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Reverend Ioann Barbus Reverend Ioann Barbus


We are glad to welcome you to the official website of the Transfiguration of our Lord Russian Orthodox Church, located in the city of Baltimore, the state of Maryland, USA. The church belongs to the original Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia (ROCOR) and has as its goal the preservation of the spiritual traditions and the treasure of church services of ancient Russian Orthodoxy.

We invite you to acquaint yourself with our church and our parish, to see our small but wondrous iconostasis, to hear our modest choir. When visiting our online Orthodox library, you will be able to acquire deeper knowledge of the Orthodox faith through the spiritually-enlightening materials that are contained therein. These materials are printed in our church bulletins, which are issued monthly in both Russian and English. You are also very welcome to visit our church in person.

  View our current schedule of services.
With love in Christ,
Reverend Ioann Barbus and the church council.



“Today She is born from the chaste Joachim and Anna, and Adam’s curse upon us is destroyed by Her birth” (stichera for the Vigil).

For five-and-a-half thousand years mankind subconsciously awaited this moment. All that while it could not find in its midst a maiden worthy of becoming the Mother of God incarnate; humanity was unable to produce a Chosen One Who could contain within Herself the Uncontainable.

All spiritual things were foreign to antediluvian mankind. In those days people were so incorrigibly flesh-bound that God eradicated them from the face of the earth in the waters of the deluge and planted a new mankind from the roots of righteous Noah. But Adam’s new progeny did not remember for long the reasons for the deluge and began anew to build a monument to its pride. Then the Lord dispersed the people upon the entire face of the earth, dividing them one from another by a language barrier.

Afterwards He found a shoot of future salvation – Abraham, and planted him in fertile ground, grew a mighty tree from him – the people of Israel, guarded them, cleansed them of idolatry, and finally focused all His attention and concern upon one of its branches – the tribe of Judah, and then concentrated upon a small offshoot – the ancestry of David, which gave the world the everlasting Bloom – the Most-pure Virgin. Such was the divine plan for our salvation – from a dying root to produce a bloom of incorruptibility, chosen from among all ages and people – the Most-blessed Virgin Mary.

This wondrous event took place in a small town in Palestine called Nazareth, where an elderly barren couple gave birth to a Daughter. For many of their neighbors this appeared extraordinary, but no more than that. They were unable to comprehend the magnitude of the event. Had their spiritual eyes been open, they would have seen a wondrous sight: the Son of God attending the birth of the Holy Virgin; angels reverently surrounding the newborn Maiden, greater than the cherubim and higher than the seraphim; Adam and Eve spiritually triumphant, seeing the ancient prophecy coming to pass – the birth of a Maiden Whose seed would destroy the head of the ancient serpent (Gen. 3:15). Repentant sinners rejoice, for into the fallen world has come the Surety of sinners, the Intercessor for the damned, the Joy of all who sorrow.

The Mother of God loves and hears all those who pray to Her in the simplicity of their hearts, for “through the doors of Her mercy everyone enters freely with prayer” (St. Dimitri of Rostov).

Let us not pass by this door, dear brethren, by forgetting to pray, and let us not thus send away, as did antediluvian mankind, the Merciful Intercessor from our midst.


(Reprinted from “Orthodox Russia,” No. 17, 2001)





Today we are glorifying the Live-giving Cross. It would not be amiss, dear brethren, to remind ourselves of how the Church and the Holy Fathers teach us to look upon the Life-giving Cross and the bearing of our own personal cross.

Our great instructor in faith and piety, Saint Theophanus the Recluse, said that the Cross of Christ is tri-composite. The cross which every Christian must bear in his life is also tri-composite, just as the Cross itself, according to prophecy, was made of three kinds of wood. Thus, in bearing our cross, we see three facets, like three kinds of wood, merging into one.

The first of these crosses is the cross of fallen mankind. The holy apostle Paul spoke of it briefly, powerfully and concisely, referring to himself: “I know not what I am doing: the good that I wish to do – I do not, while the evil that I do not wish to do – I do.” And people are prisoners of their sin – the sin of fallen mankind, of which the same St. Theophanus said: “Imagine a man carrying upon his back a rotting, malodorous corpse to which he is tightly bound. Wherever he goes, he cannot escape from this terrible putrefying decay. It will doggedly follow him everywhere.”

