On September 7-9, 2018, His Grace Bishop Macarie Drăgoi of the Romanian Orthodox Diocese of Northern Europe visited the Romanian communities in Copenhagen and Oslo. Saturday. On the 8th of September 2018, on the feast of the Nativity of the Mother of God, he celebrated the Holy Mass in the parish church in Copenhagen and baptized three children: a little girl Ileana, the first born in a mixed Romanian-Danish family and the twins of a young Romanian family, brother and sister, who received the names of Righteous Joachim and Ana, the Parents of the Mother of God. On Sunday, September 9, 2018, on the feast day of the Divine Parents, Joachim and Ana, the hierarch served the Divine Liturgy in the church of the Romanian parish in Oslo and baptized Ana, the second child in the family of the parish priest in the capital of Norway. As usual, the hierarch gave gifts to little children, provided spiritual guidance to the young and to the families of parishioners, and at the end of the ministry the icons of the Mother of God “The One Showing the Way” in Copenhagen and the “Immediate Listener” in Oslo were celebrated.
The Word of Teaching of His Grace Father Bishop Macarie in Oslo, September 9, 2018:
“Yesterday, the feast of the Birth of the Mother of God was a day of joy and celebration for our parish community in Copenhagen. On the day when Our Lady was born, I baptized a little girl Ileana, the first child of a mixed Romanian-Danish family, and the twins of a young family of Romanians, brother and sister who received the beautiful names of the Righteous Ioachim and Ana, the Parents of The Mother of God. Also, in Copenhagen last year, I baptized another child who was unexpectedly conceived. Her mother was 47 years old and the baby was born after two more cesareans, perfectly healthy, despite the fears of the doctors who suspected she would suffer from Down syndrome. And today, on the Feast of the Divine Parents, Joachim and Ana, I baptized Ana, the second little girl in the family of the parish priest here in Oslo, Father Alexander and his wife Mădălina.
Like many other conceptions and births, each has its “story”, in which we find, more secretly or in sight, the wonderful care of God for this great blessing that is the conception and birth of children. Wonderful is the Lord in His things! What can be more wonderful than giving birth, bringing a person in the world? There cannot be a greater gift, but no greater responsibility, concern for those married.
Beloved brothers and sisters, let us remember the Epiclesis of the Divine Liturgy: Yours from Yours, We bring you all and everything. What are the gifts we receive, who fulfill, but who also make are responsible, which we reflect upon on these holidays?
First is the gift of marriage. Behold, we have Joachim and Ana, male and female, married according to the will and the thought of God, establishing a family. Marriage, therefore, is a gift we received from God. It is not a human convention, it is not a thing that keeps changing according to conventions, but that is related to the human nature and the plan that God has with man. It is a blessing, but also a responsibility. And for the gifts of God we have duties. The duty to keep them as they are and to put them in our work. Marriage is from God, and must be put into work for God. We have the duty to respect, with fear and tremor, this Mystery of the Wedding, which the Holy Apostle Paul himself tells us it is great. If we do not respect this mystery, if we do not defend marriage, then we not only show us indifferent to the gift of God, but also make ourselves opponents of His plan for mankind. The Saints and Divine Fathers Joachim and Ana are an example of how marriage, sacrifice, patience and love for one another can be put into the work, a love that is not only consumed in “two,” it is not selfish, it is a love that is fulfilled by obedience to the will of God.
Then it is the gift of conception and the birth of children. For Saints Ioachim and Ana, this gift was obviously divine work, given their known condition. For any of us, the birth of babies is, above all, a gift that makes us responsible, creates new duties. Above all, beloved ones, we must have the consciousness that the infant or these infants who are born to us are not ours as a kind of possession, property. They are, above all, the infants of God. The Prophet Isaiah says, “Behold, I and the infants whom God has given me for signs and wonders in Israel” (Isaiah 8:18). Behold, therefore, that our infants are born in the world to become signs of the work of God in our lives in this world. Our infants, our children, become, as we grow them, our Christian testimony, faith, before the world and God. God does not give us children to take care of them so they know how only to get along in the world, or to have a good financial situation, a life of “success”. He gives them to us for “signs and wonders”, that is, to His glory, to the fulfilment of faith, to a truly living life, the life in Christ.
At the same time, there is also the gift of communion. Saints Joachim and Ana became not only the parents of a special child but became the parents of the Most Holy Mother of God. They have become, through their Daughter, which is more righteous than the cherubims, and even greater than the seraphims, the “divine parents”, that is, the parents of all mankind, the new ones grafted into Christ. They did not hesitate, though they spilled so many rivers of tears, they raised so many sighs before God, to give the little girl to the Lord to “sacrifice” her to the Most High. We could say that when at the tender age of 3 years they handed her to the Temple, they “lost” a daughter, but they won a Mother of God. By doing so, they have entered into communion with the Living God and His Church, have entered into communion with the saints, but also with us, who are fighting here for salvation. On our small scale, beloved faithful, we are called to become parents of mankind, being the parents of our infants, that is, working according to the will and the thought of God, always seeking for salvation and for the good of the people, always seeking to bring our children before God, “Yours from Yours, we bring You all and everything”. Last but not least is the gift of repentance. In ancient Israel, families without children were regarded as stigmatized, even cursed. The righteous Joachim and Ana, as we know, have retreated into the wilderness and shed many tears before God with deep repentance and hot prayer. Their repentance did not, however, lead to only the obliteration of the “shame” of having no children, but to the birth of the one by which the work of our salvation, of the human race began: The Mother of God. Saint Seraphim of Sarov said: “Acquires peace, and thousands of people will be saved around you”. Paraphrasing and taking the example of the life of the Holy Fathers Joachim and Ana, we can say: repent in the Church, not outside of it where there is no salvation, and not just you, but with you thousands will be saved around you. Amin. ”