Father John Moses offers some sobering yet helpful and hopeful words for those of us attempting to work out our salvation while living in the wasteland of the American Empire:
. . . Are we in exile or we are entering into it? Despite growing evidence, perhaps we haven’t realized it yet; or maybe our hope that it if we just ignore it, things will change back to a more comfortable situation. Yet,it has already happened – to hold to traditional values has been called bigotry. The government is beginning to apply legal sanctions against such “bigots.” The IRS has already denied the right to speak freely from the pulpit on political issues. To speak politically may result in the loss of non-profit status. It has been suggested that reading or talking about Scriptures that are considered anti-homosexual constitutes hate speech and should be banned. Other things are afoot, but I think you get the idea.
If we are in exile, then the battle grows more intense between holding to the Faith and power of conformity. The Church has been in this situation before. Sometimes, exile meant being moved from home and family. Sometimes it meant persecution and death. Until now, it seemed impossible that such persecution would come again. It is amazing that persecution will come under the banner of equality, uniqueness, and freedom. How do we survive this? Let me draw a few ideas from the history of the Church which not only survived, but converted the world around her. These strategies have always been true, but in exile they are more urgent.
In exile, it is vital that we draw closer together in community. This doesn’t mean that we close our doors to the world or move to
. It means that it is the Church, and not our circle of friends, family or work, from which we will draw our strength and encouragement. We will need our Orthodox brothers and sisters, priests and hierarchs to draw closer together in love and mutual support. The Sunday Liturgy is an expression of our community, but once a week is not enough for those in exile. It is our hope to renew the Sisterhood and the Brotherhood here at Holy Myrrhbearers. Among the things they will, the fellowship that we will share in these meetings will be vital. We must abandon the American myth that we are all self-sufficient individuals and can do just fine on our own. This is the way the early church survived dark times of exile. Montana
The Eucharist is the medicine of the soul. In exile, infrequent communion and poor attendance will not be enough to face what is coming. More than ever, our spiritual life must be our number one priority, above work and family and all else. We will need strength to be able to witness to our family, to train our children so that they can understand why they face ridicule for being a traditional Christian. We may want to rethink our abandonment of worship on Saturday night. The Church has a liturgical schedule that can counterbalance the rhythm of the world. How will we be able to inspire our children to hold to traditional Faith and they see no commitment from the parents?
Since this exile is in part ideological, we must know how to respond. We must be sure that we know the teachings of the Church and how they are to be applied. The truth will set us free, but if we are ignorant of the truth, the world will easily ensnare us. We must study or die.
The Saints in exile displayed incredible courage and commitment to the Lord. How was it possible? They were men and women of prayer. In work and in all of life, they had communion with God. When Church, Liturgy, and study were taken away, it was prayer that sustained them. If the voice of the prophet is being heard again, let the voice that warned the Israelites, is correct and our exile is near or already here, then it is time that we commune with God as much and as often as we can until life becomes prayer and prayer is life. Someone suggested that being the Church publically will become impossible. The spirit of the anti-Christ has always been around and it seeks to incarnate into governmental systems. If our present government is anti-Christ or is tending that way, the time may come when anyone who meets together publicly will draw the attention of that spirit and will be persecuted to extinction. We must be ready, and we will be ready if we are people of prayer. After all, it is spiritual warfare and must be fought spiritually.
In conclusion, we are entering a time that we thought would never return. I know it may be hard to believe. We have always believed that the freedoms guaranteed in our Constitution would protect us. Now those freedoms are being used against us. Whether you feel the struggle or not, whether you compromise with this society or not will depend on your allegiance to Christ and the Holy Orthodox Faith. At the moment, when you walk down the street, there is nothing to distinguish you from anyone else. That may be changing.
Source: ‘The Times they are a changin’’, http://www.pravmir.com/times-changin/, posted 5 August 2014, accessed 7 August 2014
May the merciful Lord grant us all a spirit of repentance and tears of contrition that we may be delivered from this hell on earth, and may He count us worthy of seeing the return of the Christian Tsar in
to help the Church restore Christian life throughout the world: Russia
. . . The tasks of the Tsar of Russia imposed on him by Divine Providence go far beyond the bounds of the tasks assigned to one who is vested with the authority of the State. He is not a head of State who is elected by the people and there to please the people, by whom he is appointed and on whom he depends. The Tsar of Russia is anointed to his Tsardom by God and is appointed to be the Image of God on earth: his task is to do the works of God, to express the will of God, to be the bearer and preserver of the general Christian ideal of earthly life.
As a result, the tasks of the Tsar of Russia went far beyond the bounds of
and embraced the whole world. The Tsar of Russia struck a balance in world affairs, in international relations in both hemispheres. He defended the weak and the oppressed, united peoples made up of many tribes through his supreme authority, guarded Christian civilization and culture, he was he who ‘stands in the way’, to whom the Apostle Paul refers in his second epistle to the Thessalonians, saying: ‘For the mystery of iniquity works already, only he who now stands in the way will stand in the way, until he is taken out of the way (2 Thess. 2, 7). Russia
This is what the mission of the Russian Orthodox Sovereign and Tsar consisted of…His task was not only for the good of
, but for the peace of the whole world… Russia
And until Russian Orthodox have understood the mission of the Russian Sovereign Tsar, until they are conscious of what the tasks of the Sovereign and Lord’s Anointed were and are, until they have pledged themselves before God to aid the Tsar in carrying out those tasks, the grace of God will not return to Russia and there will be no peace on earth’.
Prince N. D. Zhevakhov,
, 14/27 May 1928 Bari, Italy
Source: Father Andrew Phillips, ‘Why there is no Peace on Earth’, http://www.events.orthodoxengland.org.uk/why-there-is-no-peace-on-earth/, posted 1 August 2014, accessed 8 August 2014
These being the days leading up to the Dormition of the Mother of God (15 August), let us pray, ‘Most Holy Theotokos, save us!’