The second cross is what we usually understand as being the burden of a cross: it is the combination of all the afflictions, all the sorrows, and all the difficulties that fill our lives. This is what is actually meant by carrying one’s cross. But that is not all.

One can spiritually philosophize as follows, say the Holy Fathers: here is a man surrounded by affliction, illness. and misfortune. As soon as he gives himself up to God’s will with all his heart and all his soul, saying that the Lord does everything well and, therefore, whatever may be sent to him along this path of the cross, he should consider is as being good, – as soon as he says so in his heart (says St. Theophanus), everything will disappear as if by magic. Everything around him will remain the same: the same sorrows, the same anxieties, but he himself will have changed and will look upon everything differently. Every man must act in this manner, being firmly convinced that the Heavenly Father will never give him stone instead of bread. If He sends us some kind of cross to bear, that means we are in need of such, and it will be beneficial to us. The Elder Ambrose of Optina always said these wonderful words: “Whatever will be – will be, and it will be whatever God gives, and God does everything exceedingly well.”

Of the last cross St. Theophanus spoke very humbly, with the deep humility inherent in him. He said: “That cross is known only to the one who has reached a high level of spirituality. He has already overcome all temptations, he already easily overcomes all disorders. But there are temptations of a higher kind: temptations of pride, temptations of vanity, the temptation of considering oneself to be better and higher than others because of one’s spiritual efforts and labors. This cross is the hardest to bear, and it is known only to those who have with great difficulty surmounted it.” St. Theophanus says that man’s life begins under a cross: he is baptized and a cross is placed around his neck in the course of the glorious sacrament of baptism. When he is buried the cross is with him, while another cross is placed over his grave, indicating that a Christian is buried on that spot.

Let us remember this, my beloved, and let us wear our cross, which strengthens us and is our salvation among worldly difficulties. Do not forget, O Christian soul, the power of the Cross, and that through the power of the Cross the Lord will deliver you from all misfortune.


Metropolitan Philaret (Voznesensky)






Once again we have gathered, dear brethren, for a feast of the Most-pure Theotokos; once again we shall hear the Gospel reading, so familiar to us, about the meeting of the two joyous Mothers – Mary and Elizabeth; once again we shall exclaim together with the Theotokos: “My soul doth magnify the Lord and My spirit doth rejoice in God, My Saviour”; once again we shall joyously open our lips and gladly sing praises to Her miracles.

And this is truly a miracle of God’s mercy that it is so easy for our hearts to open up to hymning the Mother of God, that not only are we not wearied by the frequent feast days of the Virgin, but after each one passes we impatiently wait for the next one, which proves how much we love Her Who is more honorable than the cherubim and beyond compare more glorious than the seraphim.

Today’s feast has its special characteristics which make it particularly precious to us. The Most-pure spread Her veil over a city that was under siege, over a people who had no other hope except the help of the Queen of Heaven; and She interceded for this people. And thus, from this ancient historical fact into the Christian soul has entered the assurance that when there is no other intercessor, no other comfort, no other joy, when the heart is ready to accept the bitter idea that it is lonely, forgotten and unneeded by anyone, – then it suffices just to remember that we have a kind, merciful and compassionate Mother Who sees our needs, hears our entreaties, and is always ready to help us, support us, comfort us; it suffices to remember all this and appeal to Her, the Most-pure and Most-blessed, with all our heart, cry out to Her – and then a miracle will occur: sorrow will pass, and a quiet, tender joy and reconciliation to God’s will shall fill our soul.

These spiritual emotions – both sorrow and the joy that follow it – are facts, reality, actuality. We know where sorrow comes from, what gives rise to it; we should also know exactly where joy comes from, in order not to think of it as happenstance, as something which occurs of its own accord or from a change of inner mood.

The Church helps us examine our soul and see the source of its joy. In today’s kontakion it will point out to us that “today the Virgin standeth forth in the Church. and with the choir of the saints She invisibly prayeth to God for us.”

Can there be any sadness or affliction where the Queen of Heaven spreads Her glittering veil? Where people appeal to Her with prayer? Can we doubt Her unseen presence among us? If we purify our feelings so that our heart would not be subject to any earthly passion, then by the prayers of the Theotokos the joy of Christ will once again encompass us and will be the source of everlasting spiritual comfort. Amen.


