No matter how hard it is for you now, remember – it's worse in hell
Sunday Sermon of the 23rd Week after Pentecost.
People often asked Christ for things they didn't need or which were useless to them: give us a sign from heaven, show us by what power you are doing this, come down from the Cross, show us a miracle, etc. People tend not to look for what is essential for their salvation, but what their sinful mind and vicious heart crave for – what their soul is attached to and what their thoughts are boiling in. So when you tell people to abandon a certain “mental pattern”, they say, “no, no, you just listen” and continue to beat around the bush.
This time I was asked to write about the war. “Write about the war, people now want to read about what worries them the most…,” my regular reader writes to me. What can I say? I don't want to write about the war! Let politicians, journalists, religious and political figures, etc., talk about it. From my practical experience, I know that the law of interpenetration always works where the heart is wide open. The more we enter the swamp of war, the more it sucks in our soul, which begins to sink in it. In this swamp there is no light of love, there is no truth of God, there is not the slightest hope that this madness will ever end. Because something else will follow for sure, which will probably be even worse.
We used to think that the coronavirus would be as bad as it got. But we were wrong – the war broke out. However, this war may appear not the worst thing that awaits humanity ahead.
Most likely, we have already come to the time when we will not be allowed to "neither gasp nor breathe" until death.
“He who fights with monsters should be careful not to become a monster himself. If you look into the abyss, then the abyss also looks into you.” With all my aversion and hostility to the worldview and philosophy of the author of these words, I cannot but agree with him in this case.
This is true. We become what our soul and our attention is pinned to. In order not to dissolve in this darkness over the abyss, you need to direct your gaze to what gives hope, grace-filled peace and silence of the heart. Under my feet, I have a sea of thick mess of dark brown blood, in which dead bodies are floating, mixed with fragments of glass, rubble and dirty earth. On either side of me are cynical demonic politicians, journalists, rulers, the powers that be – mind-controlled godless puppets of the devilish backstage. The light comes only from above, from the spiritual sky above the head.
If you look up without looking around, then you will not find peace but will be confronted with the fact that there is nothing. There is no war, no death, no evil, none of that to creep with such perseverance into the soul. Yes, we have an abyss of pain, afflictions, trials, temptations, but all this is nothing more than fertilizer.
Instead of cutting down the tree of our dry and barren soul, the Great Gardener decided to once again try to dig it up and overlay it with manure in the hope that, perhaps, He would see at least some good fruits on our branches.
Whatever happens to us on earth, it won't last long. It is just the experience of living through sensations and thoughts, which cannot last forever. Eventually all this will pass. Whatever happens to us in earthly life, we must remember – it is much worse in hell! To leave God for outer darkness without reaching the Kingdom of God is the only thing worth to be truly afraid of. Everything else is dust and ashes. Today they are, but tomorrow they will disappear like the life of each of us.
Fear, hatred, anger, curses, indignation, wrath are the SRGs of Satan, who, under the camouflage of justice and "righteous anger", want to penetrate our soul in order to take it captive.
Therefore, I do not want to write about the war ... In most cases, I do not write from myself, but only paraphrase what I read and hear from my Elder; what I myself try to learn, what gives my soul light, what strengthens the faith that God will never leave us. Everything I can write about the war boils down to these lines of Father Simon (Beskrovnyi):
Responding to the burden of temptation
And all my trials’ bitter flavor
I choose, without any hesitation,
Love for my God and for my neighbour!
Affected by the torment and the pain,
And having no more power to endure,
I choose to grin and bear it again
To win myself and get my soul pure!
When watching all the horrible depictions
That make me fall beneath
I choose, however, crucifixion,
The cross, the nails, the wreath...
I have nothing more to add to these lines, except for a few stories from my friends’ lives.
The war has changed the fate of hundreds of thousands of people. Now I’ve recalled my class teacher L., who lived next door to me in Huliaypole (a city in the Zaporizhzhia region – Ed.). When I saw her for the first time in the fourth grade, I immediately fell in love with her. L. remained for me the ideal of beauty and feminine nobility for all my life. Since then, decades have passed. My teacher lived in material prosperity, in a well-built house, with a wonderful husband – a master of all trades. Her talented daughter made a good career with her work, had a well-paid job and was one of the first persons in the city. Then two beautiful granddaughters appeared. Ahead was a quiet, calm, comfortable old age ...
First, she lost her husband, who died of cancer. After a while, before reaching the age of 45, her daughter died from the coronavirus consequences. Six months later, the war began. Her son-in-law with her granddaughters, schoolgirls, went abroad, to the other end of the world. L. stayed in an empty cold house with a very old and sick mother and a disabled sister. In addition, there were endless bombings, lack of electricity, gas, water, with the hope only for humanitarian aid, which began to arrive less and less. Yet, she had a reserve of patience, humility, strength to bear her cross and the ability to live both in abundance and in poverty, in joy and sorrow, in warmth and cold. After all, it was not in vain that she went to church for many years, took her daughter, her son-in-law, and her granddaughters there. This is how her soul will be saved...
My male cousin stayed there, in Huliaypole. Two bedridden grandmothers, a disabled child. When it was already unbearable to endure the missile attacks, his son was evacuated first, followed by the grandmothers. The dog was temporarily left under the supervision of neighbors. The four-legged friend was a real family member for them – the size of a small calf, but a very kind, faithful and beloved pet. In the very morning, when the family was away, my cousin's wife had a dream. This dog runs through a beautiful field covered with wonderful flowers. Everything seems to glow with joy and bliss. The dog jumps on her neck, caresses like a dog, kisses her and with all its movements shows what delight and pleasure it feels from being in this beautiful place.
The dream was so realistic that, waking up, the brother's wife could not shake off the thought that everything was happening in reality.
A couple of hours later, the neighbor called. He said that in the evening a shell hit the house, and the dog was seriously wounded. All night it suffered and howled from pain, and died early in the morning...
I wanted to tell my readers this story about the dog not to dwell on the posthumous fate of animals and to give the "omniscient" scribes an opportunity to post narcissistic comments. Yes, one can argue about whether there is a place for dogs in heaven, but none of us doubts that a person has an immortal soul. Those people who bring evil, crying and tears into this world, kill, first of all, their own souls. They are deceived by the devil, and without realizing it, devoted their hearts to him. Their eternal fate will be one of the most terrible outcomes of this war.
* * *
In 1984, a wonderful Christian film was released – a parable "The Neverending Story" by director Wolfagan Petersen, based on the book of the same name by writer Michael Ende. Its main character saves the world from a terrible scourge called Nothing. Wherever Nothing came, the world turned into a black awful haze, the emptiness devoid of light and life.
When I walk along the streets of my native city in the evening, I understand that this very Nothing has now come to us. Darkness settled where children would play on the playgrounds. Houses look at the world with empty gloomy eye sockets. Darkness on the streets, in houses and souls. The world, where there used to be light and life, is slowly plunging into a gloomy Nothing, filled with death, cold and chaos.
But the interesting thing is that those beings who brought all this to my land consider themselves "warriors of light." What an aberration, caused by the devil to a soul that has forgotten that God is Light, Love and Life, rather than darkness, hatred and death!