Ijov’s Blog

March 21, 2011

Accurate prophecies of Tarabic

Mitar Tarabic (1829-1899), an illiterate peasant from a small Serbian village called Kremna, had experienced occasional prophetic visions. Being a religious person and having a local Serbian orthodox priest for a godfather, he told this priest about his episodes of “seeing into the future”. The priest, Zaharije Zaharich (1836-1918), wrote down everything in a small notebook, which was damaged by fire in 1943 when his family house was destroyed by the occupying Bulgarian army. This text is now in the possession of the family of Zaharich’s great-grandson, Mr. Dejan Malenkovich.

Mitar Tarabic with local priest

Mitar Tarabic with local priest

Tarabic’s best-known prophecy has to do with a series of political events in 19th century Serbia. Without getting into details, I’ll tell you that he predicted a sequence of events (spanning a course of decades) that eventually led to the removal of the ruling Obrenovich family from the Serbian royal throne. This prophecy came to be known in the region as the “black prophecy”, and it did play out as predicted. It culminated in 1903 with the assassination of Alexandar Obrenovich and his wife Draga, who were killed by their own guards.


“After the assassination of the King and Queen [Alexandar and Draga Obrenovich] the Karageorgevichs will come to power. Then we will again start a war with the Turks. Four Christian states will attack Turkey, and our border will be on the river Lim. Then we shall finally conquer and avenge Kosovo…”

Historical facts:

1903 – Alexandar and Draga Obrenovich are assassinated by their own guards, and Petar Karageorgevich becomes the ruler of Serbia.

1912 – War erupts between Serbia and Turkey. With the help of Greece, Bulgaria, and Montegro (three other Christian states), Serbia soon wins, moving its borders up to the river Lim.

“Soon after this war another war will start… The Big War in which a lot of blood will be spilled. If that blood were a river, a huge stone of 300 kg would roll in its current easily. A mighty army from across a river, three times bigger than ours, will attack us… They will destroy everything on their way. They penetrate deep into our land… Hard times will come upon us… Our army will almost give up, but than suddenly an intelligent man on a black stallion will take the command and cry out:

“Forward to victory, my people! Forward brother Serbs!!” Our army springs to life. Its fighting spirit wakes up and the enemy is chased away across the river… Then an even greater army will come from the north and run over us. Our land will be devastated. We will be dying of hunger and sickness in great numbers. For three years Serbia will live in total darkness. During that time our wounded army will be abroad. They will stay in a place surrounded by the sea, and will be fed and nursed by friends from over the seas. Then, their wounds healed, they will come back home in ships. They will free Serbia and all of the territories where our brothers live.”

Historical facts:

1914 – The Austro-Hungarian Empire starts a war against Serbia, after a Serbian nationalist named Gavrilo Princip kills Austrian Prince Ferdinand in Sarajevo. This regional war soon develops into the First World War. In the beginning, Austria conquers the northern and central part of Serbia easily, but when General Alexandar Mishich (“the man on a black stallion”) takes command, the inspired Serbian army pushes the Austrians back across the river Drina. Soon after, the Germans attack from the north and the Serb army is forced to retreat through Albania to the Greek island of Kerkira.

There they regroup, and after a full recovery sail for Salonika, where they form a new front with other allied armies. After a lot of heavy fighting, Serbia is finally free and reunited with the other southern Slav nations (Croats and Slovenians), whose territories had been part of the Astro-Hungarian empire for a long time. During the German occupation, a very large number of people in Serbia died of hunger and sickness.

“I will tell you one more thing father, the invading army will come to Kremna exactly on your baptismal day, stay for 3 years, and go away on the same day they came – St. Luke`s day. But you will not see the end of the war. In the last year of the world’s big carnage you will die. Both these wars, the one with the Turks and the big one when the whole world will be at war, will take away two of your grand-children… one before, and the other after your death.”

Historical facts:

The Germans entered Kremna on St. Luke`s day, and the village was liberated on the exactly the same date 3 years later. Zaharije Zaharic died in 1918, the last year of the first “great carnage”, which also took the lives of his two beloved grand children: one before, and one after his death.


“Listen to me, my good father, after the first Big War Austria will disappear, and Serbia will be as big as a real kingdom. We will live together with our northern brothers. For some years we shall live in peace, love and prosperity. But it will not last for long. A venomous hatred will come into our people… Blood is spilled… horrible! I do not know when nor why, but it is probably because of this hatred.”

Historical facts: 1918 – The Austro-Hungarian Empire dissolves, and the Kingdom of Yugoslavia is formed. The new country is riddled with constant economic, social and political problems caused mostly by conflicts between variaous nationalistic political parties.

1928 – During a particularly fiery question period, a Parliament Member of the Serbian Radical party pulls out a hand gun and kills 3 deputies from Croatia (3 others are also wounded). Soon after this spilling of blood, a military dictatorship is established.

“Then the one who sits on the throne of our kingdom is killed. He will leave behind a widow and orphans. A relative of his will replace him on the throne, and he will try to rule justly and take good care of his cousin`s children. But people do not love him, and he is accused of being an unjust ruler. He is dethroned and imprisoned by his army. His life will be saved by England`s King and Queen. Then on the empty throne, our killed King’s boy sits. But he will rule only for a few days. He will be taken by his soldiers over the seas because our kingdom is again invaded by a foreign, evil army. All of Europe is under the rule of the crooked anti-cross.”

Historical facts:

1934 – While visiting Marseilles (in France), King Alexandar Karageorgevich is killed by a Croatian nationalist. Prince Pavle Karageorgevich, his cousin, becomes the provisional ruler because the King`s son Petar is still a minor. Because of his growing unpopularity, Pavle is ousted by his army and is exiled to England. Young Prince Petar becomes the King, but soon flees Yugoslavia before the invading Nazi hordes.

1941 – Yugoslavia is occupied by the Germans. The ominous shadow of the Nazi swastika covers most of Europe.

“In the beginning Russia will not wage war, but when attacked by the evil army, they will fight back. There is a red Czar on the Russian throne. Here, men with stars on their foreheads will appear. They will rule Uzice and this region for exactly 73 days, and then fleeing their enemies, they will go over the river Drina. These are times of hunger and great evil… Serbs will fight and butcher each other. The invading enemy looks upon Serbian evil hatred and laughs at us. A man with blue eyes on a white horse appears among our people. A star shines on his forehead. The evil enemy will hunt him all over our country, in the woods, over rivers and upon the sea, but in vain. The man will gather a mighty army and free occupied Belgrade. He will chase away the enemy from our country, and our kingdom will be bigger than ever. Russia will make an alliance with other great kingdoms over the seas, and they will burn down the crooked anti-cross and free all the enslaved people of Europe.”

[NOTE: Zaharich did not always write down Tarabic’s predictions at the time they occurred. Sometimes, he would write about conversations that had taken place several weeks before… this may explain some of the repetition and out-of-sequence quotations that appear in his writing. For example, in the preceding paragraph it would seem that the first two sentences are better suited to be in the middle of the passage (after the introduction of the “man with blue eyes”), because it is his army that takes and holds Uzice for 73 days.]

