Letters of Fr. Seraphim Rose

Letters of Fr. Seraphim Rose



1. June 14,1961 Mr. & Mrs. Frank Rose Quitting academic career
2. July 15,1963 Allison Engler Discovering Orthodoxy
3. Aug.28/Sept.l0,1963 Nina Seco VI. John, VI. Sava, Allison Engler
4. Sept. 12,1963 Allison Engler Orthodox faith, Saints, Dostoyevsky
5. Sept. 3/16,1963 Gleb Podmoshensky Bookstore proposal
6. Oct. 3,1963 Allison Engler Apocalypse, Life after death, Gleb
7. Dec. 18/31,1963 Gleb Brochure, bookstore, brotherhood
8. Dec. 30/Jan. 12,1964 Gleb Youth group, distrust of organization, money
9. Jan. 14/27,1964 Gleb Gospel reading, store by cathedral, buy books
10. Jan. 15/28,1964 Gleb Paid rent, kiosk, get books
11. Jan. 22/Feb. 4,1964 Gleb Freedom, shop preparation, atheist at talk
12. Jan. 30/Feb. 12,1964 Gleb Independence, financial problems
13. Feb. 21/Mar. 3,1964 Gleb Banking, bookcases, icons
14. Feb. 22/Mar. 4, 1964 Gleb Money, advertising, sign
15. Bright Wednesday Gleb Bookstore business & ministry
16. July 20/Aug. 2,1964 Gleb Vladimir Tenkevitch quits, Jordanville order
17. Sept. 9/22,1964 Gleb Bookstore business
18. Sept. 23/Oct. 6,1964 Gleb Printing on new press
19. Oct. 13/26,1964 Gleb Printing, business, icons from Jordanville
20. Oct. 14/27, 1964 Gleb First OW plans, business
21. Mar. 26/Apr. 8,1965 Gleb OW article, devil attacking, ads
22. No date Fr. Panteleimon Communism, Against False Union, VI. John’s reply
23. Aug. 18/31,1965 Fr. Panteleimon St. Mark, ecumenism, translations
24. May 3/16,1966 Gleb Printing OW
25. July 13/26,1966 Gleb Manuscripts, Archmin. Amvrossy, Dr. Petrochko
26. Nov. 1/14,1966 Gleb Much talk in the shop, serious re: Vl. John OW


27. Feb. 15/28,1970 Feb. Bishop Theodosius Fr. Plea to not support autocephaly
28. 18/Mar. 3,1970 Mar. David Black Alaskan Church, Metropolia, Bl. Herman
29. 8/21,1970 Mar. Bishop Theodosius Thanks for icon of St. Theodosius
30. 16/29,1970 Mar. Fr. Photios OW, living conditions, autocephaly, Schmemann
31. 19/Apr. 1,1970 Mar. Fr. Neketas Palassis Crisis year, Metropolia, Spruce Is., Bl. Herman
32. 23/Apr. 3,1970 Mar. Fr. David Black Fr. Florovsky, Orthodox practice, autocephaly
33. 31/Apr. 13,1870 Apr. Fr. Panteleimon & monks OW printing, living conditions, Meyendorff
34. 3/16,1970 Apr. Fr. David Black Meyendorff, autocephaly, conscience, responsib
35. 4/17,1970 Apr. Fr. Seraphim Bobich Thanks for critique of Meyend.’s attack of Synod
36.  19/May 2, 1970 Fr. Panteleimon . Ask for money for linotype
37. Apr. 19/May 2,1970b Fr. Seraphim Bobich Suspension, Iakovos/Athenagoras/Schmemann
38. Apr. 21/May 4,1970 Fr. Michael Azkoul OW w/Fr. M. Pomazansky on Schmemann
39. Apr. 21/May 4,1970 Craig & Susan Young Spiritual practice, preparation for baptism
40. Apr. 23/May 6, 1970 Fr. David Black Differences between Synod and Metropolia
41. Apr. 26,/May 9,1970 Fr. Neketas Schmemann, Metropolia, Iakovos, Florovsky
42. Apr. 29/May 12,1970 Vlad.&Sylvia Anderson Hindu texts, peace w/Youngs, display at Ft. Ross
43. May 5/18,1970 Craig & Susan Young Practice for children, confession, Uniates
44. May 6/19,1970 Dr. John Johnstone Convert problems, Moscow Patriarchate
45. May 10/23,1970 Fr. Michael Azkoul Schmemann, Meyendorff, Fr. M. joins Synod
46. Mayl0/23b Fr. Panteleimon & monks Thanks for money, M. Bain, Metropolia
47. May 21/June 3,1970 Mr. Alex V. Cattell Thanks for donation from St. Tikhon’s Society
48. May 26/June 8,1970 Fr. Michael Azkoul Cnaonization of Bl. Herman, living conditions
49. May 27/June 9,1970 Fr. Neketas Service to Bl. Herman, anarchy, Hitler
50. June 1/14, 1970 Daniel Olsen Tsar, Soviets, Meyendorff
51. June 8/21,1970 Fr. David Black Metropolia, Schmemann & Meyendorff, Alaska
52. June 22/July 5,1970 Daniel Olsen Metropolia, ecumenism, betraying Orthodoxy
53. June 29/July 12,1970 Fr. David Black Bishop Theodosius, Sergianism, Metropolia
54. June 29/July 12,1970 Fr. Neketas OW, living conditions, VI. John’s repose anniv
55. July 7/20,1970 Fr. Michael Azkoul Bl. Herman, coming canonization
56.  July 13/26,1970 Fr. Neketas Canonization, Soviet bishops, Life of Bl. Herman
57. Aug. 5/18,1970 Daniel Olsen Canonization report in detail, Alaskan service
58. Aug. 8/21,1970 Fr. Michael Azkoul Linotype, Athenagoras/Iakovos investigation
59. Aug. 14/28, 1970 Daniel Olsen St. Herman reported as hippie saint, relics
60. Aug. 24,1970 Fr. Vladimir Bridievey Metropolia, St. Herman, autocephaly
61. Aug. 30,1970 Fr. Michael Azkoul Metropolia, Iakovos article, chiliasm, nihilism
62. Sept. 4/17,1970 Daniel Olsen Metropolia, Communist Church, coming tonsure
63. Sept. 4/17,1970b Madrid Mission Athenagoras’ apostasy, true Orthodox pubis.
64. Sept. 8/21,1970 Lev Puhalo & Vassili Living conditions at Platina
65. Oct. 17/30,1970 Daniel Olsen Tonsure, OW on St. Herman canonization
66. Oct. 25/Nov. 7,1970 Madrid Mission Referrals to European Orthodox Missions
67.  Oct. 30/Nov. 12,1970 Fr. David Black Ecumenism, Catacomb Church, Metropolia


