Your Soul Is Where Your Thoughts Are: What 20th-century Elders Said about the Last Days

Ever since the ascent of Our Lord Jesus Christ to heaven, His faithful have been waiting for His second coming. The Holy Scripture tells us, “Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come.” (Matthew 24:42). Throughout the ages, people wave been looking for signs of the last days, the presence of the Antichrist; many have been apprehensive and overcome by the fear that they might have to live in the dark days of the anti-Christ’s rule. Should we also be thinking about the last days from the same perspective? How did the Holy Fathers contemplate the last days and the Second Coming of Christ? Surprisingly, they viewed these events with joy. Below is a collection of notable quotes and prophecies from some of the most respected and revered 20th-century saints on salvation in the last days, the anti-Christ, finding joy and freedom from fear.

Invariably, the Holy Fathers advised that we treat the prophecies of the modern elders with great caution. By being prudent and alert, we can avoid many heresies and unnecessary fears. Elder Nikolay Guryanov from Russia’s Zalit Island wrote with disdain, “What is the use of terrorising people with images of an abyss of evil? What good does it serve to talk about evil all the time? Raising fear and creating anxiety will lead to nothing good. People will break under all this pressure. The anxiety has already escalated to existential fear. Everyone is waiting in horror for the coming of the anti-Christ and can think of nothing else but him and his gruesome deeds. How unfortunate! People are afraid of many things – physical death, destruction, persecution, or bereavement. Many have already lost their minds over these fears, so what awaits them next?  God created us in His image and likeness; He wanted us to remember that we are God’s servants and that we should not tremble before the anti-Christ.

When the Lord revealed to His saints the glimpses of the future, His intent was not to instil fear. He wanted it to be our sobering moment, a call to repentance, an invitation to change our lives. By doing all these, we can delay Judgement Day and let more people be saved. Many predictions about the anti-Christ and his rule were revealed to elders such as Saint Lavrentiy of Chernigov and Gabriel Urgebadze. They shared them with their disciples to guide them in their life choices.

Understanding the approach of the anti-Christ’s reign

Saint Lavrentiy of Chernigov

Saint Lavrentiy of Chernigov shared the following revelation from the Holy Spirit about the future coming of the anti-Christ: “Where a table with the holy icons used to stand, alluring devices will be placed as temptations for the people. Many would digress from the truth and would want to watch and listen to the news. In this news, the anti-Christ will reveal himself, and many will accept him. The world will see him once. Blessed will be all those who will not wish to meet him and see his vile face. Those who will choose to watch and listen to his talk and his promises of worldly riches will be tempted and bow to him. That will be the moment of their death for everlasting life.”

Saint Gabriel (Urgebadze) accorded with father Lavrentiy’s predictions. “The struggle of the Prophets Enoch and Elijah with the anti-Christ will be shown on television. By His great mercy, the Lord will allow it to be televised for the world to see.”

The seal of the anti-Christ 

“Where someone takes a woman against her will, she will remain pure in the eyes of the Lord. Likewise, the seal of the anti-Christ put against someone’s will have no effect. Therefore the devil’s servants will do their best to have people accept the seal of the anti-Christ voluntarily,” insists elder Gabriel.

Elder Nikolay Guryanov

How can we recognise the seal of the anti-Christ? Father Nikolay Guryanov advised, “The Lord will protect His faithful. Live by the Gospel, have fear of God, be pious and pray to Him, and He will give you an indication. Just be wise enough not to puff up your abilities or intuition. Put your trust in Him; remember, nothing happens without His will.

Concerning acceptance of the seal, Saint Gabriel shared the following insight, “They will place the seal on the index finger, not on the palm of your hand. They will use a computer to hide it under the skin, so no one will see it. Initially, they will put it voluntarily. But when the anti-Christ rises to the throne and begins to rule the world, people will be forced to take it. Anyone who refuses will be pronounced a traitor. They will need to flee to the forest, in groups of 10 – 15. They will have no chance alone or in smaller groups.”

