Părintele Gheorghe Calciu despre un sfânt martir al închisorilor comuniste: Constantin Oprişan (16 Martie 1921 – 26 iulie 1958). “He was like a saint!”

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„În cele 4 celule din Cazimca Jilavei, ridicată special în incinta Fortului 13, urmau să fie exterminaţi 16 deţinuţi consideraţi a fi deosebit de periculoşi. Între ei, se afla şi Costache Oprişan, o personalitate care a supravieţuit Piteştiului, care aştepta să-i vină sfârşitul: îndelung înfometat, bolnav de TBC pulmonar şi fără medicamente. Văzându-l în cele mai cumplite chinuri, un tânăr din aceeaşi celulă – student la Medicină, în anul III, când fusese arestat – şi-a luat gamela şi s-a îndreptat înspre un colţ al încăperii, fără să fie văzut de gardianul care controla mereu prin “spion”. Cu un ciob de sticlă, tânărul student Gheorghe Calciu şi-a deschis o venă de la mână, lăsând să se scurgă o anumită cantitate de sânge. După ce şi-a oprit sângerarea, a aşteptat câteva minute pentru a se decanta şi, cu ultimele puteri ce le mai avea, le-a dus la gura muribundului. Din păcate, în acele clipe, Costache Oprişan trecea într-o lume mai bună…” – Grigore Caraza, “Aiud însângerat”

Va prezentam un extras dintr-un lung interviu cu parintele Gheorghe Calciu, realizat de Maica Nina, acum stareta schitului St. Nilus din Alaska, si a avut loc in 6 Noiembrie 1996 in California. Interviul complet se gaseste in cartea parintelui Gheorghe Calciu: Hristos te cheama! English version as well, following this article, along with an editorial piece by Father George Calciu.

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Partea I-a

Am fost foarte norocos deoarece am fost printre cele saisprezece persoane pe care Securitatea le-a dus la inchisoarea Jilava, unde vindecarea mea spirituala a inceput. In Jilava ei au construit o celula speciala in forma semicilindrica. Era ca un cilindru taiat in doua. Eram sub pamant; Jilava este construita sub pamant. Deasupra celulei erau sapte metri de pamant. Nu poti vedea Jilava – intreaga inchisoare este sub pamant. In acest cilindru ei au construit patru celule, fara ferestre, numai o usa. Ardea un bec electric ziua si noaptea. Ne-au pus cate patru in fiecare celula. In fiecare celula era sau un om foarte bolnav sau un om innebunit.
In celula mea, se afla Constantin Oprisan – ai carui plamani erau complet vlaguiti de tuberculoza. De doua ori pe zi expectora lichid din plamani. Noi trebuia sa-l ajutam dandu-i o palarie sau ceva si el putea sa dea afara tot ce se desprinsese din plamani – sange si tot restul. Era ingrozitor sa-l vezi. In prima zi in care am intrat in celula, erau cu mine Constantin Oprisan, prietenul care ma salvase de la sinucidere si un alt student mai tanar ca noi.
Constantin a inceput sa expectoreze lichid din plamani. Am ramas tintuit cu spatele la usa – surprins deoarece nu mai vazusem niciodata ceva asemanator. Omul se sufoca. Probabil un litru intreg de flegma si sange daduse afara, si stomacul meu se intorsese pe dos. Eram gata sa vomit. Constantin Oprisan observand asta, mi-a zis: “Iarta-ma!” Mi-a fost atat de rusine! Deoarece eram student la medicina, am decis sa am grija de el.
Asa am hotarat sa am grija de el si am spus celorlalti ca eu voi avea grija de Constantin Oprisan. El nu se putea deplasa si am facut tot ce era nevoie pentru el. Il puneam pe galeata sa urineze. Ii spalam corpul. Il hraneam. Noi aveam un castron pentru mancare. Luam acest castron si i-l puneam in dreptul gurii.
El era ca un sfant. Era pentru prima data cand eram in contact cu un astfel de om.
Ne puteti spune mai multe despre el? Cum va invata si va intarea?
El nu vorbea mult. Ne vorbea in fiecare zi in jur de una-doua ore, deoarece nu putea sa vorbeasca foarte mult. Dar fiecare cuvant care iesea din gura lui era un cuvant sfant – numai despre Hristos, numai despre dragoste, numai despre iertare. El isi rostea rugaciunile, si auzindu-l cum spune aceste rugaciuni, stiind cat de mult suferea, eram profund impresionati. Nu era deloc usor. Pe langa delicatetea lui sufleteasca, el incerca sa ne protejeze – sa nu expectoreze prea mult ca sa nu imprastie bacili in atmosfera. Era ca un sfant in celula cu noi. Simteam prezenta Duhului Sfant in jurul lui; il simteam pe el. Chiar si in timpul ultimelor sale zile cand nu mai era in stare sa vorbeasca, el niciodata nu si-a pierdut bunatatea fata de noi. Puteam citi in ochii sai lumina spirituala si dragoste. Fata lui era ca o revarsare de dragoste.