 Protopriest Igor Hrebinka






The icon is not a portrait or a picture. It is a likeness of a divine, heavenly appearance, and we pray not to the icons themselves, but through them we reach the depicted Prototype. For this reason there is nothing worldly or carnal in icons, and their forms reveal to us the mystery of the invisible, divine world. It is not faces, but images that look out at us from icons, and the profound gaze of these images imparts to them an expression of strict yet kindly repose and a grief devoid of pain, both alien to worldly vanity. Artistic perspective has no place in an icon. Nature and architectural details are depicted in it to intensify movement and the expression of emotion. The icon truly becomes an icon only through consecration. Through consecration the impassable boundary between a religious picture, however lofty its religious content and artistic merit, and an icon, however modest it is in this regard, is crossed. The consecration of an icon with holy water imparts to it the grace of the Holy Spirit, which is revealed in certain icons in the form of a special mercy of God – their miraculous nature. Iconographers were usually monks, and they approached their work with prayer and fasting. Icons are not signed by the iconographer, since they are painted not for personal glory, but for the glory of God.

Icons of the Mother of God are of three types:




1) The Eleousa (Merciful, Compassionate). This form arose in Byzantium in the 11th century, and conveys an affectionate relationship between the Infant and His Mother, Who foresees the sufferings that await Him. The Divine Infant’s cheek touches that of the Mother of God Who, inclining Her head, supports the Infant Who movingly encircles Her neck with His arm. (The Vladimir and the Feodorov icons are of this type.)











2) The Hodigitria (the Guide). According to tradition this icon was painted by the Evangelist Luke and sent by Empress Eudocia (399-453) to Constantinople. In this icon the divine Infant is held in the arms of His Mother, yet does not touch Her cheek, but sits a little withdrawn, gazing out before Him. The Theotokos points to the Infant Saviour (the Way) with Her right hand, and Christ holds a scroll in His left hand, while with His right hand He conveys His divine blessing. (The Kazan, Tikhvin, Smolensk, and Iveron icons are of this type.)







3) The Orans (the Virgin of the Sign). In this type of icon the Mother of God is depicted with upraised arms, the pre-eternal Infant in Her womb. Here the depiction of the Mother of God is frontal, half-figure or full-figure, Her hands raised to the level of Her shoulders, Her palms facing out towards us. Her body bears a circle in which appears a round representation of the Divine Infant. This icon depicts the Conception – the mystery of the appearance of Christ in the world. (The Kursk of the Root and the Novgorod Theotokos of the Sign icons are of this type.)











Happy is the man who becomes wise – who comes to have understanding (Proverbs 3:13).

We live today in a society where husbands and wives, mothers and fathers, have been torn from their roots, ripped from time-honored and theologically-sanctioned values about what it is to be a man, a woman, a family. The old values and roles, so easily nurtured in a largely agrarian and patriarchal society, now seem almost impossible to live in our industrialized cities. The healthy psychological bonding that used to occur naturally between mothers and daughters, fathers and sons, is now a rare experience.

As if this were not a difficult enough burden for the spiritually-minded to bear, we are also now inundated by strange and sometimes aberrant notions about sexuality and role models. We live in a culture of increasing “unisex,” perversion, and immorality – on the job, at home, and sometimes even in the church.

The “women’s liberation movement” was originally an understandable reaction to irresponsible, heavy-handed, arrogant, and insensitive men; but instead of raising the conscience and morality of men to the traditional nurturing and moral level of women, it had the effect of bringing women down to the more animal level of men’s behavior, while at the same time shattering the “male myth” without giving in its place a proper sense of what it is to be a man – or, for our purposes, what it is to be an Orthodox Christian man.

An extraordinarily relevant model for the Orthodox man today is the Holy Prophet Job in the Old Testament. Indeed, here was a man “after God’s own heart.” His life gives evidence of certain manly characteristics by which the Orthodox man can, and should, measure himself today – providing a program of spiritual growth and struggle that is without equal.

