Western Rite Critic

A Balance to Contagious Enthusiasm

Orthodox Eschatology


The “end times” in the catechetical texts and commentaries of the Fathers, and the writings of the Orthodox:

Some contemporary books on the Eschatology of the Apocalypse by Hierarchs of the Orthodox Church:

 A Hierarchical Word on End-Times

Archbishop Averky: The Apocalypse: In the Teachings of Ancient Christianity

Bishop Gerasimos of Abydos: At the End of Time: The Eschatological Expectations of the Church

“For the Antichrist will come for the destruction of men, and to injure them, for what will he not then work? He will change and confound all things, both by his commandments and by the fear of him. He will be terrible in every way: by his power and by his unlawful commandments.’’ – St. John Chrysostom, Commentary on 2 Thessalonians

Guard thyself then, O man; thou hast the signs of Antichrist; and remember them not only thyself, but impart them also freely to all. If thou hast a child according to the flesh, admonish him of this now; if thou hast begotten one through catechizing, put him also on his guard, test he receive the false one as the True. For the mystery of iniquity doth already work. I fear these wars of the nations; I fear the schisms of the Churches; I fear the mutual hatred of the brethren. But enough on this subject; only God forbid that it should be fulfilled in our days; nevertheless, let us be on our guard. And thus much concerning Antichrist. – St. Cyril of Jerusalem, Catechetical Lecture XV

All men ,led by the light of fallen nature alienated from guidance of God’s light ,will be enticed into submission to the seducer(antichrist). – St Ignaty Brianchaninov

In that time, infants will die on their mother’s lap, and the mothers will die over their children, fathers will die with their wives and children in the marketplace, and there will be nobody there who will bury them. – St. Ephriam the Syrian, Oration on the Coming of the Lord

“A false prophet will prophesy concerning the Antichrist saying he is Christ and he himself will try to convince everyone that he is Christ.” – St. Ambrose of Milan, Catechetical Lectures, Oration 15

“God will allow persecution from the Antichrist not because He cannot stop it, but because He desires, as usual, His strugglers to be crowned,” and for this reason, “the reverent ones among the living will be taken up into the clouds, receiving, as a reward of honor, that which is higher than any man.” – St. Cyril of Jerusalem, Catechetical Lecture 15

“Having filled himself with pride, the Antichrist will begin to set himself up and glorify himself as God, belching forth slander against Christ.” He will do this so openly that he will command that all those who do not want to serve him as God be killed. – St. Hippolytus of Rome, On Christ and the Antichrist.

“He shall be known by his crimes of inhumanity and lawlessness, so as to out do all unrighteous and ungodly men who have gone before him; displaying against all men, but especially against us Christians, a spirit murderous and most cruel, merciless and crafty” – St. Cyril of Jerusalem (Catechetical Lecture 15, Ch. 12)

“Many people will be found pleasing God, for whom it will be possible, in the mountains and in dessert places, to save themselves by much prayer….for God, seeing their many tears and sincere faith, will have mercy on them, as a tender Father, and will keep them.” – St. Ephraim the Syrian, Oration on the Coming of the Lord

“Many will believe the Antichrist and will glorify him as God … many will worship the torturer with trembling crying out: ‘Thou are our saviour!’” – St. Ephriam the Syrian, Commentary of Psalm 43 and the Gospel of St. Luke

“The Antichrist will not only pronounce himself highest of the false gods, but will sit in the Temple of God, as if he were God … the Jews, who did not want to believe in the Lord, as though He were an adversary to God, will believe in the Antichrist who will pronounce himself to be the god of all.” – Blessed Theodoret of Cyprus, Commentary on 2 Thessalonians

“The Antichrist will not rule over all, but only over those who are worthy of perdition, who, even if he did not come, still would have deprived themselves of salvation.” – Blessed Theodoret of Cyprus, Commentary on 2 Thessalonians

“The Christian society will never be depleted and will particularly become strong when in its appearance it will seem to wane.” – Tertullian

“The Jews, who did not accept the Lord Jesus Christ as the true Son of God and God, will receive a deceiver who will call himself God.” – St. John of Damascus, Exact Exposition of the Orthodox Faith, Book IV, Ch. 26

“The adversary will sit in the temple of Jerusalem, in order to show himself as Christ, he will demand that those who are captivated by him should worship him as Christ. The Antichrist will demand worship as if he were God.” – St. Irenaeus of Lyons, Against Heresies, Book 5, Ch. 25

