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108. Sunday of All Saints, 1972

Dear Father Neketas,

Evlogeite! Thank you for the letter and the Sorrowful Epistles, which arrived safely. Our new issue has a 1-page notice about the latter.

Melchisedek was here for Pentecost weekend, and unlike his last visit he talked quite a bit, which seems to be good for him. Nonetheless, he’s obviously the iceberg type, with a great deal more inside than ever comes out, and capable of acting in surprising and unexpected ways — this is our opinion from reading “between the lines,” as nothing he said would lead to such a conclusion. He seems to have the genuine spark of Orthodox fervor, and also the determination to be really Orthodox and sober. The first Celtic Cross is not bad, but we tried to point him more in the direction of early sources, so as to give more of the atmosphere and “feel” of early Orthodoxy in the West instead of his own retelling of it. Of course, some of the latter element is inevitable, but if it is the sole or predominant element it just isn’t as convincing, at least until there is substantial basis (a number of issues, with sufficient original sources in them) to trust him as a reteller. And there are a number of early lives by contemporaries who are themselves irreproachable (say, the Life of St. Germanus of Auxerre by St. Hilary of Poitiers(?), which can at least be quoted from, and several collections of shorter lives which might be taken in toto — St. Gregory the Dialogist, St. Gregory of Tours. Melchisedek said nothing about having us as “chief” advisors so we advised him to continue his procedure of the first issue and have you be his prepublication critic. (He didn’t show us any of the material in the first issue until he arrived with the printed version.) May God bless this fragile but hopeful beginning!

Our “charismatic” issue is almost finished, and we are relieved that we have said it all (40 pages, thinly spaced), even though we have no idea what the reaction will be — apart from the undying hatred of the Orthodox “charismatics.” One feels sorry for most of them, for they certainly have no idea what they’re getting into (perhaps one could better say: they have no idea what they’re getting away from, for the whole question seems to be lack of knowledge and “feel” about Orthodoxy). The time is obviously at hand when only those deeply rooted in Orthodoxy and the Fathers will be able to stand against the temptations to come. Eusebius and Co. have gone astray concerning the doctrine and action of the Holy Spirit, but the key for us seems after all to be the doctrine of the Church. If we know what and where the Church is, and also of course something of how the devil works, then all the “miracles” in a “Christian” context will not unbalance us as it did Eusebius — and he probably hasn’t even heard of the most spectacular “miracles,” such as those coming from Indonesia.

Frankly, the time ahead looks so dark, that one only marvels that we still have the freedom to speak out (how much longer?). Obviously, everything that can be said must be said soon. And the brightest spot in the whole picture is the New Martyrs and the Catacomb Church — after all, one does not have to sell one’s soul!

Have you received a copy of “The Russian Synod Deceivers”? (if you haven’t, we’ll send you ours.) — a cheap attack which really doesn’t merit a reply, especially as it seems to be anonymous (some Ukrainian names are given, but no return address — perhaps a front for someone in the Metropolia?) That’s probably only a sample of what’s in store for us, and the problem is that of course they will be able to find all kinds of plausible “inconsistencies” and worse among us, which will be convincing to anyone who stops at the surface and doesn’t care to go deeper. To this day seemingly sophisticated people like Fr. David Black still think that were picking on individual, isolated cases in order to promote a case of “jurisdictional triumphalism,” and it seems impossible to get such people to see that what is involved is mutually irreconcilable views of what Orthodoxy is.

I just read I Was an NKVD Agent by Anatoli Granovsky — a frightfully revealing expose of the Soviet system (in comparison with which Hider s Nazism was only a romantic daydream). One revealing chapter tells how he was offered the assignment of the “priesthood” (in 1944), but even apart from that, from his testimony it is absolutely inconceivable in Soviet conditions that Nikodim and the younger hierarchs could be anything but NKVD agents who have been assigned the “episcopacy.”

Were pleased to hear that Jerry Norman has been attending Liturgy. We haven’t seen, and scarcely heard from him for years. When I knew him he was quite sound and conservatively oriented, both politically and ecclesiastically. Even then he had just about given up on the Catholic church with its reforms, but where he stands now we don’t know.

Please forgive the rambling letter, and pray for us.

With love in Christ our Saviour,

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