THE FUTURE OF RUSSIA AND THE END OF THE WORLD
- 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 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
THE FUTURE OF RUSSIA AND THE END OF THE WORLD
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
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
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
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
THE LAST ONES
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