Posts Tagged ‘Constantin Stavila’

[Read the first post about my grandfather here]

I thought a lot whether to tell the following three stories about my grandfather or not. Today I decided to do this. Unlike my grandfather, Constantin Stavila (Tata Icu, as I was calling him), I do not believe that only love comes first. I think love shares its first place with the truth.

picture3 14.02.1990 (with some of his nephews). He is 74. I am in the right side of the picture

1) It might be interesting to find out why my grandfather rejected the idea of becoming a Christian Orthodox scholar. In the year 1953, he went to a sort of summer school, organized by the Romanian Patriarchy. He wrote a sermon about the Christian virtue of labor, and it was considered the best sermon written at that summer school. His professors decided to publish it in the official journal of the Romanian Patriarchy. But two things happened. First, the publisher considered that it had to be changed, in order to be more… communist-friendly. You know – labor is good, and also notice that our authorities sanction good labor… And other stuff like this, which made my grandfather mad. Second, it happened that, just a week or so before the appearance of that issue, “our Father”… Stalin died. Now, at that time the relation between the Church and the Romanian Government (sustained by the Soviet Union) was complicated enough: the Church was afraid of the communists, while the communists did not want to explicitly ban religion. So the publisher of the official journal (having probably the approval of the Patriarch Iustinian himself) considered that it would be a good idea to put Stalin’s picture on the second page of that issue, together with some words of mourning! This made my grandfather really crazy. Now, just imagine: the Russian soldiers insulted and beat his grandfather in the First World War; moreover, the communists took him the land and all that he inherited from his grandfather. He really hated the communists, the Soviet Union, and the Romanian regime. And now, his sermon was published as a communist-friendly one, in an issue of the official Orthodox journal whose main concern was to mourn the death of the Devil himself! At that time, he did not have the courage to protest – but he promised himself that he will keep distance from his hierarchical leaders all his life. This is why he decided to be a simple country priest. Now I remember that, after his retirement, he moved to Iasi, and used to go every Sunday to a church close to our home. The priest of that church didn’t know him – and once he told me this, and asked me why my grandfather never came to their monthly meetings and conferences (notice that he didn’t have the courage to ask my grandfather directly this question). I told him that I don’t know – oh, but I knew. I damn knew very well why.

picture1 1991, in the Church of the Cogeasca Village

2) I said that my grandfather retired in 1992, when he was 76. But he never wanted to retire. In fact, in the Orthodox Church there is no such notion as “retirement”. Indeed, after you become a priest, you remain a priest for all your life. You are exempted from your service only if you are not physically able to do your duties anymore. So look what happened. My grandfather was a priest in Cogeasca (Letcani, Iasi) for more than 30 years already. He wanted to die as a priest there. But another priest, with good relations to his hierarchical chiefs, wanted to take my grandfather’s place (well, holy man are still… humans, right?). Now, that priest had some relatives in Cogeasca – and these relatives started to complain about my grandfather. They said that he is not able to do his duties anymore, for the reason that he is not hearing well, because of his age. This was only half-right. My grandfather was not hearing well – but not because of his age. I already said in my last post that he was among those (very few) priests that accepted, in the Second World War, to go on the first line of the battle. Once, a bomb exploded close to him – and made him half-deaf. But this thing never constituted an impediment for him. People just had to talk louder with him – that was all. Anyway, those individuals started to complain about this. When the bishop (my grandfather’s hierarchical leader) came to Cogeasca, the whole village was in an uprising – the villagers wanted my grandfather to stay. The bishop, a close friend of the priest who wanted my grandfather’s place, explained to the people that my grandfather had to go. In that very moment, when the people were ready to lynch the bishop, my grandfather stopped them. He said that priests must listen to their hierarchical leaders, as well as they must listen to God. He said that it is time for him to go, and ask the people to listen to their new priest. I remember that I asked him afterwards why he did that (I knew he was not at ease with the idea of leaving Cogeasca). He looked at me with his eyes full of love, caressed my head and said: “Don’t worry. God knows my way better than me. He will take care of me”. Days after that event people were coming over and over again to my grandfather, crying and begging him to stay.

picture4 Me and my beloved grandparents

3) But notice an interesting thing. He was a retired priest now – but he couldn’t stay home: his most ardent desire was to do what he knew best – to stay with people, to take care of their spiritual needs. One day, the telephone called, and the bishop said he wanted to talk with him. At that time, there were many villages without priests – this was because no priest wanted to go in such poor, far-away villages, where people did not use to go to church. The bishop asked my grandfather to go as a locum tenens to one of these villages. Yes – the same bishop that declared that my grandfather is not able to do his duties anymore as a priest, only three months after this decision appointed him to another village (a village that no priest wanted to go to) as a priest. My grandfather was more than happy – his dream became true: he was again in service! So since 1992 and until the year 2000 or so, he was a priest in two or three more villages. Why not in only one? Well, that’s another quite interesting story.

