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170. Feb. 1/14, 1975. Martyr Tryphon

Dear Father Valery [Lukianov],

Here at last is the letter you asked me to write. I will take the opportunity to write down a few other ideas also.

The more we hear of the Jordanville Sobor (or at least the Bishops’ Sobor after everyone else left), the more discouraged we are. We still don’t understand what was the purpose of the decree on the Old Believers? The question of the canonization of Blessed Xenia was postponed, evidently (from what Vladika Nektary tells us) because it is “unimportant.” There was no support shown for the zealots of Mt. Athos who are suffering persecution for true Orthodoxy. (Our friends in Greece write us that the Old Calendarists were expecting help from us, and Patriarch Demetrius also waited to see whether our Bishops would speak out — if not, then the persecution can continue.) And the Epistles to the Paris and Metropolia groups — what feeble statements, as though the differences between us were nothing more than “jurisdictional squabbles” which can be ended with a few “negotiations” — instead of a question of confessing the truth as against going along with the spirit of the times.

Father Sergei Shukin writes us that in the decrees of the Bishops he feels the “influence of Solzhenitsyn.” Yes, we feel this too; and I remember you mentioned something like this when you visited us also. Solzhenitsyn is important as a moral force, standing up boldly in the face of tyranny, encouraging people to stop lying. This is good, but very limited; and it is obvious that Solzhenitsyn himself does not have a very deep Church consciousness. He is a kind of “confessor” — but not like St. Maximus the Confessor or St. Mark of Ephesus. He wants Russians to be united — but he probably does not even see that truth must come before unity. (And even though he is against “living by lies” — he has not yet seen the terrible lie of Schmemann and that whole fake Orthodoxy.) Thus Solz. can be a great scandal today — and really, he seems to have exerted a great influence on our Bishops. How discouraging to see the Bishops running after the world, trying to keep in “fashion.” In the 1971 Sobor Fr. Panteleimon of Boston was in “fashion”; then it was seen that due to his influence the Bishops made some mistakes at that Sobor (about the two different groups of Old Calendarists) and themselves to make the “Greek situation” worse. And so in 1974 there is a new “fashion” — Solzhenitsyn and the “spirit of reconciliation.” Meanwhile, Fr. Panteleimon has gone “out of fashion,” and Archbp. Anthony of Geneva even told him: “If you don’t like the way we do things, get out of our Church.” Of course, Fr. Panteleimon himself makes mistakes and also is a little subject to “fashions” — but at least he is sincerely trying to uphold a “zealot” position and so far has been very loyal to the Synod; he does not deserve to be “kicked out” just because he has gone out of fashion.

To sum up: the Bishops look very much like a worldly “Board of Directors” who are leading the Church according to their human understanding, not by the guidance of God. This means trouble ahead. Right now, Vlad. Anthony told us, Grabbe and Schmemann are “negotiating” — about what? About confessing the truth? Or about how to present a pleasing face to the world and look as though you are friends with everyone? If the “negotiations” succeed, are we supposed to accept the innovations and the whole false Orthodoxy of Schmemann & Co? This make us very uneasy — the ground is being dug away from beneath our feet.

And this is something like what I wanted to tell you in my little “sermon” when you visited us. One feels sorry for the Orthodox flock and wants to be as condescending as possible to their weaknesses — but first one must lead them, tell them what is right and what is expected of them, always pulling them up higher, giving them the idea that they are Orthodox not because they were born that way or belong to an Orthodox “organization” — but only IF THEY ARE STRUGGLING TO BE FAITHFUL TO THE CHURCH’S TEACHING. Orthodox shepherds today more than ever must beware of placing their hope in the “organization,” but rather must be constantly looking upwards to the Chief Shepherd Christ, to the heavenly world of God’s Truth and His Saints from which alone comes the inspiration to keep guiding the flock rightly. The shepherd cannot be just a filler of “treby” for people who are “automatically” Orthodox because they belong to the organization; but he must be warning them that THEY CAN LOSE THE SAVOR OF ORTHODOXY if they are not looking upward and struggling. Bishop Theophan the Recluse already foresaw this losing of the savor of Orthodoxy and was terribly upset that no one around him seemed to see this — that it was already happening in the 19th century, and how much more today!

We ourselves are blessed to have a quiet life and no “parish problems,” and therefore we cher-ish all the more this ideal. If we had to live in San Francisco and adjust to the parish life there, I fear we should become terribly discouraged. But here we have the wilderness to inspire us, and as we look around us we can freely think of cave-dwellers and the magnificent freedom which is the true Orthodox life (within the framework of self-renunciation). It is much more difficult in the world to do this — and that is why we wish you to be constantly LIVING IN THE HEAVENLY WORLD, and only secondly to be “living the life of your flock.”

We feel very much the dangers ahead of us: true Orthodoxy can be swallowed up by half-hearted Orthodoxy, which is actually only a stage on the path to fake Orthodoxy (Constantinople, Metropolia, etc.). The schism of Evlogy and the Metropolia was a blessing from God, because it cut off many rotten members, the fake intelligentsia that wants to make a new Orthodoxy. The talk now of “reconciliation” with these groups shows that within our Church true Orthodoxy is in danger of being lost.

About another subject: we have not forgotten about the idea of the Psalter. It is a good idea, and several converts to whom we have mentioned it are enthusiastic. But we still do not quite see how (practically speaking) to bring it about. The commentary, however, should be in English also (I think you mentioned only Russian?) — it will be more popular among converts than Russians. It may be that one of our California “convert publishers” (Nikodemos and Eastern Orthodox Books) will be able to help with publishing it, Can you send the commentary of Vladika Demetry? I could probably translate it on tape without too much difficulty and someone else could transcribe it. Do you have any new ideas about printing it? We can expect little support from Church groups — best to do it first and let them realize its importance later. Offset would be best, but for that we need copies of the texts of the right size. What do you think? (The English Psalter from Boston isn’t ready yet — a few months more, they say.) The man who runs Eastern Orthodox Books (Vladimir Anderson, my godson) can get offset printing done very cheaply — we are sending you separately his edition of St. Macarius the Great, which is quite good except for the binding — but for a little more money we can have the book sewn instead of “perfect bound” (glued). In fact, if we could get the text ready for offset, he might even be able to take the whole printing job himself, as one of his editions — but with your preface. Below is a sketch of how the pages might look. It’s a good idea, but it won’t go over at first — we must all push it, and then it might catch on.

Please forgive my “teachiness” and self-assurance. Please pray for us. We have had difficulties with our machines, as usual in winter. We had a warm January, and then suddenly 4 feet of snow, which has been a little difficult. But now spring looks close again.

With love in Christ,
Seraphim, monk

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