6 October OS 2020 – Monday of the 3rd Week of St. Luke, Holy Apostle Thomas
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In today’s Gospel, the Lord turns worldly reasoning upside down, and He commands His followers to do that which is above nature:
The Lord said to the Jews which came to Him: woe unto you that are rich! for ye have received your consolation. Woe unto you that are full! for ye shall hunger. Woe unto you that laugh now! for ye shall mourn and weep. Woe unto you, when all men shall speak well of you! for so did their fathers to the false prophets. But I say unto you which hear, Love your enemies, do good to them which hate you, Bless them that curse you, and pray for them which despitefully use you. And unto him that smiteth thee on the one cheek offer also the other; and him that taketh away thy cloke forbid not to take thy coat also. – Luke 6: 24-30
St. Theophan the Recluse, in his commentary on these verses, points out that Our Lord is painting a picture of the entire Christian life as a time of exile and pilgrimage, not security and rest:
Woe to those who are rich, who are full, who laugh, and who are praised. But good shall come to those who endure every wrongful accusation, beating, robbery, or imposed hardship. This is completely opposite to what people usually think and feel! The thoughts of God are as far from human thoughts as heaven is from the earth. How else could it be? We are in exile, and it is not remarkable for those in exile to be offended and insulted. We are under a penance, and the penance consists of deprivations and labors. We are sick, and bitter medicines are most useful for the sick. The Savior Himself did not have a place to lay His head for His whole life, and He finished His life on the Cross. Why should His followers have a better lot? The spirit of Christ is the spirit of preparedness to suffer and good-naturedly bear all that is sorrowful. Comfort, conceit, splendor, and ease are all foreign to its strivings and tastes. Its path lies in the fruitless, cheerless desert. Its model is the forty-year wandering of the Israelites in the desert. Who follows this path? Anyone who sees Canaan beyond the desert, overflowing with milk and honey. During his wandering he too receives manna – however, not from the earth, but from heaven; not bodily, but spiritually. All glory is within. – Thoughts for Each Day of the Year, pp. 219-220
We all agree with the truth of all this of course, but if we are honest, we admit that we do not feel the truth of it. Think about it: When is the last time you were filled with unspeakable joy because someone robbed you or insulted you? See what I mean? Today I propose to address how not to be hypocrites (or at least not complete hypocrites) when we claim to believe this Gospel.
Before going on to the “how” of doing this, however, I would like to clear up one important thing: In today’s brainwashed mindset, “forgiving your enemies” has been twisted to mean being cowards who identify love with tolerating unspeakable evils, hollow men who refuse to fight for God and for what is right. This is totally false. If the people preaching (and legislating and imposing) evil and falsehood are not really enemies, then the word “enemy” has no meaning – there are no enemies. And if there are no enemies, the Lord’s command to forgive them has no meaning, which is obviously not possible. The Church in this world is the Church Militant, and that includes all of her members with all their faults, not just calm, loving elders sitting in a cave somewhere. We cannot wait until we are passionless holy saints with only pure, righteous anger, to call out the liars, perverts, and creeps who now dominate our government, media, financial system, corporate structures, and educational establishment. We have to fight them with all our strength, even at the cost of losing our temper, showing our weaknesses, and being called “haters” because we show justifiable anger at their demonic lies and their soul-destroying system of sexual perversion, worship of money, and mindless distraction masquerading as human existence.
So we have to fight these monsters, these undead zombie post-humans who are coming after us to suck the souls out of our bodies, with all our strength, and yet not hate them. It is easy to curse the people you fight, or do the opposite and throw in the towel in order to have that warm fuzzy feeling of getting along with everybody, even while they destroy your faith, your morals, and your children’s souls. It is easy to be an angry jihadist on the one hand or to love Big Brother on the other hand – all the tension goes away and we feel good again. What is hard is to be a Christian. It is not only hard, but also embarrassing, because we never live up to our Faith. It is the only Faith designed on purpose so that one cannot live up to it, which only goes to prove that this Faith alone is of divine origin.
So how do we do this – rejoice in hardship, love our enemies, and so forth? How do we follow the divine charter for Christian living as found in the Sermon on the Mount in St. Matthew, or today’s Gospel, which is taken from the Sermon on the Plain in St. Luke? Here is a short to-do list:
Admit that we cannot live the Gospel. Admit that to the end of our lives we will fail. As St. Ignatius Brianchaninov says in The Arena, even the greatest saints fall short of the Gospel. It is beyond the power of human nature; it is “above nature,” as the Fathers say. When people call us hypocrites, say, “Yes, you are right, I am a worthless hypocrite. But my Faith is still true, whether I live up to it or not.”
Pray daily with all our hearts that God forgive us for not living the Gospel, that He give us the grace to live it better, and that He give us the grace daily to admit our failure and to ask for more grace.
Force ourselves to thank God when bad things happen.
Pray for those who harm us, both the great – like the mainstream media – and the small – like the coworker at the office who stabs us in the back.
Remember, as St. Theophan points out, that we are exiles and pilgrims in this life. We are on a pilgrimage going to our true home. One expects discomfort while on a journey. The warm fire, fuzzy slippers, and comfy armchair are at the end of the journey, not on the road. All of our problems arise from delusions, and all of our delusions start with the idea that we are little gods creating a nice little world here in this life. But our true home is in the heavens; our life is hid with Christ in God. This life is an arena, a contest, a struggle, and a trial. Our Judge awaits us, with the crown of life in His hand for those who do not give up.
It is always later than we think. Death is always at the door.
Whether that last thought is consoling or depressing is up to us.
1 October OS 2020 – Wednesday of the Second Week of St. Luke; The Protection of the Theotokos; St. Ananias, Apostle; St. Romanus the Melodist
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The reading today for the Holy Gospel, according to the daily cycle, is Luke 5:33-39.
At that time, the Pharisees came to Jesus and said unto him, Why do the disciples of John fast often, and make prayers, and likewise the disciples of the Pharisees; but thine eat and drink? And he said unto them, Can ye make the children of the bridechamber fast, while the bridegroom is with them? But the days will come, when the bridegroom shall be taken away from them, and then shall they fast in those days. And he spake also a parable unto them; No man putteth a piece of a new garment upon an old; if otherwise, then both the new maketh a rent, and the piece that was taken out of the new agreeth not with the old. And no man putteth new wine into old bottles; else the new wine will burst the bottles, and be spilled, and the bottles shall perish. But new wine must be put into new bottles; and both are preserved. No man also having drunk old wine straightway desireth new: for he saith, The old is better.
Fasting is good, of course – the Lord does not deny that. But there is a time for fasting, and a time for not fasting. During His time on earth, the disciples did not fast, for He was with them. After His Ascension, they began to fast, to keep watch for His Second Coming. And so we still do today.
St. Theophan the Recluse derives a general lesson for us: that all good works must be practiced with discretion, and in harmony with each other:
It is unbecoming for the children of the bridechamber to fast while the bridegroom is with them, said the Lord, and thus He pronounced the law that even with virtues and spiritual endeavors everything has its place and time. And this is so crucial that an untimely and inappropriate deed loses its value, either entirely, or in part. The Lord arranged everything in visible nature with measure, weight, and number. He also wants everything in the moral realm to be decent and in order (cf. I Cor. 14:40). Inner decency consists in a joining of each virtue with all the virtues in conjunction, or a harmony of virtues, so that none stand out needlessly, but all are in accord, like voices in a choir. Outward decency gives each deed its place, time, and other connections. When all of this is properly arranged, it is like a beautiful lady dressed in beautiful clothes. Virtue which is decent both inwardly and outwardly is desirable. It is Christian good sense that makes it this way. With elders it is discernment acquired through experience and the sensible examination of the Lives of the saints in the light of the word of God. – Thoughts for Each Day of the Year, pp. 215-216
How does one acquire discretion, the ability wisely to order the priorities and activities of one’s life? Both in the specifically spiritual arena of our life – our prayers, fasting, preparing for confession and Holy Communion, Church attendance, etc. – and in our practical daily lives, we often experience that things are out of joint. We do not know what to put first, second, and third. We start new projects or activities with enthusiasm and do not finish them. We emphasize one aspect of life to the exclusion of others, and life becomes unbalanced. And so forth.
There are countless self-help books from secular writers about prioritizing, planning, and organizing. But what we need is deeper: the profound wisdom by which we know intuitively what to do and when to do it; to keep in mind always that which is most important; to be attentive and conscious in our daily activities and not to “go on auto-pilot.” If we are in order inwardly, whatever outward order needed will naturally arise.
The first step in acquiring discretion is the same as the first step in acquiring all spiritual gifts: We must ask for it! Let us not fail each day to begin our day with prayer, and as part of our prayers, to ask the Lord to give us prudence, discernment, and practical wisdom to order our lives aright inwardly and outwardly. We must ask the Lord to show us the way, to give us the light of understanding His holy will, and the resolve to do His will come what may.
Another simple step is to write down our core duties, first spiritual duties and then practical ones, and ask if we are doing them. Resolving to say 1000 Jesus Prayers on the prayer rope every day does not make sense if, so far, we have failed to say five minutes of morning prayers in the morning. Resolving to help the poor in a faraway country does not make sense if we are not helping our relatives and our fellow parishioners. We need to make a short list of the ABC duties of our Orthodox life, resolve to fulfill them, and ask God’s help to do so.
Another simple step is to seek counsel. There may be ways in which our life is out of balance, in which we are being imprudent, that we cannot see ourselves, but that others who love us and understand us can see. Let us not forget to seek counsel from our priest and from the one or two very trusted and close spiritual friends upon whom we can truly rely.
May Christ, the Wisdom of God, bestow upon us His divine understanding, so that our hearts will sense naturally what to do and when to do it, both inwardly and outwardly.