As I already said, at that time there were villages where no priest wanted to go, mostly because the inhabitants were very poor, and no extra money (beside the salary) could have been earned in those places. But my grandfather (who, after the communists took all that he inherited from his grandfather, he never was a rich priest) didn’t care for money. So he accepted the village he was appointed to as a pensioner priest. When he first arrived there, no one was coming to the church. So, just as Ioan Slavici’s Popa Tanda, he started to visit every single villager, in order to persuade him or her to come to the church, promising them that they will see very beautiful religious services. So people did start to go to the church. Money did start to come. But my grandfather never took money for himself – he gave all the money to the Metropolitan bishopric of Moldavia. So young priest started to be interested in this village – and one day, one of them was appointed there. My grandfather had to go again – and he quietly and humbly accepted the situation. He left – but not before teaching the young priest all he knew. And this young priest recognized that he BOUGHT his place – he gave to that bishop (the same one, as a matter of fact) something like 2500 American dollars, if I am remembering well. With some minor differences, the story repeated itself in other two villages in which my grandfather was appointed as a locum tenens. In the year 2000, I think, he retired for good: he was 84, and he had to admit that, this time, he really was not physically capable anymore to do his job. But he kept going to that church close to our house until the beginning of 2004, when he tragically had to recognize that he could not walk and stand too much.

I think that these three stories about my grandfather say very much about him – and, probably, about my reasons for not going to church and priests anymore* (although I still believe in God). As I already said, a whole age died together with my grandfather – and I’m afraid that its values and virtues died too.

* In fact, there are other reasons, too. For example, if you are an Orthodox Christian and usually go to Church, you don’t want to know – believe me! – what my grandfather said about our two last Patriarchs (that is, Teoctist and Daniel) and about their relationships with the Securitate (The Romanian Communist Intelligence Service). Another reason is that two of his colleagues, who attended his funeral, behaved like anything else, but priests. One of them was asking me, while my grandfather’s coffin was still in the church, whether I accept to pay a fine he took while driving in Budapest (!!!!). The other one, who was leading the funeral service while we were going to the grave, was talking at the mobile phone!!! The latter said, just two years before, that my grandfather is like a spiritual father for him…..


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tata-profil Constantin Stavila (14.02.1916 – 04.10.2006)

Yesterday, my grandfather Stavila Constantin would have been reached the age of 92. He was born on February 14, 1916 – the year Romania set aside its neutrality and entered the First World War. His father, Ioan Stavila, was a schoolteacher – but my grandfather never knew him, because he died (as a soldier) on the battlefield.

So my grandfather (together with his four older brothers and one sister) was raised by his mother, with the considerable help of her father (that is, my grandfather’s grandfather, Gheorghe Ursache, a Christian Orthodox priest).

tata-mic My granfather is the little one, who holds his mother’s left hand

My grandfather learned everything he knew from his grandfather (who reached the age of 92). This old priest was a true believer and a strong man – yes, he upheld his faith, even when the Russian soldiers destroyed his house, beat him, and threw him naked in a ditch.

005preotgheorgheursachi01101938-1853-1945 Gheorghe Ursachi (1853-1945). The picture was taken on 01.10.1938

My grandfather, Constantin Stavila, entered the Faculty of Theology together with other 500 colleagues. But only 25 individuals finished their studies, and my grandfather was on the second place, if we consider the grades he took. He became an Orthodox priest on November 12, 1940, and was appointed as a priest in Voinesti, Slobozia. He was one of the few priests who had the courage to go to war, on the Romanian-Russian front (that is, the Second World’s War). Something about some of his activities in Transnistria (The Republic of Moldavia) can be read here.