Historical facts:

1941 – After being attacked by Nazi Germany, Russia enters the war. They are led by their Communist “red Czar”, Stalin. In Yugoslavia the communist party led by Josip Broz Tito, the man with blue eyes on a white horse, starts the resistance against the Germans and Italians, as well as against the Serbian and Croat national extremists who are butchering each other. The symbol of Tito`s partisans is a red star, which they proudly wear on their hats.

The first territory liberated by the partisans is the region around the city of Uzice. They hold it against a superior force for exactly 73 days… then the partisans are forced to flee over the river Drina to Bosnia. The guerilla war was fought all over Yugoslavia for 4 long years… in the woods, over rivers and upon the sea.

1945 – Yugoslavia is liberated. Tito enters Belgrade on a white horse and makes the Royal Palace his life-long residence. Communist Yugoslavia is formed, and gains more territory from the neighbouring state of Italy. The Allies free Europe. The Nazi swastika is crushed, and the the Second World War is over.

[This is Zarahic now, speaking directly:]

“Mitar told me that the man with blue eyes and the star upon his forehead, would break the long-lasting love with our Christian Orthodox brothers, the Russians. He would not be grateful to them for the fact that he was sitting on our throne because they had put him there in the first place. A great hatred would erupt between us and the Russians. Blood would be spilled among our people. These wounds would be quickly healed and we would again be friends with the Russians, but never sincerely, only formally, pretending for the sake of others not to understand how we cheat and lie to each other.”

Historical facts

1948 – Tito does not want Yugoslavia to become one of Russia’s “puppet states”. He abruptly severs all political ties with Stalin, the man who formed him politically in the early 1920`s and sent him back to Yugoslavia to organize an effective communist party. Tito purges his party of all members who oppose this decision, spilling a lot of blood in the process.

1954 – The year following Stalin`s death, political and economic relations with Russia are re-established, but “never sincerely”…


“After the Great War peace will reign all over the world. Many new states will appear… black, white, red and yellow. An international court is formed, which does not allow countries to fight each other. This Court will be above all kings. Where a war starts, the Court will judge justly, trying to transform hatred and butchery into love and peace. The lucky ones who live to see these times will be more than happy.

After a while some great kings, as well as some small ones, will start to fake their respect for the Court, while doing whatever they please… Many small wars will begin because of this… thousands upon thousands will die, but there will be no big wars.

Wars in Israel

There will be a few wars around the kingdom of Israel, but sooner or later the peace will come even there. In these wars brothers fight brothers; then they make peace and kiss each other, but their hatred remains… All these small wars are initiated by the great kingdoms, because of their wickedness and malice; those who fight and butcher each other do it because of their blind stupidity.”

Historical facts:

No comment

“In our country, the time of peace and prosperity will last for a long time. Many a generation will be born to live and die in peace, knowing about war only through wise books, words and different strange apparitions. [These “different strange apparations” might be TVs and radios.]

Our kingdom will be strong and well-loved and respected by everybody. People will eat only “white” bread, and whole wheat just when they want to. Everybody will ride around in carts with no oxen. People will travel in the sky, looking down upon our land as if they had climbed on the doubled Tara mountain.

Down in Uzice, and all around these mountains, many factories will be built, and people will leave the land and come to work in them. For a long time they will love it, but then they will remember their land and go back to it.

Serbia will prosper best while the man with blue eyes on a white horse governs, one who will come to Serbia bringing some kind of new religion. He will ascend our throne, and will be strong and healthy, living a long life close to one hundred years. He will very much like to hunt, and one time while hunting he will accidently fall from his white horse and thus lose his leg. From this wound he will die, not because of his great age.”

Historical facts:

Very simply and accurately, this vision of Tarabic’s describes life in post-WWII Yugoslavia up to Tito`s death in 1981. Tito “came” to Serbia from Croatia, and had really brought with him a “new religion”: Communism. He did not have the hunting accident described by Tarabic (although he was a passionate horseman and hunter), but nevertheless the real cause of his death was the amputation of his leg, caused by his aggravated diabetes. After his death a “commission”, called the Collective Presidency, ruled the country until its collapse in 1991.

“After him our land will be governed by some kind of commission, but it will never be as it was. Even though the people in our kingdom will forget about misery and hunger and will live in great wealth, brother will start to hate and think evil of brother.

On our borders and over them a new nation will appear. They will grow like grass after a deluge, they will be good and honest, and they will answer our hatred with reason. They will take care of each other like brothers. And we, because of our madness we shall think that we know everything and that we can do anything, and we shall baptise them with some new fate of ours, but all that will be in vain. Because they will believe only in themselves and in nobody else. Big trouble will become of it, because this nation will be brave.

Many summers this trouble will last, and nobody will be able to stop it, because that nation will grow like grass. One who will be born many summers after you [Note: he is speaking to the priest Zaharic here], will be honest and intelligent, he will deal with them in peace. We shall live in peace – they there, us here and there.”


“You see my god-father, when the world starts to live in peace and abundance after the Second Big War, all of that will be just a bitter illusion, because many will forget God, and they will worship only their own human intelligence… And do you know my god-father, what is human intelligence compared to God’s will and knowledge? Not even a single drop in the ocean.

Men will build a box and within will be some kind of gadget with images, but they will not be able to communicate with me already dead, even though this image gadget will be as close to this other world as hairs on the human scalp are close to each other.”

“With the help of this image-gadget man will be able to see everything that is happening all over the world.

People will drill wells deep in the ground and dig out gold [another name for crude oil is “black gold”], which will give them light, speed and power, and the earth will shed tears of sorrow, because there will be much more gold and light on its surface than in its interior. The earth will suffer because of these open wounds. Instead of working in the fields, people will dig everywhere, in right and wrong places, but the real power will be all around them, not being able to tell them: “Come on, take me, don’t you see that I am here, all around you.” Only after many a summer, people will remember this real power, and then they will realise how stupid it was to dig all those holes. This power will also be present in people but it will take a long time before they discover it and use it. Thus man will live for a long, long time, not being able to know himself. There will be many learned men who will think through their books that they know and can do everything. They will be the great obstacle for this realisation [self-knowledge], but once men get this knowledge, then people will see what kind of delusion it was when they listened to their learned men. When that happens, people will be so sorry that they didn’t discover it before, because this knowledge is so simple.

People will do many stupid things, thinking that they know and can do everything, not knowing anything. Wise men will appear in the Orient and their wisdom will cross all seas and frontiers, but people will not trust this wisdom for long time, and this real truth they will proclaim for a lie.

Their souls will not be possessed by the Devil, but by something much worse. They will believe that their illusion is the real truth, although there will be no truth in their heads. Here at home it will be the same as all over the world. People will start to hate clean air and this divine freshness and all divine beauty and will hide in rankness. Nobody will force them to do that, but they will do it of their own free will. Here in Kremna many a field will become a meadow, and many a home will be abandoned, but then those who have left will come back to heal themselves by breathing fresh air. In Serbia it will not be possible to distinguish a man from a woman. Everybody will dress the same. This calamity will come to us from abroad but it will stay with us the longest. A groom will take a bride, but nobody will know who is who. People will be lost and more and more senseless day by day. Men will be born not knowing who was their grand-father and great grand-father. People will think that they know everything, but not a thing they will know.


