5. In the house of God
A happy day
It was early Sunday morning and the bells of the village church began to ring joyfully to invite Christians to the house of God.
Mum Sophia woke her children up and they began to get ready all together to go to church.
Angela was happy because she would receive today through the Holy Communion her beloved little Brother, as she often called her beloved God and man Jesus.
Since her mum told her that the divine Infant of Bethlehem, the little Christ, is the Son of God who became man like us so that we love Him as our Brother and Father, she didn’t stop calling Him "my sweet little Brother. "
She loved Him so much, like her little brother Joseph, and took care not to do anything bad that would upset Him.
She was now more careful in what she said and did.
Many times a day she asked her mother if she had done anything that might hurt her little Brother and whenever her mum pointed out a mistake, with much regret and with tearful eyes she was immediately asking for forgiveness and promised that she would try not to do it again.
She loved the little Christ so much, that when Sunday was coming her childish sweet heart was beating joyfully because she would go to church and she would receive through the Holy Communion her beloved "little Brother".
So as soon as she heard the bells ringing today and inviting her to the home of her beloved little Christ, she got up quickly from her bed and started getting ready. Soon they were all ready and set off for the church.
Their church was nice and big. It was built with stone and according to the Byzantine architecture. In the middle there was a very large dome which looked like heaven and it was painted with beautiful icons.
Little Angela always admired their great church with the beautiful wall paintings. She liked the iconography of Almighty God very much who was painted in the middle of the large dome with many angels around Him. How she wished to also be an angel beside her beloved God!
The church was full of people and there were many children. Some of the older children were gathered near the right chanter and were holding lighted candles. Sometimes they sang hymns with him that they had learned from their teacher, who was the cantor of their church.
Angela was standing near her mummy and followed the Divine Liturgy carefully. Since she didn’t understand all those beautiful hymns which the chanters sang melodically, she spoke to her beloved Jesus with simple words saying that she loves and adores Him with all her heart.
Soon they all began to sing the great doxology and a wonderful melody filled the church. The bells rang joyfully and rhythmically. They all made the sign of the cross across their breasts and begged God to bless them with the grace of the Holy Spirit.
In their small village, almost all the people were going to church and all together they chanted the Divine Liturgy with the help of the cantor, who was for many years the teacher in their village. Because the hymns of the Matins were changing from week to week it was a little difficult to learn them all, but everyone knew the hymns of the Divine Liturgy because they were always the same.
It was very nice to hear almost all the people in church chanting the hymns of love and praise to Almighty God with one voice. It seemed that the people were competing with the melodies of the angels, who also were chanting with them in heaven. Angels and people had joined their voices to give thanks to Almighty God.
Our little Angela looked at the priest with much respect, who after the doxology lifted the holy Gospel and said:
“Blessed is the kingdom of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit…”
It was the moment that the Divine Liturgy began.
Mum Sophia had told her that the whole sequence of prayers in the church is divided into two parts. The first part is called the Matins and the second part the Divine Liturgy.
In the first part, the Matins, we thank God for what He has given us in life and beg Him to forgive us for all the mistakes we made and we hurt Him.
We also beg Him to bless us with the grace of the Holy Spirit, so that with His assistance, we will live the rest of our lives according to His will.
In the second part, the Divine Liturgy, which is the most meaningful, God invites us to participate in the divine Last Supper. In this, we can all receive, through Holy Communion, the Son of God, who became the Son of man for our sake. By the Holy Communion Almighty God wants to get into the hearts of His children and there to be glorified as their most sweet and tender Father. For man this is the highest honour that could be made by our good God.
The Divine Liturgy was proceeding and when they chanted a simple and well known hymn, Angela sang along with others. When she didn’t know it, she said her own impromptu childish prayers. She spoke so simply to her "little Brother" and God Jesus, that if someone had the ability to see something invisible, surely he would be excited to see Almighty Christ coming like the Holy Infant of Bethlehem and entering into the embrace of this little angel!
Christ always loved little children. They were His little earthly angels who made His divine heart happy with their simplicity and innocence.
But when these children let their soul love God with all the power of their childish hearts, then the angels of heaven were astonished to see the infinite divine love coming as a brilliant light from the heart of the heavenly Father and God and flooding these children with the Holy Spirit. It was the very moment that even the angels stopped their angelic chanting in order to enjoy the childish melody of divine love which poured out as precious myrrh from the “myrrh-container” of a childish heart!
