In this video recording of his 78th anniversary, Fr. Teofil Paraian (+2009) talks about a form of thankfulness to God by smiling. He also talks about his 54 years spent in the monastery. Fr. Teofil was born blind, but this didn’t stop him to become a well-known spiritual Father in Romania. He was called “the Elder of Joy”.
Video source: chrf2006, March 3, 2007
I am a blessed old man, I have been living in the “place of happiness”, and I am a blessed old man…
And I thank God. And out of this happiness and love, as much as I have in my soul, I smile at God thanking Him: Lord, receive my thanks, Lord, receive my smile that accompanies my gratitude.
I start my speech not with a word, but with a smile. Actually, I start all my speeches with a smile. When I go out to preach, I smile first. Why? Because the smile also says something. And maybe it says more than the words. In our divine services, we read and say the following words from the Psalm 21 [20 LXX]: “you meet him with rich blessings, you make him most blessed forever and you make him glad with the joy of your presence.”
How little we think about God’s smile…
We know that God is light, we know that God is spirit, we know that God is love. Love manifests itself, it flows, it is not something that is not known.
And love in general, human love and divine love and angelic love and the love of the saints, no doubt that it pours out with a smile, with the joy that manifests itself in a benevolent smile.
“You make him glad with the smile of Your face…” It’s a miracle to think that God smiles at you. And at the same time, that you, a human being, can and must smile at God.
The truth is that in the Gospel of Luke we also read the words: “Blessed are you who weep now, for you shall laugh.” [Lk. 6:21] So, not only are we allowed, but we are called to rejoice.
We are called to rejoice and we can express our joy in a smile. I stand before God with gratitude and I smile at God. I smile at God because I can’t help but smile at Him… for all the blessings He gave me… It is impossible for God to be indifferent to us, to me, and then all I have to do is stand in front of God and thank Him and smile at Him.
And I smile at God for all the good things that were many and unexpected for me. At least the 54 years since I have been at the monastery are years of joy and happiness, which is not lost but remains forever.
Because I spent 54 years in a place of joy and happiness, in a place where there is only clear skies and where one doesn’t miss anyone. But they are only accomplishments… I say that the monastery is the porch of Heaven, the house of God, the gate of Heaven, the place of fulfillment… It is the Heaven on earth and the place of happiness. I spent 54 of the 78 years in the porch of Heaven, the house of God, in the place of fulfillment… At the gate of Heaven, in the place of happiness… and in the Heaven on earth.
It is impossible to have such blessings in this world and not thank God, by looking at Him and smiling at Him with gratitude. And that’s what we all need to do.