ST. LAWRENCE OF CHERNIGOV: SOME PROPHECIES AND STATEMENTS ON THE UKRAINIAN SITUATION
Enlightening hearts – so many!
Before him the gates of Paradise opened up
Because he loved aplenty.
The Prophetic Gift – Schema-Archimandrite Lavrenty of the Chernigov-Trinity Convent
ST. LAVRENTIY OF CHERNIHIV (1868-1950) January 19 (which is January 6 on the Julian Calendar), the Feast of Theophany, marks the 61st anniversary of the repose of a Ukrainian saint of modern times, the Venerable Lavrentiy of Chernihiv. During my visit to Chernihiv in the summer of 2006 I had heard of this remarkable man who kept the Faith as a Monk in the some of the most difficult days that the people of Ukraine have ever known. He is much revered in this district of Ukraine which has given the Church many Saints.
St. Lavrentiy was born Luka Yevseviyevych Proskura, one of the youngest of seven children, in the village of Kyryls’ke in the oblast’ of Chernihiv. Coincidentally, the surname of this Man of the Church comes from the Ukrainian word “proskurka”, from the Greek “prosphora”, the Bread upon which the Eucharist is celebrated and which is given to the faithful after Divine Liturgy. Luka’s father died when he was still quite young and his mother was ill a good deal of the time. It often fell upon young Luka to do the work of both parents.
He loved to sing in Church and became the choir director at an unusually young age. After the repose of his mother he fulfilled his dream of entering a monastery, the Rykhla Monastery, at the age of 23. His skills and zeal were noted by the Archbishop of Chernihiv, Anthony, who directed that he be transferred to the Holy Trinity Monastery in Chernihiv. He was ordained a Hieromonk (a monastic Priest) in 1895. He was quite soon made the Abbot of the Monastery.
Lavrenity served faithfully and joyfully. His face radiated the quiet joy and love for people which came from his life of prayer. He had started to praying the Jesus prayer even before becoming a Monk and always recommended it to every one, sometimes quite sternly.
The rule of the Bolsheviks brought severe persecution to the Church. In 1930 the Monastery was closed “for repairs” and Fr. Lavrentiy found shelter within the home of a member of the Church faithful. He continued his life of prayer and stayed the course until during the Second World War when it again became possible to organize monastic life. He then founded two monasteries for women.
During the severe Communist persecution he had been active in the catacomb Church. In the 1940’s official Orthodox Church life in Ukraine resumed under the spiritual jurisdiction of Bishop Symon (Ivanivs’kyy) of the autocephalous Orthodox Church of Poland. Fr. Lavrentiy immediately recognized his spiritual authority. When the Communists returned, they pressured the Church of Ukraine to renounce this authority and return under the jurisdiction of the Patriarchate of Moscow. Some, of course, chose to return to the catacombs. The communities of the former catacomb Church continue today under the leadership of a number of hierarchs, some of whom are in communion with each other while eschewing the Patriarchate whose leaders they continue to regard with great suspicion as being unrepentant of their past collaboration with the militantly atheistic state – and possible an all too subservient to the current secular rulers.
Under Stalin the Church had been formally re-instated but this certainly did not mean the end of persecution. Instead the refined persecution of the Church having to become a servant of the state was intensified. Fr. Lavrentiy saw all this and his discourse and counsels became very apocalyptic. He foretold the outward restoration of the Church in all its splendor, but warned that this would only be so it could serve “the Antichrist”.
When Fr. Lavrentiy began to be quite ill, he did not see this as a hardship for he firmly believed that it was through tests and tribulations that one could serve God and fulfill his vocation. He reposed in the Lord, as he had foretold, on the Feast of Theophany. He had prepared a wooden coffin for himself and after his repose services were served over it for many days. He had requested that his body be interred in the cemetery with the rest of the people. Instead it was interred in a specially prepared place in the Monastery.
Fr. Lavrentiy was and continues to be particularly venerated by the Orthodox of the former catacomb Church. Nonetheless he also found his place among those canonized by the official Church in 1993.
Fr. Lavrentiy’s words cited above were directed to a young man fearful of what would become of him in the battles of the Second World War. The man always recalled those words and was fearless in helping his comrades in the thick of battle. He credits the Saint’s blessing as a chief factor in his having survived the war.
The humble man of God, Fr. Lavrentiy, would often weep as he prayed and spoke of the hard times which the people would endure and sighed at the thought of so many souls in danger of perishing. We pray that his tears and prayers might continue to guide the Church to follow the path of the Saviour Who came to us and took the sins of the world upon Himself for the salvation of all.
The PROPHECIES of Starets Lavrentii (+1950)From ‘Prepodobnyistarets’ [“The Venerable Elder”], originally published in the May 1996 issue of the Russian Orthodox newspaper ‘Zhizn Vechnaya’ [“Eternal Life”]
The Second Coming of Our Lord! Starets (Elder) Lavrentii was a Schema-Archimandrite monk at the Chernigov-Trinity Convent. With his illumining gift of clairvoyance, he served as a guide for hundreds of monastics and laity struggling to find their way through the manifest entanglements of early 20th century life. He reposed in 1950.
