Russian Orthodox Church Transfiguration of Our Lord Âåðñèÿ íà ðóññêîì ÿçûêå
Baltimore, USA Transfiguration of Our Lord
Online Orthodox Library
Christian Teaching
Our Lord Jesus Christ
Holy Mother of God
Lives of the Saints
Christian Family
Science and Religion
World of the Angels
The Royal Martyrs
Modern-day Life
Church and Services

Contact usSpiritual poetryTransfiguration of Our LordChurch choirOur churchHome
MODERN - DAY LIFEModern-Day Life
Back to the list
E-mail this page
A World Lying In Iniquity

Looking around us at the surrounding environment, it is not difficult for an Orthodox Christian to see that the modern world is literally lying in iniquity, and that in its sinfulness mankind has not only caught up with and surpassed Sodom and Gomorrah, but also the antediluvian mankind that was destroyed by the Lord by means of the Flood. And if current mankind has not yet been destroyed by fire, as had been foretold, it is only because it still contains the requisite number of righteous ones for which the patriarch Abraham tried to bargain with God in order to save Sodom and Gomorrah (and could not), and because the Lord continues to show everlasting mercy to mankind and is granting a chance for salvation to all who can still be saved.

It is extremely difficult for an Orthodox Christian to live in a world where the sins of sodomy exceed the original ones a hundredfold. Not only the souls of righteous ones, but also the souls of all the faithful languish and suffocate in these hellish fumes… However, by his very nature an Orthodox Christian should not despair, but should rely on God’s Providence in all things, should continue to live and work on the salvation of his soul. At the same time it may be worthwhile to attain a deeper understanding of the situation in which we find ourselves. With this in mind we offer you a series of articles dealing with this issue.

Discourse on the meaning of evil

The thought of universal evil lies like a heavy burden of doubt in the hearts of many of the faithful. It seems incomprehensible to them that God allows the existence of evil, since in His omnipotence He could easily eliminate this evil… How can the infinitely merciful God tolerate a situation wherein the evil actions of a single scoundrel can doom thousands, and sometimes millions, and even up to half of mankind to misery, woe, misfortune?

Wherein lies the meaning of evil? In God’s world there is nothing meaningless.

In order to reply to these questions, we must understand the precise nature of evil. Evil does not mean suffering, misery, or poverty, but sins and moral guilt. God does not want evil. The Omnipotent God cannot approve of evil. Moreover, God forbids evil. God punishes evil. Evil or sin are a contradiction or opposition to the will of God.

The foundation of evil, as we know, was laid by the supreme angel created by God, who came out from under obedience to God’s benevolent will and became the devil. The devil is the cause of evil, and he either inspires or influences the engendering of sin in man.

It is not man’s body, as many people think, that is the source of evil. No, the body becomes the instrument of either sin or virtue not of its own accord, but by man’s will.

The true faith of Christ indicates the following two reasons for the existence of evil in the world:

(1) The first and primary reason lies in the freedom of man’s will.

(2) The second reason for the existence of evil is that bearing in mind its inevitability in order to accommodate free will, God directs even this evil towards man’s good.

Our free will is the reflection of our likeness to God. This gift from God raises man above all the other creatures in the world…

In freely choosing good and rejecting evil man magnifies God and perfects himself.

In the book of Ecclesiastes there are the following words: “He (God) created man in the beginning and left him in the hands of his own will,” i.e. God originally created man and left him with free choice.

In this manner God gives people with good will the opportunity to earn heaven for themselves, and those with evil will – to merit hell. However, both one and the other are arrived at only by means of man’s free will.

St. Cyril of Jerusalem says: “If you were to do good by nature and not by choice, why would God then prepare incomparable crowns? The sheep are meek, but they will never be crowned for their meekness, because their meekness comes not from choice, but from nature.”

St. Basil the Great says: “Why have we not been fashioned sinless, so that we would not be able to sin even if we so desired? For the same reason that you yourself would not consider your servants to be efficient if you kept them constrained, but only if you saw them fulfilling their duties before you voluntarily. Thus God, too, is pleased not by what is forced, but by what is done voluntarily; virtue comes from will and not from necessity, while our will depends on what is within us, and what is within us is free. Therefore, whoever criticizes the Creator for not having fashioned us sinless shows that he prefers a nature that is unfeeling, immovable and without any aspirations to a nature that is gifted with free will and independence.” In other words, such a person prefers a machine (robot) to a sentient being.

Under no circumstance does God wish for evil. However, since evil of necessity penetrated into the world through the fault of creation, God makes even this evil serve to the good in His universal plan.

