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Mom, God just told me …

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Mom, God just told me …

Again about children's confession, or the experience of bringing a child to schizophrenia.

Calm and attentive father at the lectern, the children come up to him – one at a time, and each says something in an undertone, then epitrachil, kissing the cross, a blessing … Everything is clear, for every thirty seconds. The children are calm, quiet, the whirls are smoothed out, from under the knitted berets – neat pigtails …

I understand that this picture should cause emotion. But for some reason I’m sad.

I don’t want to repeat about children's confession. We know how important the first is. We know that it is impossible for a little person to invent sins, let him prepare himself. We also know that confession should not be formal, that it is – in any case and at any age – an attempt to purify the soul through repentance … I don’t want to repeat myself, therefore I propose focusing only on one aspect that I think is extremely relevant: the age from which confession becomes really necessary.

It would seem, what is there to think. It has been laid down in our Church since the age of seven. Until seven – a baby, from seven to fourteen – a lad, then – a servant of God. He became a lad – and forward, to the lectern …

Ah, if it really were that simple!

I'll start right away with examples. And I won’t go far behind them – I’ll tell you about my children. I have four of them, and the beginning of the confessional period, so to speak, was difficult for everyone in their own way.

About the eldest, perhaps, it is not significant: she came to the Church as a teenager and prepared for confession, writing down a notebook after a notebook (poor father – how he had to read all this!). And what was it: sincere repentance or a girl’s desire to tell himself to someone kind and wise – God knows …

But about the younger weather you can and more.

Vasilisa is now 9 years old. This is an educational and demonstrative child, a miracle of self-organization, an excellent pupil. I never checked her lessons or helped fill out a diary. She from the diaper is an iron lady. When she was born, the neighbors were amazed that the child was not crying. I woke up strictly by the clock. She ate too. Toys are fine. And textbooks. He writes poems, tales and fairy tales. It grows garlic … It would be nice to rejoice, but only in the church you understand that my Vaska is just that very quiet pool. Because here too – like a wound up mechanical man: calmly and confidently. Step to the priest – under epitrachil – to the cup. Such is the order, so established …

Vasilisa started confessing at the age of 7, and resolutely rejected my help with all the prompts the day before. A serious half-day walked, a look in myself. And after that, she was glad that she was already an adult. The confession was timed to the birthday. Later, in the Orthodox gymnasium, when the line of white berets before each communion became familiar to her, she admitted to me that she always had something to profess: she offended her sister, was offended by her friend, got angry with her brother … And every week as before: a step to by analogy – a step towards the Chalice. My face has not changed … How late I realized that this originally adult girl had to be brought to the priest much earlier! Perhaps, about three years old, at the very time when she ate all the strawberries herself, without leaving the other children, and – wept bitterly and bitterly! Although no one scolded her, in general, his brother just flew into the kitchen: where are the berries? But there are no berries … Little Vasilisa burst into tears, and these were so pure tears of repentance that I can’t forget. But then it didn’t even enter my head to connect these tears of the puffy-breasted infant with such an adult mystery. And now get a sample of cold formalism: a step there – a step here.

However, recently Vasilisa pleased me all the same. It happens with us that in a large central church on Sundays the priest serves alone and does not go out to confess before the sacrament, and then I tell my younger ones – go this way, allow, and they go. And then Vasilisa recently looked at me from bangs: “No! Today I can’t do that! ” What she did, she never admitted. But she excommunicated herself from the Chalice.

With Ksyushka, everything is easier. She herself is easier. Girl-bell, clear voice, all at a glance. She is now 7 years old. Accordingly, it has been practicing for six months now. It’s getting ridiculous: “Mom, why was I ashamed this week? Why did you scold me? Let's remember! ” He approaches the priest resolutely and courageously, each time he jumps into cold water. Hero. Weekly heroism according to plan, like that of Munchausen: at such an hour – a feat.

And now about the son. Sasha is my pain and the song is swan, and God forbid anyone to go through what I went with him … Or, God forbid, but also strength in addition.

Now he is 17. And you can write a book about him. He is frighteningly amazing. Have you seen a lot of children who, at two years of age, build long monastic services of their own free will? Moreover – with shining eyes and not being distracted. They wake up in the middle of the night at the age of three and begin to pray to God that they would not charge their mother with the purchase of alcohol for their father. Who, at age 6, teach the Psalter by heart, cry from someone else’s pain, as from their own, who speak calmly, as about a neighbor: “Mom, God just told me …”.

And this does not interfere with reading the textbooks of physics and mathematics of the older sister, telling the cat – at the age of five! – atom structure and spend evenings with a soldering iron over printed circuit boards.

However, I'm talking about confession.

