We are delighted to publish the essay of our youngest Theological Essay Challenge participant Lucian Andrei Roșca 16 yo from Bârlad in Romania. We are happy that our essay competitions attract people of all the ages from the different background!
Christ is risen!
I would like to start my ‘essay-letter’ from the act of creation.
“In the beginning, God made the sky and the earth” (Genesis 1,1). “Then God said, ‘Let us make humankind according to our image and according to likeness'” (Genesis 1, 26). “And God blessed them, saying, “Increase, and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it, and rule […] all the creeping things that creep upon the earth”(Genesis 1,28). “And God saw all the things that he had made, and see, they were exceedingly good” (Genesis 1,31).’
If we take a look around us and at us, especially, we can easily notice that we don’t “rule […] all the creeping things that creep upon the earth” (Genesis 1,28). But why? Because we definitely don’t have that power anymore. We are weak now. We are out of the place where “all the things that he had made […] were exceedingly good” (Genesis 1,31).
I think, these days, everyone wants to live in a place where ‘all the things’ are ‘ exceedingly good’.
But, why are we in this ‘cage’ – our visible world?
Because we listened to this words “You will not die by death” (Genesis 3,4) and, at that time, we entered two ‘cages’: our soul’s one and the seen world. We closed our soul’s ears to God’s word: ‘‘You shall not eat of it nor shall you even touch it, lest you die” (Genesis 3,3). And, finally, we sinned: this brought us death and pain: both soul’s death and body’s death.
Could God, Who loves us (‘the world may know that You sent Me and that You have loved them, even as You have loved Me’), let us completely die? No! For sure, no!
Therefore, the Son of God, Jesus Christ was sent on Earth by our Father.
And, these days, our brothers’ death is certainly everywhere.
But there is no need to worry about it since Saint Paul says:’ We do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning those who have fallen asleep, so that you may not grieve like those who have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, in the same way, God will bring with Him those who have fallen asleep in Jesus.’ ( I Thessalonians 4, 13-14 ).
So, if we only our bodies die, we have to be happy! What really needs to make us sad is if our soul dies…’ What will it profit if someone gains the whole world and loses his life? Or what will someone give in exchange for his life?’ (Mark 8, 36-37).
Now, it is time to wake up if we still sin and ask God as we say in the morning prayer: ‘Grant me not to fall asleep in the death of sin, but have compassion upon me, O Thou who wast voluntarily crucified and hasten[…], and save me in prayer and intercession, […], bless me with a sinless day, O Christ our God, and save me. ‘
These days, when God sent this virus in the midst of us, it is essentially to return to Him! Right now, not later! We have to understand that God allowed this pandemic only because He loves us: ‘As many as I love, I reprove and discipline. Therefore, be zealous and repent! Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in and have supper with him, and he with Me’(Revelation to John (Apocalypse) 3, 19-20 )
Consequently, we must hug God with all our force, all our heart, all our soul! We need to let our hand be grabbed by Him as Adam’s hand was grabbed when Jesus when He, with His soul, went to hell and brought salvation to all of the righteous who had died since the beginning of the world.
We have to come to ourselves as the prodigal son did: ‘and when he came to himself, he said,’ How many of my father’s hired servants have bread enough to spare, and I am dying with hunger! I will get up, go to my father, and tell him, ‘Father, I have sinned against Heaven and before you! I am no longer worthy to be called your son. Make me as one of your hired servants.’ (Luke 15, 17-19).
Make one step to God and He will make a thousand to you!
Nowadays, we have to follow Zacchaeus’s example who decided to give half of his goods to the poor. When did you last gave a little biscuit to a poor kid? And now you can’t do it because of coronavirus! But, what if you go now and smile to someone you love? What if you go now and reconcile with someone? God doesn’t want the impossible from us! ‘ God does not command man things that are not possible for him.’ (Saint Maximus the Confessor)
And…Oh…You possibly think that some people will get frightened when they read these words:’ We need to let our hand be grabbed by Him’ since they think our God can take and spread the virus! What a good joke! ‘“He has blinded their eyes and hardened their heart, lest they should see with their eyes, and perceive with their heart, and would turn, and I would heal them.” (John 12,40).
God also says:’ the one who comes to Me I will in no way reject’(John 6,37).
I can tell you, for sure, that Jesus Christ’s Body and His Holy Blood are life and health, both for your soul and your body …’ I may partake without condemnation of Thine immaculate, immortal, life-giving and dread mysteries, for the forgiveness of sins and unto life eternal, unto the sanctification, enlightenment, strength, healing’ (Prayer of St. John Chrysostom – The Prayers Of Preparation Before Holy Communion).
