Loving you, your brother in the Lord ...
Combining Christ with Belial, by New Hieromartyr Hilarion (Troitsky)
On the Execution of a Monstrous Plan – Combining Christ with Belial, by New Hieromartyr Hilarion (Troitsky)
New Hieromartyr Hilarion (Troitsky)
Presented below is a letter written on July 16/29, 1927 by Holy Martyr Hilarion (Troitskiy) to N.N. about Metropolitan Sergey's (Stragorodskiy) Declaration. Although written 90 years ago, this letter remains highly relevant to our time. Holy Martyr Hilarion was an active supporter of the revival of the patriarchate. In many ways thanks to his remarkable speech at the Local Council of 1917-1918, for the first time in more than 200 years, a Patriarch of Moscow was elected. After the election of Patriarch Tikhon, Bishop Hilarion became his secretary and advisor, negotiating on behalf of the Church with state representatives to soften government policy on religion. The Bishop's active efforts provoked the discontent of the authorities and in the 1920s he was convicted and sentenced to three years in the prison camps followed by another three years of internal exile. The Holy Martyr concluded his earthly path in Leningrad: at a transfer station from one prison camp to another he contracted typhus, soon after died, and was buried at the Novodevichy Cemetery in St. Petersburg in 1929.
My dear friend!
While I was still under the impression that your anxious letter of October 2 (15) had on me, I looked in my notebook to remind myself of some of my relatively dated notes associated with the subject of your anxiety. This is what I drafted on February 18 (March 3), 1924.
"Perhaps we will soon find ourselves a small island in an ocean of wickedness. As the fall of the autocracy initially crept up gradually and then quickly concluded, leaving the image of Russian statehood changed, so too is the revolutionary reform process in our Church unfolding in a similar fashion and can also quickly come to a conclusion. The state of church relations can evolve as if in a kaleidoscope. The Renovationists could suddenly emerge as the ruling "church party" in Russia, and such a party would have very few opponents if the overt Renovationists and the covert traitors come to terms with each other and together cloak themselves in the guise of canonicity. Of course, one can also assume that developments could go in another direction, but in any case, the true children of the Ecumenical Church of Christ must remain vigilant and stand guard with burning lights.”
"For an Orthodox person the difficulty of our current time consists, among other things, if not primarily, (as I wrote in my notebook on January 1 (14), 1925) in that the present life of the Church requires a highly spiritual attitude towards oneself. One cannot rely on official pastors (bishops and priests), nor can one formally apply the canons to solve the issues presented in church life, nor in general can one limit themselves to a legalistic approach to the matter, but instead it is necessary to have a spiritual feeling that will show Christ's path among the many available paths that have been trampled by wild animals in sheep's clothing. Life has posited questions that can only be resolved correctly, ecclesiastically correctly, by stepping beyond custom, form, rule, and being guided by senses trained in discerning good and evil (Hebrews 5:14). Otherwise, it is easy to defile the sanctity of one's soul and begin burning one's conscience (1 Timothy 4:2) through accommodation, according to the rules, with the falsehoods and filth that the bishops themselves have brought into the Church's enclosure. On a "legal" basis, one can even accept the Antichrist…"
Have not church events of recent weeks confirmed these forebodings? Has not the frightening outcome, which was foreseen in our soul two-three years ago, come closer to reality with the second accession of Metropolitan Sergey to the leadership of the Russian Orthodox Church? Did not the epistle of Metropolitan Sergey and his Synod, which provoked diverse and well-deserved negative criticisms, cast the church organization headed by him into the abominable, adulterous embrace of an atheistic, blasphemous and Christ-battling (antichrist) government (the variety of epithets directed by me at the Soviet authorities, are not meant as invective but in an essential, strictly defined sense - comment added by Archbishop Hilarion) and did not this terrible wickedness enter the bowels of our Church? Note that this epistle did not come from the schismatic Renovationists, nor the Borisovites and their like renegades, nor from the Living Church heretics, but from the legitimate, canonical, and presumably Orthodox hierarchy. The main provisions of the epistle are based on texts (although sometimes with distortions, for example see the false interpretation of 1 Timothy 2:1-2) of the Holy Scriptures and with the experience of the ancient Church that is presented as homogenous with current experience. On the other hand, the epistle seeks and hopes to meet the urgent needs of tormented believers, exhausted by persecution, with promises of peace and quiet. And many, many, especially among the clergy, respond sympathetically to this appeal by Metropolitan Sergey and his Synod.
