Whose power is greater than the one who has this divine gift? Which king or dictator can compare to the one who commands the laws of nature? Whose worldly wisdom can compare to the one who bears divine wisdom within himself?
And such a superhuman lived in our homeland, among the Russian people, and was our elder contemporary. It is primarily for this great and splendid gift of miracle-working that the Russian people venerate St. John of Kronstadt.
However, the glory of St. John is by no means dependent on this one gift of miracle-working. There is another and no less important side to his activity – his gift of prophecy.
It may – alas! – sound paradoxical, but the state of our humiliated and suffering homeland for the last century confirms the glory of St. John, who sternly prophesied the coming of these sufferings, but remained “a cry in the wilderness.”
He was a loyal son of his homeland, he loved his dear Russia as few others did, loved all the boundless beauty of Russian life, but above all he loved God’s Church and the Holy Trinity, in Whose grace-filled rays he lived. He prophesied God’s forthcoming punishment of Russia for its falling away from the Holy Church in the person of its ruling circles, mainly the intelligentsia.
“God is not to be mocked, – said St. John. – I look upon Russia and I become filled with dread and sorrow, seeing how it is suffering and how it will yet suffer, if it does not return wholeheartedly to its native faith, to the Orthodox Church.”
“Russia, – he said at another time, – is agitated and suffering from a bloody internal battle, from a bad harvest and famine, from a great increase in the cost of living, from godlessness, from an absolute loss of morals. These are evil times – people have turned into ferocious beasts, even into evil spirits. The government has become weak. It wrongly understood the freedom that it gave to the people. It itself has become obscured in mind and did not provide the people with a clear understanding of freedom. Evil has grown in Russia to monstrous proportions, and it is almost impossible to correct it.”
This was said by St. John in the period of 1904-1908, and at the same time he explained how it had all occurred.
“The morals of all classes of Russian society have nowadays become tremendously weak. Daily life has become putrefied with all kinds of sins – abandonment of faith, ignorance of God, and sacrilege, especially among the educated elite, have become widespread and commonplace, depravity has become a daily custom, the press and literature are permeated with enticement. All have betrayed or are betraying God in one way or another, all have abandoned the Lord, and His righteous wrath has been ignited. Universal disasters are overwhelming us for the heavy sins and iniquities of the entire people.”
In such a spirit the great pastor denounced the universal vices of Russia, but his voice was muffled by the so-called progressive and falsely liberal press, which unanimously abused him as an extreme reactionary, a retrograde, a man behind the times in that enlightened 20th century.
St. John, however, had a clear understanding of where all this came from in the Russian land.
“Our current overeducated members of the intelligentsia, who have alienated themselves from their Mother Church, shun God’s wondrous design for our salvation and all the sacred images of God’s deeds and all His saints, yet they are madly interested in decadent art and sculpture. There are those who throw away enormous sums of money on these voluptuous images, yet look upon the poor with squeamishness and disgust, not wishing to spare them even a few kopeks.”
“How trite people have become and how depraved, completely losing the Christian spirit and becoming like pagans and sometimes even worse in their way of life. It is the unbridled press, especially the underground one, that has brought our intelligentsia and partly the common people to such a state of immorality. For a long time it had coveted freedom and has finally grabbed it. In one way or another this scythe will reap us all. The Dread Judgment awaits mankind.”
In his ardent love for Russia St. John pointed out that the foundation on which Russia stands is the Orthodox monarchy.
“What would you be without a Tsar, O Russians? Your enemies would try to destroy even the very name of Russia, for the guardian and protector of Russia after God is Russia’s Sovereign, the Royal Tsar, and without him Russia is not Russia.”
What an amazing prophecy! As though the great pastor foresaw those four ominous letters – USSR.
St. John continuously coupled the rule of the Orthodoxy monarchy with Divine Providence. “Only God can empower a chosen individual to occupy the throne and entrust him with monarchical power, vesting him in glory, majesty, and strength.”
St. John also denounced those statesmen who were destroying Russia. “Our current restless and unacknowledged politicians desire a constitutional or republican form of rule in Russia, but they do not understand the history and character of the Russian people, who cannot be without a Tsar, who live only by him, and who, after God and the Heavenly Queen, place their hopes in him alone. Thus let us venerate the Tsar as a ruler given by God for the good of Russia.”
Though denouncing his beloved Russia, St. John still believed in its shining future. “Russia is being tempered by woes and disasters. Stand firm, Russia! Repent and pray. Shed bitter tears before thy Heavenly Father, Whom thou hast offended immeasurably. The Lord, like an artful physician, subjects us to various temptations, sorrows, illnesses, and woes, in order to purify us like gold in a furnace. Such is the purpose of all the trials and miseries sent to us by God in this life.”
All the prophecies of St. John of Kronstadt have come to pass in full force. In truth, he was not only a great miracle-worker, but also a great prophet. We should venerate the resplendent glory of this great miracle-worker and prophet, and entreat him to pray for a great miracle for his ardently-loved homeland – the miracle of the resurrection of Russia.
O great pastor! Hear thou our prayers, if not for the sake of us, sinners, then for the fulfillment of thy prophecy on the purification of the gold of the Russian soul in the furnace of fiery tribulations, for the glory of thy name and for the glory of God in Holy Russia.