His Grace Macarie of Northern Europe: “Let’s Have the Heart of a Child!” – Interview in the “Orthodox Family” magazine, June 2018

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“If we do not regain the innocence of our heart, we will not enter the Kingdom of Heaven” (His Grace Macarie of Northern Europe)

 

In a world in which people no longer seek the true meaning of life, a world in which people are not and no longer want to be truly sons of God, but they are dominated by what the consumer society offers them, manipulated by the ideologies proposed by those who lead us, the solution is only one: to become like infants to the heart, cleansing us from the passions that enslave us. About this solution speaks to us painfully and lovingly His Grace Macarius, showing us simple, handy ways to save our family, but also our nation. (R.T.)

 

– Your Grace, the Holy Scripture says : “Thou shalt not be as the infant, thou shalt not enter into the Kingdom of Heaven” (Matthew 18: 3). How do we understand, but also fulfill this word?

– If we do not regain the innocence of our heart, we will not enter the Kingdom of Heaven. As we grow, as we mature, we begin to learn at the school of life. In our soul, once innocent, the passions slowly begin to grow as weeds, and as the years pass, these passions become like a wild forest, covering the field of the heart. We age in evil – not necessarily as an age, but as a spiritual state.

But what are these passions? It is all we love and desire, but it belongs to this world alone, all that is attachment to the perishing things that will no longer exist in the Kingdom of Heaven: attachment to success, to the career, to money, to possessions, to the comfort, even our attachment to our merits; then, the sensuality, the pleasures, the worldly power – in short, the self-love, which encompasses all of them.

That innocent child of the past has become a monster of selfishness, in which the passions cemented and became like a second self. That is why we can not enter the Kingdom of Heaven, because we do not even want it – because if we are in such a state, how can we get there? … When we have a moment of awareness and give us taking into account the spiritual poverty we are in, at that moment we understand – not only with the mind, theoretically, but from our own experience – what it means to become in our heart like the infants. To the heart, not to mind! Infants to the heart, but fulfilled men to mind and will.

For this, we should be born again. Birth is not easy – neither the bodily birth nor the spiritual birth. We must discard the old man, the false self, to let the new and true man, grafted into Christ, breathe and grow. Therefore, there is need for repentance, for this sense of sinfulness – not necessarily to certain sins, but to an awareness of our inclination to sin, to our bondage to passions.

There is an inertia in us – the inertia of passions and our passionate attachments, which are still working in the subconscious even after we have passed the threshold of our becoming conscious and assumed Christians. A daily confrontation with this inertia makes us discover gradually what are the wretched desires that are still working in us, which of them determines our choices, the concepts of life …

Of course, in this process, the relationship with the spiritualist is essential, but also our own spiritual cultivation through participation in the ministry, through sacred reading and, last but not least, through spiritual friendships.

 

“Let’s turn our family into a small church”

 

– We are witnessing today the attempt to destroy the souls of our children, but also our family, as an institution. What can we do?

– Know that if we do not turn our family into a small church, we can not stand in front of this world’s spinner. If we do not anchor each and every one as we can, even with our last powers, in the life of the Church, we will fall prey to the forces of darkness, who want to put out the light that flickers in our soul and in the innocent eyes of the children.

We can not have so many illusions about the setting up of this world: it is a great battle that goes, first and foremost on our side, of our family intimacy; and there must be resistance, at the microfamily level, there we have to take the big fight. But we can ease this struggle by proving that we are solidary and gathering together, encourage eachother, bring hope to one another, help in deed and word, to take care not only for our salvation, but also for the salvation of the one next to us.

The children are kidnapped from us, they are alienated from us, whenever we let ourselvesves be stolen by material welfare, by this life of succes, from what we consider a achieving life – home, car, bank savings, high-quality consumer goods, careers – all of these become imperative, after which we build our family life and are induced by a culture of consumption that attempts to market our family life.

