About faith in Romania

edited December 1969 in Introductions
      First of all I want to say that today it was a very important spiritual event in Romania-the enthronement of the Patriarch Daniel,the new spiritual Father of all christian orthodox romanians.He is the youngest Patriarch Romania ever had,and I think the youngest of all the Patriarchs  of all Orthodox Churches.He is 56 years old,he is very wise and really devoted to the Church.At the ceremony were hierarchics and bishops from all the orthodox countries and I heard also a message from the Patriarch Patros of Alexandria and all Africa.It was in greek as I remember.I think he received a gift from your Patriarch- an icon with St.Paul and St.Peter-that are very important in Africa-I think they are spiritual patrons in Africa-if I am wrong,pleas correct me.
  I will say a few words about how are christianity and the church
perceived in Romania.So the Orthodox Church-in the surveys-is the most credible institution in the state.After it comes the army,then mass-media etc.Romanians trust very much in the power of the church-this is theoretical-like I said-it is shown in surveys.Practical,it is not the same.Youths are less attracted to the church,to the liturgy.Lots of them just think that they can pray at home and that it is not very important to come effectively to the church,to speak with a priest.But there are young people that come,and you can be impressed of their devotion and sincerity.
  There are a lot of churches and monasteries in Romania.After the fall of the comunist regime,there were built lots of new churches and monasteries and the monastic life developed like it had never did before.
  As representative for the dogmatic and teological writers-maybe you have heard of Dumitru Staniloae.It is one of the best in the domain-and the most well-known abroad.
  Romanians will still believe in the power of prayer,even if we are from a year members of the European Union and -of course-we will develop ways of life more secularised.
  I would like if somebody can tell me more about faith,church in Egypt,or other countries in Africa.I have told you for the begining some things-so I am waiting now for you to tell me the same.I know that you live and share the same country with muslims-and probably this affects in a way or another some aspects of the social life of christians.I have been recently to Tunisia-it is such a beautiful country,with so pleasant and friendly people-the muslims-it is the most modern arabian country.How is the relation between muslims and christians in Egypt-I have read about some problems...Maybe I am wrong,and you could tell me good aspects.
  So now I hope to share more things about our countries and our thoughts.Thank you for attention.Have a blessed week!


