WARNING

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CALLS ITSELF ORTHODOX IS

TRULY ORTHODOX


The above warning was given to me when I first met Orthodoxy in 1986. Today [2009] it is even more perilous, even more difficult to find the Royal Path. For one thing there is a far greater abundance of misinformation. And many materials are missing, and other materials are being rapidly rewritten. For another thing there are fewer than ever guides remaining on the Royal Path, especially who speak English. Hopefully this website will be a place where Newcomers to the Faith can keep at least one foot on solid ground, while they are "exploring."


blog owner: Joanna Higginbotham

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01 September 2006

Contemporary Signs of the End of the World


Contemporary Signs of the End of the World
Lecture given by Father Seraphim Rose in May 1981


Introduction
Our Christian Attitude
Apostasy
Communism as the Precursor of Antichrist
Other Signs - the U.N., the Jews, False Miracles
Eastern Religions, Psychics, ufo's
Positive Signs
Q&A


Introduction

Today I would like to speak on a subject which is very relevant to our times: the end of the world; more particularly, the signs being fulfilled in our times which point to the end of the world. 

There have been a number of times in the past when this subject was of great interest. In fact, you can even call them “apocalyptic” times. The Apostles themselves felt that their times were very apocalyptic. (Later I will present some of the statements they made in the Scriptures which show that they really expected the end of all things to be very close.) At various other times – for example, in the West, around the year 1000 – there was a great expectation of the end. In Russia near the end of the 15th century, again there was a period when the end was expected shortly. This was because the year 1492, according to the chronology of the Old Testament, was the year 7000 from the creation of the world. And many people in our own times have this same feeling that time is running out, that something big is going to happen. Often this is bound up with the number 2,000. That is, we have come to the end of two millennia of Christianity; a millennium is thought of as a big thing, a whole thousand years, and two of them means some great crisis must be approaching; and many people place this in the terms of the end of the world. Of course, that does not necessarily mean anything, since we don’t know the day, or the hour, or the year when the world is going to end (Matt. 24:36). I will try, however, to go into what our attitude should be toward this expectation of the end.

Nowadays, when you think about “apocalyptic awareness,” you think of Protestant sectarians of various kinds, who have definite ideas about what is going to happen at the end of this age. It is not only religious thinkers, however, but also ordinary secular philosophers who talk about the end of the world in a very bold way. I will give you an example, one who should be close to us because he is an Orthodox writer: Alexander Solzhenitsyn. He has been outside of Russia since 1974, and has written about life in the Soviet Union and especially in the Soviet labor camps, the infamous Gulag. He is not what one would consider a “mystical” or “vague” thinker, or someone who’s up in the clouds; he is very down-to-earth.

Almost three years ago he gave a talk at the Harvard University commencement, in which he spoke boldly to the people of the West (just as before that he had spoken boldly to Soviet leaders), telling them that their civilization is collapsing and is in danger of being taken over by Communism, that modern humanism is not deep enough to satisfy the human soul, and that it is no model that can be followed by Russia if Russia should overthrow Communism. At the end of this address he used the following words to express his idea of the depth of the crisis which is now occurring in the world:

“If the world has not come to its end, it has approached a major turn in history, equal in importance to the turn from the Middle Ages to the Renaissance.”

Here he speaks seriously of the possibility of the “end of the world,” based on his observations that it is impossible for men to live long without deep spiritual roots, which have been uprooted in the East by Communism and in the West by worldly humanism.
In his other writings, Solzhenitsyn, like many realistic thinkers today, speaks of specific reasons, quite apart from the spiritual ones, why he thinks that such a period of great crisis is facing humanity. He mentions things that you will find in any serious analysis of today’s news: namely, such things as the nearness of the exhaustion of the earth’s resources (if they are used at the present rates); the disastrous pollution of air and water and soil (which is much worse in Russia than in America); the overpopulation of the world and the approaching disastrous shortage of food which seems to be coming; and, of course, the development of weapons in the last few decades, which makes the virtual annihilation of human life possible.

All this relates to the physical signs of an approaching great crisis, the end of the modern age, and perhaps the end of the world itself. But much more remarkable than these are the spiritual signs that are multiplying in our times. This is what I would like to mostly talk about.


Our Christian Attitude

First of all, I would like to ask a question: What should be the attitude of a committed Orthodox Christian toward this whole idea of the end of the world, and toward the signs which are preparing for it? Should we dismiss all this as some kind of superstition, hysteria, and so forth?

No, we should not. We have, first of all, the answer given by our Lord Jesus Christ Himself in the Gospel. Just two days before He was to go to His Passion, His disciples came to Him on the Mount of Olives and asked Him: “Tell us, when shall these things be?” – that is, the destruction of the temple, which He had just mentioned. Then they asked Him: “And what shall be the sign of Thy coming, and of the end of the world?” (Matt. 24:3). Our Saviour at that moment did not reject the question, as He did at other times when the disciples asked things they should not be asking, such as when James and John asked if they would be able to sit next to Him in the Kingdom of Heaven (Mark 10:37). On the contrary, He allowed them to ask the questions, and He answered them. These answers take up the entire twenty-fourth chapter of the Book of St. Matthew (where the historical events before the end of the world are set forth), and the twenty-fifth chapter (where He teaches most fully on the coming Judgment and on how to prepare for His coming). In a shorter form, these are also set forth in the Gospels of Mark and Luke. Some of these prophecies refer directly to the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple, which happened several decades after the Crucifixion, but the rest refer to the end of the whole world.

In His answer, our Lord gives the following main points. First of all, beware of deception, of following false Christs. Then there will be various signs, such as wars, famines, earthquakes – and all these are not the end but rather the beginning of the tribulation. Then there will be the moral signs: the persecutions of Christians; the increase of evil; the growing coldness of love, which is one of the main signs that Christianity is dying, because the sign of a Christian, as our Lord told us, is that he has love for others. Then another sign is that the Gospel is to be preached to the whole world, after which the end will come. Another sign is that there will be a terrible tribulation, i.e. apart even from all the things He has mentioned already: wars, famines, earthquakes. And “the abomination of desolation will be in the holy place” (we must understand this according to the interpretation handed down by the Holy Fathers, which I will speak about); and “the days will be shortened… for the sake of the elect” (Matt. 24:15, 22).

Then again He warns about false Christs and false prophets, and about “great signs and wonders” which, “if possible, will lead astray even the elect,” i.e. not only will terrible physical events happen, but there will also be deceptions which are so subtle that even the elect themselves might be fooled.

Then the sign of the coming of Christ: it will be sudden, from above, and not like His first coming. The signs of the very end are that “the sun shall be darkened, the moon shall not give its light, the stars will fall from heaven”; and then Christ Himself will appear in the heavens with the sign of the Cross.

But He tells us that the day and hour of His coming are not for us to know. Nonetheless, we should pay attention. He gives us the parable of the fig tree: when we see its branches putting forth leaves, we know that summer is nigh; and, likewise, when we watch the signs and see these things beginning to happen, then we know that the times are ripe, that the end is drawing near.

Therefore, we are to watch not for a specific day or time, but rather for the signs of the end so that we can be prepared. We are especially to be prepared against deception, which is involved with one of the great events to happen at the end of the world: the coming of Antichrist, which we will discuss shortly.

As I mentioned earlier, the age of the Apostles – the first century – was full of the expectation that Christ would soon return. Today it is a little difficult for us even to imagine how the Apostles could be so filled with fervor for Christ that they could go to all the ends of the world; but they literally did. The Apostle Thomas went to India, and some say even as far as China; St. Andrew went north to Scythia, which is now Russia; St. Aristobulus and others went to England; St. Matthew and others went south to Abyssinia. The whole civilized world at that time was covered by the Apostles, because they had the idea that the world was coming soon to an end and that they were to go out to all the lands and preach the Gospel. Already by the time of the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans in A.D. 70, the Gospel had been preached to virtually all the known inhabited world. From that time on began the bringing forth of fruits in all those countries in which the seed of the Gospel had been planted.

And we see, if we take any one particular country that received the Gospel, how over the centuries it brought forth fruits. It had saints, the lives of people were completely changed, and there was a total difference between the time that country was pagan and the time it accepted Orthodox Christianity. If you take any country in the West, such as Britain or France, or in the East, such as Byzantium or Syria or Russia, you will see that this is the case.

There are a number of Scriptural passages in which the Apostles mention the coming of the end. For example, in Philippians 4:4-5, St. Paul writes: “Rejoice in the Lord always… The Lord is at hand.” St John mentions in 1 John 2:18: “Little children, it is the last hour.” The Apostle Peter says in 1 Peter 4:7: “The end of all things is at hand.” Elsewhere, answering those who said that the end was a long time in coming, St. Peter says in his famous statement that “one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years is one day, and that the Lord is only being patient with us until we repent (II Peter 3:8-9). And then, immediately after that, he gives us a full description of the actual end of the world by fire (3:10-13).

So, from that very time, those who were fervent Christians had a definite idea: the world is soon coming to an end. Of course, nineteen centuries have passed since that time. Does that mean that the Apostles were mistaken? Or that anyone else who thinks so is also mistaken, and we should put away all ideas that the end of the world is at hand, that Christ is coming soon? No, it does not mean this. It means that we are to understand this in the right way, and the right way is the spiritual way. If we ourselves are leading a conscious spiritual life, conducting the unseen warfare against our own fallen nature and against the demons who are against us, then we will be constantly expecting the coming of Christ into our soul.

The only danger is if you go overboard and begin to try to place dates, to calculate exactly when it is going to happen, to be too concerned about specific events which are occurring and too quick to place them in categories so that they fit into chapters of the Apocalypse.

Of course, the big mistake made by the people who go overboard in these details occurs when they fall into the heresy of chiliasm: the expectation of Christ coming to earth for a thousand years. Chiliasm, a heresy fought by the early Fathers of the Church, constantly comes up again in sectarian circles, especially in times of historical uncertainty and crisis. It is the teaching of a reign of Christ on earth before the end of the world: a reign of peace and prosperity under Christ, Who will reign with His elect in Jerusalem and conquer all foes. This troublesome heresy was widespread even in the early history of the Church and was condemned by the Second Ecumenical Council in A.D.381. That was when the phrase was put in the Creed: “…and His Kingdom shall have no end.” This phrase was introduced into the Creed with the specific intention of countering the chiliastic teaching of the heretic Apollinarius.

The idea of chiliasm arose out of a misinterpretation of Apocalypse chapter 20, which says the devil was bound for a thousand years and Christ came and reigned with His saints. If you just read the text straight through without stopping and interpreting it according to what the Holy Fathers have said about it, you can get the idea that there is to be a period of a thousand years between two future comings of Christ. This means you have to have two different Judgments. In fact, the Protestants do: they have a “Great White Throne Judgment,” and some other kind of Judgment. This confuses the whole picture of Christian eschatology.

In the universal interpretation of the Orthodox Holy Fathers, however, there is no mystery about this. The reign of Christ with His saints is occurring now. This is the Church. This is the life of grace in the Church with the Sacraments, which Protestants, not having, do not understand. The life in the Church is such a blessed state – because we are with Christ, we have His grace, we have His Body and Blood within us – that this is like Paradise. And this is what people call the millennium. The “thousand years” means a whole period. One thousand is a round number: 10x10x10 in symbolical language means the fullness of time between the First Coming and the Second Coming of Christ.

Expectation of a chiliastic coming of Christ (i.e. of Christ reigning as an earthly ruler for a thousand years) has led to fantasies and bloodshed, from the time of the Middle Ages to now: “charismatic” leaders persuade their followers either that they are Christ, or that they are preparing for Him. This is an exact fulfillment of Christ’s prophecy of fake Christs who will not come from the heavens at the end of the world. In recent times, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Seventh-Day Adventists, and many other sectarian groups have preached this doctrine, often predicting the exact year and day of the end of the world – which never comes on schedule – or preparing for a great “world leader” who will bring peace on earth. This “world leader” will be the Antichrist, about whom the Scriptures prophesy exactly. Fantasies of the coming “millennium” are one of the chief ways mankind is preparing for the Antichrist.

Our times are full of this chiliasm or millenarianism. This is the basis of the Communist ideology of the perfect state on earth that will come when the “dictatorship of the proletariat” finally ends. Such fantasies always result in tyranny in the name of a religious or philosophical ideal,

Chiliastic views themselves are not a particular sign of the end. They existed in the Middle Ages, the Renaissance, and in more modern times; but they have never been more widespread than today, not merely among small groups of sectarians, but among political and religious leaders of humanity. This I will talk about a little later as one of the signs of the end.
Now let us turn to some of the spiritual signs of the end. Most of these signs are bound up with the figure of Antichrist, the world ruler at the end of time, the last great enemy of Christ. 

Many people have a very superficial idea about him: Luther thought it was the Pope, others have a caricatural idea of him as simply a vicious dictator. We must go deeper than this, and especially distinguish between the general spirit of Antichrist, the many lesser antichrists who have this spirit to some degree, and the Antichrist himself, who will come only at the very end of time and rule the whole world. St. John says (1 John 2:18): “As ye have heard that Antichrist is coming, so now many antichrists have come; therefore we know that it is the last hour.” That is, just because we have seen many with the spirit of Antichrist in the past – those who have fought against Christ, like some Roman emperors, and especially those who have tried to deceive Christians by means of some fake teaching and seeming miracles – this does not mean there will not be a single Antichrist at the end of the world. These many small antichrists should prepare us for the coming of the great Antichrist.


