Russian Orthodox Church Transfiguration of Our Lord Версия на русском языке
Baltimore, USA Transfiguration of Our Lord
Schedule of services
Our church
Parish album
Church choir
Transfiguration of Our Lord
Spiritual poetry
Contact us
Online Orthodox library

* * * 

Related Links
The CrossCrafter

Holy  Trinity Monastery Bookstore in Jordanville,  New York
Holy  Trinity Monastery Bookstore in Jordanville,  New York
Handmade Orthodox Christian themed crafts
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.



In parting from those whom we sincerely love, we cannot but grieve, we cannot but feel sorrow, while the Apostles returned with great joy from the Mount of Olives, where they had parted from the Lord. Their beloved Teacher, the only One Who was able to reveal all truth to them and to dispel the darkness of doubt that sometimes overcame their souls has left them on their own, and yet they are rejoicing; their sole Patron and Protector has left them among the Jews, a people hostile to Christ and all that is Christ's, and yet they are rejoicing; the Lord Christ, from conversations with Whom their hearts were filled with lively joy, leaves them in a world of discontent, sorrow, all kinds of misfortunes, and yet they are rejoicing. Incomprehensible emotion! And we will not understand it, brethren, if we look upon the Apostles as upon ordinary men, and if we talk about them in human terms.

Prior to the Lord's Resurrection, when they were closer to us in thoughts and emotions, their hearts, like ours, were filled with sorrow when the Lord told them that He would depart from them; but now, when the risen Lord talked to them about establishing His Kingdom on earth, when through His breath He imbued them with the Spirit Who purified and enlightened their thoughts and feelings and, perhaps, revealed to them the mystery of the Lord's Ascension – now they were no longer comprehending the ascended Christ in terms of body and, therefore, they could not entertain our sorrowful feelings of parting, but now they themselves clearly understood that it was better for the Lord to leave them. The certainty that great good was connected with the Lord's Ascension not only expelled all shadow of sorrow from their souls, but, on the contrary, filled them with great and indescribable joy. In His Ascension the Saviour became vested with Kingly and Divine authority and power. With His Ascension the Lord elevated man, reconciled him with God, and affiliated him to God. The Lord's Ascension is the citadel of our hope.


Saint Theophanus the Recluse





Last Sunday we celebrated the Descent of the Holy Spirit and the establishment of Christ’s Church on earth, while today we celebrate the fruits of this grace-filled Church – today is the Sunday of All Saints, who provide us with an extraordinary example of how to live on earth correctly, in order to attain the Kingdom of Heaven. Let us look, dear brethren, at how these saints lived and how they reached paradise.

All the saints who are commemorated today followed the way of Christ, and all of them – in their own time and in their own circumstances of life – fulfilled God’s commandment of love for God and one’s brethren. And often their times were quite difficult, sometimes even more difficult than ours, and often the circumstances of their lives were spiritually more dangerous and physically worse than ours. And yet they went on, they struggled… and so they reached the Kingdom of Heaven, where they are now triumphant.

Look at the walls of the church and you will see them: martyrs, confessors, righteous men, fools for Christ, the educated, the simple, the rich, the poor, prelates, monks, laymen… Look at how many stars are shining on the Lord’s spiritual firmament. This is the heavenly Church. It is universal, and it is constantly being reinforced from the earthly Church, where all of us are members, dear brethren. There is a place for everyone there. This is what today’s reading from the Epistle teaches us: “Wherefore, seeing such a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us lay aside every weight and the sin that besets us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the Author of our faith.”

Just think, dear brethren: all these saints were people like ourselves. And all of them were different people, just as we are different. And their paths were different. But they all had three features in common. These features are defined for us in today’s Gospel. They are requisite for everyone, which means for us too, and it is impossible to bypass them. They are as follows: “Whosoever, therefore, shall confess Me before men, him will I confess also before My Father than is in heaven.” This is the first feature. Do you realize, dear brethren, how important it is for us, modern people? It is as though the whole world around us is asking us, pressuring us: “Are you a Christian, or are you one of us, of the world?” And we cannot leave this question without an answer. Thus with our words, our actions, our thoughts, and our feelings we must reply loudly and firmly: “Yes, I am a Christian!”

And here is the second feature: “Whosoever loves his father or mother more than Me, is not worthy of Me.” Even now the Lord demands this absolute love from us. To love Him above everyone and above everything. And when we acquire such love for Him, only then will we be able to truly love our friends, and our neighbors, and even our enemies.

And, finally, the third feature: “Whosoever does not take his cross and does not follow Me, is not worthy of Me.” This is easy to understand: every person has sorrows and tribulations in his life. And they are very individual, each person having his own, and they make up each person’s own cross to bear. It is very difficult, very hard, but such is our life and such is God’s will concerning us…

Let us thank God even for this cross of ours. We cannot attain salvation without it. That is the reason the Lord gives it to us. The good Lord wants all of us to be saved, and to be joined together in one eternal triumph with all the saints whom we glorify today.