  • Dear Elena,
    Well done; what a nice post. Let me correct a few things, that I think you got them wrong. The pope of Alexandria and Africa is called Pope Shenouda, and not Pope Patros. Well, St Mark is actually more of a patron icon in the Coptic Orthodox church, that Pope Shenouda is head of, than are St Peter and St Paul. However, as their martyrdom falls on the same day according to the Coptic calendar, we celebrate their day as the day for all the apostles.
    Having lives in both Egypt, and the west, namely UK, I can comment on some points you have asked about. First, Coptics in Egypt and the UK are becoming similar to the picture you described of the youth in Romania, and I think this is one weapon the evil one is using. Modernisation, and westernisation: youths (quite a percentage of them at least) think that Liturgies are unncessarily long, prayers can be offered up at home, and no need to confess before a priest, and so on... It is a dire state that the youth are facing (hoping that I for one don't fall in the same trap, if I haven't already: please pray for me).
    In Egypt, yes, Christians are very much influenced in so many bad ways by Muslims. Traditions have affected the way Christians practice their religion. Coptic (or rather Egyptian) language has disappeared completely, apart from some parts and hymns in the Liturgies only, and even then, not many people think it should be implemented in Liturgies at all. Arabic language is dominant, and lost us our identity as Copts (in contrast to what the other communities succeeded in), and people just do not care. The relationship between Copts and Muslims according to the media is the best, but undercover, there is hatred, oppression, and prejudice against Copts in general. Having said that, it is claimed by the high figures of our church that this era is the best Christians are having in Egypt (not sure if I can agree 100%).
    In the UK, Copts are more modernised, but youths feel the need of coming back to their roots, and becoming more attached, making some churches (majority I would say) more enjoyable and pleasant than their Egyptian counterparts. To the extent that they really do care (a bit at the least) about the Coptic language, and hymns, this website for a great example as one, and other related websites coptichymns.net, copticheritage.com, are developed and maintained by, largely (if not solely) by youths from the West.
    Now, because I am very interested in this issue: please explain to me more how the Communist regime used to affect Christianity in particular, and religion in general in the Communist states. I heard conflicting opinions about the atheism of the regime, the force it imposed on practising religions, and so on, but I don't have a good picture in my mind. I am looking forward to your next post...
    God bless you and pray for us a lot
  • Dear Elena,
    Forgot to add, that there are only two families that still speak Coptic as a language of communication (which is a very difficult language to be honest). I know one of them is the family of Fr. Pigol in Germany, but I don't know the other one, and I presume it is a family in the southern part of Egypt. Have nice week.
    God bless you and pray for us a lot
  •   First of all thank you for your reply.I really appreciate it.It is really wonderful that we can outrun every distances and differences and we can find a common language-in our case,the ones that are in this site-the language of faith.And also thanks for correcting my mistakes.
      I am sorry of what you said to me-about youth in Egypt and the U.K.It doesn't surprise me.You know,I was expecting Egypt maybe to be less "captured"of secularisation,but probably there is an other problem for the copts there-and that is the problem with the muslims.And I guess it is enough for youth to have problems of this kind.It is very interesting,you know...Lost of Fathers,or Elders from us said that in the communist regime the "enemy"was very visible,you had a very clear view about how is it-it was the atheism that was imposed in every institution-it was the new "system",it was the dictator..and so forth.BUT now -we enjoy freedom of faith,of speach etc.But the secularisation,the modernisation,the number of so many attractions,the "new religious movements-that are sincretisms of different oriental ideas" -well, these things make up a sort of diffuse but strong tendence that slowly leads youths  in a direction that is completely different from that of the Church.And I think the Fathers  were right.I will tell you more riht away about how did communism affected faith.But concerning what you said about coptic teens from westerne countries-towards the ones from Egypt..The ones from the West have certainly better conditions of living-they probably don't have to face bad looks from unfriendly muslims or other things like this.And usually when you go in a different country-you have a stronger will to be more united,more close to the ones like you-this case-coptic youths-every social or spiritual comunity becomes stronger when it is a minority.So they make sites,build churches.I can understand that..But it is new for me,really.I had no idea that these sites were really made of youths from the west.Anyway,God bless them becouse they are really talented and they have managed to do a wonderful work.
