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263. March 7/20, 1979 St. Paul the Simple

Dear Anna,

May the blessing of the Lord be with you!

Thank you for your letter. I think it reveals less confusion than you think—perhaps your ideas are still somewhat confused, but I think your basic attitude is correct, and if you persevere in spiritual struggle your ideas also will straighten themselves out.

Your battle with “demoniac fornication” is not as unusual as you may think. This passion has become very strong in our evil times—the air is saturated with it; and the demons take advantage of this to attack you in a vulnerable spot. Every battle with passions also involves demons, who give almost unnoticeable “suggestions” to trigger the passions and otherwise cooperate in arousing them. But human imagination also enters in here, and it is unwise to distinguish exactly where our passions and imagination leave off and demonic activity begins—you should just continue fighting.

That the demons attack you in dreams is a sign of progress—it means they are retreating, seeing that you are resisting conscious sin. God allows this so that you will continue fighting. Often this demon goes away altogether for a while, and one can have a false sense of security that one is “above” this passion; but all the Holy Fathers warn that one cannot consider this passion conquered before the grave. Continue your struggle and take refuge in humility, seeing what base sins you are capable of and how you are lost without the constant help of God Who calls you to a life above these sins.

About our Russian Church Abroad—I think it is not a bad description to say that it is in a way the “conscience” of Orthodoxy today. One Greek priest once told us a very similar thing. Of course, we in this Church are all very human and weak ourselves, but we do try to keep the standard visible, from which almost all the Orthodox churches are falling away at a rapid pace.

I think the Protestants are not too far off about the “one world church,” the harlot of the Apocalypse—but, like all their apocalyptic ideas, they add many distortions to their ideas. From the experience of the Council of Florence in the 15th century (when the Greek Churches did for a time join the Pope of Rome), and from the recent pronouncements of Patriarch Demetrios of Constantinople and Pope John Paul II—I don’t see how anyone can deny that the “Union” of most Orthodox Churches with Rome (and through Rome to at least some of the Protestant bodies) is rather close. As for the Catacomb Church in Russia, it certainly exists, and quite a bit of material has been published on it (from eyewitnesses) in the Russian language/press in recent years. Its chief bishop, as far as we know, is still Metropolitan Theodosius (who is of course a different person from the OCA Metropolitan), who issued a declaration that was circulated in Moscow and Leningrad when the present Patriarch Pimen was elected in 1970.

About your joining the Synod: let this decision come naturally and peacefully. We are not out to make “fanatics,” but to speak the truth of age-old Orthodoxy which most Orthodox Christians today are abandoning (in fact, many Orthodox people aren’t even aware of them, so great is the level of ignorance today). If you are to marry Timothy, this is something you will decide together. Since our parishes in Sacramento and Calistoga have no English services or English-speaking priest, you would probably do best to continue attending OCA services there while you think and pray about this question. We certainly recognize the sacraments of other Orthodox jurisdictions, and there is no doubt that you have been baptized Orthodox. Your decision (if you make it) to join the Russian Church Abroad will mean that you want to join the small band of strugglers who recognize the process of apostasy in the Orthodox Churches and consciously want to separate yourself from it. We tell our own spiritual children that, wherever there is no Synod church, they can attend other Orthodox churches, but that they should not receive Holy Communion there (except in case of mortal necessity)—this is basically the position of Metropolitan Cyril of Kazan, one of the Catacomb bishops of the 1930’s.

I will be serving Liturgy in our Redding mission church this Sunday (March 25) and conducting a “Bible Study” afterwards. You are very welcome to attend if you can. Liturgy will be early (around 8 a.m.), followed by lunch and Bible study around noon. The address is 1972 Jewell Lane (in the southern part of town, just off Business Route 99). If you were to come by bus, someone could pick you up at the station; you could call 241-1732 (the telephone number of Mrs. Valentina Harvey, in whose garage our service are held). I would be glad to talk with you then.

With love in Christ,
Unworthy Hieromonk Seraphim

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