ELEISON COMMENTS DCCCXIII (11 February, 2023) : MORE DOSTOEVSKY
In his last novel, The Brothers Karamazov (1879), the famous Russian novelist, Fyodor Dostoevsky (1821-1881) put into the mouth of a Russian monk, Father Zossima, further profound thoughts about the failure of the liberal West and the possible future significance for the world of the Christian East, of Russian monasticism in particular. Time will tell, but as America and Russia both shape up for the full outbreak of World War III, so the Consecration of Russia as requested by Our Lady of Fatima takes on more and more importance, while Fr. Zossima’s line of thought takes on ever more interest. Here is just one extract, freely adapted and abridged from the novel, Book VI, Chapter 3, Section (e) : –
From these meek monks, who yearn for solitary prayer, the salvation of Russia will come perhaps once more! … in their solitude, they keep the image of Christ fair and undefiled, in the purity of God’s truth, from the times of the Fathers of old, the Apostles and the martyrs. And when the time comes they will show it to the tottering creeds of the world. That is a great thought. That star will rise out of the East.
….Look at the worldly “elites”, and all who set themselves up above the people of God. Has not God’s image and His truth been distorted in them? They may have science; but in science there is nothing but what is the object of sense. The spiritual world, the higher part of man’s being, is rejected altogether, dismissed with a sort of triumph, even with hatred. The world has proclaimed the reign of freedom, especially of late, but what do we see in this freedom of theirs? Nothing but slavery and self‐destruction!
For the world says: “You have desires and so satisfy them, for you have the same rights as the most rich and powerful. Don’t be afraid of satisfying them, and even multiply your desires.” In that they see their “freedom”. Yet what follows from this right of multiplication of desires? That the world is getting more and more united, more and more a global community, as distance is overcome and thoughts fly through the air ? Put no faith in any such freedom, because it distorts men’s God-given nature, by fostering in the upper and middle classes many senseless and foolish desires and habits and ridiculous fancies. Men then live only for mutual envy, for luxury and ostentation, which come to be looked upon as such a necessity that they will even commit suicide if they are unable to satisfy such foolish desires. As for the poor, they are liable to drown their unsatisfied need and envy in drunkenness, but soon they will be drinking blood instead, because they are being led on to World Wars. I ask you, are such men free?
Objection: they will be fighting for humanity ! Answer, they cannot hold out for long. Instead of gaining freedom they have sunk into slavery, and instead of serving the cause of brotherly love and the union of humanity they have fallen, on the contrary, into dissension and isolation. …. Hence the service of humanity, brotherly love and the solidarity of mankind, are appearing more and more hollow. For how can a man shake off the habit of satisfying the innumerable desires that he has created for himself ? Isolated as he is by his “freedom”, what concern will he have for the rest of humanity? Such men may possess more “stuff”, have a greater mass of objects, but the joy has gone out of their lives.
The monastic way is very different. Obedience, fasting and prayer are laughed at, yet only through them lies the way to real, true freedom. I cut off my superfluous and unnecessary desires, I chastise my self-will with obedience, and with God’s help I attain spiritual freedom and joy …The salvation of Russia comes from the people. And the Russian monk has always been on the side of the people …The people will meet the atheist and overcome him, and Russia will be one and Orthodox. Take care of the peasant and guard his heart. Educating him quietly is your duty as monks, for the peasant has God in his heart.
The Consecration of Russia cannot wait. Alas, Our Lord has said, “It will be late.”