We think of St. Job primarily in the context of his trial of faith and the afflictions of his life, for which reason the Orthodox call him “The Much-suffering.” We forget that he persevered to the end and found victory over his troubles. We seldom realize that in order to obtain this victory, he needed certain qualities of character and soul – the qualities of a true and godly man.

What are those qualities?

He was a man who did not forget God and God’s loving care for him, no matter how terrible the present affliction: God was always with me and the friendship of God protected my home (Job 29:3-4).

The Orthodox man strives never to forget God and His blessings whether in the past or in the present, and he gives this same example to his wife and children, especially in times of trial.

The Prophet loved his children and missed them sorely when he was in exile. He did not see them as an irritating intrusion into his own “lifestyle.” He rose early to pray and make sacrifice for them, in order to purify them in case they had sinned. The Orthodox man prays ardently for his children – both for wisdom in guiding them aright, and for God’s blessing and grace on them. This is also a model for a priest, who has many spiritual children.

St. Job was just and fair, both with his children and with those for whom he had responsibility outside his family. In the same way, an Orthodox man is a model of justice and even-handedness for his own children, tempering justice with mercy.

The Prophet Job received respect from old and young. Orthodox men show respect to their elders, both in the family and at work, but especially in the Church, and they earn the respect of their wives and children, doing nothing to kill this respect or to scandalize them.

The Saint was stable, like a tree whose roots always have water. An Orthodox man consciously strives to avoid the restlessness of our mobile society, recognizing the need for children to have a secure sense of place and stability in their lives.

St. Job was a seeker after God and wisdom: The Lord giveth, and the Lord taketh away; blessed be the name of the Lord. An Orthodox man also strives to serenely rest in God’s providence, keeping lively his commitment to the Orthodox Faith, and modeling this for his family according to his strength.

Because of all these spiritual characteristics, St. Job was able to endure terrible suffering and affliction, as a result of which the Lord blessed the last part of Job’s life even more than He had blessed the first. Here, then, is a real example for today’s men, who are often tempted to retreat into passive self-centeredness in the face of difficulty and temptation, who are too ready (and encouraged by society to do so) to jettison job, wife, and children at the slightest whim or difficulty. Here, then, is a Saint who can inspire in contemporary man a real manhood rather than a fake masculinity.

Always obey the Lord and you will be happy. If you are stubborn, you will be ruined (Proverbs 28:14).


Father Alexey Young






“The name of Saint Sergius evokes not only an edifying and joy-inspiring page of Russia’s history, but is also a shining trait of the Russian people’s moral content,” – writes the famous historian Klyuchevsky. Saint Sergius of Radonezh – a spirit of simplicity and modesty, a quiet recluse, a modest abbot, a mentor and comforter. What manner of struggle sanctified his name to such a degree?

The Lord sent His chosen one at the difficult time not only of Russia’s outward enslavement, but also of its inner decline, profound despondency, and spiritual collapse. The Venerable one was born under the Tatar yoke – a time when the nerves of all Russians still bore the painful impress of the horror caused by that national catastrophe, which resulted not only in material, but also in moral destruction, and for a long time subjected the populace to a stupefying torpor. To cast off the barbarian yoke once and for all, to establish a durable, independent state, and to induce non-Russians into the fold of the Christian Church, Russian society itself had to rise to the level of these great objectives, to uplift and strengthen its own moral powers, which had been abased by a century of bondage and despair. It is to this moral instruction of the people that St. Sergius dedicated his life, to this end applying the means of a moral discipline accessible and comprehensible to all men – a living example, a visible embodiment of moral rule. He began with himself, and by a lengthy period of solitude, full of labors and privations, in the midst of a primeval forest, he prepared himself to become a guide for others.

The name of Sergius of Radonezh “transcends the boundaries of time,” writes Professor Klyuchevsky, because in its significance the task he undertook went far beyond the framework of his era, and by its beneficial activity profoundly impressed the life of succeeding generations. This task – the strengthening of the Russian state under a single authority at a time of fratricidal civil strife, oppression, and subjection to the khans – was the fulfillment of the testament given to the hierarchy of the Russian Church by that saint of ancient Russia, the Metropolitan Peter, who had prophetically blessed the then small town of Moscow as the future ecclesiastical and governmental capital of the Russian land. St. Sergius was not a politician, just as he was not a “prince of the Church”; he was a teacher, an encourager, a peacemaker. At a difficult juncture in time, he blessed Prince Dimitri to wage a terrible war for Orthodox Russia, and gave him two schemamonks, Peresvet and Oslabya. The schemamonks, arrayed not in helmets and armor, but in their monastic garb replete with white crosses, gave the army of Prince Dimitri the appearance of a sacred crusade. During the battle, the Venerable one himself prayed in church, and “seeing’ the course of the battle, commemorated those who had fallen.