Supplementing his words, Elder Nikolay Guryanov prophecised that acceptance of the seal will be voluntary, and denunciations of Christ deliberate. Every Christian will know that the seal is from Satan. “The torment will be enormous, unseen from the beginning of the world. But we should not be afraid. Denounce the seal. You will be sent to the cross. But the torment for those rejecting the seal will be short. It will be a blessing to die with Christ for His sake.

Food and nutrition

Saint Gabriel (Urgebadze)

Saint Gabriel taught not to take bread from a man with the seal of the anti-Christ, but he insisted that food with the number of the beast would not harm a Christian. “Say the Lord’s prayer, cross your food and sprinkle some holy water to sanctify your food.” Elder Nikolay took the same view. When they began to place bar-codes on food, people were worried and approached him with questions.  “It is sinful to have food from God and to refuse to ear it. I always thank God for not abandoning me and sending me gifts through the people – a loaf of bread, or this can of fish. He took out from his bag a can of fish with a bar code, made the sign of the cross over it and said to his lay sister, “Let us pray and have the meal that God has sent us,” On another occasion, he added, “For the end of times, stock up on faith, not on food.”

Someone asked Elder Gabriel if it would be acceptable to steal food if people without a seal were not allowed to buy it. He replied, “If you steal, you will break God’s commandment and by doing so, will accept the anti-Christ. A faithful of God should but his trust in Him. In the last days, the Lord will perform for His people untold miracles; just one leaf of a tree will give them enough food to last for a month. A true believer will cross the soil, and it will give him bread. 

The Church

According to Elder Lavrentiy, the last days will be a difficult time for the church. Shortly before the enthronement of the anti-Christ, the doors of the churches will be closed, but they will still be decorating them outside and inside. They will continue to guild the domes and bell towers. When the renovation of the main church is complete, the reign of the anti-Christ will begin. All the churches will be in brilliant shape, but people will not be able to visit, as the bloodless sacrifice of Jesus Christ will no longer be offered there. The churches will be places for Satan’s gatherings (Revelation 2:9). They will be empty of His grace.

Saint Gabriel instructed his disciples as follows: “Keep doing good deeds so that you will be saved by your kindness. In the last days, the followers of the anti-Christ will keep going to Church, crossing themselves and preaching the Gospel. Do not believe anyone who has done no good deeds. You will only know a true Christian by their deeds.”

Our hope of salvation

“At all times, we will need humility and perseverance; we must thank God and our parents. These are the things that will make us pure and worthy of salvation,”  said Father Nikolay Guryanov to his spiritual children. In addition, he called on his disciples to remember His Cross that will lead them to salvation. Also reassuring is the advice of Elder Gabriel about the virtues that we must begin to cultivate in ourselves right now to prepare ourselves for the sorrows of the age to come. “In the last days, people will be saved by love, humility and kindness. Kindness will open the gates of heaven, humility will take you through the door, and love will show you the way to God.

Advice for the present

“We must abide fully by the Gospel, we must carry it in our hearts. Treat it as your guide and measure your life against it. Be honest and truthful. Stay pure. Work with a prayer at heart. Do not spend all of your time speaking and thinking about the anti-Christ. Your soul is where your thoughts are. Bad thoughts will do you harm. Put your trust in God, and always have Him in your mind,” taught Father Nikolay Guryanov.

Elder Emilian (Vafidis)

In the same vein, the elder of the Holy Mount Emilian (Vafidis), who departed in 2019, advised the faithful to keep a living relationship with Christ and refrain from thinking too much about the anti-Christ. Failing to do so would make him, not Christ, the central figure of our lives. “Worry not about the last days, the anti-Christ and the signs of his coming. Remember: as long as we have Christ in ourselves, the anti-Christ is powerless to do us any harm. Concerning the day of judgement at the end of our lives, he remarked, “I know that the anti-Christ will come, and there will be the second coming of the Lord. But I do not know when it will happen. Tomorrow? A thousand years later? I cannot know that. But I am not concerned because I know that the second coming of the Lord will happen for all of us at our last hour. That last hour is around the corner.”

So let us sustain our faith and trust in the Lord at all times and cultivate virtues in our souls in preparation for meeting Him. Let us begin this very moment.