68. Dec. 28/Jan. 10,1971 Lawrence Campbell Christmas crisis w/Vl. Anthony, staretz game
69. Jan. 4/17,1971 Fr. Panteleimon Tonsure, Christmas crisis, need independence
70. Jan.23/Feb. 5,1971 Nina Kojevnikov Basic rule for prayer & daily readings
71. Jan. 31/Feb. 13,1971 Catherine Spark of Orthodoxy, refer Fr. Azkoul in St. Louis
72. Feb. 26,1971 Greek Minister of interior Protest treatment of Archim. Cyprian K.
73. Mar. 12/25,1971 Vladika Laurus Tonsure, obedience spiritually illegitimate, OW
74. Mar. 13/26,1971 Fr. Panteleimon VI. Anthony Ukase, VI. John’s memory, independ
75. Mar. 21/Apr. 3, 1971 Fr. Panteleimon Jordanville trying to recruit them, stay in Platina
76. Spring 1971 (in Russian) Vladika Averky “I am in terrible state.” VI. John’s blessing
77. Mar. 24/Apr. 6, 1971 Mrs. Kontzevitch Independence, mockery of authority, obedience
78. Mar. 25/Apr. 7,1971 Daniel Olsen Turkish & Communist Yokes, Sergianism
79. Apr. 17/30, 1971 Mr. John Dunlop Translations, OW, Moscow Patriarchate
80. May 1/14,1971 Fr. Innocent name of St. Herman, not St. Germain
81. May 1/14,1971b Anastasios Leubke Name of St. Herman in unnecessary controversy
82. May 5/18,1971 Fr. Ambrosius Pogodin OK to visit, but don’t tell VI. Anthony
83. May 6/19,1971 Fr. Neketas Linotype, calendar, Metropolia spirit in ROCOR
84. May 8/21,1971 Fr. Panteleimon VI. Nektary/Vl. Anthony, no contact w/Vl. A.
85. June 23/July 6,1971 Fr. Panteleimon Services to saints, calendar, publ. plans
86. July 7/20,1971 Fr. Panteleimon VI. A’s visit as peacemaker, ceasefire, VI. Nektary
87. Aug. 3/16, 1971 Lawrence Campbell Fr. Neketas’ visit, Mrs. Harvey, living conditions
88. Aug. 10/23,1971 Lawrence Campbell Monastery vs. church organization. Cover letter to:
89. Aug. 10/23,1971b Lawrence Campbell Rules for their monastic community if he comes
90. Aug. 13/26,1971 Dimitry Finish seminary, try to find inspiration at J’ville
91. Aug. 13/26,1971b Holy Transfig. Brothers Arkady ms., publications, 90% physical labor
92. Aug. 16/29,1971 Lawrence Campbell 6 month trial, debts, monasticism&world don’t mix
93. Aug. 16/29,1971b Alexey Young Writing articles, VI. John, Lives of Saints
94. Aug. 29/Sept. 11,1971 Dimitry Stay in seminary
95. Aug. 31/Sept. 13,1971 Fr. Neketas Fr. Theodoritos’ visit, organizational view
96. Oct. 1/14,1971 Alexey Young Nikodemos, publish-personality, Amer. Orthodoxy
97. Oct. 1/14,1971 Fr. Neketas Idea of Orthodox America, traditional bishops


98. Jan. 25/Feb. 7,1972 Michael Farnsworth Living conditions, decline of monasticism
99. Mar. 5/18,1972 Lawrence Campbell Royal Martyrs, lead type, weather
100. Mar. 21/Apr. 3,1972 Lawrence Campbell Cut off fr. ecclesiastical world, “Blessed” as title
101. Apr. 13/26,1972 Lawrence Campbell Catacomb documents, truck broke
102. Apr. 18/May 1,1972 Fr. Neketas True Vine, VI. Vitaly, charismatics, feeling & inspir.
103. June 3/16,1972 Fr. Neketas Dogma of Redemption, True Vine, independence
104. June 5/18,1972 Alexey Young Nikodemos No. 4, don’t let Fr. Neketas take over
105. June 12/25,1972 Fr. Neketas Veneration of VI. John squashed, fighting Orth’ó
106. June 13/26,1972 Daniel Olsen Celtic cause, millenium, calendar, J’ville tragedy
107. July 20/Aug. 2,1972 Fr. Panteleimon VI. Anthony’s attitude on VI. John, pilgrims
108. All Saints, 1972 Fr. Neketas  Spark of fervor, charismatics, Western Saints
109. Aug. 16/29,1972 Alexey Young Shroud, evolution, L. Puhalo, freedom to speak
110. Aug. 23/Sept. 5,1972 Nicholas Eastman Guidance towards monasticism, Unseen Warfare


111. Jan. 7/20,1973 Fr. Neketas Sent back tickets to get one for Fr. Seraphim, obey
112. Jan. 31/Feb. 13,1973 Alexey Young Evolution, meeting in Seattle w/Fr. Panteleimon
113. Feb. 3/16,1973 Fr. Neketas VI. Nektary, reviving Good Tidings secretly
114. Feb. 4/17,1973 Nicholas Eastman Confession: Greek & Russian practice, come visit
115. Feb. 7/20, 1973 Igor Kapral Repose of VI. Savva, VI. John Chronicle, orphaned
116. Feb. 13/26,1973 Alexey Young Don’t print Shroud article, need research
117. Feb. 25/Mar. 10,1973 Alexey Young Fr. P’s rejection of Shroud, science, conscience
118. Mar. 1/14,1973 Fr. Neketas VI. John’s crudeness, Church not a habit, VI. Savva
119. Mar. 4/17,1973 Nina Seco VI. John relics from VI. Savva, Life ofBl. Paisius
120. Apr/ 5/18,1973 Fr. Neketas Defending A. Young’s article on evolution
121. Apr. 5/18,1973b Alexey Young Evolution=rival thought pattern to Orthodoxy
122. Apr. 8/21,1973 Fr. Ioannikios Don’t let Lev Puhalo print Dogma
123. Palm Sunday 1973 Fr. Neketaas A. Young wrong to print Shroud article, but...
124. Passion Tuesday, 1973 Alexey Young Should not have mailed Shroud, don’t argue now
125. Bright Wednesday 1973Alexey Young Fr. P’s clique, evolution, Shroud, independ. labors
126. St. Thomas Sunday 1973Fr. Neketas Need to guide & inspire converts, vs. strictness
127. St. Thomas Sunday 1973bAlexey Young Converts, theologians, struggling, don’t fear threats
128. May 8/21,1973 Sylvia Anderson Comfort after Maggie’s death, suffering through
129. May 14/27,1973 Irina Vagin Disharmony betw. Greek & Russian sides/ROCOR
130. May 27/June 9,1973 Vladika Laurus Our Greeks taking over converts, Dogma, Latinism
131. May 29/June 11,1973 Alexey Young Humanism, philosophy, 50% polemics in OW
132. June 29/July 12,1973 Alexey Young Fr. Ephraim, Shroud, evolution, suffering essential
133. July 4/17,1973 Fr. Ioannikios V. Anderson/seminary, Boston open letter/Alexey
134. July 4/17,1973b Alexey Young No debate, Fr.E’s disservice to Eng.-speaking Orth
135. Aug. 6/19,1973 Fr. Ioannikios Boston & Seattle vs. VI. John on converts, ODT
136. Aug. 19/Sept. 1,1973 Fr. Neketas No fighting re; evolution & Shroud, recent Fathers
137. Sept. 8/21,1973 Alexey Young Sovietprisons, Kalomiros’ reply, ODT
138. Oct. 25/Nov. 7,1973 Daniel Olsen Soulless calculation, heart not mind, catacombness
139. Nov. 6, 1973 Alexey Young Fr.E’s 3rd letter, patristic revival, acad. theology
140. Nov. 10/23,1973 Deacon Lev Puhalo Don’t print Acquisition w/o Kontzevitch’s permiss.
141. Nov. 10/23,1973 Alexey Young Place for Nina Seco & Barbara McCarthy
142. Dec. 20.1973 Alexey Young Science & patristic notes for evolution book