Worshipping the life-giving Trinity, the consubstantial and indivisible Trinity, Who is the beginning, source, and well-spring of life, the Venerable one built a church to the All-Holy Trinity. He saw it as a summons to unity for the Russian land, according to his biographer Epiphanius, “so that by gazing constantly upon it, we might conquer the fear created by the hated divisions of the world.” The extensive hospitality commanded by St. Sergius, gifts of all sorts, beginning with bread and ending with the healing of body and soul – all of this became a favorable condition for “gazing” at the church of the All-Holy Trinity and contemplating within it the prototype of Divine unity. Thenceforth, the names of the Holy Trinity and St. Sergius became indivisibly linked in the Russian Orthodox conception. The Russian people did not forget the one who taught them to worship the Holy Trinity: soon after the saint’s death, a monastery dedicated to the Holy Trinity was built at the site of his birth (the Varnitsky Monastery near Rostov); its main church contained a side-chapel dedicated to St. Sergius. One may even say that it became a rule to build Holy Trinity churches with St. Sergius side-chapels.

The Lavra of the Holy Trinity, founded by the Venerable one, became the spiritual center, the heart, of Russian Orthodoxy. In 1892 Klyuchevsky wrote: “These monuments do not feed the people’s vanity, but rather the idea of descendants being responsible before their great ancestors, for the moral sense is a sense of duty. When we honor the memory of St. Sergius, we examine ourselves, we review our own moral stock which had been bequeathed to us by the great founders of our moral order, and we replenish it, filling up what had been expended. The gates of the Lavra of St. Sergius will be shut and the lamps which burn over his tomb will be extinguished only when we completely squander this stock without replenishing it.” And such a time did come! The Lavra was destroyed and was closed for many years when “Tatars and Mongols of our times” captured it. All its treasures were confiscated. The relics of the Venerable one were rummaged through (as were others all over Soviet Russia). Everything was mocked, defiled. Yet the lamps have been lit anew over the tomb of the Venerable one, and the Trinity-Saint Sergius Lavra now shines in golden splendor, reminding us of St. Sergius’s great, selfless, inspired service to the homeland, his spiritual stature and dedication to the Faith.

For future generations, St. Sergius became an eternal companion and guide. “He uttered few words, but gave the brethren a far greater example by his works,” – Epiphanius says of the saint. He left no writings behind him, but his spiritual contribution to the history of the Russian Church and to Russian culture is remarkably great. The disciples of the Venerable one received, in addition to the usual monastic pursuits, a blessing to undertake special ministries to the Church: the copying of manuscripts, iconography, church building. In an ancient account of the saint’s death, he is called “the initiator and teacher of all the monasteries in Russia.” And truly, no fewer than one fourth of Russia’s monasteries were founded by his closest disciples. St. Sergius, during his early wanderings, and countless future generations of his spiritual children after him, carried with them Russian enlightenment, Russian culture, the Russian ideal and spiritual beauty.







On October 14th (the 1st by the old calendar), together with the feast of the Protection of the Holy Virgin, the Church commemorates Saint Romanus the Melodist, who was closely tied with the city of Constantinople, where the event celebrated in the feast of the Protection later took place.

