Priest Ioan Istrati
When I was a kindergarten child, I was about four years old, my sister was six, in the summer holidays we woke up at 9-10 am and ate bread with honey and drank milk with cocoa made by our mother. On Sundays I had always been in the altar from 2 years old with my father, the priest, who gave me to draw on some diptych papers. I drew some saints looking like monsters but who were always merry smiling from ear to ear (like me)
After I ate my breakfast I went out where father made for us a two square meters place with sand where to play. There we were looking for treasures. Near the sand there was an old empty beehive painted in blue, near the cellar.
There I served thr Holy Liturgy. As I knew all the liturgy from beginning till the end, I was chanting solemnly every moment and my sister was a cantor with her crystalline voice. I had an old small but beautiful garment for hypodeacons. The blessings, the litanies, the antiphons, the going out with the holy book (I had an old, blue New Testament I still have) the reading from the Gospel (for not thinking I speak nonsense, I know reading from four years old), the triple litany, the Cherubic, I will love You, O LORD, the Creed, Holy holy, the epiclesis, It is right to hymn you, The Lord`s Prayer. The entire service lasted for about an hour while with an energy of innocent children we sang from all our might, glory to God. The whole valleys of Madei and Bristrita resounded of our voices.
We had two iron cups and in one we put bread in the other wine from a small bottle. Mother asked father if that wasn`t a blasphemy but father said: what spirit makes these children to chant for God for an hour? I think it`s the Holy Spirit. And mother let us do it.
After the liturgy the dolls were given the Holy Eucharist and I remember we had a purely white bride, a princess with a cap a doll without legs with disabilities and another one stout with her bottom naked and dirty of pen and we called her Tataita for reasons I won`t explain. As the dolls communed in an invisible way, we were the ones who consumed the gifts.
After the liturgy we were doing all kinds of pranks, we dirtied ourselves of mud and mother, severe in her own way slapped us over the bottom and we cried till we crushed the walls
Until one day when after a terrible cry I saw some old women dressed in black coming in a haste on the gate and stopping on the porch of the parish house. Mother went out of the house with something to do and the old women grumpy without greeting her asked her: madam do you believe in God? Mother surprised by the question said: `Yes, but what`s the matter?`
`Then how do you beat these angels of God who serve the Holy Liturgy for us every day? They are descended right from heaven only their wings are invisible because of our sins. Mother bent her head to the earth and tried to say that she did not slap us for this but because we did pranks. But one of the old women who was more wrinkled than the others said:
“There are no pranks. These are angels coming from heaven and you are not allowed to beat them because the grace of God runs away from your house. It was our joy to hear this wonder.
I stay and wonder : was it a sin what we did or was it the mercy of God ? Was it grace or childish mimic? We served very seriously without joking without skipping over anything being completely sure God heard us and that our dolls deserved to commune with our Lord.
Later when I was at the seminary with a cross for blessing in my hand and I was whirling around a censer a priest professor from there saw me and shouted: `You are not allowed to touch the Cross and the censer otherwise your hand will fall.`
I answered: `Seriously? I have ten Crosses for blessing at home and one is two hundred years old and has holy relics in it (we found it in the attic of the church among old attires and palls) The priest looked at me for a long time shook his shoulders surprised and left.
Having such a long lasting habit with the holy things doesn`t make you reckless towards the Grace of God ?
I tell you humbly. The liturgy was impregnated indelibly in my heart and mind. It became the love of my life, the air I breathe, the light of my eyes, the peak and heart of my feeling, my landmark of value for everything grows on earth, the spring of blessings, the reason and sense of any wise idea I had and the tear which comes out on the corner of my eye while I am writing these words for you.