– V-a povestit despre momentul in care a fost seful “Fratiilor de Cruce”?

– Da. Ne-a spus despre cum a lucrat cu tinerii. Sunt sigur ca iubea foarte mult tinerii si ca si el era iubit de ei. Era complet dedicat omului. Era un om foarte inteligent – uluitor de inteligent. A fost atat de binevoitor cu noi. Nu a vorbit mult despre el insusi. Vorbea despre credinta, despre dragoste, despre rugaciune. Se ruga tot timpul. Stiti, nu e asa de usor sa stai intr-o celula tot timpul cu aceiasi oameni. Cand izbucneau anumite conflicte intre noi, el se ruga. Si rugaciunea lui era lucratoare. Ne era rusine, pentru ca el se ruga si noi stiam asta. Atunci nu se ruga cu voce tare, dar fata lui era complet transformata. Noi intelegeam ca se roaga pentru noi si ne opream din cearta.

Era intr-o stare fizica atat de proasta pentru ca fusese torturat in Pitesti vreme de trei ani. L-au batut peste piept, peste spate pana i-au distrus plamanii. Dar el se ruga toata ziua. El niciodata nu a spus ceva rau impotriva celor care l-au torturat, ci ne vorbea despre Iisus Hristos. Pe atunci nu mi-am dat seama cat de important a fost Constantin Oprisan pentru noi. Era justificarea vietii noastre in acea celula. In timpul acestui prim an, el a devenit din ce in ce mai slab. Simteam cum se apropie de sfarsitul vietii pamantesti si ca va muri.

Odata pe saptamana eram obligati sa ne radem. Eu il vegheam pe Constantin Oprisan si prietenii mei se barbereau. Pe urma eu ma barbeream si unul dintre ceilalti il veghea, deoarece il vegheam zi si noapte. Cand ceva se intampla, ei imi spuneau sa merg la Constantin Oprisan, deoarece le spusesem ca eu voi fi singurul care voi avea grija de el, fiindca l-am ranit in prima zi. Sunt sigur ca l-am ranit si de aceea ma simteam foarte, foarte vinovat. In timp ce ma barbeream, Marcel, studentul care era mai tanar decat noi, a vazut cum Constantin Oprisan era gata sa moara. A spus, “Mergi si vezi de Constantin Oprisan; el moare.” M-am uitat la el. Fata sa era complet vlaguita. Ochii ii erau deschisi, dar am vazut ca peste ochii sai parea sa fie o perdea de ceata. Ochii i s-au intors peste cap. Am fost atat de speriat, mi-a fost asa de teama. Am simtit ca va muri si ca voi fi singur in celula. Am pus mana pe el si am zis: “Constantine nu muri; nu muri! Vino inapoi; vino inapoi!” Am tipat cu voce tare! Imediat s-a intors. Ochii i-au devenit clari. Nu stiu ce s-a intamplat in sufletul sau, dar am vazut o imensa groaza pe fata sa. Am simtit ca era gata sa intre in lumea cealalta si ca eu i-am cerut sa se intoarca inapoi in celula. Ochii sai erau plini de groaza si a inceput sa planga. Lacrimi ii curgeau din ochi. Fata sa devenise fata unui copil, un copil nou nascut. El plangea ca si un copil ce se nascuse, tocmai iesit din pantecele mamei sale. Constantin Oprisan plangea pentru ca-l fortasem sa se intoarca. In cateva minute a murit.