At the age of 7, Sanka definitely had nothing to repent of. He was truly an angel in the flesh. But his childhood coincided with the period of my neophytes, and I had to repent … Because my boy could not live without communion, and alas, confession with us! – is still secretly a communion ticket. A well-known monastery confessor advised not to torment the boy weekly, and the boy was tormented once a month. Moreover, the torment was twofold: he did not understand why now he cannot take Christ into himself at every Liturgy (to watch others take communion, just to watch – this was a sign of rejection for him). And the main flour is confession. On the eve, he was picking, otherwise you would not say, his soul, clear as day, with imaginary sins, cried, fell asleep far after midnight, in tears, in an open prayer book. It was an element that I could not stop. It was impossible to distract, switch it. He began to think about a terrible impending confession in a week. I was afraid to eat an extra piece – suddenly this is a sin of gluttony. I was afraid to pick up an insect – and suddenly the caterpillar would be unpleasant, a sin. … And then the night in tears, then a couple of hours in line at the confessional (in the monastery like that), and two minutes before the priest – hands at the seams, eyes to the floor … The respectable father said to me then: “And where is childhood? Where is the immediacy? I do not see the presence of God in him! ”

Let this my story about Sanka be a public confession, as in apostolic times. I'm a fool, really. And then Archpriest Dimitry Smirnov sobered me up on TV. He said of parents like me: “Idiots! Yes, for some children it’s too early to repent at the age of 10, but no, they drag them to confession! ”

But it was too late, a gigantic fear settled in my son’s soul. First, fear of confession, then – before God. What can poison childhood even more severely?

Finally realizing what was happening, I often told my son that we Christians have nothing to fear in this life, nothing at all, even death. After all, He loves us, which means – you just need to always be with Him, not renouncing …

But the terrible Sashkins came for 12 years. Hormonal explosion in boys occurs abruptly. Sasha, he turned into the first psychosis. “Paranoid-type schizophrenic psychosis on religious grounds,” the psychiatrist formulated roughly. Fear of renunciation of God. And hundreds, thousands, millions of second-second confirmations of this renunciation. You can’t step on the snow, because snowflakes are folded by the Orthodox cross, but how to trample the shrine … You can’t drink water, because a sip is the spit on the contrary, and it will definitely be towards the temple. You can’t tie the shoelaces on the shoes, bending over, because suddenly a neighbor has a pagan idol, do not bow to him … He slept only on sleeping pills, all tense, like an iron, and muttered in a dream: “Mom, I have not disowned? ..” .

So a few years have passed. We left school. Severe numbing pills helped poorly. Every second of my life I spoke with my son. Every second when he was awake. I could not eat, go to the toilet, wash my hair without this talk of renunciation. If I went to the store, then on the run I spoke with my son on the phone. So that he hears that I did not get hit by a car as a punishment for his abdication. A couple of times I caught him on the windowsill, because he realized that it was better to immediately go to hell prepared for suicides than to endure this torment …

I spoke, said and said. About the love of God. About the holy fathers. I quoted Anthony of Sourozhsky and Seraphim of Sarov, read the Gospel … My younger children, who were right there, received a good theological education.

In fairness – I read to him the Strugatsky, and Bulychev, and all kinds of fantastic rubbish, I watched with him "Artificial Intelligence", "The Matrix" and films about the war. We got four kittens and a big dog … But it was impossible to distract.

By that time, we no longer went to the monastery, I put on my jeans again and shook off the neophyte fog like a cloud of cloud. But no one canceled the confession. A well-known Orthodox psychotherapist throughout the country told me that a child suffers for the sins of his parents. And the priests … The priests said different things. And advised not to go to the temple, it is better, they say, to the forest – to the Christmas trees and squirrels, and to live like an ordinary boy (easy to say!). And go to the monastery forever (even easier!).

God sent the young shepherd Alexy. He turned out to be a doctor by education. He ordered Sasha to eat more sweet, literally chocolates during Great Lent (the need for his metabolism!), Often take communion and not practice at all. God bless Father Alexy …

The terrible years are behind. Sashka has a thousand ideas and formulas in his head, behind a school, ahead of a university. He learned to laugh again, he writes computer programs and a science fiction novel. He has a girlfriend … He still goes to the temple. And even sometimes he confesses – when he feels what is needed. And all this together is a miracle of God. About which to be silent, to be silent … But I told you, because I know how many stubborn neophyte mothers I still had.

And also because in our Church it is still customary to confess children from the age of seven. And because in our minds, Confession is still a pass to the Chalice. However, this is already a topic for another big conversation. About hypocrisy, yes. To which we teach children ourselves – from the age of seven.

In conclusion, I would like to quote the “Document on the participation of the faithful in the Eucharist”, adopted by our Church in February 2015:

“The first confession before communion, according to the 18th rule of Timothy of Alexandria, is performed upon reaching the age of ten years, but in the tradition of the Russian Orthodox Church, the first confession occurs, as a rule, at the age of seven years. In this case, the age of the first confession, as well as the frequency of the confession for a child from 7 to 10 years old during communion on a Sunday, should be determined jointly by the confessor and parents, taking into account individual characteristics in the development of the child and his understanding of church life. ”

It is valuable here that at the official level, the Russian Orthodox Church recognizes the individuality of our children. The ability to repent is not initiated in a person on his seventh birthday by a click …

And further. Confession is a conversation with God. Who loves. And whom you love. You love so much that you do not want your sin to stand between Him and you. Because – confess …

… A large candle was placed in front of the Royal Gates, the priest went out to the children, those lined up in a quiet line. Ksenia raises me very clear:

– Mom, I think I didn’t sin … I don’t know what to tell the priest …

– And you tell him so, as I do. God loves you …

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