“Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves. Become therefore as wise as serpents and guileless as doves. But continue being on guard against men …” (Matt. 10:16-17a)
Our Lord rebuked the Pharisees because they were proficient in discerning the changing weather but were ignorant with regard to the spiritual state of the times in which they lived. They were rebuked because, as the evident spiritual leaders of the Jewish people, they should have known in what times they were living.
“Hypocrites, you know how to scrutinize the face of the sky and of the earth, but how is it that you do not scrutinize this time? (Lk. 13:56).
“Hypocrites, on the one hand, you know how to discern the face of the sky, but on the other hand are you not able to know the signs of the times?” (Matt. 16:3).
It takes God-given wisdom to truly discern the times; every time has its own place and purpose. One of the primary works of offering spiritual leadership is to offer, at least basically, an understanding of the spirit of the times that be.
Our Lord instructs elsewhere, “Now learn the parable from the fig tree: Whenever its branch at once should become tender and put forth leaves, you know that summer is near. Thus you also, whenever you see all these things, know that it is near …” (Matt. 24:32-33).
As profitable as it is to be capable of reading natural events, the more vital vocation is to understand the spiritual signs and realities which are being manifested in the times.
I would like to share a small section from a book that made a deep impression on me. I read this book for the first time years ago, it is Russia’s Catacomb Saints. Fr. Seraphim (Rose) was known to call it “the survival manual” for Christians of our times. The book is currently out of print.
There are those who feel that with the fall of what was left of Orthodox Russia in 1917, together with the general global turmoil, such as two World Wars that literally reshaped the face of the world, the Church entered into a “martyric age.” St. John Maximovich, while commenting on the significance of the Last Tsar, teaches, “The meaning for world history of the martyr’s death of the Imperial Family, something that likens it to the most significant Biblical events, consists of the fact that here the Constantionopolitan period of the existence of the Church of Christ comes to an end, and a new, martyric, apocalyptic age opens up.”
Standing in an epicenter of global reconstruction in the early years of the Soviet terror, Hieromartyr Damascene, records some sober considerations which are pertinent to our times and well worth our contemplation. Indeed, we are, it may be, only further down the path of the “new age” of which St. John spoke.
Hieromartyr Damascene speaks on the seal of the Antichrist, when he does so, he does not make some conjecture about its possible physical manifestation, no, first and foremost he warns against mentalities and actions which are seated in a spiritual state. These he understands as the fundamental realities of the seal, which if physically manifested will simply be a material confirmation of an already existing spiritual mentality, disposition, and action. That is, first and foremost the seal is an existing spiritual reality.
The martyr comments, Why is it that the seal of the Antichrist, as St. John the Theologian affirms, will be placed not upon the forehead and the hand simultaneously, but upon the forehead or the hand? Likewise, St. Andrew, Archbishop of Caesarea, writes: ‘He will strive so that the mark might be placed on everyone’ … In some it will be on the right hand, so as to instruct those who have been deceived to be bold in their deception and darkness. This will occur because at that time there will be people who will affirm that it is possible and permissible to recognize the God-fighting authority of Antichrist if only one remains a Christian in one’s soul.
The New-martyr observes a dangerous mentality, one that is starkly opposed to that of the early Christians who would not even pinch incense on Caesar’s altar. There are many accounts of the early martyrs being told by pagan authorities that they can pinch the incense outwardly while inwardly holding their faith and thus save their lives. The early martyrs refused because the outward and the inward cannot be synthetically split. They ultimately represent a whole. If outwardly one pinches incense then one has inwardly betrayed the faith.
This dichotomy of spiritual contradiction is fundamental to deconstructing true Christianity. It seems that many may begin to believe that we can outwardly do certain things while not doing them in our hearts. The New-martyr says this is a ploy of the Antichrist spirit.
From such ones the Antichrist will not demand that they share his way of thinking; in other words, upon all such ones he will not place the seal on their forehead, but will demand of them only recognition of his authority, which is, according to St. Hippolytus, the seal on the hand, since through recognition of the human authority which will be God-fighting and against God, lawless and filled with every impiety, a Christian by this very fact will cut off from himself every possibility of doing good and righteous deeds, for in his faith there will be missing the chief sign of uprightness – the confession of God as God and the recognition of Him as Being that stands above all. All such ones, even though they might bear the name of Christian, in very deed will be, according to the works of their hands, true servants of Antichrist, who has deceived them by the worship of his image, which is the mark of the beast.
The New-martyr seems to imply that on a certain level some will be allowed to “theologize” about “Christian” ideas, and even retain a symbiance of outward “worship,” as long as they ultimately recognize godless authority. The goal is to subjugate everyone to the “authority” of godlessness through whatever means.
He goes on to make this weighty observation,
The banishing of the grace of the Holy Spirit through the mark of the beast fills the heart of all such ones with the first sign – fearfulness – which will bring them to an easy destruction. St. Hippolytus writes: ‘On the contrary, if anyone will be deprived of the Holy Spirit, that is, if one will not have upon himself or has lost the seal of the gift of the Holy Spirit which was given in Holy Chrismation, he will fight with fear in a cowardly manner, will hide, will be afraid of the present temporal death, will conceal himself from the sword, will not endure chastisement, since he is constantly thinking about this world.”
