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237. Aug. 16/29, 1976 The Image not Made with Hands

Dear Brother in Christ, Seraphim,

Greetings in our Lord Jesus Christ.

We rejoice to hear of your baptism and of your desire for monasticism and the desert. May God bring this desire to fruition in your life!

As for our skete—since you know of our poverty and labors, I won’t mention them. However, you should also be aware that we are by no means idyllic “desert dwellers” either. We have fairly frequent contact with the world, particularly in connection with our printing activities, and we live a life which would not be regarded as very strict at all by the ancient Fathers, but which in our weakness is the best we can manage.

We accept novices, but since we do not know you we would ask you to share our way of life for a while first before being accepted as a novice and given the cassock. (After that, the period of novitiate before being tonsured is normally at least three years.) There are two basic attitudes which are essential if you wish to join us: obedience, which means more than mere outward submission or asking a blessing before undertaking anything, but is bound up with a willingness to distrust your own judgment and trust your elders; and openness as to your spiritual state and struggle. Neither of these is acquired overnight, particularly for our cold and hard American temperament, but involve a growth in mutual trust between you and your elder.

If all this doesn’t discourage you, then write us again and tell us your plans. If you have no worldly obligations, you could join us at any time. We would have to pick you up at the Redding Greyhound Depot 40 miles away.

With love in Christ our Saviour,
Seraphim, monk

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