      Now,regarding the subject you are interested in.In fact,as a coincidence,it is one of the(if not the most)important subjects for me,so I can tell you a lot about it.I don't know if I have the space here.It is very special also for me,becouse the courage of so many people in the communist perioud is absolutely incredible.We have really hundreds of martyrs,and I am not joking.If it wasn't for them,my God,it is hard to believe how the faith survived...I mean probably God blessed the country for theri sacrifice,and forgave us for so many sins,the sins of those who lost their faiths in communism..
        So-in the communist regime-in the first years-just when the regime was established-I mean the '56 years or so,there were the first detentions.Hundreds of youths have been locked in prisons becouse they were in a sort of movement that was against the communist regime.Lots of them died in prison at ages of 23,24,others lived.There were also imprisoned lots of writers, poets, priests(lots,lots of them),peasants that were deprived of their lands,simple people that were against the regime.Then,for some years,it was a small improvement in the regime and there weren't for some years so many arrests.But the martyrs that suffered in the prisons..oh God,these were like the first Apostles for their suffering.There is a famous prison -it was called PITESTI prison.Well this was hell in earth.The people were torturated,or how the executioner called the process-they were reeducated--What really was happening : People were tortured until they were close to madness so that they can betray their values and faiths(political or religious faiths)so that they become "A NEW MAN".After that -profiting of their extreme exhaustion and weakness,the security officers trained them to be themselves executioners and to torture their own mates.And so on.Few of them resisted not to become at their turn executioners.Most of them had faith that helped.But the others..may God forgive them-they are martyrs too in their own way.God,believe me...it is absolutely unimaginable what happened in those prisons.It really breaks my heart when I read about this.
    Anyway,there were other prisons too,with a better(if we can call it like this)treatment.There were prisons were all the priests,poets,and all the intellectuals from the resistance had the occasion to meet.It is really fascinating to read journals of some of these persons-that contain fragments of their lives there.Those are really Pateric pages,blessed pages,how can I say?..Those people tried to surpass their condition-and you know how-through CULTURE.Through culture and faith.They wrote prayers on walls,they talked about God,the ones that never believed were converted in jail by the priests.They repented all their sins and they became angels,they became saints and gave their life till the end for Christ.And there were hundreds..In all the registers that have all the victims of the regime-you will see-hundreds of people-and so many young ones.So,so many...(If you really want,I can tell you more,we can write through mail.).Maybe you've heard of Richard Wrumbrandt.He was a political prisoner in Romania.Afterwards he went abroud.His journals are just--great.When you read a journal of someone like him,you just cry.Or you are born again in faith.It is incredible,astonishing..
      Here is a list of some important persons imprisoned-Paul Goma-who went to France afterwards,Al.Paleologu,N.Steinhardt(who has a famous journal)and Fathers -Arsenie Papacioc,Gh.Calciu-Dumitreasa(who went to the States -there are books in english with him,I guess).Look-enter on  this site in english and you have photos woth them and some informations about orthodoxy in Romania. - http://www.orthodoxphotos.com/Orthodox_Elders/Romanian/index.shtml .
      And regarding the other people-the society in the regime,well...there are lots of things to say.If you wanted to go to the church,you could go.But it became very useless.Becouse everybody was tought scientific atheism at school,they lived a new era,a gold era.Children were baptised at home.Then everybody was afraid-not to say a word that could be interpreted and they coudl have problems,los their jobs.So there were those who directly recongnised that they were against the regime-and these were taken imediately to jail.And the others that just had families,had a different personality-of cours the last category was dominant.You just can't ask someone-hey -do you want to go to jail and be tortured-then be honest and say you are against the regime.Of course there were so many-against the regime....Anyway,beside these aspect-I can say that the persecution of the monks and monasteries was very high.All the monasteries were close and monks were forced to live in the world.Lost of priests arrested without them saying that they are against the regime-they were arrested as enemies of communism-just becouse they had spoken of God in their sermons.
      There are more to say,but now it is pretty late for me.I hope I could tell you little of what you wanted to find out.
      So looking forward to share more informations,with enthusiams.Thank you again for the attention and reply.Have beautiful and peaceful days.
  •   Seems we always have something unsaid-look on this site- there are some words about Richard Wrumbrand-yes he is not orthodox but he was a true and authentic romanian christian -
  • why do you have zero posts when you just posted three times?