The Serbs will separate from each other, and they will say: “I am not a Serb, I am not a Serb.” The unholy one will infiltrate this nation and bed with Serbian sisters, mothers and wives. He will sire such children that among the Serbs, since the beginning of the world, these will be the worst of offspring. Only weaklings will be born, and nobody will be strong enough to give a birth to a real hero.”

[This last paragraph might also be a reference to the current situation in the Balkans. If you assume that Tarabic made no distinction between Serbs, Croats, Slovenians, etc., then it is quite possible that by saying “I am not a Serb, I am not a Serb”, he means to indicate all those that have distanced themselves from the former Yugoslavia. On the other hand, he might also be referring to a situation that has not happened yet.]

“At one time we shall disappear from this land of ours. We shall go to the north, and then realising our stupid deed we shall return. When we come back, we shall wise up and chase away the unholy one, not to see him, in God’s name, ever again.


The whole world will be plagued by a strange disease and nobody will be able to find a cure; everybody will say I know, I know, because I am learned and smart, but nobody will know anything. People will think and think, but they will not be able to find the right cure, which will be with God’s help, all around them and in themselves.

Man will travel to other worlds to find lifeless deserts there, and still, God forgive him, he will think that he knows better than God himself. There, except the eternal peace of God, he will see nothing, but he will sense with his heart and soul all of God’s beauty and power. People will drive in rigs upon the moon and stars. They will look for life, but life similar to ours they will not find. It will be there, but they will not be able to understand it and see that it is life.

One who goes there, God forgive him, not believing in God as it is proper for an honourable and decent person, when he comes back he will say: “Oh, you people, who mention God’s name with doubt, go there where I was, than you will see what is God’s mind and power.”

The more people will know, the less they will love and care for each other. Hatred will be so great between them that they will care more for their different gadgets than for their relatives. Man will trust his gadget more than his first neighbour…

Among people of a nation far in the north a little man will appear who will teach men about love and compassion, but there will be many Judas and hypocrites around him so that he will have many ups and downs. Not one of these hypocrites will want to know what is real human grace, but his wise books will remain, and all the words he will say [tape recordings?], and then then people will see how self-deceived they were.

Those who will read and write different books with numbers will think that they know the most. These learned men will let their lives be led by their calculations, and they will do and live exactly how these numbers tell them. Among these learned men there will be good and evil men. The evil ones will do evil deeds. They will poison air and water and spread pestilence over the seas, rivers and earth, and people will start to die suddenly of various ailments. Those good and wise will see that all this effort and hard work is not worth a penny and that it leads to the destruction of the world, and instead of looking for wisdom in numbers, they will start to seek it in meditation.


When they start to meditate more, they will be closer to God’s wisdom, but it will be too late, because the evil ones will already ravage the whole earth and men will start to die in great numbers. Then people will run away from cities to the country and look for the mountains with three crosses, and there, inside, they will be able to breathe and drink water. Those who will escape will save themselves and their families, but not for long, because a great famine will appear. There will be plenty of food in towns and villages, but it will be poisoned. Many will eat because of hunger and die immediately. Those who will fast to the end will survive, because the Holy Ghost will save them and they will be close to God.

[I think the “mountains with three crosses” could be referring to nuclear shelters. If you look at the door of one of these shelters, you might see three turn-handles, used for unlocking and opening it… Tarabic might well have interpreted these handles as “three crosses”.]

“People waging this war will have their scientists who will invent different and strange cannon-balls. When they explode, these cannon-balls, instead of killing, will cast a spell over all that lives; people, armies and live stock. This spell will make them sleep, and sleep they will instead of fighting, and after they will come back to their senses.

We [Serbia] will not fight in this war, but others will do battle over our heads. Burning people will fall from the sky over Pozega [a town in Serbia]. Only one country at the end of the world, surrounded by great seas, as big as our Europe, will live in peace, without any troubles… Upon it or over it not a single cannon-ball will explode! Those who will run and hide in the mountains with three crosses will find shelter and will be saved to live after in abundance, happiness and love, because there will be no more wars…”


January 3, 2009

Why Orthodoxy is the True Faith

Lecture “Why Orthodoxy is the True Faith,” delivered on September 13, 2000, at the Meeting of the Sretenskaya Lord’s School in Moscow by Alexei Illich Osipov, a professor of the Moscow Theological Academy.

Professor of Moscow Theological Academy Alexei Osipov

Professor of Moscow Theological Academy Alexei Osipov

In this world of religious pluralism, you encounter such a multitude of preachers, each offering up his own ideals, standards for living, and religious views, that members of past generations, even my own, would probably not envy you. It was easier for us: the principal question for us was religion versus atheism. Something much greater, much worse, looms before you. Resolving whether God exists or not is only the first step. If one should conclude that God exists, what next? Which of the many faiths should he espouse? Christianity? Islam? Why not Buddhism, or Krishna Consciousness? Suppose he negotiates the maze of religions, and realizes that Christianity is the best, the true religion. Which of its many faces should he espouse? Orthodox, Catholic, Pentecostal, Lutheran? Again, a multitude of choices faces youth today. At the same time, heterodox confessions, old and new, usually advertise themselves much more than do the Orthodox, and they possess significantly greater resources for waging propaganda in the mass media than do we Orthodox Christians.

Because the first thing contemporary man stops to consider is this multitude of faiths, religions, and world views, I would like to conduct a brief tour of the succession of rooms which open up before those seeking the truth. I will present a very general and concise survey of the reasons that one should – not only can, but should – become not merely a Christian, but an Orthodox Christian.

The opening question is “Religion or atheism?” At important conferences, one may encounter truly erudite scholars, deep intellects who repeatedly pose the questions: Who is God? Does He exist? Why is He necessary? Or even: If He exists, why doesn’t he appear on the floor of the United Nations and announce Himself? How does one respond to such questions? It seems to me that the answer lies at the core of contemporary philosophical thought, and is most easily expressed in existential terms. What is the purpose of man’s life, what is the essence of his existence? First of all, how could it be anything other than living? What “purpose” do I experience while asleep? Meaning can be experienced only through consciousness, “tasting” the fruits of one’s life, one’s activity. Throughout the ages, no one has ever been able to posit, and no one will ever posit, that the ultimate purpose of man’s life is death. Here is the unbridgeable divide between religion and atheism. Christianity affirms that earthly life is only a beginning, a condition and a means to prepare you for eternity. It tells you to prepare yourself, for eternal life awaits; it tells you what to do, what kind of person you must be, to enter into eternal life. What does atheism tell you? That there is no God, there is no soul, there is no eternity; thus, believe, O Man, that only eternal death awaits! Words of such horror, pessimism, and despair as to make your skin crawl: Man, eternal death awaits you. Without even considering the, to put it gently, strange underpinnings for such a proposition, the proposition is itself enough to cause a shudder in the human soul. No, deliver me from such a faith!

