Below is an excerpt of Prayers by the Lake, written by the 19th-century Serbian Orthodox Monk Nikolai Vlimirovic, who is venerated as a Saint in the Serbian Orthodox Church. This excerpt is entitled "Martyrs of the True Faith".
Your faith has brought you near to the radiant throne of glory,
with the shining seraphim and the overpowering cherubim.
You are nearer
to immortality than we, and your prayer is more pure and audible.
Remember us in your prayer also, so that you may be ever more acclaimed
Bring us with you also, and you will more swiftly and
easily fly to the throne of glory. Whoever brings himself alone, walks
more slowly and stumbles more often. The greater the load of your
brothers you haul, the faster you fly.
I have said to people: You are all martyrs, but not all of one
martyrdom. Martyrs for the true faith are not the same as martyrs for a
false faith. Truly, their bones are similar but not the soul. For the
soul transfers power and weakness even to the bones.
You who suffer for the true faith, are suffering for what your spiritual
vision sees. You who suffer for a false faith, are suffering for what
your physical eyes see. You former suffer for faith in reality and
truth; you latter suffer for a dream and a fantasy.
Spiritual vision calls its knowledge by a humble name--faith. Physical
eyes call their faith by a boastful name--knowledge. Both the one and
the other are seeing: the first is a seeing of the peaceful and
sparkling essence of creation; the second is a seeing of flickers of
that essence through the darkness.
Your martyrdom is the most inevitable of all things, O sons of heaven
and sons of earth. Your being martyred lies in your fleeing from light
toward darkness. If you are fleeing from darkness toward light, you will
stir up the world against yourself. If you are fleeing from light
toward darkness, Heaven will remove itself from your convulsions and
The paths of the sons of men meet, and conflict is inevitable. For some
are journeying toward the East, while the others are journeying toward
the West. The Lord is merciful, and sends His angels to them all.
My soul is full of martyrs like a fertile field full of wheat and tares.
The first are facing the East, while the others are facing the West.
I whisper to my soul at midnight: “How long will you be crucified
between paradise and hell? Take hold of yourself, and face only the
direction where the martyrs of the true faith have journeyed.”
I whisper to my neighbor at dawn: “Do not take the heavily traveled
road, for many stinking corpses are strewn along it. Let us take the
trail up the mountain, which is rugged but does not reek of corpses."
I whisper morning and evening to you, O martyrs of the true faith: “Pray to God for us.”
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