(Adapted from “The One Thing Needful” by Archbishop Andrew of Novo-Diveevo)






The day of commemoration of all Russian saints reveals to us the spiritual skies under which the Russian land was being formed and proceeded to exist historically.

The very existence of the Russian people is tied in with the inception of its spiritual life, with its assimilation of the foundations of a Christian outlook: it is senseless to seek on earth the meaning and purpose of life which ends in death. One must aspire to a divine, grace-filled, eternal life, and then this temporal life will also fall into place. “Seek ye first the Kingdom of God and its truth, and all this shall be added unto you.” Faith and the Orthodox Church united disparate tribes into one people. The basic characteristic of the Russian people was the belief in the Kingdom of God, the search for it, the search for truth. For the sake of God’s Kingdom, for the sake of its attainment, for the sake of prayer, Russian ascetics rejected worldly vanity and went off into deep forests and uninhabited islands. They were only seeking the Kingdom of God, not to build or create anything, they were only escaping from people, but people followed them for the sake of the Kingdom of God that was to be found in those forests and on those islands, around those righteous men, and thus sprang up Russia’s famous monasteries and hermitages.

The search for truth has always been the major thread in the life of the Russian people, and it is not by chance that its first written code of law was called “Russian Truth.” Yet it was not only those who escaped from the world who aspired after heaven and the Kingdom of God, but all religious Russian people understood the meaning of life in those terms. All those who were building Russia up as a nation, though living in the world and fulfilling their responsibilities, always considered faithfulness to the Heavenly Kingdom and Divine Truth to be the major aspect of life.

In Russia there were princes, warriors, landowners – people of all ranks and professions, but their basic understanding, aspiration. and purpose in life was the acquisition of the Kingdom of God, participation in it. Conversion to the Christian faith transformed also the Russian princes. Power is always the expression of consciousness and will. Power is always guided by some philosophy or other, some understanding of the meaning of life and one’s activity or other. Prior to holy Prince Vladimir the Russian princes were leaders of warring tribes and were engaged in war for the sake of the spoils and the glory. Having become Christian, they became individual leaders of one people. Conversion to Christianity brought with it a realization and feeling of unity. Truth was in the brotherhood of princes, while internecine war became falsehood. Holy Prince Vladimir gave the Russian people a new understanding of life and a new life force. Calamities, misfortunes, defeats are powerless before the main force of life, powerless before a spiritual life. The Kingdom of God, its spiritual comfort, and participation in it remain untouched. A raging storm passes, and man continues to live. Thus martyrs smiled during the cruelest tortures because of the joyous sensation of God’s grace within them.

This is the source of Russia’s life force. The history of the rise of Moscow vividly confirms this idea. Moscow was ruled by pious princes who had acquired an Orthodox understanding of truth, and for this reason the holy hierarch Peter told the Muscovite prince that Moscow would be elevated if the prince built within it a House of the Holy Virgin. In other words, if you are faithful to Orthodoxy to the very end, and will first seek the Kingdom of God and its truth, then all of this – all earthly, temporal, national things, – shall be added unto you. Such was the design of Moscow, and for a long time it remained faithful to the testament of hierarch Peter, and the nightly roll call on the walls of the Kremlin was conducted with the words: “O Holy Theotokos, save us!”

This does not mean that the life and the people were holy. Not at all! People are always sinful, but it is important and a saving grace to possess an understanding of good and evil, to aspire to the truth, because resurrection is then possible.

Sinful Moscow, the capital of sinful Russia, fell hard many times in its historic life, but arose anew, because its awareness of truth never died. In the Time of Troubles Russia fell so low that all her enemies were sure she was fatally wounded. Russia had no tsar, no government, no military force. Moscow was ruled by foreigners. People became fainthearted and weak, and waited to be saved by foreigners. Destruction seemed inevitable, and Russia would have definitely been destroyed, if all awareness of truth had been lost. But Russia was saved by the hierarch Hermogenes, who spiritually and morally revived the Russian people in faith and confession, and once again the people stepped unto the path of seeking the Kingdom of God and its truth – the truth of temporal national life being subordinate to spiritual rule. Nowhere else in history can one come across such a deep fall of a nation and such a quick resurrection of it a mere year later. Such is the history of Russia, such is its path.