Or, if we let go of this way of life, if we follow “to be in the world”, surely we abandon our children to the hands of some who pursue the perverting and destruction of innocence. I have said it and often tell it to parents: letting the child be educated through television and the internet, or only through school and society – because we have a job or a career – is the soul’s destruction of that child.
– You’ve recommended us to turn our family into a small church. How do we actually achieve this?
– As much as possible, it is of great importance to introduce a rhythm, a cadence in family life: the beginning of the day with prayer together, the gathering around the table with prayer, the end of the day with prayer, and the evening worship all in front icons; this, apart from each person’s personal prayer. Such a cadence gives a spiritual and unitary rhythm to the family, multiplying the clocks in which all who make it together are, and more importantly, in a sense and sense. It would not be wrong for somebody in the family to read anything spiritual, either in Scripture or in other useful books of the soul, as in the monastery’s trapeze, in moments of respite or perhaps at the table. The essence is that the family has a workout for Christ as a team; to breathe spiritually together, not to reduce the spiritual family life just on Sunday’s exodus to the church or the personal exertion of each one. If so, unfortunately, different rhythms and lives are created. If the family offers a spiritual rhythm environment, then the commitment of each member grows and thus creates greater protection from the aggressions caused by contact with the outside. This is not a recommendation for a higher spiritual life, but as one of the few ways we have at our disposal to protect ourselves from the new dramatic paganisation of the world. This is a way of salvation, as the family is now living a great danger. To resist, all its members will have to live as the first Christians lived.
“We are part of one body
– the Body of Christ”
“You have become parents to an angel … “
My thought is now moving to future moms. What gift can be greater for a woman than give birth to babies? I myself, when I meet pregnant women, I first bless the babies in their womb, and they are moving and springing, because they feel the blessing of God. It is a great joy for me when I meet pregnant women who ask for blessing. And my blessing is not transmitted first to the mother’s head, but it is transmitted to the head of the infant who is in the womb and, often, almost always, I feel the joy of the child when he receives the blessing. As St. John the Baptist once rejoiced when he met the Savior Jesus Christ in the womb of the Virgin Mary, so do I feel that the babies rejoice when I bless them in the womb of their mothers.
These days we have gone through a great test, because a little girl, when she was unborn, at seven months, developed a cancerous tumor that spread and gained a 15 cm diameter on her body. Both her parents and I were very worried because the little girl could die in her mother’s womb. And we prayed for the Lord to do a miracle, so she would be born alive, so she could be baptized. We all prayed and eventually the surgery was possible, the little girl was taken out and survived for a few hours, so I baptized her urgently. My word of consolation and encouragement for the afflicted parents was this: “Do not be sorry, but rejoice that you have become the parents of an angel. From now on, we have an angel in Heaven who prays for us in the face of the Lord. You, the parents, but also we have earned an angel who prays for us before the Lord’s face … “.

“Let us “connect” to the “pipes with grace”!”

 

– Is it enough for the parents to take their children to the church, confess and receive Communion?

– Through confession and Eucharist we “connect” to certain “grace pipes.” For the grace of Baptism received by a little child must become a working grace. So it is imperative that, in addition to partaking of children at Mass, parents will cultivate home, together with their offspring, a favorable spiritual environment and setting. Only in a field of the heart cultivated and soaked by the rain of grace grow virtues. If the rain of grace falls on a wild or rocky earth, then virtues will not grow and have no roots. It will be like the Sower parable in the Gospel. As we have said before, the family must become a small church, become an environment inspired by the spirit culture, not just in certain moments, not just on occasions but continually, including our little gestures, conversations, and our daily meetings.

But it is not only important to foster children, but also their spiritual growth is important. Parents must be very careful about raising and educating children, especially when they are increasingly aware of what is happening. For many times, through the behavior of the parents, the little ones are mocked, they are disturbed, they are disoriented – and in this situation we must think of the words of the Lord in the Gospel: ““If anyone causes one of these little ones—those who believe in me—to stumble, it would be better for them to have a large millstone hung around their neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea” (Matthew 18: 6). This word is scary! How precious is the purity of the children before the Lord! What a great crime is the dirtyness and perverting of their innocence!

