Disclaimer: In some of our articles, especially under the Modern Issues section, we present readers with challenging issues to examine, reflect upon and research. The material is neither supported nor rejected by us, and no one is responsible for its content, other than the original source. Therefore readers are requested not to make any complaints, but to take time to reflect on the material from an Orthodox perspective.

126. St. Thomas Sunday, 1973 [Apr. 23/May 6]

Dear Fr. Neketas,
In truth Christ is risen!

Thank you for your letter and the advice concerning “spiritual” vs. “polemical” orientation. I think on this point we are quite in agreement.

We have nothing to add to our earlier letters, but we are very concerned that we have not gotten across to you the very important point concerning Vladika John’s attitude toward missionary labors. Of course, to a large extent this point must be “felt” rather than explained, but please try to realize that Vladika John was not at all “mistaken” on this matter, but on the contrary it was one of the most important aspects of his inspiring and holy life. One might disagree with him on some specific “economies,” but his basic approach was right and is indispensible for us today. His point was, as I think I said, previously to guide and inspire, not to push and force. He did not at all leave converts without guidance; he rather knew exactly how and when to give the guidance, so that it would inspire and not crush the spirit. Some people point to the “mistake” of the French Church — but the fact remains that there is a healthy French mission within the Church Abroad today, and without him it is hardly likely that there would be. Which is better, to inspire and let the tree grow and then collect fruits from only half the limbs, or, out of “strictness,” to stomp on the plant in the first place and get no tree at all?

Father, look at yourself and Fr. Panteleimon. You came to the Church Abroad as “converts” of sorts, surely, and you yourselves tell us how un-Orthodox was the body from which you came. Do you not realize there were and are people in the Church who think you should have been stomped on, whether for your mistakes (and surely you have made them, being human) or for those practices which you have which seem strange to the “normal Russian” standard? Do you think you would have been accepted in the Church Abroad if the spirit (and direct participation, in the case of Fr. Panteleimon) of Vladika John has not prevailed? Don’t you realize that your very existence in the Church Abroad is an “economy” of which some “strict” observers do not approve?

Father, let us not introduce that kind of “strictness” into the Church Abroad. Let us thank God that you and Fr. Panteleimon have been allowed to exist freely and mature in your own rhythm within the Church Abroad; then let others do do also, particularly if in general their approach seems sound and if they are getting sound counsel. There does not have to be absolute agreement on all issues — by which I mean specifically such things as the relation between Confession and Communion, the authenticity of the Shroud of Turin, the attitude toward contemporary ideology — for us to be part of the same true Orthodox Church and its mission.

We have grounds to believe we know Alexey Young much better than you, and the person you have been talking about does not seem like the same person to us. We can only conclude that you are “reading into” him certain impressions and fears of your own, and also expecting him to conform to certain of your opinions which are not by any means shared by the whole Church. And please do not dismiss all who disagree with you as being under “Latin influence.” That is just a guess, and in many cases it is circle [?] of the work. An example: How could a saint who wrote so strongly about the “grace-less Papists” (Vladika John) also sing the service to Blessed Augustine? Probably for the same reason that the latter s name was introduced into the Russian Calendar in the 19th century on the authority of St. Nikodemos of the Holy Mountain! Was he a Uniate too? or is it after all possible to have a difference of opinon on this subject? [Letter ends, handwritten, possibly never sent.]

Download PDF