Contemplate upon the place of fear in the work of the evil one. Also notice that those who begin to lose the savor of Christianity will fight in a cowardly manner, thinking only of things of this world. May God keep us from such a fate!
It behooves us to be mindful of this sign of our times.
May we be ever diligent that the outward working of our hands, our actions, are ever reflecting the essential life-giving message of Resurrection and the conquering of death and hades by Christ the Lord. What we believe inwardly will inevitably be manifested in our outward actions. They are inseparably one.
17 thoughts on “The Hand of the Beast”
Thanks. I am a new catechumen and have been looking for Russia’s Catacomb Saints since I first heard of the book a few weeks ago. Do you know if a digital copy is available?
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Hello! Contact me through the “contact” page of my blog, I have a PDF version that I could most likely get to you via a dropbox (others interested may do the same) …
I think I figured out how to share the PDF via a link, here it is for any who are interested –
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That’s great! Thanks very much.
You can also go to
enter your zip code and it will list libraries that have the book.
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Your writing reminds me of an article I read today: “The Psychological Manipulation of Universal Masking” where the author discusses of a formula for social coercion used by and discussed at length in Adolph Hitler’s “Mein Kampf. Some of the key components of this formula were:
1 – Keep the dogma simple and make social changes slowly over a period of time – only 1 or 2 points at a time.
2 – Be forthright and powerfully direct. Speak only in telling or ordering mode.
3 – Reduce concepts down to stereotypes which are black and white.
a. This is for your safety.
b. Masking and social distancing saves lives.
c. We are in this together
d. The virus is the common enemy
e. We must sacrifice to defeat the enemy
4 – Speak to people’s emotions and stir them constantly.
a. Americans will do the right thing.
b. If you don’t mask, you don’t love your neighbor.
c. The devil prowls the earth looking for bodies. So does this virus.
d. Congregating in a church setting is not Christian like behavior right now.
e. If you break the rules, you risk lives.
5 – Use lots of repetition; repeat your points over and over again.
6 – Forget scientific reasoning, balance or novelty.
a. A higher prevalence rate with a decreased mortality rate means the virus is more dangerous.
b. We don’t have that data, but we use that data to enforce emergency orders.
7 – Focus solely on convincing people and creating zealots.
a. If you don’t mask, you don’t care about the health and safety of your neighbor.
b. People will mask because it’s the socially responsible thing to do.
c. If you see people breaking the rules, report them to the local police and health department.
d. Masking will become culturally acceptable, and not wearing a mask will be considered socially irresponsible.
8 – Find slogans which can be used to drive the movement forward.
a. Don Your Mask, Don Your Cape.
b. Stay Home, Save Lives
c. In This Together
d. Let’s Save Lives Together
e. Stay Safe America
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Thank you Father for the PDF.
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History may not repeat but it sure rhymes: Sergianism in the Catholic Church.
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Father bless. Christ is risen!
Thank you again for your commentaries on the current “pandemic.”
I thought you and perhaps your readers would be interested in these on-line sources of books no longer in print.
Doxa to Theo, John
Signs of the Times by Hieromonk Seraphim Rose [written 1978]
Reprinted from The Orthodox Word, Vol. 34, Nos. 3-4 (200-201) May-August, 1998
Russia’s Catacomb Saints pdf by IM Kontzevitch
Fr Seraphim Rose https://churchtodayrus.files.wordpress.com/2012/09/russias-catacomb-saints.pdf
This one looks like it is the original, it appears to be photos of the actual pages.
I have checked this version against what parts I have of the original book, and so far I find it intact – not tampered with. -jh
http://www.proza.ru/2015/07/26/807 (in Russian)
And his: The Acquisition of the Holy Spirit in Ancient Russia by I. M. Kontzevitch
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Wow! Wow! Wow! Thanks so much for those links, and especially for that blog! That is so helpful. I will be sure give the link to my son, who became a catechumen at the same time as I did last Friday. Do you know if there is a way to download the entire website contents so that I can view the materials offline?
Father bless. Christ is Risen!
Speaking of ‘survival’, here’s a link to Bl. Fr. Seraphim’s “A Survival Course for Orthodox Christians” lectures, July 1079 & January 198 , without the outline notes, onetime available from St. Herman of Alaska Brotherhood Press out of Platina. For those interested, here’s a link from Orthodox Australia.
Thank you again for these timely reminders ‘that it’s later than we think!’
Doxa to Theo, John
from the site:
Orthodox Survival Course
“Essential to understanding these difficult times is Fr Seraphim Rose’s and Father Herman Podmoshensky’s “Orthodox Survival Course”, a rare and most valued orthodox resource. Fr Seraphim and Fr Herman taught this course in the 70′s at the Platina monastery. Fr Herman continued to teach it until 1998 and Fr Damascene Christensen traveled the world presenting it to various groups. As a result many were converted to Orthodoxy.”
Download Orthodox Survival Course (PDF)
Also available In audio format on this site.
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Thank you, as always, for some very profitable links!
Here is the best and simplest explanation of Sergianism.
Christ is Risen! Thank you so much Fr. Lynch for your sobering words. It’s seems as though you might be one of the few who still has the zeal of saving souls. It truly is later then we think. Lord have mercy! Thank also for the PDF. May God continue to strengthen you to finish the good work he’s begun in you.
The book is out of print but can be found here: http://russiascatacombsaints.blogspot.com
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