– Cat ati stat cu el in acea celula?

– Un an. Dupa ce a murit, fiecare a simtit cum ceva din el a murit. Am inteles ca, bonav cum era si in grija noastra ca un copil, el a fost stalpul nostru de sustinere in celula. Atunci am devenit singuri, fara Constantin Oprisan.
Am luat un prosop si am spalat corpul sau pentru a-l pregati sa fie ingropat in pamant. Apoi am ciocanit la usa si am spus gardienilor ca a murit Constantin Oprisan. Au venit dupa trei ore. Noi niciodata nu am parasit acea celula mai-nainte. Acea celula care nu avea nici lumina, nici ferestre. Apa se prelingea pe pereti; salteaua de paie era putreda sub corpurile noastre. Astfel, dupa inca doua ore, pentru prima data, gardianul mi-a comandat mie si prietenilor mei sa iau corpul lui Constantin Oprisan si sa merg afara.
Afara era atat de frumos. Flori si copaci si cerul albastru. Atata timp cat am stat in celula am uitat despre frumusetea lumii. Cand am iesit am vazut ca lumea nu s-a schimbat. Aceasta vegetatie, aceste flori – ne loveau. Erau ca o insulta pentru noi, deoarece noi sufeream, muream… dar universului nu-i pasa de noi! Soarele apunea si era o lumina aurie. Fiecare stralucea ca aurul. L-am pus pe Constantin Oprisan pe pamant. Era complet dezbracat deoarece a trebuit sa dam hainele sale de inchisoare inapoi. Corpul sau era complet vlaguit. Nu ne venea sa credem ca a fost o fiinta vie. Era complet slabit, numai piele si os. Si m-am gandit ca fierea trebuie sa-i fi intrat in momentul mortii in sange deoarece era complet galben. Prietenul meu a luat o floare si i-a pus-o pe piept – o floare albastra. Gardianul a inceput sa tipe la noi si sa ne forteze sa ne intoarcem in celula. Inainte de a intra in celula ne-am intors si am mai privit odata la Constantin Oprisan – trupul sau galben si floarea albastra pe piept. Aceasta e imaginea pe care o pastrez in memorie – corpul lui Constantin Oprisan complet vlaguit si floarea albastra pe pieptul sau. El nu era decat piele si os – fara muschi. Nimic altceva … corpul sau zacand pe pamant cu o floare albastra.
Dupa aceea a fost foarte dificil. Poate am pacatuit deoarece Constantin Oprisan, inainte de a muri, a spus “Voi muri, dar dupa moarte, ma voi ruga lui Dumnezeu pentru voi. Toate rugaciunile mele vor fi pentru voi, deoarece nu vreau ca sa muriti in aceasta celula.” Si sunt sigur ca s-a rugat pentru noi, deoarece toti trei am reusit sa parasim aceasta inchisoare si sa mergem la Aiud. Sunt sigur ca Constantin Oprisan s-a rugat pentru noi. Pacatul pe care l-am comis a fost ca tot timpul m-am gandit si am chemat sufletul lui Constantin Oprisan sa vina si sa ne daruiasca lumina. Ma gandesc ca am comis un pacat, deoarece poate i-am tulburat odihna. Sunt sigur ca a fost foarte binevoitor cu mine pentru ca am avut grija de el. Sunt sigur ca m-a iubit foarte mult. El ii iubea pe toti. Dar cred ca pentru mine a avut o dragoste speciala, deoarece eu am avut o dragoste speciala pentru el.

– Era mai in varsta ca dumneavoastra?

– Da, era mai batran cu aproape sase sau sapte ani. Si nu am mai avut nici o repulsie fata de el dupa acel prim moment. Am avut grija de el cu dragoste si respect. Era ca un copil in mainile mele. Il puneam pe closet, il spalam – faceam totul pentru el. Ma gandeam ca pentru aceasta dragoste prin care eram legati, trebuia sa vina la noi si sa ne dea lumina lui Dumnezeu.

