After my death our beloved Church abroad will break three ways ... first the Greeks will leave us as they were never a part of us ... then those who live for this world and its glory will go to Moscow ... what will remain will be those souls faithful to Christ and His Church. ~St. Philaret of NY


Monastery Property in Australia

Good News to Australian Pilgrims
A Monastery of the Rocor


Why This Place?

Cost—the property is very cheap.
The buildings are complete and have a ―desert monastic character.
The monastery is reachable from Melbourne by car or train.
Enough room for monastics and visitors.
There is a separate, secluded kellia for the priest in the garden.
It has electricity, telephone, a large water tank, and a septic tank
Established garden with many fruit trees and birch trees.
Chicken and goat sheds are ready.
8 acres– and no neighbours in sight.
Not too close, and not too far—even for those who only want to make it a day trip
The area is perfectly peaceful and quiet– just what is needed for a monastic life.
Ballarat is the nearest regional city.
The Grampians National Park and many wineries are close by for those who would like to combine a visit with sightseeing.


We Ask For Your Prayers

After five years of searching, we have finally found a monastery.  This is a great opportunity for us all.  We ask that you pray for us, as we are now only lacking a small portion of the purchase price.  People of any nationality will be welcome to come and stay, participating in monastic life, and the Divine Services.  We will be located relatively close to Melbourne – without sacrificing the peace and seclusion monastics need.

Are you able to support us with a small loan or donation for this God-pleasing endeavor?
Please contact Fr. John [Smelic]


To see photos, click on the links.

The Priest’s kellia
The view from the main building
The entry to the main building

Please pray to the Saints whose relics are found in our Monastery:
Top row from the left: St Barbara the Great Martyr, the Annunciation (our feast), St
Innocent of Irkutsk. Bottom row: St John Cassian, St Alexander of Rome, St Hariton

Sermon Fr. Vsevolod Dutikow


In the Name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit,

Miracle Legion expulsion of demons, once the former in the land of the Gadarenes demoniac on one, at that time the Lord showed on all of our fatherland. According to their sins Russia for decades lived in caves coffin soullessness, under the authority of insanity spewing blasphemy against the Creator. Generation after generation devoid of saving faith the people went out into the darkness of the underworld. And, by the wave of the hand of God the demons struck the rock, the souls of men released from total atheism, has risen from the shackles of the Russian Orthodox Church. But how free people responded and the supreme government of the church for the great grace of God? Sat there like the Gadarenes was cured at the feet of the Savior, to heed the teachings of the Divine? Went there for the cities and villages with the gospel of the kingdom of Christ? Alas ... The present state of society shows how far even before the revival of the Russian people. No thanks, a murmur is a response to the goodness of God. Not the righteous Holy Russia seek to emulate the sons and daughters of the Orthodox people, but like the ancient Israelites stiffnecked, begin to serve other gods.

Orthodoxy requires prayer and repentance, a feat of active love. Of course, much easier to lounging in a chair to the sound of the guitar to hear the word of the Lord in the Protestant gatherings. It is easier to indulge in the dance of Krishna stupefying Sabbath. Quite simply - even forget about the impending death and the Court of God. All of these are light and easy paths lead to eternal damnation.


Youth Summer Retreat 2012

Dear Friends,
   Well almost 60 degrees here today so spring is in the air.
   A number of people have inquired about youth retreats at St. Nicholas Convent this summer.
  We would be happy to host such an event but first we know when is the best time for the most participants to be able to attend.
   Also if there are parents who would like to be involved both by participating duirng the week and offering suggestions beforehand we would be most grateful to hear from you.
   As a starting point I suggest something similar to last year with a one week session held for ages 7-12 from Sunday, July 29-Saturday, August 4 and a second session for the older group (ages 13-17) from Sunday, August 5 - Saturday, August 11. Older teens wishing to attend can perhaps be involved as junior counselors for either session.