Apostasy

St. Paul himself, who was very filled with awareness of the coming end of the world and the second coming of Christ, warns Christians even in his time not to be excited about the end of the world. He says in II Thessalonians 2:2-3: “Be not quickly shaken in mind or troubled… as though the day of the Lord is just at hand. Let no one deceive you: that day will not come except the falling away come first and the man of lawlessness be revealed, the son of perdition.”

This is a very important sign of the end: the falling away or apostasy and the coming of the man of lawlessness, which is Antichrist. On this subject I would like focus quite a bit of our attention. This concept of apostasy is a key one with which to understand the events of our times. It is too big of a topic to go into completely now. But briefly: a student of history, looking at the whole past two thousand years of history, especially Western history, can see a continuous thread of development. And in these last nine hundred or thousand years, you can see the various strands which go to make up our modern history and modern civilization. The civilization of today is shaped by the events and developments of yesterday.

When Solzhenitsyn speaks about the coming of a great world crisis or even the end of the world, he is referring to the fact that this historical current, which has been going on for the last thousand years at least, is now coming to its end. There is no place further for it to go: it must either change drastically or destroy mankind. Solzhenitsyn traces it back to the end of the Middle Ages. Actually, it goes back further. If you examine it historically, I think you can see that it traces back to the time when Rome broke away from the Church, i.e. the year 1054, the middle of the 11th century. Something happened in the West: the West chose to go its own way.

This breaking away on the part of Rome was the beginning of what can be called the mainstream of apostasy. Apostasy means “falling away,” even a very small falling away. If you look at Rome in the 12th century, it was still fairly close to Orthodoxy. Nonetheless, it had begun to deviate in its various ideas about the importance of the Pope, and so forth. 

Once this movement of apostasy began, it went step by step, very logically, to produce the world we see today. Rome broke off from the Church because worldly ideas of Church government – the papacy – became dominant. And once the Roman Church was independent of the Churches in the East, these innovations began to enter the life of Rome until it became, over the centuries, increasingly different from Orthodoxy.

Worldliness in the Western world produced the pagan Renaissance, and the departures in the Roman Church from the true Christian practices of the earlier Church (most notably the Roman Catholic idea of “indulgences” and especially the selling of them) produced the Protestant Reformation, which gradually threw out almost all of the ancient Christian traditions together with the various superstitions and false practices against which it was supposedly rebelling. This, in turn, produced the reaction which we know as the Age of Enlightenment, the eighteenth century, which threw out religion altogether and tried to base life upon human reason and common sense. This is basically what civilization is trying to live on today. And this is what has produced the Communism out of which Solzhenitsyn came, and against which he is protesting. Communism is the last and most consistent form of trying to make life on earth solely fit human ideas, not divine ones.

If Rome had not fallen away from Orthodoxy and started this whole process of apostasy, world history would have been much different. We can see even now that in the East, Orthodox countries like Greece and Russia did not have a Renaissance, or a Reformation, or even an Enlightenment period, as did the West. And if they are now bound up with the same kind of worldview as is the West, it is because they have in the last century or two finally accepted all these ideas and been poisoned by them. Therefore, they have become part of the whole world which is now involved in one single civilization, i.e. Western civilization – which is, as Solzhenitsyn rightly sees, in its dying phase.

In the same passage in which St. Paul mentions the apostasy (II Thessa-lonians 2:7), he gives a second name for this movement. He calls it the “mystery of iniquity,” or the “mystery of lawlessness.” He says: “The mystery of lawlessness is already at work,” preparing for Antichrist, who is the “man of lawlessness.” If we look around at our 20th century civilization, the word “lawlessness” or “anarchy” is perhaps the chief characteristic that identifies it.
A few examples: By the beginning of the 20th century, all the various schools of modern art dissolved into what can only be called a “lawless” state: Cubism, Futurism, ending in just blocks on the canvas – or, what Jackson Pollock was doing twenty-five years ago: standing in the midst of a large canvas, he would get “inspired,” dip his paint brushes in pails, and throw the paint (and sometimes whatever came into his hands) on the canvas. You cannot seriously call it art if you consider what the ancient masters created was art, because they were meticulous and careful and there was a whole art or science to what they did. 

Therefore, you can say that, compared to ancient art or even the more recent art of previous centuries, this is a kind of lawlessness, because the artist are letting them-selves go and doing what is against all the laws.

In modern music it is the same way. An historian of music – Alfred Frankenstein – wrote a complete history of Western music, and when he came to the 20th century he stopped and said: I cannot write anymore, because what comes from here on is no longer music as I know it. That is, he appreciated that there was something there, but he said it does not obey the laws that music obeyed up until the end of the 19th century; therefore, it is something else; let somebody else write about it. Because, again, some kind of lawlessness, a new principle, entered into life.

Once you get this far, really, there is no place else to go – that’s the end of that. That is why Solzhenitsyn has this feeling that something is coming to an end, because you cannot keep going down. Something else has to happen. Either there has to be an explosion – a totally new principle has to enter in, like when Christianity came in Roman times and totally transformed everything – or else, if something new does not happen, then the whole civilization simply winds down, and that is the end of it.

In the realm of moral teaching, it is quite noticeable, especially in the last twenty years or so, how lawlessness has become the norm. Even people in high positions within the clergy of liberal denominations – usually of Catholics, Protestants, and so forth – are sometimes quite willing to justify all kinds of things which before would have been considered immoral; now they are considered according to a new morality – “situation ethics,” and so forth.

Whereas most civilized people (and even wild pagan tribes) had a fairly good sense of right and wrong and decent behavior up at least to the Second World War, since then the philosophy has taken hold of many that one can “do whatever one feels like,” and even so-called Christians justify and promote behavior that until now was everywhere considered a total loss of decent standards, not only Christian but even just human. This is a deep sign of lawlessness in contemporary society. This could not happen wherever people have basic religious and moral views of any kind. It is a direct result of the abandonment of Christianity and the “falling away” from Truth.

This is a sign of what St. Paul calls the “mystery of lawlessness,” – a mystery in that it is something which is not fully revealed in this world; it is something which comes from the other world. The “mystery of righteousness” is the whole story of how God came from heaven and became incarnate in order to save us. The “mystery of lawlessness” is the opposite: it is a mystery coming up from hell, which breaks into this world and changes it. Therefore, this is the mystery of lawlessness or anarchy which is preparing for the coming of the “man of lawlessness,” who is Antichrist.

Even in politics and government – which make no sense at all unless you have the idea of order – the idea of lawlessness is entering. If you look at how the world is divided, you see that almost half of the world now is in the Communist camp. And Communism, if you look at it objectively, is a very strange form of political/economic order, because it makes no sense. As far as politics is concerned, it is tyranny, which the Communists claim to be against. As far as economics is concerned, it does not work, and yet the whole point of installing it is to make it work better than capitalism. Therefore, from the point of view of those who introduced Communism into the world governments, it makes no sense because it does not accomplish what it means to accomplish and because it produces the slave states that Solzhenitsyn writes about very eloquently. And yet it takes over the world. The rest of the world seems to be falling into this, or at least powerless to stop the movement of Communism. What is the reason for that?


Communism as the Precursor of Antichrist

Now I will say a word about Communism. It is not simply a system of politics or economics. Politically, it holds together only by terror, by the Gulag. For anyone who wants to understand what is happening in the world today, Solzhenitsyn’s book, The Gulag Archipelago, tells exactly what life was like in Russia for sixty years and in other countries for thirty years or less, and what is coming to the rest of the world. It is written very humanely. Solzhenitsyn does not have any bitterness about what happened; he has suffered through it himself and gives a very accurate description of what it is all about. Economically, it fails. Solzhenitsyn points out that the Tsarist government exported wheat, while the Soviets have to import wheat – to name just one of their failures. The two most serious “accomplishments” of the Soviet Union are the building (after stealing Western secrets) and stockpiling of enough weapons to destroy life on earth, and its network of prison camps – the Gulag.

But how can people believe in this Marxist system? If you do believe in it, you have to admit that it is a very strange philosophy. It is not an ordinary philosophy, such as that it is better to have the people vote or that it is better to have one monarch over many people; it is not simple like that at all. It is like a dream world, a fantasy world. It is like the movements which were common in the 16th century. Someone would proclaim himself to be Jesus Christ or the prophet of Jesus Christ, and people would begin to follow him. He would cause a big uprising, there would be a peasant revolt, and finally the prince would come along and chop them all down, and everybody would be peaceful again. But in the meantime, he had gotten the whole country excited, and people had thought that some kind of great religious thing was happening.

Communism has this same idea – only now without God. If you examine it, it is actually a chiliastic idea – that Paradise is coming to earth, just ahead of us. It is very interesting to read about the beginning of the Communist movement in the 19th century, because the writings of its early “prophets,” such as Fourier in France, are absolutely fantastic nonsense. Fourier talks about the coming age of world peace and prosperity, when all the fountains will be overflowing with pink lemonade, and we will pick meat chops from trees, and all kinds of fantastic things.

One wonders how people could take this seriously. But they did. Even Marx was inspired by this in the beginning, until he finally became mature and saw that, since this was all made up of fairy tales, he had to place it on a “scientific” basis. Therefore, he developed what is called “scientific materialism.” He then set forth the means of bringing this into reality by overthrowing the bourgeois governments. But when he comes into power, what is his answer? He promises actually the same thing that those earlier sectarians were promising. Even Lenin, at the foundation of Russian Communism, had this idea: first of all, there is the revolution – you change society, overthrow and kill all the kings, the middle class, and so forth; you take all their possessions, and give power to the workers. (That’s a very vague thing: the “workers.” The workers were the first to go to prison.) You give power supposedly to the “people,” but actually it is only a few who take it over for them, holding it for them, as it were, because they are not yet able to take care of it themselves. And after a certain number of years this so-called Dictatorship of the Proletariat withers away, and then people become peaceful, happy, contented, and there are no more problems.

Someone even asked Lenin what would happen if somebody were to have a religious idea or want to go back to the old-fashioned ways of doing things. They asked him: “Won’t you need a police department at least?” And he said: “There will be no need for a police department because the people themselves will be so changed under the new conditions of society that, when anybody has a non-social idea, he will be automatically squashed like a bug by the people themselves.” In other words, the people will be so happy that they will take the initiative in squashing others, and there will be no need for police, or armies, or anything of the sort. This is an absolute fairy tale! And this is what Communist ideology is based upon. It is a very strange political philosophy. It partakes of the same principle of lawlessness; it is a kind of lawlessness which pretends to be orderly. It is a forerunner of the coming of Antichrist.

The reason why Communism takes over the world is not because it is much “smarter” than capitalism or democracies or anything of the sort. It is because in the West there is a spiritual vacuum, and when this vacuum is present Communism simply marches in, taking one little territory after the other until, at present, it has conquered nearly half the world. 

But Communism does not have the final answer because it is a very negative thing. In fact, if you look at what has been happening in Russia in the last ten or twenty years, you can see that there is a full revolt, as far as the people’s mentality is concerned; it is against this whole system of Communism. Although the dictatorship is just as strong as ever, and although the secret police is very strong and is everywhere, nonetheless, the people are rising up more and more. That is, they are rising up not in armed revolt but in their minds, and are becoming independent. This means that sooner or later the whole system is going to collapse.

And so Communism does not have the answer; it cannot conquer the whole world and then bring peace and happiness as it claims it can. But in the meantime it is preparing for one very important thing which has to happen before the end of the world can come, and that is that there has to be one, unified world government from which Christianity has somehow been kicked out. And that Communism has been doing very successfully.


Other Signs - the U.N., the Jews, False Miracles

However, in order to supply people with a “spiritual” basis for one world government, there has to be something higher than Communism. A spiritual philosophy is needed to unite all men. The chiliastic philosophy of the “free world” supplies a part of this element, and in the idea of the United Nations, for example, we see something which looks like a spiritual answer. 

The very existence of such an organization as the U.N., which is to unite all the governments of the world, is a sign of our times. The speeches and propaganda of the U.N. are filled with chiliastic ideas, vaguely based on Christianity but without Christian dogmas: it strives for permanent world peace, no more wars – which of course is possible only if human nature changes and becomes different from what it is now. St. Paul spoke of one of the signs of the end: “The day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. For when people will say,’There is peace and security,’ then sudden destruction will come upon them” (1 Thes. 5:2-3). Never has there been more talk of “peace and security” than today. One of the chief organs of the U.N. is the Security Council, and organizations for “world peace” are everywhere. It men do achieve finally a semblance of “peace and security,” it would seem to contemporary man to be a state like heaven on earth – a millennium. The practical way to do this is to unite all governments under one. For the first time in history such a ideal becomes a possible goal of practical politics – a world ruler is conceivable now. For the first time, the Antichrist becomes an historical possibility.

The U.N. claims to be for the foundation of one world government which will not be a tyranny, based not on any particular idea like Communism, but on something very vague, with no particular Christian basis. In fact, about twenty years ago they built a meditation chapel in the U.N. building, and at that time they had a big discussion about what would be the object of worship in it. If you have a Cross, you’re immediately branded as Christian; you can’t have anything Moslem or Hindu because again you’re also identified. It has to be above all religions. Finally they decided upon a black stone block. If you go there and bow down to it, it is like bowing down to an idol. But this indicates a very vague kind of religious interest. But such a vague thing is exactly what the devil likes to grab hold of. In any particular religious belief you may be mistaken, but at least you put your heart to it, and God can forgive all kinds of mistakes. But if you do not have any particular religious belief and you give yourself over to some kind of vague idea, then the demons come in and begin to act.