30 September OS 2020 – Tuesday of the 2nd Week of St. Luke; St. Gregory the Illuminator of Armenia; St. Michael, Metropolitan of Kiev
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In today’s Gospel, the Lord works an astonishing miracle – the healing of a leper – and then immediately withdraws into the wilderness for prayer:
At that time, when Jesuswas in a certain city, behold a man full of leprosy: who seeing Jesus fell on his face, and besought him, saying, Lord, if thou wilt, thou canst make me clean. And he put forth his hand, and touched him, saying, I will: be thou clean. And immediately the leprosy departed from him. And he charged him to tell no man: but go, and shew thyself to the priest, and offer for thy cleansing, according as Moses commanded, for a testimony unto them. But so much the more went there a fame abroad of him: and great multitudes came together to hear, and to be healed by him of their infirmities. And he withdrew himself into the wilderness, and prayed. – Luke 5: 12-16
A wonderful thing about the four Gospels is their diversity in unity. They are all testifying to the same reality – the coming of the God-Man into the world, His real historical presence, His miracles, His teaching, His death, resurrection, and ascension – but each Gospel has its own emphases and peculiarities. Divinely inspired, each one is yet intensely human, reflecting the peculiar gifts of soul of the real man who wrote it. St. John’s Gospel, of course, is really different – it soars above the other three in its sublime theology and mystical content. The other three are called the Synoptic Gospels, because they see the events described with “one eye” or a “shared vision,” a “seeing together with” (synopsis); they are quite similar. Yet each one of them has its own beauties and identifying characteristics.
St. Luke delights to record the memory of the Lord Jesus Christ at prayer, as at the end of today’s reading. There are several places in his Gospel where he mentions the Lord’s praying, while St. Matthew and St. Mark omit this detail. The most striking instance occurs in his account of the Transfiguration: “And it came to pass about eight days after these sayings, he took Peter and John and James, and went up into a mountain to pray. And as he prayed, the fashion of his countenance was altered, and his raiment was white and glistering (Luke 9: 28-29).” As God, Jesus opens the eyes of Peter, James, and John to see the uncreated light of His Divinity shining through His holy Humanity. As a man, as the Man, so to speak, as the New Adam, this occurs while He is really and truly praying, praying as no man ever did before or since.
Christ really did pray while He was on earth. He prayed because He was really a man, and human beings pray. As a matter of fact, it is the pre-eminent and most important thing we do; it is what God made us for. As the New Adam, Our Lord is praying as a man, for He came not only to show us Who God really is, but He also came to show us what a human being really is. He made our First Parents to talk with Him in Paradise. He came as a man to restore us to Paradise, so we could talk with Him forever. What could be better than that?
The upshot of all this is that we need to take our prayer life seriously, more seriously than any other activity of our lives. How can we start or re-start our habit of daily prayer, if we have fallen off? There are numerous good books out there: I heartily recommend the chapters on prayer in The Arena by St. Ignatius Brianchaninov and the chapters on prayer in Unseen Warfare, which St. Theophan the Recluse wrote and put in the book in place of those written by the original Roman Catholic author. In the shadow of these spiritual giants, I make bold to offer a little story from my own experience, given below. It is especially intended for people like me, who do not pray very well, who have a hard time praying at all:
HOW DO WE ACQUIRE THE HABIT OF DAILY PRAYER?
Prayer is the Essence of Christian Life
Prayer is the single most important activity of the Christian’s daily life, and it is also the one we neglect or resist the most. This is why:
Prayer is what God created us for; that is, He created us to be always in loving communion and communication with Him. The fundamental capacity for this prayerful communion was disabled by the sin of our first parents and it is passed on to every human being. Now, by means of Holy Baptism and the other Holy Mysteries, we receive the grace of God to acquire this saving, ongoing relationship with God. But the fallen nature is still fighting us, and the demons fight us; prayer is the last thing they want us to do. So we struggle, even to pray for a short time.
We must, however, establish a daily habit of prayer, in order to have any kind of real relationship with God. But how? I wish to present a story from my own experience, in order to explain the simple yet powerful means to acquire the daily habit of prayer:
An Instructive Story: Learning How to Pray
I will never forget the night I learned how to establish a daily habit of prayer. It seems odd that it should come only after six years of being a priest, but there you are.
My spiritual father then was an elderly and very austere Russian bishop who had the reputation for eating priests for dinner. I had decided that I needed whipping into shape and therefore asked him to take me on. Since he lived several states away, we agreed that I would write him my confessions in letters, and, after reading them, he would call me. What follows is the story of his response to my first confession.
Several troubling sins had never ceased bothering me, despite being confessed here and there to various priests. I had never actually laid them all out to a single confessor at one time and therefore thought it worth the try to tell them all to Vladika. I wrote the letter with great trepidation – I knew his scary reputation and expected a great reaming out, either for the sins themselves or for not trusting in God’s forgiveness and thus confessing anew previously confessed sins. When the phone rang that night and my wife called down, “Dear, it’s Vladika ________!” I trudged to the receiver like a condemned man to the scaffold.
His voice came on, very soft. I will not attempt to reproduce his actual speech here, only the content of what he said. Imagine a calm, grandfatherly voice with a soft Russian accent, speaking with the precision of an Oxford don.
“ Ah, is this Fr. Steven?”
“ Yes, Vladika. Bless.”
“ Fr. Steven, I have read your letter very carefully,” (He would! I thought), “and I want to teach you something.”
Teach me something? What? I thought he was calling to strip me naked, crush me, and throw the remains to the beasts of the field and the birds of the air.
“ I want to teach you how to find consolation in prayer.”
At the time, my only feeling was one of overwhelming relief. Later, I realized that it was one of the chief moments in my life. This was a man who meant business. He did not moralize, did not criticize, did not justify this and condemn that. He taught me what I needed to do in order not only not to sin, but also not even want to sin. If the Lord Jesus dwells in the heart through prayer, we are in Paradise, and we do not want to leave.
What did he teach me?
“ The Holy Fathers, and most recently the Optina Elders, teach us that the secret to consolation in prayer is regularity and the struggle for attention. How long is your evening prayer rule?”
“ A half-hour, Vladika.”
“ Too long.”
Too long! I thought, astounded. What kind of a bishop is this?
“ You wander in your thoughts and finish your rule only with difficulty. You actually omit it many evenings and go to bed without prayer. You make no progress. Is this not so?”
“ Yes, Vladika.”
“ I want you to do exactly what I say and do not deviate.”
“ Yes, Vladika.”
“ The important thing is not how many prayers you read or which prayers you read, but the amount of time that you pray every day, that you always devote this amount of time every day without fail, and that you struggle for attention. I want you to start with ten minutes – no more, no less. Set an alarm clock or timer for ten minutes, so that you do not have to look at the clock. Read the appointed evening prayers or the Psalter or an akathist. When the timer goes off, stop. While you are reading, your mind will wander, perhaps five to ten times per minute. Each time, you must force your mind back to the words of the prayers. You must do this without fail.”
“ Yes, Vladika.”
“ As time goes on, if you are regular in performing this rule, and if you struggle for attention, you will naturally gain stability in performing it, and you will gradually desire to add time to your prayer. When you desire to keep praying, keep praying as long as you wish that day, but do not yet add the time to your rule. When you feel this desire daily for several weeks, then you may add another five minutes to your rule. Once you add time, however, you must never subtract it. This is why the desire must be tested, not obeyed immediately. After awhile, your prayer time will grow, you will perceive that this prayer is a great consolation, and you will never want to give it up. Do you understand?”
That was it.
My experience before and after this great event in my life is that people who are wavering and confused in their faith are not praying regularly or properly. Their souls are confused because the light of the soul, the noetic mirror of the spiritual intellect, is darkened, and this darkness is darkness indeed. A person in this state will wander forever in the labyrinth of opinion, attraction, and emotion, never finding rest. He will eventually compromise, distort, or lose his faith, because he has no inner experience corresponding to that faith’s dogmatic and moral teachings. On the other hand, one who is praying regularly and in the right manner receives great firmness in his faith, stability of life, and inner calmness. He has a firm foundation for the activities of daily life and for the struggle for salvation.
If prayer is going right, everything is right, for prayer will let nothing go wrong.
25 September OS 2020 – Thursday of the First Week of Luke; St. Euphrosyne; St. Sergius of Radonezh
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In the cycle of the daily readings, today we read once again the Gospel passage that we read on the Church New Year: St. Luke’s account of the Lord’s entering the synagogue at Nazareth and announcing His Messiahship by proclaiming the acceptable year of the Lord.
At that time, Jesus came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up: and, as his custom was, he went into the synagogue on the sabbath day, and stood up for to read. And there was delivered unto him the book of the prophet Esaias. And when he had opened the book, he found the place where it was written, The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, To preach the acceptable year of the Lord. And he closed the book, and he gave it again to the minister, and sat down. And the eyes of all them that were in the synagogue were fastened on him. And he began to say unto them, This day is this scripture fulfilled in your ears. And all bare him witness, and wondered at the gracious words which proceeded out of his mouth. And they said, Is not this Joseph’s son? – Luke 4: 16-22
St. Theophan the Recluse points out that, unlike all the prophets before Him, the Lord Jesus Christ not only could preach about the acceptable year of the Lord, He could – and did – make it happen; He brought it with Him.
The Lord not only came “to preach the acceptable year,” but He brought it as well. Where is it? In the souls of believers. The earth will never become a Paradise under the current state of affairs; but it is and will be an arena of preparation for the heavenly life. The rudiments of heavenly life are placed in the soul, and the possibility for this lies in God’s grace – Who brought, consequently, the acceptable year for souls. He who listens to the Lord and fulfills all that is commanded by Him receives grace, and with its power enjoys the acceptable year within himself. This truly occurs in all who sincerely believe and act according to faith. You will not fill your souls with “acceptableness” by thinking; you must act, and it will enter in on its own. There might not be any outer peace whatever, just inner peace, yet it cannot be separated from Christ. But it always happens that as soon as inner peace is established, outer disturbances are neither bitter nor heavy.Consequently, the acceptable year is there even in this respect – it only seems like a cold winter on the outside. – Thoughts for Each Day of the Year, pp. 210-211
These brief words of St. Theophan address a spiritual malaise most of us share: sluggish inactivity based on a dreamy desire for a phony paradise both without and within. The phony external paradise we dream of is an earthly life with no problems, in which everyone is just and kind to us. The phony internal paradise we dream of is a state of inner purity, calm, and happiness based simply on thinking and not on doing. The heresies associated with these delusions are, respectively, chiliasm and gnosticism, and the two work together and feed each other.