I would appreciate if people could let me know by March 30 if the weeks suggested will work for them (suggest another time if not) and how you feel about the age breakdown. Also will be grateful for any parents who wish to be more involved in the planning of the retreats to be in touch with me.
  Thank you for your help with this.
In Christ,
mother Agapia

Laudation of the Mother of God

from St. Xenia's in Canada

Saturday, 31 March 9 am - Laudation of the Mother of God Akafist.  The Church glorifies the Mother of God at this stage of Great Lent because she is simultaneously an end and a beginning for us. The end of the lent is near and there still remains a chance for repentance. For those who find it difficult to repent, the Mother of God is the last citadel. At the same time, the Theotokos is also the “beginning of our salvation” as sung in the feast of the Annunciation. 


√ Kyrill's Sand Castle

A Letter from our ROCA Priests in Udmurtia

This part is to the Devout still in the MP

(Edited Version)
... On the day, one year later, when we sent our appeal to Patriarch Kirill, after which our lives changed drastically, we would like to address our friends who have stayed in the sergianist Moscow Patriarchia.  We underline, not to those who continue to follow the policies of the Chekists in cassocks who serve two masters and not to those who are prepared to use the most underhanded schemes to battle against us, but to our real friends, the devout servers at the altar of God.  To those with whom we have been together for so many years, striving to serve our Lord Jesus Christ.  Some of you understand after all that we could not remain within the Moscow Patriarchia while trying to defend Orthodoxy.

Is it possible for those who remember the warning of Holy Scripture that “Satan is the father of all lies”?  Only such lies can compel you to accept the assertion that the Moscow Patriarchia which was created in 1943 by Stalin and Beria is the Mother-Church.  Let us imagine for a minute a thriving land that is suddenly overrun by an atheistic enemy.  Barbarous laws are established in the occupied land meant to destroy the people of this land.  One day, freedom, long-anticipated, occurs, but unfortunately the leaders of the country are not those who resisted the tormentors of the native people but those who openly collaborated with the enemy.  Can one say that this country has become truly free?   Quite obviously, no.  

Our resistance to evil must be expressed above all else in our refusal to participate in the establishment of a global anti-Christian system.  To simply be an Orthodox priest and a Christian and not be a part of the system is not easy, but a true Church has never been part of the system.

We hope that our homeland will one day truly become a just country and that the entire Russian Orthodox Church begins to follow the words of the Holy Apostles and Fathers.  That time has not yet come and for now we must try, no matter how hard, to live not according to lies, but the words of Christ.

Archpriest Sergey Kondakov
Archpriest Mikhail Karpeev
Fr. Aleksandr Malykh

RocorMP continues to reinvent itself

Dear Joanna,
Came across this.  Some interesting historical info some verifiable some not.  Adding to WW2 canonization, Western Rite hodgepodge and this: Historical adventures.  One must think that RocorMP is desperately seeking new 'raison d'etre, and continue to reinvent itself with the end of the 5-year plan approaching.

RocorMP Comrade Victor Potapov[agent-priest] directs his American flock to this RocorMP announcement prefacing:
"This Should be of Interest to All Orthodox Christians in the U.S."
Panihida for Colonel Philip Ludwell III 

today: Canon of St. Andrew of Crete

St. Xenia Community Parish

Wednesday, 28 March 7 pm - Great Penitential Canon of St. Andrew of Crete.  As part of the spiritual preparations during Great Lent, all are encouraged to attend this last reading during Great Lent of this revered penitential canon composed in the seventh century by St. Andrew. For those parishioners who did not manage to attend the readings of this Canon during the first week of Great Lent, you are doubly encouraged to attend. The canon was written by St. Andrew in such a form that the faithful identify themselves with many people and events found in the bible. While the text can easily be found in both Russian and English on the Web, efforts will be made to have reference copies available this Wednesday. 
Great Lent continues. With only two more weeks before Holy Week the faithful are encouraged as much as possible to follow Great Lent. Daily fasting rules are included in the monthly schedule of services. Parishioners should consider giving confession and partaking in Holy Communion at least once during Great Lent and then again at Pascha so as to more fully welcome Christ’s Resurrection. Ideally confession can be given is during evening Vigil. However, if another time is more convenient please contact Fr. Oleg so as to privately meet at the church. From the Vespers service this Sunday we are reminded:  Let us who believe make great efforts in this time of the fast to practice self-control so that we may receive great praise, and by the mercy of our great God and king be delivered from the flames of hell. Past the half-way mark of the fast, let us clearly display the first signs of divine glory, and speed on eagerly to reach the goal of a virtuous life, so that we may receive the joy that never fades.
Blessed Saint Xenia of Petersburg
Russian Orthodox Cathedral
2 Colchester Square
OTTAWA Ontario (Kanata) K2K 2W9