– Sunt sigur ca se roaga pentru dumneavoastra. Dumneavoastra probabil ca va rugati pentru el tot timpul.

– Da, tot timpul. La fiecare Sfanta Liturghie, imi amintesc de el si de toate persoanele care au murit in inchisoare. Dar pentru el am o rugaciune speciala…
Nu exista bariere pentru rugaciune. In celula mea – in timpul celei de a doua detentii – din cand in cand alti detinuti treceau pe sub fereastra mea si tipau: “Oamenii va stiu; oamenii se roaga pentru dumneavoastra.” Cateodata aveam momente de o deosebita bucurie spirituala in inchisoare. Stiti, nu exista explicatie pentru asta. Eram torturat, eram izolat, eram singur, nu aveam legatura cu lumea. Ma simteam cateodata complet pierdut in inchisoare. Nu aveam nici o perspectiva a eliberarii. Singura perspectiva era sa mor in inchisoare. Dar am avut unele momente de bucurie spirituala. Nu radeam – era ceva in interiorul meu – o bucurie in mine. Nu tot timpul, dar din cand in cand. Apoi am auzit ca sunt grupuri de oameni care se roaga pentru mine in toata lumea, si sunt sigur ca aceasta fericire erau momente de comuniune in rugaciune cu acesti oameni, pentru ca nu exista bariere, nu exista gardieni care sa opreasca rugaciunea. Astfel am avut momente de bucurie spirituala.

– Toti care au vorbit cu persoane care au fost in inchisoare spun acelasi lucru.

– Este imposibil pentru cineva din afara inchisorii sa inteleaga. Suntem liberi si suntem foarte fericiti ca suntem liberi, dar avem un fel de nostalgie pentru inchisoare. Si nu o putem explica altora. Ei spun ca suntem nebuni. Cum iti poate lipsi inchisoarea? Deoarece in inchisoare am avut cea mai spirituala viata. Am atins niveluri pe care nu suntem in stare sa le atingem in lumea aceasta. Izolati, ancorati in Iisus Hristos, am avut bucuria si iluminarea pe care lumea nu le poate oferi. Nu exista cuvinte sa exprime exact sentimentul pe care l-am avut acolo. Aceia care nu au avut experienta noastra spirituala nu pot intelege ca am putut fi fericiti in inchisoare. Cand aveam grija de Constantin Oprisan in celula, eram foarte fericit. Eram foarte fericit deoarece simteam spiritualitatea sa penetrand sufletul meu. Am invatat de la el sa fiu bun, sa iert, sa nu blestem pe cei care ma torturau, sa nu consider nimic din aceasta lume o bogatie. De fapt el traia intr-o alta lume. Numai corpul sau era cu noi – si dragostea sa. Va puteti imagina? Noi eram intr-o celula fara ferestre, fara aer, umeda, murdara – dar inca mai aveam momente de bucurie pe care niciodata nu le-am mai intalnit in libertate. Nu pot explica aceasta.

Partea a II-a

Martirii neamului romanesc: interviu cu parintele Gheorghe Calciu
Cuvioasa Maria Egipteanca, 1 aprilie 1998
Biserica “Sfanta Cruce” – Alexandria, SUA

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– In recenta vizita la Manastirile de pe Coasta de Vest ati avut bucuria sa vedeti cum Constantin Oprisan este cinstit la aceste manastiri ca si martirii vechi ortodocsi. Cum vedeti aceasta canonizare locala a lui Constantin Oprisan?

– Sigur ca nu a fost de fapt canonizat, ci manastirea l-a acceptat pe el ca un martir, ceea ce si este de fapt. O canonizare se face prin autoritatea Bisericeasca. Am vazut ca rusii au canonizat mii de fosti detinuti politici, oameni care au murit in inchisori, familia tarului toata a fost canonizata, pe cand in Romania nu s-a facut nici o canonizare, dimpotriva am auzit ca Preasfintitul Daniel al Moldovei nu permite ca sa fie pomeniti, fara nume, cei care au murit in inchisori, ci numai cei care au luptat si au murit in revolutie, ceea ce imi denota mie o opozitie totala fata de oamenii care au murit in inchisori. Pentru ca ei se tem de fapt de aspectul politic. Pentru oamenii acestia, care au murit in inchisori, nu a contat aspectul politic; ei au murit pentru credinta si pentru neam, nu pentru o idee politica. Asa ca reticenta Bisericii imi dovedeste mie ca Biserica noastra inca nu are curajul de a-si spune opinia ci se da inapoi oridecate ori este atacata. Nu asa se castiga o victorie, prin reculuri. Ci prin a sta in fata acuzatorilor, prin a sta in fata celor care ataca Biserica si a raspunde prin armele credintei si prin tot ceea ce Biserica pune la dispozitia ierarhilor si preotilor.

