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082. May 5/18. Martyr Irene

Dear Father Ambrosius [Pogodin],

Thank you very much for the letter and gift, and please forgive our long delay in answering. There is so much for just the two of us to be doing, and as you see, we are very late in publishing our magazine. But by God’s mercy and the prayers of our patrons, St. Herman and Vladika John, we continue to exist and have hopes to increase our publications.

We are sending you separately our copy of St. Gregory’s [Palamas] Homilies, and are happy to be able to help you in this.

We are very touched that you would like to visit us. But probably you have far too idealistic a picture of us! Our whole “pustyn” is only two cabins and a small unfinished church, to which we add a little at a time, and we have very little of modern conveniences. Still, for us it is a paradise, for it enables us to concentrate on our work, removed from most of those distractions which are such a temptation today for those who would serve the Holy Church. We are sufficiently remote so that our visitors are few, and generally interested to see us, and not just “tourists.”

You are correct that it would be very unwise to write to our Archbishop about visiting us. Because of your situation our contacts with you will have to be “informal” for an indefinite time. With the Moscow Patriarchate, of course, we have no contact, as a matter of principle; but we know that you are not in your present situation because you support their “principle” against ours, but rather by force of circumstances. As you see in The Orthodox Word, we believe in the principle of the Church Abroad; but sometimes a living soul becomes caught, as it were, in a net of circumstances that threaten to choke and strangle him, and then it would be a sin of phariseeism not to offer, if one can, at least a word of encouragement. That is the testament we have received from Vladika John, from whom we have also learned that in Christ not all “hopeless” situations are really as hopeless as they seem…. I believe you understand all this well enough, being yourself, just like we are, an “orphan” of Vladika John! As to what form, on the basis of all this, our future contacts will take — surely God, through the prayers of Vladika John, will teach us! We only know that God does not want living souls to be stifled, nor fruitful trees to remain barren.

But perhaps I am becoming too philosophical! May God and His saints guide you aright in all your ways.

With love in Christ our Saviour,
Seraphim, Monk

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