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107. July 20/Aug. 2,1972. Holy Glorious Prophet Elias

Dear Father Panteleimon,

Please forgive our long silence, but it seems we just don’t get around to correspondence until it’s absolutely necessary. It would be so nice to have a good talk with you. Father Neketas tells us you will be coming out West in November, and perhaps will be able to come to see us then. We certainly hope that you can, and please know that we eagerly look forward to your visit. Alexey Young would also like very much to meet you and hopefully he can arrange a visit at the same time. Although Northern California is still quite a desert from the Orthodox point of view, there nonetheless are still a few tiny settlements of the devout, separated by rugged mountains but united in spirit.

Glory be to God, we are surviving and thanking God that our trials are not impossible ones and that through them we are learning much. At the present time we are in a state of peace with the ruling bishop, but we find it somewhat sad that this peace is sometimes a real struggle and requires of us a certain degree of just plain “stubbornness,” in which two bishops have encouraged us and which is just about the only thing about us that the ruling bishop seems to understand (at least at times it seems that way). On his last visit to us he proclaimed us “old monks,” which seems to supersede certain of his earlier comments. We proceed in the belief that we are free and independent and so far Vladika John’s blessing protects us and guides us in a very definite way. We are somewhat saddened by Vladika Anthony s “cool” attitude toward Vladika John (he’s too “controversial” in S.F.), but Vladika Nektary’s warm devotion to him more than makes up for it. Several weeks ago, after the Divine Liturgy which he served here, Vladika Nektary led us in singing the “Magnification” to Vladika John and then had us sing the stikhera from your service (for which we rejoice and thank God!), and he asked us to translate them into Slavonic. This is strictly confidential; but if we correctly sense the difficult road ahead for us Synodal “zealots” there may well come a day when we will have great joy and consolation in remembering that one of our bishops “canonized” Vladika John! (The date was July 12/25.)

We have been blessed with the presence of a 17-year-old “laborer” from New York (a Russian, related by baptism to Fr. Herman) who has helped us greatly in putting a little more order into the external appearance of our humble monastery, which is however still far from complete. In a few weeks Daniel Olson is supposed to arrive to help put out the Calendar — he aided greatly last year. This year our illustrations will be of Mt. Athos monasteries (mostly from Cavarnos’ book). It would be nice to have a short article or some comments on Mt. Athos to accompany the calendar — if you have anything appropriate we would greatly appreciate having it. We should start on the calendar before the end of the month, however.

Fr. David Black wants to visit us this month. Do you know anything about his present orientation? Our last letter to him in 1971 was so devastating that we really didn’t expect to hear from him again, so perhaps something is up.

Something strictly confidential: I believe that in one of our “suffering” letters to you last year we mentioned Fr. Alexey Poluektov, who has had a difficult time with the ruling hierarch. We haven’t mentioned him for some time, but just yesterday we received an urgent letter from Ыщ begging our prayers and if possible yours also in a very difficult crisis which he sums up by saying that the local bishop is about to “strangle his soul,” and he is desperate. I don’t know how much our comments to you and to Fr. Neketas also in the past have communicated concerning the extremely difficult position that some of our Russian priests are in under certain of our bishops; perhaps one must first get fully involved (trapped?) in the Russian psychology of the Synod to really appreciate it. However that may be, we urgently ask your prayers at Liturgy for Fr. Alexey and his family (list of names enclosed). Also for Vladimir Anderson and his family, who are going through the ultimately blessed but at the same time extremely difficult experience of watching their 8-year-old daughter Margaret die of an incurable brain disease. (They all visited us yesterday.) (List of names also enclosed.)

With love in Christ our Saviour,
Seraphim, monk

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