If a person loses his way in the forest, and, looking for the way home, suddenly encounters someone, he will ask, “Is there a way out of here?” If that person answers, “No, none, don’t even look, just settle down here as best you can,” will he take that advice? Will he not continue his search? Finding someone else who tells him, “Yes, there is a way out, and I will show you the signs marking the way,” will he not rely on him? This is what happens when we are choosing a world view, choosing between religion and atheism. As long as man has even a spark, a glimmer of desire to find the truth, to seek for the purpose of life, he will not accept the proposal that only eternal death awaits him and all of mankind. He will not accept the corollary that to “realize” the idea, he should work toward better economic, social, political, and cultural conditions of life, in expectation that farther along, everything will be “OK.” Tomorrow you will die and will be taken to the cemetery. How marvelous.

I have pointed out only one psychologically very significant aspect, one I would think sufficient to make any person with a living soul understand that only a religious outlook which accepts as its foundation the One Whom we call God, enables us to talk about the purpose of life. Now, having passed through that first room, and having come to believe in God, we enter the second. My God, what do we see and hear? It is filled with people, everyone shouting, “Only I possess the truth!” What a challenge… Muslims, Confucians, Buddhists, Jews, all manner of others, including many who now call themselves Christians. Here, a Christian preacher is standing with the others, while I am supposed to sort out just who is right, just whom should I believe?

There are two approaches to this problem; there may be others, but I will identify two. One way to convince a person as to which is the true faith (i.e. one objectively consonant with human nature, human strivings, human understanding of the meaning of life), is the methodology of comparative Theology. It is quite a long path, requiring detailed study of each religion. Few are capable of taking this path, for they must possess the capacity to absorb all of the material, and must expend a great deal of time and effort in a spiritually taxing process… There is another way. Ultimately, each religion addresses people, saying to them, “This, and not something else, is the truth.” In this regard, virtually all world views and religions state one simple thing: that the conditions under which a person now lives, the political, social, economic conditions on the one hand, and the spiritual, moral, cultural, etc. on the other, are abnormal, and cannot be totally satisfying. While a specific individual describes himself as satisfied, the vast majority of people suffer from them to some extent. Humanity remains unsatisfied with the current state of affairs, and, seeking after something greater, some “golden age” strives to advance somewhere into the unknown future.

One can see why the focus of virtually all religions and world views is the study of salvation. It is here that we encounter what it seems to me already affords us the opportunity to make an informed choice from among the multitude of religions. Christianity affirms something the other religions and the non-religious world views simply do not comprehend, something they indignantly reject. This lies in our understanding of so-called original sin. All religions, and I propose, all philosophies of life, all ideologies, talk about sin, albeit in different terms. But not one of them other than Christianity believes that human nature in its current state is ill. Christianity affirms that the condition in which we people are born, exist, grow, are educated, take courage, mature, the state in which we find enjoyment, amusement, learning, make discoveries, etc., is a state of serious illness, bringing us profound harm. We are ill, but not with flu, bronchitis, or psychiatric illness. We are physically and psychologically well, we are capable of solving problems, and can fly into space. Nonetheless, we are gravely ill; in the beginning unified human nature sustained a strange and tragic fracture, dividing into apparently autonomously existing and frequently warring mind, heart, and body. Such a comment evokes universal indignation. “Isn’t Christianity being absurd?” “Me, abnormal? Sorry, others may be, but I am not!” If Christianity is correct, this is the root problem, the reason human life, life of the individual and of all mankind, goes from one tragedy to another. If man is seriously ill but does not try to heal the sickness because he is unaware of it, it will do him harm.

Other religious do not comprehend that man has such an illness. They believe that man is a healthy seed that can develop either normally or abnormally, with development dependent upon his social milieu, economic conditions, psychological factors, and many other things.

Man can be either good or bad, but by nature he is good. In this lies the principle antithesis, the consciousness of the non-Christian. I am not even addressing the non-religious, for whom the term “man” seems like an “exercise in pride.” Only Christianity affirms that our current state is a deeply damaged one, so damaged that no one can by himself repair it.

This is the fundamental truth on which the great Christian dogma of Christ as Savior is built. This idea is the principle watershed between Christianity and the other religions.

Now I will attempt to demonstrate that, in contrast to other religions, Christianity has within it objective confirmation of its assertions. Let us consider mankind’s history and the aspirations by which man has lived throughout known history. Of course, man has striven to create the Kingdom of God on earth. Some have sought to do so with God’s help, while at the same time considering Him not as the ultimate goal of life, but merely a means to achieve good on earth. Others did not consider God at all. However, it is something else that is important. Everyone understands that this Kingdom cannot exist on earth without some basics such as peace, justice, love (what kind of Paradise would be ruled by war, injustice, hatred, etc.?), or, on an even more basic level, respect for one another. Everyone understands perfectly that without establishing and following such fundamental moral values, it is impossible to prosper on earth. Yet, what has mankind been doing throughout its history? Erich Fromme expressed it perfectly when he said “The history of mankind is written in blood. It is a history of never-ending violence.”

I think that historians, especially military historians, can readily illustrate for us what constitutes human history: wars, shedding of blood, violence, cruelty. The 20th Century is thought of as an era of exalted humanism. Yet it has demonstrated its level of “perfection” by exceeding in the amount of bloodshed, all that was shed in the prior centuries of human history combined. If our forefathers could have seen what was to come in the 20th Century, they would have shuddered in horror at the scope of the cruelty, injustice, and deceit. This is a paradox beyond human comprehension: as the history of mankind has unfolded, man has acted in direct opposition to those very guiding principles, goals, and ideals toward which he had initially directed all of his efforts.

I would like to pose a rhetorical question: “Can an intelligent being act in such a manner?” History simply mocks us with its ironic pronouncements: “Man truly is wise and healthy. No, he is not spiritually ill. He simply does a little more, and acts a little less wisely than do those locked up in asylums for the insane.”

Alas, this is an inescapable fact which shows that it is not individuals who have gone astray (in fact it is only individuals who have not gone astray), but, paradoxically, that straying is a characteristic of mankind as a whole.

If we consider the isolated individual, or to be more exact, if an individual has enough moral force to look into himself, he will see a picture no less striking. The Apostle Paul accurately described it: “For the good that I would I do not, but the evil which I would not, that I do…” Truly, anyone who actually considers what is taking place in his soul cannot help but notice how spiritually ill he is, how much he is subject to and enslaved by various passions. It is pointless to ask “Why, poor man, do you engage in gluttony, drunkenness, lying, envy, adultery, etc.? You are killing yourself, destroying your family, crippling your children, poisoning the atmosphere about you. Why are you beating, cutting, and stabbing yourself, why are you doing harm to your nerves, your psyche, your body? Do you understand that this is doing you harm?” Yes, I understand, but I am incapable of not doing so.

As a rule, suffering man is unable to get a grip on himself. It is at this point, in the depths of his soul, each rational person encounters that of which Christianity speaks: “…the good that I would I do not, but the evil which I would not, that I do….” Is this health or illness?