As St. Theophan rightly points out, this earth will never become a paradise in the present, fallen state of affairs prior to the destruction and re-fashioning of the cosmos into a New Heaven and a New Earth. This earthly life, rightly understood, is an arena in which we struggle for our salvation, a very short trial in which we choose to do or not do that which is acceptable to the Lord. Chiliasm – derived from the Greek word for “a thousand” – is, strictly speaking, the heresy that teaches that the thousand-year reign of Christ spoken of in the Apocalypse is a future event that will take place here on earth, in the form of an outward, global political order. But there is also a broader application of the concept: anyone who wants “the Kingdom of God on earth” in the literal sense partakes of the chiliast spirit and the chiliast delusion. Surely we desire for God’s will to be done on earth as it is in heaven – the Lord Himself told us to pray for this. This takes place, prior to the end of the world, in the lives of those who do God’s will, and certainly there have been families, monasteries, parishes, whole national Churches and kingdoms in which God’s light, the light of Orthodoxy, showed forth more brilliantly than in other places: these people and communities were (and, we pray, will be) little icons of the heavenly kingdom, little foretastes of what is to come in eternity. But there will never be a time in which Christ will reign on earth as an earthly, temporal king, either directly or through a vicar like a pope or emperor, or through a “chosen race.”
The ever-present spirit of chiliasm distracts the pious from what they have control over – struggling for their salvation – by entertaining them endlessly with the demonically orchestrated struggles of financiers, politicians, parties, races, and nations for dominance. Today this is far truer – quantum leaps truer – than ever. I say “quantum leaps,” because global communications technology has given worldly powers the ability to distract and delude everyone 24 hours per day in such an addictive fashion, it is a wonder there is anyone left who can think straight. Facing this state of affairs realistically, we must beg God for the grace to re-double our efforts to pray and work in a disciplined fashion, simply to pay attention to that over which we have control, and deal with it. We must remember, always: this life is short, death is certain, and judgment is eternal. Seen in this light, promises of an earthly paradise will not entrap us in the cycle of excitement, failure, disappointment, and despair.
When one despairs over the phony, chiliast earthly paradise, then one is tempted to retreat within selfishly, give up on the moral struggle, and desire a phony, gnostic internal paradise.
Gnosticism is the idea that if you have a certain secret knowledge about “what’s really going on behind the scenes,” you are among the elect. A gnostic does not have to be moral or receive God’s forgiveness or even try to do anything good. He just has to sit around smugly and say to himself, “I know what’s really going on, unlike all those suckers out there.” And with this he is content. We are not going to join sects and secret societies that offer such a bogus salvation, but, as with the chiliast temptation, we all have the gnostic temptation: to try to think our way to salvation instead of seeking and doing God’s holy will. We can spend endless hours on websites to “find out what is really going on” and thereby feel secure through our “knowledge.” We can turn Orthodoxy into a kind of gnosticism in which, despite the manifest reality that we are enslaved to various passions, we read books on spiritual life and, instead of being brought to repentance, we imagine that we are thinking or feeling the thoughts and feelings of the saints, or in which we read the canons and derive satisfaction from knowing that so-and-so over there is breaking them, and since we are not (or think we are not), we are the good guys. All the while, we are wasting time, skipping prayers, fasting poorly, gossiping, not supporting our parish, neglecting our family, spending money on foolish things, and looking at some kind of a screen, large or small, x hours per day far in excess of what is necessary.
Being “in the know” does not save. The Lord said that the truth will set us free, but this comes true only if, having learned the truth, we obey it. “If you love Me, keep My commandments (John 14:15).” St. James says that the demons believe – and tremble (James 2:19). Knowledge without repentance, without humility, without morality, without the spiritual and corporal works of mercy, is demonic.
Therefore, with the ever-present help of the divine grace so abundant in the Church, let us make a short list of our real, daily spiritual and earthly duties, and do them, praying always. Let us heed the admonition of our Venerable Father Herman of Alaska, and if God be with us, we cannot fail:
“For our good, for our happiness, let us at least make ourselves a vow: that from this day, from this hour, from this minute, we shall strive to love God above all and do His commandments!” – from “Little Russian Philokalia,” Vol. III,St. Herman, St. Herman Press, 1989, p. 108
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Our talk on the Corona delusion attracted some attention – we had more listeners than is usual, and we also attracted some negative attention as well.
When I say the “Corona delusion,” I’m not referring to the existence of this disease, whatever it is, but to the response to the disease, a centrally planned and controlled, inconceivably gigantic, top-down social re-engineering project throughout the whole world, overturning every normal activity of earthly life, with no precedent in history, and which, we are being told by those in authority, will have no end. It is the “new normal.” Yet many persons previously thought rational, including Orthodox Christians, now fanatically insist that this radical, coercively imposed, and permanent change in man’s condition be subject to no serious criticism. This is eerie, very strange, surreal; it is some kind of unnatural mental and moral blindness. And yet this is what we see. “Covid denial” is joining the list of heinous thought crimes for which there is no punishment bad enough, like “Holocaust denial” and “climate change denial.” People like me may indeed, in the near future, simply be locked up or liquidated. We are intolerable heretics, enemies of the Brave New World that “science” is bringing into being, the man-made millennium in which there will be no death or disease, only the unending gratification of material desires free from all risk of interruption by unpleasantness. But how have supposedly rational men, much less Orthodox Christians, come to believe in this? They had to be prepared; they must have been pre-disposed to believe the current delusion by having already accepted and interiorized previous delusions.
In today’s talk, I’d like to discuss some of these previous delusions, which in fact we talked about two years ago, well before “Covid” came on to the scene. By so doing, I am returning to the purpose of our Survival Course, which is intended not to be just one more Internet current events show, where we get all worked up by reacting to every new bit of bad news, but rather is intended to be an ongoing, serious study to help us understand how the entire scope of history, and the important events and ideas of history, fit into an Orthodox framework. Recent history, that is from the Renaissance period through the twentieth century, can enlighten us about why so many people are now going so crazy and believing so fanatically in the Brave New World being created by our rulers with the excuse that they are fighting this Corona virus. And the timeless teaching of the Church on man’s condition and man’s ultimate purpose can enlighten us as to why this fanatical belief is so wrong and so bad.
The title of today’s talk, then, is “The Preparation for the Corona Delusion – the Technocracy and Its False Religion.”
I. Francis Bacon and the New Atlantis
“Technocracy” means government by technocrats, a managerial class that serves a hidden, elite group who control the development and use of technology, and who therefore also necessarily control the direction of the science that underlies the technology. It is like Plato’s vision in The Republic of a society ruled by an elite of philosophers, except that here we don’t have men who are concerned with acquiring wisdom and controlling their passions, as in the Socratic dialogues; rather, they are concerned with acquiring and using ever more powerful technology in order to gratify their passions, to dominate creation, and to control human populations. You may recall our earlier discussion of the 16th-17th century English writer Francis Bacon, and his vision for a future society, which he calls the “New Atlantis.” You can find the discussion in Orthodox Survival Course, Class 17. Here is the section on Bacon:
Notes from Class 17 on Science and Technology in the Renaissance –
Science and Technology – Just as Pico de Mirandola’s Oration on the Dignity of Man can be said to be the manifesto of the Renaissance in general, and Machiavelli’s The Prince is the classic statement of Renaissance politics, one could say that Francis Bacon’s utopian novel, New Atlantis, and his works on the role of science and technology in society, such as the New Organon, form the charter of modern scientism, the idea that man can perfect life on earth by scientific and philosophic advancement. The article on Bacon in the Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy sums up his influence thus: “He died in 1626, leaving behind a cultural legacy that, for better or worse, includes most of the foundation for the triumph of technology and for the modern world as we currently know it.”
Bacon, a classic “Renaissance Man” – statesman, philosopher, jurist, scientist, author – lived during the reigns of Elizabeth I and James I of England. There are various theories about his involvement with occult sects such as the Freemasons and the Rosicrucians, but one need not prove his formal connection to these groups to understand his fundamental idea, stated in his Meditationes Sacrae, that “knowledge itself is power.” The real power in a “Baconian” society is held by those who know the secrets of science. In New Atlantis, the real power in Bensalem, the utopian island realm, is not in the hands of the government, but in the hands of a secret society of scholars who form the college of “Salomon’s House,” and who deliberately withhold knowledge from the purported rulers of the society. The “Father” of “Salomon House” states, “And this we do also: we have consultations, which of the inventions and experiences which we have discovered shall be published, and which not; and take all an oath of secrecy for the concealing of those which we think fit to keep secret; though some of those we do reveal sometime to the State, and some not.”
This idea is completely consonant with an idea we saw earlier in our study of the Renaissance, that science is linked to occult knowledge, and that it is employed in order to have power over the society. What is being proposed in New Atlantis – or, rather, depicted – is that a secret oligarchy with the keys to scientific knowledge and technology should hold also the keys to political power, which they dole out, as they will, to the State, which is no longer the true governing power, but rather an “interface,” as we might say today, for the real governing power, which is occult and irresponsible, that is, hidden and without accountability. It is rather obvious how this applies to our situation today, in which only the extremely fatuous still believe that our political institutions are not puppets manipulated by an irresponsible oligarchy through technocratic methods of control.
The Orthodox Christian concept of the roles of science and technology is this, in sum: The primary role of science is to adorn man’s mind with knowledge, in order to inspire the contemplation of God and His creation. The role of technology is to help man find the moderate amount of earthly happiness he needs in order to practice virtue – to avoid excessive earthly sorrows on the one hand while avoiding excessive earthly joys on the other hand, both of which conduce to vice. There is no room in this concept for “unlimited technological progress,” a quintessentially Luciferian idea linked to heretical, utopian ideas of human perfectibility. The “Baconian” or “New Atlantis” ideal is quite different: A “high priesthood” of scientists and scholars, operating in secret, will discover “truths” that will perfect human society on earth.
End of notes from Class 17.