143. Jan. 9/22,1974 Alexey Young Community, evolution, Genesis, Apocalypse transl.
144. Jan. 24/Feb. 6,1974 Alexey Young Evolution
145. Feb. 2/15,1974 Alexey Young Teilhard, more evolution notes
146. Feb. 19,1974 Nina Seco Endure, peacemaking betw. Alexey and Boston
147. Feb. 1974 Alexey Young Fragment of letter on Fr. P. and evolution
148. Feb. 25/Mar. 10,1974 Alexey Young Kalomiros’ 40-page letter, weak patristics & theol
149. Feb. 25,1974b Dr. Kalomiros Patristic research on evolution to come
150. Mar. 2/15,1974 Alexey Young Reply to Kalomiros’ “stupid evolutionism”
151. Mar. 2-9,1974 Dr. Kalomiros Reply to evolution letter
152. Mar. 9/22 Alexey Young Scientific approach, Christian evolutionism chapt.
153. Mar. 10,1974 Nina Seco Avoid world and church world, spiritual zeal
154. Apr. 9,1974 Nina Seco Normal American seeker, prayer rule moderation
155. Apr. 10,1974 Alexey Young Same seeker, evolution research, right tone
156. June 7. 1974 Dr. Kalomiros Asking for reply to his letter
157. June 24/July 7,1974 Luke Walmsley Spiritual counsel, get college degree first
158. June 24/ July 7,1974b Nina Seco Taking church for granted, clergy crisis in SF
159. June 30/July 13,1974 Alexey Young Khomiakov, Optina, Western influence, Kireyevsky
160. July 11/24,1974 Nina Seco Carnal warfare, novices, trip to SF
161. July 24/Aug. 6, 1974 Michael Farnsworth Self-deception, crazy converts, sinning
162. July 30/Aug. 12,1974 Dr. John Johnstone Luke Walmsley’s trials
163. Aug. 2/15,1974 Alexey Young Christian evolutionism chapter & patristic section
164. Sept. 5/16,1974 Nina Seco Don’t try to help Maria Kraft, Boston temptation
165. Sept. 22/Oct. 5,1974 Alexey Young Christian evolutionism & patristic section
166. Nov. 21,1974 Fr. Ephraim Elder, Sobor, translations, Paul Bartlett


167. Jan. 4/17,1975 Alexey Young Kalomiros, John Kraft, Kireyevsky, creationism
168. Jan. 7/20,1975 Alexey Young Daniel O.: correct w/o committment, Kireyevsky
169. Jan. 7/20,1975 Barbara Murray John Kraft, his mother’s trying to get rid of him
170. Feb. 1,1975 Fr. Valery Lukianov Sobor, Solzhenitsyn, pastors keep savor of Orth’y
171. Feb. 6/19, 1975 Fr. Michael Azkoul Bulgakov, Solzhenitsyn, Paris Orthodoxy
172. Feb. 18/Mar. 3,1975 Alexey Young Kireyevsky, Sergianism, organization
173. Mar. 1975 Maria Kraft Monastery as reward, raising her boys = salvation
174. Mar. 25,1975 Alexey Young Birth control, sexuality, John Kraft’s education
175. Mar. 28/Apr. 10,1975 Christopher Amerling News and pastoral guidance, Lenten reading
176. Apr. 29,1975 Dr. Kalomiros Solzhenitsyn, Sobor, Metropolia non-communion
177. May 16/29,1975 Alexey Young Fr. P.’s rebuke of Metr. Philaret, group pride
178. May 25/June 5,1975 Alexey Young Evolution book, weak converts, C. Amerling
179. July 17/30,1975 Alexey Young New Valaam Academy, community, NT, ORF
180. Aug. 13/26,1975 Vladika Laurus Fr. P cut off VLAverky for serving w/Bp. Petros
181. Aug. 15/28,1975 Barbara McCarthy Advice: Leaving community means spir. trouble
182. Aug. 24/Sept. 1975 Alexey Young B. McCarthy, NT, Ingrams, Fr. P’s hold on converts
183. Aug. 25/Sept. 7,1975 Fr. Michael Azkoul Soloviev, Berdyaev, Kireyevsky, Florensky, Bulgak.
184. Aug. 26/Sept. 8,1975 Dr. Kalomiros Fr.P as only Orth, teacher, VI. Vitaly, “feel”of Orth
185. Sept. 12/25,1975 Fr. George Veneration of Western Saints, list of possible ones
186. Sept. 18/Oct. 1,1975 Fr. George St. Callistus, calendar
187. Sept. 21/Oct. 4,1975 Alexey Young Fr. P. “mess”, Hudanish/Old Believer visit
188. Sept. 29/Oct. 12,1975 Fr. Igor Kapral Bl.Aug., Saints, Latin influence, Fr. P’s party-line
189. Oct. 2/15,1975 Alexey Young Despondency, college boys, sect, VI. Averky
190. Oct. 4/17,1975 Alexey Young Fr.P’s anything permissible, don’t fight, politics
191. Oct. 5/18,1975 Fr. Valery Lukianov Fr.P, converts, coming schism, attack on Bl. Aug.
192. Oct. 8/21, 1975 Alexey Young Convert syndrome, oily letters, politics, don’t quit
193. Oct. 9/22,1975 NinaSeco Fr. P. & spiritual fakery, Fr.Dudko, VI. Averky
194. Oct. 10/23,1975 Fr. Michael Azkoul Bulgakov & Florensky by Schmemann & VI. John
195. Oct. 22/Nov. 4, 1975 Alexey Young Laurence C., old maidism, O. Believers, Nina/Fr.P
196. Oct. 24/Nov. 6/1975 Christopher Amerling Coming to visit
197. Oct. 24,1975b Andrew Bond True zealots, British Saints, Fr.P’s “expert” tone
198. Oct. 25,1975 Thomas Living conditions at monastery, trust, coming visit
199. Nov. 7/20, 1975 Phanourios Ingram Fasting, confession, Holy Communion, suffering
200. Nov. 18/Dec. 1,1975 Macarios Novitiate, seminary, narrow path
201. Nov. 27/Dec. 10,1975 Paul Bartlett Fr. Dudko, priesthood, Life of St. Gregory of Tours
202. Dec. 1/14,1975 Fr. Hilarion Fr.P’s crazy convert knowing better, objectivity
203. Dec. 3/16,1975 NinaSeco Isolation and aloofness, Orth, world for yourself
204. Dec. 3/16,1975b Alexey Young Hudanish, categorized for Vl.Averky OW, Vl.John


