heart!
  3. When the Jews slap Him, hold out your hand to defend Him and get slapped in His place. When they spit in His face, tell them: “What will you throw at one another’s faces, spitters, if you use your spit, your entire being against Him?”
  4. When Pilate asks our Lord Who remaines silent: “What is the truth?”, confess by saying: “Behold, He is the embodied living divine Truth”. When the Roman soldiers flog Him, stay by His side and tell the beasts: You wolves, eternal bearers of death, stop flogging the Lamb of God Who bears and gives life to your kingdom of death.
  5. Follow Him on the Way to Calvary and bear His Cross together with Simon of Cyrene and wipe away the dust and blood from His face together with the blessed Veronica. Mourn and wet his parched lips with a glass of cold water together with the Myrrh-bearing women and cool his hot forehead. Give Him your whole heart and love Him with all your heart during His hours of humiliation.
  6. When you hear the hammer pounding at His Most Precious Hands, yell: “Ow!” When they nail His Most Precious Feet to the Cross, lament again as if the iron pierced your own body.
  7. Worship His Most Holy Mother and kiss the lap and sleeves of Her garments. Don’t say anything to Her. Don’t ask Her anything. Bow down once more to Her holy pain. And once more to Her holy silence. Say to yourself: “Most Venerable Mother, I also love Him with all my heart.”
  8. Take your heart out and put it in His body and forget about yourself. Be inside Him and withstand everything He withstands and die to yourself entirely. Die before He does.
  9. When Joseph and Nikodemus deliver Him to the Tomb, strive to be with Him in the Tomb. Imagine you are not alive for this world. Stay like a shadow somewhere close to His Tomb and regard your own life as being laid down in His Tomb. And death with Him and in Him will become sweet to you, very sweet.
  10. How much sweeter will the resurrection with Him and in Him be, when the angels will shine upon you at the Tomb on the third day? The Emperor’s soldiers walk ahead of Him and their faces are like burning lightning and their garments are white as snow. And when God’s angels will shine in the darkness at Golgotha and the darkness in your soul, you will feel like a new man.
  11. And when you will gaze at the Wonder of Wonders shivering and not know whether to hide or flee or show yourself to Him, behold! He will be the First to draw close to you and call you by your name like He did Mary. And when He will call you with His voice, a new life, a new power, a new flow will pervade your being like an electric wire. And He will give you your heart back and will also give you His. And you will fall at His Feet shivering and yell while sighing like Thomas: “My Lord and my God, glory to You!”

Bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. (Luke 6:28)

Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven. (Luke 6:37)

A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of. (Luke 6:45)

For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him. (John 3:17)

Hatred stirs up conflict, but love covers over all wrongs. (Proverbs 10:12)


(Saint Nicholas Velimirović – The heart during Lent)

Translated by Claudia

True Love Is Christian Spiritual Love


Love bears all things, it has faith for all things, it hopes in all things, it endures in all things. Love never falls in ruins.” (1 Corinthians 13 – Saint Paul the Apostle)

That is indeed true. What a great sacrament the Lord has given us, He Who is Love has endowed us with love. What beauty, what joy as Paul the Apostle says in the same epistle: “and now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.” Whoever has never known love? That feeling when your heart bursts with joy and happiness.

By God’s design, the man and the woman become one flesh, they are drawn to each other, they live together in harmony and their hearts are full of spiritual love, of true love, that is Christ lives within us.

By God’s perfect work, we are meant to be a couple, to live in love and docility.

Nothing simpler, we might say. Yes, if we knew how to give. We should give each other love the same way God has given us life. Our Savior said: “It is more blessed to give than to receive.”

Saint John Chrysostom said: “Giving to others seems a difficult thing but love makes it easy. Receiving from others seems enjoyable but love makes it infamous.”

The same saint says: “Anger gives a wild satisfaction but not to the man of love because he knows no anger. If his neighbor upsets him, he doesn’t get angry, instead he bursts into tears, prayer and beseeching… The peace and comfort felt by those who cry for the ones they love are not felt by those who laugh.”

