Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Fr Seraphim Rose on the 'Signs of the Times'

"If we truly live this Orthodox world-view, our Faith will survive the shocks ahead of us and be a source of inspiration and salvation for those who will still be seeking Christ even amidst the shipwreck of humanity which has already begun today."
~ Hieromonk Seraphim Rose († September 2, 1982)


Fr Seraphim delivered the message below in the conclusion to his 1982 talk, 'Living the Orthodox Worldview', given at St Herman of Alaska Monastery. The twenty-two years since then only serve to heighten the urgency of his call to repentance and living a fervent and authentic Christian life.

I have added a few parenthetical asides below, to illustrate Fr. Seraphim's message with some current events. Undoubtedly many more examples of  "the abnormality of the world..." of "weird and unnatural manifestations and behavior" will spring to mind to the observant reader. 

Those interested are invited to explore the special section on Fr Seraphim Rose which I have created on this blog.  Of special relevance is the following:

Fr Seraphim Rose on Islam - Fr Seraphim didn't write much about Islam, or did he? A look at Fr Seraphim's teaching on the Monotheistic Religions, and how he might have approached the challenge of Islam.

The Signs of the Times
(excerpted from Living the Orthodox Worldview)
by Hieromonk Seraphim Rose, August 1982

It is obvious to any Orthodox Christian who is aware of what is going on around him today, that the world is coming to its end. The signs of the times are so obvious that one might say that the world is crashing to its end.

What are some of these signs?

— The abnormality of the world. Never have such weird and unnatural manifestations and behavior been accepted as a matter of course as in our days. Just look at the world around you: what is in the newspapers, what kind of movies are being shown, what is on television, what it is that people think is interesting and amusing, what they laugh at; it is absolutely weird. And there are people who deliberately promote this, of course, for their own financial benefit, and because that is the fashion, because there is a perverse craving for this kind of thing. 

— The wars and rumors of wars, each more cold and merciless than the preceding, and all overshadowed by the threat of the unthinkable universal nuclear war, which could be set off by the touch of a button. 

[Consider the wars and rumors of wars being waged by Muslim jihadists, dedicated to reestablishing the caliphate and bringing the entire world under the rule of Islam. Consider the very real threat of Muslim jihadists acquiring nuclear weapons. This is the Third Jihad, a fulfillment of the sign, "Kingdom against kingdom."]

— The widespread natural disasters: earthquakes, and now volcanoes—the newest one forming not far from here near Yosemite Park in central California—which are already changing the world's weather patterns. 

[Consider the recent deep sea quakes and resulting tsunamis, the worst being that which so damaged the Fukushima nuclear reactor on Japan.]

— The increasing centralization of information on and power over the individual... To facilitate the working of such computers, the American government plans the issuance of Social Security checks to persons with a number stamped on their right hand or forehead— precisely the condition which will prevail, according to the Apocalypse (ch. 13) during the reign of antichrist... Once you are used to this, who will be able to resist? They will train you first and then they will make you bow down to him. 

[Consider the NSA surveillance scandal when it became revealed that the National Security Agency (an Orwellian name if ever there was one) is spying on, collecting cell phone records, location data and all manner of info on ordinary Americans. Consider the IRS scandal, in which it now has been proven that the IRS has been targeting conservative and Christian groups as a control mechanism. Consider new technologies which enable the implanting of microchips already in pets (testing the technology in the real world), and next even in humans.] 
— Again, the multiplication of false Christs and false Antichrists. The latest candidate just this summer spent probably millions of dollars advertising his impending appearance on world television, promising to give at that time a "telepathic message" to all the world's inhabitants. Quite apart from any occult powers that might be involved in such events, we already know well enough the opportunities for presenting subliminal messages by radio and especially by television, as well as the fact that this can be done by anyone with the technology for breaking into normal radio and television signals, no matter how many laws there might be against it. 

[Fr. Seraphim would be aghast at the explosion of television technologies, and the banal, pornographic, and in most cases outright satanic nature of cable and satellite TV programming. Those addicted to technology itself, whether TV, the internet, or other "content devices," have become sub-human spectators and consumers, with little or no sense of anything higher. Americans are literally being amused and entertained to death. And who can deny that our current president is an antichrist figure? The first post-Christian president is heralded by some as a messiah, to whom children pray and sing rapturous songs, who is depicted with halos and auras by his deceived admirers, and who, by his support for government mandated, taxpayer-funded abortion on demand and same-sex "marriage" is determined to force all Americans to support these satanic initiatives, thus adding the spiritual burden of communal guilt to their souls on their road to damnation.]