For the sake of comparison, let’s consider how an individual can change by living a proper Christian life. Those who cleanse themselves of the passions, acquire humility, and in the words of St. Seraphim of Sarov, have “acquired the Holy Spirit,” arrive at a state which is extremely fascinating from a psychological point of view: they consider themselves to be the worst of all people. Pimen the Great said: “Believe me, brethren, I shall be cast into the very place into which Satan is cast.” As Sisoe the Great was dying, and his face had become bright as the sun, making it impossible for anyone to look upon him, he implored God to give him a little more time in which to repent. What is this? Some kind of hypocrisy, some false humility? No. Afraid to sin even in thought, they said what they were actually experiencing. We on the other hand do not feel this at all. I am filled to overflowing with all manner of filth, and yet I see myself as a very good person. I am a good person! If I do something bad, well, no one is without sin, others are no better than I, and I am not as guilty as he, she, or they. Because we do not perceive the state of our souls, we see ourselves as so good. How the spiritual vision of the saints differ from ours!

Well, I again state: Christianity affirms that by nature, in his so-called normal state, man is deeply damaged. Unfortunately, we are only very dimly aware of the damage. The most terrible, principal blindness that afflicts us is the inability to see our own sickness. This is what is truly most dangerous, for when a person recognizes that he is sick, he seeks help, he goes to a physician, and he gets treatment for his disease. However, if he sees himself as healthy, he sends away those who tell him he is sick. This is the greatest symptom of the very damage within us. The full weight of history – both the overall history of mankind and the history of each individual, including first and foremost one’s own personal history – bears unambiguous witness to its existence. This is what Christianity shows us.

I will say that objective evidence of the single fact of human nature’s damaged state, that single truth expressed in the Christian Faith, is enough to show me the choice as to what religion to embrace – the one which reveals my sicknesses and shows me the means to heal them, or one which masks my diseases, nourishes human egotism, and says that everything is fine and wonderful, that I do not need to heal myself, but instead that I should heal the world around me, develop, and become more perfect. History teaches us the results of not getting treatment.

Well, we have come to Christianity. Thanks be to Thee, O Lord, I have finally discovered the true faith. I enter the next room: like the others, it is filled with a multitude of people, once again crying: “My Christian faith is the best of all.” Catholics cry out: “Look at how many followers we have – 1 billion 45 million.” Protestants from an extremely wide variety of denominations say that they are 350 million. The Orthodox are fewest in number, a mere 170 million. As has already been correctly suggested, truth is not determined by quantity but quality. Yet the most important question remains: “Where is true Christianity?”

There are a number of possible approaches to the question. In seminary, we were always taught to compare Catholic and Protestant dogmatic systems to that of the Orthodox. This is a method worthy of attention and respect, but it is one which seems to me not comprehensive or good enough, for one who does not have a good education, who is not sufficiently knowledgeable, will hardly find it easy to make sense of the jungle of dogmatic arguments and decide who is right and who is wrong. Moreover, at times such powerful psychological methods are employed, that one can easily be diverted from the substance of the matter. For example, when we take up the question of Papal primacy with the Catholics, they say: “Oh, the Pope! What are you talking about? This primacy and infallibility is such nonsense; it is the same as what is enjoyed by your Patriarch. Papal infallibility and authority is practically indistinguishable from the authoritativeness of pronouncements made by the head of any Local Orthodox Church.” In fact, there is a distinction here between dogma and canons. Thus, the comparative-dogmatics approach is far from simple, especially when you are dealing with those who not only are knowledgeable, but are striving to win you over at any cost.

However, there is another path which clearly shows what Catholicism is and where it leads man. That path is one of comparative investigation and study, but one already in the realm of the spiritual life, visibly manifested in the lives of the saints. It is there that, to use the language of the ascetics, the “vanity” of Catholic spirituality is clearly and powerfully illuminated. It is that vanity, which is fraught with the most grave consequences for the ascetic who sets foot on its way of life. You know, I sometimes give public lectures which are attended by a wide variety of people. Frequently, I hear the following question: “Well, what distinguishes Catholicism from Orthodoxy. How are they in error? Don’t they simply constitute a different path to Christ?” On many occasions, I’ve seen that all I need to do is to bring out examples of a few Catholic mystics, and the inquirer will say, “Thank you, now everything is clear. Nothing else is needed.”

Truly, any Church, Orthodox or heterodox, is known by its saints. Tell me who your saints are, and I will tell you what kind of Church you have. Any Church proclaims as saints only those who embody the Christian ideal as understood by the given Church. For this reason, a saint’s glorification is not the Church’s affirmation that they judge a certain Christian worthy of honor and a fit example for emulation, but also, first and foremost is the Church’s witness as to itself. We can best determine through the saints as to the reality or appearance of holiness of the Church itself.

I will give you a few illustrations of how the Catholic Church views holiness.

One of those considered by Catholicism to be a great saint is Francis of Assisi (13th C.). The following gives a picture of his spiritual consciousness/self-image. It once happened that Francis was engaged in a lengthy prayer “for two gifts.” The subject of the prayer is telling. “The first is that I… might… experience all of the suffering which You, Sweetest Jesus, experienced during Your tortured passion. The second … is that … I might feel …that limitless love with which You burned, O son of God.” As we can see, Francis was concerned not with his own sinfulness, but with a pretension toward equality to Christ!

During this prayer, Francis “felt himself entirely transformed into Jesus,” Whom he immediately recognized as a six-winged seraph, who struck him with flaming arrows into the hands, feet, and right side, places where Jesus Christ had been wounded, and where, following this vision, bleeding wounds (stigmata – signs of the “sufferings of Jesus”) opened. (M.V. Lodyzhensky, p. 109, The Unseen Light, Petrograd, 1915.)

The phenomenon of such stigmata is a subject quite familiar to the field of psychiatry: Uninterrupted meditation on Christ’s passion on the Cross markedly arouses one’s mental state, and with prolonged exercise of such concentration can bring on such phenomena. There is nothing grace-filled in it, for in such co-suffering (compassio) with Christ there is not that true love whose substance the Lord clearly stated: He that hath My Commandments and keepeth them, he it is that loveth (John 14: 21). Therefore, substituting meditation on the experience of “co-suffering” for the battle to overcome one’s “old man,” one’s former nature, is one of the gravest errors in spiritual life, one which has led and still leads many spiritual strugglers into egotism, pride, frank spiritual self-delusion, often directly tied to mental illness. (See, for example, Francis’ “homilies” addressed to birds, to the wolf, to doves, to snakes and to the flowers, and his reverence before fire, stones, and worms.)

What Francis set forth for himself as the goal of life is also quite telling: “I have labored and want to labor because this brings honor.” (St. Francis of Assisi; Works; Moscow; Franciscan Publishers; 1995. – p. 145). Francis wishes to suffer for others and to atone for others’ sins (p. 20). Was this not the reason for his flatly stating at the end of his life “I am not aware of any transgressions I have not redeemed through confession and repentance.” (Lodyzhensky. – p. 129). This all bears witness to his failure to see his sins, his fall, his utter spiritual blindness.

For the sake of comparison [between Orthodox and Catholic sanctity – Ed.] consider a vignette from the last moments of Venerable St. Sisoe the Great’s life (5th C.) “In the minutes before his death, as Sisoe appeared to be talking with persons invisible to the brethren surrounding him, he responded to the request: “Father, tell us with whom you are conversing…” by saying “They are the angels who have come to take me, and I am imploring them to leave me [here] for a short time, so that I might repent.” When the brethren, who knew that Sisoe was accomplished in virtues, contradicted him, noting, “But you have no need of repentance, Father,” he answered, “In truth, I do not know whether I have even begun to repent.” (Lodyzhensky, p. 133.) That profound understanding, that recognition of one’s own imperfection, is the principal distinguishing characteristic of all true saints.