205. Jan. 3/16, 1976 Alexey Young Sederholm, tiny groups vs. parishes, Laurence goes
206. Jan. 18/31,1976 Alexey Young Prelest, fancy, convert opinions, Laur.&Hudansh
207. Jan. 21/Feb 3,1976 Dr. Kalomiros Fr. P/Bp.Petros, community, Frs. cut off by party
208. Jan. 28/Feb. 10,1976 Alexey Young Rebaptism of converts, economy, psych, insecurity
209. Feb. 14/27,1976 Alexey Young Eugene zavarin, evolution as faith, naturalism
210. Feb. 22/Mar. 6,1976 Dr. Kalomiros Tone, degrees in science, Haekel’s theory,West, infl
211. Mar. 17/30,1976 Alexey Young ORF, BPV, NV Acad, grads, 5th c.Gaul, St. Greg T.
212. Mar. 17/30,1976b Nicholas Bl. Augustine vs. Patristic “experts”, love & piety
213. Apr. 3/16,1976 Nina Seco Getting priest for Etna, busy-busy,VI. Averky died
214. Apr. 3/16,1976b Alexey Young Nina’s convert syndr., discouraged by VI. A’s death
215. Apr. 12/25,1976 Christopher Amerling Laurence gone, VI. Averky’s death, heavier burden
216. Apr. 18/May 1,1976 Andrew Bond Rebaptism, zeal not accd.to knowl.,Fr. P. fashion
217. May 22/June 4, 1976 Andrew Bond Boston letter/party, lost savor of Orth, rebaptisms
218. May 29/June 11,1976 Daniel Olsen Matthewites, Auxentios, zealotry, ecumenism
219. May 31/June 13,1974 Christopher Amerling Tests & struggles ahead, feel and love for Orth’ó
220. June 2/15,1976 Alexey Young Right wing, helped create a monster, fragr. of Orth.
221. June 9/22,1976 Macarius Schaefer Judging one’s spir.state, stay at J’ville, sum. help
222. June 10/23,1976 Fr. Hilarion Dark clouds ahead, asylum at Platina
223. June 10/23, 1976b Christopher Amerling Fleshly sins, humility, darkening atmosphere
224. June 10/23,1976c Fr. Alexis of Boston Loophole in your heart, letter to Andrew Bond
225. June 12/25, 1976 Daniel Olsen Jura Mtns., Gallic Saints, Russian book on VI. John
226. June 24/July 7,1976 Fr. Mark Wakingham Veneration of Western Saints, rebaptisms, zealots
227. June 30/July 13, 1976 Fr. Panagiotes Synod not breaking communion, inward freedom
228. July 4/17. 1976 Andrew Bond Reconcile to his bishop & priests, no fight, respect
229. July 12/25,19765 Fr. Cyprian Threats left & right, ROCOR on royal path, VI. Jn.
230. July 14/27,1976 Alexey Young A. Bond, moderate stand for true Orth., rebaptisms
231. July 16/29,1976 Fr. Neketas Written in blood, trust bishops,correctness disease
232. July 27/Aug. 9,1976 Fr. Ioannikios Peace, no “extra hands”, borrowing Macarios S.
233. July 29/Aug. 11,1976 Alexey Young Fr. P’s censorship, Fr. Dudko, Barbara McC. there
234. Aug. 10/23,1976 Fr. Panagiotes No formal declarations on breaking communion
235. Aug.l0/23b Nicholas No startsi, spiritual reading
236. Aug. 13/26,1976 Alexey Young Boston authority, psycholog. diocese of Fr. P.
237. Aug. 16/29,1976 Seraphim Baptism, monasticism, obedience, îð¸ïïå¾¾, come
238. Aug. 22/Sept. 4,1976 Fr. Neketas Not offended, disagreement deep, aloof fr. details
239. Aug. 22/Sept. 4,1976b Christopher Amerling Suffer, commitment, NV Academy grads off path
240. Oct. 1/14,1976 Mr. Graves Western Saints, Bl. Augustine, Vita Patrum
241. Nov. 4/17,1976 Fr. Ioanikios Greeks in camp, narrow, “right,” double standard
242. Nov. 16/29,1976 Alexey Young Visitors, Mary Mansur, S. Kourdakov generation


243. Jan. 27/Feb. 9,1977 Fr. Cyprian Ordinations, St. Cyprian, disunity, moderation
244. Jan. 28/Feb. 10,1977 Alexey Young NVA tapes, preparation for Holy Communion, SF
245. Apr. 13/26,1977 Christopher Amerling Ordination, wt. of cross, pull to heaven pilgrims
246. June 16/29,1977 Vladika Nectary Saints & holy men in Calendar, bishops’ authority
247. July 3/16,1977 Fr. Ioannikios Evolution, philosophy, Kalomiros, theology, Axioms
248. Aug. 8/21, 1977 Fr. Ioannikios Evolution, age of earth, mystery of creation
249. Oct. 10,1977 Not a letter Lect. notes: “How to Survive in Orth. Chr. World”


250. Theophany, 1978 Andrew Bond Boston infl. in Eng., restored to communion
251. Jan. 22/Feb. 4,1978 Fr. Hilarion Proposed publications of Lives of Saints, ODT
252. Mar. 22/Apr. 4,1978 Andrew Bond Fr.P.infl. subsiding, calculation, keep working
253. Palm Sunday 1978 Mr. Stamos ÎÑ schism, Moscow Patr., jurisdictions, strictness
254. May, 19/June 1,1978 Fr. Chrysostomos Suffering from politics, catacomb existence
255. June 16/29,1978 Fr. Chrysostomos ROCOR reaction to fanaticism, moderation
256. Oct. 18/31,1978 Vladika Laurus L. Puhalo unbalanced opinions, superior tone, BPV


257. Jan. 14/27,1979 Vladika Laurus Receiving Fr. Donald into RCA, married a widow
258. Jan. 20/Feb. 2,1979 Fr. Ioannikios L. Puhalo’s attack on SAD arts, in OW,V. Averky
259. Jan. 28/Feb. 10,1979 Fr. Donald in Tennessee May join RCA as layman, not priest, keep publ.
260. Feb. 9/22,1979 Rev. Gooderidge Step backward to Ortho. Ch., see Fr. Ives DuBois
261. Feb. 9/22,1979b Timothy Shell OCA & RCA intercommunion, baptism, marriage
262. Feb. 14/27,1979 Fr. Basil Rhodes Timothy &Anna, Mosc. Patr., OCA ecum./modem
263. Mar. 7/20, 1979 Anna Demoniac fornication, dream attacks, joining RCA
264. Apr. 20/May 3,1979 Barry Baptism, believing heart,contact live trad.of Orth.
265. Apr. 30/May 13,1979 Fr. Herman in Greece Avoid test for bishop,God’s work here, pilgrimages
266. May 1/14,1979 Fr. Roman Lukianov L.Puhalo to speak vs. tollhouses, disrespects Orth.
267. May 12/25,1979 Fr. Laurence Campbell Shroud, Party Headquarters,life after death/Puhalo
268. May 12/25,1979b Barry Monasticism/repentance, finish college, suffering
269. May 16/29.1979 Fr. Herman in Greece w/4 letters from others, writing only on Sundays
270. May 24/June 6,1979 Fr. Theodore Jurewitz Fr. Chrysostomos, sobriety, no longer expect much
271. June 1/14,1979 Fr. Yves Dubois Vl. Vitaly, cold pretentious, not take seriously
272. June 5/18,1979 John Hudanish Choir singing, basic humility, Etna style of parish
273. June 16/29,1979 Mrs. Prokopchuk Puhalo vs. tollhouses, Bl.Aug., sad, no debate,SAD
274. Aug. 9/22,1979 Fr. Akakios Give up reacting to Fr. P., Orth, of head not heart
275. Aug. 9/22,1979b Fr. Chrysostomos Sympathy for sufferings = for salvation; Akakios
276. Aug. 10/23,1979 Andrew Bond Positive attitude, not reaction; suffering Orthodoxy
277. Aug. 22/Sept. 4,1979 Fr. Mamas Open letter, spir. fakery, infallibility, VI. Andrew
278. Sept. 20/0ct. 3,1979 Fr. Hilarion Disfavor with Boston, J.Van Deerlin, Dudko inspir.
279. Oct. 23/Nov, 5,1979 Fr. Neketas Party attack: SAD, B’hood, J’ville, Russian v. Grks
280. Nov. 1/14,1979  Fr. Roman Lukianov History of Fr. P.& Fr. N., politics vs. Russ. theology
281. Nov. 8/21,1979 Andrew Bond Fr. Dudko, Boston line, J’ville talk, duller speaker


