A Fatima follow-up for your discernment:
Revelation of Hodigitria in Smolensk: 'Go Tell Them to Pray and Fast or Perish'
By Michael H. Brown
Sources in Russia assert that the Blessed Mother -- in the way of what is known as the Hodigitria, the classic-style icon of mother and Child (left) -- began granting "revelations" to an Orthodox "archbishop" stationed in the region of Smolensk in the autumn of 1984.
That was just months after the consecration of the world to the Immaculate Heart of the Virgin by Pope John Paul II on March 25, 1984 -- conducted in the specific hope of affecting conversion in Russia, which at the time was spreading its atheistic "errors" around the world.
It is not known if the revelations were in the way of simple locutions (in the presence of a holy icon) or whether there were actual apparitions. If the latter is true, it is an extremely rare event -- involving as it did a prelate and presuming the reports are accurate.
It is a strong presumption and at this point we urge the greatest caution. We are reporting it at this juncture only because our awareness of it dovetails with the recent death of Sister Lucia dos Santos, the famous Fatima seer whose three "secrets" included a request from the Blessed Mother that Russia be consecrated to halt it from spreading precisely those errors.
According to Sister Lucia, that consecration was finally accomplished by the Pope in 1984, and if reports are true, it was immediately followed by the so-called Smolensk revelations -- which contain a number of stark as well as controversial remarks.
"Go out and tell the whole world that the time has come and if all will not pray and fast, they will perish," said one alleged revelation to John Veniamin Bereslavsky, archbishop in the Orthodox Church of the Mother of God Derjavnaya. "The one who will be saved is already awakening, the one that will not awaken (now), will perish before birth, like an infant crushed in the womb."
They are blunt messages and raise great question in their promotion, it would appear, of Russian Orthodoxy -- long at odds with Roman Catholicism, although extremely similar in many ways and currently the focus of ardent attempts at reconciliation.
We cannot vouch for the legitimacy of this "bishop." Born in Moscow in 1946, he attended a music college, a foreign language institute, and Moscow State University before his Christian conversion in 1978. It was then that he reportedly joined the catacomb "True Orthodox Church" and secretly took monastic vows, ordained a priest in 1985. He was "chirotonised" bishop of Russian Autocephalous Orthodox Church by Metropolitan John (Bodnarchuk) of the Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church.
"The Revelation of the Virgin to Archbishop John in Russia began in the autumn of 1984 in city Smolensk," asserts one Orthodox website. "This great revelation of Our Lady is still continuing. It gave birth to the Marian movement in Russia. The Orthodox Church of Our Lady (Orthodox Church of Mother of God Derjavnaya) follows the Holy Scripture and the Church Tradition. It professes patristic holiness and ardent piety. Our Church offers to Christian sister churches, especially Marian communities and organizations, and to other confessions, a dialogue of peace and Divine love, while retaining liturgical and ritual traditions which took shape over the centuries."
The "revelations" have occurred at a site known to history as a place of martyrdom. It is said that in the 1200s, the Blessed Madonna appeared to a man named Mercurius before it was besieged by the Tatars in 1238.
Whether or not they are legitimate, the alleged modern revelations are also noteworthy in their proximity to Ukraine, which long has been the focus of Marian apparitions, from Lviv to the region southwest of Kiev.
The reported locutions include what appears to be a "question-and-answer" style of presentation, with some undeniably fascinating answers:
"Death has been taken away from you, hence your sorrows have been multiplied," says one reply from the Blessed Mother. "You have to pay for the great gift. How can you fear death if you believe? When there is no fast, there is no prayer. A prayerful state (spiritual meditation) is prepared by fasting."
(How is one to learn to fast?)
"Most people cannot fast because they feel no repentance. You cannot fast because you have no Spirit," the Blessed Mother is said to have replied.
"Your end will be tranquil, do not fear. But the one who will not give up sin will suffer greatly. The soul of the pious man will remain in pure slumber till the Second Coming."
And so forth. There are no tremendous predictions, but rather, personal lessons (what the lexicon of Rome calls "formation"):
"Do not seek one another," said another alleged locution. "Seek me, and you shall find. Strive for the big in the little, and not for the little in the big (as in the world). The one who seeks for much, does not receive even the little. The Lord is revealed in the little.
"Exaltation of self is the same as hatred of fellow men. When you believe that you are better than the lowest (in your opinion) of men, you turn away from God. The Lord spurns the proud as haters of their fellow men. The meaning of the earthly road lies in repentance and humility. You are placed in difficult circumstances so you should better realize your sins."
(How is one to profess humility now?)
"By not murmuring in one's sorrow and gaining strength in struggle. One must love one's enemies, for salvation comes through them.
"Your time has come. Pray and gain strength, and multiply your zeal, because you still have little strength for what awaits you."
The sermon is not preached in words, but in deeds, say the alleged messages. "The Lord speaks in humility, hence you will preach His Word with humility.
"I shall strengthen you and you will be saved by your zeal. I shall multiply your faith in the Lord God and in my protection, so you should not murmur and not grieve, but be vigorous in spirit. Reject pride and you will be invulnerable to evil."
Every man should be born in the Lord, say the messages -- "that He must be born in your heart from Him. Holy and easy is such childbirth but it is prepared by sorrows and illness.
"Your days are numbered. You will soon receive my Son and here is my protecting veil to ease your suffering."
(How is one to pray?)
"The spirit teaches one to pray. Keep your heart united with the icons and holy relics and do not let strangers into the shrine either in the day or the night. The spirit resides even in an abandoned shrine: the altar gates open, the slabs of floor arise, and the service begins, with the angels and the saints...
"Enter the shrine of your heart, close the door, kneel down, close your eyes, and pray."
Says a further extension of the message: "Prayer is difficult on account of sin. Here is the chalice and the Blood of Christ. So much of His Pure Blood has been spilled to teach us to pray to Him and in so doing place oneself in a state of virtue to be worthy of the Kingdom of Heaven!
"The spirit leads the pure heart. The one who lives in sin is deprived of the guidance of the Spirit and walks in the dark, led by demons."
(What is a person to do when prayer evades one and there is no strength?)
"Assert in your heart the stern countenance of the Archangel and strike down the enemy with his help. Faith means entrusting oneself to the Holy Will of God. Be truly humble. A quiet heartfelt prayer is dearer to me than the ringing of bells. Seek and feel God in every breath you take. Otherwise how am I to pray and beseech merciful God and my Beloved Son for your salvation?"
At times the messages seem almost militaristic. "The man who is no warrior fears war," says one. The revelations further admonish the faithful to "place hope in me and love me, [and] I will pay back plentifully and that will be only the smallest part of my grace... There is no need to fear the enemy under my protection."
"Russia is a devastated country, temporarily abandoned to the enemy. But despair not if you have faith."
(About the Church in Russia):
"The Church grieves and I grieve with it. The Church is crucified and I stand at its feet as I did then at the foot of my Crucified Son. The Church sheds tears and so do I. My advice to you is: remain in the Holy House of God where to the end of time will shine the light everlasting."
("Religion in the USSR", Novosti Press Agency Monthly Bulletin, Number 10, 1990. Zubovsky Blvd., 4119021, Moscow)
[Bookstore resources: Witness: apparitions in Ukraine]
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