“We firmly believe that the Church will never fall, will never waiver and will not be destroyed. For this is what Christ taught, by Whom the heavens were established and the earth was founded, and stands firmly as the Holy Spirit says”. (Ps. 32:6) The Antichrist will lure to himself “those who have a weak and feeble mind, will seduce and will tear them away from the living God.” – St. John of Damascus, Oration on the Transfiguration of the Lord

I say that martyrs of that time excel all martyrs,for martyrs hitherto have wrestled with men only, but in the time of antichrist they shall battle with satan in his own person. – St Cyril of Jerusalem

The more calamities afflict them, the more evil will they become, instead of repenting ,they will be angered at God. The evil deeds of people will surpass those of people of the time of flood. All will speak only of evil, plan only evil, consent to evil, meet other only for evil. – St. Nilus the Myrrhstreaming, Ray of Light, page 67

Let not us who would be Christians expect anything else than to be crucified….for to be Christian is to be crucified in this time and in any time since Christ came for the first time. His life is the example and warning to us all. We must be crucified personally, mystically; for trough crucifixion is the only path to resurrection, if we would rise with Christ, we must be humbled with him even to the ultimate humiliation, being devoured and spit forth by the uncomprehending world……..we must be crucified outwardly in the eyes of the world, for Christ’s kingdom is not of this world and the world cannot bear it, even a single represantative, even for the single moment. The world can only accept antichrist now or at any time. – Fr Seraphim Rose

The antichrist must be understood as spiritual phenomenon…,why will everyone in the world want to bow down to him, obviously it is because there is something in him that responds to something in us, that something being lack of Christ in us, if we will bow down to him (God forbid that we do so) it will be because we feel an attraction to some kind external thing which might even look like Christianity since antichrist means the one that is in place of Christ or looks like Christ. – Fr Seraphim Rose Not of this world p772

Do not dare to raise your weak hand to stop the elemental tide of apostasy. Avoid it, protect yourself from it, and that is enough for you. Get to know the spirit of the times, study it so you can avoid its influence whenever possible. – St. Ignatii Brianchaninov

Truly never before has the cross of each person who wants to be a true Christian been as heavy as in this time of the triumph of falsehood which we are experiencing.

Never before on this earth has there been such a huge number of people who freely and easily, without any shame, without any pangs of conscience “call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!” (Isaiah 5:20). – Archbishop Averky of Syracuse (of Blessed Memory)

This false teaching wreaks terrible harm, lulling to sleep the spiritual vigilance of the faithful and suggesting to them that the end of the world is far away, if in fact there will be an end, and therefore there is no particular need to watch and pray,to which Christ the Saviour constantly called his followers (Mt.26-41) since everything in the world is gradually getting better and better spiritual progress keeping step with materialism. – Archbishop Averky

Now is the time for us to cry and pray for the state the contemporary world ended up in…We are not well, God will punish is, because we abandoned Him… – Blessed Fr. Dimitrios Gagastathis +1975

Great misfortune and poverty is being foreseen, but that also must happen. We need to be given a slap so that we can recover. As we will work, thus we will be paid by the Lord. – Blessed Fr. Dimitrios Gagastathis +1975

O brethren, as ye take up the spiritual fast, speak no deceit with your tongue, neither put a stumbling block in the way of your brother as an occasion for him to fall: but by repentance let us trim the lamp of our soul, that with tears we may cry unto Christ Forgive us our transgressions, since Thou art the Friend of man. Vespers of Wednesday of the Second Week of Great Lent

Unfortunately people today, aside from a few, are deaf in soul; they don’t hear. They are blind; they don’t see; they walk in the darkness of sin… REF:Elder Joseph the Hesychast
…As at the time of Noah, thus also the flood of sin, of corruption, of disbelief and impiety, threatens to drown everyone…people run with eagerness along the path of perdition. – Elder Joseph the Hesychast

Unfortunately today sin superabounded and superexceeded and people who call light darkness and darkness light. Truth falsehood and falsehood truth. Sweet bitter and bitter sweet. Good evil and evil good. We find these people in all ranks of society except for a few select people, for whose sake may the Lord have mercy on us… – Elder Joseph the Hesychast

The Lord rose from the dead. He lives and reigns forever, but His disciples today, the millions of baptized Christians, are for the most part dead in a spiritual sense. Christ does not live in their hearts. They show no tangible proof of their faith.