After Peter the Great, the life of society stepped off the Russian path. Although it did not wander off completely, nevertheless it lost the clarity of awareness of truth, the clarity of belief in the truth of the Gospel. “Seek ye first the Kingdom of God and its truth.” The cruel suffering of the Russian people is the consequence of Russia’s betrayal of itself, its path, its calling. But that cruel suffering, the desire for life even under the power of virulent enemies of God tell us that the people have not entirely lost their awareness of truth. Russia will arise just as it arose before. It will arise when the fire of faith starts burning; Russia will arise when it sees and comes to love its Orthodox saints and confessors.

Today, on the day of all Russian saints, the Church points them out to us, and the Orthodox faithful look at them with spiritual rapture, look at the multitude of them in the Heavenly Kingdom! And how many remain still unglorified, an infinite number of them! Russia will arise when it lifts up its gaze and sees that all the Russian saints are alive in the Heavenly Realm, that they are filled with the spirit of eternal life, and that we should be with them too, and should spiritually touch upon and come to participate in their eternal life. In this lies the salvation of Russia and the entire world.


Saint John of Shanghai and San Francisco




On the exhaustion of love


“Watch ye, stand fast in the faith, quit you like men, be strong. Let all your things be done with love” (1 Cor. 16, 13-14).

In the Church of Corinth, founded by the apostolic labors of the holy Apostle Paul during his second journey (circa 53 A.D.), discord and division occurred. After Apostle Paul had departed from the city of Corinth, various false teachers appeared there, who began to belittle the dignity of the apostles, in order to elevate themselves in the eyes of the newly-converted Corinthian Christians. In this they were so successful that local Christians became divided into parties, each choosing a different teacher for itself.

When he learned of this, Apostle Paul became greatly saddened, knowing that, according to the Gospel, no house or church divided would be able to stand. Consequently, the same fate could befall the Corinthian Church. In order to summon all the faithful to unity, Apostle Paul wrote them an epistle explaining the principles of the Christian faith and a Christian outlook in general.

What once took place among the Christians of Corinth, is currently taking place among us. Due to extraordinary discoveries in the fields of technology and science, and the development of the arts and commerce, etc., the present age can easily be called an age of progress; however, in terms of spirituality, religiousness, church attendance, and morality, – it leaves much to be desired! This is confirmed in modern society by a universal and passionate pursuit of material gain.

In modern man belief in the Lord God has become faint, if not completely dissipated. This is the cause of all our dissensions. Such weakening of faith permeates our consciousness. Our consciousness then becomes desensitized to our spiritual needs, which leads to spiritual paralysis. This, in turn, leads to our lack of understanding – and lack of a desire to understand – the needs of others.

Christianity is founded upon these three: faith, hope, and love. As long as time continues to exist for us, faith and hope must also exist, but when time ceases, i.e. after we pass from temporal life into eternal life, especially after the Last Judgment, faith and hope will cease to exist, and only love will remain.

The Orthodox Church teaches us that love is eternal, while faith and hope are temporal. Thus the apostolic advice: let all your things be done with love – remains forever appropriate.

Love unites everything, secures everything. Love is the sum total of all virtues. And it is love that is so sadly lacking in our times.

Love, like any other Christian virtue, does not vaunt itself, does not openly flaunt itself in the street, as does vice. Love conceals itself from the gaze of others and is recognized only by the fruit it bears.

There are occasions, naturally, when love proclaims itself firmly and courageously, whenever the need arises. Love is often revealed in patience towards others, in tolerance towards their frailties; love bears the burden of others. Sometimes misconceptions and prejudices serve to impede the revelation of love between people. Some people have a soft heart, but their mind is infected with all kinds of prejudices: the heart wants to do good, but the mind rejects it. For example: the heart wants to forgive an offense, while the mind whispers: will I not seem to be a weakling? Will it not go against my honor if I do not take revenge against my offender? Or another example: the heart wants to help someone in need, while the mind warns that one should not lose one’s dignity in the eyes of society.

And, finally, the cause of such rarity of love between people is egoism. Excessive love of oneself suppresses love of others. There are many examples of egoism destroying a person, a family, even entire nations. Look at what is left of the proud Romans. Great cities have vanished from the face of the earth, and even archaeologists cannot find them.

Love cannot be deceived. It has to issue from within and cannot be hypocritical. Love subsequently cemented the Corinthian Church, which flourished in the history of Christianity. Love will help us too – each one of us individually, and our parishes, and our Church.

Let us learn to act in all instances with love, and thus we will fulfill the law of Christ.


  Protopriest Igor Hrebinka





Homily for the Sunday of the Blind Man


The Gospel reading about the blind man, dear brethren, reveals to us how to worship God, how to pray to Him.

