40 years before the signing of the Act of the RocorMP union, Archimandrite Constantine asked:
Orthodox Life 1967 [no.3]
As far as Christianity lived under the protection of "him who withholds," [*] the New Testament "Kingdom of Grace" blossomed in full flower, having its enemy, Satan, bound up. The very approach of the Antichrist was put off by the Word of God into the future, indefinitely far away: while the Withholder was in power, there was no place for the Antichrist on the earth. Nonetheless, the Second Coming of Christ, as Judge and Reward-giver, with the transfiguration of everything into a new form of being, lived forcefully in the conscience of every Christian – even in those who, becoming "heterodox," deprived themselves of the fullness of Christianity. As for the Orthodox, one has only to recall the daily morning prayers, when he prays God to lead him through the night of the present life to that radiant day "when the Judge of all will come with glory." And again, the prayer before taking Communion, "Thou Who art to come again to judge the world with justice, grant me also to meet Thee on the clouds, my Maker and Creator, with all Thy Saints." In the very last time, St. John of Kronstadt defined the spiritual fitness of contemporary man namely by this: what place in his conscience does the Dread Judgment occupy? "Ought a holy and chosen flock, that is Orthodox Christians, to live, as we live? And are we walking by faith? Are we living soberly in expectation of the second coming of Christ and of the terrible day of judgment? Do we tremble at the thought of everlasting torments? Do we thirst for eternal bliss? Do we not cling to this transitory life?" (My Life in Christ, I p. 245.)
* ["He who withholds," (II Thess. 2:7) is translated by the Authorized Version as "he who letteth." It is interpreted by the Holy Fathers as referring to the Emperor or Caesar, first of Rome, and later of Byzantium and Russia.]
However, such passion for the earthly to the detriment of the heavenly, by itself, is still not a ruinous dechurchification. This is an ordinary sin of one's will, and its sway over the soul is relatively easy to surmount: it would be enough seriously "to think of one's soul," as they would have said in our old Russia, – and thus a man, and even one wallowing deeply in the earthly, proved capable of coming to himself. The tragedy is in something else, namely in the gradual and unnoticed passing over from sin of one's will to sin of one's intellect, to a frightening sin of one's intellect, frightful to the utmost, in that it voids the very conception of Eternity, in its polar duality of Paradise and Hell. The Second Coming of Christ is then turned naturally into the triumphant crowning by mankind of the perfecting of earthly life accomplished by it, when Heaven itself would somehow come down to the earth, making it into a sort of Earthly Paradise. Something truly unimaginable, if not only to give oneself a clear account of the spiritual decomposition in its real force begotten by Western culture.
The Withholder fell! By this was opened the way for the Antichrist! Satan is set loose!
And what, were we frightened of the Dread Judgment? Did we tremble? Did we throw ourselves on Christ with tears of repentance? Did we cover our heads with dust? . . .
Not at all! What occurred was received as a phenomenon of beneficial growing out of antiquated forms of life, opening the way already for unhindered "progress." Such was the state of mind of our "February." [*] Afterwards we did not even have a chance to "think" of anything and manifest our thoughts in any way, since "October" put us under the drill-mastery of Satanocracy.
*["February" and October" are not only the names of the two revolutions in Russia, but have also become symbols of two different mentalities.]
If someone could "think of this soul," he he hid this within himself, even from those closest to him. . . But let us take a look around us. Doesn't our contemporary "free" world, here already "co-exist" fifty years with the Satanocracy that rules over us, find itself under the charm of "February," beneath its sway everywhere? What does this mean, if not that the end of the "Kingdom of Grace," coming about in a visible catastrophe, found the Christian man spiritually rotted so much that he was unable to realize what was coming to pass! Could one imagine a more frightful paradox: namely in that moment, clearly and precisely noted by the Word of God from time immemorial, when the Dread Judgment, preceded by the coming of the Antichrist, ceases to be an event promised for the undefined future and becomes something presently being realized, – namely in this very moment mankind reveals its inability to become conscious of what is coming about and straight way gives itself over to that Faith in the Lie, of which the Word of God also clearly speaks, but which only now for the first time reveals itself as a definite reality, in its unimaginable monstrosity.
This frightening paradox – who is capable of discerning it? Apparently only those who tasted the reality of satanocracy in their own personal experience!
Mankind, according to all the data, has spiritually rotted to such a degree, that, excluding some exceptional individuals, it dwells in a state which can only be explained by one confrontation: with the sin against the Holy Spirit proclaimed by the Gospel!
In what then is the single chance for the salvation of the world, that is for the postponement of the Dread Judgment, with the return of mankind, for some period of time, anew to the path of History? Of this chance Russia, now dwelling in the clutches of Satanocracy, has not yet uttered her final word. And this is a question not of decades, but of the present day! The events taking shape in the Near East show us that the end of the world is already being effectuated. They reveal the chain of historical events leading to the Dread Judgment, as the Word of God foretells.