Where is their fiery zeal to spread the Gospel? Where is their burning love, their bold decision to go out and demolish the strongholds of Satan? They are indifferent — cold as the marble slabs that cover the tombs of the dead. They are dead, unburied dead. The laity are dead, but so too are the clergy, especially bishops, in whose chests Christ is supposed to live and reign.

What a great calamity! Our bishops are dead, faithful copies of the sluggish, useless bishop of the church of Sardis whom the Holy Spirit rebuked saying, “I know your works, that you have a name, that you are alive, but you are dead!” (Rev. 3:1). A church comprised of spiritually dead clergy and laity, a church that carries death and spreads it, cannot be called anything else but a dead church.

Take comfort. Amid all the coldness that transforms people’s hearts into snowballs, there are still sparks — burning coals and hearths of spiritual life in the modern world. Wherever a child stammers a quick prayer through innocent lips; wherever a boy or girl actively listens to catechetical lessons and sings joyous songs to the resurrected Lord; wherever a faithful mother prays for her children’s salvation; wherever a young man or woman in the flower of youth offers himself or herself to the Lord’s service; wherever a faithful nurse spends the night at the bedside of a sick person; wherever a missionary goes through virgin jungles to spread the light of the gospel to spiritually unenlightened lands; wherever there is a mighty battle against the dark powers; wherever sinners repent sincerely for their miserable past and, like Mary Magdalene, shed tears by their own tomb and seek forgiveness in confession; wherever there are holy pulsation’s; wherever hearts are warmed in reading the Scriptures — there are the sparks, the blazing coals, the spiritual hearth, the living Church. There is where Christ lives and reigns to the ages of ages.

Faithful souls, whenever earthquakes topple our world and whenever you see the ruins left behind by the faithlessness and corruption of our times, do not be disturbed. You have a rock upon which you can stand and an anchor upon which you can depend. You have a light with which to pass through. You have the sun that rose out of the tomb — Jesus, crucified and resurrected from the dead. Why are you afraid? What is there to fear? Come, let us worship and bow down to Him, Christ, the Victor over Death, the King of the Ages. – “Follow Me,” by Bishop Augoustinos N. Kantiotes (Bishop of Florina in Greece)

People prior to the Second Coming of Christ will occupy themselves with secular occupations, without bearing in mind the wrath of God. – Archimandrite Joel Giannakopoulos +1966

So sudden will be the Second Coming of the Lord, that even the pious will not know its day and time, because others will be sleeping and others will be very busy. The future Judgment will come, when people do not await it and will be given to secular occupations and enjoyments. Intoxicating will be secular occupation. While the delaying of the Lord has the purpose of more people getting ready.REF:Archimandrite Joel Giannakopoulos +1966
In the second coming…the Holy Apostles and the Prophets will show, the pains, the struggles of preaching, the persecutions, the exiles, the imprisonments, the deaths they forbore for Christ. The Martyrs will show, the blood they shed for Christ’s love. The Monastic Saints will show, their ascetical struggles, the prayers, the fasts, the deprivations and the tears of repentance. The just and charitable, the righteousness and charities, what will we show?…Analogous to your love towards God and neighbor, analogous to the toils, sweats, struggles, fasts, vigils, prayers. Analogous to the contrition and the tears you will shed to purify your soul, will grace be given you from God… REF:Elder Joseph the Hesychast
Our Lord and Redeemer, desiring to find us prepared, warns us of the evils that are to accompany the end of the world, so that He may keep us from the love of it.He makes known the disasters that will herald its approaching end, so that should we be unwilling to serve God in times of tranquility, we may, made fearful by these happenings, at least be anxious concerning the judgment now at hand.

For a little prior to this passage of the holy Gospel which you, my Brethren, have just heard, the Lord forewarned us, saying: Nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom; and there shall be great earthquakes in divers places, and famines, and pestilences (Luke 21:10). Then having said certain other things in between, He adds this warning which you have just now heard: There will be signs in the sun, and in the moon, and in the stars; and upon the earth distress of nations, with perplexity; the sea and the waves roaring (v. 25). From among all these things we now see that some have already come to pass; the others that now fill us with dread are to come in the future.