Notes From Ukraine

during this fifth week of Great Lent
Fr. Makary shares this from the Ukraine:

The nuns at Saint John of Shanghai and San Francisco are continuing to struggle in preparation for Christ's Bright Pascha.
About the convent, in this day in time it is quite spiritually uplifting to see 22 women of various ages and backgrounds dedicating themselves to the monastic life.  Many of the younger sisters coming from Russia have given up chances at careers and any financial support.  All to follow the monastic life.  Mother Alexandra, the Abbess, in most difficult circumstances attempts to provide the basics: food, clothing, shelter and health care as many are without not being Ukrainian citizens.  And despite the meager circumstances, the nuns appear happy and are kind and loving. 
Much of this success is due to gentle yet wise and serious guidance of Mother Alexandra.  She is a true mother to all.
The principal obedience and source of material support is iconography.  According to individual ability all contribute to the operation.
Many beautiful examples of the Convent's work can be seen in our churches around the world and with the faithful as well. This year has seen the construction of another building housing the icon work shop and 5 additional cells on the second floor. 
A guest house has been purchased two doors away and is undergoing renovations even as we speak.  And more aspirants are ready to come and hopefully with God's blessings and help means will be provided.
This week past I had to travel to Kishinev, Moldova to obtain a visa at the Ukrainian Embassy.  The necessity of which one has to live here to appreciate.  A frequently heard word  is 'normal' no'  [normal, Ukrainian style]   It seems to cover just about everything.  
About Moldova... which is technically the poorest country in Europe, it's capital is quite lovely.  Many historical buildings survive, even the Cathedral, circa 1820, which was the cathedra of our Metropolitan Anasstasy of blessed memory.  As I visited the church I was astounded by the piety. Seeing me as a priest, all asked my blessing and were seeking spiritual advice!
When I tried to buy some icons an older woman wouldn't allow me to pay.  It was around four dollars, yet a significant amount for her. Materially Moldova is not rich yet spiritually on a far higher plane. This was my second time in Moldova and each time I am astounded by the deep faith and piety seen. One parish of our church in the south is in the village of Congas.  It is not unusual to see up to five hundred people attend services and all praying fervently, such that the oxygen is used up and windows and doors must be opened even in winter.  May God grant them all blessings.  Despite the many decades of militant, malignant atheism God's little flock survives in Moldova, Ukraine and elsewhere.
Unworthy Hieromonk Makary

Videos of St. John's Convent

Don't miss this!

√ from livejournal site of our Roca bishop
Bishop George, Bolgrad and Odesa. 

These are 2 movie-length videos.  Very beautiful.  Hear the nuns singing "Behold the Bridegroom Comes At Midnight"  in Russian, yes, but knowing Russian is not necessary to appreciate these films.

Narcissist Charm Parallels Antichrist Charm

The Church Fathers tell us that Antichrist, when he appears on the world stage, will have overnight world-wide acceptance.  His instant popularity will be assisted by demons.

World-wide publicity of Antichrist as a genius-thinker, a new leader and saviour of all peoples will flash throughout all nations in the shortest period of time.  "Evil spirits dispersed over the universe will excite in men a universal, most exalted opinion of Antichrist; a general rapture and irresistible attraction to him," says St. Ephraim the Syrian [Word 16].
Apostasy and Antichrist, Jordanville 1978

This parallels what is said about narcissists by the mental health professionals, by the victims of narcissists, and by other observers [see the very beginning of the Fishead movie].  Narcissists often have a "charisma", a "charm", as Anna said of her narcissist mother, "You'd like her.  She makes a great first impression."

There are many self-help books and websites for victims in a relationship with a narcissist,  resources they can use to help them extract themselves from the "hold" the narcissist has on them.  Maybe this "hold" the narcissist can have is not always purely psychological.  Maybe, as with Antichrist, it is also assisted by demons who are now practicing for the grand finale when they will put people under the universal spell of Antichrist's charm.  

