St. Theophan the Recluse
[Heb. 4:1-13; Luke 21:12-19] And ye shall be hated of all men for My name’s sake. He who breathes even a little of the spirit of the world into himself becomes cold to Christianity and its demands. This indifference turns into dislike when one remains in it for a long time without coming to one’s senses, and especially after picking up somewhere a particle of some false teaching. The spirit of the world with its false teachings is a spirit of disliking Christ: it is of the antichrist. It is the spread of hostile attitudes toward the Christian confession and Christian traditions. Apparently, something like this is happening around us. So far only hollow roars are sounding everywhere, but it will not be surprising if soon the Lord’s prophesy will begin, that, they shall lay their hands on you…and persecute you…ye shall be betrayed…and cause you to be put to death. The spirit of antichrist is always the same; what was, in the beginning, will be now, perhaps in another form, but with the same meaning. What should we do? In your patience possess ye your souls. Be patient, with a firm word of confession of the truth in your mouth and in your heart.
I have a thought that the persecution we face now is of a different type, more subtle. We are, in a way, protected by the unbelief of the many – almost no one believes in the Church, if they did there would be more True Orthodox. I think that people are starting to think there never even was a True Church. However, the persecution may also now be in this seeming isolation, the temptation to doubt Divine Providence in the face of the seemingly overwhelming indifference that we see in the world. As cccc says we are called to a special role, as have been the Christians of all generations, and now is not the time to begin thinking like the world orthodox and say ‘times are different now’. The reading for today from the Epistle to St Timothy is apt. ‘Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season.’ God has given us everything we need to endure and, more than this, to help others into the Ark of Salvation. This is not the time to be wishy-washy or imprecise. To use the parlance of our times we have ‘unprecedented VIP access’ to our pastors. God has surely arranged these special circumstances for these strange times. St Theophan, as ever, is pulling no punches today. We have every opportunity to test every ‘particle’ of our faith and every reason to do so.