on hesychast spirituality dating from the third to the fifteenth century) had been smuggled in. Staniloae is an example of an intellectual who, while appearing to make concessions to the status quo, in fact through his writing undermined the very principles on which the political structure was based.11
Under communism the hesychast tradition enjoyed an astonishingly vigorous revival among Orthodox believers. Spiritual fathers such as Hieromonk Arsenie Boca (1910-89) at Brancoveanu monastery, Sambata de Sus in Transylvania and Archimandrite Ilie Cleopa (1912-98)12 at Sihastria monastery in Moldavia inspired powerful spiritual movements and attracted large numbers of Christians deprived both of the church sacraments and of the liberty to confess their faith.
Between 1945 and 1958, the Romanian hesychast tradition was further revitalised by the 'Burning Bush' movement at the monastery of St Antim Ivireanul in Bucharest, where monks and lay intellectuals sought a deeper apprehension of the Jesus Prayer under the guidance of the remarkable scholar and staretz Vasile Vasilachi (1909-2003). Along with many of his fellow neo-hesychasts he was to be imprisoned for discussing patristic works, which were held to be 'inimical to the regime'.
Celebration of the Eucharist was also a fundamental act of resistance. Though deprived of formal church ritual, inmates of political prisons became a Eucharistic community focused on and sustained by the communion of their faith. The following description (corroborated by many other prisoners' accounts) conveys a sense of the extraordinary power of religious experience which, celebrated in countless different ways, in the most ingenious and courageous forms, contributed to the witness of the church against state-directed atheism:
On Easter Eve in May 1951, the priests celebrated a Liturgy attended by all the political prisoners working as forced labour in the mine of Baia Sprie, in the north of Transylvania. A few minutes before midnight all the working prisoners of the shift gathered in a lateral gallery where an altar was arranged with the face of Jesus figured on it by means of the smoke of the calcium carbide cap lamps. Gimlets and drills of various lengths were suspended on the ceiling in the form ofa huge xylophone. In order to mark the moment of the Resurrection we shot with cannons improvised from pipes in which we put calcium carbide and water.
11 Filocalia, sau, Culegere din scrierile sfintilor parinfi care arata cum se poate omul cumfi, lumina si desavdrsi, trans. D. Staniloae, 12 vols. (Sibiu: Dacia Traiana, 1947-79); D. Staniloae, Din Istorialsihasmului in Ortodoxia Romana (Bucharest: Scripta, 1992).
12 A. Popescu, 'Archimandrite Cleopa Ilie - the good Shepherd', The Guardian, 8 December 1998,18.
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