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206. Jan. 18/31, 1976 Sts. Athanasius and Cyril of Alexanderia

Dear Alexey,

Rejoice in our Lord Jesus Christ!

I hope you aren’t still upset over the Hudanish fit. You can accept it as “experience”—and really, such behavior is so outrageous, so out of the context of normal life, as it were, that one can’t really believe it until one see it with one’s own eyes. But how widespread is this kind of behavior among mankind! We’ve been getting a similar dose from Br. Laurence—his mood changed again (after beholding our beautiful nature on one of our Epiphany processions), and he thought he might not leave after all, and so he put down (at our request) in black and white a report of his three years here and his hopes for the future. The report turned out to be a thorough accusation of us as his “exploiters.” My heavens. It would be useless to dispute with him, and as Fr. Herman told him, with such an attitude it’s quite impossible for him to stay. His condition for staying, as it turns out, is that we reform ourselves and give up the coenobitic monastic ideal! (Although, of course, he himself wouldn’t express it that way, since he has no idea that he doesn’t understand monasticism.

The state of Hudanish and Br. Laurence is the state of prelest called by the Holy Fathers “fancy” or “opinion”—when a web of ideas is spun which has no real contact with reality, which is why when it comes out it seems so very “far out.” A person then acts according to his passions, but thinks he is being logical according to the web of ideas he has spun. Usually the devil uses one little ideas to “catch” us, knowing that it will catch us in something we may be emotional about; and that “catch” is sufficient to get us to weave the whole spider web which trips us up. I suspect that your “smoking” was the trap that caught Hudanish—he knows its so obviously “wrong,” and from his Old Believer contacts he has a “thing” about being “right”; and looking at the rest of what he has seen and heard of you in a new light, he sees many “wrong” things there also which he wouldn’t have paid much attention to if he hadn’t been “caught” by the smoking. Most likely his letters to you of late have come after long stewing and conversations with himself—and what the letters do is not to express any reality, but only different stages of his conversation with himself in his own spider web. We’ve seen several examples of this here, and it seems to account for many of the difficult “convert” phenomena. The answer seems only one thing: conscious spiritual life according to the Patristic teaching; there, are to be found the right way of thinking which disperses all our “opinions.” We’ve asked Vladika Averky to write an article on this subject.

We’ll be interested in your reaction to the first Sederholm tape—is there anything there yet for you to grab ahold of? Perhaps you need some more tapes on him first, before writing a first installment. Let us know. ·

With love in Christ,
Seraphim, monk

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