Mother Maria in wartime

the martyr Mother Maria of Paris (1891-1945)

Mother Maria Skobtsova, by then already a survivor of the Russian Revolution, reflects as the Second World War rages through Europe:

Human nature, fallen, permeated with sin and its consequences, is a heavy thing.

If we try to understand what happens to the human soul in moments of terrible catastrophe, loss, or sometimes perhaps in moments of the creative transfiguration of the world, we will be able to give only one explanation of these phenomena. The gates of eternity are opened to us by way of a personal apocalypse; personal eschatology abolishes time, in which we are used to living, and space, by which we are used to measuring everything. And by somehow accepting these other laws, man is able to keep himself in eternity. The fall back into everyday life and a peaceful occupation with everyday things is by no means inevitable. Let them take their own course: eternity can be seen through them, if man is not afraid, if he does not run away from himself, does not renounce his awesome, not only human but divine-human, destiny. That is, his personal Golgotha, his personal bearing of the cross, accepted by his own free will.

This necessity of choice always stands before each man: the warmth and coziness of this earthly home, well-protected from wind and storms, or the endless space of eternity, in which there is only one firm and unquestionable thing, and this firm and unquestionable thing is the cross.

And I think that anyone who has at least once felt himself in this eternity, has at least once realized what path he is following, has seen at least once the One who walks ahead of him, will find it hard to turn from this path; to him all coziness will seem flimsy, all riches without value, all companions unnecessary, if he does not see among them the one Companion bearing the cross.

To put it more simply: a man’s whole life will seem dull, worthless, meaningless to him, if it is not pierced through with eternity.

-“Insight in Wartime,” from Essential Writings

Published by Catherine Addington

I am a translator from Spanish to English and a writer on saints, myths, and icons in both religious and secular contexts.

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