THE DAY TRUE ORTHODOXY SAVED THE WORLD
One of the great confessors of the Catacomb Church was Bishop Michael (Yershov) of Kazan. Stories about him began to seep out to the West towards the end of his life and after his death in 1974. But it was not until a full (739-page) biography of him appeared recently that his full stature and importance became apparent.
Michael Vasilyevich Yershov was born in 1911 into a poor family. His father became a Bolshevik and persecuted and beat his son, but was later converted by him and repented. In 1931, at the age of twenty, Michael was imprisoned for the first time for his rejection of the Sovietized Moscow Patriarchate. Apart from a short period in the early 1940s, he remained in the camps for the rest of his life, being transported from one end of the GULAG to the other and dying, still in prison, on June 4, 1974. He presented an astounding image of patience and suffering that converted many to the Faith. He was a wonderworker and had the gifts of healing and prophecy. But perhaps his most astounding miracle was worked in the Mordovian camps in 1962, together with his fellow inmate and secret bishop, Basil Vasilyevich Kalinin (+1995).
“It was August, 1962. The Cuban crisis! The attention of the world was glued to it, and it affected even the special section hidden in the Mordovian forests. ‘It has to be…! Khruschev has penetrated into the bosom of the Americans!’ That was how the zeks [criminal inmates] interpreted it. People living beyond the barbed wire admitted the possibility that in time of war the local authorities would annihilate them, as the most dangerous politicals, first of all.” “At the special section the zeks insisted that Moscow had issued an order that in time of war the politicals and recidivists would be annihilated first of all. The Cuban crisis was soon resolved, and our camp calmed down. Many years later I heard that the fears of the zeks in 1962 had not been without foundation. They had really been threatened with annihilation at that time.” “In 1964, soon after the fall of Khruschev, a colonel from the Georgian KGB cam e to our camp. And he said, among other things: ‘Khruschev adopted the policy of the complete physical annihilation of the politicals, and first of all the recidivists. During the Cuban crisis everything was prepared for your shooting – even a pit was dug’.” [Bishop] Basil Vasilyevich Kalinin remembered that the holy hierarch [Michael] once unexpectedly aroused him from sleep with the words: “Six minutes are remaining. Get up, Basil, and pray! The world is in danger!” And then he learned that this was the critical moment in the Cuban crisis…
Truly, “the effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much” (James 5.16). For “when Moses prayed to the Lord, the fire was quenched” (Numbers 11.2), and when Elijah prayed to the Lord the heavens were closed and again opened (James 5.17). And when the two True Orthodox bishops Michael and Basil prayed to the Lord, the world was saved from nuclear holocaust…
“Let the world mock us,” wrote Bishop Michael, “but we, poor people, must give all our strength and desire in prayer to God”. “We must strictly watch over ourselves, that we do not fall under the condemnation and wrath of God. We must pour out the balsam of our strength and purity of heart whatever happens, our simple, true and holy prayer to God, which is bound by nothing except simplicity and belief in our eternal inheritance. For the Lord looks on the righteous and on their holy appeals, so that the prayer offered may be the earnest of our strength and the balsam of purification, by which the world might be preserved and the catastrophe which cannot even be expressed in words – God forbid! – might be averted.”
“You yourselves know that a city is preserved if a righteous man is praying in it. Once the righteous man has left the city, the elements rule in the city. And so, dear ones, remember this one thing, that now is not that day on which the universe was created, and everything was brought into being, but now is the day on which danger menaces the creation…”
Besides this pure, simple, burning prayer of a righteous man, Bishop Michael insisted on the pure confession of the True Orthodox Faith.
“Between the Church of the Tikhonite orientation [the True Orthodox Church] and the legal church [the Moscow Patriarchate] there is the following difference. The Church of the Tikhonite orientation zealously fulfils all the laws and rules that are prescribed by the Holy Fathers, while the legal church tolerates atheism, does not struggle against iniquity, but is reconciled with it. I recognize the One Apostolic Church. The legal church recognizes Lenin and Stalin, and serves Soviet power and carries out the orders of the atheist antichrists.”
“Do not believe any sects: this is a cunning contemporary politics that has come out from the West. There are even some that are like the Orthodox faith. But you, my brothers and dear ones, must not go anywhere – may the Lord keep you! There are also many enemies of our Orthodox Christian faith, we have many enemies. The first is Catholicism, our most cunning and evil enemy, and the Lutherans, and all the sects, which came out of America and now, like dirt, have spread through the whole earth. It is difficult for us poor people now, we have no defence from men, everyone wants to offend us. But we are faithful. We are the most true patriots of our Mother, the Holy Orthodox Christian Eastern Apostolic Church. We are patriots of Holy Rus’ and we know the tricks of all kinds of people, and we will not deviate in any direction: for Holy Rus’ is sanctified by the sufferings of her own people. Every foot is creeping into Russi a and wanting to defile her. No, Russia will preserve all the holy mysteries, even if through small, simple people, but she will show the whole world light, and strength, and greatness. Dear ones, the Orthodox Church will conquer the whole universe. Fear not, my dear ones, the Lord will conquer evil. Amen.”
Bishop Michael was a simple, uneducated man. But he attained the spiritual heights. “In my lifetime I have not studied the sciences, but I have come to know the keys of the universe and have reached the depths of the abyss. It is hard and difficult without the Supreme Creator. With the Creator and His Life-giving Spirit and the righteousness of Christ I have passed through the arena of an indescribable life…”
July 20 / August 2, 2012.
Holy Prophet Elijah.