The Kiss of Judas
Remember how the Church views prophecies… it’s not what “will be”… it’s what “can be”. One of the most basic teachings of the Church is Free Will. These things can happen if we’re not vigilant and true. If we are, we can put things right. Otherwise, prophecy would have no point, would it? After all, remember the “Sign of Jonas”… he preached and the people of Nineveh repented. Shall we do likewise?
Prophecies often seem strange… but they ARE warnings that Christians disregard at their own risk. Do recall St Serafim Sarovsky’s prophecies given to the last tsar… they came true in every particular. Remember, we DO hold the future in our hands… the True Church does NOT teach predestination or fatalism. Bear that in mind as you read this.
As it’s impossible to divide the Holy Trinity, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, the One Lord God; so, it’s impossible to divide Russia, the Ukraine, and Belarus, which together are Holy Rus.
Venerable St Lavrenty Chernigovsky
St Lavrenty Chernigovsky died 60 years ago on 19 January 1950. The future Patriarch of Moscow and all the Russias, Kirill Gundyaev, quoted the above words of Saint Laurence of Chernigov in speaking to youth during the celebration of the 1,020th anniversary of the Baptism of Rus.
St Lavrenty’s prophecies of the Last Days are well-known in the Orthodox world. Today, people pass them on, often without reference to the author, “There will come a time when all the closed churches will reopen, repaired both outside and inside. Their domes and bell towers will shine with gold. Finally, when they all shine in glory, the time for the reign of the Antichrist will come. All the churches will be incomparably splendid as never before, but you won’t be able to go inside of them”.
What do we know about this Orthodox prophet of the Soviet era? Schema-Archimandrite Lavrenty, in the world Luka Yevseyevich Proskura, was born in 1868 in Karylskoe (Korop Uezd in Chernigov Guberniya… today, Korop Raion in Chernigov Oblast in the Ukraine). He was the sixth child in a believing and pious peasant family. In early childhood, disaster struck… during games, he fell and hurt himself so badly that it crippled him for life. As if in recompense for his physical disabilities, God bestowed many gifts on Luka… including an ear for music and a love of singing. In Korop, Luka met a former director of the Imperial Choir, who came from this locality, who immediately appreciated the boy’s ability and began to teach him the art of choral direction. Under him, Luka learned to play the violin. At 14-years-old, Luka became a choir director, holding rehearsals in his home. Six years later, he took monastic obedience at the St Nicholas-Rykhly Pustyn. Luka showed prayerfulness in his singing and rigour in complying with the Ustav of the services, and his direction of the choir led to it evidencing a polished performance. During this period, we know that St Lavrenty made three otpusts to Mount Athos and visited the holy places in Palestine. In 1905, Bishop Antony Sokolov of Chernigov and Nezhin transferred Luka (by then, a Novice) from the Rykhly Pustyn to the Chernigov Trinity-St Ilya Monastery to act as choir director. Here, in 1912, in the 45th year of his life, Luka took monastic vows, taking the name Lavrenty. Two years later he became a deacon, and, in 1916, a hieromonk. In 1923, under the Bolsheviks in Kiev, Fr Lavrenty secretly took the schema at the Lavra under Schema-Igumen Gavriil, and in 1928, he became an Archimandrite. During the Renovationist schism, Fr Lavrenty unhesitatingly took the side of Patriarch St Tikhon Bellavin. He condemned the communist government; nevertheless, he didn’t recognise the ROCOR, he taught that the true Church was the one purified in the crucible of persecution.
Immediately after the revolution, Archimandrite Lavrenty took on, as did Ss Antony and Feodosy of the Kievo-Pecherskaya Lavra, the obedience of living in a cave. In 1917-25, at the Trinity Ilyinsky Monastery in Chernigov, he dug caves at Boldinoi Gore, which people later called the Lavrentievymi. These caves were particularly deep and long. Next to them were the Alipievy, the caves dug by Igumen Alipy, a fellow struggler with Fr Lavrenty. He set up an underground monastery in the cave, with a church dedicated to St George the all-Victorious. Elder Lavrenty prophesied the death of Fr Alipy to him… soon afterwards, the atheists brutally killed Fr Alipy in Ulyanovka in Sumy Oblast. By the way, the “terrible Basavryuk” (a character in a Gogol story)… Viktor Yushchenko… was the manager of the savings bank here for nine years.