For example: after being conservative, even anti-revolutionary, during the 19th and early 20th centuries, the Roman Popes have now come close to joining the revolution, as Dostoyevsky predicted they would in the 19th century. Roman Catholicism has become a great worldly institution preaching the same chiliasm as the representatives of the U.N. Pope Paul VI’s visit to the U.N. in New York in 1965 reveals this clearly. He was given a hero’s welcome in New York by the American people, mostly non-Catholics, precisely because he is seen as the most eminent religious figure who preaches the chiliast dream which is now so strong in the air. In his speech at the U.N., the Pope justified these expectations, and called on the U.N. to bring about the prophecies of Holy Scripture concerning when swords will be turned into plowshares and the lion will down with the lamb – in a millennial kingdom on earth.

Another sign that the end times are approaching is the present state of the Jews in Israel, in the city of Jerusalem. According to the prophecies of Scriptures and the Holy Fathers of the Orthodox Church, Jerusalem will be the world capital of Antichrist, and there he will rebuild the temple of Solomon where he will be worshipped as God. There are events that are to come right before the very end of the world. Of course, it is very significant that only since 1948 has Jerusalem been once more in the hands of the Jews, and only since 1967 has the place where the temple was, the Mosque of Omar, been in their hands, since this had been in the part held by the Moslems. Therefore, all that prevents them – that is, technically – from building the temple is this Mosque of Omar. If they can destroy the mosque, they can erect the temple on this site. It is also significant that Jerusalem is now constantly in the news. The Jews have returned to Palestine for the first time since Christ. This makes it possible for the Antichrist to come first to the Jews, as the prophecies state, and then rule the whole world from Jerusalem. And the very idea of chiliasm comes from the Jews, because they rejected Christ just because He did not establish a worldly kingdom.

If you were to ask anyone who is aware at all of political events in the world a question: “What would be the ideal city to have as the world capital if there’s going to be a world empire?” – it is obvious what the answer would be in most people’s minds. It cannot be New York, because that is the center of capitalism; it cannot be Moscow, because that is the center of Communism. It cannot even be Rome, because Roman Catholicism is still some kind of limited tradition. The logical place is Jerusalem, because there three religions come together, three continents come together. It is the most logical place where could be peace, brotherhood, and harmony: all those things which look good, but unless they have a solid Christian foundation are not God-pleasing – those things which can be used by Antichrist.

Another aspect of the Jewish question is that many young Jews are becoming interested in Christianity, because among Jews also there is the same kind of religious seeking and problems that occur among other people. Some of them are being converted to Christianity, and some of them are coming to Orthodoxy. This is already a sign, a preparation for the fact that at the end of time the Jews will be restored to Christianity, to Christ. St. Paul expresses this by saying that, if the falling away of the Jews meant “riches” to the Gentiles – because when the Jews fell away the Gentiles were invited into the Church – then the restoration of Israel will be like a rising from the dead. And this event will come right before the end.

We should say a word about Antichrist. He is not simply a cruel dictator who is anti-Christian. I think most people, when they think of Antichrist, think of someone like Hitler, who was a persecutor, or Stalin, who persecuted Christians and was against religion. But that is not what Antichrist is, though he has that aspect. “Anti” means not just “against”; it means “in place of.” He will be someone who will come and take the place of Christ; it says quite clearly that he will be in the temple of Jerusalem, worshipped as God. You don’t go and worship an ordinary dictator; at least, the whole world could not very easily do that. But he will come as a world dictator who is accepted as God, as someone very positive; thus he will try, in every possible way, to imitate Christ, to take the place of Christ.

Therefore, the Apostle emphasize very strongly in their warning about the end of the world that we must beware of deception. St. Paul says in II Thessalonians 2:9-11: “The coming of the lawless one, by the activity of Satan, will be with all power and sings and lying wonders… God shall send (that is, allow) a strong delusion, that men should believe a lie.” That is, it will be something very deceptive.

In fact, we know that the elect themselves might be deceived if the times will not be cut short. Christ Himself warns, in speaking of the last days, that “false Christs and false prophets will arise and show great signs and wonders so as to lead astray, if possible, even the elect” (Matt. 24:24). And in the Apocalypse, St. John states that the last times will be characterized by “demonic spirits working wonders” (Apoc. 16:14). Therefore, one of the sings of the coming of the end is the multiplication of demonic signs and wonders, i.e. false miracles and things of that sort.

Do we see any signs of satanic activity, miracles and signs that are leading people astray today? Yes, this has become one of the leading characteristics especially of the last decades. I mean in particular, for example, the increase in the last several decades of outright Satanism – Satan-worship – which only in these last twenty years or so has achieved such openness and notoriety. People openly call themselves witches. Perhaps few call themselves Satanists, but it has become a recognized religion in our society, and very many are seriously involved in the practice of witchcraft. (The widely publicized ritual murders of recent years are only the surface of a deep current of evil and demon-worship.)

Eastern Religions, Psychics, ufo's

Another example is the greatly increased interest in Eastern religions, which in these past two or three decades have become tremendously fashionable. Now there are Western-born, American and English gurus and Zen masters, and so forth. And people take it quite seriously. All these Eastern things have become quite an American institution, with people bowing down to the ground before Maharaj-ji and others who proclaim themselves to be God. This has been quite unheard of until the last two or three decades. And these are ordinary, idealistic Americans who are quite capable of bowing to the ground before Maharaj-ji.
Interest in Eastern religions has been present for a hundred years and more in the West, and has been gaining especially in the 20th century; but it has always been a fringe movement in society, and only in the last decade or so have we seen the institution of native Western temples and monasteries, with seemingly normal American young men and women bowing to the ground before Buddhist and Hindu gods…

Eastern religions have obviously gone deep into the Western soul. Their appeal is understandable: Western Christianity, especially Protestantism but also Catholicism in recent years, has been deprived of the element of the true worship of God which Orthodoxy has, and the human soul feels empty. Also, most Eastern religions offer a rather simple kind of “peace” through meditation or chanting which is not as demanding as true Christianity, since the latter gives one a peace not of this world and prepares one for eternal life in a Kingdom not of this world.

In Western Christianity – because the element of the true worship of God which Orthodoxy preserved has been lost – there has occurred a reaction, which takes the form of the searching after signs. This is very strong in the “charismatic” movement. Quite a few spectacular things happen: people speak in tongues, they give so-called prophecies, there are some kind of “healings,” and so on. These are not in accordance with what we Orthodox Christians know of real spiritual life. It is a whole false outlook on spiritual life, which causes people to seen these things and to attain them.

And of course, there “transcendental meditation” and other such ways of seeking “peace” – a this-worldly feeling of contentment which has nothing to do with true spiritual striving
Then one could name all kinds of occult and paranormal phenomena which are so prevalent in our times. Research into various kinds of extrasensory perception (ESP) is very strong in the Soviet Union, probably much more so than in America. In the Soviet Union, people who claim to be atheists allow and in fact promote research into things like mental telepathy, hypnotism, faith-healing, prophecies, auras of plants and humans, the action of mind over matter, etc. They take special photographs, attempting to see the boundary between matter and psyche. All kinds of weird things come up in the midst of these experiments. One contemporary psychic, Uri Geller, whom you have probably heard about, is able to bend spoons by looking intently at them, and he claims he gets his power from beings in outer space.

Some people, of course, hear about this and laugh. They think it is very funny that people are so stupid as to think things like that. But the phenomena which are occurring are quite real. The descriptions which people give of them have a remarkable similarity to what we Orthodox Christians know in the ancient Lives of Saints – especially the descriptions of phenomena given by people who claim to be abducted by UFO spacecrafts and so forth. Whatever you might think about these stories, what they describe is exactly what we have heard described in Lives of Saints as to how demons operate, i.e. their remarkable ability to switch from matter to psyche, to instantly vanish or appear, or to move very quickly from one place to the other. This is the way the demons operate, and this is the way these so-called space beings operate also. It is very interesting that demons come back into modern history through this means.

The subject of the flying saucers – the UFOs – is very much part of the atmosphere of our times. Science-fiction literature is very popular both in the free West and in the USSR. Several recent movies with science-fiction themes have been enormously popular: several years ago there was 2001: A Space Odyssey and the television series Star Trek, and just now there is Star Wars and Close Encounters of the Third Kind. Therefore, whether or not there are actual flying saucers and flying-saucer people, this phenomenon is a significant indicator of what people are feeling and thinking now.

One sober investigator has examined in great detail many of the best cases of supposed sightings and landings of UFOs, and he says that with few exceptions they can be explained by other means, or are fraudulent. He calls UFOs a “fairy tale for grown-ups,” because 20th-century man – i.e. humanist, agnostic, or atheist – has lost other supposed fairy tales.

But at the same time many people claim not merely to have seen them, but to have contracted beings in them and been kidnapped or ridden with them. If one reads a few descriptions of such contacts (this is what is called “Close Encounters of the Third Kind”), reads contemporary science-fiction or sees some of today’s movies, one gets a strange feeling: here are described strange beings, some of them almost human but much more “advanced,” able to do extraordinary things like turning sticks into swords, causing themselves and others to disappear, assuming different shapes at will, flying through the air, probing into the mind, or creating whole imaginary scenes before one’s eyes. Perhaps for modern man this is all “fairy tales,” but for an Orthodox Christian the phenomena which appear in these very popular literary and artistic forms are very familiar – most of them can be found in the Lives of Saints and are often a very realistic description of the way demons act.

Most contemporary men, of course, laugh at the mention of demons – but this is precisely what they are describing and seeing under the guise of “extra-terrestrial intelligences” or “flying-saucer aliens.”

Some recent books by Evangelical Protestants suggest that the best explanation of UFOs is that encounters with them – when they are real and not fraudulent – are actually encounters with demons who contact men in accordance with the ideas and expectations of the times. What is significant for us is that many ordinary people today consider it possible or desirable to enter into contact with “advanced beings” from other worlds – this is exactly what demons are, and increased contact with them is precisely one of the characteristics of the period towards the end of the world. 

All these are signs of occult or strange spiritual attitudes, which produce what nowadays cannot be called anything but miracles, i.e. something which does not accord with the normal way of natural processes. This is just what is needed to prepare the world for the acceptance of Antichrist, who will come with a great deception, with demonic wonders and miracles in order to deceive people.

Other sources of contact with other worlds and beings are to be seen in contemporary “after-death” experiences and closely related “out-of-body” experiences. Many of these experiences are without doubt real – but people who have them are almost all unprepared to protect themselves against demonic deceptions.

Many followers of the charismatic movement – who do not of course believe in occultism, and in fact are very much against it – nevertheless accept very strange phenomena as being in a Christian context: for example, the modern “gift of tongues.” People involved in these experiences are similarly uninformed about the nature of demonic temptations and apparitions. These experiences have become much more common today than heretofore because the Orthodox Christian doctrine of spiritual experiences has been lost in the West because of the apostasy; and from various modern influences (such as television) men have become more passive and open to mediumistic influences than ever before. Many of these people believe that what they are seeing is an outpouring of the Holy Spirit. In fact, our times have been called the “New Age of the Holy Spirit. People think this is a sign that Christ is coming soon; however, the actual prophecies of the Scriptures, as well as Holy Fathers of the early Church, indicate exactly the opposite. Christ Himself said in Luke 8:18: “When the Son of man returns, will He find faith on the earth?” That is, the true flock of Christ, at the end, will be very small, and most of the people who call themselves Christians will follow Antichrist. The idea of the “New Age of the Holy Spirit” is, again, a chiliastic idea, looking forward to a this-worldly adaptation of Paradise. Actually, it is the outpouring of the spirit of Antichrist that is being prepared now; true Christians will save their souls by enduring to the end all the trials of the last times.


Positive Signs

All that we have described are very negative signs, and, of course, a Christian is supposed to be prepared for the most negative things possible. Nonetheless, we should also be prepared and look out for the positive signs of the end of the world.

First of all, one of the positive signs is Israel. Of course, the state of Israel is a totally neutral thing, but the very fact that it looks as though there is beginning in the Jewish people some kind of stirring, as though the process of coming back to Christ may be beginning – that is a very hopeful, very positive thing. This is what St. Paul wrote about, saying that he would rather be in hell for the sake of his people if only they would wake up and receive Christ, Who came for them first of all. When they finally come to Christ, that means it is the end of the world, because all the peoples have been called in, and they are the last ones, the faithful remnant, to come back.

Then there is the movement of conversion to Orthodox Christianity which we see in many parts of the world. In Africa, for example, just in the last fifty years there has been a tremendous movement of conversion of people in Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, the Congo (Zaire), and other countries. They are very, very pious and faithful to Orthodoxy. It is just such simple-hearted people that Christ wants, and it is such people who are coming into the Orthodox Church now.

The same thing is happening in other countries. In fact, right here in America we see that more and more people are waking up. Often for no apparent reason, they are finding out that Orthodoxy is the real Church. This is happening also in Western Europe and in other countries.

