Orthodox America

Time For Action!  

Vadim Shcheglov

    Today danger threatens the greatest and most noble achievements in the history of mankind's existence: freedom, culture, art, love. Over the world hangs the threat of communism--faceless, meaningless, pitiless, godless Molech. And because of this, at no other time in mankind's history has the role of the Church and of each Christian been as significant as it is today.

    Communism has declared its ultimate goal: the building of an atheist society in which there will be neither faith nor believers. "Who is not with us is against us"--that is the slogan of militant atheists. If the enemy does not submit, he is destroyed; That is what communists promise believers, that is what they call people to--to a new barbarism, to global violence. All roads lead to communism; no matter who you are--thief, drunkard, criminal--all the same there awaits you a 'bright' future: communism, and nowhere will you escape it.

     In Russia the communists have already begun to build this apocalyptic future. Of course, such a fate is providential. Russia is the first to be given the experience of withstanding Antichrist. How she meets this challenge depends on us Christians, on our faith, our labor, the fruit we bear.

     A hundred and fifty years ago a man filled with Christian love for Russia wrote:

     "You do not love Russia; you are only capable of feeling sorry and of getting irritated at rumors of the bad things going on there; this only makes you callous, even despondent. No, this is not love, you are still far from love; it is at best a distant portend.

     "No, if you are really to love Russia, you will lose that near-sighted idea which has now germinated among many honest and even quite intelligent people, i.e., as though nowadays it is too late for them to be able to do anything for Russia, as though they are of no use to her; on the contrary, only then [when you begin to act] will you come to realize that love is all-powerful and that through love one can do anything."

     These are the words of N.V. Gogol, but it is as though one of our contemporaries were writing to us.

     The primary concern of a Christian has always been-- and especially now--the acquisition of Christian love, Christian freedom, moral integrity, spiritual activity. Then the eyes of our soul are cleansed and we see what it is we can do; each person's cross is revealed to him.

     This work begins with contrition of heart, with repentance, with the recognition of one' s responsibility for everything in the world, one's guilt in lying, in cowardly silence, in complicity in the actions of those who know not what they do.

     Every Christian has a great responsibility before God--for himself, his children, his friends--in the tempestuous sea of this world. This responsibility greatly increased when the darkness of atheism settled upon Russia.

     Who is going to shine in this darkness? Who is going to help signal the way to the light of Divine Truth?

      Apostle Peter addresses us with his fiery words:

Ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should show forth the praises of Him Who hath called you out of darkness into His marvelous light. (1 Peter 2:9)

            What of it if we are few, "a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump."

           In an atheist regime; in Russia in particular, legislation concerning religious cults is designed not so much to separate Church from State, as it is to separate believers from the Church, so that they would become "like sheep without a shepherd." It seems that in such circumstances it is impossible to do anything, but if there is a desire to help, if the soul aches over its sins and the misfortunes of its neighbors, then the lord will not only reveal what can be done according to the measure of one's strength, but will also help in its accomplishment.

           The absence of a Christian life outside the walls of a church has become one of the most grievous afflictions of the Russian Orthodox Church. For this reason, to create this life, to nurture a vital, active Christian community, means to assist in the regeneration of spiritual life in Russia. I can tell you how it was in my case. I was fortunate. At the very outset of my Christian experience I fell in with just such an active Christian group. Spiritual books were constantly being read and discussed, children were taught prayers and church singing. We tried to help all those who were visited by adversity, both through prayer and by deed. This cooperative, active Christian life educates not only the neophyte; even the experienced receive from it great spiritual benefit. Furthermore, it opens new opportunities and new spheres for the practice of Christian activity.

            In order not to limit myself to words about what can and should be done, I would do well to describe some particular individuals who found the strength and courage to stand up against the atheist regime and chose for themselves a path of action.

             For many years Nun Valeria Makeeva, together with a small group of nuns, prepared and disseminated among believers prayer books, psalters, akathists, belts embroidered (or imprinted) with prayers ("He that dwelleth in the help of the Most High…), until finally the authorities discovered where and who was doing this. Nun Valeria courageously took all the responsibility upon herself. She was arrested, tried, and sentenced to three years' deprivation of freedom; she spent one year in labor camp and two years in a psychiatric 'hospital.' For disseminating religious literature Orthodox Christians Victor Burdyuv, the Budarov brothers Sergei and Vladimir and Nicholas Blokhin were sentenced to various terms. For almost nine years Orthodox Christian Zoya Krakhmalnikova was torn away from her family, her home. For a period of seven or eight years she had virtually single handedly compiled and edited an anthology of Christian readings titled Nadezhda (Hope). She saw her Christian duty in nourishing believers with spiritual food. Nadezhda contained the Lives and teachings of the Holy Fathers, the experience of the building of Christianity throughout history, and much else that is important and vital to each and every Christian. I've mentioned here only a few, whose activity is known. There are countless unknown 'podvizhniks' who daily labor in the Lord's harvest fields.

            Doubtless, any activity undertaken in the name of God, with love and faith, will prove both necessary and important.

Vladim Shehglov
Representative Abroad of the Committee for the Defense of Believer’s Rights in the USSR.

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