Sayings from the Optina Patericon, a collection of the sayings of Elders who lived in one of the most revered monasteries in the world, Optina Monastery
No one knows when the antichrist will come, as the Bible tells us, but signs of the coming of antichrist are already here. Seeing such persecution against the faith and attempts to destroy it, as well as much else, we have to think that the time is approaching. But nevertheless, it’s impossible to say. There were times before when people thought that the antichrist had come; for example, Peter [the Great]. But later this was seen to be a mistake, that the world still exists. Yes, and what is the point of such enumerations anyway? One thing only is important—that our conscience be clean in everything. Hold fast to the Orthodox faith, and lead a morally upright life according to God’s commandments, in order to be ready at any time. And for this we need to not put it off to some unknown future and make use of the present time for repentance and correction: Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation (2 Cor. 6:2).
It is sinful to wish to live to the time of antichrist. There will be such sorrows that, as it has been said, even the elect will hardly be saved. But it is dangerous and sinful to seek suffering. This comes from pride and foolishness.
The spirit of antichrist has acted from apostolic times through its forerunners, as the Apostle writes: For the mystery of iniquity doth already work: only he who now letteth will let, until he be taken out of the way (2 Thess. 2:7). The apostle’s words “[it won’t come to pass] until”, relates to the sovereign authorities and Church authorities, against whom the forerunners of antichrist will rebel in order to do away with and destroy them on the earth; because the antichrist, according to exegesis of Holy Scripture, must come during a time of anarchy on the earth. But while he is sitting at the bottom of hell he works through his forerunners. First he worked through various heretics who brought confusion to the Orthodox Church, and especially through the Arians, people who were educated and in kings’ courts, and then he worked cunningly through educated Masons, and finally, now through educated nihilists he has begun to work brazenly and crudely, beyond measure. But their sickness will return upon their own heads, as it is written in the Scripture. Isn’t it extreme madness to labor with all your might, not sparing your own life, only in order to hang from a noose here on earth and in the future life to end up on the bottom of hell, in tartarus, for eternal torment? But their desperate pride sees nothing nor wants to; they want to express their mindless recklessness to everyone.
You are afraid to live to the time of antichrist. The Lord is merciful. You and I are not likely to live to that time, but we are a little frightened by the forerunners of antichrist who are attacking the Church and the reigning authorities; for antichrist must come during a time of complete anarchy, and that is what the forerunners of antichrist are working on.
Translation by Nun Cornelia (Rees)
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