Thusly we can see that when a beloved person makes a mistake, we bear with them, we indulge them, we put up with them and cry because we love them, that is what sacrifice means. Suffering for the other is the path to salvation. “Those who plant in tears shall harvest with shouts of joy.” (Psalm 125)

In order to see love, we must be obedient like the man born blind and have faith and hope in God because only this way our spiritual eyes will open through the power of the Holy Spirit.

The whole work of love must be blessed by the Lord, interceded by the presence of the Comforter, the Holy Spirit that indwells our hearts when we are free of passions, when we observe the commandments by doing God’s will.

Father Arsenie Boca said: “Whom have you brought to Jesus?… You have nobody to bring to Jesus, maybe you intend to bring yourself because unless you bring yourself, you can’t bring someone else.”

The battle between our two natures takes place inside each one of us, the spirit of self-love on the one hand and the spirit of love and sacrifice for our neighbor on the other. Thusly, we must have the awareness of God’s presence, we must feel and live His presence in our lives for He is everywhere, we must turn our eyes to our Heavenly Father.

When both the man and the woman find Christ, when Christ has resurrected in the hearts of each of us, the Lord works in a mysterious way within each of us, He co-operates with us and everything is blessed by the One Who gives us everything: “Thine own of Thine own.”

Love is so beautiful, it follows us everywhere but we often ignore it. In the same manner, Jesus follows us everywhere but we ignore and neglect Him.

Saint John Chrysostom beautifully says: “Perhaps you will ask me: Doesn’t any kind of love even abstract bring joy? No, it doesn’t. It is only true love that brings pure and healthy joy. And true love is not worldly infamous love, which contains malice and vice, but Christian spiritual love, the one Saint Paul the Apostle requires of us, the one that looks after the neighbor’s interest. It was this kind of love that the apostle had when he said: Who is weak without my feeling that weakness? Who is made to stumble and I do not burn with indignation?” (2 Corinthians)

In this manner, through love we can assume our neighbor’s weaknesses and God will soothe our wounds and strengthen our weaknesses.

That is why we must pray to the Lord that our hearts are cleansed of passions and hatred and due to faith and sincerity the Lord will bestow his blessing upon the two, the man and the woman.


Translated by Claudia

Why Does God Tolerate Those Who Hurt Others so Badly?

64032A while ago my mother said to me in a given context: „Son, I want to ask you something: Does God not see what these people do? How can the earth bear them, being so evil?” Our conversation referred to someone who had influenced our lives in a negative way and who we knew that had hurt other people as well. He was a person who had been in a leadership position for a long time and became more and more relentless over time.

Two weeks ago I attended my grandfather’s funeral in the countryside and one of my uncles, who was suffering injustice by his younger brother, told me: ‘Claudiu, will you tell me, is this what the Bible says? That one should trample on his own brother and take away everything he has? Where is the justice here? Does God not see all this?’

I have also asked myself the same question many times and sometimes I would stumble and fall into despair. Is God asleep? Why does He allow for someone to hurt other people so badly, repeatedly, for years in a row? Why don’t they get punished? Why doesn’t anyone stand up to them?

Theoretically, I understand that people are free and that God gave them this freedom and they will receive payment for the choices they make. But still, the world is permanently and every second of the day watched, protected and led by God, and yet, it sometimes seems like He doesn’t intervene, although He could.

As I was reading Chapter 2 from the Epistle to the Romans today, I came across the following verses:

Therefore thou art inexcusable, O man, whosoever thou art that judgest: for wherein thou judgest another, thou condemnest thyself; for thou that judgest doest the same things.’ (Romans 2,1)

Should we stop judging, should we close our eyes, is this the solution? No, it is not! This is not the answer to the question in the title, the following verse is:

‘But we are sure that the judgment of God is according to truth against them which commit such things.’ (Romans 2,2)

So, even if we are filled with indignation at the evil around us, we must be aware of two things:

  1. We ourselves do the evil that we blame others for
  2. God will judge each man fairly when the time is right and nobody can deceive Him.

