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IMG_4591-HDRTHE PRAYER OF THE MIND IN THE HEART- the criterion for true martyrdom

(24.06.2020 15:44)


You have heard it once, as many times before, what the God-Man Jesus Christ says:

“If the world hates you, you know that the world hated Me before it hated you” (John 15:18).

Here is another chance to recall that the struggle of Christianity in this world is inseparably linked to the struggle of martyrdom.

In fact, it is one and the same struggle. Only the martyr has the full right to be called a Christian, and “has no other rights.”

What do we Christians mean by the term “world”?

The “world” is, above all, the untransformed passions which exist in us; the “world” are the sins we commit; the “world” are the demons associated with the untransformed passions, and the “world” are the people, who being held captive by their passions, consciously or unknowingly, serve the demons.

The internal or (and) external war we are constantly waging against the world or the world wages against us, that is, the effort, suffering, and the pain we endure in that war  in order to remain in the love that God’s children have towards their Heavenly Father and their fellow men, makes us martyrs.

We know that God does not allow temptation which is greater than our strength.

This means that at different levels of our spiritual development we experience appropriate temptations, but not in order to fail (although that possibility is always very real; and it happens), but for the reason of our repentance and spiritual perfection.

At the first level of the spiritual development – purification of the heart, when our heart is still held captive by the passions, the demon is allowed to attack from within, because he has free access through the passions, but only with the intensity of provoking thoughts, feelings and desires.

Whenever we do not fulfil our passions and commit sins, that is, whenever we fight to get rid of thoughts and desires related to them, and when we suffer in that struggle, we become relevant martyrs.

On the second level of the spiritual development – enlightenment of the mind with the gift of the prayer of the mind in the heart, when our heart is sufficiently purified from the passions, the demon cannot attack from within, that is, because of the purity of the heart, such an attack is not enough to cause a fall. Therefore the attack takes place through people who are slaves to the passions, and under his control.

At this level we are no longer part of the world.

“If you were of the world, the world would love its own [it would not attack you]; Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you ”(John 15:19).

The attack through people is more realistic and powerful enough to awake and stimulate the untransformed part of the passions of the heart and create conditions for our downfall.

The visible attack through people, although initially is aimed at inciting all the untransformed passions in us, in the end, after failing do so, usually comes down to public hostility and hatred.

And always, then, when the demon attacks us from outside, through the people who are his servants, because he will have no opportunity and strength to attack from within through the untransformed passions, and when we suffer in that struggle, we become martyrs.

Strangely enough, most often those who attack us do not even know us – they have never met us, we have never done evil to them personally – nor to any one person, and it is often not clear to them why they hate us or feel aversion towards us, or why they are overwhelmed by some prejudice against us.

That aside, they leave no room that they might be wrong in something about us – which is, pathologically, the most symptomatic.

But, as the Lord said:

“Let the word written in their law be fulfilled, that they hated Me without a cause” (John 15:25).

This is a necessary stage that every ascetic of the prayer of the mind in the heart  must pass, who, responding lovingly to every enmity, is honoured with the gift of transition from the stage of enlightenment to the level of deification, and his ascetic prayer becomes unceasing or graceful prayer of the mind in the heart.

IMG_9131Here we are talking about effective love that transfigures people, inside the specific community. We are talking about love for the people, who can have any attitude towards us – from sympathy to hatred. We are not talking about some theoretical love, love from afar, towards those we have already rejected and from whom we have separated – because we feel hurt by them, and supposedly we care a lot about them and their salvation.

It is already apparent what emerges from what has been said so far – in one sentence: whenever we manage to synchronise  our way of life with the level of the spiritual development we are at, we become martyrs.

This means that the martyrdom is also a spiritual struggle, the truth which can be verified by the fruits it bears (brings).

If God, through His Providence, had not dosed (classified) temptations in this way, no one would have attained perfection or salvation.


He who suffers martyrdom at the first level of the spiritual development – purification of the heart, in the inner struggle with his untransformed passions and the demons connected with them, and wins, will gain the fruit of the God’s gift of ascetic prayer of the mind in the heart.

And he who suffers martyrdom at the second level of the spiritual development – enlightenment of the mind, in the external attack from the people – demon’s servants, and will win with love, will gain the fruit of the God’s gift of unceasing prayer of the mind in the heart and the viewing of the divine light.

“But if anyone fights (competes), and he has not received crown, because he did not fight according to the rules” (2 Tim. 2: 5).

Naturally, one who does not coordinate his way of life and struggle with the level of the spiritual development in which he finds himself will neither see the fruits of the Holy Spirit, nor can he be considered a martyr.

He can improvise only.

For example, if someone, from a paranoid existential position, claims to be a martyr, only on the grounds that people are prosecuting him in court or he has been imprisoned, and at the same time does not have the appropriate gifts of the Holy Spirit – such as, at the very least, prayer of the mind in the heart, that is, the enlightenment of the mind, such one better admit the thoughtless sin or crime that he has committed, in the light of the church congregation or society,

rather than cultivating such a delusional idea of ​​greatness for himself, that is, publicly promoting himself as such; or, as such, to be promoted by his misguided followers.

But, as usual, the pathological behaviour of such people, like public slander, blackmail, intimidation, lying, vengeance, aggression, mockery, self-justification, condemnation, ridicule, etc., as well as the general pastoral failure, is visible to all but not to themselves.

This kind of detachment from reality, this delusion, depending on the position of the ill person in the Church, is called religious sociopathy or psychopathy, i.e. religious disorder of the image of God in man.

As much as that painful condition is consciously maintained and continued, that much demonization of that individual is greater.


Orthodox psychotherapy differentiates between temptations that happen to us because we spiritually heal (purification of the heart from the passions)

or we are healthy enough (enlightenment of the mind), –  from the temptations which we cause ourselves while we mentally get ill (religious neurosis) or when we are already mentally ill (religious personality disorder); That is between the temptations of the saints and the temptations of the demon possessed people.


Most-Holy Bogorodica (Mother of God), save us!


Metropolitan of Strumica Naum

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