Here is an excerpt from the “Blessed Angela”” (†1309), in The Revelations to Blessed Angela, published in Moscow, 1918.

She writes that the Holy Spirit spoke to her, saying “My daughter, my sweet delightful one…I love you very much.” (p. 95). “I was with the apostles, and they saw Me with human eyes, but they did not feel me as you do.” (p. 96). Angela revealed the following about herself: “In the darkness, I see the Holy Trinity, and it seems to me that I am there, at the very center of the Trinity, which I see in the darkness.” (p 117). She provides examples of how she sees her relationship to Jesus Christ: “I was able to put myself entirely inside Jesus Christ.” (p. 176). And: “Because of His sweetness and out of sorrow over his departure I screamed and wanted to die” (p. 101). In her frenzied state, she would begin to beat herself so severely that the nuns were forced to carry her out of the church (p. 83).

A.F. Lossev, one of the most prominent Russian religious writers of the 20th Century, gave the following harsh but accurate criticism of Angela’s “revelations.” He wrote in part: “[Angela’s] is in such a state of temptation and seduction that she even has the Holy Spirit appear to [her] and whisper adoring expressions: “My daughter, my sweet delightful one, My temple, My delight, love me, for I love you very much, much more than you love Me.” The saint sweetly languishes, and is disoriented by love’s sweet exhaustion. And her lover appears more and more often, to inflame still further her body, her heart, her blood. The Cross of Christ appears to her as a nuptial bed. How can anything be more opposite to serious and sober Byzantine-Muscovite asceticism than the following blasphemous pronouncement: “My soul was taken into the uncreated light and ascended.” Such passionate reflections on the Cross of Christ, on the wounds of Christ and on the individual parts of His Body, such forced evocation of bloody marks on one’s own body, etc… In culmination, Christ wraps the arm which had been nailed to the Cross around Angela, and she, totally spent from her languor, torment, and happiness, says “Sometimes, in the closeness of that embrace, it seems to my soul that entered the side of Christ, and the joy and illumination it received there, was inexpressible. For they were so great, that sometimes I was unable to stand on my feet, and lay down, unable to speak… and I lay there, [the use of] my tongue and limbs taken from me.” (A.F. Lossev, Essays on Ancient Symbolism and Mythology, Moscow 1930, Vol. 1, pp. 867-868.).

Catherine of Sienna (+1380), who was elevated by Pope Paul VI to the highest rank of sainthood, i.e. “Doctor of the Church,” provides a clear example of Catholic sanctity. I will quote a few excerpts from the Catholic book Portraits of the Saints by Antonio Siccari, excerpts which I believe need no explication.

Catherine was about 20 years of age. “She sensed that her life was to come to a decisive turning point, and she continued to pray about it to the Lord Jesus Christ Himself, repeating the wonderful, extremely tender turn of phrase that was to become her leitmotiv, “Unite Yourself to me in a marriage of faith!” (Antonio Siccari, Portraits of the Saints, Vol. II, Milan, 1991, p. 11.)

“Catherine once had the following vision: her Divine Bridegroom, embracing her, drew her to Himself, but then removed her heart from her chest so that He might give her a new heart, more like His Very Own.”(p. 12).

Once, it was said that she had died: “She later said herself that her heart was torn apart by the power of God’s love, and that she experienced death, “seeing the heavenly gates.” However, the Lord said unto me, “Go back, My child, you must go back… I will bring you before the princes and rulers of the Church.” And the humble girl began to send out her epistles throughout the world, lengthy letters dictated, often three or four at a time on different subjects and without losing the thread, at amazing speed, leaving her secretaries unable to keep up with her. All of these letters concluded with the passionate formula “Sweetest Jesus, Jesus [my] Love.” They often began with the words “I, Catherine, the servant and slave of slaves of Jesus, write to you in His most precious Blood…” (p. 12).

“In Catherine’s letters, one is struck first of all by the frequent and persistent appearance of the repeated words “I want.” (p. 12). (12). Some say that in her ecstasy, she even addressed the demanding words “I want” to Christ.” (p. 13).

From correspondence with Gregory XI, whom she was trying to persuade to return from Avignon to Rome: “I speak to you on behalf of Christ… I speak to you, Father, in Jesus Christ…. Reply to the call of the Holy Spirit which is addressed to you.” (p. 13)

“And to the King of France, she said ‘Do God’s will and mine.’”(p. 14).

No less telling are the “revelations” of Teresa of Avila (16th Century) who was likewise elevated by Pope Paul VI to the status of “Doctor of the Church.” Before her death, she cried out, “O my God, my Husband, at last I will see you!” This strangest of outcries was no accident. It was the natural consequence of all of Theresa’s “spiritual” struggle, whose essence was revealed in the following:

After her many revelations, “Christ” said to Teresa: “From this day forth, you shall be my wife. From henceforth, I am not only your Creator, but your Husband.” (D. S. Merezhkovsky, Spanish Mystics, Brussels, 1988, p. 88.) D. Merezhkovsky wrote that Teresa prayed “Lord, either to suffer with You, or to die for You!” and fell exhausted from these favors. Thus, it is no surprise that Teresa confesses “My Beloved calls my soul with such a piercing whistle, that I cannot help but hear. This call so acts on my soul that it becomes exhausted with desire.” It is no coincidence that in evaluating her mystical experiences, the famous American psychologist William James wrote that “her conception of religion came down, if one may so state, to an endless series of lovers’ flirtations between the worshiper and his” (William James, The Variety of Religious Experience, translated from the English, Moscow, 1910. – p. 337).

Yet another illustration of Catholic sanctity is Therese of Lisieux (Little Therese, or Therese Child of Jesus), who had lived to the age of 23, and whom, in 1997 on the centennial of her repose, Pope John Paul II “infallibly” declared to be yet another Teacher of the Universal Church. The following excerpts from Therese’s spiritual autobiography, The Story of a Soul (Symbol, 1996, No. 36, Paris, p. 151), bear eloquent witness to her spiritual state.

“During the discussion preceding my tonsure, I saw the events that were to take place in Carmel. I came to save souls and first of all, to pray for priests…” (To save not herself, but others!)

Speaking of her unworthiness, she wrote, “I maintain the constant daring hope that I will become a great saint… I thought that I was born for glory and I sought the ways to accomplish it. And lo, the Lord God… revealed to me, that my glory will not be look upon death, and its substance is that I will become a great saint!!!”(Compare this to Makariy the Great, who, known for the exceedingly lofty character of his life, was referred to by his co-strugglers as “God on earth.” He prayed only “O God, cleanse me a sinner, for I have done nothing good before You.”) Later, Therese was to write even more bluntly “In the heart of my Mother-Church, I will be Love…then I will be for everyone… and through this my dream will have come true!!!”

