Martyrdom: Being put through the mill … and receiving God’s gift and grace
We are so pampered in the present day that we seek for convenience in everything. We want to take everything easy, we want nothing to upset us or displease us. It’s not like that. In the present world, for as many years as we live for, we should offer ourselves for martyrdom. Whoever is eventually saved, he will have gone through martyrdom.
Pain brings to the soul more gain than anything else. No matter how hard you try -with prayer or any other virtue- to overcome yourself and give yourself to Christ, it’s not easy, because you pity yourself, you love yourself and can’t bear pushing yourself more than yourself allows it.
When you pray or practise any other virtue, you do so as much as you want and take it up to the point you want. Pain, though, like another type of plough, goes deep into your being, plowing mercilessly, in spite of your writhing with pain. It doesn’t ask you a thing. You feel limitless pain. Here lies the secret: as you are about to moan and you feel like letting out a groan, do so but without bearing a grudge against God. Say: “may this pain be blessed, my God”.
Let this be a groan, which means: “let it be blessed”; Let this be a groan as if you are saying: “you know, my God, that I am in terrible pain. You know that I would like the pain to stop, but let things be as You wish. Don’t let my will be done.”
Whoever wants to be saved, they will find themselves on the way to martyrdom. And the more one loves the Lord and surrenders himself to him, the bigger the martyrdom will get.
Whoever sees Christian life in a way which shows that he wants to escape martyrdom, is not “in alignment” with the kingdom of God. He will fall behind. He will cast himself aside.
Whoever believes and enters the life of martyrdom, they will suffer like martyrs. And, the more they love martyrdom, the more they wish for it, the more martyrdom will come to them and it will never end. God will not let them slacken and tarry and eventually waste their toil and labour.
God knows. He takes you in his hands, he takes care of you and from then on he guides you in such a way that pain leads to more pain, martyrdom leads to more martyrdom, but also grace brings more grace and, eventually you make progress and you are not wasted.
The point is not το enter martyrdom or suffer in a way that is uncertain, indefinite or unclear. Do you accept and embrace the plowing of your being? Whatever it takes…
Have you ever seen how wheat is ground in the mill? If I may say so, the millstone doesn’t “forgive”; it doesn’t make allowances (it doesn’t skip grains), it doesn’t pretend it doesn’t see. It’s over and done with: whichever grains go under the millstone, they will get ground.
You too will be “ground”. This is the raw reality. But it’s also a reality that while all this is happening, you win over everything, you win over death, and mostly you win over yourself; you become a man of God.
The martyrdom each and every one will go through is no laughing matter; it is pain and suffering, it is being ground under the millstone. It’s a raw reality. But it’s also a reality that if you accept this martyrdom without reservations, at the same time, you feel it is a gift, it is grace: you reach union and achieve communion with God.
Everything points to one thing: in martyrdom lies the secret. That’s the venture. That’s the scales and the measure: do you believe or not? All the rest is fairy tales.
Holy Hesychasterion “The Nativity of Theotokos” Publications.
Archimandrite Symeon Kragiopoulos