For example: the sons of Jacob sold their brother Joseph into bondage. They did an evil deed. But God turned evil into good: Joseph achieved high standing in Egypt and thus had the opportunity to save his family, from which was due to come the Messiah, from famine. When several years later Joseph saw his brothers, he said to them: “You planned evil against me, but God turned it into good!”

In the apostles’ times the Jews persecuted the Christians in Palestine. And so the Christians were forced to flee from Judea, which was sanctified by the life and blood of the Saviour. However, wherever they went, they propagated the word of the Gospel. The sins of the persecutors were directed by the Divine hand towards the spread of Christianity.

The pagan Roman emperors persecuted the young Christian Church. Tens of thousands of martyrs shed their blood for Christ in those times. And this blood of martyrs became the seed for millions of new Christians. Thus here, too, the persecutors’ fury and the sins of hate and murder were channeled by God into building up the Church. The persecutors planned and committed evil, while God turned all their deeds into good.

The entire history of mankind, up to our own times, confirms the truth of these words. The greatest catastrophes for people were at the same time the greatest triumphs for religion and served to turn people to God.

We only need to have patience and to wait, for with God one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years are as one day. Moreover, this intertwining of evil into God’s plan for administering the world was not some belated adjustment or a correction of creation, but a conscious act of God’s pre-eternal will.

Protopriest Seraphim Slobodskoy

Top page

Peace In Our Times

Peace!.. peace!.. peace!.. – we hear from all sides: “universal disarmament!.. peaceful co-existence!.. let us fight for peace!.. everyone is for peace!..”

How wonderful it would be, what a joyous and bright future would await mankind if all these appeals referred to the peace of which the angels sang in the night of Christ’s Nativity: “Glory to God on high and peace on earth, good will toward men!”; if this were the peace which the Lord Saviour bequeathed to His disciples at the Mystic Supper, saying: “Peace I leave with you, My peace I give unto you”; if this were that “peace of God, which passeth all understanding,” in which the holy apostles instructed the first Christians according to the Lord’s commandment, which they advised them to seek, and which they urged them to have with God and with all people… But alas! it is not this kind of peace that is now spoken about. All these artificially pompous and often hysterical cries about peace in the world currently issue, for the most part, from individuals who are either alien to true Christianity or are directly hostile to the Church, – from individuals who themselves do not live in peace with God and with their own conscience, and are filled with malice toward their neighbors… Can we believe that peace is truly the objective of those who, blaspheming insolently and defiantly, have declared war on God Himself and on His holy Church, and who openly preach class hate as the basis of their ideology, having no compunction about spilling whole streams of blood and destroying millions of people on sole suspicion of disagreement with their ideology? Can we believe in the true peacefulness of those who with unctuous and saccharine words preach “Christian love” and “universal forgiveness,” but in reality sow discord and strife and, spreading lies and slander, cause enmity and division, turn their neighbors one against the other? Where God’s truth is absent, there cannot be any genuine peace.

Archbishop Averky of Syracuse and Trinity
Archbishop Averky of Syracuse and Trinity

While engaging in a decisive battle with even the least manifestations of evil and sin in our own souls, let us not be afraid to identify and denounce evil whereever it reveals itself in modern-day life – not through pride or vanity, but solely out of love for truth. Our main goal in these times of deceitful shamelessness is to preserve total fidelity and loyalty to the genuine Evangelic truth and to the Leader of our salvation – the resurrected Christ, Giver of life and Conqueror of hell and death.

We should well know and understand that Tolstoy’s harmful teaching on “non-resistance to evil” (which, by the way, destroyed the poor land of Russia and plunged it into the bloody terror of Bolshevism!) is absolutely alien to true Christianity; every true Christian is irreconcilable to evil, wherever and in whomever he may meet it.

Throughout the entire history of the Church all true Christians followed the example of the Lord Jesus Christ Himself and His holy apostles in universally condemning evil and combating it, even though it brought them all kinds of deprivations, including that of life itself.

Archbishop Averky of Syracuse and Trinity

Top page

Reflections on the New Orleans disaster

Great sorrow has befallen America, over a thousand people perished, many were left without a home or means of subsistence. All the consequences of this destructive hurricane have not yet been entirely calculated and, to all appearances, not yet fully lived through. Inadvertently the question arises: what caused such an unheard of disaster in America and on such an immense scale?

