“We learned it simply at the time. But goodness is only for strong souls and a solid nature,” said Nikolai Steinhardt, a Romanian writer and publisher of Jewish origins, with affection. On March 29, 1989, he died on his way to Bucharest, far from the only place he was His home” in it, which is the Rohya Monastery.
The life of Father Nikolai Steinhardt is in itself a story, and perhaps one of the most beautiful stories ever written. This is worth saying, writing and reading in the Holy Week that follows the Feast of the Resurrection of the Lord. Some people remain landmarks forever despite the times and difficulties of fate. Nikolai Steinhardt is one of them.
A story about suffering, about the love of God, about the torment of communist prison, about faith, about happiness, about the sacrament of baptism that we receive in any age. Indeed, “Happiness Magazine” is, as Dan Shelaro described it, “a contemporary book with God.” Narrated by N. Steinhardt, a brilliant Jew who converted to Orthodoxy, in The Diary of Happiness describes the drama experienced by all those who were thrown into communist prisons. It is, at the same time, a real lesson in what it means to do the impossible, even in unimaginable circumstances.
the beauty of hell
For Nikolai Steinhardt, imprisonment, though seemingly paradoxical, was a real blessing. Because here he met people for whom his religious affiliation was no longer important, he accepted him to Orthodoxy, the Jew who always felt that his true calling was the Christian religion. Indeed, it was there, in prison, that the Jew Nicholas Steinhardt met Christ.
Here is what he confessed about this period of his life:
“A prison by security, a port, an oasis, a paradise. In Fort 13 Jilava, I am imprisoned with Sandu Lazarescu, the former Legion. I apologize for being a soldier in the Legion, it would be very unlikely that I should be so close to him. I then replied apologizing to him for being a Jew and that I should He must hold on to me, and in terms of guilt, we are all guilty, alike, together. Waves of joy overflow upon us, flow, overwhelm us, and complete us. (…) I began to feel that Christ is in prison. “I cannot believe that Christ is in prison,” said Nikolai Steinhardt. Everything can be very complete, and I am very lucky.”
Hunger, insults and beatings..and hope!
Steinhardt is moved from cell to cell, suffers hunger, curses, and beatings, and turns the place of suffering, the dungeon, into a place of happiness. Nikolai Steinhardt, Nico Aurelio Steinhardt by his real name, was born on July 29, 1912 in the suburbs of Bucharest, as he writes in his autobiography.
He was the son of a Jewish family who moved, when little Niko entered school, in Calea Moşilor no. 208 from Bucharest. His father, Oskar Steinhardt, was an engineer, a colleague of Albert Einstein, at the Zurich Polytechnic in Switzerland. His mother was related to Sigmund Freud, whom the future philosopher visited in Vienna.
He studied at Clemens School, and then at Spiro Heart High School, where he was a classmate of Mircea Eliade, Konstantin Noica, Alexandro Palaiologo, Alexandro Cioronescu. In 1936, he received a doctorate in law, but his career was abruptly interrupted by the ethnic cleansing of the 1940s, when he was sent to perform a humiliating job for a brilliant thinker: a street sweeper. What may seem completely paradoxical to others, Steinhardt has always calmly received his fate.
Experience a strange prophecy
Attracted to Orthodoxy as a child, Steinhardt witnessed a strange prophecy: An Irishman he met in Switzerland prophesied that he, a non-religious Jew, would convert to Christianity. His life changed drastically after he was subjected to the censorship of the communist regime. At the age of 46, he was arrested and will be indicted in the famous Noica-Pillat Trial. All friends of Constantine Noica, including Nikolai Steinhardt, Dino Pilate, Alexandro Palaiologo, Vladimir Strino, Pastorel Teodoriano, Dino Ranetti, etc., will go through the ordeal that will have different names: Gilava, Iod or Guerla …
After being investigated for refusing to testify against Noica, Steinhardt of the “Noika Pilate Group” was sentenced to 13 years in prison for “conspiracy to commit a social crime”. The encounter with God was completed in these places of terrible suffering.
A dream come true: Orthodox baptism!
One of the most exciting episodes is the baptism, right there in the middle of Hell in the Dungeon. On March 15, 1960, Nicu-Aureliu Steinhardt received Orthodox baptism in his cell in Jilava, in a ceremony given by the Bessarabian monk Mina Dobzio. The baptism was witnessed by two Greek Catholic priests in the dungeon, which gave this moment the significance of the ecumenical conversion to Orthodoxy.
“There, in Jilava, in room 18 of the second division (where the blood flowed twice), I received holy baptism – on March 15, 1960 (…) I was baptized properly, hastily, with water from an enamel-salted kettle. I had no colleague , the former director of the office of Marshal Antonescu, Emmanuel Fedracho ”, Steinhardt later admitted in his autobiography which he wrote in the monastery of St. Anne Rohia in Maramures.
