Grigori Efimovich Rasputin
My Ideas and Thoughts
| ||ęThe rushing and the evil let suffer from grief – the sun does not bring them warmth, spring does not make them happy; the eternal night is in their eyesĽ.|
Whatís next? Lord, you lead us. How many thorny ways the life is filled with! Holy places are the treasure of experience and wisdom.
IN KIEV PECHERSK LAVRA
I arrived at the Holy Lavra from Petersburg. The city is bustling with busy life and here it is nice and quiet. When they lower the Theotokos and the signing starts, your soul gets transfixed and you remember the thousand and one small worries of life from your very early days. You go to the caves and see how simple there are. There is no gold or silver, just silence. The saints are reposing in simple caskets without any decorations. You remember all your redundancies which oppress and bring boredom. Against your will you start thinking about your earthly worries. Grief will befall on the rushing. Lord, save me from my friends and Iíll be free from demons. The demons are in friends and friends bring vanity. I saw wondrously caves, the wonder of wonders. God blessed them and we must believe. They came out of simple stone, God created them and they served for protection for many years.
Foreign tormentors bring about sad memories but now it is even worse. A brother goes against brother as if they do not know each other. Thus the sufferings are harder. I grieve. So Iím sure the crowns will be closer to God from these torturers for now (1911). Those were tortured by foreigners and now fathers torment fathers, monks go against monks so the Lord's words say: a brother goes against brother and a son goes against his father – the end is close. I saw Job in the Pechersk caves where his tiny cave is with savor. Why is that? Thatís simple. He did not choose a palace but stayed in his narrow and small place. We should live in this simplicity and refuse from luxury, asking for his prayers and God will hear his holy prayers and will be participants of that. His patience is indescribable with words. No books can capture it.
IN POCHAYIV LAVRA
Miraculous Pochayiv Lavra. What surprised me? First, I saw the Godís people and rejoiced that I found true followers. I saw how they gather the pieces of truth and then I saw the Theotokos and I was in awe, the silence and gentleness fell upon me. In each holy place you get the precious gift of humbling. I entered the Cathedral and fear and awe seized me. I remembered the earthly life. What a miracle! The Theotokos herself left a trace and water comes from the rock and everyone takes this sacred water with belief. How happy we are, the Russian people, but we do not know and appreciate the wonders given to us! Orthodox Christians go abroad to look at various mountains but see them as luxury not as the Lordís creation.
ALONG THE BLACK SEA
What can I say about my silence? When I left Odessa and started my journey in the Black Sea, it was so quiet and my soul rejoiced with the sea. Only waves glisten in the sun and nothing else is there to see. Here is an example given by God: how precious is a human soul? Is it not a pearl? What is sea for it? The sea soothes the soul easily. You get up in the morning and the waves are talking and splashing making you happy. The sea is glistening in the sun making the human soul forget about the whole humankind. You look at the sun and your soul fills with incredible beauty! The sea awakes from its sleep, by itself without any effort. The sea is spacious and the mind is even more spacious. There are no boundaries for the human mind. No philosophers can comprehend that. Another beautiful sight is when the sun is setting and its rays light the sea. Those who can appreciate the sun are soothed and caressed by it. When the sun is setting by minute, the soul grieves its wonderful shineÖ It is getting darker... It is silent everywhereÖ Even birds are quiet and you start walking back and forth on deck, involuntarily recall your childhood and compare this silence with the bustling world and quietly talk to yourself to get rid of that boredom brought on by your enemiesÖ It is a quiet night in the sea and you fall asleep with different ideas going through your head and deep impressionsÖ
The Christís sea. You are full of miracles. It is visited by Lord and miraculously created. You can see the shores and trees. How can that not bring happiness to your soul? We see the shores, come closer, look and admire the nature created by God and praise God for His Creation and its beauty indescribable by the human mind or philosophy. The waves grow bigger and anxiety takes over. You go around like in a fogÖ Lord, give us silence in our souls! In the sea it is temporary, on land it is always like that. In the sea it is noticeable and on land it is not known to anyone and brings confusion to the soul. Conscience is like a wave but no matter how high the waves are in the sea, they will die away but conscience can be cured by good deeds only. You suffer more on land. Oh what a deceit – they will say and then look and seeÖ Consciousness tells everyone of their faults, everyone should look, no sin can be hidden and buried. Each sin is like a cannon shot – everyone will knowÖ
