The Turning of the Tables

It’s all rather astounding to me. I’m old enough to remember when the United States was a force for good in the world. How many people behind the Iron Curtain used to look to us for whatever meager protection they could get as they trudged about their daily lives.

Consider the story of the Archimandrite Alipius of the Pskov Cave Monastery as related in Everyday Saints and Other Stories. Shevkunov (the author) describes a time in the early 1960s when the Communist Party pulled out all the stops in order to close this venerable institution. Many attempts were petty and bothersome, meant to wear down the monks. In time, they might have.

But still they came. Finally, the abbot had had enough. First he threatened them with violence, then with something more ominous. (You can read this story for yourself on pp 141-161.)

“When the order to came to close the monastery caves, Father Alipius ordered the keeper of the keys: ‘Father Cornelius! Hand me an axe! Today I will be chopping off heads!’

“The officers who had brought the command fled in terror –after all, who knew what crazy ideas might have come into the head of these ignorant fanatics?

“In fact, the abbot knew all too well he wasn’t just uttering these commands into thin air. Once, during yet another visitation bearing yet another demand that the monastery be closed, he declared, ‘More than half our brotherhood served as hardened front-line soldiers. We are heavily armed and well trained. We will fight to the our very last bullet. Take a look around you. See what discipline we keep here in this monastery, what a distribution of troops there is here. Look at these walls. You won’t get tanks through here. In fact, the only way you’ll take us is by use of air power: dropping bombs. But if you start dropping bombs on us, I can promise you this: once the first airplane flies over our monastery, within minutes everything that’s going on here will be related to the world directly by The Voice of America. Well, it’s up to you’.

Think of it, the mere mention of the VOA was enough to send these commissars packing, forever leaving the monastery alone. And this when a time in which the United States was embroiled in own horrendous moral conflicts overseas and at home.

How times have changed! Now the Patriarch of Russia lectures Ambassador Jon Huntsman of the United States about our loss of moral will. (Title for this blog-post and video courtesy of Byzantine, Texas).


  1. George Michalopulos says

    To all: something has happened to my server and we’re feverishly trying to rectify the situation. Please be patient. Sorry for the inconvenience.

    • Solitary Priest says

      Yes, I think some of our “tolerant” friends are trying to shut you down. For what it’s worth, I believe far more OCA clerics are behind you than you realize.

      • Gail Sheppard says

        To the “solitary priest,”

        Without giving your name, can you please confirm that you are an Orthodox priest connected to a canonical Orthodox jurisdiction? If you are, in fact, an Orthodox priest, I’m sure you will be able to appreciate why I ask this question. When people reach out to other posters offering to help, it’s important to know they are connected to the Church. – Forgive me if you have already answered this question. I don’t read every post, I’m afraid.

      • George Michalopulos says

        Thank you. I really appreciate that.

        At the risk of getting an ego boost, I like to think rather that rather “than being behind me”, that they and I and a whole lot of other people (who may or may not read this blog) are “behind the Truth”.

        Still, I appreciate the sentiment.

  2. Joseph Lipper says

    “Communism is only possible by the Holy Spirit” – Elder Sophrony Sakharov of Essex

    How ironic that the godless “communists” of Soviet Russia were trying to close down a monastery in the name of communism, but without realizing that true communism most closely exists in monasteries.

  3. And meanwhile, they aren’t hitting ISIS, but openly declaring war attacking a sitting, democratically-elected government – again:

    Lord have mercy! America invaded Iraq and a host of other countries on far less pretexts. Why isn’t international community condemning this as outright terrorism/war? If Syria bombed Israel, they’d be wiped off the map and everyone would be calling Syria the next Nazi Germany.

    This said, I suppose, we have some good news:

    It appears Russia is propping up our brothers and sisters in Syria.