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  • byakimov@csc.com.au
    CHRISTIAN TEACHING Lovest thou Me? So when they had dined, Jesus saith to Simon Peter: Lovest thou Me? And he said unto Him: Lord, Thou knowest all
    Message 1 of 1 , Jan 31, 2005

      "Lovest thou Me?"

      So when they had dined, Jesus saith to Simon Peter: "Lovest thou Me?" And
      he said unto Him: "Lord, Thou knowest all things. Thou knowest that I love
      Thee." Jesus said unto him: "Feed My sheep."

      In the Gospel our Saviour asks the Apostle Peter three times: "Lovest thou
      Me?" Peter replies: "Yea, Lord." Because his love for the Master is so
      great, the Lord then commands Peter ? and through him all the Apostles and
      their successors, the bishops ? to "feed My sheep." Christ also asks: "Whom
      do men say that I am?" And Peter replies: "Thou art the Christ, the Son of
      the living God." The Saviour then establishes His Church on this confession
      of faith, promises that "the gates of hell shall not prevail against it,"
      and gives to His Church "the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven." (Matt.

      These deep and solemn passages reveal to us the mystery of Christ's Church
      and show us that the authority of this Church is based on both love for
      Christ and confession of true faith (Orthodoxy means true belief). Many
      people believe that they have "true faith," but how many can honestly
      answer Christ's question, "Lovest thou Me?" with Peter's words, "Yea,

      In his wonderful book, Indication of the Way into the Kingdom of Heaven,
      the great 19th century missionary bishop, Innocent of Alaska, writes: "What
      would happen now if Jesus Christ suddenly appeared before us visibly and
      asked us: 'My children, do you love Me for what I have done for you? And do
      you feel in your hearts gratitude to Me?' Who of us would not say: 'Yes,
      Lord, we love and thank Thee'? But if you love Jesus Christ and consider
      yourself grateful to Him, will you do what he orders you?" Our whole life
      as Orthodox Christians comes down to this: we must have not only right
      doctrine, but believing, loving hearts.

      A remarkable incident in the book The Way of a Pilgrim makes this very
      clear. The Pilgrim seeks out a certain confessor known for his compassion.
      After opening his heart to him, the priest tells him that he has overlooked
      the gravest fault of all, "that you do not love God." Surprised by this,
      the Pilgrim protests, and the priest shows him an examination of conscience
      he had composed for his own private use:

      "If I loved God," the priest wrote, "I should be continually thinking about
      Him with heartfelt joy? On the contrary, I much more often and much more
      eagerly think about earthly things? If one loves another, he thinks of him
      through-out the day. But I, throughout the day, scarcely set aside even a
      single hour in which to sink deep down into meditation upon God, to inflame
      my heart with love of Him? If love for God is recognized by the keeping of
      His commandments (If ye love Me, keep My commandments, says our Lord Jesus
      Christ), and I not only do not keep them, but even make little attempt to
      do so, ? then in absolute truth the conclusion follows that I do not love

      Realizing with horror that he, too, does not love God as he should, the
      Pilgrim asks for a remedy to this problem and receives in response these
      wise words: "You see, dear brother, the cause of not loving God is want of
      belief, and want of belief is caused by lack of conviction, and the cause
      of that is failure to seek holy and true knowledge? In a word, if you don't
      believe, you can't love; if you are not convinced, you can't believe; and
      in order to reach conviction you must get a full and exact knowledge of the
      matter before you. By meditation, by the study of God's Word and noting
      your experience, you must arouse in your soul a thirst and a longing? Ah,
      dear brother, how much disaster we meet with just because we are lazy! Love
      usually grows with knowledge, and the greater the depth and extent of the
      knowledge the more love there will be, the more easily the heart will
      soften and lay itself open to the love of God."

      May Christ's question ? lovest thou Me? ? echo loudly down through the
      centuries and sound clearly in our cold and unbelieving hearts today,
      piercing us with the realization of who we are and what we are, of how
      little we know and understand and love. May we be inspired to seek greater
      knowledge of Christ and His Church, so that our hearts will be inflamed
      with sincere love, enabling us to follow Christ into the Kingdom of Heaven,
      responding to His question with a firm and true, Yea, Lord, Thou knowest
      that I love Thee. Amen.

