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December 29, 2021

On the Death of Children and the Slaughter of the Innocents (St. Paisios the Athonite)

"Having in mind that God will reward in Heaven whoever goes through trials and knowing what awaits them in the next life, this makes them able to 'endure' the pain.

Herod allowed so many crimes to be committed. He slaughtered fourteen thousand infants and how many parents, who did not let the soldiers kill their children, killed them too! The barbarian
soldiers, in order to look better to their leaders, cut the children into pieces.

The more the children were tortured, the more God suffered, but also the more He rejoiced for the greatest glory they would enjoy in Heaven. He rejoiced for these Little Angels, who would be the angelic order of martyrdom. Angels from Martyrs!"

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- "And the children who have leukemia, Elder, suffer a lot."

"Divine Communion helps them a lot. Many children overcome their sicknesses with Divine Communion. When we read Psalm 145, with which we ask God for bleeding to stop, we should pray that God will help the children with leukemia, and for blood to exist in hospitals for children with Thalassemia. These children go through a martyrdom like that of the children massacred by Herod. The children have a clear reward for suffering with sickness, because they have no sins. How many little children we will see in the other life who will be among the angelic order of martyred infants!

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- "Elder, a mother whose child died nine years ago, begs you to pray that she may see it even in her sleep, to comfort her."

"How old was the child? Was it young? This is important. If the child was young and the mother is in a state that, if presented to her, she will not be upset, they will present themselves. The mother is the reason why a child does not present itself."

- "Elder, instead of the child presenting itself to the mother who asks for it, can it appear to someone else?"

"Of course He can! God arranges things accordingly. When I hear of the death of some youth, I mourn, but I mourn as a man. Because, if we examine things more deeply, we see that, the older someone gets, the greater struggles he has, and the more sins he adds. Especially when he is worldy, as the years pass by, instead of his spiritual state improving, it gets worse with the cares of life, with injustices, etc. Because of this, it is more triumphant when God takes a youth."

- "Elder, why does God allow so many young people to die?"

"No one has a say with God when they will die. God takes each person in the best instant of their life, in a special way, for them to give up his soul. If He sees that someone will become better, He allows them to live. If, however, He sees that they will become worse, He takes them, in order to save them. Further more, there are some who have a sinful life, but have the attitude to do good, and He takes them near Him, before they are allowed to do it, because He knows that they would do good, if only He would give them the chance. It is as if He tells them: 'Don't tire yourself; your good intentions suffice.' With others, because they are very good, He decides to take them near Him, because Paradise requires flower buds.

Naturally, it is difficult for parents and relatives to understand this. They see that a small child dies, that Christ took a little angel, and the parents weep and wail, while they should be joyful, because, do they know what would happen if they grew older? Would they have been able to have been saved?

When we left Asia Minor by boat in 1924 to come to Greece, I was a baby. The boat was full of refugees, and, as my mother had me in swaddling clothes, a sailor trampled on top of me. My mother thought that I had died and began to cry. A fellow villager of ours opened the swaddling clothes, and confirmed that I had not been hurt at all. If I had died then, I surely would have gone to Paradise. Now that I am so old, and I have done so much asceticism, I am not sure that I will go to Paradise.

But parents can also be helped by the death of children. They should know that, from that instant, they have an intercessor in Paradise. When they die, their children will come with the six-winged angels to the gate of Paradise to greet their soul. This is not a small matter! To small children who were further burdened here by sicknesses or by some disability, Christ will say: 'Come to Paradise, and receive the greatest portion.' And then they will tell Him: 'It is beautiful here, our Christ, but we want our mommy to be near us.' And Christ will hear them and save the mother also in some manner.

Of course, mothers should not reach the other extreme. Some mothers believe that their children who died became Saints, and they fall into error. One mother wanted me to give me something from her child who died as a blessing, because she believed that he became a Saint. 'Is it blessed,' she asked me, 'for me to give away his things?' 'No,' I told her, 'it is better to not give them away.' One other had attached a photograph of her child who had been killed by the Germans to the Crucified One on the evening of Great Friday, and said: 'And my child suffered like Christ.' The women who were sitting around passing the night by the Crucified One let her go, so that she would not be wounded. What could they say? She was already wounded."

From Spiritual Counsels of Elder Paisios IV: Family Life.