romanian literary monthly

~ Alexandru Nemoianu: „Archbishop Valerian D. Trifa: Romanian Language Writer“

The achievements of Archbishop Valerian D. Trifa were very numerous, and in many areas of activity: as a spiritual leader, as an administrator, and as an editor. However, one of his most remarkable and very rich activities, that of writer, was somehow less emphasized.

In this area, as in all his activities, he was a man of action, not so much preoccupied with „why“ but rather with „how.“ That was how to find the best solution to move things forward. Consequently, as a writer, he manifested himself not as an author of scholarly tomes, but as the author of not so lengthy and very direct and to the point articles.

In fact, he was a journalist (writing and administering newspapers) from a very young age, so young that one may be tempted to say that he was born a journalist. But in this area, his activity reached its peak in the United States, and the contents of his writings addressed problems pertaining to the Romanian-American community. For this reason, Archbishop Valerian will remain not only as a remarkable Romanian language writer of the Romanian-American group, but also as one to have a major impact upon this community by writing in Romanian.

In their overwhelming majority, his writings were published in the „Solia,“ the official organ of the Romanian Orthodox Episcopate of America. His passion and dedication for this activity was probably equaled only by his humbleness. Few people were aware, or are aware, that for many years, Archbishop Valerian was the author of most of the articles published in „Solia,“ and that he was also its editor, administrator, and proofreader. In fact, the only articles he signed were the Pastoral Letters. According to their content, his articles could be divided into theological, pastoral, and educational.

In the theological articles, Archbishop Valerian was an ardent defender and promoter of the Orthodox faith. He took issue on matters of theological dispute, and very successfully defended the Orthodox faith and its dogma. Toward this end, he used a multitude of information and the writings of the Holy Fathers. He did this in a very discreet manner. He never tried to emphasize his erudition but always promoted the interests of the Church and of his readers.

In his demonstrations he was convincing, warm, and always human. He never rebated the quality of the information but was aware that the less educated people were even more in need and entitled to explanations. He was a tireless and enthusiastic promoter of the Orthodox faith. He passionately presented its history, evolution and its beauty.

The pastoral articles were very numerous. In these articles, the significance of feasts and events was explained. These articles also addressed the direct spiritual needs of the Romanian-American Orthodox community. The articles addressed and answered questions that always lingered in the soul: what is the fast and why to fast; why to be honest, loyal and steadfast; and why to pray.

These articles also addressed problems of practical church administration: the building of new churches; the Sunday schools; the „Vatra“ religious camps. In these articles the Archbishop was always direct and ready with practical solutions and examples from life.

In what can be grouped under the category of „educational“ articles. Archbishop Valerian gave full measure to his main function, that of Bishop who guides and „rightly defines“ the truth. In fact, it is sort of difficult to separate those articles, because all of his articles contained a certain amount of educational guidance. These articles were addressed to all the people: men and women, elderly, adults and young. The old he comforted and guided toward spiritual values. The adults he urged to use all their talents to enrich their life and the life of their community with good deeds.

In all these articles, the Archbishop carefully avoided the use of a solemn, sententious, or grave tone that so easily can become deadly boring. Rather, he used a direct, friendly, person to person manner that often was „seasoned“ with a wise joke because he professed what the Latins called „ridendo castigat mores“ (to straight habits by laughing). For the young, he cared with a passion.

It is well known that the Archbishop always had a very special relation with the young people. He loved to see them around him and on the „Vatra“ grounds, and his goal was to see that they were involved and committed to the Episcopate’s life.

He insisted on having the young people properly educated to be the guarantee of the future. He strongly believed that without the youth, there will be no future for the Romanian-American community. He loved the young people so much that he always accepted them and made allowances in his heart for their limitations. On this topic an addition is necessary.

It was said many times that the Archbishop was a man ahead of his time, and this reflection is very correct regarding the youth. It was he, this time in the position of a Romanian language writer, who understood that the future of the young generation, and for that matter the future of the Romanian-American community, will be the use of the English language. It is hard to say if he was happy with that fact, but it was he who understood that this was an objective process beyond preferences. It was he who realized that this process was unavoidable and could not be ignored, without facing devastating consequences. As such, it was he who encouraged and promoted this transition.

In this he proved that his reason and the interest of his people were above sentiments of intimate desires, and that is the difference between the common and the exceptional man. He promoted the use of the English language, and he realized that this will soon be the language of our community, but in the meantime he did his utmost to promote interest in Romanian traditions and to preserve the heritage and the Romanian-American character of our group.

It was already mentioned that his style was very direct, picturesque and always ready with a practical solution. The articles were written in Romanian and he was first and foremost a Romanian language writer.

The Romanian he used was the language of the Romanian newspapers from Transylvania at the end of the XlXth and the beginning of the XXth century. That language was cultivated by famous newspapers which promoted the rights of the Romanians. It was a very clear language that was equally accessible to intellectuals and to the less educated people. That very beautiful language was also used by the Romanian-American press and is still in use in what is a clear sign of Romanian-American continuity. In my opinion. Archbishop Valerian will remain as the Master of this language.

It is important to remember Archbishop Valerian’s activity as a writer, because this gives an even greater significance to the pledge made by a very young Viorel D. Trifa when he was elected Bishop in Chicago on July 4th, 1951: „/ give you all that God has given me.“ He most definitely fulfilled that pledge. In this light we think that the publication of Archbishop Valerian D. Trifa’s writings is of the utmost actuality.


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