Then there is suffering Russia. This is a subject that deserves many talks by itself. It is certainly a remarkable thing that this country, which for over sixty years now has suffered under Communism, under atheism, has endured. According to all the Communist laws, since religion is only a superstitious remnant of the past, there should be no religion left after all the old ladies die. But now, after sixty years have passed and all the old ladies (at the time of the Revolution) have died, religion is coming back stronger than ever. Something is therefore wrong with the Communists’ idea, and this “something” is that they do not realize that the soul wants God, wants Christ. Therefore, this people has for sixty years endured the yoke of atheism – which is a very powerful thing, with the whole of society based upon godlessness – and now, having stuck it out, they are coming back to believe in God.

Solzhenitsyn says about Russia and other countries which have endured Communism: “Through intense suffering our country has now achieved a spiritual development of such intensity that the Western system, in its present state of spiritual exhaustion, does not look attractive… A fact which cannot be disputed is the weakening of human beings in the West, while in the East they are becoming firmer and stronger. Six decades for our people and three decades for the people of Eastern Europe – during that time we have been through a spiritual training far in advance of Western experience” (from the Harvard speech).

Fr. Dimitry Dudko, in particular, says very similar things. He makes a very important point also: When someone once told him how much better it was to be in the West because there they have freedom and are able to practice their Christianity in freedom, he said: “But there they have spirituality with comfort. Here we have spirituality with suffering, and therefore it’s deeper.” On the basis of suffering and martyrdom there can come a seed of Christianity, because “the blood of the martyrs is the seed of the Church.” That is why something very deep is happening in the Russian people and those who have suffered under Communism.

In this hopefulness coming from Russia, which is waking up to its Christian roots, we have a very practical lesson: Russia, during these last sixty years, has gone through the experience of living in catacombs, under persecution, in torture chambers, with the refined torture techniques of the modern Gulag – and the people have survived. We have records of how they survived: we know how they were tortured and how they got through it. Therefore, if this persecution comes here, we already have a beginning, something to rely on; we even have more hope that we can endure the same thing that they endured.

Finally, the whole outlook of Orthodox Christianity is a positive one. Even in the earliest times, when the whole Roman world was against the Church and simply hunted out Christians from the catacombs and put them to torture and death, the Christians went to their death singing. Therefore, since the essence of our faith is that we are preparing ourselves for the world to come, our outlook is basically positive. All the negative things, all the evil things which the devil can devise against us and which men’s evil will can torture us with – these are small compared with the joy which is to come in the Kingdom of Heaven.

Of course, today we have more than ever before the experience of all the past centuries of Orthodox saints, Holy Fathers, martyrs, ascetics: all those who have lived for Christ in this world, from all the different lands, in the west, the east, the north, and the south. This experience is ours to know, and it gives answers to basically all the contemporary questions which arise. We can have living contact with the saints of all ages, as well as with those who are suffering today for Christ, such as the many people who are in prison camps in the Soviet Union. It is very encouraging to see how they do not give up in the midst of all kinds of tortures. They are really extremely courageous, and this gives courage and inspiration to us, that we also can be faithful to Christ. In the conditions we have now of freedom, there is no excuse for us not to be offering our struggle to God.


Q&A Session  

Question: Are the Jews going to destroy the Mosque of Omar and try to reconstruct the temple of Solomon?

Answer: Well, it’s their problem what they are going to do with it. One thing is human intentions, and the second thing is how God wants it to come out. They tried before to rebuild the temple in Jerusalem and did not succeed.

Question: Are they going to return to using the Book of Leviticus and go back to all the laws?

Answer: I would think they would try to do as much as possible. If the whole idea of building the temple is to get back to that old religion, I suppose they would try to imitate it as closely as they could. But, of course, in modern times they would undoubtedly find they would have to change all kinds of things. And when Antichrist himself comes to sit there, he will have his own ideas, to make it acceptable for everybody else.

It is difficult to know how the exact form might come out, but when it is all fulfilled, you will see it is exactly the way it was predicted. If men, however, try to do something before the time when God wants it to be done, then it simply will not work. That was the attempt of Julian the Apostate. He wanted to build the temple to prove that Christ was wrong when He said that one stone would not be left upon another. Julian commanded the Jews to begin building their temple, and they began building. It is a very well-authenticated historical fact, found in several of the early Church historians, that they would build, and at night everything would fall down, and everyone would see balls of fire coming out of the earth. Nowadays historians say they must have been digging oil wells or something. Obviously there was something there preventing this project from going on, and they finally gave up. Then Julian himself was killed, and the whole thing came to nothing The times were not ripe for that to happen, so it could not happen. Of course, today the times are much more ripe for that.

There were two saints of the Old Testament who did not die: Enoch was translated, and he was not found; and Elijah went up in the fiery chariot. Therefore, they will come back as the two witnesses and preach against Antichrist. There could others like that, too. In fact, there are traditions about St. John the Theologian returning in the last times. There is also a prophecy of St. Seraphim of Sarov that he would come back at that time; but he died, so he could only come back resurrected. The two mentioned in the Apocalypse, however, are Enoch and Elijah.

Question: Are they just going to try and tell the people that this is the Antichrist and not Christ?

Answer: According to tradition, they have two functions. Elijah will speak to the Jews. It says in the Gospel that they asked Jesus if Elijah had come yet. Some said that John the Baptist was Elijah, who was supposed to come to reconcile the fathers to the children. And Jesus said that he had come in a certain sense, i.e. in a spiritual sense. Most people, however, would not accept this. Therefore, the real Elijah comes at the end of time to reconcile the fathers (the Jews) to the sons (the Gentiles). And Enoch will speak to the rest of the people. In other words, it will be quite clear at that time that Antichrist has come and that there are the two prophets telling that this is Antichrist.
Question: How do you view the Orthodox presence in America in terms of these apocalyptic things? What is the apocalyptic significance of Orthodoxy in America?

Answer: I don’t think there is anything more significant about America than any other country, like Uganda perhaps, but I think it is definitely significant that people in America are waking up to Orthodoxy. People who have never had any relationship with Orthodoxy are led to it, simply because they heard the word preached, and they begin to wake up to see it. In a country that is totally Christianized supposedly, they wake up and see that all that is called Christianity is not really Christianity; and they want Orthodoxy. That could very well be one of the signs of the end.

Of course, there are different kinds of ends. There is the time when a country is coming to its end, like the period before Communism came to Russia. At that time a great spiritual revival was actually occurring. They had great saints, such as St. John of Kronstadt and the many Elders of Optina. Many holy monks and bishops were living at that time, and many people were very fervent. But the whole society was sort of against it: it had become so Westernized – almost anti-Christian – that the revival was finally submerged. If you look at it from the point of view of a spiritual revival, however, there definitely was such a revival going on.

Therefore, the more you see that kind of thing happening here, the more you begin to wonder whether something is not coming to an end for us, too. And, of course, that is going to be bound up with the end of everything – because things right now seem to be stepping up their tempo, both in Russia and in America, and in the whole world situation. It looks as though we are heading for some momentous events quite close in the future.

We should not, of course, get carried away by historical events. Basically, Christianity is to save you soul; and, therefore, each person finds out about the truth and starts right here and now to live a life according to the Church’s commandments. That is the first thing we should always have in mind.

In Russia, the Gulag and all that happened was aimed at destroying Christianity; and to some extent this succeeded, because it is with great difficulty that people find out about Christianity now. And in the West, all the indifference, tolerance, freedom, and prosperity also help to destroy any kind of strong Christianity. The end result is not much different. As Solzhenitsyn says, however, in the East they have become stronger; after Communism they have become stronger than we in the West who have all this freedom. But we should not be satisfied with being weaker. We should at least offer to God our struggle.

this above version come from:
http://www.holy-transfiguration.org/library_en/mod_signs1.html

EXCERPTS FROM THE QUESTION-AND-ANSWER SESSION

[I'M FILLING IN SOME MISSING Q&A USING ALL UPPER CASE LETTERS -JH]  These below are taken from the Journaof the Old  Cathedraof the Holy Virgin "Joy of All Who Sorrow"  Russian Orthodox Church in San Francisco, July-September 1994


Q: WHAT ABOUT THE APPARITIONS AT THE RIVER IN FRANCE, WHERE PEOPLE GO TO BE HEALED, OR FATIMA, WHERE THERE WAS AN APPARITION OF MARY?

A: THERE ARE SIGNS AND THERE ARE SIGNS. IT DEPENDS HERE ON WHAT YOU HAVE IN MIND, AND WE WILL DISCUSS THIS POINT A LITTLE LATER.


Q: I WAS READING TODAY A PASSAGE IN J.D. SALINGER'S BOOK IN WHICH HE REFERS TO THE BOOK OF THE WAY OF A PILGRIM AND HE TALKS ABOUT AS A COMMON VIEW THE ATTEMPT TO LINK TOGETHER CERTAIN ASPECTS OF ORTHODOX SPIRITUALITY OR LIFE WITH THE EASTERN MEDITATIONS, OR TO TRY TO COMPARE ALL RELIGIONS, NOTING THAT THEY HAVE CERTAIN COMMON FEATURES. THIS PARTICULAR ONE WAS THAT THEY COMPARE THE JESUS PRAYER TO THE SAYINGS THAT THE BUDDHISTS HAVE. HOW DO YOU RESPOND TO THAT WHEN THIS COMMENT ARISES? I KNOW THAT THEY ARE DIFFERENT.

A: THERE ARE SOME THINGS WHICH ARE NATURALLY RELIGIOUS. THE HUMAN BEING IS NATURALLY RELIGIOUS, AND THAT IS WHY ALL THOSE RELIGIONS OF MANKIND ARE SO NATURAL, AND WHY THEY ARE SO WIDESPREAD, BECAUSE MAN WANTS TO WORSHIP SOMETHING HIGHER AND THERE ARE CERTAIN WAYS WHICH HELP HIM TO DO THIS.

THEREFORE, IT IS NOT A SURPRISING THING THAT SOME THINGS WHICH WE HAVE IN ORTHODOXY WHICH ARE NATURAL TO THE HUMAN BEING CAN BE FOUND IN OTHER RELIGIONS ALSO, SUCH AS PRAYER BEADS FOR COUNTING PRAYERS. THE VERY FACT OF SAYING THE JESUS PRAYER OR A BUDDHIST PRAYER, OR SOMETHING LIKE THAT, THAT SORT OF BELONGS TO THE NATURAL SIDE; OR, MAKING PROSTRATIONS OR VENERATING IMAGES. THIS IS ALL AKIN.

THERE IS A SECOND QUESTION, HOWEVER, WHICH IS: WHERE DOES THIS GET YOU? ARE YOU WORSHIPING THE TRUE GOD OR THE FALSE "GOD"? IT IS QUITE CLEAR FROM THE CHRISTIAN SCRIPTURES FROM GOING BACK TO THE HEBREW SCRIPTURES, THE ORIGINAL REVEALED RELIGION, THAT THE HEBREWS WERE CONSTANTLY TEMPTED BY IDOLATRY. THE SIDE WHICH GETS FOR US HEAVEN IS WHETHER YOU HAVE TRUE RELIGION, WHETHER YOU ARE ACTUALLY WORSHIPPING GOD IN THE WAY HE WANTS TO BE WORSHIPPED IN TRUTH.

AND THAT IS WHERE ORTHODOXY DIFFERS FROM ALL OTHER RELIGIONS. AND IF THERE COMES A FINAL QUESTION, YOU CAN EVEN SAY THAT IT IS GOOD TO BOW DOWN TO AN IDOL, IN A SENSE -- THOUGH IF AN ORTHODOX PERSON DOES THAT IT IS A SERIOUS SIN -- BUT FOR A PERSON WHO DOES NOT KNOW ANY BETTER, IT IS BETTER FOR A PERSON TO BOW DOWN BEFORE AN IDOL THAN TO BE BOWING DOWN BEFORE MARX OR MONEY; AT LEAST HE IS EXERCISING SOME KIND OF NATURAL RELIGIOUS THING.

LATER ON THAT PERSON MIGHT AWAKEN, FIND OUT ABOUT CHRIST, AND BE CONVERTED TO THE TRUE RELIGION. BUT THAT BOWING DOWN TO THE IDOL IS NOT GOING TO SAVE HIS SOUL. ORTHODOX CHRISTIANITY IS THAT RELIGION WHICH GOD GAVE TO TAKE ALL THE NATURAL RELIGIOUS INSTINCTS WHICH YOU MIGHT HAVE AND DIRECT THEM TO THE RIGHT GOAL, WHO IS GOD IN HEAVEN.

QUESTION: Are the Jews going to destroy the Mosque of Omar and try setting up another temple?

FR. SERAPHIM: Well, it's their problem what they're going to do with it. One thing is human intentions, and the second thing is how God wants it to come out. They tried before to rebuild the temple in Jerusalem [and did not succeed].

QUESTION: Are they going to return to using the Book of Leviticus and go back to all the laws?

FR. SERAPHIM: I don't know. I would think they would try to do as much as possible. If the whole idea of building the temple is to get back to that old religion, I suppose they would try to imitate it as closely as they could. But, of course, in modern times they would undoubtedly find they would have to change all kinds of things. And when Antichrist himself comes to sit there, he will have his own ideas, to make it acceptable for everybody else.