There is one more very important thing. Let us imagine that I would be in God’s shoes starting tomorrow and that I would rule the world for a year. What would I do? I would be more trenchant against evil, I would presumably nip it in the bud…
Yet we forget that aggressive measures bring a temporary solution, but constraint does not turn evil into good, only love and forgiveness have the power to do that. In His ruling the world, God does not only use punishment and constraints, instead He uses plenty of mercifulness and forgiveness as well, tolerating and waiting for people to become aware of the evil at some point and for them to change.

If I were to rule the world instead of God starting tomorrow, I would surely not have such patience and understanding as He does with each and every man, knowing their every hidden thought in their hearts. Here is what Paul the Apostle says next:

‘Or do you show contempt for the riches of His kindness, forbearance and patience, not realizing that God’s kindness is intended to lead you to repentance?’ (Romans 2, 3)

This indignation of ours regarding evil people is also a consequence of our very weak power to forgive and to have patience towards those who hurt us.

Why does God tolerate those people who hurt others so badly? Because He has the power to do that, because He is void of passions and evil and nothing inside Him urges Him to cast revenge.

Our indignation also comes from our inability to do something in order to solve the problems. God sees the evil done by others and He does have the power to neutralize its effects and nothing stands in His way of arranging everything instantly. Yet His patience and forbearance have a very wise pedagogical purpose, beneficial for the entire humanity.

Our indignation regarding the fact that God doesn’t punish the evil ones is indirectly a disdain for the richness of His kindness, of His forbearance and great patience.

His Eminence Bartolomeu Anania said while commenting on this verse: ‘God’s goodness is not a divine weakness, but the chance given to man to improve himself.’

Here is what Paul the Apostle says next:

But because of your stubbornness and your unrepentant heart, you are storing up wrath against yourself for the day of God’s wrath, when His righteous judgment will be revealed.’ (Romans 2,5)

And in case we fear that God doesn’t know what happens and does not repay, Paul says:

‘Who will repay each person according to what they have done: to those who by persistence in doing good seek glory, honor and immortality, he will give eternal life, but for those who are self-seeking and who reject the truth and follow evil, there will be wrath and anger.’ (Romans 2, 6-8)

There is one thing we all should be aware of: those who do evil and don’t repent, will not only end up in the hell of eternal torment, but they also bear the consequences of sin in their hearts right after they commit it: ‘There will be trouble and distress for every human being who does evil: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile’ (Romans 2, 9)

And those who do good will not only inherit the kingdom of heaven prepared for them ever since the creation of the world, but they also receive God’s grace in their soul immediately, which brings joy and peace: ‘but glory, honor and peace for everyone who does good: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile.’ (Romans 2, 10)

And the conclusion of this speech is clear at the end:

‘For God does not show favoritism.’ (Romans 2, 11)

That is, God does not show favoritism to anyone, He is kind and just and desires all men to be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth.

In order to better understand this topic, we can reread the parable with the man who planted the good seed in his garden but his enemy came that night and planted tares and the tares grew and started to choke the good seed.

Upon his workers’ proposal to pull out the tares, the master refuses, arguing that by doing that they might also pull out the good harvest. When He explains this parable, the Savior says that the good seed are the sons of the kingdom and the bad seed are the sons of the evil one.

Their cohabitation should be beneficial for both of them; the evil ones should follow the example of the good ones and repent, and the good ones should grow in virtue, being put to the test by their relationship with the evil ones.

Why does God tolerate the people who hurt others so badly?

Because He loves the evil ones and shows them love in order to make them repent for their mistakes.

Because He can give the good ones the power to overcome the suffering caused by the evil ones.

Because God can take the greatest evil and turn it into an even greater good.

Because God moves in a mysterious way which is difficult to understand and memorize by us.

Because only Christ has the power to love His enemies.

And we can do the same only through Him, through God’s grace which we receive as a gift.