It’s easy to see how all of this applies to our situation today – and, remember, I wrote these notes two years ago, when we had no idea that the Technocracy was going to pull this particular stunt, this “COVID” thing. The problem is that, to some extent, everyone, including us Orthodox Christians, have imbibed these incredibly false and evil ideas: We unconsciously assume that “science” is this monolithic thing out there, with an identity and a life of its own, some kind of secular pope of Rome, that is infallible and benign, and its powers are always being wielded with ever-increasing effectiveness by equally infallible and benign authorities in business, media, and the government, for the constant progress of the human race towards a utopia where there will be no death or disease, only the unlimited and untrammeled enjoyment of material goods. And anyone who opposes this “science” and these authorities is a Bad Guy who must be silenced. (He must be a “conspiracy theorist” !) The people who believe this believe it with religious intensity, because it is a religion, the pseudo-religion of “scientism.”
II. Putting New Atlantis into Practice: How We Got to Where We Are Today
But how did we get from Francis Bacon to the U.N., the W.H.O., and the 21st century, totalitarian reality of the COVID-19 “New Normal”? As they say, “follow the money.” Here is the section of Class 17 that follows immediately upon the section we just read:
Notes from Class 17 on Economics in the Renaissance
Economics – One of the bedrock, foundational ideas of Christian economics is that usury – lending money while charging interest – is a grave sin. Christian ecclesiastical and civil codes, East and West, always forbade Christians to practice usury, which is why most usurers in Christian societies prior to the period we are studying were Jews. But because Jews were always excluded from positions of influence in pre-modern Christian societies – from the government, the military, education, medicine, and so forth – because the laws against usury practiced by Christians were strictly enforced, and because the need for having large amounts of money ready to hand is limited in primarily agrarian societies, moneylending and debt never dominated economics prior to the modern period. It existed but was kept under tight control by Christian rulers and by the Church.
Even prior to civil liberties being granted to the Jews living in Christian polities, however, which did not take place until much later, usury entered Western Christian society directly through the rise of Christian-owned banks, first in Italy and later in Austria and the other European nations. The popes, using various casuistic arguments, such as Leo X (reigned 1513-1521) began allowing for usury in various circumstances. It is quite significant that the trigger for the Lutheran revolt, the sale of indulgences, was authorized by Leo X in order to pay the interest on loans taken out from Catholic bankers who were financing the building of the new St. Peter’s. (A Roman Catholic writer, Michael Hoffman, documents this quite convincingly in his book Usury in Christendom, the Mortal Sin that Was and Now is Not).
The new Machiavellian, technocratic rulers of Europe began financing their ever-larger military and technological enterprises through borrowing money, and thus the Money Power – bankers and financiers, whether Jewish or Gentile – over the centuries gained more and more power over the modern European nation-states and their vast overseas empires. Usury fits in perfectly with the alchemical view of science and technology – it is a “magic” way to increase one’s wealth, not by work, but by a trick. Ultimately, like Machiavellian politics and “knowledge as power” scientism, it is all about gaining power over others. At the beginning of the period we are studying, Dante puts usurers and sodomites in the same circle of Hell, because sodomites take what is naturally fertile and make it sterile, while usurers take what is naturally sterile and make it breed. By the end of this period, this was mere theory – “Christian” European economies were increasingly dependent on usury sanctioned by the popes and the Catholic and Protestant princes.
In Orthodox economics, means of production exist to serve man, whose eternal salvation is the highest concern of the rulers. Means of finance, in turn, exist to serve production. In Luciferian economics, man serves production, production serves finance, and the bankers rule over all. The alchemical, perverted economics of usury finances the Promethean quest for unlimited technological progress in the service of the occult oligarchy of the Money Power, who use their army of technocrats – the “managerial class” – and their monopolistic control of education, medicine, the communications media, and violent means of coercion to enslave the human race.
Thus is born the New Atlantis.
End of notes from Class 17.
All right, folks, again: I wrote these words two years ago. This was not a knee-jerk, “conspiracy theory” reaction to a crisis. In the relative calm of that time two years ago, we were simply discussing the birth and development of the modern world that we live in.
The point is this: The process I describe above – of private moneyed interests gaining control over formerly legitimate governments and ruling masses of people through the exploitation of technology – obviously did not stop at the end of the Renaissance, but rather grew exponentially in speed and power throughout the modern era. Through the takeover of government by private interest groups, a small group of people over time have corralled all of the wealth. This is not some secret knowledge gleaned from “conspiracy websites.” It is well known that now, in the 21st century, a tiny group of people control 90% of the wealth in the world. As their wealth increased, so did their power over every aspect of society, which in a post-Christian world is totally dedicated to material ends, and therefore is easily dominated by the Money Power, those who have the money. The theoretical sciences that undergird technology are not a magical, monolithic Truth Machine that is always right. The academics involved in the sciences rely on money, and if they want money, they come up with the results that the Money Power says they must. If, being honest and dedicated scientists, they come up with different results, they become Non-Persons – professors lose their jobs, doctors lose their licenses, their talks on the Internet get de-platformed, and so forth. They might even be assassinated.
If you have read the biography of Fr. Seraphim Rose, you may remember that he was writing, back in the 1950’s, about how academics were totally corrupt. Does anyone really think it is better now? Everyone knows now that the universities and research institutions are completely controlled and completely corrupt. Even where their faculties include honest men here and there, their administrations are dominated by technocrats controlled by the global financial oligarchy, and it is they – not the scholars – who decide which ideas are acceptable and are promoted to society at large. These ideas are then relentlessly shoved down our throats by the Great Stereopticon, the ubiquitous and relentless propaganda machine.
Why, then, should Orthodox Christians bow down to “science” as some kind of a god? Why should we accept the delusion of scientism?
28 August OS 2020 – Thursday of the 14th Week of Matthew, St. Moses the Ethiopian
You can listen to a recording of this commentary at https://www.spreaker.com/user/youngfaithradio/14-matt-thurs
In today’s Gospel, the Lord casts a legion of demons out of the Gadarene demoniac.
And they came over unto the other side of the sea, into the country of the Gadarenes. And when he was come out of the ship, immediately there met him out of the tombs a man with an unclean spirit, Who had his dwelling among the tombs; and no man could bind him, no, not with chains: Because that he had been often bound with fetters and chains, and the chains had been plucked asunder by him, and the fetters broken in pieces: neither could any man tame him. And always, night and day, he was in the mountains, and in the tombs, crying, and cutting himself with stones. But when he saw Jesus afar off, he ran and worshipped him, And cried with a loud voice, and said, What have I to do with thee, Jesus, thou Son of the most high God? I adjure thee by God, that thou torment me not. For he said unto him, Come out of the man, thou unclean spirit. And he asked him, What is thy name? And he answered, saying, My name is Legion: for we are many. And he besought him much that he would not send them away out of the country. Now there was there nigh unto the mountains a great herd of swine feeding. And all the devils besought him, saying, Send us into the swine, that we may enter into them. And forthwith Jesus gave them leave. And the unclean spirits went out, and entered into the swine: and the herd ran violently down a steep place into the sea, (they were about two thousand;) and were choked in the sea. And they that fed the swine fled, and told it in the city, and in the country. And they went out to see what it was that was done. And they come to Jesus, and see him that was possessed with the devil, and had the legion, sitting, and clothed, and in his right mind: and they were afraid. And they that saw it told them how it befell to him that was possessed with the devil, and also concerning the swine. And they began to pray him to depart out of their coasts. And when he was come into the ship, he that had been possessed with the devil prayed him that he might be with him. Howbeit Jesus suffered him not, but saith unto him, Go home to thy friends, and tell them how great things the Lord hath done for thee, and hath had compassion on thee. And he departed, and began to publish in Decapolis how great things Jesus had done for him: and all men did marvel. – Mark 5: 1-20
A legion in the Roman army at full strength numbered 6,000 men. This man’s being possessed by a “legion” of demons means, therefore, that there were thousands of demons inside of him. How could this be? St. Theophan the Recluse explains:
“My name is Legion: for we are many (Mark 5:9).” Spirits are bodiless, and therefore they do not fill or take up space like bodies. This explains why it is physically possible for many spirits to reside in one person. That it is possible morally for spirits to do this is understandable from their amorality or their absence of all moral principles. That it is possible for people is understandable from their many-sided contact with the dark realm of the unclean powers, due to the way people’s souls are ordered. But this only explains what is possible; the reality of demonic possession is subject to conditions which we do not have the ability to determine. We can only say that spirits do not always enter in a visible way, and possession is not always demonstrated through the possessed person’s actions. There is an unseen, hidden demonic possession. There is also a power of spirits over minds, apart from the body, when the demons lead them wherever they wish, through the passions working in them. People think that they are acting themselves, but they are actually the laughingstocks of unclean powers. What can we do? Be a true Christian, and no enemy power shall overcome you. – Thoughts for Each Day of the Year, pp. 186-187
Apart from the power of true Faith and Baptism, man has always been the prisoner and slave of his passions and of demons acting through his passions and sometimes even possessing him bodily. During the long period of the Church’s direct or indirect influence on society, she kept the demonic powers in check. Now, one hundred years after the restraining power of Christian authority was taken away, and with the resulting final apostasy of the formerly Christian nations into secularism, all the world is engulfed in a tide of demons and passions, and, humanly speaking, there is no end in sight. We need not fear it, for we belong to Christ. But we need to be vigilant and to take action. We do not throw ourselves off a cliff and ask angels to catch us.
It is critical, indeed a matter of spiritual – and probably physical – life and death, to cut out demonic influences in our lives and the lives of those for whom we are responsible, chiefly our children. It is not an exaggeration to say that demonic mental programming, either overt or hidden, pervades contemporary movies, television (including “the news,” which in fact is simply the propaganda of the anti-Christian elite), video games, and the Internet, in the form of hypnotically powerful imagery, and an endless barrage of lies and deception, and occult ritual actions and symbols. That there may be innocent productions coming out of the media establishment is a theoretical possibility, but sifting through a pile of toxic waste to find something to consume that will not kill you is a time-consuming and risky process.