Passing among people, Christ saw a man who was blind from birth. Being blind from birth, this man had never seen anyone. He had no notion of human form. Even Christ he had never seen. He only knew that Christ was passing nearby, that He was a miracle-worker and that He could give him his sight. So he started crying out, calling for Christ. The people around him tried to silence him, because he was disturbing them, preventing them from hearing Christ’s sermon, because he was disturbing the peace. Christ walked on, surrounded by His disciples. And they asked Him: “Master! Who sinned – this man, or his parents, that he was born blind?” Jesus answered: “Neither this man sinned, nor his parents, but this was given so that the works of God should be manifest in him.” Having said that, He spat on the ground, made clay of the spittle, and anointed the eyes of the blind man with this clay, saying to him: “Go and wash in the pool of Siloam.”

Let us imagine the state of this blind man. He is crying out, calling out… He is being pushed around perhaps, he is being silenced, but he continues to cry out, to call out… in other words, he is praying. Finally, the unseen Miracle-worker approaches him. But He does not perform an instant miracle. Quite the contrary. He does something that in human terms could be considered humiliating, unpleasant. He spits on the ground and makes clay out of the spittle and soil, and then anoints the eyes of the blind man with it. And if that were not enough, He sends him with this clay on his eyes to wash his face in the pool of Siloam. But the blind man does not protest; he goes off gropingly, stumbling, subject to the ridicule of passers-by. Finally he reaches the pool and washes his face. And then, having done everything that was required of him, having suffered through everything, he finally regains his sight and comes back seeing.

Here is a wonderful example for us of prayer, dear brethren. We too are spiritually blind and unable to see the Lord. But we know that He is there. So let us call out to Him, cry out to Him, asking Him for help. And let us not feel dejected if we do not receive help instantly. Perhaps we must still travel a long way, down a difficult road, as was the blind man’s road to the pool of Siloam. Along this way we might meet with troubles, humiliations, such as the clay represented for the blind man. Let us endure everything. Let us be patient and obedient. Let us do whatever the Lord wills, let us follow the way that He indicates to us, just as the blind man was told to go to the pool of Siloam. And when we do all that is required, then the Lord will respond to our prayer and will answer it, if such is His will. And the same thing will happen to as happened to the blind man. When through the circumstances of our life the Lord asks us: do you believe in the Son of God? – we will answer: we believe, o Lord! – and we will worship Him.

But when we pray we should avoid imagining anything, we should pray with a blank mind like the blind man, just knowing that the Lord is near, that He can do everything. And if for some reason things should happen contrary to our prayer – let us not lose spirit, but let us hope, let us hope even against all hope. And the Lord will do what is needful for us. So let us take on the state of the blind man, which is the best example of prayer.


Christ is risen!


(From the book of sermons by Archbishop Andrew, “The One Thing Needful”)






On June 3rd (May 21st by the old calendar) the Church commemorates the great Saints Constantine and Helen.

On the border between the 3rd and 4th centuries A.D., the Roman Emperor Diocletian divided the huge Roman Empire into two halves, in order to govern it more easily. He himself ruled the eastern half of the Empire, assisted by Caesar Galerius. As ruler of the western half he appointed Emperor Maximian, and as his assistant – Caesar Constantius Chlorus, who governed Gaul and Britain. Constantius Chlorus, though officially a pagan because of his position, in his heart, together with all his family members, worshipped the One God. In A.D. 303 Diocletian issued a decree concerning the extermination of Christianity from the Roman Empire. Although Constantius Chlorus was unable to openly disobey the elder emperor, nevertheless he continued to protect the Christians in all possible ways, especially after his wife, Queen Helen, converted to Christianity.

St. Constantine, the only son of Constantius Chlorus and Queen Helen, was born in 274, and although officially he grew up a pagan, he was reared at home in a Christian atmosphere. While being a direct witness to the terrible persecution of Christians instituted by Diocletian, at the same time Constantine saw the triumph of the Christian faith, which manifested itself in countless miracles and God’s help to the holy martyrs. Constantine was tall, handsome, and physically strong, and at the same time good-natured and modest, for which he was loved by the people and the army. This provoked envy of him on the part of other court officials, especially Caesar Galerius, who even plotted to bar Constantine from ruling his part of the Empire. Seeing this, Constantine fled to Gaul, where after the death of Constantius Chlorus in 306, the army proclaimed Constantine emperor of Gaul and Britain. Constantine was then 32 years old. After coming to power, his first act was to declare freedom for Christianity in all his provinces.

In 311 the cruel tyrant Maxentius became ruler of the western half of the Empire, and he decided to get rid of Constantine and reign alone. In 312 Constantine himself embarked upon a military campaign against the Roman emperor, in order to rid Rome of the evil tyrant. This campaign was extremely difficult, since the enemy’s army greatly outnumbered Constantine’s; moreover, Maxentius used the help of evil forces by shielding himself and his army with sorcery and magic. Constantine realized that relying on human powers was not enough, and he then remembered the one true God and began praying to Him, asking for help from above.

