“In the twentieth century it is almost a joke in the Western world to use words like ‘good’ and ‘evil.’ They have become old-fashioned concepts, yet they are very real and genuine. These are concepts from a sphere which is above us. And instead of getting involved in base, petty, shortsighted political calculations and games we must recognize that a concentration of evil and a tremendous force of hatred is spreading throughout the world. We must stand up against it and not hasten to give, give, give, everything that it wants to swallow” Alexander Solzhenitsyn (Warnings to the West, pg. 46).
The end of another year. Have we become any wiser? For the sake of comfort and a return to a phantom “normal” so many are willing to bury their heads in the sands of denial. The house is burning, and the message seems to be – just ignore it and it will go out eventually. A wide swath of Christianity has lost its salt. It is more concerned with keeping the status quo of worldly dictates. As Solzhenitsyn righty states, the more is given the more it will be swallowed up.
Hatred of mankind has put on a benign mask of “health and well-being.” Slavery prances around as digitized freedom. More and more humans are willing to be scanned like cattle; for to the wicked men serving evil, people are no more than cattle. Maybe cattle have more value to them. Even “churches” are queuing up to have people scanned for entry. Apostasy.
As Orthodox, we would be wise to heed these words spoken by St. Mark of Ephesus, “Never, O man, is that which concerns the Church put right through compromises: there is no mean between Truth and falsehood. But just as what is outside the light will be necessarily in darkness, so also he who steps away a little from the Truth is left subject to falsehood” (Letter to George Scholarios, Orthodox Word, Vol. 12. 1967).
Have we grown so fat on our spiritual maladies that we can no longer recognize health? The spirit of worldliness is dressed up in pious clothing and presented as the new “loving way.” It is indeed the easy way, yet as the Scripture clearly says, broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it (Matt. 7:13). As Orthodox Christians, we have been clearly warned throughout the ages regarding compromise with the spirit of this age. In our own times, with prophetic-like voice, Blessed Seraphim (Rose) clearly proclaimed, “The Spirit of the age in which we live is worldliness. Its agents, making use of the latest means of communication, flood the world. The sense of the ideal, the longing for ultimate happiness, love, and truth, which are inborn in man, when frustrated result either in crude materialism or spiritual sickness. Only God’s truth is able to grant the needed fulfillment” (OW, Vol. 9. 1966)
Only the Truth of Christ the Lord will save our world. The more other pseudo-saviors are lauded, the more we will rush headlong into the abyss.
The clear clairvoyant voice rings out again, “Never has the Church of Christ been so encompassed by enemies as today: in Eastern Europe, subject to the Communist yoke whose aim is the liquidation of the Church; in the free world, enticed by the false promise of ecumenism, holding out to unwary Orthodox the bait of a new ‘Union.’
But there is no cause for despair. The Church of Christ cannot be liquidated, for the gates of hell shall not prevail against it (St. Matthew 16:18); and if there are false pastors and misled flocks who are prepared to renounce or change the unchanging Truth and tradition of Holy Orthodoxy in order to be absorbed into the approaching ecumenist ‘Union,” there will yet be a faithful remnant who will witness Orthodox Truth even to martyrdom.
In a world which, in its fear and faint-heartedness, can speak only of ‘peace,’ Orthodox Christians are called upon to be warriors” (OW. Vol 3. 1965).
Though these words were spoken when “Communism” controlled much of Eastern Europe and since has seemingly “fell;” yet is not the whole world faltering under the grip of a more diabolical manifestation of godless secularism? How much more urgent are the warnings about compromise for us today? Peace with the world is a false peace, it is anti-peace. Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God (James 4:4)?
“There is a German proverb which runs Mut verloren – alles verloren: ‘When courage is lost, all is lost.’ There is another Latin one, according to which loss of reason is the harbinger of destruction. But what happens to a society in which both these losses – the loss of courage and the loss of reason – intersect? This is the picture which I found in the West at present today,” observes Solzhenitsyn. It seems we have but unheedingly traveled hundreds of miles past this warning sign.
Reason and courage are not only disregarded but actively and systematically attacked and slandered. It seems that unreasoning cowards are the standard of our day. Cowardliness is a new virtue.
May we find the strength, courage, and grace to stand faithfully and steadfastly in the Holy Faith, the revelation of the Logos. To actively and willingly compromise the Faith is to be a purveyor of death and a messenger of lies and falsehood. We must gird up our hearts with love and zeal for the Lord our God and His holy things.
“The sword of zeal to serve God is the necessary weapon with which to cut off the temptations of evil and worldliness. Without the spiritual warfare wherein Christ is witnessed, there is no Christianity and no salvation” (OW. Vol. 10, 1966).
The Lord will keep His Church forever. May we keep ourselves in Her holy Truth. The Truth of Christ will never be compromised, be there few or many who live by it. May we not compromise ourselves away from Truth.
As Orthodox Christians, we have been entrusted with the Revelation of Life. The obligation to guard it undefiled is not only for ourselves but for those around us and those to come. We will answer for the talent of the Faith, according to our responsibility, before the Throne of God.
May we contemplate this warning spoken in the middle of the last century by a prayerful voice of foresight –
Orthodoxy in America
The Past –
has left America an inestimable treasure, the sense of true Orthodoxy that was instilled in it by saintly missionaries., first in Alaska, then spreading gradually south and east. These holy men, instructors of the True Faith, emitted the fragrance of the Holy Spirit like incense before God, and thus bequeathed to their descendants the savor of genuine Christianity, which, if it be not lost, makes of believers the salt of the earth, preserving and imparting the life of Christ.
The Present –
while full of movement and excitement, offers nothing of lasting value, and threatens only to deprive slumbering believers of this precious savor.
The Future –
heralds a darkness greater than ever before, as it prepares the universal triumph of pseudo-Christiaity; but, hidden from the world, militant Orthodox Christians will preserve their spiritual treasure, selling everything else to buy the field in which it is buried, and will prepare, in watchfulness and prayer, to meet the coming Christ (OW, Vol. 6. 1965).
Yet, as with the Ninevites, true and heartfelt repentance may turn away darkness and shine forth the light of Life. Let us, as this year ends and a new one begins, fervently reject the pseudo-Christianity that is romancing with the current fallen worldly system and its new anti-virtues.
Will we heed the multitude of warning prophetic voices? May the Lord soften our hearts.
Or are we and our world bent on fulfilling these words of Solzhenitsyn, “These warnings go unheeded; most of them fall, as it were on the ears of the deaf, people who do not want to hear them” (Warnings to the West, pg. 101).
Our hard hearts and deaf ears will indeed be our own self-destruction if we do not heal them through our Lord Jesus Christ. The ball is indeed in our court.
May this civil year be truly a year of repentance and seeking courageously after the Lord.