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Not Everyone Loved His Conservatism

LOVED ALIKE by rich and poor, by nobleman and beggar, Father John was not, however, universally popular. There were those who looked upon him and his works with jealousy and ill will, particularly among clergy and civil servants there were many who disliked him. On the other hand, towards the end of his life, his conservatism, authoritative and outspoken, on matters of principle, both theological and political, aroused the bitter enmity of the liberal pseudo-intellectuals who were zealously preparing the way for the overthrow of both church and monarchy, and with them of every public and private virtue, and the establishment of an ungodly and inhuman tyranny. They could not but hate one who saw them for what they were, who preached Christianity so powerfully and persuasively, and whose own life was an example of it far more persuasive than any preaching.

For his part, Father John during his last years constantly predicted the approach of terrible events in Russia, and openly denounced those who with increasing success were leading people astray, above all those in positions of authority. In all his sermons of 1907 he spoke of the terrible judgment of God, and urged the need of repentance and a return to common sense, declaring that if Russia ceased to be Holy Russia, she would become nothing more than a mere horde of tribal savages, intent upon destroying each other.

Father John's health began to decline in 1906, and towards the end of 1908 he became very ill, and was unable to get any rest from his sufferings, except during his daily liturgy, which he continued to celebrate as long as possible, doing so for the last time on 10 December. He still communicated daily, but on 18 December he fell into a coma, from which, however, he awoke the following evening, much afflicted in his soul. Having with great difficulty received communion for the last time, he died at twenty minutes to seven on the morning of the 20th of December.

His body was taken solemnly to Saint Petersburg, and there interred in the great church of the convent of Saint John, which he had founded. The whole route of the procession, from Kronstadt to Oranienbaum, and again from the Baltic station to the convent, was lined by weeping crowds, mourning the loss of their father and intercessor; even the choir of the imperial guard, who sang the requiem, were unable to restrain their tears. At least sixty thousand people attended the funeral.

He who in this life cared so much for his children, and interceded for them so powerfully, has not abandoned them: the stream of healing, both bodily and spiritual, through his prayers, has not ceased to flow. During the few years between his death and the catastrophe of the Communist revolution, which he foretold, pilgrims journeyed to his tomb. Now the pilgrims come in even greater numbers.

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