In 1930, when the communists closed the Trinity Monastery, Fr Lavrenty secretly settled in a little house in Chernigov, meeting his spiritual children at night. He conducted services in a small Ilyinsk parish. Until 1941, he lived in hiding. During the war, after the capture German troops captured Chernigov, the 73-year-old elder organised two monastic communities… a men’s house of 35 monks and a convent of 70 nuns. His last abode was the Chernigov Trinity-St Ilya Monastery; on Easter 1942, Fr Lavrenty resumed serving at the Cathedral.
Nun Yevlampiya, in whose house he lived after the closure of the monastery, preserved a memory of an amazing event. She said, “It happened in 1939. Batyushka talked the whole night, with whom, I couldn’t make out. I didn’t dare to step in and see with whom. In the morning, he said, ‘Matushka, we had guests, and you’re a witness to that’. I asked, ‘Who?’ He replied happily, ‘God prophesied through Ss Ilya and Enoch. They talked to me about the Last Judgement, Russia, the Orthodox Tsar, and the Antichrist. They told me that Apostle St John the Theologian would come to talk to me, too’”. That happened only after ten years passed, in 1949, during the night of 26 September/9 October. According to Elder Lavrenty, he talked with the Apostle St John the Theologian for about seven hours. Archbishop Simon, Archbishop Feodosy, Bishop Iakov, and Archimandrite Feofan testified about what St John told Fr Lavrenty.
Christ and Antichrist
“They’ll crown the Antichrist as King of Jerusalem in a magnificent temple with the clergy and the Patriarch (obviously, of Jerusalem). He will give free entry and exit to Jerusalem for everyone. However, don’t go! He’ll do all sorts of things to deceive you. Antichrist will come from lascivious virgins… from the Jewish twelfth tribe, ‘from fornication’. Even as a boy, he’ll be very capable and smart, especially since when he becomes a boy of 12, he’ll walk with his mother in the garden, and meet with Satan, who’ll came out of the very abyss and enter into him. The boy will shake with fright, but Satan will say, ‘Don’t worry, I’ll help you’. After this, the boy will grow into a man and become the ‘Antichrist’. At his coronation, where they read the Creed, he won’t let them read it; where the words proclaim Jesus Christ as the Son of God, he’ll deny it, and recognise only himself. The Patriarch will exclaim that this is the Antichrist, but for this, they’ll kill him. At his coronation, the Antichrist will wear gloves. When they shoot him, the Patriarch will notice that the Antichrist has claws on his fingers, not fingernails, so, this would be a sign that this was indeed the Antichrist. The Prophets Enoch and Elijah will descend from heaven, who will explain it to the people and exclaim, ‘This is the Antichrist, don’t believe him!’ He’ll slay them, but God will resurrect them and bring them back to Heaven”.
“Satan will train the Antichrist in all way of tricks, and he’ll give false signs… not in church, but in every house. In the corner where holy icons now hang, will stand a seductive thing (apparently, the TV) to deceive people. Many will say, ‘We need to watch and listen to the news’. The Antichrist will give out the news… his people will stamp their “seal” on everyone. He’ll hate Christians. He’ll begin the last persecution of Christians… those who refuse to take on Satan’s seal… this seal will be readily visible, it’d be obvious whether a person received it or not. Christians won’t be able to buy or sell anything. However, don’t let this discourage you… the Lord won’t leave His children… the Lord will take the weak, and purify those with faults. This war will wash away sins in blood, and show the martyrs. The Lord will take the most powerful believers to Him. Until He completes the number of witnesses of God, and until there’s a complete falling away of the ruined angels, the Lord won’t come in Judgement”.