New Website

√ Check it out out!
Holy Trinity Russian Orthodox Church Kiosk

Narcissism Epidemic a Sign of the Times

indication of Earth's reception of Antichrist

All the evil that human nature can assimilate and sustain, in all its fulness and strength, will be concentrated in the person of Antichrist.  Just as millennia of development and perfecting of good human seed were required before the most pure and perfect fruit could appear on the tree of mankind [in the person of the all-holy Theotokos], so also the efforts of an entire gamut of human generations, with regard to the greatest possible debauchery and defilement of human nature through mindless hatred of Christ and struggle against His Church, will be required to produce that most defiled fruit which will be capable of containing all of Satan's malice.  "One may assume," says Prof. Belyaev, "that innate and acquired evil, accumulated gradually in the long line of Antichrist's forbears, transmitted to each new generation, will ultimately attain the strongest degree which human nature is capable of containing, manifesting and sustaining,in the person of Antichrist himself.  In him the evil which lives in the human race will reach the apex of its deveolopment" [On Atheism and Antichrist, Vol. I, p. 193].

Of course, in proportion to the exercise of man's evil will, the Devil's activity will increase, and he will gain all the more access to that man's soul.  Since Antichrist's own evil will and corruption of will shall reach the ultimate limit of development, his relationship with the Devil will attain the greatest possible degree of convergence; this will be manifested in the devil acting continually in the person of Antichrist.
Antichrist by Fr. Boris Molchanoff
Orthodox Life 1980

See documentary movie:
I am fishead

go to  www.FHmovie.com,  
click on "Where To See"
click on "online" 
use this password fhmovie

This movie is from the world.  Even the world is starting to see a demonic element in the narcissist.
Caution:  there is a short [1 minute] clip which shows people barking the f-word at each other.  It is used to show that people are becoming like demons.

Glory to Thy holy Resurrection O Lord

from Canticle Nine
Triodion p. 345

I died through a tree, but I have found thee a Tree of Life, O Cross of Christ.  
Thou art my invincible protector, my strong defence against the demons.  
Venerating thee this day, I cry aloud: Sanctify me by thy glory.


An interesting development:  Living Orthodoxy has been selected by EBSCO Publishing [one of the nation's largest subscription managers for libraries and other institutions] for inclusion in its on-line databases [accessible by subscription only]. Pdf versions of previous issues as available and printed  copies of all others have been provided to EBSCO for indexing and entering into the database.  This is quite an honor for  Living Orthodoxy – and for our loyal subscribers and supporters over the years. Many thanks!
– LO editor

Antichrist Will Be a Man

a narcissist

The Holy Fathers tell us that Antichrist will be a man.  St. John S&SF summarizes the Church's teaching in his sermon on the Last Judgment.

Antichrist will be a man, and not the devil incarnate...   Antichrist is a man who desires to be in place of Christ, to occupy His place and possess what Christ should possess.  He desires to possess the attraction of Christ and authority over the whole world...  He will be very intelligent and endowed with skill in handling people. He will be fascinating and kind...  he will act with mercy and goodness; but not for the sake of mercy and goodness, but for the strengthening of his own authority...  Antichrist will demand the acknowledgement that he has attained what no earthly power had ever attained or could attain and then demand the worship of himself as a higher being, as a god...

The devil certainly would like us to believe that he has such power to incarnate.  The movie Rosemary's Baby helped to plant that idea in people's minds.  But the truth is that the devil does not have the power to incarnate in a human body of his own.  Under certain conditions a devil might be able to "possess" a person's body, but in that case the devil has stolen the body from a person.

Antichrist will be a man.  He will not be a man "fathered"  by Lucifer, although his mother will pretend to be a virgin.   The Holy Fathers tell us that Antichrist is a man who has willfully given himself over to evil.   The person Antichrist will imagine in his own mind that he is very great, and even come to think that he is the Christ.  And then he will demand to be worshipped as God. 

We are taught that the "anti" of Antichrist means: "in place of".  Anti does not mean: "opposite".  The opposite of Christ is not antichrist.  There can be no opposite of God.  Lucifer wants people to believe that he is the opposite of God.  Hence the yin-yang heresy where good and evil are equal and equally necessary parts of the whole.  The reality is that evil is a parasite of good.   Despite what Lucifer wants people to believe, he is not the opposite of God, nor does Lucifer correspond to God.  Lucifer is a fallen seraphim.  If Lucifer corresponds to anything, it is the Archangel Michael and the Archangel Gabriel and other brilliant seraphim.

