This piece is largely sourced from the Union of Orthodox Journalists. It is likely to hit many readers as an offense. If it does, please read it anyway to absorb the full force of the offense... because it may help you realize that you are being offended by the Truth, and that there is a need to repent.
COVID-19 is a tremendous watershed moment for Christians all over the world. I live in Russia and it is certainly no exception here, though there is much less "panic" over the feeble endemic illness here than there appears to be in the West, particularly the United States and Western Europe.
It fleshes out the limits of our faith and challenges us on the question of whether or not we as Christians truly believe God. Note, please that I did not say "believe in God", but "believe God." These are two very different statements.
"To believe in God" is easy. Anybody can do it. Even demons do this. It is easy to say in effect that "God exists." This is about all that is meant by many of us when we say "we believe in God. He exists, sure. He has no power and will not help us, because we really don't need him, but He is nice and it is always a good thing to say that we believe in God."
Such people we either do not find in Church these days, or we find them wearing masks and social distancing and living in fear. Some of these people are clergy, too. Wearing masks "to protect others" when they are not sick, and even if anybody is sick, these silly masks cannot stop SARS-CoV-2 or any other virus.
Yet, many of these folks seem to truly "believe" that these things help. It is not possible to convince them otherwise. Surely, folks this IS religious faith!
But it is not "believing God."
Let's cut to the Union of Orthodox Journalist piece now, for what it contains is stated better than anything I could possibly offer. Mask-faithful, prepare to be scandalized. Don't worry. It is good for you.
ROC: pandemic is a bell to be ready for end times
Against the backdrop of the pandemic, the gospel words "when you see all this, know that it is close, at the door" sound more relevant than ever, says Fr Maxim Kozlov.
Coronavirus measures have tested how much humanity is ready to accept the proposed behavioral models, even without a clear justification for them. On the one hand, people easily agree with the new rules of the "game", on the other hand, they abandon the moral values of Christianity in favour of the so-called "new ethics", the priest said in an interview with the online resource "Business Online".
According to Father Maxim, such an example of the subordination of society is a mask, which is not even necessary to wear "seriously", but it is important to indicate its presence on the face. "The mask is no longer a means of preventing coronavirus and not a medical procedure, but a sign of loyalty," the priest said.
"After all, if so easily, without an obvious gigantic cataclysm, it was possible to bring the whole world into a state of obedience - often illogical, then if the cataclysm is more serious, then what?" the archpriest of the Russian Orthodox Church urged to think about.
Father Maxim noted that the "catastrophic fear of death" accompanying the pandemic is unacceptable for a believer. It shows that our declared Christianity does not prove itself in a practical worldview. For a Christian, this is a manifestation of unbelief. Unbelief that eternal life, the best and possible meeting with God, whom we confess, awaits us beyond the line of earthly life.
The priest recalled that there were already epochs in the history of mankind, for example, as the first post-revolutionary years of the twentieth century in Russia, when the Orthodox asked themselves the nagging question, "Isn't it now, Lord?" and expected the enthronement of the antichrist. However, the eschatological signs of our days show that the times of Antichrist are much closer.
"Now we are witnessing a certain fundamental choice towards rejection of the ethical values of Christianity in particular and the monotheistic religious tradition in general," the archpriest said. "While this concerns mainly the civilized world of the West, as it calls itself, but can we know how widespread it will be?"
Neither in the days of Hellenism nor in the period of geographical discoveries and industrial revolutions, there was no such community of the global world as it is now. And it allows control from a single centre. However, "there are still obstacles in the form of national states and the lack of universal readiness to be guided by the directives of the ‘world government'," the clergyman said.
"On the other hand, another three or four pandemics and two or three small nuclear wars with the destruction of part of humanity, the introduction of a limit on resources, on water, on air - and we will surely hear a cry that we need a single coordinating centre for the rest of the humankind," Father Maxim outlined the eschatological perspective.
As the UOJ wrote, on August 25, 2020, the Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church appointed Archpriest Maxim Kozlov as acting rector of the Sretensky Theological Seminary.