I’ve never been much of a dreamer in my life, although once my teachers said so (who cares about them). I think I’m more a philosopher, not in the academic sense, but still a sort of reflecting mind: watching, contemplating, and – like all thirsting souls – longing. And, by God, there’s a lot to long for, spiritually speaking, in our present day.
Yet, sometimes I do dream; not day-dream, but dream. And so, here’s what I recently dreamt in this Advent season of 2019 after an exhausting and quite chaotic day, which forced me into bed early. Or was it a dream? Anyway, here is my story.
I was wandering through my city like invisible. No interaction with anyone. People were busy buying stuff for Christmas: the only collective bliss left for a culture that had lost its inner core and meaning. A brass band, placed on a podium overlooking a Christmas market, was playing traditional Christmas carols. Hardly anyone paid attention. Instead, dozens of young careerists, working for banks or law firms nearby, had gathered, “after-hour”, to have hot punch by the gallons: the advent not of Christ, but of solid intoxication. A double-decker bus passed by, painted all over with seductive nudes: advertising the city’s top-end brothel, famous particularly with the Russian mob that now literally “owns” this once-exquisite European place of history. Church bells rang, but again: for whom or what? For the glory of God Almighty certainly, but their once-authoritative sound had no effect on people any more. Teenagers, on their own or in small groups, could be seen crossing the square, probably coming from school, each one of them heavily immersed in their smart phones, detached from reality. A Catholic priest was having a most casual chat with the people at the stall of Caritas Socialis. His whole body language resembled more that of a politician than that of a man of God. The freezing cold didn’t keep people from carrying their silly shopping bags parroting the latest Global Warming slogan. Weren’t they all made of carbon dioxide themselves? I entered the market area. This was indeed the most traditional of all Christmas markets in town. And people appeared to love it for that. There were beeswax candles for sale, along with the most delicious honey compositions. One could buy roasted chestnuts and potatoe pancakes. There were of course stalls selling Christmas bakery and Christmas tree balls. Others offered organic bread, cheese and what not. Various handicrafts stalls had the most delicate items on display produced in the country’s various provinces. It was lovely, it was picturesque, one could eat and drink and enjoy oneself, and certainly find decent Christmas presents. And yet, something was missing. The longer I looked at the scene, despite the elegantly dressed people and the many fine shops, the more I felt that this was nothing but a monstrous Potemkin façade, an empty shell, a sweet and nicely draped package without content. A crowd of young Italians (they always come in crowds) entered the scene: happy as ever, singing, dancing, joking. It’s that particular Mediterranean mood for which the whole world loves them. But did they emanate any last bit of their once-famous Italian Catholicity? A militant cyclist nearly hit a pedestrian, even shouting at the old lady, as in this place cyclists “are king”. Soon after, the idyllic sounds of the brass band got cut through by several police sirens (over here they still use the less unnerving ascending fourth). In no time, a dozen or so of policemen filled the market, nervously looking for something or somebody. No announcement was made, no measures were taken. Eventually, they left back into the night, probably searching for terrorists or mafiyas or drug dealers somewhere else.
It wasn’t till now that I realised an old, bearded man standing in a corner, all by himself (and it wasn’t some Santa Claus). I went over to him and looked into a face so bright and shining, so beautiful and naturally aristocratic that I instinctively fell down to kiss his hand, the way they still do in the orient today and as was commonplace also in the Christian lands until a century ago. He wouldn’t allow me to kiss his hand, which felt strange, as I thought maybe I wasn’t sincere and humble enough. Nevertheless, the old man was friendly, and in his eyes I could now see tears over tears. I wondered what could have hurt him so deeply, but then the old wise man began to speak, and he spoke with wisdom and authority:
“What you see, my dear son, are the fruits of apostasy. People’s shopping bags are bursting with everything this material world has to offer, but their hearts are empty and cold. They claim to be celebrating the birth of the Lord, if at all, and yet their minds are completely absorbed with worldly things. They think of their scheduled skiing holidays in the Alps or a far-distance journey to the Maldives; of their numerous invitations and festivities, that are purely secular; of organising this and organising that. But the churches stand empty, and better they remained empty, for honesty’s sake, as your churchmen of today have become a disgrace. They no longer believe. They have abandoned their Christian faith and have embraced, like Ischariot, the world. No wonder, people stay away. These men have nothing to give and nothing to transmit. This is more than just a crisis, it is the very tragedy foretold by prophets and saints thousands of years ago. Mankind will be cleansed, and God only knows by which means He will cleanse it. In any case, the arch-enemy has entered the walls of Christianity a long time ago, patiently waiting for his great and murderous moment. But people only see what the arch-enemy allows them to see. Yet, this is, whatever real, a distraction. After all, he has not only infiltrated and perverted Christendom, he has done the same with all other religions, too. And so, my son, great hardship is coming. Hardship and suffering and death. But it will all be, like in Biblical times, for the sake of bringing man back to his Heavenly Father. Of course, not every prodigal son indeed returns. Man has been endowed, for better or worse, with free will. There is Divine Grace, but there is also man’s need to repent and to wholeheartedly change his ways.”
At this point, the old wise man took me and transferred me, in the twinkling of an eye, to faraway Moscow. He continued:
“Look around! Isn’t this here a different world? A world so fundamentally godless that it can play at will with the appearance-only of faith? But their leaders do not believe in God. They unchangedly believe in their own evil prophets, Marx and Lenin, and are unchangedly committed to their same old project of conquering the world for communism. Watch them carefully: the way they move, the way they speak. In their arrogance and hubris, they are convinced they have mastered the art of perfect imitation. But, my son, everyone who can see should be able to detect the duplicity in everything they do. Sadly, the Western nations are struck, even now, with utter blindness. First, they have allowed themselves to be put to sleep. Now, they refuse to wake up. But the days of comfortable numbness are about to come to an end. The final awakening, when it happens, will be terrible. Many will go insane straight away. Most, however, will be completely helpless.”
The saintly old man disappeared, leaving me behind in the middle of Red Square. A group of people had lined up in front of the Lenin Mausoleum, like pilgrims, eager to enter their sinister holy of holies. The terrifying Red Star on Spasskaya Tower silently confirmed what the man had just said. There was a strange Christmas tree right in front of the GUM department store, cut back to the exact shape of a cone. I then had a look into this alleged temple of new Russian capitalism. What I saw struck me: there, they had a Christmas tree mounted by a giant communist Red Star, like the ones on top of the Kremlin towers outside! Somebody passed by, spotting me as a foreigner, and said in English (with a heavy Russian accent, which he didn’t even try to hide), while he pointed to that Red Star on top of the Christmas tree: “WELCOME TO RUSSIAN-ORTHODOX MOTHER RUSSIA!” – laughing mad and crazy like a whole armada of gruesome demons.
As I woke up, I still had the terrible laughter in my ears, while I cried and cried and cried. Is this indeed our future, as the old man had indicated? Will they indeed slay the rest of the world without mercy, the one way or the other? Given the fact that they are still communists, we’d better get prepared for the worst, remembering the old Latin word: “Si vis pacem, para bellum.” If you want peace, prepare for war. As otherwise, the sole alternatives would be: red or dead…
© The Contemplative Observer 2019