282. Jan. 24/Feb. 6,1980 Fr. Ambrose Fr. John Lewis changing jurisdictions
283. Mar. 13/26,1980 John Hudanish Failed as spir. father, not Christian or caring, pride
284. Mar. 26/Apr. 8,1980 Maria Kraft Gleb & Welfare Dept, want him to stay, not uproot
285. Mar. 31/Apr. 13,1980 Fr. Neketas More SAD attacks, no Seattle conf., cry of anguish
286. May 14/27,1980 Fr. Michael Azkoul SAD attacks, no Seattle conf., tollhouse not dogma
287. May 23/June 5,1980 Fr. Demetrios Puhalo scandal, Dudko, Fr. N’s conf., heart in Orth.
288. May 30/June 12,1980 Fr. Hilarion Children’s page for Orthodox America, ODT
289. June 2/15,1980 Fr. Neketas Open letter from Fr. Herman on Fr. Dudko
290. June 9/22,1980 Fr. Demetrios Dudko & positive Gospel, suffering, PA 1981 conf.
291. June 25/July 8,1980 Fr. Michael Fr. H’s letter, black list, attitude of Fr. N., schism
292. July 19/Aug. 1,1980 John Hudanish Puhalo censored by Synod, tone, Dudko’s speech
293. Aug. 5/18,1980 Rev. Cardoza Search for true Orthodoxy, Santa Cruz Russ, conf
294. Aug. 5/18,1980b Michael Catacomb Ch., Dudko,Bl. Aug. v. Fr.N, definitions
295. Sept. 3/16,1980 John Hudanish Moscow, Dudko not joining Catacomb Ch., heart
296. Oct. 14/27,1980 Fr. Photios Declines PA conf., no prayer for suffering Russians
297. Oct. 14/27,1980b Fr. Demetrios Deep distrust of Grks, no public prayer, sad,schism
298. Nov. 14/27,1980 Anna, Catechumen Non-Orth. Christians, Dudko, interfaith marriage
299. Nov. 22/Dec. 5,1980 Vladika Gregory No reply to Puhalo & Fr. N., Kalomiros at PA conf.
300. 23/Dec. 6,1980 Fr. Demetrios SAD Appendix, West, captivity, Kalomiros’ schism
301. 23/Dec. 6,1980b Constantine Gk.schism, commem. Dudko at Lit., SAD Append.
302. Dec. 7/20,1980 Mrs. Irina Hay SAD, Bp.Ignatius & Bp.Theophan on angels
303. Dec. 9/22,1980 Vladika Gregory Synod on life after death, Puhalo, no public debate


304. Dec. 28/Jan. 10,1981 George & Margaret Attacks by Seattle/Bost. on SAD, Moscow& grace
305. Jan. 17/30,1981 John Hudanish Kicked us out, supercorrect, work on yourself
306. Jan. 24/Feb. 6,1981 James Poffhausen Jurisdictions, grace,can’t change OCA, UCSC talk
307. Meatfare Sat. 1981 Fr. Alexey Young Genesis course, Orthodox America, evolution book
308. Apr. 1/14,1981 Vanya Danz Spiritual looking in mirror, Fr. P, monasticism
309. Apr. 14/27,1981 George Can’t advise his maniscript, humbly confess Orth.
310. June 13/26,1981 Fr. Michael Azkoul Bl. Augustine, correctness, distrust of Orth.bishops
311. Aug. 13/26,1981 Dr. Johnstone OW 96 Tavrion, Metr. Philaret, Moscow & grace
312. Aug. 18/31,1981 Vladika Laurus Visit St. H.Pilgrimage, seminary B.Voytan, Tavrion
313. Aug. 21/Sept. 3,1981 Vladika Gregory OW96, silent majority v. Boston sect, 200 at Pilgr
314. Aug. 21/Sept. 3,1981b Fr. Gregory Party at PA conf.,Tavrion, Pilgrimage success
315. Aug. 21/Sept. 3,1981c Fr. Photios Forbid to publish his correspondence w/ Kalomiros
316. Sept. 4/17,1981 Fr. Demetrios Greeks dry of Christian love: humble themselves
317. Sept. 25/Oct. 8,1981 Fr. Michael Henning Boston schism too deep for personal forgiveness
318. Sept. 25/Oct. 8,1981 Fr. Demetrios OW not controversial, Bost. became pressure grp.
319. Sept. 26/Oct. 9,1981 Fr. Ioannikios Basil Voytan’s seminary classes at Platina
320. Oct. 17/30,1981 Fr. George Macris OW96, non-finality of Russian Ch. situation/grace
321. Nov. 25/Dec. 8,1981 Fr. Demetrios Puhalo gone,Moscow, Alice in Wonderland Orth’y


322. Jan. 15/28,1982 Fr. George Macris Wait for free Russia, reading into Synod Decision
323. No date “young seeker” Guenon led him to Orthodoxy
324. Mar. 26/Apr. 8,1982 Fr. Vladimir Nina Berchier unfit for marriage, failed monastic
325. May 1/14,1982 Vladimir Seminary training, living conditions at Platina
326. June (early) 1982 Fr. Alexey Young John Kraft’s seminary & summerplans, floaters
327. June 1982 Br. Gleb Preparing for seminary and future
328. Oct. 1,1982 Fr. Herman From Dr. William H. deVlaming on Fr. S’s death

Letters of Fr. Seraphim Rose

1960’s Letters


June 14, 1961

Liebe Eltern,

A hot day—too much like summer for San Francisco. I finally finished the thesis and turned it in last Friday, but they don’t get around to sending out the degrees until September, for some reason. For the time being I’m still involved in Chinese things, as I’m helping my former Chinese professor translate an article (from Chinese) on Chinese philosophy for a philosophical journal. The hypocrisy of the academic world is nowhere more evident than in his case. He knows more about Chinese philosophy than probably anyone else in the country, and studied with real Chinese philosophers and sages in China; but he can’t get a job in any college here because he doesn’t have degrees from American colleges, and because he isn’t a fast talker—he’s too honest, in short.

It’s true that I chose the academic life in the first place, because God gave me a mind to serve Him with, and the academic world is where the mind is supposed to be used. But after eight or nine years I know well enough what goes on in the universities. The mind is respected by only a few of the “old-fashioned” professors, who will soon have died out. For the rest, it’s a matter of making money, getting a secure place in life—and using the mind as a kind of toy, doing clever tricks with it and getting paid for it, like circus clowns. The love of truth has vanished from people today; those who have minds have to prostitute their talents to get along. I find this difficult to do, because I have too great a love of truth. The academic world for me is just another job; but I am not going to make myself a slave to it. I am not serving God in the academic world; I am just making a living. If I am going to serve God in this world, and so keep from making my life a total failure, I will have to do it outside the academic world. I have some money saved up, and the promise of some more by doing a little work, so I should be able to live frugally for a year doing what my conscience tells me I should do—to write a book on the spiritual condition of man today, about which, by God’s grace, I have some knowledge. The book will probably not sell, because people would rather forget about the things I am going to say; they would rather make money than worship God.