Translated by Claudia

Why Don’t We Get Along with Our Neighbours?!


We often ask ourselves why we don’t get along with those around us, why we argue against them and each of us has a point in his own way. We sometimes get very upset, other times we cut the person we squabbled with out of our lives or we carry on with a long series of arguments and reproaches without asking God for help. We always fail to realize or be aware of the fact that we are His children, we are all brothers, we have such a precious soul and nobody except for God knows the weaknesses each of us has.

Whenever we quarrel with someone, whether it is a strife or that person reproaches us for something, it is important for us to humble ourselves, to get to know ourselves. When I say this, I mean we should regard ourselves as petty before God and maybe, without us realizing it, God admonishes us precisely through our friends or brothers. Secondly we must not judge the neighbour we are upset with. That is why we have to think about two aspects, the first of which is: ‘Lord, what have I done wrong that upset my brother and made him angry with me?’ or ‘Lord, what have I done wrong that caused my brother to slander me or to envy me or to speak ill of me?’ The second aspect is to take pity in the person who speaks ill of us or the one who is blind and can’t see the path. Let us pray to the Lord for them because they might have a bad temper due to the lack of love or due to certain circumstances.

Sometimes we don’t realize that some experiences in our lives leave us with trauma and we become reserved in our stance towards the world having the tendency to judge. Yet another major aspect is to have self-control, that is to renounce the egotism within us, the pride that infiltrates insidiously. Because of our ego we can’t accept advice easily, we feel like someone has something against us, but we don’t realize that we can learn something from any piece of advice. Those around us see us clearer from the outside and as you know a friend is not necessarily someone who flatters you, but also someone who lets you know when you are wrong.

Because we have a good opinion of ourselves, we often give advice to others or we try to impose our point of view, we are too haughty and we don’t accept any remark. If someone among us is less of a believer and has an erroneous view on something, we must not try to alter their opinion or impose our opinion in a barbaric manner because we would alienate them, they would become confused or judge us and consider us crazy. We must talk gently and kindly to these people, tell them our honest opinion, show them how we see good and evil. But it is even more important that we advise them to pray to the Lord, to seek Him, we could suggest going together to a church, to a monastery rather than giving useless advice in which we might not believe ourselves.

I would like to conclude with something particularly important: we should learn how to listen to people. Let us follow the example of our Saviour Who listens to each and every one of us. When somebody comes to you and wants to share a delicate matter of the soul, listen to them without saying anything and pray silently asking God to help them. We must not react on impulse, judge them or try to change them right away because they will flee. Have you seen the kind of patience confessors have? When you go to them to confess, they listen to you; if they labelled you, you would run away instantly and never confess again. We are all subjected to making mistakes, it’s better to keep silent and let God speak. Let us have patience with everybody, with the poor as well as with the weak and even with ourselves. Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on us sinners!


Translated by Claudia

Saint for a Day

Have you el19_1ver thought what it would be like if you were saint for a day?

Saints are not fairy tales, they are not made up characters, they are not from a different planet, they are simple people just like us. I essentially realized this when I saw photos of Saint John of Kronstadt. I found him so interesting and at the same time strange. How come you can see photos of a saint? You can see icons of a saint or you can see him painted on the walls of a church, but how can you see photos from the life of that saint?

In my mind, saints are people who lived a long time ago, hundreds of years ago, whose lives I can read in the synaxaria, far from being simple people. Imagine my surprise when I saw those photos from the life of Saint John of Kronstadt, when I saw that he was a simple man just like us, when I read about his life and learnt that he was ill as a child, that he was a weak student and he did not stand out in any way, it was only then that I realized that saints are common people.

What a man he was and what a saint he became! Sought after by tens of thousands of people just like people used to seek after the Saviour Christ. They would come to Saint John of Kronstadt just like they were going to a healing spring in order to receive healing, thousands and thousands of people would come every day to confess their sins, to receive advice, to receive Holy Communion and listen to his sermons.