It is difficult to know how the exact form might come out, but when it is all fulfilled, you will see it is exactly the way it was predicted. If men, however, try to do something before the time when God wants it to be done, then it simply will not work. That was the attempt of Julian the Apostate. He wanted to build the temple to prove that Christ was wrong when He said that one stone would not be left upon another (cf . Matt. 24:2). Julian commanded the Jews to begin building their temple, and they began building. It is a very well-authenticated historical fact, found in several of the early Church historians, that they would build, and at night everything would fall down, and everyone would see balls of fire coming out of the earth. Nowadays, historians say they must have been digging oil wells or something. Obviously, there was something there preventing this project from going on, and they finally gave up. Then Julian himself was killed, and the whole thing came to nothing. The times were not ripe for that to happen, so it could not happen. Of course, today the times are much more ripe for that.

There were two saints of the Old Testament who did not die: Enoch was translated, and he was not found; and Elijah went up in the fiery chariot. Therefore, they will come back as the two witnesses and preach against Antichrist. There could be others like that, too. In fact, there are traditions about St. John the Theologian [returning in the last times]. There is also a prophecy of St. Seraphim of Sarov that he would come back at that time; but he died, so he would come back
resurrected. The two mentioned in the Apocalypse, however, are Enoch and Elijah (cf. Apoc; 11:3).36

QUESTION: Are they just going to try and tell the people that this is the Antichrist and not Christ?

FR. SERAPHIM: According to tradition, they have two functions. Elijah will speak to the Jews. It says in the Gospel that they asked Jesus if Elijah had come yet (cf. Matt. 17: 1O). Some said that John the Baptist was Elijah, who was supposed to come to reconcile the fathers to the children (cf. Malachi 4:5-6). And Jesus said that he had come in a certain sense, that is, in a spiritual sense. Most people, however, would not accept this. Therefore, the real Elijah comes at the end of time to reconcile the fathers (the Jews) to the sons (the Gentiles). And Enoch will speak to the rest of the people. In other words, it will be quite clear at that time that Antichrist has come and that these are the two prophets telling that this is Antichrist.


Q: SPEAKING OF THE FALSE MIRACLES WHICH YOU MENTIONED, JUST RECENTLY I SAW ON A TELEVISION PROGRAM CALLED "THAT'S INCREDIBLE," CATHOLIC PRIEST WHO PARTICIPATES IN THE 'CHARISMATIC MOVEMENT' AND WHO PERFORMS A 'HEALING SERVICE' WHERE HE FLINGS SO-CALLED HOLY WATER AT SOME PEOPLE, AND THEY FALL DOWN LIKE THEY ARE PARALYZED. HE DOES MIRACULOUS HEALINGS, ETC. THEY SHOWED A LITTLE BIT OF HIS SERVICE, AND IT LOOKED JUST LIKE A COMEDY ROUTINE. HE WAS UP THERE LAUGHING AND GIGGLING, AND TELLING JOKES. IT WAS ABSURD.

A: THAT'S WHAT HAPPENS WHEN YOU FIT IN 'MIRACLES' WITH OUR MODERN WAY OF LIFE. FORTUNATELY, ORTHODOX CHRISTIANITY IS VERY DIFFICULT TO FIT INTO THIS PATTERN, SINCE WE ARE SO OLD-FASHIONED AND DIFFERENT THAT IT IS VERY DIFFICULT TO GET IT SO UP-TO-DATE THAT PEOPLE WILL FOLLOW IT LIKE A FASHION. THAT PRESERVES US IN MANY WAYS.


Q: IF ANTICHRIST AND THE MYSTERY OF INIQUITY WILL PRODUCE IMITATIONS OF CHRIST'S REVELATION, THEN SURELY ANTICHRIST WILL HAVE HIS "CHURCH" -- ONLY IT WILL NOT IN ANY WAY BE LIKE THE CHURCH OF CHRIST. HOW DO YOU SEE THE WORLD COUNCIL OF CHURCHES --THE COUNCIL OF CHURCHES OF THIS WORLD-- AS PART OF THIS MYSTERY OF INIQUITY?

A: WELL, IT IT TRYING TO PREPARE FOR THAT. IT IS THE RELIGIOUS EQUIVALENT TO THE UNITED NATIONS, TRYING TO BUILD UP A RELIGIOUS UNITY WHICH IS NOT ON THE BASIS OF CHRIST.


Q: THE VAGUENESS OF THAT U.N. OBELISK OF WHICH YOU SPOKE -- I WAS THERE IN 1976. IT IS A DARK, BLACK ROCK. IT KIND OF REMINDS ME OF THE "LEAST COMMON DENOMINATOR DIETY" THAT "ECUMENISM" IS PRODUCING: WE ALL BELIEVE IN "CHRIST" IN WHOM WE HAVE NO COMMON OPINION WHATSOEVER.

A: AND EVEN BEYOND CHRIST, BECAUSE NOW THEY WELCOME NON-CHRISTIAN GROUPS, DIALOGUE WITH NON-CHRISTIAN RELIGIONS, INCLUDING ANY SORT OF ANY KIND OF RELIGIOUS BELIEF WHICH WHILE IN A CERTAIN SENSE IT IS TRUE, YOU CANNOT MAKE ANYTHING POSITIVE OUT OF THAT. THEREFORE, ANTICHRIST WILL COME TO OFFER SOME KIND OF CATALYST TO GET ALL THE ELEMENTS TOGETHER, AND ALL WILL BOW DOWN TO HIM SINCE HE SUPPLIES WHAT THEY WANT.

THE RUSSIAN WRITER SOLOVIEV -- A VERY INTERESTING MAN, THOUGH A LITTLE CRAZY, IN SOME WAYS, AT THE END OF THE LAST CENTURY IN HIS LAST FEW YEARS BECAME VERY CHANGED. IN FACT, HE FELT VERY STRANGE GOING TO CHURCH, BECAUSE HE FELT THAT THE AGE OF THE CATACOMBS WAS ABOUT TO RETURN. AND HE FELT HE SHOULD BE GOING UNDERGROUND TO CHURCH. WHILE HE WAS UNDER THIS IMPULSE IN THE LAST YEAR OR TWO OF HIS LIFE HE WROTE A BOOK CALLED "THREE CONVERSTATIONS ON ANTICHRIST AND THE END OF THE WORLD" IN WHICH HE SETS FORTH LIKE A NOVEL THE COMING OF ANTICHRIST.

HE PLACES IT IN THE 21st CENTURY, WITH WORLD WARS, IN WHICH A GREAT MAN-LEADER ARISES WHO FIRST BECOMES PRESIDENT OF EUROPE AND BY ACCLAMATION IS MADE THE PRESIDENT OF THE WORLD FOR LIFE, AND THEN THE WORLD EMPEROR, AND HE REUNITES EVERYONE ON THE BASIS OF THE ROMAN EMPIRE, AND DECIDES THAT HE HAS TO HAVE A RELIGIOUS UNITY ALSO. SO HE CALLS A WORLD ECUMENICAL COUNCIL IN JERUSALEM, AND THERE HE OFFERS TO ALL PEOPLE ALL THAT THEY EVER DESIRED IF ONLY THEY WILL SORT OF ACKNOWLEDGE AND BOW DOWN TO HIM.

FOR THE PROTESTANTS HE OPENS A KIND OF SPECIAL ACADEMY TO EXPLORE THE SCRIPTURES FROM ALL DIFFERENT POINTS OF VIEW AND BIBLICAL CRITICISM; FOR THE ROMAN CATHOLICS HE CREATES SOME KIND OF PAPAL INSTITUTE OR SOME SUCH; AND TO THE ORTHODOX HE OFFERS, IN A RESTORED HAGIA SOPHIA IN CONSTANTINOPLE, A MUSEUM OF ALL POSSIBLE ORTHODOX ANTIQUITIES, IN WHICH EVERY KIND OF BEAUTIFUL THING WHICH ORTHODOXY EVER HAD WILL BE PLACED IN THE MUSEUM. AND THIS IS SUPPOSED TO SATISFY THE ORTHODOX PEOPLE.

THEREFORE EVERYONE WILL BE SATISFIED AND WILL ALL BOW DOWN AND WORSHIP HIM. OF COURSE, THAT MEANS THAT YOU WILL BE SATISFIED WITH THIS EXTERNAL THING, WHICH, FROM AN EXTERNAL POINT OF VIEW REPRESENTS YOUR RELIGION. ANYONE WHO IS ATTRACTED MERELY BY GLITTERING CENSORS, INCENSE AND BEAUTIFUL VESTMENTS, HE, FIRST OF ALL, WILL FALL DOWN BEFORE ANTICHRIST.


QUESTION: How do you view the Orthodox presence in America in terms a/these apocalyptic things? What is the apocalyptic significance of Orthodoxy in America?

FR. SERAPHIM: I don't think there is anything more significant about America than perhaps any other country, like Uganda, but I think it is definitely significant that people in America are waking up to Orthodoxy. People who have never had any relationship with Orthodoxy are led to it, simply because they heard the word preached, and they begin to wake up to see it. In a country that is totally Christianized, supposedly, they wake up and see that all that is called Christianity is not really Christianity; and they want Orthodoxy. That could very well be one of the signs of the end.

Of course, there are different kinds of ends. There is the time when a country is coming to its end, like the period before Communism came to Russia. At that time a great spiritual revival was actually occurring. They had great saints, such as St. John of Kronstadt and the many Elders of Optina. Many holy monks and bishops were living at that time, and many people were very fervent. But the whole society was sort of against it: it had become so Westernized-almost anti-Christian-that the revival was finally submerged. If you look at it from the point of view of a spiritual revival, however, there definitely was such a revival going on.

Therefore, the more you see that kind of thing happening here, the more you begin to wonder whether something is not coming to an end for us, too. And, of course, that is going to be bound up with the end of everything-because things right now seem to be stepping up their tempo, both in Russia and in America, and in the whole world situation. It looks as though we are heading for some momentous events quite close in the future.

We should not, of course, get carried away by historical events. Basically, Christianity is to save your soul; and, therefore, each person finds out about the truth and starts right here and now to live a life according to the Church's commandments. That is the first thing we should always have in mind. And if somebody next to you also finds out about it, perhaps somebody down the street, and then there is a whole group of people, that is all the better-it helps you to struggle more yourself.

In Russia, the Gulag and all that happened was aimed at destroying Christianity; and to some extent this succeeded, because it is with great difficulty that people find out about Christianity now. And in the West, all the indifference, tolerance, freedom, and prosperity also help to destroy any kind of strong Christianity. The end result is not much different. As Solzhenitsyn says, however, in the East they have become stronger: after Communism they have become stronger than we in the West who have all this freedom. But we should not be satisfied with being weaker. We should offer to God our struggle.


Q: ARE THERE ANY REFERENCES MADE TO THE GOVERNMENT USING A STAMP ON THE HAND OR FOREHEAD WITH WHICH TO PURCHASE FOOD OR NECESSITIES. SO YOU THINK THAT WOULD GO ALONG WITH THE COMING OF THE ONE WORLD GOVERNMENT?

A: IT HAS BEEN DONE BEFORE. IN 1812,WHEN NAPOLEON INVADED RUSSIA, WHEN THEY RETURNED THERE WAS NO FOOD, AND SO EVERYONE WAS STAMPED ON THE WRIST OR TOP OF THE WRIST WITH A NUMBER AND WITHOUT THAT NUMBER THEY COULD NOT GET ANY FOOD. AND ADOLPH HITLER ALSO DID SOMETHING LIKE THAT, THOUGH I THINK IT WAS NOT A NUMBER BUT RATHER SOME KIND OF SIGN. THAT IDEA HAS ALWAYS BEEN PRACTICED. IT IS, IN A SENSE, A NATURAL THING. IF YOU ARE SHORT OF PAPERS, OR NO MEANS OF IDENTIFICATION, YOU WOULD HAVE TO MARK A PERSON ON THE FOREHEAD OR HAND OR SOMETHING LIKE THAT.


Q: COULD YOU PLEASE ADDRESS THE TOPIC OF THE SO-CALLED "RAPTURE"?

A: IT IS A VERY BASIC, SIMPLE MISTAKE. THE "RAPTURE" IS MENTIONED BY ST. PAUL IN WHICH HE STATES THAT THE "BELIEVERS WILL BE CAUGHT UP IN THE CLOUDS," AND THE PROTESTANTS TAKE THAT AS BEING THE "RAPTURE." IN A SENSE, IT IS TRUE THAT THE BELIEVERS WILL BE CAUGHT UP IN THE CLOUDS" -- BUT ONLY AT THE END OF THE WORLD WHEN CHRIST COMES. THE PROTESTANTS, HOWEVER, DEVELOP IT LIKE THEY DO THE IDEA OF "THE MILLENNIUM": THEY TAKE IT AND DEVELOP IT INTO AN ENTIRELY SEPARATE TEACHING WHICH IS IN CONFLICT WITH THE REST OF SCRIPTURE.

THIS PASSAGE IN FACT MEANS THAT WHEN CHRIST COMES IN THE CLOUDS WITH THE SIGN OF THE CROSS, AND THE WORLD BEGINS TO END, AS ST. PETER SAYS: "...THE WORLD BEGINS TO GO UP IN FLAMES," AND THOSE WHO ARE STILL ALIVE WILL BEGIN TO BE CAUGHT UP IN THE CLOUDS; THE DEAD WILL ARISE FROM THE TOMBS AND THAT IS THE RAPTURE.

THE PROTESTANTS, HOWEVER, SAY THAT BEFORE THIS THEY WILL STAND OR SIT THERE IN THE CLOUDS AND WATCH ALL THE SUFFERING GOING ON UPON THE EARTH FOR AN INDEFINITE AMOUNT OF TIME. THERE IS NOTHING THEY CAN BASE THIS ON. AND THIS TEACHING ONLY APPEARED IN THEIR WRITINGS IN 184O, I THINK.