    and is there anyway to summerize that long and dreadful looking passage so people like me can read it?
  • That was a great post Elena, it was really intresting ..i've read a lot of stories about the faith in communist countries , i've heared before of Richard Wrumbrandt and read some paragraphes of his book "In God's Underground"..I admire the courage of your martyrs..

    What ophadece said seems to me a little pessismistic...

    Coptics in Egypt and the UK are becoming similar to the picture you described of the youth in Romania

    Well , i can tell u that at least in Egypt there's a revival of the church specially concerning our youth ..i can say that our generation is luckier than the previous generation. While there is a pecentage of youth who fit the descreption made by ophadece , there are others who are really close to the coptic church . no one can denie Pope Shenouda's efforts in this domaine with Bishop Moussa ( Bishop of youth) and Bishop Raphael, but still there is a long way to go to reach all the coptic youth.
    the point is : there's still hope in our youth and the picture isn't that dark.

  • Dear Elena, and smile4ever,
    Yes, I have to agree. Sometimes, I describe things in an awfully pessimistic way, and like smile4ever says, I don't think the picture is that dark. It just strikes me sometimes seeing some of the Coptic youth who don't live in Egypt getting mixed up and lost in the world of the West, and similarly Coptic youth living in Egypt getting lost trying to imitate the West. Especially when you know that you have many conferences and trips made by Coptic youth living abroad to visit Coptics in Egypt. However, the situation is not dire :)
    Unfortunately, I haven't heard about Richard Wrumbrandt or any of the people you talked about. This is due to sheer ignorance. That doesn't contradict the fact that I would like to know about all of them, and it is very interesting that when you speak about their tortures and the ways they were "mistreated" reminds me of the very early Copts who came out very strong (having faith in Christ and the Sign of the Cross was their weapon) before the emperors of Rome, and the other dictators who wanted to wipe them out of this earth. This church, I mean the Coptic Orthodox, with its rituals, and structure owes more than the whole to them, if it were not for the weaker Christians who started (and keep in my view) giving in to the Muslim regimes, surrendering the language to them, then traditions, then even our identity to find ourselves in the middle of nowhere. And why was that? Just to avoid being needlessly murdered (not even martyrred), as the muslims invaded Egypt with a very sly cunning image of being so placid and friendly, just asking Christians to pay just a little tax (Christians had had been rich at that time), or convert to Islam, that nice and peace-calling religion, or else die (just as a very last option)!!!! And what happened? Well, may God forgive us all; who knows if someone lived during that era, what would their reaction be like?
    Anyway, yes, I would love sharing e-mails with you, and I will PM you my e-mail address, but it is just an opinion to keep posting our opinions here. As you log more into this website, you will benefit from many many members here... like minagir, an Egyptian living in the USA - Hos Erof, QT_PA_2T and Orthodox11, Copts living in Europe - Anglian a British who got involved in the Coptic Orthodox church in an invaluable manner, and of course all the other members, who come from Australia, America, Europe, and started sharing their views in this topic: smile4ever, krazylion, bballdude23, kerestina123, why, jydeacon, shnoda ... etc. They are very active on this website, and I for one benefit loads and loads from all of them (I should have forgotten about 90%)
    One last thing, yes I will read through the links and view the pictures that you sent me. Maybe later, though, and I will tell you my opinion. I would just like you to start answering this question (however you feel convenient: here or e-mail): don't you think that Communism as a political institution really benefitted the people living there (although I am aware as a dictator regime, they deprived peasants of their farms, and fields as well). Why I am asking is that the conversion of Egypt from the Turkish political system, close to being a Turkish colony in their kingdom, to the Republican regime it is now under, entailed involvement of the Revolution Move in the 1950's, getting similar institution to the Communist Regime, with people divided up till now between if it was good or bad in the first place (majority perceiving it as bad nowadays, which certainly wasn't the case at the start).
    God bless you all and pray for us a lot
  • it is just an opinion to keep posting our opinions here

    i would like that too..More can benefit here in the forum that e_mails

    i would like to say that the secret of the strengh and survival of the coptic church is the martyrs...i was told that by a Jordanian catholic priest last summer when he was comparing between Egyptian christians and Jordanian christians, he said that christians in Jordan are "spoiled" because they never suffered persecution and martyrdom during their whole history. I strongly beleive that the survival of the coptic church is because of those who sacrified teir life for the faith and for us ..I hope this is te case in Romania.

