The difficult years are approaching…

Αrchimandrite Ephrem Philotheos

The difficult years are approaching. When we see wars and earthquakes and different other events it means the time is near. We expect to see many thing happening. According to the prophecies of the Saints in the times of the end great events will take place. And the word of God and the words of the Saints are the truth. The struggle we expect to fight is for the faith in God, for the humanness of Jesus as long as we believe that Christ is God and made Himself man and descended on earth to free us and draw away the darkness of faithless and the lack of god. And we as some soldiers of Christ since we are the army of Christ have the duty to prepare and arm ourselves. When a state notices that another state prepares an attack, begins to prepare its defence and counterattack. This is what we should do too. And the preparedness is known.

We should believe first of all that if we have faith and humbleness we will attract Grace and this great power of Christ to confess. We should never think or dare to believe that this power belongs to us. We will say: `I am weak, unworthy, sinful, I am a nothing, a zero, I am the most wretched man.` Only humbleness will attract the power of Christ and he will defeat.

Since where Christ gives His supernatural power, there are accomplished supernatural things. Don’t ever believe that by our own personal human powers we will be able to face any scheming or intervention of the devil and of his accomplices. Never.

The man is helpless, he has no power to face these dangers without the power of God. Let us believe that when God will call us to make this confession, He will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, He will also provide a way out, so that you can endure it.[1]

And when we will accept to make this confession humbly, we will receive grace from God to defeat the cunning and be rewarded.

So we should continue to correct our life, to make it be Orthodox in what regards the virtues and strives in order to feel, taste and believe in God for true. When we believe that Christ during the martyrdom of the saints made miracles with them and strengthened them in their struggle, we will feel His true presence within ourselves as the martyrs did. We see that during the martyrdoms of the saints, the martyrs and the hermits were visited by the divine grace, had divine revelations, experienced interventions of the grace these without being noticed by the others. And thus they received power. And these helped them endure the pain of the torments and they reposed in God.

 

Saint Paul the Apostle says in one of his Epistles:

 `who through faith conquered kingdoms, administered justice, and gained what was promised; who shut the mouths of lions, quenched the fury of the flames, and escaped the edge of the sword; whose weakness was turned to strength`[2]

And they suffered so many others. By their faith the martyrs accomplished all these great deeds and they suffered so many other things. They stood against the emperors, tyrants, against torments, against fire and other dangers but they defeated and they were rewarded and sanctified themselves.

But we say: `Since we don’t see now any virtue and have only the deep darkness of sin and faithlessness especially in these countries where we are invaded by all faiths and races, the Satanists who have great influence and so many other confessions and heresies, how to appear the saints nowadays?

Since all virtue is missing, since we don’t have any more hermits as in the days of yore who sanctified themselves and the deserts as long as the faith will be shaken to its foundations, who will be the saints of the last times?

However, the saints will never be missing. The Church will give saints till the Second Coming. And because these years are very near and we wait to make this great confession, we have the duty to prepare ourselves and strengthen our children all the time even with a few words we know and strengthen them in the Orthodox Faith and in confession. That one who will be worthy to make this confession of faith in the years to come, which will be the last and the most exalted, this martyr will be ten times brighter in the Kingdom of heaven than the martyrs from the old times who are celebrated by our Church. Let us hope that we too by the grace of God will be worthy of this confession in the times of the end. Amen.

[1] I Corinthians 10, 13.

[2] Hebrews 11, 33-40.

Excerpt from the book The Art of Salvation to be published by Evanghelismos.