17. Wise as serpents and innocent as doves

Fr Tikhon recounted how the great Abbot Fr Alipius called himself, a soviet Archimandrite.

In those days, communist officials would often visit monasteries with the singular goal – to shut them down. Communism was against all faith, and its creed was to denounce any spirituality except a blind faith in the human leadership.

Once, some junior officials came by and saw laypeople fixing the garden in the Pskov Monastery and grilled Fr Alipius why illegal workers were there.

Fr Alipius replied that those people were not illegal workers, but were people laboring to improve the fatherland. The officials kept silent and left.

Another time, some officials from the financial oversight committee came and demanded to see the financial records of the monastery.

Fr Alipius told the officials that he could not release any documents unless his bishop, Bishop John of Pskov, approved it in writing.

Bishop John called sometime after the officials left, and said that he would approve the officials to examine the financial records of the monastery. But Fr Alipius told the bishop that he could not file a telephone call and asked the bishop to send an authorization through a telegram.

Later, the telegram arrived, and the communist officials came by again to demand to see the financial records.

Fr Alipius questioned if the officials were true communists. The officials replied, “of course!”

Fr Alipius then told the officials that if they were true communists, why would they sought the authorization from a bishop of the Church. Fr Alipius then threatened to send a copy of the telegram to the communist party committee. The financial officials promptly left without creating any more trouble for the monastery.

We as Christians know that we live a life of danger. We are sheep among wolves. The world is increasingly populated by sadly deluded ones who would threaten or even finish us simply for our faith in our Lord and Christ. Christ and His holy apostles warned us that living straight and narrow to the Truth of the Gospel demands much from us, and that we are to steel ourselves and ready ourselves for the journey towards God. Therefore, we are admonished to be wise as serpents and yet maintain innocence and peace as doves (St Matthew 10:16).

Let us pray for one another, for those in need, for those who reject the call of Christ and the Gospel, and for those who are sadly misguided. Let us especially pray:

Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.

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