Anyone can become a saint, someone who lives in a block or a taxi driver or a teacher or a beggar… I, too, can become a saint. But do I want to become one?

What if one day I put my mind to becoming a saint, to asking God to help me so that I commit no sins. First I would make a plan and then ask the Lord Christ all throughout the day to give me the strength to keep to my plan.

Even if I will make mistakes that day, I will ask for forgiveness and start over again. A Christian is not someone who doesn’t fall, but someone who gets back up. What is important is for me to realize that the Lord is by my side, in my fall as well as in my joy. What is important is for me to learn how to always relate to Him, to always ask for His advice and His help, to learn not to be selfish because I can do nothing without Him.

Being a saint doesn’t mean not to make mistakes, but to always see your own sins and try to abandon them because he who sees his own sins is greater than he who raises the dead.

What would it be like if we were saints for a day?

‘Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.’

(Balan Claudiu)


Translated by Claudia

6 Paths to Heaven

We are all going 1569575-mdto die eventually and we all owe God an explanation at the end of our lives. Each of us has to account for what we have done with this life that we received as a gift. Some of us received more, others less.

Some lived very well, some had a hard life. Whoever was given a lot, a lot will be required from him and whoever was given a little, a little will be required from him. God is just and kind and He will judge everyone depending on their life contexts, on the hardships and problems they encountered and He will demand each of us the best we could do under the circumstances.

At the end of the world, when all people since the beginning of time are gathered, when everything is revealed, when there are no more lying, secrets and arrangements, then God will pronounce sentence upon each one of us according to our deeds.

“When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the holy angels with Him, then shall sit on the throne of His glory.  And before Him shall be gathered all nations, and He shall separate them one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats.And He shall set the sheep on His right, but the goats on the left.

Then the King shall say to those on His right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.For I was hungry and you gave Me food, I was thirsty and you gave Me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed Me,I was naked and you clothed Me, I was sick and you visited Me, I was in prison and you came to Me.’

Then the righteous shall answer Him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You drink? And when did we see You a stranger and welcome You, or naked and clothed You? And when did we see You sick or in prison and visit You?’ And the King shall answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers,you did it to Me.’

Then He shall say to those on His left, ‘Depart from Me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave Me no food, I was thirsty and you gave Me no drink, I was a stranger and you did not welcome Me, naked and you did not clothe Me, sick and in prison and you did not visit Me.’ Then they also shall answer, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to You?’ Then He shall answer them, saying,‘Truly, I say to you, as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me.’ And these shall go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.” (Matthew 25, 31-46)

The judging criteria are simple regardless of how many colleges we graduated, of the fact that some are drivers and other professors, of the fact that some were wealthy and others poor, some smart and others less smart, we all should have:

  • given the poor a loaf of bread from our fridges filled with hypermarket food
  • given a coat from our closets full of beautiful clothes to those sleeping at night out in the cold under the open sky
  • given a drink of water to those who don’t have this much
  • welcomed the stranger, the poor on the street to our homes
  • visited those in hospitals who need kind words and comforting
  • visited those in prisons who can’t enjoy life the same way we do

Being kind goes a long way!

(Claudiu Balan)

Translated by Claudia

Bodily Beauty and Spiritual Beauty

Almost every time somaica-domnului-cu-pruncul-medalionmeone tells us about a beautiful person, the first thing we think of is an attractive face and a harmoniously built body. We associate beauty with the body almost reflexively. Though, if the body were the representation of human beauty, beauty wouldn’t be what we think and hope it is, but it would basically be ageing, decay, sickness and eventually death. All this is due to the fact that no matter how beautiful it used to be, the body eventually starts to decay, to get sick and dies and death remains ugly no matter how artistically it is buried.