And sometimes, due to the lack of care about raising children, they are left to fall prey to temptations and wickedness through harmful programs of television or the internet, through sexual education programs, by destroying families in the name of a so-called superior interest of children, and through many others.

Unfortunately, we also met helpless children who grew up in passionate families, in disoriented families, in families of all sorts of addictions. I also met very poor children, orphaned children, who, due to the misery of their family, have come to a very difficult situation, in a state of destitution, of distrust in their fellow men, frustrated, because they saw the others near they were indifferent to the troubles and shortcomings they faced. That is why, together with my pastors, we are trying to help the poor children with our grace of mercy and, above all, with our love. We care for one hundred children in the deprived area of ​​Copsa Mica, in Sibiu County, which we help monthly with social scholarships and other thirty orphan or sick African children in a settlement of the Orthodox Church in Kenya, which we maintain with food, medicines and clothing.

We have already reached Copsa Mica, and in a few months, with the help of the Lord, I hope to get to Africa. Often we say that we have him as a model in the philanthropic ministry of St. Hierarch Nicholas, who constantly searched the needy, comforting both adults and little children. He also went to that father who was going to give hir girls to prostitution because of poverty, not to give him a moral speach, to reproach or to preach, but to help him with money, concretely, by offering the dowry of the girls, saving them from body and soul loss.

 

“Save your children from this culture of death!”

 

– What do you think are the greatest temptations today in raising and educating children?

– Oh, this is a painful, painful subject that we must treat with all seriousness! To answer the question, I will tell you one thing: Loving parents, save your children! Save your children, for it is literally a thing of life and death. Dear parents, save your children, save your children from this culture of death that is moking God and the nature of man, save your children from this culture of sensuality and despair, save your children from consumerism and egocentrism , save your children from the screens of the phones and tablets! All this kills the souls of our children!

Sure, you will ask me: how do we save the children? Being really the parents of these children and taking care of them, their education, cultivating beauty, cultivating good, cultivating the truth in Christ in their souls. So you can save them. Do not take care of them “through delegation,” under the pretext that you have to work, or you’re not allowed by your career, and thus leave them to the care of people who do not have the parent’s soul. Do not expect others to educate and shape your children, but take responsibility for the role and the responsibility of parents.

And be aware that the same relationship that is between Christ and you, for you are the children of Christ, must also be cultivated in the relationship with your children.

– What does the freedom of the soul mean and how can it be acquired?

– Freedom of the soul is liberation from passions. That means, in fact, that I have acquired the heart’s infancy. This inner cleansing can be earned with much repentance, with a defeated and humble heart, through the fulfillment of the gospel commandments. It is not easy, because living in such a way completely contradicts the ordinary way of life in the world. Let us therefore prioritize prayer, love of neighbors, help the poor, evangelical commandments, give up any action or action that does not serve salvation directly, and thus “metanoia” will be born in our lives.

Metanoia, or “mind change,” is a process in which God together – works with man. When man reaches the piercing of his heart, seeing his true state before God, then the Lord gives him the grace that illuminates his mind, opens his heart, wisely understands the Scriptures and the ordinances of the Church. Man can not change his mind alone, no matter how hard he tries, and no matter how much he studies for it. Only the touch of grace can do it.

In order to become “permeable” to grace, we must come to the breakthrough of the heart, and in order to break through the heart – I believe that here is the key: we must be honest with ourselves and have a living consciousness. If we leave our conscience to speak to us, then we will feel more and more heartburns, and then we will feel that we need to do much more for our salvation, and for the salvation of our neighbor.

 

 

„Whoever eats my Flesh and drinks my Blood
remains in Me, and I in them.” (John 6:56)

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