It is true that this is a mixed-up generation. The only thing wrong with me is that I am not mixed-up, I know only too well what the duty of man is: to worship God and His Son and to prepare for the life of the world to come, not to make ourselves happy and comfortable in this world by exploiting our fellow man and forgetting about God and His kingdom.

If Christ were to walk in this world today, do you know what would happen to Him? He would be placed in a mental institution and given psycho-therapy, just as would His Saints. The world would crucify Him today just as it did 2000 years ago, for the world has not learned a thing, except more devious forms of hypocrisy. And what would happen if, in one of my classes at the university, I would one day tell my students that all the learning of this world is of no importance beside the duty of worshipping God, accepting the God-man who died for our sins, and preparing for the life of the world to come? They would probably laugh at me, and the university officials, if they found out, would fire me—for it is against the law to preach the Truth in our universities. We say that we live in a Christian society, but we do not: we live in a society [text missing]


Monday, July 15, 1963

Dear Alison,

I received your letter Friday on returning from Church, where I had received Holy Communion. And so it seems that in these few years our roles have been reversed: I, who was still seeking then, have found the object of my search; and you are now once more seeking. But this is as God wills.

I am very happy to hear again from you, and I am quite certain about the meaning of your writing now. I have prayed for you always, and have thought often about you; and it is quite correct that you have been especially on my mind during the last month or two.

When you last heard from me I was very near to the Russian Orthodox Church, though still somewhat uncertain; and though I had renounced the worst of my sins, I still lived very largely as the world lives. But then, unworthy as I am, God showed His path to me. I became acquainted with a group of fervent Orthodox Russians, and within a few months (it was, significantly enough, on the Sunday of the “Prodigal Son” just before the beginning of Lent) I was received into the Russian Orthodox Church in Exile, whose faithful child I have been for the year and a half since then. I have been reborn in our Lord, I am now His slave, and I have known in Him such joy as I never believed possible while I was still living according to the world.

I have become what the world would call a “fanatic”; in fact, all true Orthodox believers are “fanatics.” Such “fanaticism” is justified by the fact that the Orthodox Church is the one true Church of Christ; it is the reality of which Roman Catholicism and all other churches are but pale shadows at best. This may seem like an extreme statement to you, and as proof I can only ask you to discover it for yourself.

Everything is according to the will of God; of this truth I have had very clear and remarkable experience in the last two years. The ways of God seem often strange to us; but His purpose is always the same: to draw men to Himself. As I said, I am quite certain of the meaning of your writing to me now: God wishes to use me to tell you about Orthodoxy—not because there is any virtue in me, but because Gods Truth is so powerful that it can be made known even through someone as totally unworthy as myself.

What I say must seem very unlikely in the eyes of the world. You have visited an Orthodox Church, as far as I know, only twice in your life: you yourself are probably still a nominal Anglican, and separated from all religion now, and your husband is probably Protestant or of no religion at all; there is perhaps no Orthodox Church within a hundred miles of you and perhaps you think of Orthodoxy as something “Eastern” and exotic. It is therefore very “unlikely” that you are to become Orthodox; and yet I am quite certain of the fact, and I feel that you are going to recognize the will of God in what I am saying. If this is so, and since the Orthodox Church is the one and only Church of Christ, then nothing the world can say or do will stop you from being truly joined to our Lord in His Church; and our Lord will send the means in due time to achieve His purposes.

I will not attempt to say much about Orthodoxy in this letter, but will wait to discover your reaction to what I have already said. And everything that I can say, of course, will be a very imperfect expression of truths that mean nothing until one experiences them with ones whole soul. If you are really interested in Orthodoxy, I can begin to send you books (not books about Orthodoxy so much as books of very practical spiritual advice which are a necessary nourishment of the Orthodox life), icons, etc., as well as introduce you to Orthodox people. I know, for example, a very devout American girl in New York who is a convert to the Russian Church. One of the joys of the Orthodox life is knowing such people (even if only by correspondence), for in Orthodoxy especially the sense of community is very strong; among devout people, everyone is “brother” and “sister,” and these words are not mere metaphors. All who have taken the name of Orthodox Christians are striving together for the same goal; and even in this life we have a foretaste of the perfect love that will bind us together in our Lord in the eternal Kingdom He has prepared for His faithful.

Orthodoxy is the preparation of souls for this Kingdom, the Kingdom of Heaven. The schismatic Churches have, in lesser or greater measure, forgotten this truth and compromised with the world; Orthodoxy alone has remained other-worldly. The aim of the Orthodox life (of which we all fall miserably short) is to live in this life in constant remembrance of the next life, in fact to see even in this life, through the Grace of our Lord, the beginning of that life. This is the meaning of the “joy” of which I just spoke, and which to me is the strongest proof of the truth of Orthodoxy. The saint lives always in this joy—I will tell you later some wonderful stories of some of our modern Russian saints and how this joy was expressed in them. And Orthodoxy alone continues to produce saints—I mean real saints, not just “good men.” The present Archbishop of San Francisco (he came here recendy from Paris) is such a man. He leads a life of real crucifixion—the strictest asceticism (he never even lies down), a totally selfless giving of himself to others, Christian kindness and patience even in the face of the most evil and slanderous accusations (for Satan attacks our Church very strongly, in many ways); but always he is full of such love and joy that one is always happy and at peace in his presence, even in sorrow and in the most trying circumstances.

These are very difficult times. Most of the priests and bishops I know (the bishops of our Church are very close to their people, very warm, and very easy to approach) are convinced that these are the last days of the world and that the reign of Antichrist is at hand. This is of course a very easy subject to get carried away with; but our Lord has told us to be prepared for the signs of the end, and those who are not interested in them are only going to be seduced by them. The faithful remnant of Christians in the last days, as our Lord has told us, will be very small; the vast majority of those who call themselves Christians will welcome Antichrist as the Messiah. Therefore it is not enough to be a “non-denominational” Christian; those who are not true Orthodox Christians belong to the “new Christianity,” the “Christianity” of Antichrist. The Pope of Rome and practically everyone else today speaks of “transforming the world” by Christianity: priests and nuns take part in demonstrations for “racial equality” and similar causes. These have nothing to do with Christianity: they do nothing but distract men from their true goal, which is the Kingdom of Heaven. The coming age of “peace,” “unity,” and “brotherhood,” if it comes, will be the reign of Antichrist: it will be Christian in name, but Satanic in spirit. Everyone today seeks happiness on earth, and they think this is “Christianity”; true Orthodox Christians know that the age of persecutions, which began again under the Bolsheviks, is still with us, and that only by much sorrow and tribulation are we made fit to enter the Kingdom of Heaven.

The heart of Orthodoxy is prayer; and I may truthfully say that before I found Orthodoxy I never had the slightest idea of what prayer was or what power it had. Often, of course, one is cold in prayer; but I have known times, both by myself and with others, of truly warm and fervent prayer, and of heartfelt tears of repentance: and I have known the joy of seeing my prayers answered. Thus encouraged I, feeble and unworthy, have been bold to speak to our Lord and to His Mother and His Saints (I have known no one who prays to the Saints with such faith and fervor as Orthodox believers), and their guidance in my life is as real to me as my own breathing.