Still, why do we have this image that beauty is defined by the body since we are aware of its ugly finality? Since beauty is by definition the opposite of decay and death, why do we indirectly – through the body – associate it with these features of the ugliness? There is however an explanation…

We have this image because most of us are humans with our senses inclined mainly to the body, with perceptions rather carnal than spiritual. In Eden man could see God and all his senses were attracted and fulfilled by the grace of the Holy Spirit. But after man’s falling into sin, God took his grace away and the bodies of the first people were stripped of the divine glory with which they had been adorned, so that instincts led to bodily lust being overcome by spiritual lust. And man lost his gift to see and feel divine beauty. Nevertheless his terrible thirst to quench his senses with beauty remained. And because he no longer seeks divine beauty which requires ascetic effort, man struggles to quench his thirst for beauty by a means more accessible which is the body. This is why we instinctively think of the body when it comes to beauty.

Nevertheless spiritual beauty can be easily told apart from bodily beauty. Carnal beauty, once contemplated, stirs our bodily desire, irritating us and giving us discomfort until we satisfy the desire which was stirred up. When you look at a person with an attractive body and face, you unknowingly lose your freedom of will which is enslaved by sexual instinct which doesn’t allow you to have peace. On the contrary, when we look at a person with spiritual beauty, our freedom of will remains untouched no matter how long we contemplate that person’s appearance and what’s most important is the inner feeling we are left with afterwards because spiritual beauty is comforting, calming, it brings peace and touches man’s heart making him love more.

For these reasons, the only beauty whose seeing and feeling makes us feel accomplished and truly fulfilled has been, is and will only be the spiritual beauty. Therefore, although it also reflects in the body, beauty is defined through spirit, through man’s inner life, through the part of him that is made in the image of God. This is the key to understanding beauty. And a man can only be beautiful if he resembles God. And it is only by love that we can resemble God. So beautiful people are those with virtues, those who love God and their neighbors. That is why the most beautiful man in the world is our Saviour Jesus Christ and the most beautiful woman in the world is the Most Holy Mother of God.


Translated by Claudia

I don’t have time for prayer

No matter where you are or where you go, you can’t escape the incessant ticking of thtime-flies-clock-10-11-2006e clock. The hours go by faster and faster and so do the days. You wonder if you have the time to do anything whatsoever. Young as you are, you have many interests. Apart from the tight daily schedule, you must also have fun because “you only live once”. Going out with friends, going out for a drink, hanging out at the mall and in the end you can say “how fast time flew by!”

As you know time has been and still is man’s worst enemy, but it also can be his best ally. A priest said that for the industrious time seems to dilate and they have time to do everything they have to do, while for the lazy, time constricts and they feel like they have no time to do anything.

It steals minutes, hours from our lives, time during which we could do much more useful things for our soul. Many of us waste time on useless things. We give them more of our time but we actually forget about ourselves. We forget about our soul, about what we should be doing as His children. We make time for work, sleep, family, shopping, travelling, restaurants, for everything except for our soul. Do any of these bring any use to us?

Shall we have eternal life in our worldly pursuit? We don’t have time for Him, but He always has time for us. In return we have replaced prayer with mere homage. The Sunday liturgy is set aside in favor of going out with friends to the mall or any other entertaining spot. We are always preoccupied with ourselves, with our interests, with our worldly duties, with spending time in other manners than with God and in other places than in church. Here is what Fr. Calistrat from Barnova tells us about the time for prayer: I constantly meet people who say: “I don’t have time”; and my answer was the following: “How many minutes have you created in the universe so that you can make them yours and say that it is your time? Time belongs to God alone. Even so, from all that He has given you, you must give Him at least the tenth part, as the Pharisee in the Gospel said, a minute every hour, if not ten minutes every hour, during which your efforts to make your communication with God real should be obvious.”

Man is used to worship as a routine. He is used to say “God help me!” hastily, no matter what he is doing – stealing, working or travelling. He resorts to that short prayer “God help me succeed to…” and he thinks that he said it all.

In addition, the priest’s catechesis should explain clearly to people what the connection between man and God through prayer means, what communication with God through prayer means. The Christian regards prayer as an obligation, as just another law in the criminal or civil code. Like a lady once asked me: “But why twelve oikoi and why must I repeat the last one?” And I told her: “If you want you can repeat it twice!”

