Whom do you love the most?

During the summer, a family from Bucharest is coming to our church. They kneel down, and we read prayers with the hat of Saint John the Russian. Their 20-year-old daughter stands, frowning, refusing to kneel. I look at her. In the end, the mother, in tears, whispers to me: the girl has a tumor in her abdomen, but she refuses to kneel, she hates priests, and only with many pleas did she enter the church. She attended one of those Protestant gatherings, and they told her that the Church, the priests, the Cross, everything is in vain.

I call her. She looks up, coming closer mainly for her mother’s sake. I tell her: I cannot do anything if you don’t pray as well.

Of course, you can’t do anything, she says impertinently. Religion is in the soul, not in the priests.

Yes, it’s in the soul. And I remain silent. She becomes attentive. And from the soul, it permeates the body and the way of being, and the home, and the world, in words, gestures, and deeds.

Look, I say, whom do you love the most and more? She wrinkles her nose: my mother.

Look, that’s how our Lord Jesus Christ loves His Mother the most, and He protects her, listens to her, feels her heart and sorrows infinitely. That’s why we pray to the Theotokos because she secretly prays to her precious Child for us.

The girl bursts into tears. The illness you have is a sign that God awaits you, calls you, and wants you to be faithful and good. Speak to His Mother in prayer. And she listens to you. And she comes at night in your dreams and wipes away the cancer, the pain, and the illness.

The girl cries. The parents are shocked. Father, what did you say to her? Well, that’s my business.

The girl promises to say the Paraklesis of the Theotokos every evening. I mention her as well. She leaves, smiling through tears.

Thank you, Theotokos!

Reverend Ioan Istrati

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