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Wednesday, November 24, 2004

Instructions to the Faithful

By Holy Elder Anatoly of Optina


My child, know that in the last days hard times will come, as the Apostle says, behold due to poverty in piety, in churches the heresies and schisms will appear, and as the Holy Fathers foretold, than on the thrones of hierarchs and in monasteries there will be no men tested and experienced in the spiritual life. Wherefore, heresies will spread everywhere and deceive many. The enemy of the human kind will act skillfully, if possible, leading the chosen ones to heresy.
He will not begin by discarding the dogmas on the Holy Trinity, divinity of Jesus Christ, or the Theotokos, but will unnoticeably start to distort the Teachings of the Holy Fathers from the Holy Spirit - the Church teaching itself. Heretics will take over the Church, everywhere will appoint their servants, and spirituality will be neglected. But the Lord will not leave His servants without protect ion and in ignorance. He said "by the fruits you will recognize them". Strive to distinguish them from real pastors; those spiritual thieves who are snatching the spiritual flock, do not enter through the door into the sheepfold, but cross in the other place" as the Lord said it, that is, they will enter in illegal way, with force destroying God's order. The Lord calls them the criminals. Truly, their real duty is persecution of true pastors, their imprisonment, for without that, the spiritual flock may not become captured. Therefore, my son, when you see in the Church mocking of the Divine act, teaching of the Fathers, and God-established order, know that the heretics have already appeared, even though for some time they might hide their evil intensions, or will unnoticeably deform the divine faith, to better succeed by deceiving and tricking the inexperienced . They will persecute not only the pastors, but also the servants of God, for the devil who is directing the heresy cannot bear living in Divine order. Like wolves in sheep skin, they will be recognized by their vainglorious nature, love for lust, and lust for power - those will be betrayers causing hatred and malice everywhere; and therefore the Lord said that one will recognize them by their fruits. The true servants of God are - meek, brotherloving and obedient to the Church's laws and traditions. At that time, monks will endure great pressures from heretics, and the monastic life will be mocked. The monastic families will be impoverished, the number of monks will reduce. The ones remaining will endure violence. These haters of the monastic life, who merely have the appearance of piety, will strive to draw monks on their side, promising them protection and worldly goods, but threatening with exile to those who do not submit. From these threats, the weak at heart will be very humiliated . If you live to see that time, rejoice, for at that time the faithful, not possessing other virtues will receive wreaths merely for standing in faith, according to the Word of the Lord "everyone who confesses Me before men, I will confess before My Heavenly Father". Fear the Lord, my son!, don't lose the received wreath, not to be rejected by Christ into the utter darkness and eternal suffering. Bravely stand in faith, and if needed joyfully endure persecutions and other troubles, for than the Lord will stand by you...and holy Martyrs and Confessors with joyfully watch at your struggle. But, in these days, woe be to monks tied to possessions and riches, and who for the sake of love of comfort agree to subjugate themselves to the heretics. They will lull their conscience saying: we will save the monastery, and the Lord will forgive us. Unfortunate and blinded, they are not even thinking that through heresies and heretics, the devil will enter the monastery, and than it will no longer be a holy monastery, but bare walls from which Grace will depart from forever. But God is more powerful than devil, and will never abandon His servants. There will always be true Christians, till the end of time, but they will choose lonely and deserted places. Do not fear troubles, but fear pernicious heresy, for it drives out Grace, and separates from Christ, wherefore Christ commanded consider the heretic as let him be unto thee as a heathen man and publican. And so, strenghten yourself, my son, in the Grace of Christ Jesus. With joy hasten to the confession and enduring the suffering, like Jesus Christ's good soldier who said: "BE FAITHFUL UNTO DEATH, AND I WILL GIVE YOU THE WREATH OF LIFE" To Him, with the Father and the Holy Spirit, honor and glory unto ages of ages. Amen

A Prophecy by St. Anatoly the Younger (+1922)From a letter of the Optina Elder [and New Martyr] St. Anatoly the YoungerSOURCE: Orthodox Life, #3, 1993