YOU WILL LIVE TO SEE ANTICHRIST! Accompanied by two keleinitsy [lay-sisters], the igumeny [abbess] of the Domnitskaya Convent came to have tea with batiushka [father (dim. aff.)] Lavrentii. During dinner, he said: “You and I, matushka - igumenya [abbess-mother (dim. aff.)], will not live to see antichrist; but, these -- your kelelnitsy, will live to see him!” That was in 1948. Both nuns had been born in 1923. Monakhinya [nun] N. was the one who told the story.
I NEED TO SEE Whenever Fr. Lavrentii would sit down at table to dine, while waiting for everyone to gather together, he would say: “I am not hungry, but I need to see you all, and to speak with you a little concerning what lies ahead for all of you.” Then he would weep and say: “If you but knew what fate awaits men and what lies ahead for you. If you but knew how people suffer in hell!”
AND HOW HE WILL RECOIL! This was recorded from the words of Sister M. Batiushka Lavrentii would say: “Do not be astonished when you hear that people are praying in every which way in the churches. When those in their golden-caps [archi- and proto-hieratical mitres] forbid the reading of the Psalter -- and, later, of the hours -- then will the Lord endure but a little; and, O how He will then recoil from them! The Second Coming is now no longer far-distant!”
REMEMBER THIS! “This happened when my father was yet alive,” I. M. would recall, concerning her conversation with batiushka Lavrentii. “We were extremely poor, incapable of regaining our senses after the destruction of the war. I went to see starets [elder] Lavrentii, in order to ask him to bless me, that I might secretly wear a podriasnik [an under-cassock, (to be a secret nun)]; but he said to me: “Not all who are in the world will perish; nor will everyone in a monastery be saved! Do you understand? It is not yet time.” Again I began to implore him [to grant me his permission] to enter a women’s monastery, for it is so extremely difficult for one to save oneself in the world, but batiushka said to me: “Monks and schema-monks in the monasteries will attain unto the seventh Heaven; but if you only knew what awaits those virgins who live in the world! The Lord will tell those schema-bearers to make way for these secret ones who did not live in a monastery. And these latter will exceedingly precede the former ! Do you understand that, before God, the secret ones will be superior to those in the monasteries? Do you understand?” the starets asked. “I understand nothing,” was my reply. “Then remember what I just told you, at least!” batiushka said.”
IF ONE LIVES ACCORDING TO THE LAW OF LOVE A certain pious widow had a dream: “I saw, as it were, batiushka Lavrentii of Chernigov in the Trinity Convent, with its inhabitants. There were many sisters there, and the choir was chanting: “Rejoice, O Tsaritsa”. Then, suddenly, the starets rose up in the air, but there were only a few matushki (mother nuns) with him seven or eight total! I ran to ask him: “Why had so few nuns risen up?”, but upon uttering these words, I awoke, without having received an answer.”
”When I went to see Fr. Lavrentii, he said: “It is as you dreamed it! Had they lived in accordance with the Law of Love, then everything would have been fine. If someone has a piece of bread, it is in order that he might share it with another, who would then offer up a prayer for him. Thus, both would receive their largesse, and all would have been saved! But, with us, it is just the opposite: the one who has the piece of bread stirs up great rows. That is why there are so few who are lifted up, because there is no love!”
FEW ARE SAVED The venerable Fr. Lavrentii of Chernigov would frequently repeat that souls go to hell just like people come out of a church on a feastday; but they go to Heaven like people go to church on a weekday. Batiushka would frequently sit and weep: he pitied the people who were perishing. “How many people there are, who are packed in the inferno like herring in a barrel,” starets Lavrentii would say. His spiritual children would console him, but he would reply, through his tears: “You do not see. If you could but see... How pitiful it is! And in the last days, hell will be filled with young people.”
TWIRL THIS AROUND YOUR MOUSTACHE “And I say unto you, and with great regret do I say it, that you will be buying houses, and killing time by adorning large and lovely monastic buildings. But you will have no time for prayer, although you made a vow of non-possession! It will not be difficult to be saved during the last days, but wisely so. The one who overcomes all these temptations, the same will be saved! Such one will be among the first. The former will be like unto lamps; the latter will be like the sun. You have other dwellings prepared for you. So listen, and twirl this around your moustache!” Thus did the venerable starets, gazing into the future with his perspicacious mind, admonish his many, many spiritual children.
A FRIGHTFUL TIME “Not long before antichrist is enthroned, even those churches that have been closed will be repaired and restored -- not only their exteriors, but their interiors, as well. They will gild the cupolas of bell-towers and cathedrals, alike; and when they have completed the main one, then will the time have come for antichrist to be enthroned. Pray that the Lord might lengthen that time, that we might be encouraged and sustained; it is a frightful time that awaits us. The restoration of the cathedrals will continue up to the very moment that antichrist is crowned. We will have unprecedented splendour,” Starets Lavrentii would say.