– Si cum vedeti un inceput pentru canonizarea lui? Din cate stiu eu, in primele secole, cand un martir se jertfea pentru Biserica, mai intai era cinstit local. Cei din preajma scriau un martilorogiu si incepeau cinstirea lui, urmand ca apoi intreaga Biserica sa-l accepte si sa-l cinsteasca. Cum credeti ca s-ar putea incepe acuma si urni din loc aceasta canonizare a martirilor nostri din ultimii 60 de ani?

– Stiu ca s-au facut niste interventii pe langa Sfantul Sinod, pentru canonizarea lui Gafencu si a lui Constantin Oprisan, probabil si altii. Sinodul nu a dat inca nici un raspuns. Nici da, nici ba. Dar in general asa este: intai si intai pietatea populara consacra un martir, un sfant. Pentru ca Biserica fiind asa cum s-a spus sub persecutie nu putea sa se intruneasca sau sa ia anumite masuri. Si mai tarziu, cand Biserica a fost repusa in drepturile ei, ceea ce pietatea populara consacrase ca martir pentru Biserica a fost acceptat de Biserica. Asa ar trebui sa se faca si acum. Pietatea populara, cei care au suferit in inchisori si toti ceilalti trebuie sa-i cinsteasca si atunci Biserica va trebui sa ia in considerare aceste lucruri.

– Ce ne puteti spune despre viata pana in inchisoare a lui Constantin Oprisan?

– Stiu foarte putine lucruri despre Costache Oprisan, decat din ceea ce mi-a povestit el. Stiu ca dupa 1941 a plecat in Germania, a fost in lagar o vreme, era foarte tanar, a iesit din lagar si a studiat filozofia. Intradevar el era cel mai bun cunoscator din Romania, chiar mai bun decat profesorii, a filozofiei moderne, adica a existentialistilor si ceilalti. Si din cauza asta cand s-a intors pe urma in tara, in 1946-1947 si a inceput filozofia la Cluj, cand a fost vorba de existentialisti, D. D. Rosca l-a pus pe el sa tina cursul in fata studentilor. Era extraordinar. Era de o inteligenta nemaipomenita. Dupa ce a venit din Germania a fost seful Fratiilor de Cruce pe tara. Eu nu l-am cunoscut inainte, insa toti acei care l-au cunoscut si pe care i-am intalnit in inchisoare aveau un adevarat cult pentru el. Era o personalitate deosebita. Era o personalitate care nu s-a format numai in inchisoare ci era format din afara. Era un fel de …, nu exagerez cand spun ca era un tip cu geniu in el, o scanteie de geniu. Si cu o viata morala, si cu o viata religioasa, si cu o viata dedicata Fratiilor de Cruce incat si in inchisoare a ramas pe linia lui, numai ca s-a adancit, bineinteles, in timpul acesta din inchisoare.

– Unii vorbesc ca ar fi cedat la inchisoare la un moment dat. Dumneavoastra ce parere aveti despre astfel de opinii?

– Costache Oprisan a fost unul dintre cei mai chinuiti in inchisoare. Pentru ca el avea functie si toata demascarea incerca sa-l faca pe Costache Oprisan sa cedeze sau sa-l desfiinteze pentru ca toti tinerii care priveau spre el sa-si piarda orice echilibru. N-am stat cu el tot timpul. Nu stiu daca a cedat sau daca nu a cedat, stiu ca a fost asa de torturat incat, cand am stat eu cu el in celula avea plamanii complet distrusi. Daca a cedat sau daca nu a cedat?… Acolo nimeni nu a ramas intreg. Decat cei care au murit. Asa ca nu putem face o judecata de felul acesta. Au fost conditii supra-umane.

