Blessed John (Jacob) of Neamts (1913–1960) is called the New Chozebite. His incorrupt relics, which rest openly in the monastery of St. George the Chozebite, have been seen by many pilgrims to the Holy Land. John the Romanian was not only a man of holy life and a strict ascetic; he was also a gifted creative personality. His poems remain as an unsurpassed example of spiritual poetry. We present one story by this ascetic of our times.
After the flood, people again turned away from God’s ways; and having turned away, they again began to expect a flood. Therefore they decided to build the Tower of Babel, that is, the Babylonian fortress. They wanted to build it up higher than the clouds, so that water would no longer be a threat to them. For this madness God confused their tongues, and they weren’t able to do any of this.
Modern people are no better than the people of those days. Today all people know that they have departed from God, and they expect punishment from heaven. But instead of choosing the ark of salvation (that is, the ark of the Church) in the right faith and repentance, instead of seeking God, people intoxicated with civilization are again building a “tower” for themselves like in Babylon of old. The “Tower of Babel” of our times is not a building made of stone or brick, but a mad race for inventions.
People say that the invention of cars and weapons make life easier for man and guarantee his safety, that is, protect him. But how mistaken is that opinion! After all, it is obvious that according to the measure of the world’s modernization and increase of inventions so has evil increased, and man’s life has become more bitter and fraught with dangers.
People have never been so tormented with anxiety and despair as in our times, when civilization has increased.
As we can see, this increased civilization with its new fashions has taught people to go around more and more naked, that is, it has eradicated shame in people. It has taught people not to seek God anymore, that is, it has managed to stifle holy faith. It has taught the rulers to deceive the people more cunningly and to enslave more inhumanly than the Pharaohs of Egypt. In other words, the thirst for civilization has quelled truth and people’s freedom.
False civilization has taught people how to invent, that is, concoct the most horrifying weapons for wiping out people, and thereby it has cast out love from the world.
Thanks to the speed of cars the distances between countries has shortened, and people’s ears have gotten closer thanks to telephones and radio. New arts have pampered bodies and brought them closer today, but they have distanced God from the hearts. The mind has progressed, but the heart has grown cold. The sciences are enriched, but faith has suffered a loss. Today’s civilization has shortened people’s clothing, cut their beards and hair, and then wiped the holy monasteries off the face of the earth.
Thus, to speak briefly about this danger—civilization (or progress), then here is what those born of earth have to boast: Like never before it has flooded the earth with tears, horrifyingly expanded the graveyards in wars, carpeted the horizon with the exhaust from motors, and filled the sky with gigantic birds with metal beaks, ready to vaporize the world.
And in order to win time for the completion of the “Tower of Babel” (that is, scientific inventions), the brokers of fattened countries constantly call peace congresses. But God, seeing their craftiness, has confused their minds as He confused the Babylonian tongues, and they can no longer understand each other.
From the book, Sfântul Ioan Iacob de la Neamţ – Hozevitul. «Pentru cei cu sufletul nevoiaş ca mine». Iaşi: Doxologia, 2010. P. 392–393.