During 1942-50, Fr Lavrenty lived in the Chernigov Trinity-St Ilya Monastery. He departed to the Lord on 19 January 1950, at Epiphany. The elder’s body laid in state for a week before the funeral. Believers touched the hands of the body and noticed that they were warm and soft, as though he was asleep. Then, the open coffin with Fr Lavrenty’s body was in lower church of the crypt of the monastery for 20 days, and no one saw any evidence of decomposition during this time. On 5 March 1950, they placed the elder’s body in the tomb. The communists closed the Holy Trinity-St Ilya Monastery in September 1962, during Khrushchyov’s persecution of the Church, and access to Fr Lavrenty’s tomb wasn’t possible for a long time, until 1988. On 22 August 1993, the UPTs/MP Holy Synod canonised Archimandrite Lavrenty of Chernigov as a “Venerable”. When they opened the tomb of the holy elder, it filled with a marvellous flavour, the air became moist, and its physical nature changed, as if engorged with the heavenly… heavenly fragrant oil. The incorrupt relics of St Lavrenty of Chernigov have a dark brown colour, like the relics of the ancient Fathers of the East and the Kievo-Pecherskaya saints, the podvig of which the elder imitated man during his lifetime. Today, they’re in the Holy Trinity Cathedral in Chernigov.
To return to the prophecies of St Lavrenty, one should note that they not only concern the “End Times”, but they also speak of the present… for instance, the schism in the Ukraine. “In the Ukraine, the demons will unleash all sorts of false doctrines and secret atheists (Catholics, Uniates, ‘Ukrainian Orthodox’, and others) will turn strongly against the canonical Orthodox Church, attacking its unity and integrity (соборности). These heretics will support an atheist government; therefore, they’d try to destroy the Orthodox Church and persecute its believers. Then, a Metropolitan of Kiev (not worthy of this title), together with like-minded bishops and priests, will strongly shake the Russian Church. However, he’d end in eternal perdition, as did Judas. Nevertheless, all these slanders and false teachings of the Evil One will disappear in Russia, and the One Church, Russian and Orthodox, will stand… there’s never been a Patriarch in Kiev; the Patriarch was always in Moscow. Beware so-called ‘Ukrainian Orthodox’ and the Unia”.
Fr Kronid, Vicar (Наместник) of the Kievo-Pecherskaya Lavra, who was present at this conversation, said that St Lavrenty noted that the schismatics and Uniates had disappeared (since 1946). He said that the elder told him, very sadly, “The devil will enter into them, and they will turn their satanic malice against the Orthodox Faith and against the Church, but they’ll suffer a shameful end, their followers will suffer the punishment of Heaven from the Lord God of Hosts”. St Lavrenty spoke strongly and strictly on “our native designation… ‘Russia’ and ‘Russian’. Be sure to remember and not forget that it was the Baptism of Rus, not the Baptism of the Ukraine. Kiev is a second Jerusalem and the Mother of All Russian Cities”. He also said, “The Ukraine… an outlier of what? Why is it a borderland?! The Poles brought us the concept of ‘Ukraine’ and ‘Ukrainian’; are we to forget the name ‘Russian’, and be forever separated from Holy and Orthodox Rus?” Today, people throughout the Ukraine venerate St Lavrenty of Chernigov, including many believers in Filaret’s schismatic “church”, who got into it in error or in the wish to embrace a so-called “Ukrainian faith”. Obviously, they do not know the prophecy of St Lavrenty, that Denisenko “will go into eternal perdition, as Judas did, pulling along with him many of his followers”.
The prophecies of Venerable Lavrenty spoke not only about the coming of the Antichrist and the church schism in Ukraine, but also of our Church on the eve of the “End Times”. Contemporaries recalled that he’d sigh and wipe away the tears, saying, “Before the End Times, the clergy will get carried away by worldly wealth. They’d have a car and house, they’d visit resorts, but they’d forget the Jesus Prayer! They’d forget it! Then, they’d get on the wrong path, and they’d lead the faint-hearted down the same path! However, you be wise and prudent. Listen to their beautiful words, but don’t do what they do! I tell you, and I’m very sorry to have to tell you, that they’d buy houses, and waste time clearing big beautiful monastery premises. They wouldn’t have enough time for prayer, even though they vowed not to own anything! Many, many of these priests will die for their negligence and careless spiritual life! Most priests will betray the Holy Church and mislead the people. They won’t think of their own salvation, much less that of others”.
Terrible words… It’d be better not to know them. It’s rare for us to learn of a prophecy beforehand (as it was, for example, with the predictions of St Serafim Sarovsky), and in time for us to do something of it. Isn’t this a sign from above that we… both clergy and believers… should be able with God’s help to change what we can?
21 January 2010