Si cad, plângându-mi vina, pe bratele luminii.
Ci poarta-ti suferinta, prin ea te-ai mântuit.
Obrazul I se pleaca si simt pe fata spinii,
Si ploua harul pacii pe sufletu-mi smerit.

De sus, privind mocirla prin care ai trecut
Ca de un vis de groaza, te-o trece un fior,
Îti vei desprinde ochii si gândul de pe lut,
De tot ce-a fost acolo, simtindu-te usor.

Tu tot mai sus urca-vei, de geniul tau purtat,
Lasând în urma astrii, cenuse tot mai fina,
Fosnirea lor s-o stinge în sufletu-mpacat,
Si vei intra, scânteie, în marea de lumina.

“Întâlnirea cu Iisus” si “Întoarcere”
C. Oprisan

Acest interviu a aparut si in cartea de interviuri cu Parintele Gheorghe Calciu fiind preluat din  “Cuvantul ortodox” (“The Orthodox Word”, Vol 33, No 6/197, 1997), publicatie bilunara editata prin grija calugarilor de la Manastirea Ortodoxa Sf. Gherman din Platina situata in California, foarte aproape de San Francisco. In urma acestui interviu si a altor discutii despre Constantin Oprisan, el este considerat de acesti calugari americani ca fiind un martir al timpurilor noastre. Fotografia lui este pusa alaturi de icoanele sfintilor si venerata cu cinste. Ca in timpurile primare, martirii sunt venerati simplu, viata lor si suferinta pentru Hristos fiindu-le deajuns pentru a fi cinstiti cum se cuvine. Este cutremurator cum, desi in tara inca anumite nume sunt tavalite in noroi de cei care nu ne iubesc neamul si credinta, aici in America sufletul sincer proaspat convertit al celor de la manastire ii cinstesc pe martiri dupa jertfa lor pentru Hristos. Fie ca rugaciunile lor sa ne indrepte pe caile credintei pentru a duce mai departe lupta inceputa cu dragoste de Hristos si neam.  (Hystria)

Sursa: MARTURISITORII

English version:

Interview with Father George Calciu about the New Martyr Constantin Oprisan:

I was very fortunate because I was among the sixteen people that the Securitate took to Jilava prison, where my [spiritual] healing began. In Jilava they built a special cell in a half-cylindrical shape. It was like a cylinder cut in two. We were underground; Jilava is built underground. Above the cell were seven meters of earth. You cannot see Jilava-the whole prison is underground. In this cylinder they built four cells with no windows, only a door. We had an electric bulb, day and night. They put four of us in each cell. In each cell there would be either a very sick man or a mad man. In my cell, I had a man – Constantine Oprisan – whose lungs were completely emaciated by tuberculosis. Twice a day he had to cough up fluid from his lungs. We would help him by giving him a hat or something, and he would cough and bring up all the discharge from his lungs-blood and everything. It was horrible to see him. On the first day I entered this cell, with me were Constantine Oprisan, my friend who saved me from suicide, and another student younger than us. Constantine began to cough up the fluid in his lungs. I was leaning against the door – surprised because I had never seen anything like that. The man was suffocating. Perhaps a whole liter of phlegm and blood came up, and my stomach became upset. I was ready to vomit. Constantine Oprisan noticed this and said to me, “Forgive me.” I was so ashamed! Since I was a student in medicine, I decided then to take care of him.

So I decided to take care of him and told the others that I would take care of Constantine Oprisan. He was not able to move, and I did everything for him. I put him on the bucket to urinate. I washed his body. I fed him. We had a bowl for food. I took this bowl and put it in front of his mouth.

He was like a saint. It was the first time that I was in contact with such a man.

Can you tell us more about him? How he taught and strengthened you?