St. Romanus lived in the second half of the 5th century and came from Syria. From early childhood he led a pious and God-fearing life. At first he served as a sacristan in one of the churches in Beirut, but later moved to a similar position in Constantinople. Here he spent all his time fasting and praying, often spending the whole night in prayer. Afterwards he was appointed a sacristan at the marvelous church of St. Sophia, which was the city’s major cathedral. St. Romanus was illiterate, but he applied himself fervently to the doing of good deeds, for which he earned the affection of Euphemius, the Patriarch of Constantinople. Seeing how diligently St. Romanus worked for the church and how earnestly he performed his job, the Patriarch began to remunerate him on an equal basis with the church readers and singers. However, the latter began to grumble against the Patriarch, saying: “You have placed an ignoramus on a par with us!” They began to hate St. Romanus and to intrigue against him

Once, on the eve of the Nativity of our Lord, when the king himself came to church, the readers seized St. Romanus, who was lighting the candles at that time, and pushed him towards the ambo, saying: “Since you are being rewarded equally with us, – then go out on the ambo and sing a song of praise to God, just as we do.” They acted thus out of envy, wishing to embarrass St. Romanus, knowing full well that he was illiterate and did not know the Holy Writ well enough to compose a sacred song, nor did he know how to sing. After suffering such humiliation in front of the king and all the people, St. Romanus felt greatly ashamed and cried bitterly. When the service ended and everyone left the church, he fell on his knees before an icon of the Mother of God, and tearfully prayed to Her for a long time. Afterwards he went home and out of great sadness fell asleep. And then the Holy Virgin appeared to him in his dreams, holding a small scroll in Her hands and ordering him to swallow it. St. Romanus swallowed the scroll and immediately woke up. His heart was filled with great sweetness and spiritual joy, while in his mind he felt the grasp of knowledge. In a single moment his mind was filled with great wisdom, and he began to thank the Theotokos for giving him more knowledge in one instant than he could have acquired over the course of many years.

When the time came for the all-night vigil to begin, St. Romanus went to church, rejoicing in the grace which had been accorded him by the Holy Virgin. As the moment arrived to sing a canticle in honor of the feast, St. Romanus stepped onto the ambo and with a sweet voice began to sing a kontakion (sacred song) which he had composed in his mind: “Today the Virgin giveth birth to Him Who is transcendent in essence, and the earth offereth a cave to Him Who is unapproachable. Angels with shepherds give glory; with a star the Magi do journey; for our sake a Young Child is born Who is pre-eternal God.” (This sacred song has become the accepted kontakion for the feast of the Nativity of Christ.)

All the faithful who were present in the church were amazed and delighted by St. Romanus’ singing, particularly as they grasped the meaning of his words. When St. Romanus finished his sacred song, the Patriarch asked him, – how did he attain such wisdom? St. Romanus then openly told everyone about the miracle that had occurred to him, and gave glory to the grace of the Holy Virgin. Hearing all this, the church readers who had offended him became ashamed and fell at his feet in repentance, asking his forgiveness. The Patriarch then immediately ordained St. Romanus a deacon, and from the latter’s lips poured forth such a fountain of wisdom that those who had previously mocked his illiteracy were now themselves forced to learn from him.

St. Romanus composed over a thousand kontakions and ikosy (i.e. canticles in honor of holidays and saints, which describe the essence of the holiday) for the various feast days of the Saviour and the Mother of God, and in honor of many saints. The Church has named him “the Melodist” and has acclaimed him as the best writer of sacred songs, not only for the wealth of ideas contained in them, but also for their poetry, depth of feeling, and sublimity of language. St. Romanus is also considered to be the patron saint of church choirs and singers.







4. Positive Signs


All that we have described are very negative signs, and, of course, a Christian is supposed to be prepared for the most negative things possible. Nonetheless, we should also be prepared and look out for the positive signs of the end of the world.

First of all, one of the positive signs is Israel. Of course, the state of Israel is a totally neutral thing, but the very fact that it looks as though there is beginning in the Jewish people some kind of stirring, as though the process of coming back to Christ may be beginning – that is a very hopeful, very positive thing. This is what St. Paul wrote about, saying that he would rather be in hell for the sake of his people, if only they would wake up and receive Christ, Who came for them first of all. When they finally come to Christ, that means it is the end of the world, because all the peoples have been called in, and they are the last ones, the faithful remnant, to come back.

Then there is the movement of conversion to Orthodox Christianity which we see in many parts of the world. In Africa, for example, just in the last fifty years there has been a tremendous movement of conversion of people in Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, the Congo (Zaire), and other countries. They are very, very pious and faithful to Orthodoxy. It is just such simple-hearted people that Christ wants, and it is such people who are coming into the Orthodox Church now.