We know from the Holy Scriptures and the teachings of the Holy Fathers that there is no randomness in the spiritual world, but only predictability, especially when relating to such a catastrophe. The Scriptures often provide similar examples of disasters, presenting them exclusively from a moral point of view, which forces us, too, to look upon the moral side of what happened. Many people will say that one cannot moralize in the face of such misfortune, but only commiserate. It is impossible not to sympathize, seeing such a disaster, and only the heartless can remain unmoved in the face of this great calamity that befell America. However, sympathy for victims of an epidemic does not prevent a simultaneous undertaking of preventive measures to stop the spread of the infection.

The disaster that occurred is, to all appearances, a consequence of the country’s spiritual illness: New Orleans is regarded as one of America’s most “fallen” cities, and there is not a single vice in which it did not exceed all other cities. It often took first place in the number of murders committed there. And in this fatal year it once again received such a shameful distinction. Only because of the hurricane was a proposed 3-day festival of Sodomites (Southern Decadence) there aborted. Also the annual occult “voodoo festival” will not take place.

The word “deluge” (flood in English) comes from the Latin “diluvium” and “diluere” (cleansing, purification). The flooding of New Orleans was apparently just such a cleansing of the moral filth that had accumulated there. The fate of similar cities often ended tragically – Sodom and Gomorrah, Pompeii, Krakatoa, Martinique… each one of them in its own time represented a concentration of vice. Their bitter example served to show mankind that evil does not go unpunished, but that according to Apostle Jude, the Lord’s brother: “Even as Sodom and Gomorrah, and the cities around them in like manner, giving themselves over to fornication, and going after strange flesh, are set forth for an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire, – likewise will it also be with these filthy dreamers who defile the flesh…” (1:7-8).

Recently the “Los Angeles Times” published an article entitled “The Californian earthquake can be a new Katrina,” which says that participants in a FEMA training program, analyzing in August of 2001 (a month before the fatal September 11th) the three most probable cataclysms that could befall America, came to the conclusion that the greatest threat would come from a terrorist attack on New York, secondly – a mega-hurricane flooding New Orleans, and thirdly – a powerful earthquake along the San Andreas fault in California. Of the three disasters that were named only the last one did not yet take place, but it is capable of producing the greatest number of victims and destruction, since the San Andreas fault lies along the most populated state of America (over 60 million people).

The Lord has often indicated to people through prophets, saints, and the Holy Scriptures that only repentance and prayers of the righteous are able to stop such disasters. The Lord was even ready to spare Sodom and Gomorrah for the sake of ten righteous ones. He would have spared New Orleans, too, if there had been a sufficient number of righteous people in it.

As an example of such repentance the Holy Scriptures present the ancient pagan city of Nineveh, the capital of Assyria, a megalopolis of those times and possibly even the greatest of all Old Testament cities. The Bible says that it took 3 days to go all around it. Los Angeles, which spreads over 70 miles, may possibly be compared in size with that ancient city

The Bible describes how, despite the Prophet Jonas’ disbelief that such a large and depraved city was capable of repentance, its inhabitants, together with their ruler, heeded the prophet’s exhortations and prayed and fasted for 40 days, entreating the Lord for mercy. It is hard to image Los Angeles fasting and repenting, but… it was hard for Prophet Jonas to imagine the inhabitants of Nineveh sprinkling ashes over their heads.

Repentance is not only the ruing of past actions, but a rectification and total unwillingness to return to sin. In Greek the word repentance is literally translated as a decisive correction of one’s train of thought. It is known that after Jonas’ sermon, in that same 9th century B.C., a religious reform was passed through in Assyria similar to the Egyptian monotheistic reform, and the Assyrian religion assumed characteristics of monotheism. Repentance engenders clarity of thought and purity of heart (“Create in me a clean heart, O God” – Psalm 51), while clarity of thought cannot live with the idea of polytheism.

At the present time we tend to relate all vices solely to America and its culture, and to believe that only this country and its cities merit punishment. But is that true? Russia and the entire world now willingly accept all the baseness that was engendered by American anti-culture and, to a lesser degree, all the goodness due to which America prospered for such a long time, all those moral values that are still alive in it and did not delay in emerging in the face of the disaster. At one time pagan Rome served for its contemporary world as an example of the order, valor, and morality of which pagan consciousness was capable. In like manner for a long time America served as a similar example. All empires pass through waves of history and all of them, without exception, have seen the zenith of their glory and their decline. The decline has always been the result of a nation’s moral deterioration. At the present time, beginning with the 1960s, a process of moral degradation can be observed in America. The consequence of this is always the removal of the restraining veil of God’s grace, which can be reinstated only through a sincere change of heart.

May God grant all of us an awareness of this counsel from above, that we may repent and deflect the punishment that can befall all those who resist their conscience – that voice of God which is heard in all people.

Reprinted from “Orthodox Russia,” No. 17, 2005

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