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191. Oct. 5/18,1975

Dear Fr. Valery,

Blagoslovite!

We rejoice in the recovery of Sergei, for whom we prayed fervently. May God preserve him for many years of true Christian life unto salvation!

Your article on Jeane Dixon did not disturb us, but we agree with you that the “polemical” nature of the response is disturbing. This is something which we have seen in our Greeks in the Synod, and often in Americans. It seems to come from some kind of inner lack of balance and discretion, requiring the need to tell everyone: “Look, I am right, and he is wrong.” But it is most disturbing to find this quality now in young Russian priests, revealing that they have lost the oneness of mind and soul which should be uniting true zealots of Orthodoxy, and no longer have the calmness in Orthodoxy that characterizes those who carry the true tradition of Orthodoxy within them. This summer we received a letter from Fr. Alexander Lebed, criticizing our use of the term “True-Orthodox,” which seems to have something of this self-righteous agitation in it.

Of late we have been very disturbed by precisely this quality in our “converts,” led by rather Panteleimon and his Greeks. More and more our “Greeks” give a feeling of sectarianism combined with a kind of academic conceit, as if telling us all: “We are the only ones who really are Orthodox, we are experts and you know nothing. The Russians are really secret Catholics, are under ‘Western influence’; only we are “pure.” But in feet they are not at all pure—at every step they reveal how much they are (evidently quite unconsciously) under very Western, modern influences—even to belief in evolution. Fr. Neketas Palassis’ latest attack against Blessed Augustine (where he says that only the “theologically uneducated” or “Latin-leaning” accept him as a Saint or a Holy Father) is simply childish—but these “children” think they are leading the Church of Christ! For years Fr. Panteleimon has been spreading distrust among the converts—toward Bishop Petros, toward Bishop Laurus, toward any convert priest who doesn’t become his “follower,” and lately toward us also, apparently because we are “Russians” who are under “Latin influence”— and at the same time he himself keeps a “file” with copies of private letters (at least two of them outright forgeries) proving that there is a “plot” against him, and that it is the others who are spreading distrust of him. Well, it is about time somebody started distrusting him—he is involved in precisely that “political” church atmosphere which so grieves Vladika Averky, and we begin to see him now as a “classic case” of prelest, brought about by self-esteem and vainglory.

We feel that our “Greeks” will not be with us much longer—you and others have felt this for a long time, sensing their foreign spirit; but we supported them for a long time, thinking they were really helping our converts to receive true Orthodoxy. Fr. Panteleimon in his self-deception does not realize how far out of harmony he is with our Church—he thinks that the bishops also think what the Greek-Americans and many converts tell him, that he is the only real voice of Orthodoxy in English. Dr. Kalomiros in Greece writes us that in his opinion Fr. Panteleimon and his followers have fallen into “group pride,” thinking that they alone are the standard of Orthodoxy. Fr. P. has done much harm in Greece also, but siding against the majority of Old Calendarists and supporting the “Mathewites”—who are real fanatics and legalists. We feel that disaster is coming upon our poor- English-speaking mission, and the converts who trusted the “Greeks” too much will have a tragic fate.

But we are peaceful about all this, seeing that it only makes us more sober. We must simply struggle all the harder to give the real feeling for Orthodoxy. The number of True Orthodox Christians seems to diminish rather than increase, and the devil attacks always from some unexpected direction! Our own experience with converts (we had four new ones with us this summer) teaches us how difficult it is for them to absorb true Orthodoxy, and how easy it is for them (because of their self-opinion and soft life) to fall for some “faker.”

By the way, we are very impressed by the book by Fr. Dimitry Dudko. We should not call him a “confessor” (as one of your critics does!) so as not to confuse people into thinking he is “the real thing” 100%, and also some of his ideas are a little off—but his voice comes through as very genuine, as spoken through suffering—which seems to be the dimension lacking in our poor “convert-Ortho- doxy.” Have you read it?

I would like to write more—but no time. We think about the Psalter from time to time—but technically it seems an immense project; and we have just finished the May-June issue of the Orthodox Word!

We ask your prayers.

With love in Christ,
Seraphim, monk

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