The same thing is happening in other countries. In fact, right here in America we see that more and more people are waking up. Often for no apparent reason, they are finding out that Orthodoxy is the real Church. This is happening also in Western Europe and in other countries.

Then there is suffering Russia. This is a subject that deserves many talks by itself. It is certainly a remarkable thing that this country, which for over sixty years now has suffered under Communism, under atheism, has endured. According to all the Communist laws, since religion is only a superstitious remnant of the past, there should be no religion left after all the old grandmothers die. But now, after sixty years have passed and all the old grandmothers (at the time of the Revolution) have died, religion is coming back stronger than ever. Something is therefore wrong with the Communists’ idea, and this “something” is that they do not realize that the soul wants God, wants Christ. Therefore, this people has for sixty years endured the yoke of atheism – which is a very powerful thing, with the whole of society based upon godlessness – and now, having stuck it out, they are coming back to believe in God.

Solzhenitsyn says about Russia and other countries which have endured Communism: “Through intense suffering our country has now achieved a spiritual development of such intensity that the Western system, in its present state of spiritual exhaustion, does not look attractive… A fact which cannot be disputed is the weakening of human beings in the West, while in the East they are becoming firmer and stronger. Six decades for our people and three decades for the people of Eastern Europe – during that time we have been through a spiritual training far in advance of Western experience” (from the Harvard speech).

Fr. Dimitry Dudko, in particular, says very similar things. He makes a very important point also: When someone once told him how much better it was to be in the West because there they have freedom and are able to practice their Christianity in freedom, he said: “But there they have spirituality with comfort. Here we have spirituality with suffering, and therefore it’s deeper.” On the basis of suffering and martyrdom there can come a seed of Christianity, because “the blood of the martyrs is the seed of the Church.” That is why something very deep is happening in the Russian people and those who have suffered under Communism.

In this hopefulness coming from Russia, which is waking up to its Christian roots, we have a very practical lesson: Russia, during these last sixty years, has gone through the experience of living in catacombs, under persecution, in torture chambers, with the refined torture techniques of the modern Gulag – and the people have survived. We have records of how they survived: we know how they were tortured and how they got through it. Therefore, if this persecution comes here, we already have a beginning, something to rely on; we even have more hope that we can endure the same thing that they endured.

Finally, the whole outlook of Orthodox Christianity is a positive one. Even in the earliest times, when the whole Roman world was against the Church and simply hunted out Christians from the catacombs and put them to torture and death, the Christians went to their death singing. Therefore, since the essence of our faith is that we are preparing ourselves for the world to come, our outlook is basically positive. All the negative things, all the evil things which the devil can devise against us and which men’s evil will can torture us with – these are small compared with the joy which is to come in the Kingdom of Heaven.

Of course, today we have more than ever before the experience of all the past centuries of Orthodox saints, Holy Fathers, martyrs, ascetics: all those who have lived for Christ in this world, from all the different lands, in the west, the east, the north, and the south. This experience is ours to know, and it gives answers to basically all the contemporary questions which arise. We can have living contact with the saints of all ages, as well as with those who are suffering today for Christ, such as the many people who are in prison camps in the Soviet Union. It is very encouraging to see how they do not give up in the midst of all kinds of tortures. They are really extremely courageous, and this gives courage and inspiration to us, that we also can be faithful to Christ. In the conditions we have now of freedom, there is no excuse for us not to be offering our struggle to God.


Question-and-answer session at the end of the lecture


Question: Are the Jews going to destroy the Mosque of Omar and try to reconstruct the temple of Solomon?

Answer: Well, it’s their problem what they are going to do with it. One thing is human intentions, and another thing is how God wants it to come out. They tried before to rebuild the temple in Jerusalem and did not succeed.

Question: Are they going to return to using the Book of Leviticus and go back to all the laws?

Answer: I would think they would try to do as much as possible. If the whole idea of building the temple is to get back to that old religion, I suppose they would try to imitate it as closely as they could. But, of course, in modern times they would undoubtedly find they would have to change all kinds of things. And when Antichrist himself comes to sit there, he will have his own ideas, to make it acceptable for everybody else.

