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211. March 17/30,1976 St. Patrick of Ireland

(St. Alexis the Man of God)

Dear Alexey,

Again, congratulations on your namesday. May Christ our God preserve you ever in His

grace.

We were encouraged by your dream of our “library”—at least it exists somewhere\ As a matter of fact, we’ve been thinking of it much of late, but a more urgent project is a small addition to our printshop in order to store our Paisius book, etc. Now that we’ve started printing in earnest, our several hundred pages of lead is turning into several tons of paper, and it’s becoming a major problem! Also, the Religion of the Future must now be printed, and we were sobered to realize that with the new printing (which we hope to do through your printer in Oregon, which will save us at least $100, depending on how many we print) there will be between 4000 and 5000 copies in circulation, if one includes the original printing in The Orthodox Word. It is obvious that there is real interest in the real Orthodoxy. What is disappointing is to discover how little “follow-through” there is—i.e., the story of our numerous convert failures. We have not heard again from Paul Bartlett; most likely he will indeed try to find his “answers” from Boston et al, for he wants, first of all, some kind of “security” that does not touch or change or commit him too much. There does not seem to be much more hope for the other graduates of our “academy” last summer either. They’ve all stayed in contact with us, but it’s obvious that Christopher is well on the way to becoming an “Orthodox floater,” and Fr. Symeon is well on the way to making the rounds of the “disillusioned convert syndrome” who can find peace nowhere. We pray that they will survive, but their own background and the world atmosphere conspire strongly against them. Paul Bassett continues in his dreams, but at least he does stay in one place, Jordanville, and we just now received from him, and were much touched, a battery charger for our tape-recorder batteries!

Did you notice that you Were quoted in the Witness? Does that amount to the diplomatic recognition of a revolutionary government?

God willing, the last OW for 1976 [meaning 1975] will be out next week, and the first one for the new year should be out not too long after, but probably only after Pascha. We will be filling several issues with Orthodox Gaul, and of course there may be quibblers, considering the fact that these saints “aren’t in the Calendar,” and also that the shade of Blessed Augustine looms over several of the great figures of this time. Concerning the first point, we were greatly relieved by Vladika Nektary’s reaction—he asked only one question: were they recognized as saints then by the Roman Church? If so, then of course they are Orthodox—with perhaps a very few exceptions who should be investigated separately. Concerning the second point we have been a little apprehensive over the “Boston reaction,” purely from the point of view of the “static” that it could cause. It was therefore with immense relief that we received a few days ago Fr. Neketas’ newest reprint, of Fr. George Grabbe’s article on Orthodox education of children, where “Saint Prosper of Aquitaine” is favorably quoted! The one “fanatical” supported of Bl. Augustine’s doctrine of grace in 5th century Gaul! He is the one figure of this time whom we would hesitate to call Saint without further research (which we will be doing soon)—but even then we would like to believe that he is simply “over-emphasizing” rather than giving a false teaching. Fr. Michael Azkoul’s brief article on Blessed Augustine in the new True Vine, by the way, is rather poor purely from the point of view of sources: he doesn’t know where to look to find what the Orthodox view of him is.

But apart from static, the air of 5th and 6th century Gaul is extremely invigorating and inspiring, and purely Orthodox, even down to details of iconography (what we know of it, for the icons themselves have almost entirely disappeared), vestments, etc. St. Gregory of Tours is such a rich source that it is not necessary to “reconstruct” the Orthodox spirit of this time; it is as well known to us as the spirit of the East at the same time, and his books are really of the same caliber as the Dialogues of St. Gregory the Great, the Lausiac History, Spiritual Meadow, etc. If only God would give us a few more years of the golden opportunity we now have, we could use Gaul as a “beachhead” to give a powerful dose of Orthodox England and Ireland as well! Or perhaps you could do this! Let your trip this summer be for a beginning of an Orthodox awareness of the English past not only for you yourself, but for others as well; by the prayers of Vladika John may this trip be fruitful. I myself would love to sit here and translate the complete works of St. Gregory of Tours (which all exist in a very literal French version to aid my very feeble Latin), as well as several other basic texts of that time which we have in Russian. Sometimes we allow ourselves to dream, not only of a completed library, but of two or three brothers one in mind with us who could double or triple our translating and printing work; and then sober reality tells us that we are probably achieving maximum efficiency precisely by the “suffering through” which we are doing. I somehow have the feeling that we are “pre-digesting” the food for a number of seekers, and if we chewed too much they would begin to get sick!

I haven’t gone back to Kalomiros’ letter, and probably won’t attempt a reply before summer. The letter, although I find its tone distasteful, is helpful, because it shows the reaction that our “evolution book” would have had in some quarters if it hadn’t first been tested by this correspondence. This will help us to avoid “onesidedness.” I have the impression Kalomiros demonstrates quite a bit of rationalism himself; he writes not as from within a tradition himself, But as one who is striving to get into the tradition. Our uninterrupted Russian tradition, for all its real and supposed Westernisms, has a strength and resiliency which the “rediscoverers of tradition” do not have. May God help us to express these things in a way that can be accepted and assimilated today.

Fr. Michael Pomazansky, by the way, in his recent articles (at the age of 86!), shows that he is quite aware of this problem.

God willing, Vladika Nektary will be serving the Pre-sanctified Liturgy the week after next; if so, we will call you as soon as it is definite.

Pray for us.

With love in Christ,
Seraphim, monk

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