Please forgive me for speaking so much about myself, but it is impossible for me to speak about Orthodoxy in the abstract; all I know about it has come from my experience. On a more external level you may be interested to know that I have never returned to the academic world and never shall; that I have still not finished the book I began two years ago, both because of its length and because of the change in my views since then (the book is a discussion of the spiritual state of the contemporary world in the light of Orthodox Truth); and that, God willing, I intend to become a monk (and perhaps a priest) in the service of God when I have finished the book in a year or two.

As to your state, it seems to me to be not at all hopeless, but rather encouraging. You feel yourself deserted by God; and yet you had the strength to resist the Satanic temptation of your father and to suffer all that has happened to you with some patience. God has weakened you, I think, to prepare you to find all your strength in Him; and the way to such strength lies in Orthodoxy.

Write soon and tell me what is in your heart. If I have spoken boldly, it is out of the intense certainty and joy with which I am filled by our Lord when I receive His Most Holy Body and Blood. How can I not speak boldly when it is as clear as day to me that everything in this world passes away in an instant, and all that remains is our Lord and the indescribable Kingdom He has prepared for us who take His light yoke upon ourselves (and indeed, how light is that yoke that looks so heavy to unbelievers!) and follow Him. Pray for me, who am unworthy of everything that has been given me.

In Christ, your brother,

p.s. What part of Illinois is Ursa in? Is it near any large city?

p.p.s. I am enclosing a few English articles that appeared recently in the small journal of the San Francisco Diocese.

p.s. again: After writing the above, I was reading a few pages from one of our recent spiritual fathers (he died in 1907 and has not yet been canonized), Father John of Kronstadt. I read a few pages from him every night, and usually I find that he speaks very direcdy and explicitly to me about some problem or circumstance that has been troubling me that day. Tonight, just after finishing this letter, I read (opening the book at random) the following:

“As a mother teaches her child to walk, so also God teaches us to have a living faith in Him. A mother will make the child stand, and leave it for a while by itself, then she will tell it to come to her. The child cries without its mother; it wants to go to her, but is afraid to attempt to move its feet; it tries to walk, makes a step, and falls down. God teaches the Christian faith in Him in like manner: our faith is as weak as the child beginning to walk. The Lord leaves the man without His help and gives him up to the Devil, or to various distresses and afflictions and afterwards, when he is in extreme need of help of being delivered from them (for we are not ready to go to Him until we are in need of salvation), He bids us look on Him and come to Him for that Help. The Christian endeavors to do so: he opens the eyes of his heart and tries to see the Lord by means of them, but his heart, not being taught how to see God, is afraid of its own boldness, and stumbles and falls. The enemy and inborn sinful corruptions close the newly opened eyes of the heart and cut him off from God, so that he cannot approach Him, though God is near, ready to take him into His arms; only God must be approached with faith, and an effort must be made to see Him fully with the spiritual eyes of faith. Then He will Himself stretch out His helping hand, will take the man into His arms and drive away the enemies. Then the Christian feels that he has fallen into the arms of the Saviour Himself. Glory be to Thy goodness and wisdom, Lord! Thus during the efforts of the Devil against us, and in every affliction, we must see clearly with the eyes of the heart, as if He stood before us, the Saviour, the Lover of men: and look upon Him with boldness as upon our inexhaustible treasury of goodness and mercies, and pray to Him with all our hearts, that He may give us a portion of this inexhaustible fountain of blessings and of spiritual help; and we shall immediately obtain what we are praying for. The chief thing is faith, or the spiritual vision of the Lord and the hope of receiving everything from Him, as the Most-merciful, the Most-true. This is the truth; this is from experience. By these means God also teaches us to acknowledge our extreme moral infirmity without Him, to be contrite in heart, and constantly in a prayerful frame of mind.


Aug. 28/Sept. 10, 1963

Dear Nina [Seco],

It has been just about a year since your visit, and already we are almost strangers to each other. That is of course primarily my fault, since I am a hopelessly irresponsible correspondent. However, I will try to write once in a while, hoping that you will do likewise.

I am quite interested in your English-language Orthodox Church and would like to hear to more about it and about the priest. While I am quite satisfied with Church Slavonic myself, and in fact feel myself to be more Russian than American, I realize that one can’t expect many converts to go so far. In fact one of the chief difficulties I’ve had in my own modest missionary endeavors is the linguistic and cultural barrier. People are invariably fascinated by the Slavonic services, but any more intimate contact with the Church seems out of the question to them. What kind of success has your Church had? Do you have any organized missionary activity? I know Vladiko Ioann and Fr. Leonid (at St. Tikhons) want to begin something of the sort here (missionary activity, that is), and Gleb has some ideas of his own on the subject. But so far nothing has been begun.

I remember telling you last year that I would be going to Jordanville this Christmas. However, since I found myself unable to work more than five months, I saved only enough money to live until now, and I’ve now gone back to work (as a busboy again, but in a pleasanter place). The book I have been writing is in much better form, though still far from finished. It turns out to be a study of the consequences of atheism as contrasted with the consequences of faith (historical-psychological-spiritual-philosophical-theological). I sometimes despair that I am making it too abstract and philosophical, so that no one will be interested in it or read it. Presently I’m working on an essay (which turns out, like the book, to be rather long) on the person and influence of Pope John XXIII in the light of Dostoyevsky’s “Grand Inquisitor,” in which I hope to interest Fr. Konstantin.

Vladiko Ioann, as you must have heard, has been confirmed as Archbishop of San Francisco, and if the diocese is still a long way from real peace, at least there is some kind of order at last. I believe work on the new cathedral has finally begun again. Vladiko Ioann is my favorite among our bishops, even though I find it next to impossible to understand him. He is constandy filled with such a deep peace and joy that it is spiritually beneficial just to be in his presence. I was present at several crucial moments in the past months, when Vladiko was surrounded by excited, weeping, practically hysterical crowds (you know how Russians can be!), but he was exacdy the same as ever, still calm and even joyful, denying all the angry accusations against other bishops, and exhorting all to spiritual peace and obedience.

Vladiko Savva was here for several months and did much in defense of Vladiko Ioann. He still has high hopes for establishing a monastery (though Gleb, as usual, is pessimistic about it), but apparently he will do nothing until he leaves Edmonton and is permanendy established elsewhere. He was searching for potential monks while he was here, but so far Jon is the only definite one. For myself, I have yet to finish my book and see Jordanville before I make my choice. Do you happen to know any potential monks? And what of your own hopes, are they any nearer realization? There are few any more who think of the monastic life or take it seriously, even among Russians; Gleb’s mother, for example, gave me some very “practical” advice on why I shouldn’t be a monk.

Recently a girl whom I knew in college wrote me after having disappeared for several years. I had despaired of ever hearing from her again, and the circumstances lead me to believe that there is a spiritual meaning in this reestablishment of contact—in short, I think that Our Lord wishes to draw her to Holy Orthodoxy. The last time I saw her she was a fervent Anglican (High Church), with a great deal of spiritual awareness and a great love for Our Lord. At the same time she has a kind of Dostoyevskian impulsiveness that occasionally leads her into strange adventures. While always dreaming of becoming a nun, she has had several unhappy marriages, for which the fault was not primarily hers (her husband simply left her with an unborn child); or if the fault was hers, then it was the fault of having an overly trusting nature that too easily follows early impressions of people. Right now she’s living on a farm with a man she married in despair, and the child from her previous marriage. She seems to be reasonably content, and I know she is capable of suffering a great deal in silence if need be; but, even though she has no intellectual doubts of Christian Truth, she finds her faith to be more or less dead. I’m going to be sending her books and icons as soon as I have some money (she welcomes them), but what she needs most is contact with real believers and fellow pilgrims on earth. Forgive me for burdening you with all this, but if you feel it in your heart to do so, please write her something (I mentioned you to her, but said nothing about you), if only to let her know that Christians still exist. (She senses “something missing” in the Anglican and Catholic Churches, and she was impressed with the genuineness of the Russian Orthodox service the two times she was present at it.) You will both be rewarded, I am sure. Her address is Mrs. Charles Bradbury, Route 1, Ursa, Illinois. (Her name is Alison.)