And what about the Internet? Here I am, using it, to get this message across. The answer is simple – use it as a tool, for a limited time each day, but do not live in it as an alternate universe. If it gives you access to good things – good books, good articles, good videos – great! Today we obviously need the Internet to find accurate information from sources outside the corporate media, who are obviously just the propaganda ministry of the Luciferian world-state. And it is also true that many Orthodox Christians who are lonely and spiritually isolated find fellowship with brothers and sisters in Christ they previously did not know were out there, much as the Lord revealed to the Prophet Elias the 7,000 men who had not bowed the knee to Baal. Thank God we now, at least for the time being, have access to these good things that were previously unavailable, and that we have the ability to enjoy this unexpected consolation in good communications with those of like soul. But, as we all know, one has to practice discipline and discernment. Even if you are talking to good friends and acquiring necessary information, do not live glued to your computer. Keep track of your time on the Internet for a few days: How much time did you spend on truly necessary activity, and how much time did you waste when you could have been doing something else? How many temptations arose? If there were x number of obvious temptations, how many subliminal or unnoticed temptations also entered your mind? Who knows? Be careful. I suggest that you keep an icon right there in front of you while you are on your media device (of whatever kind), and always say a prayer before you turn it on. I have not yet seen a synodically approved prayer for exorcising computers and smart phones, but I hope that we will soon have one.
Children do not need and most often will be harmed by video games, television, the computer, and the smart phone. Be strict. You will save their lives. They will probably have to use computers when they grow older, of course (unless a cataclysmic world war returns us to pre-modern living conditions). They can learn what they need to know to get started with computers when they are teenagers, in about fifteen minutes. In the meantime, reading good books with mom and dad at the kitchen table is the way to go.
There are precious and few hours in the day. The time at home we do not really have to spend on the computer should be spent on activities that pre-date the age of virtual reality: prayer with the family, reading good books both spiritual and secular, singing good songs and telling good stories, taking walks, growing vegetables and taking care of animals, working around the house, and on and on. There is a good list of good things our very recent ancestors spent their time on, that had nothing whatsoever to do with computers, handheld Internet devices, television, radio, video games, professional sports, or the popular music industry. Nearly all of these “old” activities, which are not really old but timeless, are still available to us. As they say, “Just do it.”
“Alright, Father Steven, I agree with you,” you might be thinking. “But what can I do? I am already enmeshed in a virtual life on the Internet almost all my waking hours.”
I shall respond with what St. Theophan says above: “What can we do? Be a true Christian, and no enemy power can overcome you.” Let’s get serious and start struggling to spend more time in prayer, in good works for others, and useful occupations. Let’s use our leisure time in wholesome reading and wholesome hobbies, or driving old ladies to the grocery store, or teaching a child to read, or visiting the sick, or helping a priest start a new mission, or teaching catechism at our parish, or starting a spiritual book discussion group for our friends…or…or – you know the list is endless. If you do not have the strength to give up this or that, or to re-order your priorities, confess it with tears and do not justify it, and keep praying for the strength to change. The Lord desires our conversion and salvation more than we do.
The Good News is that we are not the hopeless, helpless slaves of the dystopian anti-Paradise, the prison of the mind, the mindless hive of contented monkey-descended sensualists, being put into place before our very eyes at this very moment in history by the visible and invisible rulers of the satanic world-state. We are children of God, citizens of the Heavenly Jerusalem, and members of the Body of Christ. By Faith and Baptism, we have been freed forever from service to Satan, whom we renounced at Holy Baptism, along with “…all his works, all his service, and all his pride.”
As they say, “Just do it.” Let us make the Sign of the Cross and charge ahead.
22 August OS 2016 – Friday of the Thirteenth Week of St. Matthew; Afterfeast of the Dormition; Icon of the Theotokos Prousiotissa; Holy Martyr Agathonikos
You can listen to an audio podcast of this post at https://www.spreaker.com/user/youngfaithradio/matt-13-fri-2020_1
In the Gospel today (Mark 4:1-9), the Lord illustrates the several types of soul who fall away and the one type that endures, by means of the Parable of the Sower:
At that time, Jesus began again to teach by the sea side: and there was gathered unto him a great multitude, so that he entered into a ship, and sat in the sea; and the whole multitude was by the sea on the land. And he taught them many things by parables, and said unto them in his doctrine, Hearken; Behold, there went out a sower to sow: And it came to pass, as he sowed, some fell by the way side, and the fowls of the air came and devoured it up. And some fell on stony ground, where it had not much earth; and immediately it sprang up, because it had no depth of earth: But when the sun was up, it was scorched; and because it had no root, it withered away. And some fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up, and choked it, and it yielded no fruit. And other fell on good ground, and did yield fruit that sprang up and increased; and brought forth, some thirty, and some sixty, and some an hundred. And he said unto them, He that hath ears to hear, let him hear.
St. Theophan the Recluse tells us very simply how to be the good ground that yields spiritual fruit:
…How do you make yourself into the good ground? With attention and study of the word of God, sympathy and love toward it, and readiness to immediately carry out what you learn. With such a mind-set, not a single word will lie on the surface of your soul, but all will enter within. Uniting with the elements of the spirit which are dear to it, it will take root and sprout. Then, being nourished – from above through spiritual inspirations, and from below through good desires and labors – it will grow into a tree and will flower and give fruit… – Thoughts for Each Day of the Year, p. 182.
Notice that St. Theophan says that the word of God will unite with the elements of the spirit which are dear to it. In other words, God made the soul for Himself, to hear Him, to delight in Him, to want to do what He wants. And furthermore, souls enlightened by Holy Baptism have the power to overcome the fallenness of human nature and to do all this. This is not impossible, by any means, but rather quite natural. We simply do not take advantage of the gifts we already have.
So let us begin on the basis of the assumption that our souls are designed to be the good soil, not the other way around. What steps do we take? St. Theophan says 1. Attention and study of the word of God, 2. Sympathy and love toward it, and 3. Doing what it says. These three activities correspond to the three powers of the soul: The reasoning power (ὁ λόγος – logos, mind, understanding, reason), the desiring power (ἡ επιθυμία – epithymia, desire, attraction, love), and the incensive power (ὁ θυμός – thymos, drive, anger, ambition, will to action). We simply have to turn the soul in the right direction as it performs its natural functions – to understand, to love, and to act. The soul is going to do this with or without guidance: there is no question that it will understand, love, and act. The question is whether it will understand, love, and act based upon the true or the false, the beautiful or the ugly, the good or the bad.
Let us, then, resolve each day, with God helping us, to spend time in prayer and sacred study, with the struggle for attention. Our hearts will naturally be attracted to the beauties of holiness depicted therein, if only we give it enough time and attention. Then we must listen to the promptings of conscience and do what the mind and heart are inclining towards. Thus we become the good earth that yields spiritual fruit.
You can listen to an audio recording of this blog post at https://www.spreaker.com/user/youngfaithradio/16-aug
16 August OS 2020 – Saturday of the 12th Week of Matthew; Afterfeast of the Dormition; Feast of the Icon of the Lord “Not Made by Hands”, Holy Martyr Diomedes, St. Gerasimos of Cephallonia
Today, the sixteenth of August, we honor the Holy Mandylion, the icon “Not Made by Hands.” Here is the account of the icon’s origin taken from the Prologue from Ochrid:
At the time when our Lord preached the Good News and healed every illness and infirmity of men, there lived in the city of Edessa on the shore of the Euphrates Prince Abgar who was completely infected with leprosy. He heard of Christ, the Healer of every pain and disease and sent an artist, Ananias, to Palestine with a letter to Christ in which he begged the Lord to come to Edessa and to cure him of leprosy. In the event that the Lord was unable to come, the prince ordered Ananias to portray His likeness and to bring it to him, believing that this likeness would be able to restore his health. The Lord answered that He was unable to come, for the time of His passion was approaching took a towel, wiped His face and, on the towel, His All-pure face was perfectly pictured. The Lord gave this towel to Ananias with the message that the prince will be healed by it, but not entirely, and later on, He would send him a messenger who would erase the remainder of his disease. Receiving the towel, Prince Abgar kissed it and the leprosy completely fell from his body but a little of it remained on his face. Later, the Apostle Thaddaeus, preaching the Gospel, came to Abgar and secretly healed and baptized him. The prince then destroyed the idols which stood before the gates of the city and above the gates he placed the towel with the likeness of Christ attached to wood, framed in a gold frame and adorned with pearls. Also, the prince wrote beneath the icon on the gates: “O Christ God, no one will be ashamed who hopes in You.” Later, one of Abgar’s great grandsons restored idolatry and the bishop of Edessa came by night and walled up that icon over the gates. Centuries then passed. During the reign of Emperor Justinian, the Persian King Chozroes attacked Edessa and the city was in great hardship. It happened that Eulabius, the Bishop of Edessa, had a vision of the All-Holy Theotokos who revealed to him the mystery of the sealed wall and the forgotten icon. The icon was discovered and, by its power, the Persian army was defeated.
This miraculous image undoubtedly served as the model for all subsequent icons of the sacred face of the Lord. Thus our iconographic tradition is based on an accurate image that Christ Himself gave us: this is what Jesus Christ looks like. This is the face of the God-Man.
When Moses spoke with God on Mt. Sinai, he asked to see God’s glory. Here is God’s answer:
And [Moses] said, I beseech thee, shew me thy glory. And [God] said, I will make all my goodness pass before thee, and I will proclaim the name of the LORD before thee; and will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will shew mercy on whom I will shew mercy. And he said, Thou canst not see my face: for there shall no man see me, and live. And the LORD said, Behold, there is a place by me, and thou shalt stand upon a rock: And it shall come to pass, while my glory passeth by, that I will put thee in a clift of the rock, and will cover thee with my hand while I pass by: And I will take away mine hand, and thou shalt see my back parts: but my face shall not be seen. – Exodus 33: 18-23
“…for there shall no man see me, and live.” “…but my face shall not be seen.” In the Old Testament, a chosen few, such as Moses and Elias, were graced with seeing God indistinctly, His “back parts.” If they had encountered God directly, they would have been struck dead. In the Gospel, we see a multitude of sinful men not only enabled to see God’s face, but to touch Him, to hear Him, to eat with Him and speak with Him. According to His human nature, they were even allowed to murder Him. What more can God do to show that He loves us?
