Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Russian New Martyrs

I was thinking about the Russian New Martyrs today. These men and women who suffered and died during the Communist rule from 1918-1991 have a special power. Something in their lives and faith is so rich and so real. Against their stories our trite phrases—“Don’t worry, be happy,” “Everything’s coming up roses,” even the contemporary Christian catch-phrases—seem inadequate.

There is Father Arseny, who suffered for many years but died peacefully after being released. The bishop, whose name I can’t remember, who wrote to his spiritual children with such joy, even while he lived in exile in Siberia, knowing that he would probably never see them again. The Royal Martyrs—Tsaritsa Alexandra who died making the sign of the cross, her sister Grand Duchess Elizabeth who was thrown into a mine shaft and who spent her last minutes tending to the wounds of others. They aren’t romantic stories. They aren’t stories with an earthly happy ending. But I look at them and marvel at the depth of faith and love of God which are revealed. I don’t know if I could act as they did. So far I have never had to withstand such persecution. But my faith is tested in my day-to-day life and so often I fall terribly short. And yet something in me yearns to meet the challenge these holy men and women have laid down.

I look at the New Martyrs and I pray simply, “Lord, I believe. Help thou my unbelief.”


Pam H. January 30, 2009 at 5:49 PM  

A good book on the communist faith persections is With God in Russia; also the companion book, He Leadeth Me. Both are true stories, written by a priest (Fr. Walter Cizcek) who was sentenced to a Siberian labor camp for his faith.

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