    i would like u , Elena ,to tell us about how the period of persecution affected the present Romanian church
  •   Hello! I am very  sorry that just now I answer your questions,and even now I will be very short becouse I have some problems with my faculty,anyway I really hadn't had a good mood last days.I am sorry I cannot really comment what you have all writen there,I willl try just to say few words over your questions.
      So for OPHADECE-for now,very brief,I can say that the communist regime was brought with force.In 50 years,I can hardly say that 5 were good.Romania hadn't had a bad situation before communism.Not at all.It was starting to be,at the begining of the XX century,a modern country,a process of urbanization became more visible.And much more.In the interbelic perioud,the capital for example,Bucharest,was considered the Small Paris.But of course there were problems like everywere,intern political conflicts,interests and so on.I don't have enough time right now to explain.Well,communism ment a very bad economical situation for everybody.People standing in queues from 5 a.m.for milk,every morning.Or for a piece of meat,of chicken.But meat was rare.And cookies,or special stuff.Well-they didn't have to see those.It was terrible.The discipline in every institution was very strict.Also -lots of writers,or just important people-with two faculties-could have become watchmans.And-something MUCH more common-in fact it was usual-people with no faculty could have had important administrative functions.The workers-the "opressed"class-now was the one that ruled the intelectuals and not only.It was the class standing above all.And if oyou wanted to be promoted to have a better salary-well-no way-you had to make compromises.Like =to be member of the party-and maybe in a near future-to be an informer in the Security.Well-I am exaggerating a bit so that you understand the main directions of the social life in Romania in that perioud.AND not to forget-you couldn't travell outside the romanian borders.Lots of people tried of course to go illegal in very bad conditions,to "escape",passing some rivers like Danube in the neighbour countries.Well...this was the"beautiful"life in Romania.In '89 the revolution were lots of young people and not only died,was a proof that people were very sick of everything.But of course there really are nostalgics..becouse in that perioud -why was the centralised economy working so bad-again-becouse people were pretending to work,they didn't really work.The industrial domain was very developed and everything was happening just with the one accord of the state.I mean -there weren't private initiatives.Everything was common-the proprieties of the peasants-also common.They have retrieved theri proprieties just after the '89.They worked before in cooperatives.Anyway it is a long subject.But shortly that was the reality.Thank you for the e-mail adress,sorry that for the moment I cannot write I am really very troubled right now,unfortunately..well ,this is life...       

          FOR SMILE4EVER- Well,I cannot say that the communist perioud affected for example the will of young people to study teology,or the will of priests to make churches.But the real church-that is as it is said and as we know the body og Christ-I mean the people-the orthodox people-the common people let's say-that were't aware of the true meanings of atheism and also were not aware of true importance of the church neither.They were affected.Every collegue to whom I speak must say that either his/her mother,either other friend's parents hadn't given them religious educations.becouse-if they weren't let's say very religious-but were in a way or another,the regime had stolen them every posibility to develop a sense of the sacred,a sense of spirituality.WHY?becouse all the religious books were prohibited,the sermons were very much shortened,or I think lots of them were prohobited too.And people that now are 40,50 years old have grown with atheist education-and they grew their children the same.Of course,it is relative -I mean it is a tendence-a general one-but I cannot establish a percentage of those that have grown like this and those who didn'tBut as far as I know..the majority.Well people started after the revolution to see with new eyes the religion.But for lots of them it was too late.For the youth-on the contrary-it was very good.I don't know if I can speak of a renewalof the spiritual life-Well yes..it was a renewal in a public sense.Becouse ,as I have written in the previous message,the spiritual life had been specific for many-but hidden and persecuted in a way or another.So the explosion of information-the books that started to appear-this stimulated lots of people.LOOK I want you to understand that when I use words like "many,lots,not so many etc etc"I am being very relatval.I mean-I cannot tell you exactly if 20 % were in commnunistm with faith and 70 % were without.I dont know very well.What I can tell you is that after the revolution,from 17 years till now the institution with the biggest credibility -at least official,as the surveys sustain-is the Church.But the social reality of the fact is much more complex..This is all ,in short,for now.
  • Dear Elena,
    Thank you very much for your concise answer. However, you really sound very upset and frustrated. Please take your time: you don't really need to answer every bit of detail right now. I still have many questions for you but may I ask that you don't answer them at all now. We will all be praying for you to gain back you inside peace, and that Jesus help you get over these problems. As for now, please don't scroll down to read my answers until you have felt that you are alright to answer them. God bless you and pray for us a lot...