And, to strengthen your faith, I am going to give you an example: in Romania, my country, His Beatitude Archbishop Pimen of Suceava have died recently because of COVID-19 disease.
“I want you to keep in mind the fact that our hierarch IPS Pimen served on Easter night and on Monday, with all the parents from the monastery of Saint John the New. They all communed with the same Chalice, except for one, Father Deacon, who took care of the good order of the service. Now, after so much talk on TV, the tests of parents and workers at St. John’s have arrived. Of all those tested, only one was positive, and this is exactly the father who did NOT commune with the Chalice held by His Eminence Pimen.
This is what God ordained for those who approach the Chalice with little faith and the “infamous Spoon” and fear of virus contamination, and for those who do not want to understand at once that it is the Holy Body and Holy Blood of the Lord, the source of life and all grace. This is in that Chalice.
Message from the parents from St. John the New, Suceava. ”
So, go and take part in the Repentance and commune with the Chalice!Now!No fear, as our dear Lord says: ‘In the world, you will have distress, but rejoice! I have overcome the world!’’ (John 16,33); ‘Take heart! It is I! Do not be afraid!’(Matthew 14,27); “I am the bread of life! The one who comes to me will not be hungry’ This is the bread which comes down out of heaven. Its purpose is that anyone may eat of it and not die. 51I am the living bread which came down out of heaven. Anyone who eats of this bread will live forever. Yes, the bread which I will give for the life of the world is my flesh.” (John 6, 35,50-51)
And, last but not least:’ As they were eating, Jesus took bread, gave thanks for it, and broke it. He gave it to his disciples, saying, “Take, eat; this is My body.” Taking the cup, He gave thanks and gave it to them, saying, “Drink [from] it all of you, for this is My Blood of the new Covenant which is to be poured out for many, for the remission of sins. But I tell you that from now on, I will not drink of this fruit of the vine, until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s Kingdom.’ (Matthew 26, 26-29)
I am glad to notice that in my country, Romania, were taken a lot of protective measures such as isolation, wearing the mask, social distance and, of course, our Patriarch Daniel gave us a special prayer for this pandemic ‘stop the new infectious disease (the new epidemic), as You once ceased the punishment of Your people in the time of King David.’; ‘You, Who are the Physician of our souls and bodies, grant recovery to the sick, raising them hastily from the bed of suffering so that they may glorify You, our Merciful Saviour, and protect the healthy ones from any disease.;’ Remove all disease and suffering from among the people and teach us to value life and health as Your gifts. Give us, o God, Your peace and fill our hearts with steadfast faith in Your protection, with hope in Your support and with love for You and our neighbour.’
We, every orthodox Christians, are advised to pray together, from our homes, at 12 a.m. every day. I think this is a great idea since it expresses unity in love and faith. “If God’s love for the world were felt by the people with what power it comes … the earth would melt with its warmth! And if people loved God with the love with which He loves them, the earth would melt! ” Can you see what divine love means? (Father Calistrat, the abbot of Vlădiceni Monastery from Iași, Romania)
Moreover, I am part of an orthodox group called ATOR (The Organization of Young Orthodox Christians from Romania, Bârlad) and we used to read some Psalms so that we will have finished the entire Psalter by the end of the day.
Therefore, there is no need to worry about anything if we are with Christ and we apply in our lives those words that can be heard at the Divine Liturgy: “Let us commend ourselves and each other and all our life unto Christ our God”. ( The Divine Liturgy of Saint John Chrysostom).
I also consider that these quotes are useful for this period: “If the potter knows how much time he has to leave the clay pot on the fire so that it does not crack, the more God knows how to keep us in the fire of temptations and difficulties, but he brings us out at the right time” – St. Nikolai Velimirovich (1881-1956), and `Whoever you are, reader, if you receive with a grateful heart, as from the hand of the Lord, all that will happen to you in life (pleasant or unpleasant) by the will or with the permission of the happy Lord you will be and will be well! ” Saint Hierarch Ioan Maximovici (1896 – 1966).
Finally, I would like to finish my essay with a poem by my confessor, abbot Zaharia, from Alexandru Vlahuță Monastery, Bârlad, Romania:
I asked myself what the pain was …
the pain that we really live
in this world of suffering,
but full, full of sin?
Unfulfilled own pride,
lusts that burn us alive,
diseases that are destined for us
or our cunning?
3)The answer came suddenly,
Helplessness had defeated me:
,, Go on the right path of life,
Do not lose your peace and faith!
4)Because you have no pain to choose,
But I tell you, the biggest pain in the world is,
(Except to be a stranger to you),
To forget Him, not to have God! “