How has the faithful city become a harlot! It was full of justice; righteousness lodged in it, but now murderers…
The Sunday of All Saints of Russia is a good time to meditate on the contrast between the past glories and present degradation of this, the most important of Christian countries. Indeed, the contrast between pre- and post-1917 Russia is difficult to exaggerate. By far the greatest right-believing empire in history, Russia before the revolution stretched from the Baltic to the Black Sea to the Pacific Ocean, and had the fastest-growing population and fastest-developing economy in the world. Her armies, led by probably the finest man ever to sit on a throne from a moral point of view, protected one hundred million Orthodox believers within her own frontiers, and many millions more in the Balkans and the Middle East, while warding off revolution in the West. Within her frontiers she nourished great ascetics and saints, such as the elders of Optina and Valaam and St. John of Kronstadt; and she sent many missions led by holy men to foreign lands such as Persia, China, Japan, Alaska and the mainland United States.
After the revolution, by contrast, Soviet Russia exported, not true faith and morality, but militant atheism, lies and murder on a vast scale. No regime in history has directly murdered so many of its own citizens, and indirectly the citizens of so many other countries around the world. The only consolation and hope in the midst of this unparalleled evil and misery was the vast choir of the Holy New Martyrs and Confessors of Russia, who from Priest John Kochurov of Chicago to James Arkatov of the Altai lit up the blackness of communism with the heavenly light of true sanctity.
With the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991, however, millions ardently hoped that the longed-for reversal, the resurrection of Holy Russia prophesied by several of the holy elders, was at hand. But then came the bitterest disillusion of all: after a democratic interregnum during the 1990s, the Soviet Union was born again on January 1, 2000 with the coming to power of the KGB colonel, Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin. Gradually at first (so as not to elicit too much unwelcome attention), but then more confidently and aggressively, both the symbols and the reality of Soviet power, laced with liberal lashings of Nazi-style fascism, have taken centre-stage once more.