For we behold nation rising against nation, and their distress prevails upon the earth, more now in these our times than we have read of in history. You are aware how frequently we have heard from other parts of the world that earthquakes have devastated innumerable cities. Pestilences we suffer without ceasing. Signs in the sun and moon and stars we have not yet clearly beheld: but that these are not far off we gather from the alteration of the heavens.

Just as before Italy was given over to be smitten by the heathen sword, we beheld fiery hosts in the sky, and saw him glittering there who was afterwards to shed the blood of humanity. Extraordinary confusion of the waves has not yet risen. But since much that was foretold has happened, we cannot doubt that the events which remain shall come in time, for the witness of what has been fulfilled is the pledge of that which is to follow.

We tell you these things, dearest Brethren, in order that your souls may awaken to an eagerness for security, and lest you become torpid in a security that is false,and become lax through ignorance of Christian truth, but rather that you may become solicitous, and that anxiety may strengthen you in doing good, reflecting on this which the voice of the Redeemer added: Men’s hearts failing them for fear, and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth; for the powers of heavens hall be shaken (v. 26).

Whom else does the Lord call by the name of Powers of heaven unless the Angels, the Archangels, the Thrones, Dominions, Principalities, and Powers, who at the coming of the Just Judge will then appear visibly to our eyes, to the end that they may sternly exact an account of that which the Invisible Lawgiver now patiently suffers? Whereto is added: And then they shall see the Son of Man coming in a cloud, with great power and glory; as though He were openly to say: They shall see Him come in power and majesty to Whom, present in lowliness, they turned a deaf ear, and so the more sharply will they then feel His severity, the more they now refuse to humble their hearts before His patience.

Since these words were directed at the reprobate, He then turns to speak words of comfort to the elect. For He says: When these things come to pass, look up, and lift up your heads, because your redemption draweth nigh. It is as if the Truth openly warns His Elect by saying: When the evils of this world mount up, when dread of the judgment is shown even by the trembling powers, lift up your heads, that is, be joyful in your hearts, because the world, of which you are not friends, is drawing to its end; the redemption you have been seeking is coming close. In Scripture the head is often used for the soul, because as the members are ruled by the head, so thoughts are governed by the soul. To lift up your heads therefore means to raise the heart to the joys of the heavenly fatherland.

They, therefore, who love God, are bidden to be glad, and to rejoice, because of the end of the world; since soon they will meet Him Whom they love, and that is passing away which they have never loved. Far be it then from any of the faithful who desire to see God that they should grieve over the stricken world, which we must know will end in these catastrophes. For it is written: Whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God (James 4:4). Who therefore does not rejoice at the approaching end of the world, testifies that he is its friend, and by this he is revealed as an enemy of God. But let this be far from the faithful, far from the hearts of those who believe through their faith that there is another life, and who love it in very deed. Let them grieve over the ruin of the world who have planted the roots of their hearts deep in the love of it, who neither look for the life to come, nor are even aware that it is. But we who have learned the joys of our heavenly home must hasten to it as speedily as we may. We should desire to go there with all haste, and to arrive by the shortest way. And with what miseries does not the world urge us forward? What sorrow, what misfortune is there, that does not press upon us? What is this mortal life but a way? And what folly would it be,let you carefully consider, to be weary with the fatigue of the way, and yet not eager to finish the journey!

That the world is to be trodden on, and despised, Our Redeemer then teaches us, by a timely similitude: Behold the fig tree and all the trees: when they now shoot forth, ye see and know that summer is now at hand. So likewise ye, when ye see these things come to pass, know that the kingdom of God is nigh at hand (vv.29-31). This is as if He were openly to say: as from the fruit on the trees you know that summer is near, so from the ruin of the world you may know that the kingdom of God is likewise near. From which it may be truly gathered that the fruit of the world is ruin. To this end it arises, that it may fall. To this end it germinates,that whatever it has brought forth from seed will be consumed in disaster. But happily is the Kingdom of God compared to summer, because then the clouds of our sadness will pass away, and the days of our life shall be resplendent in the glory of the eternal Sun. /…/

The world is oppressed by new and ever-increasing miseries. How many survive of the innumerable multitude of men you may see, yet each day new scourges beset them, sudden disasters fall on them, new and unheard-of disasters arise. Just as the body in youth is vigorous, the heart strong and steady, the shoulders upright, and the lungs vigorous, but in old age the figure is no longer upright, the shrunken neck is bowed,the chest labors with frequent sighs, strength fails us, and the speaker is impeded by a faltering breath. Although feebleness is yet absent, yet infirmity in our bodily senses is now our normal state of health. So in its early years, the world flourished as in its pristine strength, vigorous to propagate the offspring of mankind, blooming in the health of its bodies, fat with the richness of life. Now it is falling into its own old age, and, as if near to death, is oppressed with growing miseries.

