Боевые действия. Military operation (part 5). To a foreigner who wanted to teach others to pray and thus stop the armed conflict
Автор:  Иеромонах Соловецкого монастыря
Дата:  15.06.2022.

Do not let yourself get lost in this complex world, but go into it with your eyes open. Get closer to the Light and the Truth. The Jesus prayer serves the Lord to enlighten the man by means of praying and renouncing the life of sin. 

You would like to present the book “The Way of a Pilgrim: Candid Tales of a Wanderer to His Spiritual Father” to the President of Russia hoping that under its influence he will withdraw troops from Ukraine. The fact that the conflict results in the shortage of wheat export and starving in Uganda, makes you extremely sad. You even had an idea to send this book to all the leaders of the World for them to feel the grace of the Jesus Prayer and to stop all struggles and armed conflicts turning to the Knowledge of the Truth.

Thank God that this book made such an impression on you and helped you to find some answer to the question why the evil is spread throughout the world.

With deep respect to your intentions, I would like to answer the following. You have an impression that the President of Russia is responsible for the non-delivery of wheat from Ukraine to African countries. Thus, a change in the Russian President’s thinking seems to be the solution to an entire knot of problems. Let’s suppose that the President would act according to your desire. But what would happen to the residents of Russia? What would happen to the residents of Donetsk? After all, the military actions did not start from scratch, but in response to direct threat to the population of Russia and the population of the Donetsk region. You are upset that the people of Uganda are suffering and even dying from food shortage, but the Russian President was also upset that thousands of people were dying as a result of Ukraine’s aggression against the Donetsk region (when it was still part of Ukraine). The residents wished to speak Russian and to have their own opinion. They hoped to be protected by constitutional rights provided to each citizen of the state. But their opinion was neglected and hey started being killed.. So they turned to Russia for protection. This is the first point.

The second is, when Christ came to Earth and people could communicate with Him, embracing everything that Christ is giving through the Jesus Prayer, however, some, even being directly in touch with Christ, made a wilful choice to reject Him. Judas, one of Christ’s closest disciples, set himself on the path of betrayal. Communicating with Christ and seeing instances of divine miracles, the leaders of Israel failed to accept Him as the Messiah even knowing from the sacred writings that He was the one. The account of Jesus healing the blind man outside the village of Bethsaida is one of the unique miracles.  Christ restores the sight of the man blind from birth that leads to interrogation of the healed one and then of his parents. The doubt is cast followed by expulsion. Why the event arouses so many interrogations ? The religious leaders do everything to deny the evidence and even excommunicate the healed man. Perhaps the answer to these questions lies in the following. The Jews didn’t recognise Christ as the Messiah, even if they had a picture of what to expect in the Messiah in the sacred teachings and healing of the blind had messianic significance. A talented doctor can also restore the sight of a person who has become blind as a result of an injury.  But who can heal a person blind from birth? Just a Messiah. And now there was a man who performed this Miracle. Accepting this fact, the Jewish leaders had to recognise the Messiah in Christ but they refused to admit it. After all, Christ said “For they loved the glory of men more than the glory of God.” (John 12:43). They craved to see a political figure in the Messiah powerful enough to help Jewish people conquer all other nations. But they were disappointed to meet a man who spoke about love for enemies and spiritual transformation. Finally, their own ideas became more important than the Truth itself.

Coming back to your question, it is great that this book made such an impression on you, but it is probably won’t have a similar influence on others. For the conflict to be resolved, you need to send this book not only to the president of Russia, but also to the leaders of other countries and, finally, to the entire population of the Earth. Even before the outbreak of the events, many countries were interested in this conflict with Ukraine.

Finally, it is important that the practice of the Jesus prayer implies person’s renunciation to sins. If a person starts to practice the Jesus prayer but continues a sinful life, a struggle between darkness and Light unfolds in his soul. People with selfish interests simply won’t accept such a present and even after starting to practice the Jesus prayer, they will experience the fierce struggle of good and evil. Drawing near to the light the person is experiencing a profound change that brings about the spiritual rebirth for the Kingdom of God and a taste of the future life. Even in this life, such a person is able to feel the Grace and when going through the gate to Eternity he takes everything shaped by his present experiences, the practice of the Jesus Prayer as well. Such a person opens himself to the experience of the greatest Grace of Eternal life. But the person can reject the Divine light and finally sink deeper into the evil. In this case the words of the Apostle Peter applies – “For it would have been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness than, after knowing it, to turn back from the holy command delivered to them.” (2 Peter 2:21).

In relation to the question, the pagan population of the Scandinavian Peninsula, for example, got to know Christ but actually rejected Him. Although the Scandinavians became nominally Christians but the teaching of Christ has been changed to such an extent that it has no more influence on the social life of a person, while religious principles should be implemented in every day life and we are guided by them in relation to our neighbours. People declare Christian values, but live differently. Interestingly enough, Asperger’s syndrome is quite common on the Scandinavian Peninsula. It is known that symptoms of Asperger’s syndrome have some overlap with those of schizophrenia and autism spectrum disorder. Children with Asperger syndrome are able to communicate with creatures invisible to adults. The thing is,  the pagan turning to evil brings less destructive changes, because he does not know anything else and has no basis for a moral choice. But if a person (or an ethnic group) who knew both paganism and the Light of Christ turns to evil, then the consequences of such a step are more tragic. They had an opportunity to make a choice, but the light of Christ and the Gospel of Christ were deliberately rejected. For example, those Christians who join terrorist groups become more radical extremists than those belonging to the same mid-set and ideology of the movement that spread terrorism. We are not going to discuss here this religious orientation into details.

Ivan Ilyin, a Russian religious and political philosopher, was talking about “the tragedy of religious experience”, meaning that the leader should punish criminals even if he does not want to, the reason is, to avoid greater harm to others he simply has no other option. Commenting on this thought in relation to our situation, it is heartbreaking but all other options were exhausted. No one wanted this war. From the Russian side in any case, I have never heard during recent years any thoughts expressed in favour of military actions either in the media space or in private conversations. But there were constant threats from the Ukrainian side, and threats to use the nuclear weapons as well. How should the President of Russia respond to these threats? Should he leave the people without protection?

Here is the tragedy of religious experience, using the expression of Ivan Ilyin. On the one hand, there is a responsibility for the people, on the other, there is an understanding that people around the world are suffering. Sometimes the choice is to go ahead. If the President of the Russian Federation is the only one who tries to put an end to the conflict but all the rest won’t take the necessary steps, then the peace can’t be achieved.

We all need to ask ourselves certain questions. What are we standing for? Who are we? What is our hope? It is important not to get lost in the abundance of media content triggering an emotional response.  

You have an absolutely right understanding that the Lord enlightens a person through the Jesus prayer. We also need to get rid of illusions and lies that we have accepted from external sources. The Holy Spirit will help those who look at what is happening with open eyes and sober judgement and not through the lens of diverse news outlets, because the Holy Spirit is called the Spirit of Truth.