And the Lord sent an extraordinary omen to His chosen one. On the eve of a decisive battle, Constantine and his whole army saw in the sky the sign of a cross, made up of light and spread across the sun, with the inscription: “With this you shall vanquish” (NIKA in Greek). Constantine was perplexed, since the cross, being an instrument of shameful execution, was considered by the Romans to be a bad omen. However, the very next night Jesus Christ Himself appeared to Constantine with a cross in His hand and told him that with this sign he would vanquish his foe; and He commanded him to make a banner with the image of the holy Cross. Constantine followed the Lord’s command and defeated the enemy, becoming the ruler of the entire western half of the Empire.

With his first decree the new emperor proclaimed full religious tolerance among his subjects; at the same time, he became the protector of Christians, repealed the penalty of death by crucifixion, and enacted laws favorable to the Church of Christ.

Meanwhile, the ruler of the eastern half of the Empire, the pagan Licinius, also a cruel and perfidious tyrant, went to war against Constantine. Armed with the power of the cross, Emperor Constantine stood against Licinius and soundly defeated him, becoming the new sovereign of the entire Roman Empire. The victory over Licinius instilled in Constantine an even greater realization of God’s help, and he worked at spreading the Christian faith among his subjects, decreeing Christianity to be the state religion in the Empire.

Of great assistance to Constantine in the spreading of Christianity was his mother, Queen Helen. When Constantine decided to build churches in the Holy Land on the sacred sites of Christ’s birth, crucifixion and resurrection, and also to find the Lord’s Cross, Queen Helen joyously undertook this task herself. In 326 she traveled to Jerusalem and worked hard to find the Lord’s Cross, which had been deliberately buried by Christ’s enemies. After discovering the true and Life-giving Cross, Queen Helen made sure that the people could venerate it. The Church commemorates this event in the major feast of the Elevation of the Cross. Part of the original Cross, together with the nails and some thorns, Queen Helen brought back to Rome for her son Constantine, while the other part remained in Jerusalem. Afterwards Constantine and Helen erected a huge and magnificent church over the sites of Christ’s crucifixion, burial, and resurrection. This church, which comprises the hill of Calvary and Christ’s Tomb, is the major holy site in Jerusalem even to this day. For their labors in spreading Christianity, Emperor Constantine the Great and Queen Helen have been named equal-to-the-apostles by the Church. St. Constantine died on the very day of Pentecost in A.D. 337.








3. Spiritual Signs of the End


St. Paul himself, who was greatly filled with awareness of the coming end of the world and the second coming of Christ, warns Christians even in his time not to be excited about the end of the world. He says in II Thessalonians 2:2-3: “Be not quickly shaken in mind or troubled… as though the day of the Lord is just at hand. Let no one deceive you: that day will not come except the falling away come first and the man of lawlessness be revealed, the son of perdition.”

This is a very important sign of the end: the falling away or apostasy and the coming of the man of lawlessness, which is Antichrist. On this subject I would like to focus quite a bit of our attention. This concept of apostasy is a key one with which to understand the events of our times. It is too big of a topic to go into completely now. But briefly: a student of history, looking at the whole past two thousand years of history, especially Western history, can see a continuous thread of development. And in these last nine hundred or thousand years, you can see the various strands which go into making up our modern history and modern civilization. The civilization of today is shaped by the events and developments of yesterday.

When Solzhenitsyn speaks about the coming of a great world crisis or even the end of the world, he is referring to the fact that this historical current, which has been going on for the last thousand years at least, is now coming to its end. There is no place further for it to go: it must either change drastically or destroy mankind. Solzhenitsyn traces it back to the end of the Middle Ages. Actually, it goes back even further. If you examine it historically, I think you can see that it traces back to the time when Rome broke away from the Church, i.e. the year 1054, the middle of the 11th century. Something happened in the West: the West chose to go its own way.

This breaking away on the part of Rome was the beginning of what can be called the mainstream of apostasy. Apostasy means “falling away,” even a very small falling away. If you look at Rome in the 12th century, it was still fairly close to Orthodoxy. Nonetheless, it had begun to deviate in its various ideas about the importance of the Pope, and so forth. Once this movement of apostasy began, it went step by step, very logically, to produce the world we see today. Rome broke off from the Church, because worldly ideas of Church government – the papacy – became dominant. And once the Roman Church was independent of the Churches in the East, these innovations began to enter the life of Rome until it became, over the centuries, increasingly different from Orthodoxy.