Q: SO IT IS A FALSE IDEA THAT THEY WILL BE SPARED FROM ALL TRIBULATION THAT IS TO COME AT THE END?

A: YES. IN FACT THEIRS IS AN ANTI-SCRIPTURAL IDEA. BECAUSE IF THE TEMPTATIONS ARE SO GREAT THAT "EVEN THE ELECT WOULD BE DECEIVED" IF THE TIME WERE NOT CUT SHORT, THEN YOU MUST BE RIGHT THERE SUFFERING WITH THE REST.

BUT IN DANIEL, IT IS VERY INTERESTING AS THERE ARE TWO ASPECTS: ONE IS A PROPHECY ABOUT THE END OF THE WORLD; THE SECOND IS THE PROPHECY ABOUT THE COMING OF THE TYRANT, ANTIOCHUS EPIPHANUS, WHO ACTUALLY DID THAT: HE WENT TO THE TEMPLE HAD HIMSELF PROCLAIMED GOD, AND EVERYONE BOWED DOWN TO HIM IN THE EARLY 3rd CENTURY B.C. SO WE HAVE ALREADY AN IMAGE OF AN HISTORICAL EVENT WHICH PREFIGURES THIS.


Q: COULD YOU TIE IN THE IDEAS OF MONASTIC LIFE WITH THE APOCALYPTIC VISION?

A: ON THE MOST SIMPLE LEVEL, A MONK IS ONE WHO IS SUPPOSED TO BE EXPECTING DEATH, THE END. THEREFORE, HE TAKES SERIOUSLY THE WORDS, "BEHOLD, I COME QUICKLY" AND PREPARES HIMSELF TO BE IN SUCH A STATE THAT WHEN CHRIST COMES HE IS READY. IN THAT SENSE, MONASTICISM IS APOCALYPTIC.

OF COURSE, EVERYBODY IS SUPPOSED TO BE LIKE THAT IF YOU ARE A CHRISTIAN. WE SHOULD NOT THINK THAT ONLY MONKS ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR LIVING A CHRISTIAN LIFE; SUCH AN IDEA IS NOT TRUE; A MONK IS JUST LIKE EVERYONE ELSE. EVERYONE MUST WAKE UP. IF YOU LOOK AT THE EARLY CHURCH THERE IS NO DISTINCTION AS TO WHO WAS A MONK AND WHO WAS A LAYMAN -- THEY ALL RECOGNIZED THE TRUTH AND THEY SAW THAT IT WAS URGENT, TO BE LIVED IMMEDIATELY.


Q: COULD THE CURRENT ORTHODOX JURISDICTIONAL SEPARATION IN THIS COUNTRY BE, IN A SENSE A FORM OF CHASTISEMENT FOR THE WEST, OR IS THERE ANOTHER WAY TO LOOK AT IT? IS IT A SIGN OF EVIL OR COULD IT BE IN THE END USED TO BETTER OURSELVES? HOW IS ONE TO START TO LOOK AT THE JURISDICTIONAL SITUATION?

A: THERE ARE SEVERAL POINTS OF VIEW. I THINK, FIRST OF ALL, YOU CAN SAY THAT A LARGE PART OF IT IS OWING TO HUMAN WEAKNESS. ANOTHER PART, I THINK, IS OWING TO THE FACT THAT THIS MOVEMENT OF APOSTASY IS SO STRONG IN THE WORLD THAT IT IS VERY EASY FOR PEOPLE IN POSITION OF AUTHORITY IN THE CHURCH --IN FACT THE HIGHER YOU GET AND THE BIGGER YOUR ORGANIZATION, THE EASIER IT IS TO GO ALONG WITH THE TIMES-- AND, THEREFORE, IF THE JURISDICTIONS ARE NOT GETTING ALONG SO WELL, PERHAPS ONE OR TWO OF THEM MIGHT BE ABLE TO STAY BEHIND THE REST. I THINK THAT IS WHAT IS HAPPENING NOW, BETWEEN OUR RUSSIAN CHURCH ABROAD AND MOST OF THE OTHER JURISDICITONS; WE ARE SORT OF LEFT BEHIND.

THERE ARE MANY REASONS WHY WE ARE SEPARATE -- NOT ENTIRELY SEPARATE, BUT SORT OF COOL ON THE OFFICIAL LEVEL; THIS IN A WAY PRESERVES US, AND THE FACT THAT WE ARE PRESERVED NOW ENABLES PEOPLE OUTSIDE TO SEE THAT THERE IS STILL SOME KIND OF STANDARD OF ORTHODOXY AND THAT WHAT OUR LEADERS ARE DOING IS NOT THE PROPER WAY, AND SO IT HELPS OUT.

WHAT THE END RESULT WILL BE FROM THAT I DO NOT KNOW, BUT I THINK IT MAKES MORE PEOPLE AWARE THAT THERE IS NOT JUST ONE BIG ORTHODOX CHURCH WHICH IS FOLLOWING THE ROMAN CATHOLIC CHURCH WHICH IS FOLLOWING THE PROTESTANTS WHICH IS FOLLOWING THE JEWS WHICH IS FOLLOWING THE UNITARIANS IN A VICIOUS CIRCLE.

SO I THINK WE SHOULD NOT BE TERRIBLY UPSET ABOUT THINGS LIKE THAT; FOR ONE THING, IT IS HUMAN NATURE, BUT AS LONG AS IT DOES NOT HARDEN INTO SOME KIND OF THING WHICH HAS PEOPLE CALLING EACH OTHER HERETICS, AND SO ON. IN THIS SENSE, IT COULD BE A KIND OF POSITIVE THING.

AND IN THE END, WHEN CRITICAL TIMES COME, THEN I THINK IT WILL BE SEEN HOW USEFUL IT WAS THAT THERE WERE SOME [GROUPS]* WHICH STAYED BEHIND, AND SOME BISHOPS AND PRIESTS WHO STAYED IN A SORT OF BACKWARD POINT OF VIEW IN ORDER TO BE OF HELP WHEN A CRISIS COMES. BECAUSE IT IS TRUE THAT MANY ORTHODOX HIERARCHS ARE GOING MUCH TOO FAR IN FOLLOWING ROME WHICH IS FOLLOWING THE WESTERN CONFESSIONS. IT WILL COME TO A DISASTER BEFORE VERY LONG. http://www.roca.org/OA/132/132k.htm  Orthodox America records this quote specifying Fr. Seraphim's meaning of "groups" to be "jurisdictions".   [if in fact Fr. Seraphim did not use the word "jurisdiction" in the first place, which we can't be certain with the rewriting that has gone on. -jh]


Q: COULD YOU ADDRESS SOME ASPECTS OF SCIENCE FICTION AND YOU HAD A CHANCE TO WRITE ABOUT IN YOUR BOOK, 'ORTHODOXY AND THE RELIGION OF THE FUTURE'?

A: YES, ANYTHING IN PARTICULAR?


Q: BISHOP IGNATIUS BRIANCHANINOV WRITES THAT MODERN MAN EXPECTS AN "ENCOUNTER" OF ONE SORT OR ANOTHER; AND OF COURSE, WE GET THAT IN THE TITLES OF THESE MOVIES: "CLOSE ENCOUNTERS OF THE THIRD KIND," WHOSE CREATURES YOU DESCRIBE IN YOUR BOOK AS "...BARELY DISGUISED DEMONS." COULD YOU TIE-IN THIS ASPECT OF THE MENTALITY OF SUPPOSEDLY ATHEISTIC MODERN MAN AS A "SIGN OF THE TIMES"?

A: WELL, I THINK THAT THINGS LIKE SCIENCE FICTION --WHICH IS ONLY ONE ASPECT OF IT-- IS THE WAY THROUGH WHICH TOTALLY ATHEISTIC, UNBELIEVING MAN CAN COME BACK TO RELIGION, [WHICH, HOWEVER, IS NOT THE RELIGION THAT SAVES YOUR SOUL, THAT REQUIRES YOUR SOUL TO REPENT] TO SOME KIND OF VAGUE RELIGIOUS INTEREST, WHICH ARE PERFECTLY IN HARMONY WITH THE SPIRIT OF THE TIMES, WITH WORLDLINESS, AND THEREFORE THAT BELONGS TO ANTICHRIST.

IT IS REMARKABLE, IF YOU LOOK AT MANY OF THE STAR TREK SERIES, THE THINGS WHICH ARE PERFORMED BY THESE SPACE CREATURES ARE MERELY DEMONIC TRICKS, WHICH YOU CAN READ IN THE LIVES OF THE SAINTS. AND IT IS INTERESTING THAT IF YOU READ THEM FROM THE LIVES OF THE SAINTS THEY WOULD LAUGH AT YOU; BUT NOT SO IF YOU READ THEM IN SCIENCE FICTION STORIES. THEY MIGHT NOT TAKE IT ENTIRELY SERIOUSLY AS REALITY; NONETHELESS, THAT IS THE WAY IT BEGINS. FIRST YOU SORT OF ACCEPT IT AS A FANTASY AND, IF NOT YOU THEN THE NEXT GENERATION BEGINS TO TAKE IT MORE SERIOUSLY AS REALITY. THUS IT FINALLY ENTERS INTO THE ATMOSPHERE AS SOMETHING QUITE PLAUSIBLE.


Q: I RECALL THAT WHEN THE SPACE SHUTTLE LANDED, AN ENGINEER SAID, "WE ARE JUST ON THE BRINK OF STAR WARS; WE REALLY ARE."

A: THERE IS A LOT OF FANTASY IN STATEMENTS LIKE THAT, BECAUSE THEY HAVE NOT FOUND A SINGLE PERSON OUT THERE. MANY PEOPLE HAVE WRITTEN ABOUT THIS. IN FACT, IN THE LAST SEVERAL YEARS THERE HAS BEEN A WHOLE RASH OF BOOKS ABOUT UFO SIGHTINGS WITH EXPLANATIONS.

FOR EXAMPLE, ONE PROFESOR AT STANFORD UNIVERSITY, A FRENCHMAN NAMED JACQUES VALLEE, ALONG WITH DR. ALLEN HYNEK --BOTH OF WHOM ARE EXPERTS IN THESE PHENOMENA AND THE RELIGIOUS SIDE OF THEM-- HAVE COME TO THE CONCLUSION: THERE IS NOBODY OUT THERE AT ALL; THAT IT IS SOME SORT OF STAGED PERFORMANCE BY SOMEBODY IN THE "FOURTH DIMENSION" RIGHT HERE ON EARTH. IF YOU READ THIS FROM AN ORTHODOX PERSPECTIVE AND ASK "WHO IS IN THE FOURTH DIMENSION RIGHT HERE ON EARTH?" --THAT FITS THE DESCRIPTION OF DEMONS. THAT IS EXACTLY WHAT DEMONS ARE. THEIR BOOK IS ENTITLED "THE EDGE OF REALITY". IT IS VERY INTERESTING HOW SCIENTISTS GET INVOLVED WITH RELIGIOUS THINGS BY, FIRST OF ALL, SIMPLY APPROACHING SOME KIND OF FANTASY FROM A SCIENTIFIC POINT OF VIEW, AND IT SORT OF ENTERS INTO PEOPLE'S CONSCIOUSNESS AS SOMETHING HARMLESS.


Q: NOW WE SEE SUCH AN OUT-POURING OF IDEAS AND ATTITUDES WHICH ARE NOT CHRISTIAN AND ARE EVEN ANTI-CHRISTIAN, AND SOME OF THE THINGS OF WHICH WE MAY NOT BE CONSCIOUSLY AWARE BUT ARE STILL IN THE AIR, WHAT ARE SOME PRACTICAL THINGS WHICH ORTHODOX CHRISTIANS CAN DO TO RESIST THESE AND BECOME MORE AWARE OF THEM?

A: WE SHOULD BE READING MORE ORTHODOX LITERATURE, SUCH AS THE LIVES OF THE SAINTS AND THE WRITINGS OF THE FATHERS, ON THE MORE PRACTICAL SIDE, ESPECIALLY, OF EARLY CHRISTIAN LIFE, SO THAT WE WILL HAVE AN IDEA OF WHAT ARE THE BASIC KINDS OF TEMPTATIONS WHICH COME TO PEOPLE WHO ARE CONDUCTING A CHRISTIAN LIFE. AND THAT WILL HELP US EVEN IN NEW KINDS OF SITUATIONS AS WE FIT IT INTO THE TYPE TO WHICH IT BELONGS. AND THE MORE YOU ARE DOING THAT THE MORE YOU ARE PREPARED TO FACE TEMPTATIONS WHICH ARE HAPPENING.

ANOTHER THING IS TO TRY TO LOOK AT THE THINGS WHICH GO ON IN THE WORLD AROUND YOU WITH A CRITICAL POINT OF VIEW; THAT IT IS NOT SIMPLY ACCEPTING WHATEVER IS IN FASHION SINCE THE TIMES ARE ALWAYS EVIL AND NOW MORE THAN EVER, THERE IS BOUND TO BE SOME KIND OF A WRONG REASON FOR IT TO BE IN FASHION. THEREFORE, YOU SHOULD INSTANTLY DISTRUST SOME KIND OF NEW FASHIONABLE THING, AND DO NOT GIVE YOUR ENTIRE TRUST TO IT.