“Do you see how craftily and insidiously all this is being prepared?” Batiushka would continue, tearfully. “All the cathedrals will be exceedingly splendid, as never before, but you must not attend these cathedrals, for the Bloodless Sacrifice of Jesus Christ will not be offered there. Remember, there will be churches, but Orthodox Christians must not attend them, as the entire ‘synagogue of Satan’ (Apoc. 2.9) will be gathered there! I repeat yet again that one must not attend those cathedrals; there will be no grace in them!”
CONCERNING ANTICHRIST “Antichrist will be crowned king in a splendid rebuilt temple in Jerusalem, with the clergy and the Patriarch of Russia participating [in his coronation]. There will be free ingress and egress from Jerusalem for everyone, but do not attempt to go there then, as everything will have been done so as to ‘deceive.’ (Matt. 24.24) He [antichrist] will be exceedingly learned in all satanic wiles and will show great signs. The entire world will hear and see him. He will ‘stamp’ his people with satan’s seal; he will hate Orthodox Russia,” the venerable Starets Lavrentii of Chernigov would say.
THERE IS NO NEED TO BE AFRAID To a certain deacon who is yet alive, but who is now quite aged, Batiushka Lavrentii forthrightly said:
“You will live to see the time when antichrist comes to power. Do not be afraid, but tell everyone that this is he -- and that there is no need to be afraid! There will be a war, and where it passes, there will be none left alive! But, prior to that time, the Lord will send minor ailments to the weak and they will die, for during antichrist’s time there will no longer be any death. The Third World War will not be for repentance, but for annihilation; but the Lord will leave the strongest alive, that they might confront him [antichrist].
THE SUPREME “PEACE-MAKER” The venerable Starets Lavrentii of Chernigov spoke frequently of antichrist, saying:
“There will come a time when they will fight and fight, and a world war will break out. And in the very thick of it, they will say, ‘Let us choose for ourselves a single king over all the inhabited earth.’ And they will elect him! They will elect antichrist as the universal king and supreme ‘peace-maker’ of the world. It will be necessary to listen carefully; it will be necessary to exercise caution! As soon as they begin to vote for one single man in all the world, know that it is none other than himself, and that it is forbidden [to Orthodox Christians] to vote [for him].”
ALL [MY] WORDS ARE TRUE! Batiushka Lavrentii was sitting in the choir-loft, speaking of the last days and of the end of this world, relating the details of antichrist’s enthronement over those who have fallen away from God... And priests Nikifor, Grigorii and Vasilii Ganzin objected to Fr. Lavrentii that he had also spoken differently concerning these things. But he replied to them: “Fathers and brothers, there is one thing that you neither know nor understand; I speak not only of Russia, but of the whole world! All my words concerning future events are true, because the Holy Spirit has revealed them to me by [His] grace.”
FOR A SHORT WHILE Schema-Archimandrite Feofan related that Batiushka Lavrentii would joyfully say, with a smile: “The Russian people will repent of deadly sins: that they allowed ... [antichristian] impiety to hold sway in Russia; that they did not defend God’s Anointed Tsar, the Orthodox churches and monasteries, and all that is holy and sacred in Russia. They despised piety and came to love demonic impiety. But there will be a spiritual upheaval! And Russia, together with all the Slavic nations and lands, will constitute a mighty Tsardom. She will be governed by an Orthodox Tsar, by God’s Anointed One. Because of him, all schisms and heresies will vanish away in Russia. There will be no persecution of the Orthodox Church. The Lord will have mercy on Holy Russia because the dreadful time preceding that of antichrist has already taken place in her. Even antichrist himself will fear the Russian Orthodox Tsar - Samoderzhets [Tsar - Autocrat]. But all the other nations, save only Russia and the Slavic lands, will be ruled by antichrist and will undergo all the horrors and torments written of in Holy Scripture. In Russia, however, there will be rejoicing and a blossoming of faith -- but only for a short while, for the Dread Judge will come to try both the living and the dead.”
CONCERNING ANTICHRIST’S PERSON IN THE HOLY PLACE “Blessed and thrice-blessed is the man who will not desire to do so and, hence, will not see the God-abominated person of antichrist. Whosoever will see him and hear his blasphemous words promising all earthly blessings, the same will be seduced and will go forth to worship him. And they will perish, along with him, as far as eternal life is concerned; they will burn in eternal fire!” We asked the venerable one, “How shall this be?” And he answered us with tears, [saying]:”The abomination of desolation will stand in the holy place and will show-forth the foul seducers of the world who, working false miracles, will deceive all such men as have fallen away from God. And, after them, antichrist will appear! The entire world will see him at one and the same time.” To the question “Where in the holy place -- in church?” venerable Lavrentii said; “Not in church, but in the home! Beforetimes, a table used to stand in the corner wherein the holy icons were. Then, however, that space will be occupied by seductive instruments for the deception of men. Many who have departed away from the Truth will say, ‘we need to watch and hear the news.’ And it is in the news that antichrist will appear; and they will accept him.”