This symphony of godless power and the legal hierarchy of the Orthodox Church has resulted in some "positive" fruits: bishops (although not those of the highest quality and not the very "guilty") have been returned from internal exile (although not very distant exile) and have been appointed to dioceses (although not those from which they were driven), and the acting Patriarchal Locum Tenens, Metropolitan Sergey, has a Synod (although it more resembles a Chief Procurator's Office of lawful hierarchs [although most of them are "damaged," i.e. in the church context they are compromised by their long-standing and firm orientation toward the godless GPU, among other issues]); Metropolitan Sergey's name is presented by all as the real helmsman of the Russian Church, but, alas!; this name is a counterfeit coin, because in reality the decision maker of the fate of the Russian Church and Her bishops, both those persecuted and those protected, i.e. those to whom mercy has been shown and who have been placed in diocesan sees (the latter is especially sad!), is the current Chief Procurator of the "Russian Orthodox Church" Yevgeniy Aleksandrovich Tuchkov (Metropolitan Sergey would not dare to deny all this as he was the unfortunate initiator, or rather, the instrument of the monstrous plan to combine Christ with Belial – comment added by Archbishop Hilarion). To anyone who has eyes to see and ears to hear, it is clear that, contrary to the decree on the separation of the Church from the state, the Orthodox Church has entered into a close, active alliance with the state. And with what a state?! With a state not lead by an Orthodox Tsar (in their day many members of the Church vigorously objected to the connection of the Church with such a state -- comment added by Archbishop Hilarion), but with a state whose main task is to destroy all religion on earth and, above all, Orthodox Christianity, as it sees in Orthodoxy, and rightly so, the primary world base of religious faith and a first-class fortress in Her battle with materialism, atheism, theomachism and Satanism (which is practiced, according to popular rumor, by some of the authorities of this world).
"…And he carried me (one of the seven angels) away in the Spirit into a wilderness," said John the Apostle, "and I saw a woman sitting on a scarlet beast that was full of blasphemous names…And on her forehead was written a name of mystery: 'Babylon the great, mother of prostitutes and of earth's abominations.' And I saw the woman, drunk with the blood of the saints, the blood of the martyrs of Jesus. When I saw her, I marveled greatly" (Revelation 17:3,5,6).
And how could the Seer (John the Apostle) not marvel when he saw before him the transfiguration of the "woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars" (Revelation 12:1), into "the great harlot" (Revelation 18:2), into "the mother of prostitutes and of earth's abominations…drunk with the blood of the saints, the blood of the martyrs of Jesus." (Revelation 17:5-6)! My friend! Do we not see something quite similar with our own eyes? Do not events occur before us that involuntarily bring to mind the spiritual contemplation of the Seer of the New Testament? Compare the above words from the Book of Revelation with the deeds and actions of our Living Church members and Renovationists! Are they not applicable to them, almost to the smallest detail!?
Much more significant, in the above noted apocalyptic sense, are the events of the last days associated with the name of Metropolitan Sergey. More significant, if only for the fact, that the scarlet beast with the name of blasphemy on its heads is not being ridden by a self-declared schismatic, but by a faithful wife, possessing an image of genuine piety apparently not desecrated by prior apostasy. This is the main, terrible aspect of what is happening right now before our very eyes, which effects the deepest spiritual interests of the children of the Church of God. It is immeasurable in its consequences, which cannot be even approximated, but which is essentially of global importance, the same importance that has belonged from its inception to the Church of Christ, the one true (orthodox) Church, which the forces of hell are attacking with unprecedented force, and with which we are organically connected not only in this age, but also in future ages, if indeed we love future ages. What are we to do in these terrible moments of a new danger instigated by the enemy against our Mother, the Holy Orthodox Church? What are we to do so as not to fall out of Her blessed, saving bosom and to not join the wickedness of the blasphemous beast and the harlot sitting on it? Lord, show us the path we should follow!
"After this I saw," continued John the Apostle, "another angel coming down from heaven, having great authority, and the earth was illuminated with his glory. He cried out mightily with a loud voice, saying: ‘Fallen! Fallen is Babylon the Great! She has become a dwelling place of demons, a haunt for every unclean spirit, and a haunt for every unclean and hateful bird." (Revelation 18:1-2) "And I heard another voice from heaven, saying, “Come out of her, my people, that you have no participation in her sins, and that you don’t receive of her plagues" (Revelation 18:4).