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF CONSTANTINOPLE
What can I say with my humble human mind about the wonderful Haiga Sophia, the first in the whole world. As a cloud on a mountain it is the first in the whole world. Haiga Sophia is like a cloud on a mountain. Oh grief! Lord is angry with our arrogance as He gave the holy place to the godless Turks and let it be abused and mocked at – they smoke in there. Lord, hear our prayers and return the cathedral to us. Let it be the ark! The legend says that the cathedral was taken away from the orthodox for their arrogance for they did not accept this ark, spoiled themselves with festivities and luxury. Lord was angry for a long time and ordered to blaspheme His sanctuary. We shall wait and God will forgive us and return the cathedral and we shall come home by Weeping Cross. There are untouched places there. They mean the Christ (at the altar) and the Theotokos (at the exit). There are 300 chandeliers in there. These are wonders where the sultan drove over the bodies of the warriors with the church full of the Orthodox and his horse hit the column and a big piece fell apart and that is still how it is. Where the sultan leaned at the column, now you can see the print with five fingers and the palm. What a miracle! Thatís why the cathedral will be returned to the Christians. God creates miracles and makes us come home by Weeping cross.
I also reached the monastery of Theodore the Studite. Much art and orthodox icons have been preserved here. The icons of the Theotokos and many other soothe the Christian soul. The cell of Theodore the Studite is still there, dark and calling for repentance – truly a man of faith. Lord for our sins mocked the dwelling of the orthodox but nothing can touch the orthodox soul. They can take anything but not your soul. The earthly merits were ignored, the works of the orthodox were mocked at and abused but his patience adorns the heavens. This is an example for us – deprivation on earth is a merit in the heavens. We should pray Lord for patience and deprivation is a heroic deed. There is a higher reward for losing something than just giving it away. When you give something away, you do that of your own free will but when you are deprived, you grieve and thus inherit the Kingdom of God. God will help anyone suffer with patience and for that will make them heirs of the Heavenly Father.
Here in Constantinople there is also the cathedra of John Chrysostom and relics of Saint Ephraim and more memories are preserved here. There is a column to which the Christ was chained. Everywhere you look, you see sufferings. Oh Lord, how sinful we are Ö Everything is suffering for us. John Chrysostom preached a long time ago and you can still hear the sound of his voice and the icon is preserved on his cathedra. Romanos was here as well. Oh Lord, how numerous Your miracles are! A huge cathedral was built to honor the Twelve Apostles and it was turned in a mosque. Nothing is preserved here, no icons, no memories. The only thing known is that the sanctuary was abused in the cathedral of the Twelve Apostles. I will not try to describe the Greek churches. They are an ancient wonder! There is a church in Constantinople where St. Andrew, fool for the sake of Christ, prayed and saw the Theotokos. I was there but there is only a small wall left, some ruins and a small garden not far from a Greek church.
It soothes your soul to think of these touching events when the Theotokos protected everyone and prayed outside and even now it consoles and soothes us on the day of protection of the Holy Virgin. She teaches the men of faith to pray and appears to the righteous and unrighteous and listens to their prayers. She knows all our needs and we receive what she asks Lord for. Her requests are always heard by God. One column was brought to Rome from Constantinople which weighs a thousand poods. It is a great miracle. There is much more to write about Constantinople which I have not mentioned.
Arrived at Metelena, a small town where Saint Paul preached and converted 30 martyrs to Christ. This place is still alive with his preaching. The town is picturesque on the seaside and around the mountains. Here is the bay of the Archipelago and the shores and mountains are wondrous. Lord, bring us to your traces. The further we go, the more holy places we see. No wonder Russian people save their pennies and come over here to look at these wonders. I met many people but there are especially many true Christians in the third class. They constantly pray and read acathistos in the morning and at night. I saw the Bulgarian women who have a true understanding of the Kingdom of God, they are myrrh-bearing women who truly love Christ. I also saw that the Turkish dress was similar to the Christian and Jewish. We can expect the Lordí words to come true that only the Orthodox Church will remain in spite of seemingly different dresses. First they erased this difference and soon they change their faith too. It is hard to comprehend all that at once. First foreigners will like our clothes and then our Church too.