Our little Angela loved the Holy Infant of Bethlehem with all her heart. In each Divine Liturgy, guided by the star of love to her king and God Jesus, she was travelling to distant Bethlehem with the three wise men to offer the newborn Jesus, instead of other gifts, her heart which was beating full of adoration for Him!
The most beautiful thoughts that ever passed through her mind and made her happy were those of the little shepherds who, together with their sheep, were around the manger of her "little Brother".
Angela imagined holding the Holy Infant Jesus in her childish arms and covering Him with her angelic caresses and kisses! How she would have liked to look into His sweet eyes and say to Him as a little childlike mummy how much she loves and adores Him! But also Jesus, like a sweet baby, feeling the motherly adoration of His "childlike mummy", smiled sweetly at her and let her travel into the kingdom of true heavenly joy.
Two things make the holy angels in heaven always admire the infinite mercy of God.
The first was when they saw with their angelic eyes God become man in Bethlehem and indeed a baby in the arms of a little humble girl.
The second thing, which caused and always will cause angels’ surprise and admiration, is when they see the Son of God being enclosed, this time mentally, as an infant in the hearts of countless people and to be worshipped by them as a person and God.
Then, in Bethlehem, all the angels and people who were there, saw this divine Infant and adored Him, since He was among them.
But now, many souls with childish simplicity and deep faith embrace Him mentally as their own baby and adore Him as a mother adores her baby. They do what their heavenly Queen and Holy Mary did. While they enclose Him as a person in their own motherly heart with love and adoration, at the same time, they believe and worship Him as a God in heaven, who is one with God the Father and the Holy Spirit.
Little Angela, without realizing it, was living what all the angels admired.
In her childish sweet heart she was living not a simple love but the divine love of Almighty God. She was living through it the happiness of divine love and mercy.
Angela as a child was in the tender embrace of her heavenly Father and was enjoying His motherly love through the love of her mother and father.
But as childlike mummy, she enclosed the Holy Infant of Bethlehem in the depths of her heart with much adoration and loved Him as every mummy loves her baby.
Like the Cherubims
Little Jesus was enjoying the adoring love of His little angel and Angela could not stop telling Him continually how she adores and loves Him.
Little children have two great virtues that make God very pleased with them. One is simplicity and the other innocence. These two virtues are like a bird’s two wings which can fly high in the sky.
Innocence is the jewel of angels. With this souls are shining with purity. No physical and spiritual filth can blacken that soul which is adorned with the angelic virtue of innocence like a small infant. Those who were able to obtain this virtue look like earthly angels, as St. John the Baptist was.
The virtue of simplicity doesn’t allow a child to think deceitfully like adults and hold in his heart envy, jealousy, criticisms and other mean thoughts. Whatever he has on his mind, he will say with simplicity, without thinking about being misunderstood or not. He doesn’t have evil thoughts against anyone. If he quarrels with a child, he quickly makes up with him and is ready to play with him again without holding any malice in his soul. Hypocrisy does not exist in him, even as a word. He loves his parents with all his heart and puts himself in their arms with absolute trust.
Our God likes these two virtues so much!
How much He would wish that all His children would have the blessed virtues of simplicity and innocence!
Once He said to His disciples that, if we will not change and become like little children, we will not enter easily the kingdom of heaven. (Matt. 18, 3)
At that time the cantors were chanting melodically the cherubic hymn and calling upon all believers to try to be like cherubims; the angels who are around Almighty God and are praising Him continually.
Soon the Lord Himself would pass among all the people in the church to bless and to announce to them that He would sacrifice Himself for the sake of all His children, to allow everyone to enter into His heavenly kingdom.
The priest holding the Holy Gifts was passing among the believers, who had bent their heads out of respect for our Heavenly King. This whole scene reminds us of the triumphant entrance of Christ into Jerusalem just before he was arrested and crucified by the Jews, for the salvation of the whole world.
Every Divine Liturgy is a representation of the whole earthly life of Christ; from His birth until the crucifixion, resurrection and glorious ascension into heaven.
Angela’s mum often explained the Divine Liturgy to her children in simple words so they could understand and have their sweet king Jesus living in their soul.
Our little Angela was living every moment of the Divine Liturgy, as if she was continually next to her beloved "little Brother" and God Jesus. Like an angel she adored Him with devotion, like an angel she loved Him with absolute trust and like an angel she wanted to do only His will in all the moments of her life.
