From approximately the year 2000, the Russian Federation began instituting modern identification systems similar to those long in use in the U.S. and other countries. These included tax identification numbers and Moscow resident cards. New passports were also being issued to replace the passports issued by the Soviet government.
These modernizations were the source of much confusion and fear amongst some of the Orthodox faithful because of their apocalyptic significance. Many people sought advice from Fr. John as one of the most respected spiritual authorities alive in Russia.—Trans.
Dear in the Lord S.!
Christ is Risen!
With respect to the new passports that pass through the computer, His Holiness [the Patriarch] and the Synod have already said everything.
These passports as they now appear and circulate do not pose any threat to us. However, it is obvious that this is one of the steps in preparation for the future terror.
S., remember and clarify God’s will for yourself: My son, give me thine heart (Prov. 23:26)—not your passport, not your pension papers, not your tax card, but your heart. This is what we should be watching out for wakefully and thoroughly—whom do we serve, and what do we live by?
Love, joy, peace, mercy—God will never put these to shame under any state system. But if a person has forgotten God and lives by unrighteous gain, if television and various unseemly videos have squeezed prayer and church out of even clergymen’s lives, then believe me, S., the seal is already on many, even with the old passports. After all, nothing divine can pass through the outrage with which modern man stuffs himself, even voluntarily, lovingly and eagerly. Our only opposition to the coming terror is our faith in God, our life according to the faith. All of those disturbances, confusion, and misunderstanding enter so commandingly into such a man’s life precisely because he does not have a living faith, nor trust in God. All this evil squeezes out a peaceful spirit and good hope. Live calmly, pray to God, and trust Him.
Doesn’t the Lord know how to preserve His children from evil times? If only our hearts be true to Him. We will not write requests that a number be assigned to us, but if they assign one to us against our will, we will not fight it. After all, we received our passports in the past, and were always accounted for by the state system, and so it is now. Nothing has changed. Render unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s; and unto God the things that are God’s (Matt. 22:21, Mk. 12:17, Lk. 20:25).
Take a look at the computer, which has become the scarecrow of our times. It is just a chunk of metal, and without man it is nothing. One person fills the world with Divine Service books using this chunk of metal, while another fills the world with outrage using it. Who will make an answer before God, and how? Man’s will is judged by God. This is the heart of the matter.
As for war, I am not aware of anything other than the one which each person conducts daily.
We have to pray, and this is a school. I cannot explain this to you theoretically. A rough life teaches prayer best of all. I had true prayer when I was in prison, and this is because I stood on the brink of death every day. It is impossible to repeat such prayer in days of prosperity. But the experience of prayer and living faith which I received there has been preserved throughout my life. It is a matter of turning with living faith to the living God.
Faith in the belief that the Lord is nearer to you than the closest possible human being, that he hears not the rustle of your lips, but the prayerful beating of your heart, and the thoughts that fill it at the moment of your turning to God. You are a family man, and are responsible before God for every member of your family, which means that your heart should pain over each one. May God give you wisdom!
Begin, S., by fulfilling the command of St. Seraphim of Sarov: “S., my joy, acquire a peaceful spirit, and not only your family, but thousands of people will be saved around you.” That is all. Observe how life teaches us how to live. If you want to be satisfied and happy—live in God, but without that, there is no happiness.
In truth Christ has risen!