Nikolai Steinhardt’s words about Christ are great and wonderful. It excites you, but it also lowers you, making you wonder, you helpless one, how much strength, hope, and faith there is in the baptized Jew in the dungeon of the Jilava prison.
Here is his confession from “Happiness Magazine: Regardless of the truth and that the truth is outside Christ, I’d rather stay with Christ then than stay with the truth.”
Nikolai Steinhardt did not spend all 13 years in prison in 1964, as she was the beneficiary of a general amnesty for political prisoners.
Nikolai Steinhardt finds peace in Rohia
Baptized as a Christian in the Darvari Hermitage in central Bucharest, Steinhardt was able to find peace in Rohia, an oasis of peace discovered in 1973 with the help of Konstantin Noica and Jordan Schmidt, following a winding road. Here he was converted to monasticism in 1980, as “Brother Nikolai”, better known as “Friar Nikolai de la Rohia”, a pseudonym chosen to be able to continue publishing his writings.
The Happiness Diary is the book that changes your life
His masterpiece, Happiness Journal, has an equally turbulent history, with many obstacles. The manuscript was completed in 1972, and was confiscated by the Securitate, so the author must reconstruct it from memory. The manuscript was again confiscated, and was eventually printed under pressure from the Western diaspora, who were able to obtain a copy of the manuscript. Radio Free Europe reads entire passages from Steinhardt’s diary, making the printed book the most widely read book in post-revolutionary Romania.
On March 30, 1989, Nikolai Steinhardt’s heart stopped beating at the age of 76. He has spent half his life searching for happiness, and the other half, the last 29 years, living happiness. On the way to the hospital in Baia Marie, the monk from Rohia had a heart attack.
Treasure from a spiritual monastery
The Rohia Monastery is famous throughout the country not only for its legend, as it was built in the rock, but also for its library. The well-hidden and well-protected treasure of Rohia Monastery is the library. To date, more than 40,000 volumes of books have been collected here, and it is one of the largest and most important libraries in Transylvania. The library was organized by Father Nikolai Steinhardt on the model of the great public libraries. .
In Monastery Rohia there is also the cell of Father Nikolai Steinhardt. The dungeon in which Friar Nicolae de la Rohia lived between 1980-1989 is organized as a small museum, and it holds his personal belongings: manuscripts, books, icons, paintings, furniture. Many who read Happiness magazine said it was a life-changing book that they would read over and over again. A book about humiliation in prison, but at the same time about faith, friendship and love of life.
Nikolai Steinhardt said these words more beautifully than anyone else:
“No one becomes a Christian, even if he is baptized like me late in life. The call is always in advance–no matter how deep, subtle, and clever it may be. Logic is always misinterpreted: Find what you have found, find what has been prepared for you and given to you.”
Nowhere did Christ ever ask us to be fools. He invites us to be kind, gentle, honest, and humble at heart, but not stupid. Thousands of demons deceive me, seeing how Christianity is confused with absurd and cowardly devotion. God loves innocence, not ignorance. God, among other things, commands us to be smart.”
“The situation of a Christian is as contradictory as that of Don Quixote. He is human and required to be God. He was created clean and filthy, and he just needs to go back to what he was meant to be. In other words, he must fight to become what he is,” N. wrote. Steinhardt very beautifully in an excerpt from Happiness magazine.
About Nicola Steinhardt
Noun: Nico Aurelian Steinhardt.
date and place of birth: July 29, 1912, the municipality of Panteleimon, Ilfov province.
Studies and professional life: In 1929 he graduated from High School “Spero Heart” in Bucharest. Among his colleagues were: Konstantin Noica, Mircea Eliade, Alexandro Palaiologo, Dino Pilate and Marcel Avramescu.
- He graduated in Law and Letters from the University of Bucharest in 1934, and in 1936 he defended his Ph.D. in Constitutional Law in Bucharest, through his work “Classical Principles and New Directions in Constitutional Law. Criticism of the Work of Leon Duget”. The research was published in the same year.
- He published four books, up to 1937, several translations and collaborated with all the major cultural magazines of the time. He issued five books from the date of his release in August 1964 until his death.
- 14 other works see the light, after December 1989. The actor works: “Through others to himself. Old and New Articles ”(1988)“ Journal of Happiness ”(1991)“ Polyphonic Monologues ”(1991)“ Company Book ”(1995)” Between the Worlds ”(2001) Date and place of death: March 30, 1989, Baia Mare, Maramures Province. He was buried in a spiritual monastery.