It takes courage to give one’s life. But Christianity values more than just courage. Agree that non-Christian religions and even atheists have also known such a feat. One can give one’s life for an idea, for people. You can give your life inspired by the idea of hatred of the enemy, superiority over him, feeling his wrongness, his nothingness. But there is a salt to this feat in Christianity that no other religion has. It is not just to give one’s life, but to do so without becoming embittered, even with sympathy for the enemy. And if this is the most extreme feat, the lesser feat is to give of one’s strength, attention, means, inspiration to something. But it is possible, in giving, to admire oneself, to observe oneself from the sidelines, to exalt oneself over those who are unable to give. And this feat the Lord does not kiss, this feat is like a sakura tree that blooms beautifully, but does not smell or bear fruit. Everything that is not in Christ can sound, fly by very beautifully, solemnly, enthusiastically, but give no fruit. And it is only the feat in Christ that is special to this main attribute – without hatred of the enemy. This is how Christ died and said: Lord, forgive them, they do not know what they do, they are madmen. In the same way and with the same words, the first martyr Archdeacon Stephen died. And there were many martyrs – on the one hand, martyrs for Christ, and on the other, just martyrs who blossomed like cherry blossoms and flew away – they were distinguished only by their lack of hatred for the enemy.
Recently a very young unbeaten and unsophisticated man said to me that if we had remained pagans like Prince Svyatoslav, we would have been strong, conquering the whole world. I replied, “We have been Christians for a thousand years, weak as you think, and for a thousand years no one has been able to conquer us. For a while they bent us, humiliated us, then we stood up. What is our strength? That there is no hatred in us. Men know that when your opponent starts to get nervous, turns on you, it means he’s already losing. And if you stay peaceful, calm, then you’re still going to win.
Some may say that atheists already fought in the war. But the leaven was still pre-revolutionary, almost everyone still had a cross, “Alive in Help” (Psalm 90) was in his pocket. In the worst years of persecution of the Church, ’37-’39, this state, which was literally destroying the Church, on the eve of the war conducts a census of the population, in which it deliberately puts a column “religion”. And most of the Russian people in these circumstances writes: Orthodox. That is why the war was not won by atheists, there was the leaven of their mothers, fathers and grandfathers, which can not be simply eradicated in ten years. They poisoned us for seventy years, and only for the millennium of Baptism of Russia churches were opened, and immediately we opened our eyes again, we began to breathe and build temples, receive Holy Communion and confess. It was in us, at the genetic level. After all, we were Orthodox for a thousand years, you can’t eradicate that so quickly. Christian gratitude is a very good quality. We will be grateful to our grandfathers, grandmothers, those who fought for us and gave their lives.
Archpriest Sergiy BARANOV
May 9, 2021