tata-militar tata-pe-front In the first picture (02.02.1937), before going to war. In the second picture, on the frontline in the (actual) Republic of Moldavia (or Transnistria, if you like)

He married my grandmother (Elena Stavila) and they had a boy (my uncle, Vasile) and a daughter (my mother, Hristina). Although he had very good references, and many professors and colleagues asked him to become an orthodox scholar, he preferred to remain a country priest: he was not ready to give up his principles and support the new communist regime.

tata-si-mama My grandparents (14.02.1990 – my grandfather is 74)

In the communist era, he was listening every day the BBC Radio and Radio Free Europe. One day (1986), he was beaten by the Securitate (that is, the communist Intelligence Service): he was preaching against the regime, and he refused to uncover the secret of confession…

People always loved him. In fact, I like to think that his life’s motto was the famous passage from I Corinthians 13: 1-13, that can be read here. Probably this is why people never forgot him: even after his retirement (in 1992), people were still coming to see him.

In February 2006, he fell and broke his leg. He underwent an operation, but unfortunately he never recovered, although I and my grandmother took care of him every day in the following 8 months. In September 2006 I arrived in Budapest – and after three weeks, on October 4, 2006, he died.

tata-final One picture I love

I know that my humble words are useless (indeed, what’s in a word?) – but I still wanted to wrote them – neutral as they are – in order to remind those people who knew him. A part of my heart died with him. And a whole age died – an age in which faith, patience, love, courage, and caring for people still meant something. [Read the second post about my grandfather here]

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Pe data de 15 aprilie 1999, in numarul special de Sfintele Pasti al revistei iesene Opinia Studenteasca, imi aparea un articol jucaus despre bunicul meu, preotul Constantin Stavila, si despre unele din diversele situatii bizare in care acesta s-a aflat. Am gasit articolul intr-o cutie prafuita din podul casei, si ma grabesc sa il reproduc aici, cu o ciudata senzatie de batrinete, amestecata cu un sentiment de inutilitate si epuizare…

[Andrei Stavilă, Dintre cei pe care mi i-ai dat, n-am pierdut nici unul, în: “Opinia Studentească”, anul XXVI, 1999, Serie Nouă, Nr. 33, 15 aprilie, p. 6]

Bunicul meu si pariul lui Pascal


  • mîna care „omorîia” în numele Sfintei Biserici n-a putrezit nici după sapte ani

“Că v-am dat vouă pildă, ca, precum v-am făcut Eu vouă, să faceti si voi. Adevărat, zic vouă: Nu este sluga mai mare decît stăpînul său, nici solul mai mare decît cel pe care l-a trimis el” (Ioan, 13, 15-16)

Stiti, părinte, cum sînt popii ăstia tineri…

Stavilă Constantin a fost hirotonisit preot în 1940, repartizîndu-i-se parohia Slobozia-Voinesti. A făcut războiul pe frontul din Basarabia, într-o perioadă cînd nici călugării nu mai aveau curaj să intre în linia întîi. Apoi, în timp de pace, a slujit parohiile Bulbucani, Gropnita, Slobozia, Lespezi, Cogeasca. După cincizeci de ani de preotie, bunicul meu a iesit la pensie. Înainte, eu si bunica eram adevarate secretare: îi organizam minutios programul încărcat cu nunti si botezuri, înmormîntări si parastase, praznice si sfintiri de case… Acum, cu pensionarea lui, noi am intrat în somaj. Cu toate acestea, încă mai vin la el vechi prieteni sau cunostinte pentru slujbele amintite. Sînt obisnuiti cu “stilul” bunicului: “Stiti, părinte, popii ăstia tineri…”

El îi ascultă, zîmbind. Apoi, cu toată povara adunată în cei optzeci si trei de ani, scoate din geantă crucea, patrafirul, o carte veche de rugăciuni (care a apartinut bunicului său, preot si el), încercînd să-i multumească pe toti. În majoritatea cazurilor, a reusit. Probabil că bunicul are o “relatie” specială acolo, sus: tot mai multi necunoscuti vin în ultima vreme la “părintele batrîn, care citeste cum scrie la carte”.

Minune: batrîna a murit!

