Daily Archives: October 7, 2015

‘Prelest’ and Conversion

It is strange that a foreign word, the Slavonic (not Russian) word ‘prelest’, should sometimes be used in English. It is only a translation of the Greek word ‘plani’ and long ago in the fifth century it was translated from Greek ascetic works into Latin by the Gaulish St John Cassian as ‘illusio’. So in English it could be translated simply as (spiritual) illusion, but perhaps the English word ‘self-delusion’ is even more exact. ‘Prelest’ simply means a state of mind in which we imagine that we are something that we are not, in other words, we are deluded. There are two states that greatly contribute to the development of self-delusion.

The first is an emotional state, an excess of imagination and strong feelings. Feelings of self-exaltation, sentimentality, vanity, narcissism and superiority, living in the imagination, which are all simply forms of pride, create fertile soil for self-delusion. Ultimately, these feelings can even develop into psychic phenomena like self-hypnosis, levitation and the production of physical marks like ‘stigmata’. On a simpler level, such states produce pomposity and self-love, the person who is absurdly in love with himself and his gifts, not seeing that anything good is God-given. Such people are easily mocked, as they are ridiculous. Clearly, such feelings are based on vulgar pride. The antidote to them is inner sobriety – a quality most characteristic of the Fathers and the Saints, for it is based on modesty and so humility.

The second state is isolation. People who isolate themselves from others and condemn them, because they think that are better than them, soon fall into self-delusion. They cultivate strange and unique practices because they do not belong to the catholicity of the Church, from which they have cut themselves off. They are too good for the rest of the Church. They do not see that such practices are provincial, literally, ‘parochial’. For example, we can think of one tiny community where all four female members have to wear long, down to the floor, dresses and a strange hat and another where all the men have to be bearded. There is one which is known as ‘the pony tail club’, since that is how the men have to wear their hair like their guru. A fourth practices a ‘secret language’, an esoteric code of garbled foreign words which of course the non-initiated cannot understand. Clearly, the smaller and the more self-isolated the community, the stranger the customs. The antidote to all this is to mix with others, to visit other parishes and monasteries, to see what is normal.

Here we can see the connection between this state of self-delusion and conversion (regardless of the nationality of the neophyte). The essential disease of conversion is to identify the Faith with externals. ‘Beard competition Orthodoxy’ is a typical example of this, but so is wearing prayer knots around the wrist or wearing a large cross outside one’s clothes or women wearing an exaggerated head covering. Genuine conversion is all about not being different in externals, not attention seeking, but about converting the inside. Go to any ordinary parish and you will see people dressed anonymously – they could be anyone, but maybe one of them is a saint. Genuine Orthodox Christians do not stand out, except by their example of living a good life.

There is nothing so disheartening as one who has been a member of the Church for 40 or 50 years, but still calls himself a ‘convert’. It is over – move on. St Paul never refers to himself as a convert. Nor does anyone who has got over the first few months of conversion to the Church and its novelties. All must pray for those who are in the early stages of conversion, that they may get through these stages as swiftly as possible. As Psalm 50 says: ‘The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, Thou wilt not despise’ (Psalm 50). ‘The burnt offerings’ were never necessary, so do not make them.

The Empire Strikes Back: The Renascent Christian Empire and Syria

What is the civilization that Russian Orthodox of over sixty nationalities belong to? It is the civilization of the Christian Empire, renascent since the fall of atheist ideology in Russia. In history this Empire has been known as ‘The Third Rome’ and ‘Holy Rus’. The Christian Empire is not some narrow nationalistic ideology, but a multinational Empire. Although its Centre is in Russia, some Russians do not belong to it. To be Russian and to speak Russian is no guarantee at all of identity with the Christian Empire. Precisely in 1917 many Russians rejected it. And yet tens of millions outside Russia, in the Ukraine, Belarus, Moldova, Kazakhstan and numbers in many countries all around the world belong to it.