Do not then, my Brethren, love that which you know cannot endure. Keep before your minds the apostolic counsels wherein we are admonished: Love not the world, nor the things which are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him (I John 2:15). The day before yesterday, Brethren, you heard that an ancient plantation was uprooted by a sudden storm, that houses were destroyed, churches razed to their foundations. How many were there, safe an dwell on the previous evening, who believed that in the morning they would fulfill some task, yet that very night were they of a sudden overtaken, caught in the trap of this disaster? But we must carefully keep in mind that in the doing of these things it is the Invisible Judge that moves the breath of the faintest breeze, that awakens the storm from even one small cloud, or razes the foundations of so many buildings. But what shall happen when the Judge shall visibly appear, and when His anger burns against the wicked, if we cannot now endure His wrath when He inflicts upon us the least tempest? Before the face of His wrath what flesh shall stand, if He it is that moves the wind, and shakes the earth, incites the storms, and lays low so many buildings? Paul reflecting on this severity of the Judge to come, says to us: It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God (Heb. 10:31). The Psalmist gives voice to the same reflection: God, our God, shall come openly, and shall not keep silence: a fire shall be kindled before Him, and round about Him there shall be a very great tempest (Ps. 49:3). Tempest and fire shall accompany the severity of this justice, because the tempest shall search out those whom the fire will burn.<>Beloved Brethren, keep that day before your eyes, and then whatsoever may seem burdensome will become light in comparison. Of that day is it said by the mouth of the Prophet: The great day of the Lord is near, it is near, and very speedy and exceeding swift; the sound of the day of the Lord is made bitter and harsh. Almighty day of wrath is that day, a day of affliction and distress, a day of desolation and destruction, a day of gloominess and darkness, a day of cloud and vapor, a day of the trumpet and cry… (Zeph. 1:14-16). Of this day the Lord has spoken by the mouth of the prophet Haggai: I shall shake the heaven and the earth, and the sea, and the dry land (Hag. 2:22).

Behold, as we have said, He moves the tempest, and the earth cannot endure it. What will it do when He moves the heavens? What can we say of the terrors we now see, except that they are but heralds of the wrath to come? And let us keep in mind that these present afflictions are as far below the last tribulations, as is the person of the herald below the majesty of the judge he precedes. Reflect with all your mind upon this day, my dearest Brethren. Remedy what is now defective in your present life. Amend your ways. Conquer evil temptations by standing firm against them. Repent with tears of the sins you have committed. For the more you make ready against the severity of His justice by serving Him in fear, the more serenely shall you behold the Coming of that Eternal Judge, Who with the Father, and the Holy Spirit, liveth and reigneth, world without end. Amen. – Poe St. Gregory the Great – Homilia I in Evangelia

Thanks to Ben Johnson for providing the impetus for us to present you this series of quotations, which are really about watchfulness. Watchfulness has two aspects – that of always being on our guard against the passions, the world, and the Evil One, and that of readyness for the end of the world, for suffering, for death, and for Christ’s coming. Indeed, these are not two separate ways, as the quotation at Ben’s site is pointing out; rather, these are one and the same way. For our deep attention to the end of days is not an end in itself, but a means to an end, that of union with God. “For He will come again, to judge the living and the dead.” Let us remember this, as we enter upon this season of Great Lent:

“O brethren, as ye take up the spiritual fast, speak no deceit with your tongue, neither put a stumbling block in the way of your brother as an occasion for him to fall: but by repentance let us trim the lamp of our soul, that with tears we may cry unto Christ Forgive us our transgressions, since Thou art the Friend of man.” – Vespers of Wednesday of the Second Week of Great Lent

Also, Fr. Seraphim Rose, Orthodoxy and the Religion of the Future.

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February 26, 2008 - Posted by | -- Eschatology, Western Rite Quotes | , , , , , , ,

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