Russians must preach world-wide repentance
Editor's Note: We recently ran an article about the life of well-known American monk, Fr. Seraphim Rose.
Below is an excerpt of Fr. Seraphim's famous speech entitled 'The Future of Russia and the End of the World." As it is lengthy, we will be publishing only excerpts of it (the first part we published here).
It should be noted that fr. Seraphim (1934 –1982) did not live to see the fall of the Soviet Union and the full scope of the Christianity rebirth in Russia. Yet here, it seems that he knew that it would happen.
In the book which most thoroughly describes the events to occur at the end of the world, the Apocalypse of St. John the Theologian, at the opening of the seventh seal, which precedes the final plague to come upon mankind; it is said that there was silence in heaven for the space of half an hour [Apoc 8:1].
Some have interpreted this to mean a short period of peace before the final events of world history—namely, the short period of the restoration of Russia, when the preaching of world-wide repentance will begin with Russia—that “new, ultimate word” which even Dostoyevsky hoped Russia would give to the world [Pushkin Speech, The Diary of a Writer, tr. Boris Brasol, New York, George Braziller, 1954, p. 980].
Under present world conditions, when the events of one country are known to the whole world almost instantly, and when Russia, cleansed by the blood of its martyrs, indeed has a better chance than any other country to awake from the sleep of atheism and unbelief—we can already conceive the possibility of such an event.
As Father Dimitry Dudko and others have said, it cannot be that the blood of Russia's innumerable martyrs will be in vain; undoubtedly it is the seed of the last great flowering of true Christianity.
But it is easy to become lost in dreams of the future world.
We should be aware of what is to happen at the end of the world, and of what may happen in Russia. But spiritual events such as the resurrection of Russia depend upon each individual soul.
This seven will not happen without the participation of the Orthodox people—our repentance and struggle. And this involves not only the people of Russia itself—it involves the whole of the Russian Diaspora, and all the Orthodox people of the world.
Archbishop John, in the same report to the All-Diaspora Sobor of 1938 which I have already quoted, speaks of the apocalyptic mission of the Russian people outside of Russia:
“In chastising, the Lord at the same time also shows the Russian people the way to salvation by making it a preacher of Orthodoxy in the whole world.
The Russian Diaspora has made all the ends of the world familiar with Orthodoxy; the mass of Russian exiles, for the most part, is unconsciously a preacher of Orthodoxy....To the Russians abroad it has been granted to shine in the whole world with the light of Orthodoxy, so that other peoples, seeing their good deeds, might glorify our Father Who is in heaven, and thus obtain salvation for themselves....
The Diaspora will have to be converted to the path of repentance and, having acquired forgiveness for itself through prayer to God and through being reborn spiritually (will) become capable also of giving rebirth to our suffering homeland” [The Orthodox Word, 1973, no. 50, pp. 92, 94].
Thus the Russians abroad by their living the true life of Orthodoxy, should be already preparing the way for St. Seraphim's preaching of world-wide repentance.
To some extent this is happening, and one can even begin to see, parallel to the Orthodox revival in Russia, a genuine Orthodox awakening in America and other lands outside of Russia.
But it all depends on each on of us: if we are awakening to true Orthodox life, then Holy Russia will be restored; if we are not, then God can withdraw His promises.
Archbishop John ended his report to the 1938 Sobor with a prophecy and a hope that there will be a true Pascha in Russia that will shine forth to the whole world before the very end of all things and the beginning of the universal Kingdom of God:
“Shake away the sleep of despondency, O sons of Russia! Behold the glory of her suffering and be purified; wash yourselves from your sins!
Be strengthened in the Orthodox Faith, so as to be worthy to dwell in the dwelling of the Lord and to settle on His holy mountain! Leap up, leap up, arise, O Russia, you who from the Lord's hands have drunk the cup of His wrath!
When your suffering shall have ended, your righteousness shall go with you and the glory of the Lord shall accompany you. The peoples shall come to your light, and kings to the shining which shall rise upon you.
Then Lift up your eyes and see: behold your children come to you from the West and the North and the Sea and the East, blessing you in Christ forever. Amen” [Ibid, p. 94].
This address, delivered at the Orthodox Youth Conference in San Francisco in 1981, was originally published in The Orthodox Word, Nos. 100-101 (1981; vol. 17, nos. 5-6), pp. 205-217.
(the full speech can be found at OrthoChristian here).