Smyrna is located on the Asianic coast at the end of a huge bay. There are several magnificent Greek cathedrals in Smyrna. One of them is at the place where the Samaritan woman talked to Jacob and believed in Christ. What history is preserved on the Turkish land! If you think about it, you start wishing we would all belong to the Single Orthodox Church. In Smyrna in addition to the cathedral founded by her preaching the Samaritan woman Fetinya, there is also a cathedral where the Theotokos used to preach. The relics of Saint George (a part of his leg) and the relics of St. Cosmas Unmercenary are here as well. We passed the island of Metelena where Bishop Gregori is located (commemorated on November 5th). The sermons by bishops are really clear. They still live in the hearts of the Orthodox. There is a mountain in Smyrna where the follower of St. John the Evangelist many other people with him were martyred. How many martyrs are there for Christ? All crowns had to be earned with blood. Not far from Smyrna there are the ruins of the ancient Ephesus.
St. John the Evangelist-apostle lived in Ephesus for a long time and here he finished his Testament. Thatís why this is a holy place and even the sea itself brings your soul to life. The Theotokos was here for a short time and here the Third Council was convened. The first Bishop in Ephesus was Apostle Timothy, the coadjutor of Saint Paul. Both of them died a martyr death. John Chrysostom lived here as well. Numerous caves have been preserved around Ephesus. To get to the caves you have to ride a horse. This wondrous way teaches you to look at yourself and whether you belong to these places. If you get at least a small part of the truth, you will get alive. Letís just hope this is not the enemy work. Letís hope he does not put his trap where we do not know what to do. Not far from here is the island of Chios where Isidor was martyred in the third century. All these places are sacred. Lord, bless us all and have mercy on us!
The island of Patmos. St. John the Evangelist was kept here and thatís where he wrote the Testament and the Revelation. The Orthodox Greek monastery is now located here and the whole island is inhabited with the Christians. St. John the Evangelist prayed for his hermits and now we are his followers. Now we are in the Mediterranean sea and our ship makes no stops.
Lord, how many people were turned to Christ along these shores! They turned many people to Christ and thus there are a lot of martyrs on both sides of the Mediterranean Sea and the Greeks became arrogant with their philosophy. Lord got angry and gave all the apostlesí work to the Turks.
Now all Greek bishops are literate but there is no spirit poverty and thatís the only thing crowds go after. Without such spirit the bishop will not like it if he does not have proper attire but if he does he would not care and the crowds would follow him in poor clothes. I have witnessed this myself as I know many bishops. Lord, save them for their unity. Why are people now changing religion? There is no spirit now in cathedrals, just the decorations but the cathedral is empty.
When John of Kronstadt was preaching, the cathedral had spirit to it and thousands of people came there for it. Now there are few of those. Some are fat and afraid they will be distinguished from those who got fat from laziness. Of course, Lord allows variety. Some fat monks were born fat and they also have the Godís spirit in them. Thatís different. On the way to Jerusalem you can see holy places where the apostles were hiding, walking along these shores, travelling from town to town. You think people would be afraid to go here but it is so easy here to pray. The apostles were praying for all travelers thatís why it is so easy to pray in the sea. God teaches and feeds you with his wisdom.
The city of Rhodes is filled with gardens. How beautiful it is along the Mediterranean Sea! Rhodes is green and full of flowers in February. Lord always brings fruitful years here. Godís mercy has no borders. The Theotokos visited Cyprus. The island of Cyprus has many holy places, sanctuaries and hallows. There are many friaries and convents here. We visited the town of Mersin. All places here are marked with holy events and that makes your soul blessed.