Worldliness in the Western world produced the pagan Renaissance, and the departures in the Roman Church from the true Christian practices of the earlier Church (most notably the Roman Catholic idea of “indulgences” and especially the selling of them) produced the Protestant Reformation, which gradually threw out almost all of the ancient Christian traditions together with the various superstitions and false practices against which it was supposedly rebelling. This, in turn, produced the reaction which we know as the Age of Enlightenment, the eighteenth century, which threw out religion altogether and tried to base life upon human reason and common sense. This is basically what civilization is trying to live on today. And this is what has produced the Communism out of which Solzhenitsyn came, and against which he is protesting. Communism is the last and most consistent form of trying to make life on earth solely fit human ideas, not divine ones.

If Rome had not fallen away from Orthodoxy and started this whole process of apostasy, world history would have been much different. We can see even now that in the East, Orthodox countries like Greece and Russia did not have a Renaissance, or a Reformation, or even an Enlightenment period, as did the West. And if they are now bound up with the same kind of worldview as is the West, it is because they have in the last century or two finally accepted all these ideas and been poisoned by them. Therefore, they have become part of the whole world which is now involved in one single civilization, i.e. Western civilization – which is, as Solzhenitsyn rightly sees, in its dying phase.

In the same passage in which St. Paul mentions the apostasy (II Thessalonians 2:7), he gives a second name for this movement. He calls it the “mystery of iniquity,” or the “mystery of lawlessness.” He says: “The mystery of lawlessness is already at work,” preparing for Antichrist, who is the “man of lawlessness.” If we look around at our 20th century civilization, the word “lawlessness” or “anarchy” is perhaps the chief characteristic that identifies it.

A few examples: by the beginning of the 20th century, all the various schools of modern art dissolved into what can only be called a “lawless” state: Cubism, Futurism, ending in just blocks on the canvas – or, what Jackson Pollock was doing twenty-five years ago: standing in the midst of a large canvas, he would get “inspired,” dip his paint brushes in pails, and throw the paint (and sometimes whatever came into his hands) on the canvas. You cannot seriously call it art, if you consider what the ancient masters created was art, because they were meticulous and careful, and there was a whole art or science to what they did. Therefore, you can say that, compared to ancient art or even the more recent art of previous centuries, this is a kind of lawlessness, because the artists are letting themselves go and are doing what is against all the laws.

In modern music it is the same way. An historian of music – Alfred Frankenstein – wrote a complete history of Western music, and when he came to the 20th century he stopped and said: I cannot write anymore, because what comes from here on is no longer music as I know it. That is, he appreciated that there was something there, but he said it does not obey the laws that music obeyed up until the end of the 19th century; therefore, it is something else; let somebody else write about it. Because, again, some kind of lawlessness, a new principle, entered into life.

Once you get this far, really, there is no place else to go – that’s the end of that. That is why Solzhenitsyn has this feeling that something is coming to an end, because you cannot keep going down. Something else has to happen. Either there has to be an explosion – a totally new principle has to enter in, like when Christianity came in Roman times and totally transformed everything – or else, if something new does not happen, then the whole of civilization simply winds down, and that is the end of it.

In the realm of moral teaching, it is quite noticeable, especially in the last twenty years or so, how lawlessness has become the norm. Even people in high positions within the clergy of liberal denominations – usually of Catholics, Protestants, and so forth – are sometimes quite willing to justify all kinds of things which before would have been considered immoral; now they are considered according to a new morality – “situation ethics,” and so forth.

Whereas most civilized people (and even wild pagan tribes) had a fairly good sense of right and wrong and decent behavior up at least to the Second World War, since then the philosophy has taken hold of many that one can “do whatever one feels like,” and even so-called Christians justify and promote behavior that until now was everywhere considered a total loss of decent standards, not only Christian but even just human. This is a deep sign of lawlessness in contemporary society. This could not happen wherever people have basic religious and moral views of any kind. It is a direct result of the abandonment of Christianity and the “falling away” from Truth.

This is a sign of what St. Paul calls the “mystery of lawlessness,” – a mystery in that it is something which is not fully revealed in this world it is something which comes from the other world. The “mystery of righteousness” is the whole story of how God came from heaven and became incarnate in order to save us. The “mystery of lawlessness” is the opposite: it is a mystery coming up from hell, which breaks into this world and changes it. Therefore, this is the mystery of lawlessness or anarchy which is preparing for the coming of the “man of lawlessness,” who is Antichrist.

Even in politics and government – which make no sense at all unless you have the idea of order – the idea of lawlessness is entering. If you look at how the world is divided, you see that almost half of the world now is in the Communist camp. And Communism, if you look at it objectively, is a very strange form of political/economic order, because it makes no sense. As far as politics are concerned, it is tyranny, which the Communists claim to be against. As far as economics are concerned, it does not work, and yet the whole point of installing it is to make it work better than capitalism. Therefore, from the point of view of those who introduced Communism into the world governments, it makes no sense, because it does not accomplish what it means to accomplish and because it produces the slave states that Solzhenitsyn writes about very eloquently. And yet it takes over the world. The rest of the world seems to be falling into this, or at least powerless to stop the movement of Communism. What is the reason for that?