Another reason for the lack of prayer is the clergy’s habit to communicate believers those short symbolic canons we frequently meet in parochial churches: instead of telling the Christian to read a kathisma from the Psalter, to say “Our Father” or the 50th Psalm a number of times, an Akathistos to a saint, a Canon of Repentance or that to the Guardian Angel for the sins the believer confessed, the priest tells him to light a few candles, buy a few prosphora or tells him: “Go home, I’ll mention you in the church’s prayers, it will all work out, don’t worry…”

So we have time for everything except for prayer. But prayer is the air of the soul. Consequently when we don’t have time to pray, we don’t have time to breathe, we don’t have time to live spiritually.

We breathe air into our body easily, we don’t forget to do this because it has become a reflex. But the reflex we lost by falling into sin is the reflex to live spiritually. And in order to be alive in a spiritual manner, we must regain this reflex: prayer.


Translated by Claudia


A relationship must be built. Love at first sight is an exception

My 44691dears, I would like to talk a little about a subject which is quite interesting for young people: relationships and the way we build a friendship and a future family. This is the way it’s always been and this is the way it is nowadays, except that now the matter is maybe a little more serious: very many boys and very many girls are single. What is happening? Why do they keep being single when they could very well enter a relationship, or at least some of them could.

Mr. Virgiliu Gheorghe says that men nowadays have become effeminate and are no longer the strong responsible men they used to be and one of the causes is the industrialization and the increasing role of technology in our lives. While women, in their pursuit for a career, have become more masculine, taking on the responsibilities of men and becoming more aloof from family life and raising children. The situation is uncomfortable for both sides and neither feels fully fulfilled, on the contrary they go through major depression sometimes.

Men desire very feminine delicate girls who want to be protected and accept their love and protection. Unfortunately though, many girls have nurtured a self-sufficient attitude trying to prove that they are powerful and can manage on their own and that is why their strong dominating personality pushes men away.

Women desire very responsible men who are strong, aware and clearheaded. But unfortunately many guys struggle against bodily passions, they only work with the mouse and keyboard and don’t appear capable of bearing the brunt of a family. Their mind keeps wandering around and they find themselves at the age of 30 not knowing what to do with their lives.

This situation is understandable up to a point, both for girls and boys. Yet I think that out of 1000 single girls and 1000 single boys, at least a quarter of them can become friends and start to build something together.

I know, there is no accounting for taste! Girls wait for an elegant, romantic man, a problem solver, a loving man with a sense of humor who comes home early, etc. And boys wait for a beautiful passionate girl who makes a good housewife and is submissive, etc.

A dear friend of mine told me that she was waiting for the day when “she would fall in love so hard that the pillars of the sky would fall down on me”, paraphrasing Father Nicolae Tanase’s words.

I think that love at first sight and this crazy falling in love with someone is merely a great exception and by no means a rule. It is just a way for God to show us how we should get close to each other hadn’t we fallen into sin.

From my life experience, from talks I had with my friends, from what I’ve seen and heard, I can tell you that I don’t know any couples who met through love at first sight and an extraordinary attraction from the very beginning.

In most cases and this was the instance with the relationship with my wife Iulia, everything was built gradually, little by little, on the basis of a slight physical attraction. No fireworks. No major twists in our relationship. No burning with desire for each other, but slowly, increasingly better and upon an increasingly solid foundation.

Relationships must be built, they don’t come as a ready-made gift. You will never meet the ideal spouse overnight, you will only discover him/her after months or even years together when you will have realized you share the same perspective on life and a certain complementarity between the two of you, namely the key elements a family can be built on. Father Viorel from Chisinau said a few days ago: ”Make the ideal wife out of your woman! Make the ideal husband out of your man. This is what I did and I am married to the ideal wife now.”

