In this emotional video recording, Bp. Justinian Chira (1921-2006) of Maramures, Romania, recalls the happy Easter days of his childhood and the difficult times of war.
© TRINITAS TV, Romanian Orthodox Church, May 2013 Watch the full interview here: https://youtu.be/tA9fcq8BGYs
My whole life has been beautiful like an Easter day, that’s why I can’t say that there was a particular day…
I had a perhaps a harder day… when I was at the Rohia Monastery [Romania] and we were under foreign occupation and life was very difficult materially… Easter was celebrated in very precarious conditions.
I only had half a cup of milk and an egg on Easter day in 1941 when I celebrated the first Easter at the Rohia Monastery.
Father Nicolae, I live Easter on every Sunday! And on a winter day when it was cold and frosty, in the morning, I entered the church at Rohia together with a deacon. And I told him: “for me, when I enter the church I have the feeling that it’s Easter.” Every time I enter the church I feel like it’s Easter. The brother who was with me says: “well, I don’t feel anything…” Well… some people enter the church as if they enter Heaven… others enter without feeling the Spirit of God… Any Orthodox church is full of the Spirit of God. Every church, no matter how modest it is, no matter how beautiful it is, is full of the Spirit of God, it is always full of the Resurrection atmosphere.
Your Grace, was that Easter when you only had half a cup of milk less beautiful than others?
It was beautiful, but it was painful. I was only alone in the cell and I didn’t touch that egg and the cup of milk. I was new at Rohia… I was thinking about Easter at my parents’ home and I started to cry. Because Easter at home, at my parents, were celebrated in a special atmosphere.
I will never forget and I have said it many times. When Easter morning came… and my father would come from church bringing the vessel in which was the bread and the wine [a Romanian tradition, blessed bread and wine]… And my father would come from church with this vessel bringing blessed bread and wine. And he sat down at the table, he was old, he was a man who had the image of a Dacian man. That’s how my dad was… And he would come with his head uncovered and sit at the table, and it seemed to me that he was a voivode [governor or ruler]. And he was saying together with my mother and my family: Christ is risen! And it was as if there was light in the whole house when my father said: Christ is risen! So on the first Sunday at the monastery, I was thinking and living the Easter that I lived at my parents’ house.
Christ is Risen! Christ is Risen! All of you answer: Christ is risen! Amen!