Already in the nineteenth century prophetic Russian writers and thinkers like Khomyakov and Dostoyevsky described Europe as a cemetery, its gardens well-kept, its lawns manicured, its trees pruned, its cleaned tombs and monuments of great artistic beauty, but still a cemetery, where lie the dead of past history. A cemetery, in Latin languages, cimetière, cimitero, cementerio, (from the Greek for ‘to sleep’), in German Friedhof, in Dutch Begraafplaats, in Swedish Kyrkogard, is, literally, a place of sleep, rest and burial, a churchyard. This is the place where are buried dear ancestors, friends and family, whom we visit and pray for. For the only life in a cemetery is that which we bring there.
A cemetery is the image which conveyed the fact that European culture was already in the nineteenth century dying out because it was rejecting the roots of its culture, and cultural roots are always spiritual. In other words, by rejecting the founding spirituality of its civilisation, Orthodox Christianity, whether actively by fighting against it or passively by not resisting its loss, Europe reduces itself to a land of historic monuments and museums, remarkable, outstanding, but not living. Europe, the historically admirable, far Western corner of Eurasia, is to be visited by becameraed tourists and even pilgrims for its past, but it is incapable of generating new culture in the present and future for lack of spiritual roots.
As the decades have passed, we have found the above prophetic image growing ever truer. The culture of death and the death of culture, whether through wars and concentration camps, whether through abortion and euthanasia, have taken over a secularised but also increasingly Islamised, thus polarised Europe, which is intent on its spiritual and so physical suicide. Our Orthodox churches in Europe are ever more like oases amid the contemporary Western culture of death. They are like cemetery chapels, where, as we pray for the resurrection of Europe’s Orthodox past, we bring the only spiritual life. Today, Europe seems no longer to have any self-belief, any fire in its soul – only ashes where once a fire so keenly burned.
Europe had from the outset the choice between Christ and death. At first Europe chose Christ and many centuries ago before the Great Misfortune, the best of Europe in its hermits prayed to Christ, whether from their lonely rock fastnesses in the wild North Atlantic, from Mediterranean islands or Alpen pastures, or from many other lonely places in Europe. But then Europe replaced the Risen One with a single mortal man, a new Ceasar (‘we have no king but Caesar’, they said), and then replaced Him with all mortal men, thus choosing death over life. Thus, the God of Europe was killed and put to sleep in the great European cemetery. Without God, Europe no longer believes in itself and so is intent on self-abolition
After Europe had killed God, it created a vacuum of faith. And where there is a vacuum, the demons rush in, and so, having pronounced its God dead, Europe then began to kill His creation, man, in the tens of millions. But we do not despair, for one day the hermits will return to the North Atlantic, to the Hebrides, to the whole Kingdom of the Isles, and all over Europe, and they will pray again to Christ for resurrection, just as the hermits of Russia in their forest monasteries and caves pray for resurrection. But this will happen only when the Orthodox Christian Empire is restored. For the restoration of the Christian Emperor in Russia will be the restoration of the Christian Empire, even to the uttermost ends of Europe.