Send down your Holy Spirit upon us
Meanwhile the most important moment of the Divine Liturgy had approached. The priest was praying for the Holy Spirit to flood the souls of the people with His grace and turn the bread and wine, which were on the Altar, into the Body and Blood of Christ the King.
"Lord, send down Your Holy Spirit upon us and upon these gifts here presented and make this bread the precious Body of Your Christ and that which is in this cup the precious Blood of Your Christ changing them by Your Holy Spirit”.
The cantors chanted with devout concentration: “We praise You, we bless You, we give thanks to You, Lord our God…”.
All the people had bent their heads as if they were before the throne of God and were begging the Holy Spirit to flood their humble souls.
Our little Angela had also bent her head and was begging the King of her heart, Jesus, to flood her with the grace of the Holy Spirit and the absolute trust in His Divine Will, as she was taught to pray by her sweet mummy.
Sophia was a holy mother and was teaching her children, not so much with her words but more so by the source of her devotion that was in her heart.
It was sufficient to look at her when she was praying in order to know how the saints pray.
When Sophia was praying to Christ, her heart was burning from the adoration for Him and her eyes were filled with tears of love. She always begged the Holy Spirit to enlighten her children’s minds and to guide them to the path of divine love. She wanted their children not only to love God but to worship Him with all their heart, to trust Him completely and follow His Divine Will with complete obedience. She knew that if someone wants to follow the way of holiness, he had to walk on the safe paths of divine love and absolute trust and obedience to the divine will.
But this is not possible for someone to manage by himself, without the help of the Holy Spirit. For this reason, she is always begging God the Father, through His only-begotten Son Jesus, to flood their souls with the grace of the Holy Spirit. She liked praying to the Holy Trinity, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, the one indivisible Deity.
Sophia’s compassion had peaked at the very moment that the Holy Spirit changed the bread and wine into the Body and Blood of Christ. A few teardrops filled her eyes, fell upon little Angela and gave her the divine love which was burning in her heart for her beloved Jesus. It was the most wonderful silent teaching of mum Sophia for her little girl.
Angela said one day to her older sister, Christina, that if there were many more such mummies like theirs on earth, the whole world would be full of many saints. With her childish mind she had understood a great and forgotten truth. It depends mainly on the mother whether a child finds his way to the heavenly kingdom of God or is guided on the hard paths of an ugly and disastrous sinful life!
Our Heavenly Father
At that time the voice of the priest called loudly inviting everyone to say the prayer which was taught to us by Christ himself. Throughout the church resounded: "Our Father who art in heaven ..."
"Our Heavenly Father, make us worthy to praise Your holy name with our lives. Let the kingdom of the Holy Spirit enter into our hearts and help us to always do Your Will here on earth, as the angels do in heaven. Give us today, as well as the necessary bread for our survival, the spiritual food for our souls. Forgive us for all the mistakes we have made, as we forgive all those who have hurt us. And finally, please do not allow us to be harmed by Satan’s temptations, but save us from the evil plans he has against us. "
There is no greater power for a man here on earth than leaving his soul with absolute trust in the hands of his heavenly Father! The only thing which Satan fears, like nothing else on earth, is the absolute trust that man has in His God the Father.
Who can hurt a child lying in the protective embrace of his father or mother? Nobody!
Exactly, nobody can hurt a soul which is hidden in the arms of God the Father! It is impossible for Satan to destroy a soul who is covered by the affectionate love of God himself.
God can allow Satan to test His children from time to time, in order to see if they trust Him, but He never abandons them to his disastrous fury.
God’s greatest joy is seeing His children, when they are getting teased by demons, fighting bravely against them and telling them that the only One they love, trust and obey is their merciful God. This is also the biggest wound against Satan.
There are two words so strong and frightening to the devil that whoever says them and lives with deep faith, is armed with the most terrible weapon against him.
These words were revealed by the Lord Jesus himself, when He taught us the Lord’s Prayer that we have to say to our God the Father.
The words are "Our Father ..."
The words "our Heavenly Father" determine our relationship with our Creator.
God is our Father and we are His children. And as long as we stay under His fatherly protection by our own will, we do not have to fear anyone or anything.
Our little Angela was living this wonderful relationship of trust in God the Father in her heart. She was the little girl of her heavenly Father and He was for her the sweetest Dad in the entire world. When she was praying, she was calling Him, "My sweet Daddy."