Now I will say a word about Communism. It is not simply a system of politics or economics. Politically, it holds together only by terror, by the Gulag. For anyone who wants to understand what is happening in the world today, Solzhenitsyn’s book, The Gulag Archipelago, tells exactly what life was like in Russia for sixty years and in other countries for thirty years or less, and what is coming to the rest of the world. It is written very humanely. Solzhenitsyn does not have any bitterness about what happened; he has suffered through it himself and gives a very accurate description of what it is all about. Economically, it fails. Solzhenitsyn points out that the Tsarist government exported wheat, while the Soviets have to import wheat – to name just one of their failures. The two most serious “accomplishments” of the Soviet Union are the building (after stealing Western secrets) and stockpiling of enough weapons to destroy life on earth, and its network of prison camps – the Gulag.

But how can people believe in this Marxist system? If you do believe in it, you have to admit that it is a very strange philosophy. It is not an ordinary philosophy, such as that it is better to have the people vote, or that it is better to have one monarch over many people; it is not simple like that at all. It is like a dream world, a fantasy world. It is like the movements which were common in the 16th century. Someone would proclaim himself to be Jesus Christ, or the prophet of Christ, and people would begin to follow him. He would cause a big uprising, there would be a peasant revolt, and finally the prince would come along and chop them all down, and everybody would be peaceful again. But in the meantime, he had gotten the whole country excited, and people had thought that some kind of great religious thing was happening.

Communism has this same idea – only now without God. If you examine it, it is actually a chiliastic idea – that Paradise is coming to earth, just ahead of us. It is very interesting to read about the beginning of the Communist movement in the 19th century, because the writings of its early “prophets,” such as Fourier in France, are absolutely fantastic nonsense. Fourier talks about the coming age of world peace and prosperity, when all the fountains will be overflowing with pink lemonade, and we will pick meat chops from trees, and all kinds of fantastic things.

One wonders how people could take this seriously. But they did. Even Marx was inspired by this in the beginning, until he finally became mature and saw that, since this was all made up of fairy tales, he had to place it on a “scientific” basis. Therefore, he developed what is called “scientific materialism.” He then set forth the means of bringing this into reality by overthrowing the bourgeois governments. But when he comes into power, what is his answer? He promises actually the same thing that those earlier sectarians were promising. Even Lenin, at the foundation of Russian Communism, had this idea: first of all, there is the revolution – you change society, overthrow and kill all the kings, the middle class, and so forth; you take all their possessions, and give power to the workers. (That’s a very vague thing: the “workers.” The workers were the first to go to prison.) You give power supposedly to the “people,” but actually it is only a few who take it over for them, holding it for them, as it were, because they are not yet able to take care of it themselves. And after a certain number of years this so-called Dictatorship of the Proletariat withers away, and then people become peaceful, happy, contented, and there are no more problems.

Someone even asked Lenin what would happen if somebody were to have a religious idea or want to go back to the old-fashioned ways of doing things. They asked him: “Won’t you need a police department at least?” And he said: “There will be no need for a police department, because the people themselves will be so changed under the new conditions of society that, when anybody has a non-social idea, he will be automatically squashed like a bug by the people themselves.” In other words, the people will be so happy that they will take the initiative in squashing others, and there will be no need for police, or armies, or anything of the sort. This is an absolute fairy tale! And this is what Communist ideology is based upon. It is a very strange political philosophy. It partakes of the same principle of lawlessness; it is a kind of lawlessness which pretends to be orderly. It is a forerunner of the coming of Antichrist.

The reason why Communism takes over the world is not because it is much “smarter” than capitalism or democracies or anything of the sort. It is because in the West there is a spiritual vacuum, and when this vacuum is present, Communism simply marches in, taking one little territory after another until, at present, it has conquered nearly half the world.

But Communism does not have the final answer, because it is a very negative thing. In fact, if you look at what has been happening in Russia in the last ten or twenty years, you can see that there is a full revolt, as far as the people’s mentality is concerned; it is against this whole system of Communism. Although the dictatorship is just as strong as ever, and although the secret police are very strong and are everywhere, nonetheless, the people are rising up more and more. That is, they are rising up not in armed revolt but in their minds, and are becoming independent. This means that sooner or later the whole system is going to collapse.

And so Communism does not have the answer; it cannot conquer the whole world and then bring peace and happiness as it claims it can. But in the meantime, it is preparing for one very important thing which has to happen before the end of the world can come, and that is that there has to be one unified world government from which Christianity has somehow been kicked out. And this Communism has been doing very successfully. Mankind's tie with its past and with Christianity is being destroyed, and Communism is successfully becoming the main agent for preparing events connected with the end of the world – the establishment of a universal anti-Christian empire.