Whenever our faith is weak, whenever the circumstances of life press upon us and we feel alone and helpless, whenever our spiritual life has become something theoretical and abstract, without inner warmth, without life-giving power: Let us go before the Icon of the Face of the Lord and read the Akathist to Our Lord Jesus Christ with attention. Let us ask God Who became Incarnate for us to renew in us holy zeal and the desire to do His will. “If you love Me,” says the Lord, “keep my commandments.” And what is the first commandment? “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart.”
Christ gave us this most accurate image of His Holy Face as a lasting pledge of His love for us. May it be a means of our growing in love for Him.
11 August OS 2020: Tuesday of the Twelfth Week of St. Matthew; Afterfeast of the Transfiguration; Holy Deacon Martyr Euplos
Today’s reading from the Gospel is Mark 1: 9-15.
And it came to pass in those days, that Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee, and was baptized of John in Jordan. And straightway coming up out of the water, he saw the heavens opened, and the Spirit like a dove descending upon him: And there came a voice from heaven, saying, Thou art my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. And immediately the Spirit driveth him into the wilderness. And he was there in the wilderness forty days, tempted of Satan; and was with the wild beasts; and the angels ministered unto him. Now after that John was put in prison, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God, And saying, The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel.
Today we begin reading from the Gospel According to St. Mark, the shortest and most direct of the four Gospels. (It is still the season of St. Matthew, because we are still reading from St. Matthew on Saturdays and Sundays, but during the week we have begun reading St. Mark.)
St. Mark, the disciple of St. Peter, wrote his Gospel for the Church at Rome, and the terse and concise character of this Gospel corresponds to the old Roman character: simple, direct, and to the point. Today, St. Mark briefly recounts the Lord’s baptism and temptation in the wilderness, and tells of the beginning of Christ’s preaching. All in seven verses!
St. Mark’s brevity brings into relief a fact about all the Gospels. They are not biographies of Jesus Christ; they simply proclaim Who He is. They contain only what we need to know, to believe, and to do in order to find salvation. We must read and hear these words (literally, physically read and hear them), make an act of faith in their truth, pray for understanding, resolve to live according to their demands, and repent for failing to do so. This must happen day after day, or we forget what a Christian is.
If we have been slack in reading the Gospel lately, this new beginning, with the shortest Gospel, at the beginning of a fast, is a good place to start again. We need to open the Gospel, stand or kneel in front of our icons, and read aloud the appointed daily passage or perhaps a whole chapter, going passage by passage or chapter by chapter, day by day. Read aloud, at a moderate pace. Struggle for attention. The Holy Spirit infuses the words of the Gospel with infinite divine power, and they are self-acting. If we read them and struggle for attention, they will produce spiritual fruit.
Reading the Gospel itself is the first step, and the Holy Spirit will grant us understanding if we ask for it. If we desire to take another step and study the Gospels as well as read them, we should use a patristic or patristically inspired commentary. Though the commentaries of the ancient Fathers are the most complete, most of us need something shorter, and the normative short commentary is the explanation of the Gospels by St. Theophylact of Ochrid. Formerly these were available in four volumes from Chrysostom Press in House Springs, Missouri, but now they are being distributed by St. Herman Press. As of this date, both the St. Matthew and St. Mark volumes are available: https://www.sainthermanmonastery.com/Theophylact-on-the-Gospel-of-Mark-p/mark.htm
Besides, or after, St. Theophylact, the best guide to the Gospels for our time is the commentary by Archbishop Averky, available from Holy Trinity Monastery at http://bookstore.jordanville.org/9781942699002. Just reading a page every day from one or both of these commentaries will change us greatly for the good.
Fr. Seraphim Rose used to ask a question we should ask ourselves: “We know we are Orthodox, but are we Christians?” Of course, he did not mean that being Orthodox and being Christian are really two separate things: being Orthodox assumes being a Christian, and to be a Christian in the most accurate sense, to be in the Church, one must be Orthodox. He was using irony to make a point, that one can become fixated on discrete aspects of the Faith intended to help us live the Gospel while simultaneously disobeying the Gospel itself. If one’s mind is not immersed in the Gospel, and if one does not submit one’s will to the commandments of the Gospel, then the dogmas, canons, liturgical services, liturgical arts, domestic customs – the various manifestations of Church life – easily become idols, ends in themselves. Our understanding of them fragments, we alienate them from their true meaning and coherence in the light of the Gospel, and instead of using them as instruments for our salvation, we misunderstand and misuse them in such a way that their power – which is indeed great, whether to salvation or damnation – transforms us into Sadducees and Pharisees. Sadducees worship the liturgical cult and the clerical power structure. Pharisees worship the rules and customs. Christians worship the Holy Trinity.
Bishop Ignatius Brianchaninov writes in The Arena that God will judge us – both in the particular judgment after death and in the general judgment at the Second Coming – according to the commandments of the Gospel. This judgment determines our fate for all eternity. Let each of us hasten to make himself most intimate with this book by which he shall be judged and daily compare to its demands the contents of that other book the Judge shall open on that Day, the book of each man’s heart.
Again, thanks to our donors. May the Lord reward your love with His grace! To our other listeners: please consider a gift to help me out. If you have PayPal, you can send a gift to my account at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you want to receive a receipt for a tax deduction, contact me at that email, and I can tell you how to donate to our parish, who in turn will pass the donation on to me and send you a receipt.
When I was in Belgrade recently, the patriotic and monarchist club “Tsarostavnik” asked me to give a talk on this corona virus insanity that is still going on around us. I gave the talk in two parts, on July 23rd and July 30th ns. Some of you may have seen the talks on YouTube, and you had to be patient to follow them, since I was frequently – necessarily – interrupted by an interpreter, for the sake of those in the audience who did not speak English. For today’s Survival Course class, I have combined the two talks into one and shall deliver them in English without interruption, both for the sake of those who saw the videos and would like to hear the talks again without interruption, and for those who have not heard them yet. I have left in the references to Tsarostavnik and my original audience, both to give greater liveliness and to preserve a record of the historical context of the original talk. The only difference in the original script and today’s script is that I have left out the summary of Lecture One that I gave at the beginning of Lecture Two.
So here it is:
The Corona Virus Delusion Examined Under the Light of Truth
Club “Tsarostavnik,” Belgrade
Talk 1 on 10/23 July 2020
Holy 45 Martyrs of Nicopolis
St. Anthony of the Kiev Caves
I would like to express my thanks to the leadership of Tsarostavnik for inviting me once again to address you on a topic of great spiritual and historical importance. I am always honored and always rejoice to meet others who do not accept the manufactured illusions of our time, who seek to know and to live the truth in light of the Orthodox Faith, in loyalty to Christ as well as to their people and their homeland. May our common Savior enlighten our understanding, and give us courage, wisdom, and strength, and grant us to be unified, in Him, in our struggles against the evils which beset us.
Introduction – Our Topic
Tonight’s topic is the current “Corona virus” catastrophe that is going on around us. I shall speak from the perspective of someone coming from the United States, and the effect of “Corona” on the American people, but I am sure you can apply all of this to your situation here in Serbia. During our discussion after my talk, I would like for you to inform me, in turn, about the situation here, and how my observations do or do not apply to your own predicament.
Of course, as we know, the actual catastrophe is not the supposed pandemic, but is rather the grim ensemble of pre-designed results so rapidly achieved by those who have created the illusion of the pandemic, which include
the massive destruction of local economies and personal wealth, with the consequent further destruction of the middle and working classes and the increase of their slavery to debt and to government financial assistance,
2. the widespread – and probably generational – illnesses and deaths brought about not by the mysterious virus but by the measures supposedly taken to combat the virus,
3. the quantum leap in the destruction of personal freedom by the institution of a lawless police and surveillance state,
4. the successful demonstration of the ability to induce mass demoralization, confusion, and delusional fearfulness by the use of highly developed media technology,
5. the advancement of the compulsory vaccination agenda, bringing with it the specter, in the near future, of coercively implanting sinister nanotechnology devices in entire national populations,
6. creating fear and distrust between people and their neighbors, thus further destroying the already weak natural bonds of family and community, in order to fill the vacuum with an idiotic loyalty of atomized, deracinated individuals to an all-powerful central authority,
and, most significantly,
7. the hastening of the ongoing apostasy of the historical Christian institutions and peoples – including, most critically, the Orthodox ones – to clear the way for a satanic world-state under the actual Antichrist, or, at least, a totalitarian authority in the spirit of Antichrist which will foreshadow his coming.
The purpose of my contribution tonight – and I say “my contribution,” because I welcome your contribution as well, both tonight and when we, God willing, continue our conversation next week – is not, however, to dwell on the evils of the current crisis and the possible – even probable – evils to come, but rather to clarify our understanding of the entire situation in the light of God’s providence for us, in the light of the history of our salvation. We are Orthodox Christians: we must ever set our eyes upon our eternal destiny and form our understanding of earthly events in the light of eternity. We are not as the godless, who have no hope. When a man has truly and irrevocably died to this world, in order to live forever with Christ, he acquires invincible courage, coupled with prudence and self-control. Only such a man can make effective war upon the enemies, visible and invisible, who beset us.
I do not, then, plan to dwell upon the details of the situation, concerning which there is room for a considerable difference of opinion, even among those who know the truth about the big picture. This big picture, which, I believe, all of us here tonight understand, is that the “Corona” crisis is a worldwide psy-op and social engineering project by the globalist Antichrist elites, whose purpose is to bring about an inconceivably monstrous and unprecedented satanic tyranny over the whole world. We who are fighters for Christ and against Antichrist should not waste energy and weaken our struggle by fighting among ourselves about the fine gradations of understanding various specific questions, for example: Whether the disease actually exists in the form that is claimed; whether it is natural or manmade, or, if manmade, whether it is bio-warfare of this or that power against a rival power; whether this or that treatment actually works to prevent or cure the disease; what the actual numbers are of verifiable instances of the disease and verifiable deaths; whether the test for the disease really works as a diagnostic tool or is even, perhaps, on the contrary, designed to actually give people the disease; what the specific ingredients and effects of a proposed vaccine are going to be; whether the current repressive measures are temporary or permanent (i.e., whether this is just one more preparatory stage in the ongoing Antichrist project, followed by a respite, or is, rather, the beginning of a long, unrelenting final push), etc. I am not saying that these questions are unimportant, and I know that a lot of brave truth-tellers have done and are doing a lot of excellent work – often at great personal cost – to reveal the true answers to these questions and many other, related questions as well. My point is that we can disagree about the details but still be united on an Orthodox understanding of the big picture.