      Father Aleksey Young


      Having just finished publishing the lecture given by Father Seraphim Rose
      in 1981 on contemporary signs of the end of the world (see the article in
      our library, "Contemporary signs of the end of the world" ), we would like
      to bring to your attention an essay by the same author on a similar
      subject, written around the same time as the lecture. Much time has passed
      and many unexpected world events have occurred since then, but the ideas
      set forth in the writings of Father Seraphim remain as topical as ever.

      (Conclusion. See beginning here

      The future of Russia

      In the 19th century many prophets were known in Russia, among them even
      some laymen such as Dostoyevsky, who foresaw the coming of the revolution
      as a result of disbelief, worldly vanity, and a purely outward performance
      of rites which lacked the ardent and sacrificial faith required by

      Some of them looked upon this as a disaster that befell the Russian land.
      For example, watching the lack of true faith among so many people, Bishop
      Theophanus the Recluse exclaimed: "What will remain of our Orthodoxy in a
      hundred years?"

      Others believed that this lack of faith would result in a terrible
      revolution which would then spread throughout the entire world. In a sermon
      given in 1905, St. John of Kronstadt said: "Russia, if you fall away from
      your faith, as have already fallen away from it many members of the
      intelligentsia, you will no longer remain Holy Russia. And if there will be
      no repentance from the Russian people ? the end of the world is near. God
      will deprive you of your righteous Tsar and will send a scourge in the
      person of iniquitous and cruel rulers, who will flood the entire land with
      blood and tears."

      And in truth, we now see a great deal of the world flooded with blood and
      oppressed with the tyranny that began in Russia with the revolution of
      1917. At the same time the question arises: is there any hope of
      liberation, or will atheism devour the entire world, preparing it for the
      kingdom of the Antichrist?

      However, we have sound reasons to doubt that future events will develop in
      such a simple manner, at least from the fact that the country in which the
      dominion of Communism began is at the present moment undergoing a religious
      renaissance that is impeding the spread of atheism in the world. Moreover,
      according to Orthodox prophecies, the Antichrist will not be a common
      tyrant such as Stalin, but will be a more "spiritual" individual, who will
      at first attempt to seduce people, not make them accept him by force.

      The holy men of Russia who were alive at the beginning of the revolution
      realized that this event was, in essence, an apocalyptic one, and knew that
      many years of tribulation were to be expected. But they also foresaw that
      an end to this tribulation would come. The elder Alexis of the Zosima
      Hermitage, attending the election of the Patriarch at the Chudov Monastery,
      heard people crying and loudly exclaiming: "Our Russia is lost, our Holy
      Russia is lost!" But the elder replied in a loud voice: "Who is saying here
      that Russia is lost, that it has perished? No, no, it is not lost, it has
      not perished, neither will it be lost, nor will it perish, but through
      great trials the Russian people must be cleansed of sin. You must pray with
      heartfelt repentance."

      Shortly before the beginning of the revolution, the elder Barnabas from the
      skete of Gethsemane prophesied that Russia would be subjected to severe
      tribulations and that a cruel persecution awaited the Orthodox faith. He
      said: "The persecution of faith will increase continuously. Unheard of
      sorrow and darkness will envelop everyone and everything, and the churches
      will be closed down. But when there will be no more strength to endure,
      liberation will come. And a time of renaissance will arrive. The churches
      will again be re-opened. There will be a renaissance before the end."

      The hieroshemamonk Aristoclius said shortly before his death in 1918: "We
      are now living in pre-Antichrist times. But Russia will be saved. There
      will be much suffering, much martyrdom. All of Russia will become a prison,
      and we must entreat the Lord at great length for forgiveness. We must
      repent of our sins and be afraid to commit even the slightest sin, and we
      must try to do good, even the very slightest good. For even the wing of a
      fly has some weight, while God's scales are very precise. And when the
      smallest bit of good will tip the scales, then God will show His mercy to

      In 1920 Elder Nektarius of Optina said: "Russia will arise and will be poor
      materially, but rich in spirit, and in Optina there will be seven more

      In 1930 Archbishop Theophanus of Poltava summarized the prophecies he had
      received from the elders who were able to foresee the future: "You ask me
      about the immediate future and about the coming end times. I am not telling
      you anything from myself, but only that which was revealed to me by the
      elders. The coming of the Antichrist is approaching and is already very
      near. The time dividing us from his coming can be measured in decades. But
      before his arrival Russia is destined to be reborn, at least for a short
      while. And there will be a Tsar there, chosen by the Lord Himself.. He will
      be a man of ardent faith, profound mind and iron will. That is all that has
      been revealed to us about him. And we will await the fulfillment of this
      revelation. Judging from many manifestations, the time is approaching,
      unless because of our sins the Lord revokes His promise. According to God's
      word, this can also happen."