When Lucifer fell from heaven he took with him angels from all the angelic ranks.  These fallen angels are the demons, Lucifer's angels, Lucifer's  servants.  

Above the earth God's angels and Lucifer's angels are separated.  God's angels dwell in heaven and Lucifer's angels, the demons, live in the psychic realm.  The psychic realm is really of earth – this is where people go when they have "out-of-body experiences", and this is the realm that mediums tap into to communicate with the fallen angels.  This  layout will change at the 2nd coming when Lucifer and his fallen angels will be evicted from earth and the psychic realm which is of earth.  But for now they are here.  If we don't see them, we certainly see their influence on men.

So God has His servants, and Lucifer has his servants.  God has His angels and Lucifer has his angels.  God has His people and Lucifer has his people.  God's people are the saints.  Some are great such as St. John the Baptist, other saints have fewer crowns, and many saints are unknown ordinary people.  Lucifer has his people, too.  Some are "great" in their evil such as Hitler, others wreak less havoc [Jeffrey Dahmer], and many are unknown ordinary people.

There is a common thread that runs through all of Lucifer's people: narcissism.   Looking at  Stalin's life and death [daughter's account
we see the characteristics of malignant narcissism in action.  And we see a shadow of Antichrist.  During Desert Storm our government did a psychological evaluation of Saddam Hussein, and the result was: malignant narcissism.   Characteristically the narcissist is on a control-trip [maybe wanting to rule the world], and he wears a mask, i.e. lives a lie.  Just as God has great kings [Tsar Nicholas], so has Lucifer.  Just as God has ordinary people, so does Satan have his ordinary people.  And these people of Satan are narcissists.  They hide behind a mask of virtue.

Google around about narcissism.   Note how often the victims [usually not the therapists] use certain words to describe the narcissist: evil, personification of evil, inhuman, subhuman, demon, souless.  The victims get to see a side of the narcissist that is carefully concealed from the rest of the world by a mask of virtue.   30 years ago  Dr. M. Scott Peck wrote a book, People of the Lie, wherein he calls for "a study of the psychology of evil".

Saints and people of God hide their virtue for a good purpose.  Narcissists hide their un-virtue for their evil purpose.  There are times, though, that the narcissist's mask slips.  If you have a long-term close association with a narcissist; then you will slowly notice that something is wrong.  If that happens, then start observing and doing research.  Depending on your relationship with the narcissist – how closely you have to interact with him – this may be absolutely necessary for your sanity.  

Narcissists are revealed slowly.  Think of the years of intense study that psychiatrists go through, and still the narcissists fool most of them, too, unless there is a long-term treatment giving time for the "disorder" to be revealed.   Without going into the area of evil, the narcissist can not be understood.

Profile of a Narcissist
Anna sees it!

Introducing Anna:  I'm impressed with blog owner, Anna, who is a survivor victim of a narcissistic mother.  She is an adult heterodox Christian.   I recommend reading her blog from start to finish if you want to learn to detect narcissists, [skim over the worldly pages].  Anna sees it.  She sees the evil in the narcissist.   She sees that narcissism is not just a clinical mental illness.  And she sees it without having the benefit of our Orthodox teachings. 

Caveat lector: worldly vocabulary is used in Anna's blog.  
Anna wrote:

What I'm trying to get across here is that you are going to have to wrestle with spiritual issues if you are to come to understand the narcissist. You've entered the realm of good vs. evil. You are going to have to shore up your own spiritual self in order to have the strength to oppose the full force of malignant spirit you will find yourself up against especially as you start to oppose its will.
Anna makes no reference to Antichrist on her blog.  However, there are a number of posts that support/show that the narcissist is not just demons having their fun, but also that the narcissists are prototypes of the Antichrist. 