The development of contemporary events in the Near East can take on various forms. But it is perfectly clear that if Christ is not in the aggression which is presently being carried out, then the measures planned against it likewise are without Christ. All will continue to bear the obvious stamp of the apocalypse becoming reality.
There is only one escape from this realization of the apocalypse: the capability of contemporary Russia right now, so to say instantaneously, to become aware of herself as the Russia of her millenial history. Then, with God's help, the Russia of Christ will take the place of the presently triumphant kingdom of Satan.
It is clear, of course, that from this point of view the hopelessness of the situation is only deepened by the bustle which now holds the public attention and whose only aim is to legalize the mutual relations between Satan, who continues to be the master of the situation, and the servants of Christ. Both the free world and the communist world are taken up in this task.
Before our eyes flows the drawing together of Christianity not only with other world religious movements but even with atheism itself. As a result of the Vatican Council there exists an official Catholic organization which has as its special task an agreement with atheists. Marked by special success is the activity of one Protestant organization, which took the name of the Apostle Paul. The third international gathering since 1965 is organized by this society – this time in communist territory, in Marienbad. The contemporary "ecumenical" consciousness sympathetically accepts all this as successes in building the future of humanity.
But what sort of future is this? Is is characterized by that slogan, under whose sign the Czechoslovakian government by radio acquainted its people with the activity of the Marienbad gathering: "No road back!" These words express with complete precision the essence of the "dialogue" between communism and Christianity: Communism has entered into the life of the world forever and irremovably – Christianity has no choice except to come to terms with it. The meaning of these terms as a capitulation was clearly revealed in Geneva at a local "dialogue" organized by Protestants: Marxism is conquering the world; understanding this, Christianity has to hasten in coming to terms with it; otherwise it will be too late! We are today in the midst of such an agreement – on the part of the "free" world! The ideological essence of this agreement is already openly put into effect: God as such is abandoned by Christianity; the only value recognized by both sides is "humanity." It is upon this value alone that the future is being built. . .
Thus it goes in the free world. As for the communist world, there is no need to agree theoretically on the coming together of Christ and Belial under the slogan, "From curse to dialogue," as the Marxists designate the mutual talking-shop in the free world. Here the matter concerns the practical accomplishment of that "legalization" of faith under the aegis of Satan, which dream gave birth to the Soviet Church. This bustle occupies the whole facade of Soviet reality and is also deliberately being pushed into the life of Russia abroad. Is there any need to talk of what degree of hopelessness the world's situation has now come to? But here our particular attention cannot but be drawn to what the reader will find in the present issue of "Orthodox Life": the translation of a booklet [*] published by a worthy Greek Churchman who is strongly convinced of the spiritual rebirth taking place at present in Russia. For proof of this he is publishing news collected from Russia of the contemporary miracles occurring there. According to the authors of this news as well as of those who are now publishing it, during the past five years 85% of the intelligentsia have turned to Christ and some do not even fear to let this be known. [According to the authors of this news], the moment is nigh when the empire of Satan will fall, and from the dust will rise the "holy and great Orthodox Kingdom."
We will not stop on the situation of the Orthodox Church in the USSR, as it is portrayed [in the booklet] in the Prologue to these "miracles": the Church was enslaved not after the War but just after its "legalization" under Metropolitan Sergius. After this "concordat," instead of a "legalization" there followed a prolonged persecution of the Church which exceeded all the past in its brutality. The extermination was not carried to its conclusion by force of the fact that the Church became necessary for the struggle with an external enemy – which was why an incomparably easier time began for Christians. This is already all in the distant past in relation to the process of rebirth which stands before the eyes of the publisher of the collection of contemporary miracles. The tone of everything depicted here is radically different from all that is shown both in the free world and in the communist world.
What is before us? A selection of he "last Christians," or the threshold of the mass conversion of Russia, casting off Satanocracy and smashing it to smithereens? Who can say? But what gives hope is not only the optimistic mentality of the gatherer of this material, but also the fact that the accelerating tempo of these miracles themselves takes on a character which is welcomed as a sign of the coming regeneration of the Russian Orthodox Fatherland.
Be this as it may – the essence of the matter does not change. We bear upon ourselves the stamp of chosenness, in as far as we belong to the Church, by the mercy of God remaining faithful to the true Christ. Will we have to maintain our position as the "last Christians," if the end of the world is inevitable? Or will we be taken up in the stream of the rebirth of our Fatherland in Christ, reviving the world? This only the Lord knows. But let there be indelibly written in our hearts in the face of all conditions, the apocalyptic covenant, "Be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life." (Rev. 2:10)
* [The booklet is titled "Contemporary Miracles in Russia", photos of those pages here:]