On the Causes of the Russian Catastrophe

By Archbishop Averky

A great many different, more or less weighty and plausible, ideas have been and continue to be expressed on the causes of the terrible, bloody catastrophe which befell our motherland Russia in 1917.

Usually and most frequently causes of an economic and political nature are presented for consideration, and people think, that it all is satisfactorily and completely explained by them.

But for us, Russian believers, there cannot be the slightest doubt that these causes, if they in fact existed, were only secondary, derivative, attendant causes, but certainly not the chief, the fundamental, or the basic ones.

The chief cause of all the woes which befall a man and deprive him of peace and prosperity is his departure from the Single Source of life and well-being, our Creator, Provider, and Savior, God, and his flouting of the Divine laws and rules which are man's only salvation.

This is what was written by the great teacher of all Christian Russia, Bishop Theophan, in the 60's of the last century:

"Do you know how gloomy my thoughts are? And not without good reason. I meet people who call themselves Orthodox, but who in spirit are followers of Voltaire, naturalists, Lutherans, and all sorts of freethinkers.

They are neither stupid nor evil, but in regard to the faith and the Church they are worthless. Their fathers and mothers were pious; the damage was done during the time of their education outside their parents' homes. The memory of their childhood and of the spirit of their parents still keeps them within certain bounds.

What will their children be like? And what will keep them within the proper bounds? I conclude from this that in one, at the most two, generations our Orthodoxy will wither." (Letters on the Christian Life, p. 78).

"We must be punished," he wrote in another letter, "God and His manifest works have been blasphemed. Someone wrote me that in some newspaper Light, No. 88, blasphemies against the Mother of God were printed. The Mother of God has turned away from us; because of Her, so has the son of God; and because of Him, so have God the Father and the Spirit of God. Who is for us when God is against us?! Alas!" (Collected Letters, Vol. 7, p. 206).

We can only dare to think completely seriously about the salvation of Russia when we have become different. We must force ourselves to change in the most fundamental way¾ to cease being what we were when we, willingly or unwillingly, knowingly or in ignorance, by our own hands or just by indifference, cast Russia into that terrifying, bloody abyss in which it remains even until now.

Constantly forming new political parties and organizations with platforms full of high-sounding promises and with constant quarrels and mutual attacks on each other unworthy of the name of Russian; organizing "days" and "evenings of Russian culture"; "charity" balls, theatrical performances and concerts, especially on the eves of Sundays and feasts; anniversary celebrations, especially in the spirit of the one now being prepared to honor Leo Tolstoy, who was excommunicated from the Church for his unbelievably blasphemous and vicious outbursts; banquets with very patriotic speeches; assemblies for "days of irreconcilability' with fierce anti-Communist statements; even formal attendance at official prayer and requiem services on days of special commemoration¾ -- none of this will ever be able to save Russia.

"Seek ye first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness" and then everything else "shall be added unto you." (Matt. 6:33)

It was precisely this course of seeking above all the Kingdom of God and His righteousness that our Orthodox Russian nation followed throughout the whole course of its history. It was precisely in this way that Great Russia was built in which the faith and the Church were always in the first place.

But when the Russian nation, under the influence of atheistic agitators who came to us from the apostate West, began to turn away from this, its true historical course, then that terrible, bloody catastrophe broke over us; as a result of it we ended up in exile, and the rest of the Russian nation is under the yoke of a horrible, unparalleled slavery.

For this reason it is so sad to see how Russian Orthodox people who have endured so much and even lost their homeland and who now are themselves here in exile do not give any thought at all to their spiritual renewal, but rather continue to live with the same godless and anti-Church views, interests and attitudes that led to such terrible misfortunes for our unfortunate homeland Russia.

And they naively think that Russia can be saved without their full and total return to God, without their bringing their lives under the genuine spirit of the Church, but that it can be done by means of nothing but political activity. And they even want to subjugate our Church itself to their politics and make it a tool of their political intrigues, a toy of their political passions.

They want to subject the eternal to the temporal, the heavenly to the earthly, the holy to the sinful...

What could be more awful, more hopeless, more criminal than such spiritual blindness, such extreme lack of understanding, which is only, one step removed from the very depths of hell?

How many times did the Most Holy Theotokos save Her faithful Byzantium with its imperial city of Constantinople by Her all-powerful protection until it was overcome by the spirit of materialism and apostasy from the faith which appeared so clearly at the Council of Florence in 1439? And then Byzantium, which had betrayed the true faith, was handed over to its downfall, falling finally under the blows of the Mohammedan Turks in 1453.

Like Byzantium the New Rome, our homeland Moscow, the Third Rome; experienced the miraculous protection of the Fervent Intercessor for the Christian race an uncounted number of times. But our unfortunate Russian nation also did not remain firm on the heights of its calling, and the same spirit of materialism and apostasy led it to its terrible, bloody downfall.

And now the whole world is gripped not just by the spirit of materialism and apostasy, but of cruel enmity to God, a terrible and rash challenge to God; and it is on the edge of destruction in its senseless blindness, a destruction prepared by its own hands.

This destructive spirit of Apostasy has already penetrated even our Orthodox Church, extremely prominent hierarchs of which openly are proclaiming the approach of some sort of "new era and cynically are proposing being done with all the past as they assemble to create some kind of completely "new Church" in close "ecumenical" contact and unanimity with all apostates from the true faith and Church.

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St Nicholas Russian Orthodox Church, McKinney, Texas