      Thus we see that all the prophecies of these divinely-inspired men in the
      beginning of last century speak of the expectation of a renaissance of Holy
      Russia and even of an Orthodox Tsar shortly before the coming of the
      Antichrist and the end of the world. But this event will be more of an
      extraordinary/miraculous nature rather than a regular historic event. And
      at the same time it will depend to some degree on the Russian people
      themselves, since in such a case God acts through man's free will.

      Just as the city of Nineveh was spared after its people repented, and
      Jonah's prophecy about its destruction thus turned out to be false, so the
      prophecies concerning the resurrection of Russia may turn out to be false
      if the Russian people do not repent.

      Saint John of Shanghai wrote in 1938: "The entire Russian people committed
      great sins that were the cause of their tribulations, specifically perjury
      and regicide. Civil and military leaders reneged on obedience and loyalty
      to the Tsar even before his abdication, coercing it from the Tsar who did
      not wish internal bloodshed, while the people loudly welcomed the event,
      never openly expressing their disagreement with it. It is not only the
      physical perpetrators who are guilty of the sin of regicide, but the entire
      people, who rejoiced over the dethronement of the Tsar and who allowed his
      humiliation, arrest and exile, leaving him defenseless in the hands of
      criminals, which of its own accord already predetermined the end.

      Thus the disaster that struck Russia is a direct consequence of heavy sins,
      while its resurrection is possible only through the cleansing of these
      sins. However, up to now there has been no real repentance, the crimes that
      were committed have still not been condemned, while many active
      participants in the revolution continue to assert even now that it had been
      impossible to act otherwise in those days. By not expressing open
      condemnation of the February revolution and the revolt against God's
      anointed one, the Russian people continue to participate in this sin."

      Regicide, of course, is not the only sin to lie heavily on the conscience
      of the Russian people. It is a symbol of the Russia that had fallen away
      from Christ and true Orthodoxy ? a process which took place throughout the
      19th and 20th centuries, and only now, perhaps, has changed its course. It
      is interesting to note that in modern-day Russia the issue of the
      glorification of the Tsar and the New Martyrs is seen as being tied in with
      the lifting of the curse which lay on the Russian land from the time of
      their martyrdom.

      It would, of course, be very superficial to conclude that the glorifiction
      of the New Martyrs and the Royal Family will lead to a restoration of Holy
      Russia. But if the Russian Orthodox people, both in Russian and in the
      diaspora, embrace this event whole-heartedly, it could serve as a stimulus
      towards repentance of sins, while its effect on Russia itself would be

      One of the most significant prophecies about Russia's future was known to
      only a few before the revolution; it was so daring that church censorship
      did not allow it to be published. It was found among the manuscripts of
      Motovilov, who was known for his famous "Discourse with the venerable
      Seraphim on the acquisition of the Holy Spirit." This prophecy, which has
      now been published, concerns the future resurrection of St. Seraphim right
      before the end of the world.

      This is what St. Seraphim said to Motovilov:

      "Many times, ? writes Motovilov, ? I heard from the lips of the great saint
      of God, the elder Seraphim, that his body will not lie in Sarov. And so I
      once dared to ask him:

      ? Batyushka, you are constantly telling me that your body will not lie in
      Sarov. Do you mean to say that the Sarovians will give you away?

      ? Your Kindness, the Lord God has allotted to me, the humble Seraphim, to
      live well over a hundred years. However, since by that time the hierarchs
      will become so iniquitous that their iniquity will far surpass that of the
      Greek hierarchs in the time of Theodosius the Younger, so that they will no
      longer believe in the major tenet of the Christian faith, it has pleased
      the Lord God to take me, the humble Seraphim, away from this temporal life
      for a time and afterwards to resurrect me, and my resurrection will be like
      the resurrection of the seven youths in the Okhlon cave in the days of
      Theodosius the Younger.

      Having revealed to me this great and awesome secret, the great elder added
      that after his resurrection he will move from Sarov to Diveevo, and there
      he will embark upon the preaching of universal repentance. A huge number of
      people will gather from all corners of the earth to hear this preaching,
      but even more so to witness the miracle of the resurrection; Diveevo will
      become a Lavra, Vertyanovo ? a city, and Arzamas ? a province. And, while
      preaching repentance, the holy Seraphim will uncover four relics in
      Diveevo, and afterwards will lie down among them himself. And then soon
      after that the end of everything will come."

