“Even if you or any of you should kill me, know that I have forgiven you!”

One evening, 40-50 students were brought in from other rooms. I found out later that they had passed through Pitesti but had not reached the stage of re-education expected by Țurcanu et al. […]

Among the students brought in the last tranche was an old friend of mine. Convicted in 1941, he was released in Galda in 1946. In 1948-1949 he was a student at the Faculty of Agronomy in Timișoara and was arrested in the avalanche of those years. Transferred from one security service to another and from one prison to another during the investigation, he did not reach Pitești in good time and was taken to Gherla for re-education. Constantin Pascu, however, was a faithful young man of granite character. He was severely beaten in a special room, he did not speak a word and he categorically stood up to the torturers.

When he was taken to room 99, I did not identify him, [because] it was impossible to look at another person or to exchange information. You inferred from what was going on around you rather than making direct contact with someone. During this time, I prayed to God within myself to resist or die without compromise. I lived in a state of unquestioning joy and obeyed orders without reservation. It was like madness, the pleasure of being tortured. In this way I resisted the longest and most violent of all the tortures. […]

The [re-educators], however, speculated on the mental disposition I showed to obey the orders given to me without reserve. [When I heard my name called, I thought I was being called to do something special or to be punished. Before I knew what to do, I was ordered:

– Hold this, and a club blow was applied on my back.

With both hands I grasped something sticking up, wrapped in a sheet. It was the one lying down. The blows came from the soles of my feet. Livinski and Vasile Pușkasu struck like blacksmiths striking an anvil. So I held the man’s legs, which were creaking with pain, and made myself, for the moment unconscious, a participant in his torment. When I came to my senses, I raised my head and cried out:

– No more! I won’t hold it anymore! And I let go of the victim.

They silenced me with a blow on the head and I fell down with the tortured man. They uncovered the beaten man and I recognised Costică Pascu. Awakened from my delirium, I began to cry, sobbing without being able to stop. I had fallen into the devil’s subtle trap, speculating on my desire for obedience to the beatings. I remembered the teaching of the Holy Fathers: “The devil, when he cannot overcome you by the things of the left, lying, stealing, fornication, etc., pushes you to the things of the right, gives you the desire to go beyond them, to think you are strong in virtue. Then you fall by what you thought you were strong in. […] In a moment of inattention on the part of the overseers, when I was right next to Costică Pascu, in position, with a voice that could not be reproduced in any way, he whispered to me from his spiritual height:

– Even if you or one of you should kill me, know that I have forgiven you!

[…] I have wept a lot for this mistake, this lack of spiritual discernment, as the Holy Fathers call it, and I am still weeping today. Forgive me, brother Costică!

(Virgil Maxim, Imn pentru crucea purtată. Abecedar duhovnicesc pentru un frate de cruce, ediția a II-a, Editura Antim, București, 2002, pp. 267-268)

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