The grave of Johan the Prophet is five hours away from Beirut. He was inside a whale which threw him out in the Mediterranean Sea. What miracles happened here to save the crazy who did not know what they were doing. Lord sent prophets to them and these crazy turned into saints. We all know where the Holy of Holies is but we pretend not to know, hear or see. We say to ourselves that there is still time, many years are ahead of us to save our soul!
The city of Tripolis is at the sea surrounded just by the Lebanese mountains and nothing else. The fortress looks like our Peter and Paul Fortress. The Lebanese mountains call for godliness. Beirut is located above the sea and is all green. Lord, everywhere is a source of life. Saint George defeated the serpent in this town and there is a well and a Turkish chapel here. The lake is overgrown with grass. Oh grief, Lord is angry with the Orthodox and gave the Turks all our holy places. That shows when we get something from God and do not appreciate it, it is taken away from us and nothing is left. Lord, let us see your beauty! Make wonders and make us remember your blessings. Do not leave us and give us hope with Your prayers!
Jaffa where Elijah lived. Below the place where Elijah prayed there is a cave. Now there is a Greek monastery here. I have seen all these places where Elijah did many miracles. I saw his severe face in the icon and everyone who looked at him was awe-stricken. Elijah, please pray to Jesus for us, God will hear you. Pray to God that He loves us and blesses us. A trip to Nazareth can be made from here. Jaffa valley is wondrously pretty as the paradise. There is no wiser place on earth than here. It is incredible you can find such paradise on earth. If you have grief in your life, this place is sure to heal your soul with the Godís light which soothes us all sinful.
I arrived in Jerusalem and first of all I attended a church service. I cannot describe with words the happiness I felt there. On the one hand, you remember the resurrection and on the other – all the afflictions of Christ. Christ suffered here. Before your eyes comes the Theotokos suffering for her son at the Cross. And he also had to suffer in Attica. Oh Lord! You look around and see these people with the clothes just like in the old times. Tears come into your eyes. You enter cathedrals where all these great events took place and Jesus Himself shed tears. Awe strikes you when you come to the Jesusí sepulcher!
I felt such love in my heart that I was ready to share my love with everyone and everyone seemed saint to me for love sees no shortcomings. Here at the sepulcher you see everyone through your spiritual heart. How many thousands of people come here to resurrect with Jesus? What can I say about the tomb? I will just say to myself, ęLord, resurrect Yourself from the sinful world to the blessed heavens!Ľ Oh what impression Golgotha makes on you! Here in the Church of the Holy Sepulcher where the Queen of Heaven stood, there is a round bowl and from here She was looking at Golgotha and crying. When you look at this place, tears come into your eyes and you see how it all happened. Lord, oh Lord! What for? Lord, let us not be sinful! Save us with your suffering!
They lead us to the Patriarchal Yard and started washing out feet. Lord, what a picture comes to your mind. They wash our feet and wipe with a towel. Tears came to our eyes and everyone was amazed at how deep our feelings were. We sat in rows and there were Jewish jugs in front of us. That reminded us of the Last Supper where everything started. Later akathists sang at the sepulcher. Lord, what bliss! Your heart fills with calmness and tears. Then in the morning around 12 oíclock they started a mass. I looked around and said to myself, "Paradise on earth, do not disappear, stay with me and be in me!"
Here in the Resurrection Cave there is the cross of the Constantine and his mother Helen which, as history says, found three crosses and Jesus showed them the one he would be crucified on.
The Church of the Holy Sepulcher also has the tomb of Nicodemus who made a coffin for himself and used it for Jesus. He earlier did good things and was honored. Never be afraid to do good. How many altars there are here in the Church of the Holy Sepulcher! Prayers in many languages are being said. They we were directed to the Hagia Maria Sion Abbey where the coffin of the Virgin Mary stands. We saw many lepers begging for money on the way there. We saw the houses of Judas and Pontius which are not far from each other.
We have reached with the crowd the cave of the Virgin Mary and the entire crowd started signing in Her honor. We looked at this place and remembered what happened here. Here Joseph is buried too. Joseph, pray for us to God! Then we went to the beautiful gates where Lord Jesus Christ was judged for the last time!