The Holy Fathers teach us that Antichrist will want to take the place of God, to be worshipped.  He will appear to be very kind.   He will have instant universal popularity [charisma] and he will bring a world peace.  He will bring the end to all the wars;  this ability is given to him by his master who is the one who has caused the wars in the first place.  For the first time in history there will be no war anywhere on earth.  The people will see him as a great peacemaker.  He will imagine himself to be Christ.
The Mask
One of the reasons it can be so hard to convince other people that the narcissist is dangerous and evil is because of the altruistic image many of them often present to the world. My entire lifetime I have been an observer of my mother's relationships (including with myself) and have seen how in every single one of them she made sure she was perceived as the benefactress. In her mind, her position of "giver" is one of superiority. To the narcissist it is a sign of inferiority to ask for help; a sign of superiority to dispense help. This is a hard and fast principle with narcissists so you better commit that one to memory.

The Mask of Anna's mother

Think of the obvious narcissist who is on the psychopath end of the narcissist spectrum:  the neighborhood nice guy who had everyone fooled, even his wife:  Ted Bundy, Jeffrey Dahmer, etc.

You'd like her. She makes a great first impression.

The Mask slips

pure hatred and violent rage in her face and voice



A family member who sneakily creates confusion while claiming to be the one who is always clearing up confusion he himself created in the first place.

aspires to be God

Antichrist wants to rule the world and be worshipped by the whole world.  The narcissist, on a smaller scale, wants to rule his "world" and be worshipped by the people in his "world."

, "I am the inner sanctum of this family and I deserve respect." 

the narcissist aspires to be God Himself, and it is the narcissist's desire to completely control everything about everyone. A case of projection onto the Almighty Himself.
selected related posts from Anna's blog

Hell demon school

magnet for supernatural evil 

related post:

Living Orthodoxy

Jan - Feb  2012


St. Gildas the Wise:
     Liturgical Service
St. Philaret of Moscow: Against Worldly Sin
Lyubov 'the Blessed of Ryazan':
     Fool for Christ's Sake
     Life and Akathist Hymn
St. Philaret of New York: Letter to a Priest of the Church Abroad Concerning Fr. Dimitry Dudko and the MP
Haitian Mission Two Years after the Cataclysm


Testing for Repentance

This is taken from a blog created by and for victims of narcissist parents. The blog owner is an adult heterodox Christian who has cut off contact with her abusive mother.  This article relates to the subject of reconciliation addressed in my previous post.

Testing for Repentance

I was re-reading the account of Joseph's life in Genesis several nights ago. I saw something there I had never taken note of before. I'll try, as best I can, to distill it down to the part you might find helpful.

The story of Joseph is a long one. It starts in Gen. 37. It jumps over chapter 38 and continues on from chapter 39 through 49. I'll do a quick review of the first part of his life and then concentrate on what happened in chapters 42-45.

As far as I'm aware, there are only two men (other than Christ, of course) in the Bible that do not have sins recorded against them in the record. Joseph and Daniel. The Scriptures don't call these men sinless, but no specific mention of a personal sin is recorded against them. The greatest patriarchs for Jews and Christians, Abraham and Moses, both had some significant personal failings. The Scriptures never shy away from presenting even the most noble of its characters as they were...real men with real sins. David, "a man after God's own heart", was guilty of adultery and murder. It wasn't those sins which made David God's man; it was his consistent faith and his ability to fully repent when he sinned. David never blame-shifted. He took his lumps without complaint and trusted in the mercy of God.

I set up this observation about Joseph not having any sins of his recorded against him because of what he did when he found his brothers in front of him after having been sold into slavery by them many years before. What he did in testing the depth of their repentance was no sin.

Some of his brothers had wanted to kill Joseph, but cooler heads prevailed that fateful day. They sold Joseph into slavery to be rid of him. Joseph was likely around 17 years of age when this happened. A mere youth. Then the brothers faked Joseph's death to their father. They killed a goat and smeared its blood onto Joseph's coat and presented it along with the sad tale of Joseph being torn limb from limb by a wild animal. It nearly crushed the life out of Jacob, their father. What precipitated this horrid event was the envy and hatred Joseph's brothers had nurtured against him for being the favored son of Jacob. A son born of Jacob's favored wife, Rachel. A wife who died in giving birth to her second son, Benjamin.

