There is no need to insist on the theological value, the spiritual wealth, the precision, and the specific conciseness of the thinking, talking, and writing of Father Arsenie or about the homiletic and catechetical importance of these “Living Words” for the Romanian Orthodox Church, words with much power, which illumine and clarify “the ancient paths” (Jeremiah 6:16) of the Holy Fathers. Through these spiritual words, as through other manuscripts, drawings, and sketches kept piously at the Monastic Establishment from Sinaia until the right time for each of them, Father Arsenie is “a watcher, a holy one” (Daniel 4:13 and 4:23) for our Church and nation, at a time and in a world in which “the time is out of joint” (Shakespeare). Sprung from the Word of God and from the Gospel of our Savior Jesus Christ, spoken and written in the most pure philocalic, orthodox, and patristic spirit, according to the Holy Tradition of the Church, the 137 spiritual written pieces of our Father Arsenie bear “flashes of lightning and of thunder” of the grace of the Holy Spirit (cf. Revelation 4:5). Resembling to an extent the “Ascetic Words” of Saint Isaac the Syrian and the Catechisms of Saint Theodor the Learned, as well as those of Saint Simeon the New Theologian, Fr. Arsenie’s words are “the coolness of the breath of wind and of the dew” for our soul and our spiritual lives, through which the angel of the Lord, who came from heaven in the middle of the fiery oven of Babel, extinguished the flame of 49 cubits above the furnace (The Song of the Three Youths 1:23-26). Having as a golden lode the Christian teaching about the “newness of life” (Romans 6:4) through “the renewal of mind” (Romans 12:2), these spiritual words commune with us and make us feel “the steadfastness and the encouragement of the Scriptures” (Romans 15:4). “As a lily among brambles…” (The Song of Solomon 2:2)—through purity, beauty, holiness, love, light, and a beautiful fragrance—this is how one might title a volume with testimonies about the personality, theology, and the life of Father Arsenie.
“While Peter was still saying this, the Holy Spirit fell on all who heard the word” (Acts 10:44). Eternal gratitude to the author, our Most Pious Father Arsenie, most deserved reward to those who labored on this book and a blessing to the readers.
Varset, January 2, 2006
Saint Seraphim of Sarov
Bishop-deputy of Varset