We reached Gethsemane where Jesus often talked to His disciples of His sufferings. We bowed to the place where His blood tears were shed! When you think that you are at the place where He prayed, tears come into your eyes. There is a stone in the wall stained with Jesusí blood. This place will teach you to pray. His deed is for everyone there. When you know that His tears were shed here, you are afraid to step on any stone. Lord, save us and forgive us in Your Heart. Lord, wake us up! We went higher and heard bells ringing.
HOLY AND GREAT SATURDAY
What a strong anticipation for the Holy Fire! The pilgrims cannot wait for the sacred procession. Many people cry and Arabs clap their hands, jump around and sing something in frenzy. The place is surrounded with soldiers. The most important minute comes. The Patriarch puts off his robe and enters alone into the sepulcher. The congregants are waiting tensely for the Patriarch to come out with fire... He runs out with a fire to the Church of the Holy Sepulcher where he lights candles and then brings out these candles to the people to light theirs – thirty three candles in bunches. People are very excited and it is very noisy in the church. Some people take burning candles home with them, others just light candles three times and put them out. A miracle has happened again. Lord, let me remember it. It is so nice to be in the Holy Land but you have to come here with faith otherwise you wonít appreciate it. In Jerusalem it is enough to visit all places once only and then think about them later at home. For the first time you are filled with unexplainable happiness and for the second time doubt and unbelief will stir you. It is hard there for nuns, great temptations are waiting for them, evil demons are very envious.
I was to the Jordan River, we said prayers and went in the water. We saw the Jordan deserts where Mary of Egypt was hiding. At the place where Lord Jesus Christ was baptized, everyone thinks about forgiveness of their sins. People of many nations come to the Jordan Rive in awe for forgiveness.
Here we also saw the Dead Sea. Lordís punishment fell on it and we were all stricken with awe and terror. No living creatures can be found in the sea. We looked at it and cried. Here God blessed Elisha. It is hard to indicate the exact place where Elias was called by God. The entire Jordan desert is full with events. There is not much vegetation and just a small river overgrown with brush. There are many monasteries around. John the Forerunner and other hermits from the Bible legends showed their devotion by fasting and silence and then monks lived by the Jordan River, later though the Greeks destroyed that all but the desert remained. Monastery of St. Gerasimus. Here Gerasimus lived in the wilderness and tamed wild animals. The Greeks are friendly but they do not keep history. Every little stone here is sacred.
We saw the house of Zacchaeus in Jericho which is mentioned in the New Testament. Some excavations were done there by an academician from the Panteleymon Monastery (I have met him) and revealed a mosaic floor. You see these places and imagine how it all happened here, how people were coming to Jesus to have their burden relieved.
The spring of Elisha Prophet is also in the Jordan Desert but we were not taken there. Here there is also the evangelic fig which represents our non-forgiven sins which we do not want to get rid of as we are afraid of God and His word. The monastery of Temptation of Christ stands on a high hill. Thatís where the devil tempted Jesus during his forty days of fasting. It is a wonderful temple and there is a small cell with the stone on which the devil tempted Jesus. Not far is the monastery of George Chozabite and then Mar Saba in the mountains. There are many springs. On the way there is the Good Samaritan Hotel which is now owned by the Turks and they give no water to the pilgrims.
The Oak of Mamre! Kindness and love is great under the Oak of Mamre. Abraham greeted the three angels here. Sarra and Abraham are now the sample of kindness. How nice it is to share a pint of water with a pilgrim here. We bowed to the tree and said a prayer. A half of the tree has dried out from its ancient age but some branches are still green. Thatís the Lordís kindness. It will always be green to honor Lord Jesus Christ. It makes you want to do good as this tree is green with kindness. Let us not forget it!
The Solomon Ponds are on the same road. They were used to water cattle and they never dry out. Bethany is on the way to the Jordan River close to Jericho. We saw the place and the stone where Jesus talked to Martha. A cathedral was built at this place. The tomb of Lazarus is not far from there. It is as deep as his resurrection was described in the New Testament. When you pass these place you think, ęLord, resurrect my soul from a sinful abyss".