It is difficult to know how the exact form might come out, but when it is all fulfilled, you will see it is exactly the way it was predicted. If men, however, try to do something before the time when God wants it to be done, then it simply will not work. That was the attempt of Julian the Apostate. He wanted to build the temple to prove that Christ was wrong when He said that one stone would not be left upon another. Julian commanded the Jews to begin building their temple, and they began building. It is a very well-authenticated historical fact, found in several of the early Church historians, that they would build, and at night everything would fall down, and everyone would see balls of fire coming out of the earth. Nowadays historians say they must have been digging oil wells or something. Obviously there was something there preventing this project from going on, and they finally gave up. Then Julian himself was killed, and the whole thing came to nothing The times were not ripe for that to happen, so it could not happen. Of course, today the times are much more ripe for that.

There were two saints of the Old Testament who did not die: Enoch was translated, and he was not found; and Elijah went up in the fiery chariot. Therefore, they will come back as the two witnesses and preach against Antichrist. There could be others like that, too. In fact, there are traditions about St. John the Theologian returning in the last times. There is also a prophecy of St. Seraphim of Sarov that he would come back at that time; but he died, so he could only come back resurrected. The two mentioned in the Apocalypse, however, are Enoch and Elijah.

Question: Are they just going to try and tell the people that this is the Antichrist and not Christ?

Answer: According to tradition, they have two functions. Elijah will speak to the Jews. It says in the Gospel that they asked Jesus if Elijah had come yet. Some said that John the Baptist was Elijah, who was supposed to come to reconcile the fathers to the children. And Jesus said that he had come in a certain sense, i.e. in a spiritual sense. Most people, however, would not accept this. Therefore, the real Elijah comes at the end of time to reconcile the fathers (the Jews) to the sons (the Gentiles). And Enoch will speak to the rest of the people. In other words, it will be quite clear at that time that Antichrist has come, and that there are the two prophets telling that this is Antichrist.

Question: How do you view the Orthodox presence in America in terms of these apocalyptic things? What is the apocalyptic significance of Orthodoxy in America?

Answer: I don’t think there is anything more significant about America than any other country, like Uganda perhaps, but I think it is definitely significant that people in America are waking up to Orthodoxy. People who have never had any relationship with Orthodoxy are led to it, simply because they heard the word preached, and they begin to wake up to see it. In a country that is totally Christianized supposedly, they wake up and see that all that is called Christianity is not really Christianity; and they want Orthodoxy. That could very well be one of the signs of the end.

Of course, there are different kinds of ends. There is the time when a country is coming to its end, like the period before Communism came to Russia. At that time a great spiritual revival was actually occurring. They had great saints, such as St. John of Kronstadt and the many Elders of Optina. Many holy monks and bishops were living at that time, and many people were very fervent. But the whole society was sort of against it: it had become so Westernized – almost anti-Christian – that the revival was finally submerged. If you look at it from the point of view of a spiritual revival, however, there definitely was such a revival going on.

Therefore, the more you see that kind of thing happening here, the more you begin to wonder whether something is not coming to an end for us, too. And, of course, that is going to be bound up with the end of everything – because things right now seem to be stepping up their tempo, both in Russia and in America, and in the whole world situation. It looks as though we are heading for some momentous events quite close in the future.

We should not, of course, get carried away by historical events. Basically, Christianity is to save you soul; and, therefore, each person finds out about the truth and starts right here and now to live a life according to the Church’s commandments. That is the first thing we should always have in mind.

In Russia, the Gulag and all that happened was aimed at destroying Christianity; and to some extent this succeeded, because it is with great difficulty that people find out about Christianity now. And in the West, all the indifference, tolerance, freedom, and prosperity also help to destroy any kind of strong Christianity. The end result is not much different. As Solzhenitsyn says, however, in the East they have become stronger; after Communism they have become stronger than we in the West who have all this freedom. But we should not be satisfied with being weaker. We should at least offer to God our struggle.


Father Seraphim Rose











The sonorous bell

Awoke the fields,

The drowsy earth

Smiled at the sun.

The peals ring out

Towards blue skies,

The bell resounds

Throughout the woods.

The pale moon hides

Behind the stream,

The vibrant wave

There merrily runs.

The quiet vale

Wards off its slumber,

Far down the road

The pealing fades.


 – Sergey Yesenin

 – Translated by Natalia Sheniloff







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