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May 23, 2011

Eugene Ionesco and the Elder On Mount Athos

Eugène Ionesco (26 November 1909 – 28 March 1994) was a Romanian and French playwright and dramatist, and one of the foremost playwrights of the Theatre of the Absurd.

In an interview with French magazine Paris-Match, Eugene Ionesco mentions the following experience he had on Mount Athos:

I was born in an Orthodox family and I lived in Paris. At twenty-five years, I was a genuine young man of the secular culture of the then Paris. I got the idea to visit Mount Athos because of its position as - and indeed was - a place of asceticism in the Orthodox Church. And there I had another thought in mind: to confess. So I went and found a hieromonk, a spiritual father. What did I say to him? The usual sins of a secular young man who lives without knowing God. The hieromonk, after hearing me, said:

'Do you believe in Christ my child?'

'Yes, yes, I believe Father. Besides, I am baptized Orthodox Christian.'

'Well, my child, do you believe and accept fully that Christ is God and Creator of the world and us?'

I lost it, because this was the first time a person put forward this question to me, and which I had to answer honestly and take a position. Not just if I believe someone made the world, but that this God, the Creator of the world, has to do with me. And that I have a personal relationship with him! I replied:

'Father, I believe, but help me understand this fact well.'

'If you really believe, then all corrects itself.'

This incident caused the shift of Ionesco's life, who up to deep old age, being famous and notorious, lived as a pious and deeply faithful Orthodox Christian.

What do the words of the elder mean, that "If you really believe, then all corrects itself"? He wanted to show Ionesco that belief in God is not some abstract theory, or words full of hot air. Rather, faith in Christ means complete trust and obedience to a Person who is the Creator and my Savior at the same time.

Therefore, faith in Christ is not only in words, but mainly works of conscious repentance and returning back to the will of Christ and the embrace of Christ, which is the Church.

See the interview below with Ionesco: