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(100th anniversary of the repose of St. John of Kronstadt)

December 20, 2008 by the old calendar (by the new calendar the date will be January 2, 2009) marks the 100th anniversary of the day of repose of the great Russian luminary, the righteous priest St. John of Kronstadt. St. John occupies a special place in the list of saints, being of great significance not only in spiritual terms, but also on a historical plane, having been sent by the Lord as erstwhile Jonah was to Nineveh, in order to prophesy to the Russian people and to the whole world the coming universal cataclysm and the onset of apostasy, i.e. the end times.

The life of the pastor of Kronstadt
St. John of Kronstadt’s power of healing
St. John of Kronstadt and the patristic inner prayer
St. John of Kronstadt and the enemies of Christ
St. John of Kronstadt as server of the Divine Liturgy
St. John of Kronstadt and Russia’s spiritual crisis
St. John of Kronstadt’s prophecies about Russia
Memoirs of a Kronstadt resident
Pastor of all Russia
Orthodox Spirituality
St. John of Kronstadt

Pastor of all Russia
(Commemorated November 1st / October 19th, and January 2nd / December 20th )

Those times were called “the 19th century, the iron century.”  In accordance with this epithet, iron logic should also have been manifest throughout it.  And initially this expectation was being fulfilled.  Indeed, was it not clear where Russia was heading in that century – towards materialism and atheism?  But how to combine with the theory of the progressive godlessness of Russia the phenomenon of Saint John of Kronstadt, who was born on October 31, 1829?

 Initially he did not understand his mission.  He dreamed of going off as a missionary to the Aleuts, to soften the coarse customs of pagans.  However, having been appointed priest to Kronstadt, here, too, he discovered enough pagans.  Batyushka visited their homes, shared his last with them, sometimes returned home without his outer garments.  The church administration was upset with him over this and began to pay out his salary not to him, but to his wife, in order that he not give it away to the poor.  Once a certain pious old woman asked him to pray for the healing of a very sick person.  “You just ask God directly to heal him.” – “How can I show such daring?” – thought St. John, and suddenly felt that he was given permission to do so.  And he almost demanded from the Lord to heal the unfortunate sick man.  The next day he was told that the latter was fully recovered. From that moment the miracles gushed forth in a powerful stream as was probably never seen in the history of Christianity from the times of the Lord Jesus Christ Himself.  The blind began to see, the lame began to walk, the dead came back to life.  With great delay some of St. John’s miraculous healings began to be recorded, with an indication of time and place, the name and address of the person who was healed, and with documents confirming the occurrence, particularly physicians’ testimonials.  This selective chronicle took up several tomes.  The miracles reached an absolutely unprecedented level: people were healed from a note to him, from a submitted photograph, from a telegram!

 However, the greatest miracle was St. John of Kronstadt himself.  By all laws of nature no man could have survived the daily regimen that he followed, yet he remained in good health until nearly the age of eighty.  Every day he served the liturgy, which meant constant fasting and getting up at 3:00 in the morning to prepare for the service.  Thousands of people took communion from him, so that the duration of this sacrament was often up to three hours.  After that St. John preached a sermon, to which people reacted as to the words of Christ Himself.  Afterwards batyushka saw visitors, and then went out to serve privately-requested needs.  He returned home late at night, and it is absolutely unfathomable where he still found the time to write his homilies and his thoughts that were published under the name of “My Life in Christ.”  He obviously lived in an extended dimension of time, and time can be extended only by the One Who created it.  His superhuman burden was made more difficult by frequent travels all over Russia, thanks to which hundreds of thousands of people were able to touch upon his holiness.  How much he was loved and venerated is attested to by the following: whenever he sailed somewhere on a steamship, crowds ran after him along the shore.  And throughout the entire land thundered his appeal: “Learn, O Russia, to believe in the Almighty God, Who rules the fate of the world, and learn faith, wisdom, and courage from your holy forefathers!”

 The main theme of his appeals to the people was the intolerability of revolution.  “Cease your insanity!  Enough, enough!” – thundered his voice all over the world.  And with the uncompromising directness of a prophet he presaged: “If things in Russia proceed in this manner, and if the godless and the insane anarchists are not subjected to the just punishment of the law, and if Russia does not cleanse itself of its multitude of chaff, it will fall into ruin just like the ancient kingdoms…”

 The great pastor was unable to prevent the revolution.  Does this mean that he suffered defeat?  It would undoubtedly seem so: the godless and the madmen did take over.  But this is what must give us pause: Russia did not fall into ruin!  Moreover, it was able to live through the Civil War and the subsequent destruction, and to restore itself, becoming a mighty power.  In pondering this and analyzing the facts, one comes to an amazing conclusion: the post-revolutionary development of Russia, which was renamed the USSR, did not go the way the revolutionaries had intended, and in this sense they did not turn out to be the victors.  The Russian people exhibited such unyielding resolve in striving to remain Russian, that the Bolsheviks became exhausted in their struggle against the people’s tenacity.  And in our attainment of such strong immunity to godlessness and madness, the help and service St. John of Kronstadt was simply invaluable.  The Lord Himself sent him to us, in order to breathe into Russia, on the eve of its great catastrophe, a reserve of spirituality that allowed it to survive under satanic rule.

Viktor Trostnikov (Reprinted from “Argumenty i fakty,” No. 44)

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