But don’t change him/her in your own image and likeness, but according to God’s will. Always show them the mirror of God’s commands and tell them what you expect from them. Don’t try to mold them to your needs (valid or not) but in such a way that they will respond to the Lord Christ’s calling to a new life.

I’ve always pointed out to my friends that it would be a good thing both for boys and girls if they lowered their level of expectation regarding the other and started to build a relationship together. The more that time goes by, the longer the list of prejudice and expectations becomes and you find yourself at the age of 30 with nobody around you who even comes close to your mental picture, your imaginary template.

My dears, let us be more realistic.

Girls, Prince Charming will never come, trust me! I know many girls of a certain age and I can confirm this. Do accept invitations to go out for a juice from boys who don’t meet 100% of the requirements of your dream prince and you will be surprised to discover beautiful people behind your prejudice which surrounds him like a curtain.

Guys, most of the very beautiful girls are already taken and they are not easily accessible, stop dreaming of them or you’ll stay single for the rest of your lives. In addition, this kind of girls usually suffer from self-love, narcissism and one can rarely find a beautiful woman who didn’t make an idol out of her beauty. Turn your attention to girls nearer to you. You will see that you will place spiritual beauty above physical beauty in family life. What good is a beautiful woman who poisons your soul? And how delightful it is to have a simpler girl by your side but who fills your soul with joy every day.

In general, single girls past 25 start to panic, those past 30 become depressed and those past 35 feel like the battle is lost. Do everything you can right now and stop driving away the men/boys that God sends into your lives directly or indirectly.

Guys don’t panic as easily but, although they seem to manage better than girls, they suffer a lot too. In time, if they don’t get married, they fall into dark passions in the attempt to drown the sorrow of their loneliness.

My dears, I see so many single girls under 35 around me and just as many single guys. We keep complaining that God doesn’t send us the right person in our lives, but when someone shows up, we analyze them to pieces and draw the dry conclusion : “She/He is not my type!” and we leave them. After years of such endeavors we cry out to God that He is unjust and doesn’t help us. But we are not perfect and thus cannot claim perfection from others.

If we were humble like the Lord Christ urges us to be, if we saw our own mistakes and selfishness, we would cease to see so many flaws in the other person. Because the ugliness of our soul would make us see how beautiful our neighbor is. If we pursued nothing else but marriage as the purpose of each relationship since we were young, things would be very different.

Try to step out of your comfort zone! Give a chance even to the one you think is not the right person. Always talk to God in your prayer about the boy or the girl who came into your life. God’s logic often contradicts worldly logic and it might just be possible for God to have a spouse planned for you who doesn’t seem right according to your standards at the time, but who will actually prove to be the best choice in time.

Give up your prejudices! Spend time together, give the other a chance! Ask God to soften your petrified heart and be able to love the one next to you.

Theoretically, any man could love any woman provided he is connected to the Godly “source” of love. So any man could marry any woman because we are all called to love one another in a perfect way. I don’t believe in “the other half” concept, I only believe in God Who changes people’s hearts.

Please, do reconsider! There will come a time when you won’t have the same chance you have today to meet people! Overcome all the prejudices you hold against your neighbor and you will see that by changing yourself, the others around you will change as well.

If you truly want to start a family, make a sacrifice for your woman! Show her you are willing to give up a lot for her sake! Conquer her with your willingness! Communicate with her. Be persistent!

Guys, please be persistent! Girls like that. Many of those who are persistent gain time and manage to get a few face-to-face meetings when you can show her your affection.

Girls, please let guys court you. Accept them more easily without resisting them so much.

Bear with each other! We all have flaws. We all need each other.

Find out if you share the same perspective on life, if you can go in the same direction and especially if you can bear with each other’s flaws.

Start a family! Modest, small but lasting. God will come and strengthen your relationship and make it grow and bear fruit.

Get married! Have babies and you will see that the babies, the fruit of your love, will fill those gaps, those shortcomings in your family. With each new baby your family becomes stronger and your relationship more solid.

Start a family through sacrifice, modesty and humility!

(Claudiu Balan)

Translated by Claudia