My children, know that during the last days, as the Apostle says, terrible times will come. And so, as a result of a dearth of piety heresies and schisms will appear in the churches; and, as the holy fathers foretold, on hierarchical thrones and in monasteries there will not be experienced people who are skilled in spiritual life. Because of this, heresy will spread everywhere and delude many. The enemy of mankind will act with cunning, so that he might if possible draw even the elect into heresy. He will not crudely deny the dogma of the Holy Trinity, of the divinity of Jesus Christ, or of the Mother of God, but will imperceptibly distort the tradition of the holy fathers, which is from the Holy Spirit—the teaching of the Church itself. The enemy’s cunning and his rules will be noticed only by a very few who are more experienced in spiritual life. The heretics will usurp authority over the Church, place their servants everywhere, and piety will be held in contempt. But the Lord will not leave His servants unprotected and in ignorance. He said, By their fruits ye shall know them (Matt. 7:16). So you also should strive to differentiate the heretics from the true pastors by their fruits. These are spiritual thieves, who steal the spiritual flock, and “enter not by the door into the sheepfold, but climb up some other way” (cf. John 10:1), as the Lord said; that is, they enter unlawfully, destroying God’s statutes through force. The Lord calls them robbers… There will be great repression by the heretics against the monks, and monastic life will be considered reprehensible. The monasteries will become scarce, the monks will decrease in number, and those who remain will have to endure violence. Those haters of monastic life, who have only an appearance of piety, will try to make the monks side with them, promising them protection and earthly benefits, while they threaten the unsubmissive with expulsion. These threats will be a great humiliation to the fainthearted.
If you live to that time my son, then rejoice, for then the faithful who have not reaped other virtues will have crowns prepared for them for standing in the faith, according to the Lord’s words: Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven (Matt. 10:32)… Along with heresy a demon will enter the monastery, and then it will no longer be a holy monastery but mere walls… Do not fear sorrows, but fear the audacity of the heretics who try to separate man from Christ; that is why Christ commanded us to consider them as heathen and publicans. Thus, my son, be fortified with the grace of Jesus Christ. Hasten with joy to the podvig of confession of faith and endure suffering like a good soldier of Jesus Christ, Who said, be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life (Rev. 2:10). To Him together with the Father and the Holy Spirit be glory and power unto the ages of ages. Amen.—St. Anatoly the Younger.