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226. June 24/July 7, 1976 Nativity of St. John the Baptist

Dear Father Mark [Wakingham],

Bless!

First, we write to thank you warmly for the icons of St. Columba, which arrived safely several weeks ago. I’m not quite sure which issue they will fit into, but hopefully we will be using them soon. By the way, has there been any “official” approval (I.e., by the Archbishop) for the veneration of such saints who are not in the existing Russian and Greeks calendars? We ourselves have no problems accepting these saints who were certainly venerated by the Orthodox Church before the schism, but an official “stamp of approval” is helpful in quieting those for whom the Western saints still seem a little strange. If there exists an “officially approved list” of English saints, we would certainly like to add their names to our calendar.

Second, we have heard of the furor aroused by the Guildford “rebaptisms,” and this troubles us—not for the sake of the baptisms themselves (for our Church has been quite broad in its acceptance of different degrees of economy and strictness) as because of the tone of over-zealous “correctness” with which some people, at least, have greeted them. We are familiar with this spirit of “correctness” here in America, and it does not have good results, leading rather to divisions, discouragement, strife, and the creation of a whole “party” in the Church which fancies that it knows better about these things than anyone else, including our bishops. Perhaps it will encourage you to know that our whole Church is by no means in agreement with those who are pushing their “correctness,” and our bishops (probably unanimously) are against this “zeal not according to knowledge.” No one is against true zeal, but when it becomes a “party line” and divides the Church into factions—then it is time to step back and proceed more soberly and moderately.

Perhaps you are discouraged in your own labors because of all the troubles. Please know that we are with you in prayer, and we ourselves derive encouragement knowing of your missionary labors preformed without great publicity and fanfare. Archbishop John taught us that each little Orthodox center is like a sprout whose normal Orthodox growth must be encouraged, without imposing a strait-jacket of conformity upon it. Even if for a time a “super-zealot” party may seem to have the approval of the Archbishop in England, you should know that this can surely only be due to a misunderstanding which will eventually be corrected, for it is quite out of harmony with the attitude of all our bishops. In any case, please persevere in your labors, which perhaps unknown to you help to encourage other solitary strugglers in our Church throughout the world. The devil is walking about like a lion in our midst, but by our patience and endurance of trials we can get the best of him, with God s help.

We would be glad to hear more from you and have a more regular contact with you, and we ask your holy prayers for our Brotherhood.

With love in Christ,
Seraphim, monk

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