For example: after being conservative, even anti-revolutionary, during the 19th and early 20th centuries, the Roman Popes have now come close to joining the revolution, as Dostoyevsky predicted they would in the 19th century. Roman Catholicism has become a great worldly institution preaching the same chiliasm as the representatives of the U.N. Pope Paul VI’s visit to the U.N. in New York in 1965 reveals this clearly. He was given a hero’s welcome in New York by the American people, mostly non-Catholics, precisely because he is seen as the most eminent religious figure who preaches the chiliastic dream which is now so strong in the air. In his speech at the U.N., the Pope justified these expectations, and called on the U.N. to bring about the prophecies of Holy Scripture concerning the time when swords will be turned into plowshares and the lion will lie down with the lamb – in a millennial kingdom on earth.

Another sign that the end times are approaching is the present state of the Jews in Israel, in the city of Jerusalem. According to the prophecies of Scriptures and the Holy Fathers of the Orthodox Church, Jerusalem will be the world capital of Antichrist, and there he will rebuild the temple of Solomon where he will be worshipped as God. These are events that are to come right before the very end of the world. Of course, it is very significant that only since 1948 has Jerusalem been once more in the hands of the Jews, and only since 1967 has the place where the temple is located, the Mosque of Omar, been in their hands, since this site had been in the section of the city held by the Moslems. Therefore, all that prevents them – that is, technically – from building the temple is this Mosque of Omar. If they can destroy the mosque, they can erect the temple on this site. It is also significant that Jerusalem is now constantly in the news. The Jews have returned to Palestine for the first time since Christ. This makes it possible for the Antichrist to come first to the Jews, as the prophecies state, and then rule the whole world from Jerusalem. And the very idea of chiliasm comes from the Jews, because they rejected Christ simply because He did not establish a worldly kingdom.

If you were to ask anyone who is aware at all of political events in the world a question: “What would be the ideal city to have as the world capital, if there’s going to be a world empire?” – it is obvious what the answer would be in most people’s minds. It cannot be New York, because that is the center of capitalism; it cannot be Moscow, because that is the center of Communism. It cannot even be Rome, because Roman Catholicism is still some kind of limited tradition. The logical place is Jerusalem, because there three religions come together, three continents come together. It is the most logical place where there could be peace, brotherhood, and harmony: all the things which look good, but which are not God-pleasing unless they have a solid Christian foundation – those things which can be used by Antichrist.

Another aspect of the Jewish question is that many young Jews are becoming interested in Christianity, because among Jews also there is the same kind of religious seeking and problems that occur among other people. Some of them are being converted to Christianity, and some of them are coming to Orthodoxy. This is already a sign, a preparation for the fact that at the end of time the Jews will be restored to Christianity, to Christ. St. Paul expresses this by saying that, if the falling away of the Jews meant “riches” to the Gentiles – because when the Jews fell away the Gentiles were invited into the Church – then the restoration of Israel will be like a rising from the dead. And this event will come right before the end.


(To be continued)


Father Seraphim (Rose)










Under the eave, on the ledge of a well,

Christ sat for a moment to rest.

The Samaritan woman, as such was her wont,

Came her pitcher with water to fill.

Christ asked her to share some water with Him,

But she said to Him in response:

“I am a Samaritan, and with our milieu

No communion can ever be had.”

Christ said to her: “Oh, if only thou knew

Who gives thee live water to drink,

Him wouldst thou seek, and Him wouldst thou ask,

Who is presently speaking with thee.”

“The well here is deep, and live water from it

How canst Thou obtain, how indeed?

Jacob, our father, plain water did give,

And art Thou greater than he?”

Christ said to her: “Summon thy husband to come.”

But she said in reply: “I have none.”

“Thou tellest the truth, five of them thou didst have,

And the current is no husband to thee.”

“I see Thou art prophet. So do Thou please tell,

Where is it best that we pray?

On Mount Garizim? Or should God be revered

By coming to Jerusalem?”

“Not here and not there, but around everywhere,

Where the heart is flaming with love.

So go, bring glad tidings to family and friends,

That Messiah was speaking with thee.”

The Samaritan woman ran off in a hurry,

Forgetting her pitcher at the well.

And all whom she met, she summoned with her:

“Come and see Christ, for He has appeared!”

And ever from that time, the Saramitan woman

The live water did drink and did share.

For that water she suffered, for it she was martyred,

And is numbered among all the saints.


 – Translated by Natalia Sheniloff







Home    Our Church    Services    Church Choir    Contact Us Transfiguration    Spiritual poetry    Library
Top page
© 2000-2010 Transfiguration of Our Lord Russian Orthodox Church.