Do not think, my dear, that I propose these apocalyptic eschatological insights as an immutable, dogmatic interpretation of these citations from the Book of Revelation. This would be an inexcusable pretension, absurd impudence, on my part. I am just drawing a dotted line between the images of the Apocalypse and contemporary church events, which compel one's thoughts to these prophetic images and which for their part, throw a bright ray of light on these events. "One repeatedly sees in the Old Testament that the same prophecies first come to pass in small form but then have another, higher and final fulfillment" (for the sake of this letter's length, I won't cite examples). This fact is sufficient to justify the juxtapositions that I have made and which I offer for your Christian consideration and submit to your friendly court. I fervently ask for your prayers for me to be enlightened by the grace of the Spirit of Truth, without which our human consideration of spiritual things often proves to be only "the irritation of a mind imprisoned." Neither the broadest scholarship, nor the most profound innate intelligence, nor the most refined natural mysticism, can give a satisfactory understanding of the mysteries of God. And in this instance we are abutting a mystery, the great and, in a certain sense, final mystery of the earthly existence of the Church and humanity.
The question that naturally arises in reading the last verse that I quoted from the Book of Revelation, in which the faithful are urged to leave Babylon, is also a mystery, i.e. when must the people of God make their way out. One extremely scholarly, thoughtful, pious and humble interpreter of the Book of Revelation answers this question thus: "when Babylon is at the threshold of judgment"..."This was the experience of the ancient church, which departed from the ruins of Israel and Jerusalem, and for whom the signal of its liberation was the judgment over the Old Testament peoples.”
The Church then had sufficiently clear and even externally defined directions for its Exodus (Matthew 24:15, Mark 13:14, and especially Luke 21:20). Is it possible to say this about the signs of the Lord's prescribed exodus in that final epoch, to which in the final analysis, the words of the Seer apply and which is presumably a prediction for the present time? The "threshold of judgment" is neither a chronological nor an outwardly visible sign. To recognize this threshold, people must have open spiritual eyes. To the Pharisees who asked the Lord: "When will the Kingdom of God arrive?" the answer given was, "…the kingdom of God is not coming with things that can be observed," i.e. the Kingdom of God does not come in an observable way for sensuous eyes, "nor will they say, ‘Look, here it is!’ or ‘There it is!’ For, in fact, the kingdom of God is within you." (Luke 17:20-21) "This means," according to Bishop Ignatiy Brianchaninov, "one must abandon a carnal and sinful life, and then through repenting and living according to the commandments of the Gospel, cleanse and adorn one's spiritual temple, after which the Holy Spirit will bless it and perform its final purification and decoration." To such a temple God descends and establishes His spiritual, invisible, but altogether quite palpable and perceptible Kingdom. Whoever accepts within himself the Kingdom of God, can recognize and avoid the Antichrist or withstand him. Whoever does not accept the Kingdom of God within himself, will not recognize the Antichrist and, in an incomprehensible manner to oneself, will surely become his follower; they will not recognize the approaching end of the world and the terrible second coming of Christ; it will find them unprepared. No human teaching in word and words is sufficient instruction for what requires instruction in the soul's inner chamber, that is instruction from God Himself. Having attained within oneself the Kingdom of God, one has the Holy Spirit as a guide, Who teaches all truth to the guided person and does not allow him to be deceived by lies, clothed to deceive most conveniently in the illusions of truth.
A blessed monk very correctly said, in talking about the Antichrist, "many will believe in the Antichrist and will praise him as a mighty God. Those who always have God in themselves, whose hearts are enlightened through pure faith, will see the truth (about the Antichrist) and will recognize him. For all those who have a vision of God and wisdom, the advent of the tyrant will be understandable. But for those whose minds are perpetually focused on the things of this life and who love things of the earth, it will be incomprehensible, because they are too attached to the things of this life. Even if they hear the word, they will not believe and will be indignant at the one who speaks to them." They will consider him a madman, worthy of only contempt and regret. Mankind, tarnished by its carnal wisdom, will not believe in the Second Coming of the Lord at all. "…in the last days scoffers will come, scoffing and following their own evil desires. They will say, “Where is this ‘coming’ he promised? Ever since our ancestors died, everything goes on as it has since the beginning of creation." (2 Peter 3:3-4) (Bishop Ignatiy Brianchaninov, Homily on the Kingdom of God, Monday of the 26th week, Collected Works, 3rd edition, volume 4, pp. 266-268).