In my talk tonight, then, I shall go through the seven results of the “Corona” psy-op/ engineering project I have listed above, briefly summarize them, and then give an interpretation of each one in light of an Orthodox understanding of history and our current place in it. The seventh result – the hastening of the apostasy of the historically Christian peoples – is, of course, the most important and the most dreadful, and my summary and interpretation of this necessarily sheds light on the other six topics and will also form the conclusion to my talk.
Seven Results of the Engineered “Corona” Crisis
1. The destruction of a just and humane economy:
Never before in history have national governments simply shut down a critical mass of the productive activities of their nations in order to prevent the spread of a disease. If one’s purpose really were to save a nation and protect the real welfare of its people, such a measure would be obviously – unbelievably – asinine. If one’s purpose, however, were the destruction of local economies, small businesses, and the productive property of millions of middle and working class families, with the consequent further concentration of wealth in the hands of an insatiably rapacious oligarchy of parasitical usurers, these draconian “lockdowns” and falsely named quarantines of millions of perfectly healthy people would constitute a master stroke. And so they have proved to be.
In the United States, the enforced lockdowns have destroyed thousands of small businesses, often family businesses which were the products of the labor of several generations. Millions of middle and working class people have lost their jobs. Small town economies, already suffering greatly, have been devastated. We are supposed to believe that this impoverishment of millions, which has resulted not only in financial disaster for those affected, but naturally has also led to a marked increase in suicide, divorce, and the breakup of families, was a wise measure necessary to prevent the spread of a disease that, even if we accept the official numbers that everyone knows are grossly inflated, has killed perhaps one twentieth of one percent of the national population, mostly people in very large cities who already had other serious health problems.
It is all a lie, of course. The economic outcome has been to further the destruction of what remained of a human scale economy and to concentrate even more wealth in the hands of the large corporations and the banks. In America, the economic gains made by the middle and working classes during the first three years of the Trump administration were wiped out in a few weeks. Vast numbers of the suddenly unemployed were, moreover, sent a lot of “free” money, and millions who had never received public assistance were now being tempted by the idea that it is actually better to stay home, not work, and get a check in the mail, than to be productive.
From the Orthodox point of view, all of this is spiritually disastrous. Healthy family life, designed by God to be the normal framework in which man acquires the virtues and works out his salvation, is best served by the family’s possessing productive property – a farm and/or a small business – or, if they must be dependent on wages paid by another, a moderate but sufficient income, a “family wage.” And man must work by the sweat of his brow, as the Lord commanded Adam after the Fall, not sit around and collect money for doing nothing. Where you see the destruction of family farms and family businesses, and enforced idleness coupled with the “bread and circuses” of the welfare state, there is always and inevitably the corruption of morals. The economic disaster caused by the “Corona” crisis is, therefore, not a strictly worldly concern unconnected to spiritual life, and the Church should be concerned over it. We must encourage our faithful to be proactive in striving to remain out of debt and independent of government assistance as much as possible, to acquire new skills if necessary to maintain an income adequate to supporting a family, and to acquire productive property in the form of land where they can produce food and small businesses that are able to survive in the post-“Corona” environment. If we truly believe in leading a godly life, the Lord will open doors for us, show us the way, and give us the help we need to lead quiet and peaceful lives in which we can work out our salvation.
2. Illnesses and deaths caused by government overreach:
The authorities in the United States – as well as, I understand, other countries – more or less shut down their health care systems during the peak “Corona” weeks. Untold millions of necessary procedures to preserve health and life were canceled or postponed, and untold numbers became more sick or actually died from this engineered refusal to treat them. These numbers probably far exceed whatever final, fictional body count from “Corona” is going to be fabricated whenever those in power decide it is time for the “pandemic” to be over in order to make way for the next brainwashing operation. In addition to the canceled and postponed treatments, the nonstop propaganda about the terrors of this mysterious bogeyman virus frightened millions more into not seeking help that was actually available, and an untold number have died at home because they were frightened of contracting “Corona” in the emergency room of their local hospital. I have already mentioned above the sharp increase in suicides during this period caused by job loss, the breakup of families, and the incredible anxiety engineered in millions of minds by the merciless information bombardment from the corporate media. The means for stopping the spread of “Corona” have surely killed more people than the disease itself, and they will go on killing people into the future, as the long-term, generational effects of economic and social destruction, as well as the damage caused to the health care system, work their grim logic out in time.
The spiritual meaning of this carnage is that it is one more phase of the Antichrist elite’s endless orgy of human sacrifice to their god, satan. The same people who have given us euthanasia, abortion on demand, and the vivisection of still-living human beings euphemistically called “organ donation,” also have given us the “Corona” crisis as a new, immensely large, and multi-faceted mechanism for killing large numbers of people over time. The demons feed on human blood and human suffering, and their acolytes must give it to them, or the demons will torture them. They must always be one step ahead of the game and be constantly devising new ways to kill people. One must admit that with “Corona” they have been extremely clever, with the help of their invisible handlers. Only demonic intelligences could have thought of all this.
Our Lord Jesus Christ, Who has freed us from the power of the devil by His all-conquering death on the Cross and glorious Resurrection, has entrusted His True Church, the Orthodox Church, with the power to overcome sin, illness, death, the devil, and hell. We must be bold in prophetically denouncing all of these newfangled types of human sacrifice, including this latest deception, and proclaim the sanctity of human life on every occasion. We must point out the utter hypocrisy and vanity of those who claim to be so concerned over saving lives through these absurdly excessive measures against “Corona,” while at the same time they are leading advocates of infanticide (abortion), suicide (euthanasia), and ritual murder by vivisection (the transplantation of vital organs from still-living people). We must preach the joyful Christian embrace of life, giving courage to our young people to proclaim their faith in the goodness and sanctity of human life by marrying and having large families, by living selflessly and fearlessly.
3. Destruction of personal freedom:
Nowhere in history do we see the example of a nation – much less most or all the nations in the world – locking its entire healthy and productive population in their homes – i.e., placing them under house arrest – in order supposedly to combat the spread of a disease. This is so obviously an exercise in raw power, in mass mind control, and in the humiliation and enslavement of vast human populations, that it is inconceivable that so many supposedly intelligent people cannot see it simply for what it is. The promised endless regime of mandatory testing, contact tracing, and so forth, will simply be a “soft” version of the Soviet-style surveillance state.
From the Orthodox point of view, we can perceive that the satanic anti-authority has erected this absurd and grotesque regime of “Corona” restrictions in order to degrade man, the image of God. They hate God, and they hate His creation, especially His highest creation, which is man. Whatever in their endless cruelty they can do to degrade and humiliate man, and to control his mind and body, they will do, as an integral part of their rebellion against God, their disobedience to His holy will. The Church elevates and ennobles man, and gives him the means to attain true freedom through the exercise of his moral will. The synagogue of Satan degrades and humiliates man, enslaving him through forms of outward coercion that wear him down and finally convince him of the truth of materialist determinism, so that he will give up any spiritual striving and no longer exercise the freedom of using his moral will for the good.
Our Savior has told us that He is Truth, and that the Truth will set us free. We must preach the truth of the current situation to our faithful and all whose hearts are open, and proclaim “liberty to the captives,” that is, those who are living enslaved to fear and to their passions. If we strive against the passions, by God’s grace we can acquire the inner freedom of the sons of God, which no totalitarian regime, no matter how powerful, can take away from us. This truth we know from the recent experience of our New Martyrs under communism. Even if those in power succeed in taking away our outward freedom, we will remain free within, and it is only those who are free within who can fight effectively for outward freedom as well. Let us redouble our efforts to preach and to live the active Orthodox spiritual life, and the infinite divine power of grace will come to our aid.
4. Demonstrating mass mind control:
A truly sobering aspect of the current situation is that vast numbers of people do not actually have to be coerced into giving up their freedom; they simply consent to be tricked into doing it. They have been brainwashed into “loving Big Brother,” and they willingly embrace their slavery. This entire crisis is actually a vast psy-op, in which the globalist establishment has demonstrated its power to perform Pavlovian conditioning long distance on billions of people through media technology. What the subjects of this experiment actually go through is an occult, ritual initiation in the form of a traumatizing psychological drama, in which one imagines that one is faced with death and then is rescued by the deus ex machina of the all-powerful therapeutic nanny state, to which one now owes his life, and from that point on continues to live in a kind of pseudo-immortality guaranteed by obedience to the new god. Those who “blaspheme” the new “god” (such as whistle-blowing physicians and scientists, for example) are heretics and infidels, threats to one’s newly attained pseudo-immortality, and they must be silenced or even eradicated.
From our Orthodox point of view, we can say that the subjects of this psychodrama initiation have decisively entered an entire mental universe of prelest in which the perception of reality and real spiritual life – and therefore salvation – becomes extremely difficult if not impossible. The preachers and authorities of the Church must teach our people the truth of what is going on, exhort them not to give themselves over to these lies, and to maintain spiritual sobriety. We must courageously continue to preach the truth that our true life is not here but in eternity, and that we must not fear death, a fear that gives the evil one and his servants power over us. We must exhort our faithful to exercise strict control over their exposure to the various communication media and to refuse to be hypnotized by the great propaganda machine that is creating a race of mindless post-human “zombies” all around us.
5. Advancing the vaccine and microchip agenda:
The well-documented crimes against humanity on an unbelievably vast scale by “Big Pharma,” their fellow traveler Bill Gates, and those like them, are probably well known to everyone in our audience tonight. Their plans for injecting the entire human population with poisons, microchips, and so forth are also a matter of public record, not at all a “conspiracy theory.” By creating this “Corona” crisis, these same criminals are both psychologically conditioning their victims to accept this being done to them and fabricating pseudo-scientific and pseudo-legal excuses for doing it to them.