In Jaffa Peter resurrected Tabitha. We went to the cave where it took place and it soothes the soul of the Russian pilgrims. You can almost see Peter and hear his prayers to God. Here on the shore there are some ruins of the Noah's Ark – an example of salvation for the Christians. Our salvation is church and everyone who can hear Noah shall be saved. Church is our mother!
There is a huge cathedral in Bethlehem with many altars and conveniences but Russian pilgrims always come across many inconveniences. But when you see Jesus' crib you forget about your fatigue and various intrigues. Everyone is excited and happy at this place!
Here the Massacre of the Innocent by King Herod happened. What evil and hatred lived in his heart as he decided to kill all babies of his people and was not afraid of mockery and did not feel sorry for the babies. Here is the cave of all killed innocent children, many thousands of them. The Russian pilgrims looked at Herodís evil, his jealousy and innocent children. How hard it must have been for their mothers! Evil and jealousy still live in people. In the same cathedral there is a place where the angel told Joseph about Herod's plans. We all bowed to that place and also saw the stairs by which Joseph left for his escape to Egypt. We looked at those stairs with love and faith as they lead Joseph to a hard life in escape.
On the way to Bethlehem, not far from the city is Rachel's tomb who "cried for her children" and could not be consoled. We went outside Bethlehem and reached the cave of the shepherds where the angel brought them good news. All pilgrims sang and prayed to the icon where the angel is shown bringing good news. The cave made us happy with the wisdom of the wise men. Lord, give us wisdom!
In Jerusalem there is a small church of Ann the Righteous where in a small cave Simeon the Righteous is buried. How nice it is in his cave! He doubted that Jesus would be born from a virgin and the angel appeared to him. Then Simeon believed that and said that he would die after he saw the God's son born and that's the way it happened.
On the way back our ship approached again the place where the whale let Jonah go and all started singing. The entire crowd looked at the place of that miracle. There is a small stone column there and a quadrangular shallow hole. The ship stops here for half a day. One of the most ancient monasteries is here.
There is a place there where a tree grew on which Jesus Christ was crucified. This tree was planted by Lot. When Lot came back from Sodom, he was tempted and Lord through a wise man blessed him to plant three brands and water them daily. He brought water from the Jordan River. God heard his prayers and one day a tree grew from one of the brands.
Church honors this tree as well. It was used for the cross on which Jesus was crucified. Lord blessed Lot. He used to be righteous but then committed many sinful things and repented. Thatís our first salvation – if you live for God and even if you are tempted by Satan, you can still find salvation.
In the house of Joachim and Ann we saw a mosaic showing a fallow-deer at their feet. Oh Lord, all animals trusted and honored them. Animals need care and love and that they understand.
There are many smart people around with no faith. When you talk to them you should start with love not with faith. You should not criticize their beliefs and show how much better yours is. First make sure they like you and then carefully and slowly turn them to your faith. Then they will understand what you are talking about and will look and listen.
There are many people on ships. Iím sure with more faith the state will be stronger. More attention should be given to pilgrims. Trips for them should be less expensive and the mission should not charge them for water and place on the ship and serve a meal once a day. Pilgrims are treated like cattle, sometimes several hundred people (this year at least 500) are in the shipís hold and they are charged for every single thing. Pilgrims travel to the holy land and have to face many inconveniences. It is nice if you are rich but poor people should be treated better. Poor pilgrims help a lot to support Russia by their simple faith. They go around villages and tell what they have seen in their simple language and everyone knows they are telling the truth. People will share their love to God and thatís the most important support for the state.
I have also witnessed a big event – Catholic Easter in Jerusalem. Their Easter is a week earlier than ours. What can I say about Catholic Easter? In our country everyone is happy on that day but here even in church there is no happiness. It does not compare to the Orthodox Easter. We, the Orthodox, are so blessed! There is no happiness in them. Their faces are dark even at Easter. I will not judge. I'm just thinking and comparing our Easter and theirs.
I felt how happy our people were and I would like our faith not to be degraded. It blooms for the righteous, let's name just one – John of Krondstadt and there are thousands of others.