Orthodox America

  Signs of the Times

Learn to know the spirit of the age, study it, so whenever possible you will be able to avoid its influence. - Bishop Ignatius Brianchaninov

    The majestic procession of the Church through her feast days, fasts, and liturgical seasons provides a wonderful c alto in which the pious can live and breathe and have their being. Only occasionally do alarming troubles and "signs" from the surrounding culture and society intrude upon one who strives to keep his mind in God. But these "signs" are most definitely there, and are making louder and louder noises that we--for the sake of our children who depend upon us for guidance in these things--dare not ignore.

    The following is a sampling of items that have crossed my desk in the last months--some sent in by our readers—all of which seem to indicate a certain "pattern" deserving of comment in a missionary publications such as ours.

· The latest blow against traditional Christianity has been struck by the Roman Catholic Church, yet has gone almost unnoticed: as a result of on-going "dialogue" through the Secretariat for Catholic Jewish Relations, the designations A.D. (Anno Domini) and B.C. (Before Christ) will be dropped in favor of the "scientific" terms C.E. (Common Era) and B.C.E. (Before the Common Era). No longer is the Son of God to be seen as the apex of human history. Thus, the relentless march of secularism in our post-Christian, ecumenical age--and this, from a Church whose prominent laymen are now labeling their Cardinals as "just men in red," and not really believers, but only "agnostics" (see "The Denver Post," July 4, 1987, p. 8B)...

· The "Chicago Tribune" (Aug. 5, 1987) reports that, according to a poll, 20% of their respondents "indicated a preference for some sort of dictatorship by individual or committee" in the United States --because this would insure the continued "comfort" and seeming wealth of our way of life. It's ironic that this mentality is surfacing during the year in which we observe the 200th anniversary of our Constitution.

· A growing number of reputable economists are predicting a second Great Depression, based on striking similarities between the late 1920's and the 1980's. Today, 1% of the population owns 3~% of the wealth (in 1929, 1% owned 36% of the wealth). Another indication is the frivolity and gaudiness with which the wealthy are spending their money--as evidenced by such popular TV programs as "Lifestyles of the Rich and F a m o u s" and the t0 million dollar paintings going at auctions--strongly reminiscent of the decadence of the 1920's in both America and Europe. And all of this at a time when hundreds of thousands of hungry and homeless live literally on our streets, when many Protestant TV evangelists live in an opulence (and, in some cases, immorality) that rivals the worst excesses of the Renaissance papal court that repelled their spiritual forefathers at the time of the Reformation...

· The final item on my desk today is a transcript titled "The Devil Worshippers" from the ABC program "20/20" (May 16, 1985). Those of us that saw this shocking documentary at the time of its original broadcast could scarcely believe that formal and organized Satanism is now widespread in our society--appealing particularly to the young (through certain Rock groups). Major cities now have detectives assigned full-time to the investigation of grave-robbings, child sacrifice and other ritual murders, church desecrations, etc. These detectives suspect that many of the missing children in our country have actually been kidnapped by Satanists for their foul purposes. And, Maury Terry's recent exhaustive study of the "Son of Sam" murders, The Ultimate Evil, gives strong evidence that most of the bizarre murders and mutilations of recent years are the result of a network of Satanic "churches" operating under innocuous names and in full view of the unknowing public...

     ·..And now, quite suddenly, we learn from the new film "The Believers" of the latest fashion: the religio-magical cult of “Santeria," which originated in pagan Africa, was transported to Central and South America (where it joined forces with Voodoo) and is now literally sweeping through the ranks of the "sophisticated" and cosmopolitan of the North American society, no longer confined to the uneducated or superstitious· And why? Because, according to its adherents, this ancient pagan demonism "really works"!-that is, it gratifies the material desires and aspirations of those that use its power.

    The comma n thread through all of these items is two-fold: "change for change sake," and an accommodation with the spirit of this age. And what is this spirit? Materialism, as naked and cold as anything envisioned by Lenin more than 60 years ago--so godless that some people are now turning, in a boundless spiritual thirst created by their own Churches, to the paganism and demonism that Christ came to overthrow.

    I am reminded of Fr. Konstantine Fedoroff's words at a church conference in 1986: "Materialism is the spirit of Antichrist."

    Archbishop Averky of Blessed Memory offered extensive comments on this subject some years ago in a sermon titled "The Spirit of Antichrist and the Forerunner of Antichrist":

    "We do not yet see Antichrist himself, but his spirit obviously is settling in and already beginning to rule the world. A large number of forerunners of Antichrist are preparing with tremendous energy for his arrival, his triumph, and his enthronement among mankind .... The essence of this process is Christian mankind's ever greater departure from the genuine, uncorrupted teaching of the Gospel and the replacement of the Gospel commands with other ideals (...) that sometimes seem acceptable for Christians, compatible with Christianity, while in reality they are profoundly opposed to it; they gratify human passions and lusts and confirm mankind’s fallen nature in its fallen state."

    Aware of how disturbing his words would be, Vladika Averky concluded:

     "The spectacle in the world is in general quite without cheer, and would be a cause to get discouraged and fall into despair if we did not know that 'IT IS THUS WRITTEN' in the Word of God and all of this must be so·.." We leave it to the reader attentive to surrounding life to draw his own conclusions from what has been said above, while, on our part, we can only repeat:

Let him who is being saved save his soul!

Fr. Alexey Young, Editor