As we know, in Orthodox circles there now rages a debate about whether the planned vaccine and microchip will constitute the “mark of the beast” foretold in the Apocalypse. Even if it does not, this does not constitute an excuse for the Church not to oppose it. It obviously partakes of the spirit of Antichrist, and this alone makes it evil and deserving of our opposition. The body of a baptized Orthodox Christian is a temple of the Holy Spirit. His mother, the Church, who exercises her care over all of his psychosomatic organism, is not indifferent to the dangers obviously present when an aggressively anti-Christian authority proposes to place unpredictable toxins and a little understood, advanced nano-technology into his body, with possibly catastrophic physical and psychic consequences. Moreover, the proposed tattoo, signifying that the subject is permanently marked as belonging to the new race of micro-chipped humanity, is a sign of ownership, signifying slavery to the anti-Christian regime. In shamanistic religion, tattoos are symbolic places of entry for demonic powers. Given the well-known penchant of the global elites for satanic worship, it is not unreasonable to deduce that they will design the tattoo for occult purposes as well as for marking their new “property.” The Church must preach courageous and intransigent opposition to this obviously demonic program, and her leaders must be in the forefront of those willing to suffer in order not to give in.
6. Creating fear and distrust; destroying natural loyalties and creating loyalty to the Antichrist authority:
Nothing symbolizes the Brave New World of “Corona” more powerfully than the face mask now submissively worn by millions. It is perhaps the cleverest of many masterstrokes in the diabolic program we see unfolding before us. Even if the disease is what they say it is, we know from official sources that the mask does not prevent its spread. It has been likened to using a chain link fence to keep out mosquitoes. The real purpose of the mask is to dehumanize the population and reduce them to an atomized mass of unrelated individuals living in fear of one another and in submissive loyalty to the central authority. And not only the mask, but the “social distancing” and enforced isolation measures also contribute to this. Again, we must remember that the people in charge are creating a new sub-human humanity, a diabolic caricature of God’s creation of man. They are destroying what is left of the natural bonds of family, community, and nation, and reducing once noble humanity to a mass of deracinated, atomized individuals with no identity, no past, no future, no tradition, no roots, no meaning – a gigantic vacuum to be filled with demonic lies and demonic energies. In place of traditional loyalties, there is only a banal and idiotic loyalty to the collective hive of mindlessness, to the faceless new regime. Those who keep their faces intact – both literally by not masking and figuratively by preserving their traditional loyalties and traditional identities – are identified as “enemies of the people” to be feared, punished, and liquidated.
The Church must proactively take measures to increase the bonds of love, loyalty, and trust among her members, and help them intensify both their Orthodoxy and traditional cultural identities, and not abandon them to this new, satanic loyalty. Faceless, rootless atomistic individuals, with no past and no future, living in a world of lies and living only to gratify momentary desires and avoid momentary pains, cannot be Christians and cannot be saved. It’s that simple.
We will devote our talk next week entirely to point seven, which is the most important: The “Corona” crisis has intensified and expanded the ongoing apostasy of the Orthodox leadership and Orthodox institutions.
The “Corona” Delusion in the Light of Truth, Part II
Club “Tsarostavnik,” Belgrade
17/30 March 2020
Great Martyr Marina
Once again I would like to thank the leadership of Tsarostavnik for inviting me to address you on the current manufactured “Corona” crisis. As I said last week, it is always a great pleasure to offer whatever advice and insight I can to those who steadfastly refuse to accept the manufactured delusions of our time, and who desire to remain loyal to Holy Orthodoxy and to their homeland. Let us all pray that whatever wisdom we can obtain we will also be able to share with as many others as possible, with those whose hearts are open to the truth.
In Part I, I discussed introduced seven pre-designed results of the Corona crisis and discussed them as topics one through six. Tonight I shall discuss the most important topic, which is the Church.
The Church and the Revolt Against Divine Order
Some of those in our audience have no doubt listened to my podcast lecture series entitled “Orthodox Survival Course,” inspired by lectures of the same name given by the late Fr. Seraphim Rose. You may recall that I devoted several of these talks to Fr. Seraphim’s short book on the philosophy of nihilism, “nothing-ism,” which is the dominant thought system – or, rather, anti-thought anti-system – of the occult global oligarchy which has now come to power on the ruins of Christian civilization. This book was just part of a planned, much larger work which Fr. Seraphim was going to title “The Kingdom of God and the Kingdom of Man,” a comprehensive metahistory of the world in light of Divine Revelation and Holy Tradition, in which Fr. Seraphim was going to trace the working out of God’s plan for our salvation by viewing and connecting the events of history from an Orthodox viewpoint. Though he never wrote this book, his Orthodox Survival Course lectures did accomplish a great deal that he wanted to achieve with the book, by tracing Western man’s apostasy from the Faith of Christ in the developments of the second millennium. The current situation, in which Christendom, that is, a civilization in which the Church is the dominant institution, has been effectively destroyed and replaced by an explicitly anti-Christian system, is the result of this apostasy.
A key concept in understanding Fr. Seraphim’s work and that of other important Christian meta-historians, is the concept of Divine Order based on the Logos of God, Who is the Second Person of the Holy Trinity, Our Lord Jesus Christ. Logos is a Greek word meaning “word,” but also “rationality,” “meaning,” and “logic.” Christ is the blueprint, the logic, the meaning of the entire created cosmos, including man – especially including man. All of man’s works, including his political systems, science, art, medicine, education, etc. are pleasing to God insofar as they conform to the Logos. Insofar as they do not conform to the Logos, they are in a state of disorder, of disobedience, displeasing to God and harmful to man. The history of Orthodox civilization is the history of the creation of human institutions which express this Divine Order, under the guidance of the Church. The anti-Christian revolutions of the past 200+ years, in the revolutionary era that began with the French Revolution, are the revolt of man against God and his replacing the Divine Order, in which everything is oriented to man’s ultimate purpose, which is his salvation, with a demonic order, in which everything is oriented to the glorification of the passions and the worship of temporal things.
Of course, this revolt did not really begin out of nowhere 200 years ago. It was the outward result of the entire falling away of the Western part of the Christian world, beginning with the separation from Orthodoxy in the middle ages. Fr. Seraphim’s lecture series, as well as my own Orthodox Survival Course, explain how this happened.
I am reviewing all of this to give a framework within which to understand the current crisis. It is not an isolated event, but is rather one more step in the age-old program of those who hate Christ to destroy the Divine Order in the world and institute their own antiChrist order. It is therefore the duty of the Church to reveal this deception for what it is and to oppose it. Last week we discussed how the elites are using this deception to enslave man economically, physically, and socially. Tonight we will speak specifically of the attack on the Church Herself in the denial of Her freedom, Her divine character and mission, and Her teaching on the nature of man and his final purpose.
A. Attack on the Church’s Freedom
As we all know, secular authorities in many countries have used the Corona scare to justify shutting down Church services on a massive scale. The most scandalous aspect of this, of course, was that many Church authorities, including Orthodox authorities, have cooperated in this to the point of actually anticipating and/or exceeding government requirements about having services, the manner of distributing Holy Communion, the number of worshippers allowed to be present, and actually collecting names of those who attended services to hand over to the authorities, an iniquitous practice reminiscent of the Soviet Union.
The diabolically clever aspect of all this is that it was done in the name of “public health,” and therefore worldly church authorities could make some jesuitical argument that they were not denying the Faith, that no one told them to give up their Creed. They were acting in the public interest! But when in the history of the Church did She simply shut down and stop functioning in times of widespread disease? Historically, were not these episodes – which were far more frequent before the advent of modern medicine – actually occasions for greater efforts to do Church services, hold public processions, bring Holy Communion to a greater number of people, and so forth – in short, to use the divine power given by Christ to the Apostles and their successors to defeat sickness, death, the devil, and hell? In fact, this current compromised behavior is a great triumph of what has come to be called “Sergianism,” a secularization of the Church through Her own leaders’ willingly lowering Her to the level of an earthly institution in service of a godless state based on a materialistic philosophy.
“Well, this was temporary,” the apologists for this behavior say. “When the crisis is over, things will return to normal.” But what will happen next year when a new crisis is manufactured and relentlessly shoved down our throats by endless media propaganda? If we retreated this time, why not next time and every time? Where do you draw the line? Where does the compromise end? If we do not stand up now, when the threatened penalties are relatively mild and in many places the rules are not even enforced, what will we do when those in charge decide to make things worse?
B. Attack on the Church’s Divine Character and Mission
I have already mentioned above that the underlying philosophy behind the closure of churches and the mutilation of the services and administration of the Holy Mysteries is materialism, the teaching that everything real is of this world, and that the spiritual life and eternal life are not real, or, if real, completely disconnected from how we should conduct our lives in this world. The Church, however, is of divine origin, She has a divine and holy character, and Her mission is to preach the truth of salvation to men and to bring about the Divine Order in this world, in order to facilitate that way of life that is conducive to salvation. What the secularists – both civil and ecclesiastical – want to do is to reduce our Faith to a private hobby, an individual, subjective psychological experience, that has little or no public expression and little or no effect on how people conduct their lives in this world. During this recent crisis, collaborationist clergymen told their traumatized faithful that not having services or the sacraments was a good thing, and that they could just as well practice their Faith by watching video broadcasts of Church services. This is not only an attack on the corporate nature of the Church as the visible Body of Christ in the world, but also the destruction of the believer’s actual experience of divine worship, which is of its nature something real not virtual.
C. Attack on the Nature of Man and His Final Purpose
Man is a psychosomatic unity, not a “ghost trapped in a machine,” as Descartes famously said. It is not true that the Church ministers only to souls, while men’s bodies are not her concern. The Church is the primary arena in which man’s healing – including his physical healing – takes place. To abandon the healing of men’s bodies completely to secular scientific and social institutions utterly divorced from a Christian understanding of the origin of illness and the Church’s mission to heal and deliver men from all their woes both spiritual and physical, is to reject Holy Tradition in favor of some kind of dualistic anthropology and a secularist social philosophy.
Conclusion – A great deal more could be said on this all-important topic. I offer these thoughts to you tonight, and I welcome your questions and comments.