For Angela the most beautiful day of the week was Sunday, because she would go with her parents to the church and would receive through Holy Communion her beloved God. She couldn’t ever think that she could go to church without becoming one with the Holy Infant of Bethlehem, her beloved "little Brother" through Holy Communion.
Her mum had told her once that every time she receives Holy Communion, she becomes one with her beloved Jesus, as it happens with a glass of water and wine. Angela was longing very much to be one with her sweet "little Brother" and God.
Her heart had already begun beating joyfully! The priest holding the Holy Chalice had come in front of the Holy Gate and was inviting the faithful to come to receive the Saviour of their souls.
He was saying to everyone: "Approach with fear of God, faith, and love."
Many people began coming to receive the Holy Sacraments. Mum Sophia first let her children, then her husband receive Holy Communion before her.
With great reverence she opened her mouth to receive her heavenly King. Two pearly tears were rolling from her eyes, which the angels took immediately and put them before the throne of God with respect and joy. They were shining there as the most precious gifts that man could give to his Almighty God.
The Three Temples
The hearts of Sophia, her husband, her children and every pious soul who received the heavenly King with love, were the most beautiful temple that God could live in at that time!
Angela remembered what her mum had told her about the three temples of God.
The first temple is all His creation, in which people live. All this wonderful creation of God the Father with the beautiful sky, the stars and the sun, the sea, the land with forests, rivers, animals, and all the creatures in it, should remind us of our God the Creator whom we all owe respect, love and adoration. We can pray anywhere, wherever we are, because this whole creation is the great temple of God.
God’s second temple is every church that people build for the glory of God to hold the Divine Liturgy there. In this, by the power of the Holy Spirit the bread and wine are changed into the Body and Blood of Christ. So people can receive God himself, through Holy Communion, and become one with Him.
The third temple is the precious heart of man, in which God himself wants to live as a tender Father of every soul.
The third temple is the most valuable for our good God. God wants to come like a Mother and Father into the heart of man to embrace His child tightly. The heart of man is the living room of his soul. The pious man receives his God King there.
As our real home is God our Father’s heart, so the heart of every man is the house of our God. For this reason we should always pay attention that our hearts are always pure from any spiritual filth. Since our good God likes living there, we must always clean His little house.
As Angela was afraid of infecting her heart, she had asked her mum what things she must be careful of. She always remembers her advice and tries to implement it.
-My girl never let your heart feel badly towards any person. We are all children of God and siblings to each other. Some of His children can be prone to evil and sin by the cunning ways of Satan, but we don’t have to criticize and speak badly of them.
Instead, we have a duty to pray for them so that when the time comes when God will judge them, He will help and save them from Satan’s claws. We must be merciful, as our good heavenly Father is. All the children of God will be recognized by the compassion that they will show to all people, even the bad guys. Therefore, good Christians are not jealous, not envious and do not harm others. Only in this way can we keep our hearts pure, so we can receive our beloved God without hurting Him.
-If we make a mistake, can we receive Holy Communion?
-When we sincerely apologize, then we can. Our good God knows that because we are weak we easily fall into making various errors. That’s why He said that every time we apologize to Him, He will forgive us. He will forgive us, however, on one condition.
-What is the condition, my mummy?
-We must forgive those who have harmed us.
-Do we have to spend time, mum, with those who harm us?
-No, my little girl. Although we must forgive everyone, we must be very careful with those people who harm their fellow beings and do not respect our good God. We should not criticize them or hate them, nor do them evil, but to pray for them, so that our good God has mercy on them. But we have to stay away from them, so that our soul is not influenced badly. When we have compassion, we are like our beloved God the Father and we make Him very happy.
Angela was determined to look like her beloved God Jesus, therefore, today before going to receive Holy Communion she had begged Him to grant her the gift of divine mercy.
"Please, my very sweet Jesus, make me merciful like You and love all people, like You do. I always want to do only what You would do. Enlighten also my sweet mummy so that she guides me correctly to Your Divine Will. I thank You very much also for the good dad You gave me. Bless also my sister Christina and our little Joseph. May all the people be well and forgive those who hurt You with their mistakes. I am coming to receive You in my heart and become one with You, like water with wine, as my mum told me. I believe You, I adore You and I love You. "With these words she went to receive, through Holy Communion, her beloved King Jesus and to live the happiness of her love with her sweet heavenly Father in her childish sweet heart.