THAT DOES NOT MEAN YOU HAVE TO BE ENTIRELY SOUR ABOUT EVERYTHING, BUT CAUTIOUS. AS ST. PAUL SAYS, YOU HAVE TO BE WALKING CIRCUMSPECTLY, REDEEMING THE TIME FOR THE DAYS ARE EVIL. IF THAT WAS TRUE DURING HIS TIME, IT IS SO MUCH MORE THE CASE NOW WHEN EVIL HAS BUILT UP SO MUCH.

SINCE WE LIVE IN A CIVILIZATION WHICH IS VERY ADVANCED IN THE SENSE OF PROVIDING INSTANT COMFORT AND ALL KINDS OF CONVENIENT THINGS,THERE IS A CERTAIN KIND OF PARALYSIS WHICH CAN COME OVER ONE, A CERTAIN KIND OF HYPNOTISM. YOU MUST BE AWARE OF ANYTHING WHICH MAKES YOU EXTREMELY PASSIVE; FOR EXAMPLE, TELEVISION: IF YOU WATCH TELEVISION TOO MUCH IT PRODUCES THIS KIND OF FEELING OF PASSIVELY WAITING FOR THE NEXT THING WHICH WILL COME TO YOU. IT IS SPIRITUALLY A VERY DANGEROUS STATE. I THINK YOU MUST BE AWARE OF ANYTHING THAT CAN PRDUCE SOME KIND OF PASSIVE STATE IN US WHICH CAN LEAD TO HYPNOTIC SUGGESTIONS. I THINK IF YOU ARE DOING THOSE THINGS, PLUS LEADING A NORMAL CHRISTIAN LIFE AND SAYING PRAYERS ACCORDING TO THE PRAYER BOOK, ATTENDING CHURCH WHEN YOU CAN, MAKING PROSTRATIONS, VENERATING ICONS, THAT IS NORMAL THINGS WHICH ORTHODOX CHRISTIANS DO; ALL THESE THINGS HELP GUARD AGAINST ALL THE EVIL WHICH IS IN THE AIR.


Q: YOU HAVE BEEN INVOLVED WITH HINDUISM, IS THAT CORRECT?

A: NOT SO MUCH WITH HINDUISM BUT RATHER WITH BUDDHISM.


Q: HOW DO YOU REGARD THESE EASTERN MASTERS WHO HAVE ACHIEVED SOME UNION WITH "THE IMPERSONAL"? DO YOU REGARD IT AS BEING DECEIVED BY DEMONS? WHAT IS THE ORIGIN OF THIS IMPERSONALIST CONCEPT?

A: WELL, THE ORIGIN OF THAT CONCEPT COMES FROM PEOPLE, WHO DO NOT WANT TO MEET THE PERSONAL GOD, BECAUSE HE DEFINITELY REQUIRES THINGS OF YOU. BUT I THINK IN MANY CASES PEOPLE WHO SAY THEY HAVE THIS EXPERIENCE HAVE SOME KIND OF ILLUSION OR WISHFUL THINKING, WHICH IS VERY MUCH HELPED BY THIS FEELING OF ZEN MEDITATION: YOU QUIET YOURSELF DOWN, AND IF YOU HAVE NOT GOT ANYTHING REALLY DEEP INSIDE YOU WHICH WANTS TO COME OUT, YOU CAN GET YOURSELF INTO SUCH A QUIET STATE THAT YOU THINK YOU MET GOD.


Q: SO ARE THEY SATISFIED WITH AN INSUFFICIENT SPIRITUAL STATE?

A: I WOULD SAY IT IS LIKE SPIRITUAL IMMATURITY, SORT OF "HALF-GROWN-UP" OR SOMETHING LIKE THAT. BUT I THINK THAT IF THERE IS ANYTHING PASSIONATE INSIDE OF YOU, FINALLY YOU WILL GO CRAZY.


Q: IT IS NOT A DIRECT PULLING AWAY FROM GOD BUT RATHER A STOPPING AT THE THRESHOLD.

A: OF COURSE, THEY HAVE MANY IDEAS WHICH ARE AGAINST THE CHRISTIAN GOD, SO I DON'T KNOW HOW A PERSON COMES BACK FROM THAT TO FIND THE TRUE GOD; HE IS GOING TO HAVE A DIFFICULT TIME DOING IT.

FOR EXAMPLE, THE WAY THEY DESCRIBE THE MEDITATION AT THIS SHASTA ABBEY, I CAN SEE THAT FOR A PERSON WHO WANTS TO AVOID PROBLEMS AND NOT BE CONFUSED, CAN SORT OF FINALLY TALK HIMSELF INTO A STATE OF BEING ABSOLUTELY QUIET AND THINK HE IS HAPPY.

EVERYTHING "ORIENTAL" WHICH COMES TO AMERICA IS GIVEN AN AMERICAN COLORATION; OUR OWN PROBLEMS ENTER INTO IT, AND THE ANSWER IT BRINGS REFLECTS WHATEVER IS NEEDED BY AMERICANS.


Q: ONE OF YOUR CITATIONS OF THE NEW SPIRITUALLY OF ROMAN CATHOLICISM AFTER THE SCHISM OF 1O54 CONCERNS FRANCIS OF ASSISI. COULD YOU COMMENT?

A: HE SEEMS TO BE THE BEGINNING OF WHAT HAPPENED IN THE WEST. IT WAS ONLY 1OO YEARS AFTER THE SCHISM, AND THERE ARE SEVERAL ELEMENTS IN HIS LIFE WHICH DO NOT RING TRUE FROM THE ORTHODOX POINT OF VIEW.

FOR EXAMPLE, THE TIME HE MADE THE GREAT FUSS ABOUT EATING MEAT WHEN HE WAS SICK, AND WHEN HE GOT WELL HE MADE A BIG POINT OF GOING THROUGH THE STREETS AND TELLING THE PEOPLE "YOU ALL THINK I'M A HOLY MAN, LOOK AT ME, I ATE MEAT!" AND SOMEONE WAS RUNNING AFTER HIM, WHIPPING HIM, POURING ASHES ON HIS HEAD, AND MAKING A BIG DEMONSTRATION. THAT IS NOT SOBER. THAT MEANS YOU ARE SHOWING OFF YOUR EVIL, WHICH MEANS THAT YOU ARE PROUD: SOME KIND OF PRIDE IS INVOLVED.

OR ESPECIALLY WHEN HE GOT THE "STIGMATA": HE IS THE FIRST ONE TO RECEIVE THE STIGMATA. AND HE RECEIVED THOSE BY ASKING CHRIST TO LET HIM SUFFER JUST LIKE HE DID. AND SIMPLY AN ORTHODOX CHRISTIAN COULD NOT ASK SUCH A THING! IF YOU ARE WHOLLY IN THE SPIRIT OF ORTHODOX WORSHIP YOU DO NOT ASK TO SUFFER LIKE CHRIST BECAUSE HE SUFFERED ONCE AND IT IS NOT YOUR DOING; IT WOULD NEVER OCCUR TO YOU. BUT HE WANTED TO BE "LIKE CHRSIT" AND, THEREFORE, HE RECEIVED SOME KIND OF THING WHICH CAME THROUGH HIS HANDS; APPARENTLY SOME KIND OF PSYCHIC PHENOMENON.

EVEN SOME OF THE WRITERS OF HIS LIFE GO FURTHER. THEY SAY THAT WHEN FRANCIS DIED, "GOD THE FATHER DID NOT KNOW AT WHICH TO BE MORE PLEASED, AT HIS FIRST SON, CHRIST, OR HIS SECOND SON, FRANCIS." THAT IS, OF COURSE, THE WRITER OF THE LIFE, WHO GOES EVEN BEYOND FRANCIS HIMSELF.

I THINK THIS ALREADY SHOWS THAT AN ELEMENT OF DECEPTION ENETERED INTO HIS LIFE, AND THERE IS ALREADY ENOUGH THAT YOU CAN SEE THE BEGINNING AND LATER ON IT GETS MORE DEVELOPED.


Q: YOU MENTIONED ST. AUGUSTINE, BUT ARE NOT SOME OF HIS IDEAS CONSIDERED HERETICAL BY THE ORTHODOX CHURCH?

A: THEY ARE NOT CALLED "HERETICAL," THOUGH HE IS KNOWN FOR HIS EXAGGERATIONS, ESPECIALLY HIS DOCTRINE OF GRACE. THAT IS, HE DID NOT FORMULATE IT IN THE EASTERN WAY: HE OVEREMPHASIZED SO MUCH GRACE OF GOD THAT HE DID NOT HAVE ROOM FOR MAN'S FREEDOM. WHEN HE WAS ATTACKED ON THIS, HE SAID,"OF COURSE I DO BELIEVE IN MAN'S FREEDOM." BUT NONETHELESS HE COULD NOT FIT IT INTO HIS SYSTEM.

THERFORE IF YOU WANT TO UNDERSTAND ABOUT DIVINE GRACE AND FREE WILL YOU SHOULD READ ST. JOHN CASSIAN WHO LIVED AT THE SAME TIME AND TAUGHT THE CORRECT TEACHING. OF COURSE, THERE WERE OTHER FATHERS, SUCH AS ST. GREGORY WHO ALSO MADE MISTAKES. YOU CAST ASIDE THE IDEAS WHICH ARE WRONG; THE IDEAS WHICH ARE GOOD YOU KEEP. IN ST. AUGUSTINE'S CASE, HIS REPENTANCE IS VERY PROFOUND, VERY MOVING.


Q: FR. SERAPHIM, I THINK THAT WE SHOULD PERHAPS TAKE A BREAK AT THIS POINT AND THEN CELEBRATE VESPERS.

A: ALRIGHT, VERY GOOD. WE WILL HAVE A LITTLE REFRESHMENT AND THEN SERVE VESPERS FOR ST. ATHANASIUS THE GREAT.

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FR.SERAPHIM'S HOMILY ON ST. ATHANASIUS THE GREAT
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THE MAIN HERESY AT THE TIME OF ST. ATHANASIUS WAS THE HERSY OF ARIUS, WHICH IS VERY SIMILAR TO THAT OF MANY MODERN SECTARIANS, WHO TEACH THAT CHRIST IS ACTUALLY NOT GOD BUT ONLY A MAN WHO SOMEHOW --IN VARIOUS WAYS HE WOULD EXPRESS IT-- ADOPTED THE POWER OF GOD, BUT WAS NOT GOD HIMSELF COME IN THE FLESH, BUT MERELY A MAN WHO HAD MORE OR LESS DIVINE POWER.

THEREFORE, IF THIS IS TRUE, IT MEANS CHRIST WAS LIKE ANOTHER PROPHET, THOUGH HE WAS BETTER THAN ALL THE PROPHETS, BUT STILL JUST ANOTHER MAN. THE WHOLE IDEA OF GOD COMING TO EARTH TO TAKE AWAY THE SINS OF MAN IS THEREFORE DONE AWAY WITH.

ST. ATHANASIUS THUS ROSE UP AGAINST THIS HERESY, AS DID MANY OTHER FATHERS AT THAT TIME. AND HE WAS VERY FIRM IN NOT GIVING INTO IT. THE RESULT OF WHICH HE WAS FIVE TIMES CHASED OUT OF THE SEE IN ALEXANDRIA AND SUBJECTED TO ALL KINDS OF PERSECUTIONS, AND SUFFERED FOR CONFESSING THE TRUE ORTHODOX FAITH WHICH HE HANDED DOWN, THEREFORE, TO US IN OUR DAYS.

LET US REMEMBER HIM WITH LOVE AND REMEMBER ALSO THAT HE IS ALIVE. THESE HOLY FATHERS ARE NOT SIMPLY PEOPLE WHO LIVED IN ANCIENT TIMES BUT ARE NOW WITH GOD IN THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN AND HEAR OUR PRAYERS AND PRAISES TO THEM.

THEREFORE, CONSIDER THE PRAISES AND SERVICES WRITTEN MANY CENTURIES AGO, LET US TRY TO UNDERSTAND THE WORDS AND OFFER OUR PRAISES TO HIM, AND OF COURSE THROUGH HIM, WE OFFER OUR PRAISES TO CHRIST, WHO IS WONDROUS IN HIS SAINTS.

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[THE ABOVE IN UPPER CASE LETTERS WAS COPIED FROM THE JOURNAL OF THE OLD CATHEDRAL OF THE HOLY VIRGIN "JOY OF ALL WHO SORROW" RUSSIAN ORTHODOX CHURCH ABROAD JULY-SEPTEMBER 1994 -JH]




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1 On the Feast of the Canonization of Sr. Herman of Alaska, July 27/ August 9, 1978, at the Sr. Herman of Alaska Monastery, Platina, California. Fr. Seraphim later published a synopsis of this talk in his article "Sr. Herman Summer Pilgrimage, 1978," The Orthodox Word, no. 84 (1979), pp. 6-9.

2 As Fr. Seraphim explained when giving this talk in 1978, this was because the year 1492, according co the chronology in the Septuagint (Greek) version of the Old Testament, was the year 7OOO from the creation of the world. Like the Byzantine Calendar, the Russian Calendar had the creation of the world as its starring point, until this was changed during the Westernizing reforms of Peter I in the eighteenth century.