Those who belong to the Christian Empire belong to it spiritually and so culturally, confessing its Christian values, rejecting narrow chauvinism and balkanized racism, which puts a particular race and language above the Church of God. They also put the defence of the Christian Empire and all Christians above aggressive invasions and ruthless exploitation, the raping of natural resources, as is sadly so commonplace in Western ideology. Roman Catholics and Protestants do not belong to the Christian Empire, for their leaders rejected the now bimillennial Christianity on which the Empire is based a millennium ago, replacing it with the ideologies of Roman Catholicism and then Protestantism.

However, this is no fault of ordinary Catholics and Protestants, who have been hoodwinked and blinded by their elites, and we make no judgement about them. Perhaps there has now come the time when many of them will join us, returning to the Christian Orthodox Faith of their distant ancestors. However, the Christian Empire is one that which we must be ready to die for and not many are prepared to make that sacrifice. Whether the oppressors were Roman pagans, Hellenist intellectuals, corrupt emperors, Muslim Ottomans, Western-inspired atheists or idolatrous consumerists, we have always had to pay with our lives for our faith. But that has also been a joy for us. Thus Western-inspired atheists, called Marxists, massacred us by the million for our sins, but we were saved by the invasion of other Western atheists, Nazis, and 27 million have their lives so that the restoration of the Christian Empire could eventually begin fifty years later.

They take God away from us, but they cannot take us away from God, Who indwells in the hearts of those who remain faithful, ignoring the temptations all around us. For now the ruler of our Empire is the Mother of God in her Sovereign Icon, which appeared in 1917, when the legitimate government of the Christian Empire was overthrown by both Western and apostate Russian traitors. The Christian Empire is summed up in the words of St Seraphim of Sarov: ‘Christ is Risen, my joy’. The Christian Empire is all those who have not compromised and betrayed the Orthodox Faith, whatever our nationality, and not been intimidated by the powers of this world. The Orthodox Empire is in our places of holiness and shrines, in our churches and monasteries, wonder-working icons, miraculous sacraments and our daily life through our cultural, social, economic and political values and in our quest for peace, honesty, justice and responsibility.

The Christian Empire expresses the Civilization of Christ. Those who reject it, consciously and usually unconsciously, enter into the embraces of Antichrist. As the only protector of all the world’s Christians, the renascent Christian Empire has now had to intervene between Jewish fanatics (Zionists) and Muslim fanatics (Islamists), as it did before 1917. After that year the British and French elites, who had long plotted the downfall of the Christian Empire together with others, carved up the Ottoman Empire. They created countries like the Lebanon, Syria, the Jordan and Iraq, so artificial that they would always be divided and so at war and so easily exploitable by outsiders. However, in 1917 history was interrupted, the balance was lost and extremes appeared, whether Marxism, Nazism, Zionism or Islamism.

Today anti-Christian Western aggression is being stopped by the renascent Christian Empire after a period of 25 years when it freely ravaged the world, from Latin America to Yugoslavia, from the Caucasus to the Middle East, from North Africa to the Ukraine. The Syrian government, invaded by terrorists helped by the West and financed by the Western allies, Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar, has called on the renascent Christian Empire for help. Now Iraq and Afghanistan, also annihilated by Western meddling, have called for help. Only the Christian Empire can free the Middle East and save the world’s Christians. As a result, the Patriarchates of Antioch and Jerusalem draw ever nearer to the Russian Church.

The Western elite has shown its true colours by condemning our protection of Christians and supporting phantom ‘moderate’ terrorists (!). NATO, Turkish and Saudi propaganda support Muslim terrorism and, after all, Al-Qaida was founded, trained and armed by the CIA. Not surprisingly, the military action of the Christian Empire, begged for by the Syrian government, has achieved more in a few days in Syria than occasional and selective US bombing in a year. Here is somewhere where the Russian State is protecting the Church, not always the case in post-Soviet Russia which sometimes resembles Soviet Russia. In other words, it is truly becoming the renascent Christian Empire. Today Jerusalem is protected by that Empire and, although the Temple Mount is still temporarily blocked off, Zionists have failed yet again in their attempt to rebuild the Temple. The world has been granted a little longer to turn to repentance.