      In another discussion with Motovilov, speaking of the spiritual state of
      the last Christians to remain loyal to God before the end of the world, St.
      Seraphim said something very important to support these confessors of

      "And in the days of that great sorrow, of which it is said that not a
      single soul would be saved were not those days to be curtailed for the sake
      of the elect, ? in those days the remainder of the faithful will experience
      something similar to what the Lord Himself had experienced when, hanging on
      the cross, being perfect God and perfect man, He felt Himself so abandoned
      by His Own Divinity that He cried out to Him: My God! My God! Why hast Thou
      forsaken Me? (Matt. 27:46).

      A similar abandonment of mankind by the grace of God will be experienced by
      the last Christians, but only for a very brief while, after which the Lord
      will not tarry to appear in all His glory, and all His holy angels with
      Him. And afterwards will come to pass in all its fullness all that was
      predetermined from the beginning of age in the Pre-eternal Council.

      The message which Russia will bring to the world

      In the New Testament, in St. John the Theologian's Book of Revelation,
      there is a detailed description of the events preceding the end of the
      world: And when he had opened the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven
      for about the space of half an hour (Rev. 8:1). Some people interpret these
      words of the Scriptures as signifying a brief period of peace preceding the
      final events of world history, or more precisely, a brief period of the
      restoration of Russia, when the universal preaching of repentance will
      begin with Russia ? this will be that very "last and final word" which,
      according to Dostoyevsky, Russia will bring to the world.

      In modern circumstances, in which events in any country become immediately
      known to the entire world, Russia, purified by the blood of its martyrs,
      will truly possess the possibility of awakening the world from its deep
      sleep of atheism and lack of faith. Father Dimitry Dudko and others have
      often said that it is impossible for the blood of countless Russian martyrs
      to have flowed in vain; it will undoubtedly become the seed of the last and
      vivid flourishing of true Christianity. However, it is easy just to dream
      of the future of such a world and of what may happen in Russia. The
      resurrection of Russia depends on the efforts of each individual soul; it
      cannot take place without the participation of all Orthodox people, without
      our universal repentance and our universal spiritual labor. It attracts
      into its sphere not only the people of Russia, but all those in the
      diaspora and all Orthodox people in the entire world.

      St. John of Shanghai spoke in 1938 about the apocalyptic mission of the
      Russian people abroad:

      "While meting out punishment, the Lord simultaneously showed the Russian
      people the way to salvation, having made this people the advocates of
      Orthodoxy throughout the entire world. The Russian diaspora has acquainted
      all corners of the earth with Orthodoxy, for the mass of Russian refugees
      (for the most part subconsciously) has been an advocate of Orthodoxy.

      Russians living abroad have been given the task to shine with the light of
      Orthodoxy all over the world, so that other people, seeing their good
      deeds, would glorify our Father Who is in heaven, and would thus acquire
      salvation? The diaspora must turn to the path of repentance, and having
      implored forgiveness, having become spiritually reborn, it must become a
      loyal partner in the revival of our suffering homeland."

      Thus, in conducting themselves as befits Orthodox Christians, the Russians
      living abroad will pave the way for the preaching of universal repentance
      by St. Seraphim. To some extent this is already happening, if one notes the
      fact that on a par with the revival of Orthodoxy in Russia there is a
      genuine awakening to Orthodoxy not only in America, but also in many other
      countries outside of Russia.

      However, the future depends on us: if we reprise a truly Orthodox life,
      then Holy Russia will be restored; if not, then the Lord may take away His
      promise. May God forbid!

      Father Seraphim Rose



      Who will come last to this world,
      The very last torment to bear?
      Who'll go to mass in the morning?
      Who will call God in the night?
      Who will help his fallen brother?
      Who will his enemies love?
      Who will forgive without measure,
      As a disciple of Christ?
      "One in the field's not a soldier!"
      Evil is seething around?
      What kind of crown will he merit ?
      He who shall stand all alone?
      Alone, enigmatic to others,
      With a holy yearning for God,
      Shining in pitch-black darkness,
      As though forgotten by Thee?
      Remember, O Lord of the universe,
      Those who will come after us
      To this world doomed for burning,
      At the terrible ending of time!

      A.A. Alekseyev, poet-confessor, martyred by the Bolsheviks in 1941.
      Translated by Natalia Sheniloff
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