he thought of us mortals is short," said the dying Prince, "and the candle of our soul does not cast light very far. Therefore do not become angry, O herald of the divine realm, at what I am about to ask you. Why has the One, who created us out of love and has surrounded us with His love from every direction why has He permitted these three fair generals to perish, along with so many others, whose dead bodies are at this very hour forming the fairest embellishment of this dreadful field? Why when I know that they had not grown cold in their love for their Creator?"
To this question the Prince received the following answer: "What you are asking me is quite understandable, O glorious founder of Ravanica Church. If I, as a conscious and bodiless spirit, were forced to clothe myself in a corruptible body of dust, I would bless the hour that would liberate me from the flesh. Death is fearful for those who are being separated from the object of their love, but not for those who are being invited to the object of their love. Death is a horror for those who have chosen the earthly kingdom, but a joy for those who have chosen the kingdom of heaven. Where a man's heart is, there also is his homeland. Whoever loves the world and what is in the world, does not have a healthy heart and knows nothing of true love. Such a worldly love is inspired either by the spirit of nature or even worse by the spirit of hell. Only that human heart, which burns with love for the Creator, is healthy. True love can refer only to the One, who demonstrated His love for man before His mother. Such love which has on earth only a beginning and never, anywhere an end is alone worthy of that exalted name. All the rest, which is called love on earth, is not love, but partiality toward bodies, things, forms, transitory sounds, changeable tastes, in a word toward fleeting and fading shadows.
"Therefore when the Lord of life and death sends death to those who love Him, He is sending death out of the flame of His love for them in order to free them from distance and draw them nearer to Himself. But when He sends death to those who have been partial to matter, and have not tasted the nectar of love for their Creator, He is sending death out of His wrath, in order to remove them an infinite distance from Himself. Just as a reaper harvests with the same sickle both the wheat and the tares in order to bring the former into his house and to put the latter far from both his field and his home. You see this field covered with dead bodies like haystacks. Corpse lies by corpse like newly cut stalk by stalk. But some kernels of grain from those stalks are safe, and have been borne in the hands of angels to the courts of heaven, while other kernels are ruined, and have been pushed into the abysmal darkness and smoke. Such is the difference between the human souls even during their life on earth. Just as the destiny of the wheat and the tares cannot be assessed during the time of blossoming and harvesting (for at that time they seem to be destined for the same fate), but only during the time of winnowing, so it is with the destiny of men up to the time of death. Nevertheless among men the quality and strength of their love, which again depends on the spirit within them, makes the difference.
"The heart of man was created for love in its most sublime, pure, and holy form. His heart is a temple, the smallest but most wondrous on earth, in which the spirit of God's love yearns to live. It is a censer, out of which the fragrance of man's love for the Creator rises. We angels in heaven ineffably love everything made by our Maker. Yet our love for creatures derives only from our love for the Maker of all creatures. Each of His creations is dear to us only because it is His and from Him. We love Him; therefore we also love everything that He loves. And whatever He loves, this the magnificent Creator and Sustainer of all both creates and sustains. Love for Him, for the One who loves us, makes us mighty, joyful, holy, youthful and alive.
"This is the love of pure spirits for the Spirit. No other feelings are manifested among us in heaven except for this continuously blazing feeling of love. Just as light permeates the dewdrops of morning, so does divine love permeate us. The progenitor of the human race also had such love for a time; and during that time of such love he was exceedingly mighty, joyful, holy, youthful and alive. But as soon as his love was divided between heaven and earth and was inclined toward earth, he became feeble, sorrowful, unconscious, old and was crowned with death. His descendants, having chosen the kingdom of this world, fell even further and became the plunder of death. Their hearts, emptied of the mighty and holy love of heaven, were filled with various adverse, transitory, and deceptive feelings. Heaven was no longer a reality in their soul but just a pale memory, which from generation to generation became fainter and fainter. Having lowered their mind to thinking only about physical objects, without and even in opposition to God, they began to desire with their heart only material things, again without and in opposition to God. Thus their hearts were closed by lust, envy, hatred, malice, malevolence, by fear for the body, by fear of death, by insatiability, selfishness, infidelity, avarice, and by every dissatisfaction with worthless satisfactions. The world defiled their hearts; the world outgrew their hearts; the world became a tyrant. And thus was everything until the Spirit of God came down along the bloody path of the Son of God, and once again softened the stony hearts of men and illuminated them with heavenly love.
"You yourself know well, as an excellent judge of character, how Adam's poisonous smoke of the world (and, even worse, the smoke of the spirits of hell) began also to poison the heart of your nation, extinguishing within it the flame of heavenly love, which, from the time of its baptism, had blazed splendidly over several centuries. God, who loves mankind and "desires all men to be saved," could no longer watch as your people plunged to their final destruction, into the abyss of eternal death. A way had to be found to thwart this evil and to heal your people. However, neither the examples of the Serbian saints nor the sermons of the Serbian clergy, nor even your warnings and pleadings were to any avail. As a result, there finally had to come this cataclysm, this terror and horror, this slaughter, and the slaying of the great and noble generals, and your own temporal death, O most noble Prince of them all.
"Consequently there is also yet to come a protracted period of bondage, repentance, weeping, sighing, silence, and suffering. Bitterness will follow bitterness, like step after step, so that in this way the heart of your people may be detached from the world and attached to heaven; so that it may be disappointed in worthless worldly partialities and be fascinated with the lasting love of heaven; so that it may be emptied of the smoke of hell and filled with light without dusk; in a word, so that your people may blaze anew with love for the Creator, and so that they may be warmed from that flame with love for the souls on earth and the spirits in heaven, as creatures of the Most Beloved and so that through this love they may once again become mighty, joyful, holy, youthful and truly alive.
"Rejoice, therefore, O noble sacrifice! Your choice was righteous and your testament is salvation-bearing. All that is to happen to your people from this time, will serve to drive them away from the deceptive worldly love, which is transitory and worthless, and to elevate them to the eternal love of heaven. Whatever they will from this time forth love on earth, they will love through the purity and holy love of heaven. Their external subjugation will bring them internal liberation. And this inner freedom is so valuable that neither exterior bondage nor exterior liberty can harm it. Tyranny cannot extinguish it; external liberty cannot defile it.
"Thus will your people be filled with strength, and be mighty even as love is mighty. They will be guided onto this path by the One, who heals with chastisement as well as tenderness. He is love itself. He is the home and hearth of love. In Him love is manifested as fatherhood, as sonship, and as the flaming spirit of love, the Holy Spirit. Outside of Him and in opposition to Him there neither exists nor can there ever be a feeling of true love either in heaven or on earth. The invisible realms of spirits are inebriated and live by the love that comes from Him. The entire invisible and visible universe is an enigma, to which His love is the key. Everything that responds with love to His love, becomes immortal and is enrolled into His heavenly family. This enrollment into His immortal family, into the citizenship of the heavenly kingdom, is the supreme aim of all your efforts and strivings on earth. This is the supreme dignity, of which you, spirits in flesh, can be made worthy. This is the reward to martyrs in this vale of tears."