Maria a fost în tinerete foarte credincioasă. Avînd însă un nepot preot, a cunoscut îndeaproape cum poate ceda păcatelor o fată bisericească. Cu timpul, repulsia fată de cler a îndepărtat-o de religie, preschimbînd-o într-o femeie păcătoasă, blamată si ocolită de satul întreg. Blasfemiile sale nu mai conteneau, bătrîna trăind într-o încăpătînată ceartă cu Dumnezeu si cu lumea. Acum, paralizată, îsi trăia ultimele clipe: refuza împărtăsania cu orice chip si simplele aluzii ale apropiatilor la binecuvîntarea unui preot o îngrozeau.

Bunicul era foarte bolnav în vremea aceea si tot amîna vizita ce trebuia s-o facă Mariei, spre disperarea rudelor batrînei. “Dacă e dat de la Dumnezeu sa fie iertată, nu moare ea neîmpărtăsită…”, îi încuraja bunica.

Într-un tîrziu, l-am însotit pe mult asteptatul preot în locuinta bolnavei, nevoit fiind să maimutăresc postul cîntăretului de strană. Totusi, am primit în plus rolul secundar si deloc usor al unui dentist: trebuia să tin deschis într-un fel sau altul maxilarul paraliticei, c-un instrument bizar, confectionat din coada unei linguri. Cum eforturile mele au cunoscut un esec răsunător, Sfînta Taină urma să-i fie strecurată printre dinti. Însă, ciudat!, la apropierea cuminecăturii de capul suferindei, gura ei s-a deschis lacomă pentru a primi ceea ce ratiunea, apoi boala, refuzase.

Mergeam împreună cu bunicul spre casă, cînd strigătele din spatele nostru ne-au oprit din drum. Cineva alerga spre noi gîfîind, să ne anunte vestea cea mare: “pacienta” tocmai îsi dăduse obstescul sfîrsit. “Minune, părinte!”, a izbucnit omul, în timp ce eu gîndeam, cu mintea îmbibată de stiintele pozitive, la frica de Dumnezeu a oamenilor simpli. I-am zîmbit bunicului, cu înteles, dar el a tăcut, privind în gol. N-a scos o vorbă ziua întreagă.

Ce se întîmplă cînd icoana Sfintei Fecioare e zvîrlită în grupul sanitar sătesc

Zilele trecute, i-am spus despre tema numărului special al Opiniei Studentesti (“Săptămîna patimilor în sapte reportaje” – n.m.). Mi-a răspuns pe loc, fără drept de replică: nici o suferintă a omului nu se compară cu patimile lui Hristos. Acceptă însă provocarea si, la o cană zdravănă de cafea, îsi aminteste, cu o fluiditate incredibilă, zeci de nume, persoane, locuri, evenimente. Pe multi i-a mai ajutat bunicul meu să cîstige pariul lui Pascal…

Lui Cazacu Petrache, dascăl în parohia Cogeasca, îi plăcea mult haiducia, mai ales cînd era vorba de Sfînta Biserică. Omul a murit, si la dezgropăciunea după sapte ani, groparii au constatat îngroziti că mîna dreaptă, spre deosebire de restul corpului, nu putrezise deloc. Au urmat slujbe, rugăciuni, molifte…

Si cazul lui Vasile Morgoci din Jigoreni a uimit plebea. Vasile Morgoci a fost obligat de sefii comunisti din comună să arunce la grupul sanitar sătesc icoana Sfintei Fecioare. După scurt timp, i-au paralizat ambele mîini. Interventia bunicului a remediat relatia bărbatului cu Divinitatea Si sătenii spun că, peste un an, în zia îngropării sale, Vasile zîmbea…

Multe a văzut preotul Constantin Stavilă în cei optzeci si trei de ani, pe care nu-i trădează deloc… Unele tin direct de Revista fenomenelor paranormale, si am preferat să evit evocarea lor.

Îi iartă pe sărmanii a căror suferintă îi poate arunca în rătăciri naive, cum sînt credinta în vrăji tigănesti sau, vai!, într-un ateism molipsitor. Obsesia vietii bunicului meu a fost pariul lui Pascal, mai corect încercarea de a-i ajuta pe ceilalti să-l cîstige. Însă acum, pentru prima dată în viată, este sceptic în privinta viitorului. Bunicul meu rabdă, iartă si asteaptă…


Preotul Constantin Stavilă (stinga), alaturi de Preotul Nicolae Rusu, in Parohia “Toma Cozma” din Iasi, 25.02.1996

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