    Well, I used to hear that Communism as a regime used to ensure equality in people's salaries, positions, rights, etc. Was that the case superficially but what was practised was completely opposite? or were these principles not part of the Communist regime at all?
    I can imagine the picture you are describing about making every thing share by people, and that every thing belongs to every body, but why were the resources so scarce as you say? people queuing up for milk and food for long hours? Was that because people weren't working? or because they didn't want to work knowing that they are being paid like every one else? or what?
    An interesting question is: for those people who survived their faith and orthodoxy through this era full of oppression and persecution: were they strong enough to bring people back who started living atheist lives to the mother church? I know you said before that the church is becoming different that it used to be because of secular lives the young tend to lead: is that related as well? or is that a different issue? I will not bombard your brain by any more questions, until you have answered these: so you have a mountain to climb now :)
    God bless you and pray for us a lot
  • Dear Elena,
    It has been some time since we last heard from you. Looking forward to hearing from you soon.
    God bless you and pray for us a lot
  •   Hello Ophadece!Sorry I didn't answer your questions from some time.I mean sorry I have let so many days without answering.Yes,I had some problems here,being a student I had to take some decisions concerning my studies,some courses,the final thesis, becouse I am in the last year of study.So I am sorry for being absent for this perioud of time...
      I will try to answer in short at your questions.SO in communism the regime had problems,it was different that in other countries.So -the problems was with the economy.The country had very many debts to other countries-I cannot explain very clear.The people did work and had salaries,had the posibility to buy houses for example(unlike now when it is very hard to buy an apartment)BUT there weren't enough products-aliments-for people.It is more to say but maybe you send an email with what exactly do you want to know.
      The problem with religion is relative and difficult to evaluate.So an important part of the atheistic youth may-and I say "maybe/may"becouse I am not sure-have been strongly influenced in their attitude by the atheistic education of their parents.But it is not necessary.People that kept their faith...well usually a great part of people from Romania had a very superficial faith-and this was related with communism but the communism was not the single variable that influenced this reality.SO let us say that there were 2 categories-people that had a strong faith in communism and suffered from this or just kept it until now.And people that didn't have a strong faith-and this was related to atheistic perpsective in communism but not only to this.It is just the category of people that are not very inclined to a spiritual life.
      Today of course that -the category of people that kept their faith may influence in a way the course of life of youth-for example I was influenced by a person of 50 years old,a very special friend of mine that kept its faith.And of course there are the great Fathers-the old ones-that lived in communism and influence a lot of teens with their words-they sustain conferences all round the country etc.But the ones that have children and didn't keep the faith too much,did never have any faith maybe-just give some main coordinates to the youth- like- it is good to go to a church from time to time,trust in God,go on Easter and Christmas and at weddings and baptisms.And this is all--so the youths have to manage themselves to find out if faith means more than"well..go from time to time to church"///It is a great strugle for teens to "catch"from the wind some words,some things about the true spiritual life in GOd-thay may lead them to the Church in the true meaning of this word....
            I hope I have been pretty clear..if not,tell me what more you want to find out.God Bless.
  • [quote author=Elena link=topic=5798.msg77678#msg77678 date=1191172107]
    At the ceremony were hierarchics and bishops from all the orthodox countries and I heard also a message from the Patriarch Patros of Alexandria and all Africa.It was in greek as I remember.I think he received a gift from your Patriarch- an icon with St.Paul and St.Peter-that are very important in Africa-I think they are spiritual patrons in Africa-if I am wrong,pleas correct me.

    His Beatitude Pope Petros VII died in a tragic helicopter crash in Sept. 2004. The current (EO) Patriarch of Alexandria is His Beatitude Pope Theodoros II.
  •   For Orthodox11.I am really sorry.I think I misunderstood the name-if you say that His Beatitude Pope Petros VII died in an accident.Sorry.Thank you for the correction you have made.God bless.
  • Dear Elena,
    Thank you for this concise and well-written account. Yes, that is exactly what I wanted to know. If there are anymore questions I will tell you.
    God bless you and pray for us a lot
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