3 In his written outline of this talk (hereafter cited as "Outline"), Fr. Seraphim expanded on this point: "Christianity has a powerful effect on men's minds-it totally transformed civilization after the fall of Rome and the ancient pagan world, and to a large extent it governs the way men think even if they think themselves non-Christian, anti-Christian, or totally liberated from the Christian way of life and thought. And so the coming of the end of the second Christian millennium, together with the world-shaking events of the twentieth century, have produced in the air an apocalyptic mood - a mood of expecting some great change or crisis or even the end of the whole world; and this mood will probably increase right up to the year 2OOO."

4 This talk, entitled "A World Split Apart," was delivered on June 8, 1978.

5 Outline: "Chiliasm, a heresy fought and condemned by the early Fathers of the Church, constantly comes up again in sectarian circles, especially in times of historical uncertainty and crisis. This is the teaching of a reign of Christ on earth before the end of the world: a reign of peace and prosperity under Christ, Who will reign with His elect in Jerusalem and conquer all foes."

6 This phrase was introduced into the Creed with the specific intention of countering the chiliastic teaching of the heretic Apollinarius.

7 Outline: "This is the life of grace in the Church with the Sacraments, which Protestants, not having, do not understand."

8 Outline: "Expectation of this kind of coming of Christ [i.e., of Christ reigning as an earthly ruler for a thousand years] has led to fantasies and bloodshed, from the time of the Middle Ages to now: 'Charismatic' leaders persuade their followers either that they are Christ, or that they are preparing for Him. This is an exact fulfillment of Christ's prophecy of fake Christs who will not come from the heavens at the end of the world. In recent times, Jehovah's Witnesses, Seventh-Day Adventists, and many other sectarian groups have preached this doctrine, often predicting the exact year and day of the end of the world-which never comes on schedule-or preparing for a great 'world leader' who will bring peace on earth. This 'world leader' will be the Antichrist, about whom the Scriptures prophesy exactly. Fantasies of the coming 'millennium' are one of the chief ways mankind is preparing for the Antichrist. "Our times are full of this chiliasm or millenarianism. This is the basis of the Communist ideology of the perfect state on earth that will come when the 'Dictatorship of the Proletariat' finally ends. Such fantasies always result in tyranny in the name of a religious or philosophical ideal. "Chiliastic views themselves ate not a particular sign of the end. They existed in the Middle Ages, the Renaissance, and in more modern times; but they have never been more widespread than today, not merely among small groups of sectarians, but among political and religious leaders of humanity. This I will talk about a little later as one of the signs of the end.

9 Outline: "Now let us turn to some of the spiritual signs of the end. Most of these signs are bound up with the figure of Antichrist, the world ruler at the end of time, the last great enemy of Christ. Many people have a very superficial idea about him: Luther thought it was the Pope, others have a caricatural idea of him as simply a vicious dictator. We must go deeper than this, and especially distinguish between the general spirit of Antichrist, the many lesser antichrists who have this spirit to some degree, and the Antichrist himself, who will come only at the very end of time and rule the whole world. St. John says (I John 2: I 8): 'As ye have heard that Antichrist is coming, so now many antichrists have come: therefore we know that it is the last hour.' That is, just because we have seen many with the spirit of Antichrist in the past-those who have fought against Christ, like some Roman emperors, and especially those who have tried to deceive Christians by means of some fake teaching and seeming miracles-this does not mean there will not be a single Antichrist at the end of the world. These many small antichrists should prepare us for the coming of the great Antichrist."

1O The Greek anomia, which is translated as "iniquity" in the King James version, literally means "lawlessness."

11 In Greek, anomos.

12 Outline: "Whereas most civilized people (and even wild pagan tribes) had a fairly good sense of right and wrong and decent behavior up at least to the Second World War, since then the philosophy has taken hold of many that one can 'do whatever one feels like,' and even so-called Christians justify and promote behavior that until now was everywhere considered a total loss of decent standards, not only Christian but even just human. This is a deep sign of lawlessness in contemporary society."

13 Outline: "This could not happen wherever people have basic religious and moral views of any kind. It is a direct result of the abandonment of Christianity and the 'falling away' from Truth."

14 Outline: "The two most serious accomplishments of Communist Russia are: the building (after stealing Western secrets) and stockpiling of enough weapons to destroy life on earth; and its network of prison camps-the Gulag."

15 In the "Orthodox Survival Course" he gave in 1975, Fr. Seraphim explained that the Munsterite Anabaptists attempted to establish a society of perfect "communism," with no private ownership of property. They proclaimed the city of Munster to be rhe "New Jerusalem," and their leader, Jan Bockelson, to be the "king of the world." (See chapter 12 of Norman Cohn, The Pursuit of the Millennium [New York: Harper Torchbooks, 1961].)

16 The last phrase is taken from Fr. Seraphim's written outline.

17 Outline: "The nineteenth-century revolutionary movement was divided into two main currents: Marx with his insistence on practical means of seizing control of government, and Bakunin and other anarchists who wanted anarchy for anarchy's sake, who simply wanted to destroy Christianity and the past with no clear view of what would replace it. In fact, when Bakunin was asked what he would do when all the past order was destroyed and replaced by revolutionary governments, he said: 'I'd start all over and destroy them, too.' Other anarchists of that time had a totally naïve idea that once all law and order had been destroyed, men would spontaneously be good. Lenin, who planted Marxism in Russia with much blood and violence, admitted that this was also the aim of Communism-its aim is the same as that of anarchism: the doing away of all law and order to let the 'real man' do what he wants. In recent years there has been a revival of Bakunin-type terrorism for its own sake."

18 Outline: "Communism is not Antichrist, it is not the end of modern history- it has nothing positive to inspire men with, it lives on destruction."

19 Outline: "Communism, in destroying mankind's links with the past and Christianity, is a chief agent preparing for the events of the end of the world-the worldwide anti-Christian empire."

2O Outline: "A spiritual philosophy is needed to unite all men. The chiliastic philosophy of the free world supplies a part of this element."

21 Outline: 'The very existence of such an organization as the U.N., which is to unite all the governments of the world, is a sign of our times. The speeches and propaganda of the U.N. are filled with chiliastic ideas, vaguely based on Christianity but without Christian dogmas: it strives for permanent world peace, no more wars-which of course is possible only if human nature changes and becomes different from what it is now. St. Paul spoke of one of the signs of the end: 'The day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. For when people will say, "There is peace and security," then sudden destruction will come upon them' (I Thes. 5:2-3). Never has there been more talk of 'peace and security' than today. One of the chief organs of the U.N. is the 'Security Council,' and organizations for 'world peace' are everywhere. If men do achieve finally a semblance of 'peace and security,' it would seem to contemporary man to be a state like heaven on earth-a millennium. The practical way to do this is to unite all governments under one. For the first time in history such an ideal becomes a possible goal of practical politics-a world ruler is conceivable now. For the first time, the Antichrist becomes an historical possibility."

22 Outline: "After being 'conservative,' even anti-revolutionary, during the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, the Roman Popes have now come close to joining [the revolution], as Dostoyevsky predicted they would in the nineteenth century. Roman Catholicism has become a great worldly institution preaching the same chiliasm as the representatives of the U.N. Pope Paul [VI]'s visit to the U.N. in New York in 1965 reveals this clearly. He was given a hero's welcome in New York by American people, mostly non-Catholics, precisely because he is seen as the most eminent religious figure who preaches the chiliast dream which is now so strong in the air. In his speech at the U.N., the Pope justified these expectations, and called on the U.N. to bring about the prophecies of Holy Scripture concerning when swords will be turned into plowshares and the lion will lie down with the lamb-a millennial kingdom on earth." (Cf. Eugene Rose, "Pope Paul VI in New York," The Orthodox Word, no. 5 [1965], pp. 188-91.)

23 Fr. Seraphim is referring to the Patristic interpretation of II Thessalonians 2:4 regarding the Antichrist: "So that he as God sitteth in the temple or God, showing himself to be God." See St. Irenaeus of Lyons, Against Heresies V, 25:3--4; St. Cyril of Jerusalem, Catechetical Homilies 15: 12; and St. John Damascene, Exact Exposition of the Orthodox Faith 4:26.

24 Outline: "It is significant that Jerusalem is now constantly in the news. The Jews have returned to Palestine for the first time since Christ. This makes it possible for the Antichrist to come first to the Jews, as the prophecies state, and then rule the whole world from Jerusalem. And the very idea of chiliasm comes from the Jews, because they rejected Christ just because He did not establish a worldly kingdom."

25 According to St. John Damascene, at the end of the world "Enoch and Elias the Thesbite will be sent and they shall 'turn the heart of the fathers to the children' (Malachi 4:6), that is to say, turn the synagogue to the Lord Jesus Christ and the preaching of the Apostles." (Exact Exposition of the Orthodox Faith 4:26.)

26 The above paragraph has been taken from Fr. Seraphim's written outline, since a student's question interrupted his talk at this point.

27 Outline: "Perhaps few call themselves satanists, but it has become a recognized religion in our society, and very many are seriously involved in the practice of witchcraft. (The widely publicized ritual murders of recent years are only the surface of a deep current of evil and demon-worship.)"

28 Outline: "Interest in Eastern religions has been present for a hundred years and more in the West, and has been gaining especially in the twentieth century; but it has always been a fringe movement in society, and only in the last decade or so have we seen the institution of native Western temples and monasteries and ashrams, with seemingly normal American young men and women bowing to the ground before Buddhist and Hindu gods....
"Eastern religions have obviously gone deep into the Western soul. Their appeal is understandable: Western Christianity, especially Protestantism but also Catholicism in recent years, has been deprived of the element of the true worship of God which Orthodoxy has, and the human soul feels empty. Also, most Eastern religions offer a rather simple kind of 'peace' through meditation or chanting which is not as demanding as true Christianity, [since the latter] gives one a peace not of this world and prepares one for eternal life in a Kingdom not of this world (cf. John 18:36)."


29 Outline: "The subject of flying saucers-UFOs-is very much part of the atmosphere of our times. Science-fiction literature is very popular both in the free West and in the U.S.S.R. Several recent movies with science-fiction themes have been enormously popular: several years ago there was 2OO1: A Space Odyssey and the television series Star Trek, and just now there is Star ~rs and Close Encounters o/the Third Kind. Therefore, whether or not there are actual flying saucers and flying-saucer people, this phenomenon is a significant indicator of what people are feeling and thinking now.

"One sober investigator has examined in great detail many of the best cases of supposed sightings and landings of UFOs, and he says that with few exceptions they can be explained by other means, or are fraudulent. He calls UFOs a 'fairy tale for grown-ups,' because twentieth-century man-i.e., humanist, agnostic, or atheist- has lost other supposed fairy tales.

"But at the same time many people claim not merely to have seen them, but to have contacted beings in them and been kidnapped or ridden with them.
"If one reads a few descriptions of such contacts (this is what is called 'Close Encounters of the Third Kind'), reads contemporary science-fiction or sees some of today's movies, one gets a strange feeling: here are described strange beings, some of them almost human but much more 'advanced,' able to do extraordinary things like turning sticks into swords, causing themselves and others to disappear, assuming different shapes at will, flying through the air, probing into the mind, or creating whole imaginary scenes before one's eyes. Perhaps for modern man this is all 'fairy tales,' but for an Orthodox Christian the phenomena which appear in these very popular literary and artistic forms are very familiar-most of them can be found in the Lives of Saints and are often a very realistic description of the way demons act.

"Most contemporary men, of course, laugh at the mention of demons-bur this is precisely what they are describing and seeing under the guise of 'extra-terrestrial intelligences' or 'flying-saucer people.'

"Some recent books by Evangelical Protestants suggest that the best explanation of UFOs is that encounters with them-when they are real and not fraudulent-are actually encounters with demons who contact men in accordance with the ideas and expectations of the times. What is significant for us is that many ordinary people today consider it possible or desirable to enter into contact with 'advanced beings' from other worlds-this is exactly what demons are, and increased contact with them is precisely one of the characteristics of the period towards the end of the world." (See chapter 6 of Fr. Seraphim Rose, Orthodoxy and the Religion of the Future [St. Herman Brotherhood, 1975; seventh printing, 1996].)

3O Outline: "Other sources of contact with other worlds and beings are to be seen in [contemporary] 'after-death' experiences and closely related 'out-of-body' experiences.' Many of these experiences are without doubt real-but people who have them are almost all unprepared to protect themselves against demonic deceptions." (See Fr. Seraphim Rose, The Soul After Death [St. Herman Brotherhood, 198O; sixth printing, 1998].)

31 Outline: "People involved in these experiences are similarly uninformed about the nature of demonic temptations and apparitions. These experiences have become much more common today than heretofore because the Orthodox Christian doctrine of spiritual experiences has been lost in the West because of the Apostasy; and from various modern influences (such as television) men have become more passive and open to mediumistic influences than ever before." (See chapter 7 of Orthodoxy and the Religion of the Future.)

32 See Orthodoxy and the Religion of the Future, pp. xxxii-xxxiv.

33 Outline: "It is the outpouring of the spirit of Antichrist that is being prepared now; true Christians will save their souls by enduring to the end all the trials of the last times."

34 From the aforementioned address by Solzhenitsyn at the Harvard University commencement in 1978.


35 A quote from Tertullian (t ca. 223).

36 When giving this talk at the 1978 St. Herman Summer Pilgrimage, Fr. Seraphim noted that "Many of the strictest Jews are actually awaiting for Elijah the Prophet to come and tell them that Christ has come. And we Orthodox Christians also expect the 'two witnesses' of the Apocalypse-that is, Elijah and Enoch-to come and preach the word to the Jews and the Gentiles."