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274. Aug. 9/22, 1979 Apostles Mathias

Dear Father Akakios,

May the blessing of the Lord be with you!

Thank you for your letter and the copy of your article for The Old Calendarist. I had not seen it before, and my impression of it from Fr. Theodore’s brief words was, indeed, that it was more in the nature of a personal attack on Fr. Panteleimon. My advice to Andrew Bond not to print it was mostly to protect him from the attacks on him that could follow from people in our Russian Church—and that could well discourage him so thoroughly as to make him stop printing The Old Calendarist and even cause a crisis in his own faith.

Having read the article now, I see that it is much more general than I thought. I would still urge you not to print it, however, and will explain why:

In the letter you are obviously “reacting” to Fr. P’s words and actions, and this “personal” reference (even if the person isn’t identified) gives its tone to the article whether you want it or not. Fr. P’s followers, if they wanted, could easily “answer” the article and “prove” that he is not “really” what you say, that he too is against false “perfection,” that he has great “compassion” for the erring, etc.— and many would be persuaded by this to respect Fr. P. all the more. In any case, the matter would remain on the level of controversy and polemic, which must somehow be avoided if anything good is to result.

We understand and greatly sympathize with you in your sufferings, and in your desire to do something to counteract the poisonous atmosphere which has been created by Fr. P. (among others) in his wrong approach to Orthodoxy: I would characterize this approach less as one of “perfection” than as one of calculation—an Orthodoxy more of the head than of the heart. The problem is that this disease is in all of us—it is part of the spirit of the times, and we indulge in it at times. This spirit is inevitably present whenever controversy arises, no matter who is right or wrong; and therefore our only hope to clear the air is to avoid controversy whenever possible, to rise above it as much as we can, to set our eyes on what is above and not be distracted by the things below. All easier said than done!— but we can make an effort.

My own advice to you and the other Fathers would be to give up the idea of battling on this “controversial” level (they will have an “answer” to anything you say, and it will be convincing to all but your friends), and—since everyone knows about your existence now anyway—perform a mission of basic information about the Old Calendarist Church. Perhaps you could resume publication of the bulletin you used to publish in California, or in any case send articles to The Old Calendarist and to us (we could publish Old Calendar information in our letter column without making certain people too angry). Our Orthodox people in America simply don’t know anything about the Old Calendarist Church, and that is why their reactions sometimes are so hostile. For example, the formation of the new Synod is neither known nor understood here, and an objective presentation of it (together with the names of Bishops Kallistos and Cyprian, who are known at least a little) would certainly arouse interest and sympathy. The visit of the bishops to your monastery and Jordanville also is “news.” The problems your Church faces (presented as calmly as possible) would also be instructive. The more this basic information is put into the “air,” the less hostility there will be from people in our Church (except for those who just want to be hostile!). Your monastery could help to be a voice of moderation in our time of extremes.

We’ve just finished our yearly St. Herman Pilgrimage, where we strongly called for a faithful but sober Orthodoxy and warned about perils like the “correctness disease.” It takes time for new converts to understand such things—but with time, experience, and patient explaining, they do begin to get the point.

We wish you all the best—and first of all survival, and then faithfulness in Orthodoxy. May God grant you to withstand the temptations and stay in your present place to become rooted. There will be temptations everywhere! Please remember us in your prayers.

With love in Christ,

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