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213. April 3/16, 1976 Friday the Sixth Week of Lent

Dear Nina,

David brought your note. Forgive my frankness—but why in the world do you want to send copies of Father John’s letter anywhere? Fr. George [Grabbe] already knows from the Synod, if he is supposed to know; and please don’t involve Fr. Panteleimon in anything to do with Etna. No matter what, that will mean disaster for Alexey—which I don’t think you understand yet.

As for Fr. John and Etna—please do not even think of any “invitations.” Quite apart from anything else, it is quite obvious that Vladika Anthony does not want him in his diocese at this time, and he will be extremely upset at any “negotiations” to this effect without his knowledge. (And we will probably be blamed for it.)

I hope that you are aware that you are now living in the diocese of Vladika Anthony, and that when it is a question of priests and parishes it is his will that is done and must be respected. One may disagree with bishops, and in extreme need even “fight” with them; but one is never to usurp their rights or try to “arrange” things without them, as though they were mere figureheads. One should be in fear and trembling before bishops, and never free or familiar. I fear that some of our “American Orthodoxy” in the Synod is doing just that—organizing psychological-spiritual dioceses of their own, and treating bishops as figureheads who “don’t understand.” God gave them to us, and if there are sometimes difficulties, that also is for our benefit and salvation, and we must approach them with spiritual means.

Please do not make Etna into parish and diocese business—didn’t you go there to escape things like that? You’ve taken the busy-busy church world with you. Be patient. What you want will come in God’s time, if it is truly His will; just don’t think you are so wise.

This comes from me; Fr. Herman would probably say it stronger! As far as we know, he made his connections all right and is in Jordanville to say farewell to his Abba [Archbishop Averky]. This is a great, great loss to us. We thank God that we were able to present him as a “living link” while he was still alive rather than (as is usual) waiting until he is gone before starting to appreciate him.

Forgive me. Pray for us.

With love in Christ,
Seraphim, monk

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