I recommend you read the events that followed Joseph being sold to slavery. His hardships. His unswerving integrity. His faithfulness to God and man. His optimistic and uncomplaining attitude despite the serial injustices foisted upon him by unscrupulous people. His brothers first, then Potiphar's wife. After many years and a long and undeserved imprisonment, everything turned around and Joseph found himself suddenly elevated to second in command in Egypt. Second only to the Pharaoh himself and entrusted with saving Egypt from the coming famine. A famine that God warned was coming in a dream to Pharaoh. This dream caused the series of events which brought Joseph and his God to Pharaoh's attention. The famine was promised to last for seven years after seven years of plenty. Joseph came up with the plan to save a portion of the increased abundance for the years of famine ahead. Pharaoh couldn't think of a better man to implement this plan than Joseph himself, "Can we find such a one as this, a man in whom is the Spirit of God?" Gen. 41:38. The famine was not confined to Egypt. All the surrounding nations were affected including Joseph's family in Canaan. Peoples from the surrounding areas streamed into Egypt for relief of their want.

Which brings us to the day that Joseph suddenly finds his brothers bowing in front of him and asking to buy wheat. "Joseph recognized his brothers, but they did not recognize him." Gen. 42:8. Joseph didn't reveal himself to them either. It would be months later and after some very close testing of their characters that Joseph finally showed himself to them.

What interested me in this part of the story was how seriously and almost brutally Joseph tested his brothers to see if they had changed. He was in a particularly unique position to test their characters without their knowledge...and test he did. Each test went deeper and more painfully into truth of who those men now were. Joseph had a younger brother from the same mother, Benjamin. Benjamin was not among the other brothers as they importuned the governor of Egypt to sell them food. Benjamin was Jacob's favorite after the "death" of Joseph. How would Joseph's brothers behave toward the favored youngest son of Jacob? Were they just as jealous and cruel to Benjamin as they had been to Joseph? That question had to be settled to Joseph's mind before he decided whether or not to reveal himself to them.

The first trial Joseph presented them was his insistence that they were spies. They had already revealed that there was another brother who didn't come with them. Joseph knew it was Benjamin. He then demanded that they clear his accusation against them (of being spies) by leaving one of their number behind in his prison and bring back to him the other brother they spoke of. No compliance, no more wheat, and their lives were forfeit. Joseph selected Simeon to stay in prison. Simeon was the instigator of the crimes against Joseph those many years earlier. The test of character begins.

The brothers are thrown into instant distress. They speak among themselves unaware that this "Egyptian" could understand them since he had only spoken to them through an interpreter. Their consciences were smiting them and they immediately tell each other that their present distress was the result of their sin against Joseph. "Then they said to one another, 'We are truly guilty concerning our brother, for we saw the anguish of his soul when he pleaded with us, and we would not hear; therefore this distress has come upon us'." Gen. 42:21.

Joseph was moved by their words. He removed himself from the room and wept. He didn't swerve from the necessity to test the depth of their repentance despite how he was moved by their words. These words revealed their awareness of their guilt and how they were blaming their present dire straights on their sin against Joseph. It was indicative of possible repentance, but Joseph needed much more proof. When he had pulled himself together, he took Simeon and put him in prison.

What follows is a series of more tests of their characters which cut closer and deeper each time. Joseph takes them back over the very same ground of years earlier to see what was in their hearts. I will not go into it here because the story is long and detailed. Read it for yourself today.

What I want to draw your attention to is how Joseph's close and almost (seemingly) cruel testing of his brother's level of repentance for their vile acts against him is a righteous act on Joseph's part. There is no Biblical condemnation of his need to see whether or not these people were safe for him to be around and safe for him to grant favors to. No superficial glossing over of the past was done. No demand for a few words of apology as if that would prove anything at all about their characters. It was in Joseph's heart to protect and nurture his family as was proven by the grand favors given after he eventually revealed himself to his brethren. But he was not going to grant these favors on evil and unrepentant men. He must first prove them. Are they worthy of mercy because their repentance runs deep and true? Or must he remain anonymous to them and resist his desire to preserve them and hold them close? His brothers' reactions to the tests would give Joseph the information he needed in order to proceed. Notice that the tests did not depend on Joseph's brothers' words. They were judged on their actions. Repentance can never be determined on the weight of naked words alone.