That the now ruling "dark power" thinks, reasons, and acts in the style of these scoffers, is beyond doubt and should come as no surprise. And will contemporary church leaders, who "possess an image of piety and rejection of its strength," and who have combined with the "scoffers" of this age, will they not consider "the madness that deserves only contempt," the thoughts that my soul presents to meet yours? Recently, one bishop, defending the orientation of Metropolitan Sergey, intimidated his interlocutor, who was indignantly rejecting this orientation, by arguing that those who disagree with Metropolitan Sergey will remain in such a minority that they will be one of the many small sects that exist in our country.
The poor Bishop forced to resort to such an impotent argument to defend the nascent "Soviet Orthodox Church!" He would do well to remember the words of the Savior about whether the Son of Man shall find faith on earth (Luke 18:8)! He would do well to remember the many apostolic predictions about the impoverishment of faith and the multiplication of all wickedness in the end times! He would do well to remember what the Seer said about the Church in Sardis, in which only "a few people" "did not defile their garments," and the glorious Church in Philadelphia, "not having much power," but retaining the word of the Lord and not denying Christ's name (Revelation 3:4,8)! A "plurality" and a "majority" are necessary in parliaments and political parties, but not in the Church of God, which is the pillar and affirmation of Truth, independent of such categories and even in opposition to them as the Church is a witness unto itself.
"The Gospel will be known to everyone," says Bishop Theophan (Govorov) about the times preceding the appearance of the Antichrist (interpreting 2 Thessalonians - comment added by Archbishop Hilarion), "but one part will not believe the Gospel, another greater part will be heretical, will not follow God's teachings, but will build a faith of its own invention although based on the words of Scripture. Of these invented faiths there will be many...There are already many of them but there will be even more. Every kingdom will have its own faith confession, then every district with its own confession, then every city, and in the end, perhaps, every head will keep its own confession. Wherever people create their own faith, and do not accept God's teachings, there can be no other way. And all of these confessions will appropriate to themselves the name of Christians." This is on the one hand.
On the other hand, according to Bishop Theophan, "there will be a part that maintain the true faith as it was imparted by the Holy Apostles. Of these, a not insignificant part will only be faithful in name, but in their hearts will not have the attitude that is required by faith, as they too love the present. Although the Christian name will be heard everywhere, and everywhere churches and church rites will be seen, all of this is a facade as inside it is outright apostasy. The Antichrist will spring from this ground and will grow in the same spirit of outward appearance. Later, having given himself to Satan, he will explicitly leave the faith and...those not maintaining the truth of Christianity, he will carry away to a clear retreat from Christ the Lord.”
It is worth pondering this, my dear! I consider it appropriate to inform you of the following. Some two-three weeks ago, I read a letter that contained the original (in quotation marks) words of a certain well-known "blessed" one that were said by her in response to a question about Metropolitan Sergey in which the questioner, apparently, indicated that Metropolitan Sergey did not transgress against Orthodox dogma, and was thus not a heretic. "Well, what do you mean not a heretic!" the blessed one said, "he is worse than a heretic, he has bowed to the Antichrist, and if he does not repent, he will have a place in hell." All of this taken together and much more, both visible and audible, forces all living believing souls to be very alert and to carefully look at the picture unfolding before them of the wife seated on the beast.
These souls feel a new, unprecedented danger to the Church of Christ and, of course, are sounding the alarm. They, for the most part, are not hurrying toward a final break with the church "adulterers," in the hope that their consciences are not burnt to ashes, and that therefore repentance and correction, i.e. repudiation of the dark deeds that they have started, is possible. Will this hope come to pass?! From my soul I say, please Lord! But in the very depths of my soul, I find doubts and I am not yet ready to dot the i. Maybe time will dot it, or more precisely the Lord of time! He will save us both from frivolous haste and from the indecent, indifferent slowness in this terribly critical situation in which the Providence of God has placed us! So here, my friend, is my lengthy response to your short, but written from your heart, letter.
May the Lord keep and make us wise in these grim and terrible moments of our spiritual life!
Loving you, your brother in the Lord ...