He did not talk much. He talked to us everyday for about one or two hours because he was not able to talk very much. But every word which came out of his month was a holy word-only about Christ, only about love, only about forgiveness. He said his prayers, and [what a deep impact it had on us] hearing him say those prayers, knowing how much he was suffering. It was not so easy. Out of his gentleness of soul -he wanted to protect us- not to cough too much to spread the germs in the atmosphere. He was like a saint in the cell with its. We felt the presence of the Holy Spirit around him; we felt it. Even during his last days when he was no longer able to talk, he never lost his kindness toward us. We could read in his eyes the spiritual light and the love. It was like a flood of love in his face.

Did he tell you stories about when he was head of “The Brotherhood of the Cross”?

Yes, he did. He told us about how he worked with the youth. I am sure he loved the youth and that he was loved by them. He was completely dedicated to man. He was a very clever man -amazingly clever. He was so kind with us. He did not talk much about himself. He talked about faith, about love, about prayer. He was praying all the time. It was not so easy to be in the cell all the time with the same people, you know. When there arose some conflict between us, he prayed. And his prayer was very effective. We were ashamed, just because he was praying, and we knew it. He was not praying in a loud voice, but his face was completely transformed. We understood that he was praying for us and we stopped [arguing].

He was in [such a terrible physical] condition because he had been tortured in Pitesti for three years. They had beaten him on his chest, on his back and had destroyed his lungs. But he prayed the whole day. He never said anything bad against his torturer, and he spoke to us about Jesus Christ. All the while, we did not realize how important Constantine Oprisan was for us. He was the justification of our life in this cell. Over the course of a year, he became weaker and weaker. We felt that he had finished his time here and would die.

Once a week we were obliged to shave. I would watch Constantine Oprisan, and my friends would shave. Afterwards, I began to shave and one of the others would watch Constantine Oprisan, because we watched him day and night. When anything happened, they would tell me to go to Constantine Oprisan, because I had told them that I should be the only one to take care of him, since I had hurt him that first day. I was sure that I had hurt him, and I felt very, very guilty. While I was shaving, Marcel, the student who was younger than us, saw that Constantine was ready to die. He said, “Go and see Constantine Oprisan; he is dying.” I looked at him. His face was completely emaciated. His eyes were open, but I saw that over his eyes there seemed to be a curtain of mist. His eyes turned inside himself. I was so scared, so afraid. I felt that he would die and I would be alone in his cell. I put my hand on his and said, “Constantine, don’t die; don’t die! Come back; come back!” I cried with a great voice! Immediately he came back. His eyes became clear. He looked at me. I was right in front of his eyes, you know, bent over him. I don’t know what happened in his soul, but I saw an immense terror in his face. His eyes were full of terror and he started to cry. I had the feeling that he had been ready to enter the spiritual world, and I had asked him to come back to the cell. This was a great terror, and so he started to cry. Tears were flowing out of his eyes. His face became the face of a child, a newborn child. He was crying like a newborn child coming out of the womb of his mother. Constantine Oprisan cried because I forced him to come back. In a couple of minutes he died.

How long were you with him in that cell?

One year.

After he died, everyone of us felt that something in us had died. We understood that, sick as he was and in our care like a child, he had been the pillar of our life in the cell. Then we were alone without Constantine Oprisan.

We took a towel and washed his body to prepare it properly to be buried in the earth. Then we knocked at the door and told the guards that Constantine Oprisan had died. They came after three hours. We had never left that cell before – that cell which had neither light nor windows. The water, was seeping into the walls; the straw mattresses were putrid under our bodies. So, after two hours, for the first time, the guard commanded me and my friend to take the body of Constantine Oprisan and go outside.

Outside it was so beautiful. Flowers and trees and blue sky. As long as we were in the cell, we forgot about the beautiful world. When we went out, we saw that the world had not changed. This vegetation, these flowers-hurt us. It was like an insult to us, because we were suffering, dying… but the universe did not care about us! The sun was going down and there was a golden light. Everybody was shining like gold. We put Constantine Oprisan on the ground. He was completely naked because we had to give his prison clothes back. His body was completely emaciated. We could not believe that he was a human being. He was completely emaciated; only bones, only bones. And I think that the bile at the moment of death must have entered the bloodstream, because he was completely yellow. My friend took a flower and put it on his chest -a blue flower. The guard started to cry out to us and forced us to go back into the cell. Before we went into the cell, we turned around and looked at Constantine Oprisan -his yellow body and this blue flower. This is the image that I have kept in my memory -the body of Constantine Oprisan completely emaciated and the blue flower on his chest. He was nothing but bones and skin -no muscle. Nothing else… his body lying on the ground with a blue flower.