About the author

Anastasia Parkhomchik,
Literary editor and Orthodox journalist, member of The Catalog of Good Deeds team.

Comments

  1. There are clear signs, which indicate that we are living in the last days, just prior to Christ’s return. It is with this sober apocalyptic mind that we observe the following eight contemporary events unfolding before our eyes.

    1. Many Will Come In His Name

    One of the signs occurring prior to Jesus’ return is that “many will come in my name, saying, I am your redeemer, but all of them will lead many astray” (Matthew 24:5). It seems there are more false teachers and preachers today than ever before who proclaim a different gospel than that of Orthodoxy. The masses no longer take spiritual guidance but instead cling to secular or political mindsets, ephemeral fads, unholy or even demagogic ideologies. – How often do we hear of repentance and faith in these days? (Mark 1:15)? Jesus said “many” and not “a few” would be led astray. This means, false teachers usually have large audiences and a great following.

    2. Lovers Of Self

    One of the signs the apostle Paul gave about the end times is that it is going to be harder and harder to be a true Christian.
    He writes, “In the last days there will come times of difficulty; for people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God” (2 Timothy 3:1-4) – a good description of the modern-day society in which we live.
    St. Paul emphasizes that in the last generation, it will be all about me, i.e. people will be “lovers of self” (2 Tim. 3:2). However, God will resist those who idolize their own lives (James 4:6) and the lovers of money (2 Tim. 3:2).

    3. Increased Martyrdom

    Jesus prophesized, “They will deliver you up to tribulation and put you to death, and you will be hated by all nations for my name’s sake” (Matthew 24:9). Researchers have discovered that the number of Christians who were martyred between the year 2000 and 2010 was about one million. That works out to be around 100,000 martyred every year. A single decade had more martyrs than in the previous 2,000 years!

    4. Increasing Lawlessness

    One of the largest U.S. cities recently recorded 500 homicides only halfway through the year. Jesus warned that “lawlessness will increase” (Matthew 24:12); and “many will fall away, betray one another and hate each other” (Matthew 24:10). This describes well what we see and hear in the daily news.

    5. Lovers Of Money

    We need money to survive. However, when money becomes the root of all kinds of evil (1 Timothy 6:10) and, as St. James wrote, deprives some of their fair day’s wages, that is evil in the sight of God. When more and more men and women become lovers of money, we can see one of the signs of the end: that “people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud” (2 Timothy 3:2). St. James rebukes the rich in writing, “Behold, the wages of the laborers who plowed your fields, which you kept back by fraud, are crying out against you; and the cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord of hosts” (James 5:4).

    6. Man-Made And Natural Calamities

    A sure sign, which is to occur prior to Jesus’ return, is both man-made and natural: “Nation will rise against nation and kingdom against kingdom; and there will be famines and earthquakes in various places” (Matthew 24:7). Even though both World Wars were only the beginning, there certainly has been an increase in hurricanes, floods, droughts, fires, earthquakes, famines and disease in the 20th and 21st centuries (Matthew 24:8).

    7. Fascination With Evil

    The apostle Paul was describing the last days, “In the last days there will come times of difficulty” (2 Tim. 3:1). In these “last days” men and women will be “heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving what is good” (2 Tim. 3:3). They will actually be “lovers of evil”: If we see our society today, especially reflected in movies, on the Internet and on TV, evil and immoral behavior is seen as acceptable or even glorified.
    God speaking through the prophet Isaiah said, “Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter” (Isaiah 5:20). How very well this describes our society today! God says, “He who justifies the wicked and he who condemns the righteous are both an abomination to the Lord” (Proverbs 17:15).

    8. Losing Natural Affection

    St. Paul says that people in the last days would be “proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy” (2 Tim. 3:2). It seems modern youth is rebelling against parents and authority more than ever. The consequences are much more serious nowadays. Even the natural parental love that typically exists seems to be evaporating in our families, though to a lesser extent in Christian homes.

    As we see these signs begin to intensify, it confirms that we are indeed living in the last days. Hence, we seek the lost and call them home, foremost saving them from themselves, while it is still time (2 Corinthians 6:2).

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