January 30, 2020

The Three Hierarchs and the Calendar Issue (Elder Cleopa Ilie)

Fr. Calistrat Bobu (+ 1975)

While serving as head sacristan, Brother Constantine (Elder Cleopa Ilie before his tonsure) was an eyewitness to several miracles which occurred during the Divine Liturgy at Sihastria. He recalled these in later years and would recount them to those who came to him for their spiritual edification. Among these he recalled the following:

"Look at at what happened to a very good priest, Fr. Calistrat Bobu. He was a known spiritual father and confessor, but he went to see a nun who was living as a hermitess in the forest. At that time there were about fifty known monks and nuns living alone like that in the woods. This particular nun continued to adhere to the Old Calendar, in opposition to the decision of the Holy Synod of the Romanian Orthodox Church. When Fr. Calistrat visited her, she said:

'The Holy Spirit does not descend when you serve the Divine Liturgy, because you have gone over to the New Calendar!'

From that time on, Fr. Calistrat had doubts about the decision of the Holy Synod.

Fr. Calistrat came back home and told our abbot. My abbot back then was from the Holy Mountain, Hieroschemamonk Ioanichie, from whom I received tonsure. He was the kind of monk that would only eat on Saturdays and Sundays, and during the rest of the days of the week — nothing. On Sundays, he would only ask me: 'Would you happen to have a little bit of cabbage juice and a bit of wheat broth?'

For twenty years he served the Holy Liturgy all by himself and took strength only through the Holy Eucharist. When the calendar was adjusted, he fasted for twenty-three days. He didn’t taste anything, until the Holy Three Hierarchs appeared to him and told him to listen to the Church! To keep the calendar as our Church does!

Once while I was serving my turn as sacristan, I noticed that the antidoron for the abbot was white and very sweet, while the one for Fr. Calistrat was green and almost spoiled. I asked Abbot Ioanichie about this.

'Father, why is it that when Fr. Calistrat serves, his antidoron is green and rancid?'

'O my son, he serves with doubt in his mind! He went to an ascetic nun in the forest who told him that the Holy Spirit does not descend upon the Holy Gifts at the Liturgy because of the calendar issue. I told him he is going to endure trials because of this doubt in his mind.'

Then when Fr. Calistrat was serving the Divine Liturgy and invoked the grace of the Holy Spirit, he saw that the Lamb had become flesh, and blood was flowing on the holy diskos and onto the holy antimension. Then when he looked into the chalice he saw blood. He called me over to the altar table: 'Brother Constantine, come over here! What do you see?'

'O Fr. Calistrat! The Holy Communion has become real flesh and blood! Our abbot told you that you would get into trouble if you lose faith in the calendar, because the calendar is neither a holy thing nor a dogma! It’s just a “clock” to measure time. It’s already been canonically adjusted a few times until now.'

Then he sent me to call the abbot. When Fr. Ioanichie came into the altar he immediately told those at the kleros to read from the Psalter. Then he turned to Fr. Calistrat and said, 'So Fr. Calistrat, now do you believe that the Holy Spirit descends upon the Gifts?'

'Forgive me, Father!' Fr. Calistrat answered and fell on his knees.

Fr. Ioanichie continued to speak to Fr. Calistrat: 'Look! Has the Holy Spirit come? Has he transformed this into flesh? Is this blood? Do you still have doubts, Father?'

'I do believe, Father. I beg you to forgive me!'

'Gather up the Holy Mysteries!'

Then with a chisel they made a small hole in the leg of the altar table, because the altar table is the tomb of Christ, and they buried the Holy Mysteries there according to the teachings of the Holy Fathers. They then washed the chalice in the basin in the altar, together with the holy antimension. I stayed there for several hours until the entire Psalter had been read. Then they began the Divine Liturgy again from the point of the Proskomidi: 'And one of the soldiers pierced His side with a lance...' They continued through the Divine Liturgy, and the miracle did not repeat itself.

'Now do you believe?' the abbot asked Fr. Calistrat.

'I believe Father.'

Our abbot gave him a forty day penance.

'Why don’t you believe what I tell you, and instead, you go to old women to teach you about the calendar?'

This was in 1932. I was here in the summer of 1932. I came to this place in 1929."