Afterwards, it was very difficult. I may have sinned because Constantine Oprisan, before he died, said, “I will die, but after death, I will pray to God for you. All my prayers will be for you, because I do not want you to die to this cell.” And I am sure he prayed for us, because all three of us succeeded in leaving this prison to go to Aiud [Prison]. I am sure that Constantine Oprisan was praying to God for us. The sin I committed was that all the time I was thinking and invoking the soul of Constantine Oprisan to come and give us light. He never came, though for months I asked him to come and give us light. I think this was a sin I committed, for perhaps it gave him some unrest. I am sure he was very grateful to me that I took care of him. I am sure he loved me very much. He loved everybody. But I think for me he had a special love because I had a special love for him.

Was he older than you?

Yes, he was about six or seven years older. And I never had a repulsion for him after that first time. I took care of him with love and respect. He was like a child in my hands. I had to put him on the toilet, to wash him -to do everything for him. I was thinking that for this love through which we were connected, he had to come to me to give us the light of God…When I took care of Constantine Oprisan in the cell, I was very happy. I way very happy because I felt his spirituality penetrating my soul. I learned from him to be good, to forgive, not to curse your torturer, not to consider anything of this world to be a treasure for you. In fact, he was living on another level. Only his body was with us – and his love. Can you imagine? We were in a cell without windows, without air, humid, filthy – yet we had moments of happiness that we never reached in freedom. I cannot explain it.

Interview with Father Gheorghe Calciu, recorded by Nun Nina of St. Nilus from Alaska

See also:

Let us honor the Martyrs!

By Father George Calciu

Parintele Gheorghe Calciu Dumitreasa - Marturisitorii RoIn the Orthodox Church, the saints and the martyrs occupy a remarkable place, being for us of inestimable help in prayer and in our supplications to God. In certain difficult moments all those who pray and ask for the help of the saints know that their request will never go unanswered. There exists the corresponding tradition of which the saints of whose name we bear protest us and the martyrs which fought a for a certain cause help us in our fight to defend the Church and the right faith.

So much the more, in these difficult times for the Romanian nation and for our Orthodox Church, when the dark forces war with all their might to make Romanians be divided and to go astray, it is necessary to rediscover the saints and martyrs, all those who took up their cross and stood firm before the enemy, confessing Christ and fighting for the faith and national liberty. Just as the first Church had transmitted martyrology from generation to generation and left over the ages inscribed with letters of blood the suffering of those that sacrificed themselves for Christ, so also we have the duty today to not forget, but to honor as it is fitting, according to tradition, those who sacrificed themselves in this century of world-wide heresy, for the right faith and for our Romanian nation. And if, at the beginning, the devil tried to destroy the bodies of the faithful, in this time he works at the destruction and losing of the soul. And with those who oppose him and opposed him, he has no mercy.

Now, in a few days we will relive the Mystical Sacrifice and the Resurrection of the Savior who took upon Himself the sins of man in order to make certain the possibility of our rebirth into the True Life through Resurrection, we open within the framework of our publication a new chapter: Let us honor the martyrs! In each issue we will try to keep alive the memory of those who denied themselves and took up their cross and followed Christ unto the end, Romanian Golgotha, not knowing compromise or giving up. Through the power of their prayers, through the power of their supplications to God we can hope in a Resurrection of the Romanian nation, and in a return of all the wandering sons to the right faith of our fathers.

In hoping for the canonization of the martyrs of this century as soon as it is possible, we begin this contemporary martyrology, asking for the help of the Holy Spirit to guide us into truth and faith.

In this issue we present some memories about Constantine Oprisan. I began with him because I was so moved by the fact that in a monastery in American converts to Orthodoxy, where not even one is of Romanian origin, he is considered a martyr, and his image was put in Church and honored!

Printed in April 1998 in the Holy Cross Church Newsletter

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