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Russian Satanist-turned-seminarian impresses Pope Francis

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Francisco Veneto - published on 09/09/23

A young Russian bears witness to how Christ led him from the darkness of Satanism to the light, transforming his perception of himself.

On Friday, August 25, Pope Francis participated by videoconference in the 10th Meeting of Young Catholics of Russia, held in St. Petersburg from August 24 to 27. During the event, one testimony was particularly striking: that of seminarian Alexander Baranov, 34, who had been a Satanist before his conversion.

Out of darkness into light

As Baranov himself described it:

Ten or 12 years ago, I was as far away from the Church as possible. I was a Satanist. I took part in occult rituals. I did and said a lot of bad things. I’ve been in the Church for five years now, and in my second year of seminary, I recognized a call to the priesthood.

The young Russian emphasized that he sees the Catholic Church as having a special mission from which he himself has already benefited: “To bring people out of darkness. At least that’s how it was in my life.”

Factors that can lead to Satanism

For Alexander, the factors that can lead someone into what he calls “darkness” include “fear, the pain of loss, the experience of one’s own weakness, the experience of violence, trauma, and so on.” He believes that, if handled badly, these experiences can lead to feelings of frustration and even hatred towards God.

Superstitions and esotericism also have an impact. He notes that “almost one in two people try to guide their lives with superstitions.” As examples, he mentions practices ranging “from wearing a red thread on one’s hand, to the evil eye, to astrology and worse: they are all ways” of trying to get by “without God, but without feeling powerless.” The seminarian warns that the power of superstitions in the life of an unformed person can reach such a point that “it takes a real biblical miracle to bring them back to the light.”

Christ is the way

But Alexander points the way to the light:

From this very darkness, Christ brings the person back through the Church, if only the person allows it. The same way that he brought the demon-possessed out of the tombs. The way he brought me out, set me free and showed me a different path, another way of thinking, another perception of myself.

Christ can show you that, despite your weakness, despite your pain, despite all your negative experiences, you are worthy of life, salvation, and love. And this is what we should talk about, what we should proclaim, what we should live.

He concludes:

Christ really does heal! He really does lead us from darkness to light, from death to life, from Satan to Himself and to the Father. Just as he brought me out, he can bring anyone out. Oh, if only we would do everything in our power to let as many people as possible know Him and His power!

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