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201. Nov. 27/Dec. 10, 1975 Kursk Icon-St. Diodorus of Solovki

Dear Brother in Christ, Paul [Bartlett],

Greetings in our Lord Jesus Christ.

Please forgive our long silence, which is especially reprehensible on our part, knowing the difficulty of your lone Orthodox struggle out there in the world. These last weeks have been so busy that we have scarcely been out of the printshop, day or night. Glory be to God, The Northern Thebaid was finished at last and some copies brought for binding to San Francisco (you’ll get yours as soon as the cover is ready). Now the Calendar is in full production and perhaps in a week will be finished. The machines are working well—the generator is perfect, although it uses much propane, and the linotype works the best it has since summer, with the worst of its problems cleared up. The nicks in the matrices, I discovered, were caused by a worn-out screw in the vise cap, requiring only a slight adjustment; and the stick matrices were the fault of Typomite—now I use just the dry brush to clean the magazine. The heat and lead quality have been excellent for several weeks, glory to God. When in San Francisco I looked at the linotype Vladimir mentioned, which is not guaranteed in running condition, but I think I could put it into such—but we won’t think about it until spring. Even at its best, our present machine is slow, and we keep thinking there isn’t much time to do all that we should.

Br. Christopher has been with us for several weeks, but will be leaving for Hawaii next week, rather unprepared for an isolated life in the world.

You, of course, are better prepared, even though you may find the way discouraging right now. Fr. Dimitry Dudko has an answer for the new convert leading a lonely life in the world (I think we read this at trapeza after you left): Enter as much as possible into the Church’s spirit and way of thought and life. (In Russian this is called “churchification”). Your loneliness, while difficult to bear, is good, because only out of suffering comes spiritual growth; it will pass as you get more and more into the Church spirit through continually nourishing yourself with it. Daily reading, even if little, is very important in this struggle.

About the priesthood: treasure the idea for now in your heart. The more experience you have in life, and in suffering (I know you don’t like that word—but even if you don’t go out and seek suffering, at least be prepared to accept what little God allows you, and accept it gladly)—the better prepared you will be for priesthood. In Jordanville they are trying to prepare an English reading list for correspondence courses (I believe), so technically this question might become easier before long. I don’t know how Fr. Neketas might look on your hope—I rather think he might be discouraging about it. Actually, there is more reason in our day than ever before to wait for ordination until after the canonical age of 30. But this thought, and practical approaches to it, should be maturing in your mind and heart in the months ahead.

You will see in the Calendar our introduction to St. Gregory of Tours—actually used as an introduction to the whole question of Western saints. This should go in the Sept-Oct. issue of the OW. And then we need a last small introduction before beginning the Lives themselves. Perhaps, after finishing your “thesis,” you could do this for us? What we need is just a brief life of St. Gregory himself—not hagiographic style, but more popular-scholarly, so as to place him in the history of his times, etc., with all details that put him in Orthodox light. I.e., his family background, turning points in his life (a miracle of St. Martin, I believe?), Gaul and the Church at his time, his governance of his flock, attitude toward princes, etc. Perhaps [letter ends]

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