Here is a greatly detailed Biblical account of someone going to some significant lengths to prove whether or not their abusive family members were truly repentant and safe to be around. If it was a sin for Joseph to do this the Scriptures wouldn't have failed to say so. But that isn't the record. The record reveals Joseph to be a righteous and honorable man as well as having great wisdom. What did wisdom and integrity and righteousness demand? A full revelation of the motivations of the hearts of his formerly hateful and vengeful brothers. There is no doubt at all that Joseph wanted them to pass his tests. He greatly missed his family and wanted nothing more than to embrace them. But he over-rode these desires with the absolute need to determine first if those he wanted to embrace were safe to embrace. Joseph was not testing from a sense of vengeance in his own heart. This is made clear. His motive was simple and straightforward. Have my brothers changed and are they safe to reveal myself to?

The first person to tell us we are wrong, bad, and cruel when we demand a clear demonstration of repentance is the malignant narcissist. The next person to tell you it is wrong to expect this clear demonstration are the Christian do-gooders who have bought into a mindset that expecting unequivocal signs of repentance is itself somehow sinful. Their ill-conceived advice and admonishment are not in accord with the Bible record. The story of Joseph tells us it is not wrong to test for repentance. It is the course of wisdom and integrity. To state it in the positive, it is right and good and wise to test for repentance. Not to be cruel to our former abusers, but to ascertain whether or not someone is sufficiently changed so that contact with them no longer presents a danger to life or liberty. If someone is unwilling to bear the test they leave you with no way to assume they are repentant.

The story doesn't tell us outright that Joseph would not have revealed himself to his brothers if they failed his testing. Logic tells us this. Joseph's first instinct was to conceal himself from them. If they failed his tests, he would likely have never shown himself to them. He may have granted them a few anonymous favors to keep his father and Benjamin alive, but any relationship would have very likely been "at arm's length". I realize that I now have entered into a bit of speculation, but it doesn't seem to be wild speculation. It is based on Joseph's behavior and his immediate instinct to not say, "Hey, guys! Hey, it's me!!". He proceeded so cautiously as to readily support the supposition that not ever revealing himself to them was an option he was keeping open.

It is also not insignificant that Joseph never sought out his family even after he was free to do so. He apparently was content to live on the assumption that it would not be wise to seek them out since the majority of the family (his ten brothers) had thrust him so cruelly from themselves. The only reason he found himself testing his brothers was because, through no choice of Joseph's, they suddenly ended up in front of him. Joseph had been content to let God guide his life through circumstance. He didn't force any outcome by pining or lusting for what he didn't have. In this particular case, he had no family. Yet, he takes life's lemons and trusts God to help him make lemonade with it. We see this attitude demonstrated all through his life. When circumstance thrusts his brothers in front of his face, he then dealt with what was before him as wisdom would demand he should proceed from there. I find it quite interesting that such a good and righteous man didn't feel obligated to seek out his family. The estrangement was forced upon him, but he didn't sin by maintaining the estrangement. I think this may apply to many of us as well.

I think the record is also clear that Joseph had long ago forgiven his brothers because his heart was very soft toward them though he hid that fact from them for some time. Notice, though, that his generally forgiving attitude toward them didn't mean he trusted them without solid proof of repentance on their part. He felt under no obligation to reveal himself to them without this proof. He was not willy-nilly handing out forgiveness to his abusers. His forgiveness wasn't cheap grace. What you do in the privacy of your own heart should not cause you to skip the necessary step of proving the depth of the abuser's repentance before openly showing them your forgiving spirit and trusting them enough to stay in their company. Telling an unrepentant narcissist you forgive them is a travesty and violation of true forgiveness. They will take your cheap grace and throw it in your face along with greater abuses.

Please also take note that Joseph's tests of this brothers were not done in a day. He gave them multiple tests, each time circling in closer to bring out envy and anger if it was in there. The testing period was not short. It likely lasted for many months as it involved multiple trips from Canaan to Egypt and back again. Each time they waited until they ran out of food to go back to face the scary governor of Egypt. One doesn't test the depth of someone's repentance in a single encounter or a single day. Time is necessary in this process. The narcissist is angry if you show any expectation that they prove their repentance over time. This alone should prove to you that their hearts are unchanged and they are unsafe to your life and liberty.

I know I was grateful to discover this detailed record of a righteous man doing some very close testing of the characters of his former abusers. I hope that you find comfort and affirmation from this as well.