Therese’s teachings about spiritual love were absolutely “remarkable.” She stated “This was the kiss of love. I felt loved, and said “I love Thee and entrust myself to Thee forever.” There were neither petitions, nor struggles, nor sacrifice. Jesus and poor little Therese had long since looked upon one another and had understood everything… That day brought not an exchange of glances, but a merging; there were no longer two of them, and Therese disappeared like a drop of water that is lost in the depths of the sea.” Comments on the fantasy novel by the poor maiden, Teacher of the Catholic Church, are hardly needed.

The mystical experience of Ignatius Loyola (16th Century), founder of the Jesuit Order and one of the pillars of Catholic mysticism is based on systematic development of the imagination.

His book Spiritual Exercise, within Catholicism considered to be quite authoritative, uninterruptedly calls the Christian to imagine, and contemplate the Holy Trinity, Christ, the Mother of God, the Angels, etc. As a matter of principle this all stands in stark contrast to the basis of the spiritual struggles of the saints of the Universal Church, for it leads the believer into total spiritual and emotional disarray.

The Philokalia, an authoritative anthology of the early Church’s ascetic writings strictly forbids participation in such “spiritual exercises.” Here are some excerpts from that anthology:

St. Nilus of Sinai (5th C.) cautions: “Do not desire visions of Angels or Powers or Christ, lest ye lose your minds, take the wolf for the pastor, and worship your demon enemies…” (St. Nilus of Sinai, 153rd chapter on prayer. Philokalia, Chapter 115, Volume 2 of the 5 Volume 2nd Edition, Moscow 1884 p. 237).

Discoursing on those who in prayer “imagine the pleasures of heaven, the ranks of angels, and the dwellings of the saints,” St. Symeon the New Theologian (11th C.) plainly states that “that is a sign of prelest’ [spiritual self-deception]….” “Embarked on such a path, those who see a light with their physical eyes, sense sweet smells with their sense of smell, and hear voices with their ears, etc., are seduced …” (St. Symeon the New Theologian. “On three forms of prayer,” The Philokalia, Vol. 5, pp. 463-464, Moscow 1900.

St. Gregory of Sinai (14th C.) reminds us: “Never welcome anything you see with the senses or the spirit, within or without, whether it be the image of Christ, or of an angel, or of some saint…. Those who do welcome such things… are easily enticed…. God is not indignant at one who, careful and heedful for fear of being deceived, does not welcome someone who is in fact from Him, …rather [God] praises [such a person] as one who is wise….” (St. Gregory of Sinai, “Instructions to those who keep silent,” op. cit., p. 224).

St. Ignatiy Brianchaninov writes about the correctness of the landowner who, on seeing his daughter holding the 15th Century Catholic Thomas A Kempis’ book Imitation of Jesus Christ, wrested it from her hands and said: “Stop your romance with God.” In light of the above-cited examples one cannot doubt the propriety of such words. It is quite unfortunate that the Catholic Church has apparently stopped distinguishing between the spiritual and the emotional, between sanctity and fantasizing, and consequently, between Christianity and paganism.

So much for Catholicism.

When it comes to addressing Protestantism, their stated dogmas alone will suffice. One can grasp their essence by considering but one fundamental Protestant assertion: “Man is saved only by Faith, and not by works; therefore, to a believer, sin is not imputed as sin.” Here is the fundamental question on which Protestants have become confused. They start to build their house of salvation from the 10th story, having forgotten (if they ever had remembered) the teachings of the early Church about what kind of faith saves man. Is it not faith in the fact that 2000 years ago, Christ came and accomplished everything for us?!

How does Orthodox understanding of faith differ from that of the Protestants? Orthodoxy also says that man is saved by faith, but for the believer sin remains sin. What kind of faith is this? According to St. Theophanes, not “intellectual,” i.e. analytical, but rather a state acquired through proper, and I emphasize, proper Christian life. Only through such a life does one grasp the fact that only Christ can save him from bondage and from the torment of passions. How is such a state of faith acquired? Through a compulsion to fulfill the Commandments of the Gospel and through true repentance. St. Symeon the New Theologian states: “Careful fulfillment of Christ’s commandments teaches man his weaknesses.” I.e. it reveals to him that without God’s help, he is powerless and unable to root out his passions. By himself, a single person cannot [do it}. However, with God, with “two working together,” all things become possible. It is the Christian life that shows one first, that his passions are illnesses, second, that the Lord is near each and every one of us, and finally, that at any given moment He is prepared to lend us assistance and save us from sin. However, He does not save us without our participation, effort and struggle. Spiritual struggle renders us capable of accepting Christ. It is essential, for it shows us that without God, we cannot heal ourselves. It is only while I am drowning that I am certain of my need for the Savior. While I am on shore, I need no one. It is only when I see myself drowning in the torment of passions that I call upon Christ. It is then that He comes to my aid, and it is from that point that active, salvific faith begins. Orthodoxy teaches us that man’s freedom and dignity are not, as characterized by Luther, a “pillar of salt” incapable of accomplishing anything, but rather are God’s co-workers in His [accomplishment of our] salvation. This renders comprehensible the meaning of all of Commandments in the Gospel, and makes obvious the truth of Orthodoxy, not simply a faith in the matter of salvation for the Christian.

In this way, not simply Christianity, not simply religion, not simply faith in God, but Orthodoxy begins for man.

Source: http://www.stjohndc.org/Russian/homilies/e_Osipov.htm

January 1, 2009

Interview with professor Alexei Osipov

According to INTERFAX Agency, 407 people have been killed in Moscow in the past several years as a result of terrorist acts. The tragedy in Beslan took away between 338 and 450 lives, including children’s, casualties in Northern Osetia total 1221 people. Not to mention the number of lives wrecked by the tragedies , tears shed and hopes lost. One cannot measure all the pain in the souls of those who have lost their family and friends forever.

Witnessing the events and meeting the participants we often hear: ‘Why?’ or ‘What did my nine-year-old do to deserve it? Why did I have to collect her body in pieces after the explosion of the metro car? I have never been interested in dirty political games, black market or oil wars. I love my job. I worshipped my wife and daughter who I have lost…Why?’

Today we talk to Alexei Osipov, the Professor of Moscow Theological Academy, a famous scientist, theologian and public commentator.

– Professor, the first question is in the air today, the question of those who probably have more faith than cynicism. One rural school teacher voiced it after the capture of hostage and death of children in Beslan. What is happening?

– The question is simple and original. But similar events happen throughout human history, even when you could count existing people on one hand. Even back then, Cain killed Abel.

Christians among us can clearly see that the state of the soul of the modern man and the state of the society is deeply unhealthy, otherwise there would be no war. If you think of it, what does mankind strive for throughout its history? – for happiness, peace, justice, harmony and love…What is our history filled with? Wars, violence, slavery and cruelty.

Admittedly once people used to think that human imperfection is to blame, and that humans would grow and get better and better, and that time would come – 18th, 19th, 20th century at the latest, when mankind would reach the peak of its development. But the amount of violence and blood shed in the 20th century exceeded the cruelty of all the preceding ages. Christianity alerts us to this fact, this reality, but it also reminds us that each of us has good and evil within us, i.e. healthy and unhealthy nature. Which of them we would grow and nourish depends only on us. The sum of individual personalities make up the spiritual heart of a nation, country and all humankind. There is an immutable law – spirit creates a form for itself.