— The truly weird response to the new movie everyone in America is talking about and seeing: "E.T.", which has caused literally millions of seemingly normal people to express their affection and love for the hero, a "saviour" from outer space who is quite obviously a demon—an obvious preparation for the worship of the coming Antichrist. (And incidentally, the movie editor of the official Greek Archdiocese newspaper in America, an Orthodox priest, has heartily recommended this movie to Orthodox people saying that it is a wonderful movie which can teach us about love, and everyone should go see it. There is quite a contrast between people who are trying to be aware of what is going on, and those who are simply led into the mood of the times.) 

[Consider the proliferation of alien-themed movies and television shows, many purporting to present "true" stories of "close encounters," abductions, and the like. Some movies present a "good alien vs. bad alien" narrative, which seduces the gullible into thinking that there are "good aliens." Much, much more could be written about this deeply disturbing phenomenon alone, but suffice to say that on this point, Fr. Seraphim was light years — pardon the pun — ahead of his time.]
I could go on with details like this, but my purpose is not to frighten you, but to make you aware of what is happening around us. 

It is truly later than we think; the Apocalypse is now. 

And how tragic it is to see Christians, and above all Orthodox young people, with this incalculable tragedy hanging over their heads, who think they can continue what is called a "normal life" in these terrible times, participating fully in the whims of this silly, self-worshipping generation, totally unaware that the fool's paradise we are living in is about to crash, completely unprepared for the desperate times that lie just ahead of us. 

There is no longer even a question of being a "good" or a "poor" Orthodox Christian; the question now is: will our Faith survive at all? 

With many, it will not survive; the coming Antichrist will be too attractive, too much in the spirit of the worldly things we now crave, for most men even to know that they have lost their Christianity by bowing down to him.

Still the call of Christ comes to us; let us begin to heed it. The clearest expression of this call today is coming from the enslaved atheist world, where there is real suffering for Christ and a seriousness of life which we are rapidly losing or have already lost. One Orthodox priest in Romania, Fr. George Calciu, is now near death in a communist prison for daring to challenge young seminarians and students to put off their blind allegiance to the spirit of the times and come forward to labor for Christ. After speaking of the emptiness of atheism, he tells today's young people: 

"I call you to a much higher flight, to total abandonment, to an act of courage which defies reason. I call you to God. To the One that transcends the world so that you might know an infinite heaven of spiritual joy, the heaven which you presently grope for in your personal hell, and which you seek even while in a state of non-deliberate revolt... Jesus has always loved you, but now you have the choice to respond to His invitation. In responding, you are ordained to go and bear fruit that will remain. To be a prophet of Christ in the world in which you live. To love your neighbor as yourself and to make all men your friend. To proclaim by every action this unique and limitless love which has raised man from the level of a serf to that of a friend of God. To the promise of this liberating love which delivers you from all constraint, returning to you your integrity as you offer yourself to God."

Fr. George, speaking to young people who had little inspiration to serve Christ's Church because they had accepted the worldly opinion (common also among us in the free world) that the Church is only a set of buildings or a worldly organization, calls them to a deeper awareness of Christ's Church and of how our "formal membership" in it is not enough to save us.

"The Church of Christ is alive and free. In her we move and have our being, through Christ Who is her Head. In Him we have full freedom. In the Church we learn of truth and the truth will set us free (John 8:32). 
"You are in Christ's Church whenever you uplift someone bent down in sorrow, or when you give alms to the poor, and visit the sick. You are in Christ's Church when you are good and patient, when you refuse to get angry at your brother, even if he has wounded your feelings. You are in Christ's Church when you pray: 'Lord, forgive him.' When you work honestly at your job, returning home weary in the evenings but with a smile upon your lips; when you repay evil with love — you are in Christ's Church. 
"Do you not see, therefore, young friend, how close the Church of Christ is? You are Peter and God is building His Church upon you. You are the rock of His Church against which nothing can prevail... 
"Let us build churches with our faith, churches which no human power can pull down, a church whose foundation is Christ... Feel for your brother alongside you. Never ask: 'Who is he?' Rather say: 'He is no stranger; he is my brother. He is the Church of Christ just as I am'."

With such a call in our hearts, let us begin really to belong to the Church of Christ, the Orthodox Church. Outward membership is not enough; something must move within us that makes us different from the world around us, even if that world calls itself "Christian" and even "Orthodox." Let us keep and nourish those qualities of the true Orthodox world-view which I mentioned earlier: a living, normal attitude, loving and forgiving, not self-centered, preserving our innocence and unworldliness even with a full and humble awareness of our own sinfulness and the power of the worldly temptations around us. If we truly live this Orthodox world-view, our Faith will survive the shocks ahead of us and be a source of inspiration and salvation for those who will still be seeking Christ even amidst the shipwreck of humanity which has already begun today.

From  The Orthodox Word, Vol. 18, No. 4 (105), July-August 1982. 
Recording of Fr Seraphim's talk available as a CD from Hermitage of the Holy Cross.