It is just amazing, how in our contemporary world things are actively put, planted, forced into human souls. Have you ever thought why, figuratively speaking, there is 99% of filth and only 1% of good things on TV? What is the reason for that? Who wants it? Don’t we understand, where the spreading of immorality, violence and cruelty would lead to? Nonetheless, this is the reality of life not only in Russia, but in the rest of the civilized world.

– Is it because of the character of human desires and values?

– Well yes, but if, for example, a referendum was held, then I am sure more than two thirds of any country population would speak against the predominance of the evil in any mass media. By the way, that would be a democratic principle and the voice of the majority. Nevertheless, all this filth is in somebody’s interest.

– Certain individuals’ interest? Many talk and write about secret societies, about how they ‘‘play chess” with entire nations on their world chess-board.

– Perhaps such people exist. They got together and created secret societies. But what for? What would they gain?

– Maybe, they are fighting for the general principle of power, which goes together with the crown jewels and all the paraphernalia of the world dominion?

– The thing is that throughout the human history two natures are fighting, I would call them religious and antireligious – satanic.

Christianity gave the world a standard of life not known by the ancients. A god of the ancient world was fair at best and a personification of cruelty and immorality at worst. Christianity announced that God, that is the Absolute Law of Being – is Love. The humankind hadn’t known that. Christianity revealed the essence of our nature. But also through that, it revealed the opposite in its fullness and brightness as well, the opposite which destroys a man. So throughout our history we witness the struggle of religion and its opposite – anti-religion or Satanism, and this fight gets more and more severe. The way a society develops depends on the extent of its subordination to one of the directions.

– When estimating what is happening today, can you say that all the leading religions are being exterminated?

– All the religions which carry the moral core are being exterminated. Look what is happening. The New Testament says in black and white what sodomy is, however, today a number of Churches already openly justify this phenomenon. There already exist lots of translations of the Holy Scripture into western languages, where these places, for instance, extracts of Apostle Paul’s writings, are either omitted or translated in the opposite way. There is a religious justification of natures directly opposite to those which are the foundation of the human life.

Regard the recent events in the light of this idea. We are horrified by the catastrophe in Beslan without trying to see the origin of the tragedy. You can hear shouts: “This is Islam!’ Sorry, what about Crusades, were they Islamic as well? In what faith can’t we find people who are ready to pervert the teaching, who are spreading something opposite to the religion they profess?

Here is an example from the pre-revolutionary Russian history. It happened during the First World War. The Germans captured several thousands Russian Muslims, and Emperor Wilhelm ordered that they all be sent to an exemplary camp. Marvellous! They even constructed a mosque for them. When everything was finished, a court dignitary arrived to have a look at the job. He was quite please with what he saw. The soldiers were pleased as well, and there were mullahs among them. But the most interesting thing was that they responded to his request to sing a prayer for him. Do you know what they sang? ‘God Save the Tsar’.

Even when the dignitary flailed his hands in indignation, they interpreted his gesture in their own way and fell to their knees, and then sang it three times like that! So, Muslim soldiers always served in the Orthodox Russian Army, and there was no antagonism at all. Really, we can see people living side by side without any hatred.

What is done nowadays? Hatred is kindled, through television, through newspapers. Thus, Beslan works as one of the powerful provocations, so that everyone would rise – ‘let’s go and beat the Muslims’. They count on that.

– Professor, could you suggest who is behind the the conflict?

– To make this kind of suggestions is a politicians’ lot, we can see only the surface, not knowing what goes on behind closed doors, we are unlikely to be allowed in….That is why I don’t want to read the tea leaves: who did it and how. But bear in mind that an equally powerful provocation took place in America on September 11. And who is accused? Muslims. But when the same America devastates Serbia, intrudes in Iraq, when women and children are killed in much greater numbers – it is all right.

Divide and rule – the ancient principle. Christianity is a powerful religion, Islam is a powerful religion…What if we cause a collision between them? Do you remember a story where one tailor won a victory over two giants? Those who have an absolutely different outlook on life are fighting with religion. We cannot believe that Satanism is not just playing games of some young people. Satanism is ideology, I don’t know whose, but there is no doubt that people who have colossal opportunities in this world are infected by this ideology. You can’t explain the facts, like the terrorists in Beslan wouldn’t put forward any demands, they didn’t have any. Why, what is the reason? Nobody answers. The provocation is obvious.

Satanists could be among any nations, any races. As it is known, there is a black sheep in every flock.

– Thus, in this case, oil, money and power are just a mechanism, which supports something much more significant, which never would be mentioned in the news?

– It is not a matter of material gain. Is it profitable for a sadist when he tortures his victim? Ask him – why, he will just smirk. Passion is a horrible thing. We still have no idea what stands behind the term ‘Satanism’. It is evil, and God forbid witnessing the limitlessness of this evil. And this evil, this malice is looking to express itself somehow. Satanism is a force, an acting force. Now even a psychologist could explain some of the formulas of perverse pleasures of our fallen nature , only would portray everything in graver tones. Where is the common sense? Why anyone would like sufferings, blood, and tortures? I can’t find any other explanation from a Christian point of view.

– Professor, if we look at the mechanics of what is happening, we can say that a systematic instigation of war is carried out. Is it a war for extermination?

– It is appears that yes. The first reason is worldly, six billion people – it is a lot. Secondly, religious ideals sicken somebody and are in the way of something. Still too many people at least to a small extent are familiar with an inner idea of ‘wrong’. Hence – divide and rule, and if you can cause to clash nations, a war is unavoidable.

Why does the New Testament speak with such fear about Antichrist and the end of the world, about what people would be like and what awaits them? Because the freedom of evil would be opened. At present a restraining force still exists, there are still many people who haven’t lost their conscience, who fight for the truth and justice, who preach love.

– Is it easy to realise that?

It is very important to show what the meaning of freedom is. Where the true freedom is, and where there is the freedom of arbitrariness.

Genuine freedom is when a man can control himself, he is not at the whim of his passions, and his soul by its nature strives after God-Truth, and this thirst is infinite. The opportunity to “freely” get thrilled in passions brings people down to the level of beasts and results in what we watch in the news, shuddering. We should remember that man by his nature is finer than a beast, and is capable of falling to the devil’s level.

Professor Alexei Osipov was interviewed by Petr Pivkin
Source: http://www.pravoslavie.ru/english/7191.htm

More about Prof. Osipov:

http://aosipov.ru/video/18_video_lektsii_a_i_osipova_english.html – Lectures of Osipov with English subtitles

http://www.aosipov.ru/texts/POSTHUMOUS.doc – Life after death. Book of Osipov in English.

http://www.aosipov.ru/ -official website of Prof Osipov (in Russian)
http://orthomedia.ru/index.php?option=com_content&task=blogcategory&id=16&Itemid=46 – video lectures by Prof. Osipov (in Russian)
http://www.predanie.ru/mp3/Lekcii_professora_Alekseja_Ilicha_Osipova/ -audio lectures of Alexei Osipov in Russian

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