Please pray for her, and for me, wretched sinner but fellow pilgrim that I am. Jon promises to write soon. Let us hear some thing from you.

Your brother in Christ,


Sept. 12, 1963

Dear Alison,

As you see, I am an irresponsible correspondent. I began this letter two weeks ago, which was late enough, and then I went back to work (as a busboy in a restaurant!) and was too tired to finish it. Please forgive my long delay in answering your letter.

I think you are quite correct that there is something missing in the Western Churches; what is missing, I think, is precisely faith. For several centuries now men have been turning their eyes more and more to the earth and chasing the fantasy of earthly happiness and worldly comfort. In such a world even those who still believe in the other world find their faith more and more difficult to preserve; the “spirit of the age” becomes so dominated by worldly concerns that one sometimes begins to doubt ones sanity in continuing to believe what “everyone” regards as incredible. But that is only a passing temptation; there is something worse, and that is what you have noticed: people continue to believe outwardly, and go through the motions of Christian worship, but somehow the substance of faith has evaporated. The spirit of the world is so strong and persuasive that it acts without our knowing it. Of course the world has always been making war on Christian faith, but today it has very nearly succeeded in winning the war. Do you remember the terrible words of Our Lord: “When the Son of Man comes, will He find faith on the earth?” In the last days faith is to be almost entirely extinguished. And yet the appearance of faith will probably be maintained; Antichrist, we know, will attempt to imitate Christ. Probably the “world Church” that is being formed by the “ecumenical movement” today (whose center, of course, will be Rome) will keep intact most of the externals of Christian worship and dogma—but its heart, true faith, will be missing, and so it will be simply an imitation of Christianity. I’m writing an essay on this subject now, in connection with the “new Christianity” of Pope John XXIII, and I’ll send you a copy when (and if) its published.

Orthodox people of course have the same problem, but with us it is somewhat easier, for several reasons. With us Christianity is less abstract than it tends to become in the Western Churches. When we pray it is always before our icons, which are made with prayer and are blessed by a priest and allow us, with our human weakness, to look upon the very face of the Saints and so gain great strength and fervor in prayer. The Saints are present in a special sense in the icons and thus are close to us; and indeed, many icons are noted for working miracles of healing and protection, due to the special intervention of the Saints (and especially of the Most Holy Mother of God). I think you’ve heard of the “weeping icons” in New York (there are at least three now); in them the Mother of God is warning us of impending catastrophe and calling us to repentance. (One of the icons was here and I prayed before it, though I didn’t see any tears. The icon that weeps the most is a simple paper reproduction which is dissolving from the great quantity of tears.) Also, most of our music is not modern “composed” music (there is some of that, and it’s too bad), but ancient chants composed by Saints inspired by the Holy Spirit, and it speaks directly to the heart. The Orthodox Church also preserves many of the old Christian sacraments and customs, long since abandoned by the West (such as the distribution of blessed breads, the anointing with oil every Saturday night and before every feast, the blessing of foods at different seasons, the holding of candles or flowers at different feasts, the kiss of forgiveness at the beginning of Lent and the kiss of peace at Easter, etc.), some of which confer Grace and others of which simply make more vivid and real the meaning of the feasts. And the Orthodox Church retains undiluted the traditional Christian disciplines, especially the practice of strict and sometimes painful fasting, which are necessary more than ever today if we are to overcome the power and temptations of the world.

But most important of all is faith, our immediate contact with the other world, without which nothing else would have any meaning. By ourselves we are powerless to preserve this, and if Our Lord were not with us, faith would dry up in us even as it has in the other Churches. But Our Lord is with us, and in a special sense with the Russian Church, which He has chosen for a special role in these times. (The Russian Saints of the 19th century prophesied concerning the Revolution and the providential dispersion of Orthodox Christians to every country of the world, before the end. The “Russian mission” has a spiritual meaning, even though the Soviets have capitalized on it for their own Satanic purposes, and even though someone as Orthodox as Dostoyevsky interpreted it in too worldly a sense.) It is by trials that faith is strengthened, and the Russian Church in Exile today lives by the prayers of its millions of “new martyrs,” who are to Orthodox faithful what the first martyrs were to the early Church. Indeed, I think it highly likely that we Orthodox today, living in a time and a place of “peace” and “security,” will before too long be called upon ourselves to die a martyr’s death for our faith. The possibility is certainly a real one in the face of the anti-Christian spirit of “peace” that seems to be overwhelming the world today and lulling people into the sleep of worldliness and forgetfulness of Heaven.

As far as I can see, the closest of our churches to you is in Rock Island, Ill. It is at 1110 10th St., Warsaw (I think Warsaw is a suburb of Rock Island), in case you ever go there. There are two in Chicago: a cathedral with an Archbishop at 2056 N. Kedzie Boulevard, and a chapel at 2141 W. Pierce Ave. There are other Orthodox churches of various kinds (mostly Greek and Russian) in most fair-sized cities in the Middle West (several in Kansas City and St. Louis), which would be listed in the telephone directories, but they haven’t got much spiritual strength and are rapidly going the way of the Catholic Church. Our churches always have services at six or seven (for about two hours) on Saturday night and at ten Sunday morning. I imagine, however, that you seldom go to the cities. We are fortunate in San Francisco to have many fine Russian churches; in fact, I think San Francisco is now the chief center of the Russian emigration. It is more difficult, though still quite possible, to lead an Orthodox life without the help and consolation of frequent attendance at church. The sister of my godmother, for example, lives in Peru and has been for several years without a church, and only receives Holy Communion about once a year when the Archbishop comes from Chile. Many of the desert saints, too, were seldom in church; and St. Mary of Egypt, I think, received Communion only once in her life. (Have you read her Life? She is a marvelous Saint; I will send it if you haven’t.) But we, alas, are not so strong, and require much more help.

In reading your letter over again, I see that you say, “Your life is now complete, and you have many friends a great deal dearer than I. I am not one of you.” But that is not true. As a matter of fact, I have very few close friends; but that is not what I mean. Spiritual friendship (and every other kind, while having its consolations, ends with death) does not require the conditions (common activities or work, a common circle of acquaintances, frequent meetings, etc.) without which worldly friendships simply evaporate. Spiritual friendship is rooted in a common Christian faith, is nourished by prayer for each other and speaking to each other from the heart, and is always inspired by a common hope in the Kingdom of Heaven in which there shall be no more separation. God, for His own reasons, has separated us on earth, but I pray and hope and believe that we shall be together when this brief life is over. Not for a single day have you been absent from my prayers, and even when I heard nothing from you for two years and thought perhaps I would never hear from you again, you were still closer to me than most of the people I see frequently. Oh, if we were real Christians, we would be strangers to no one, and would love even those who hate us; but as it is, it is all we can do to love a few. And you are certainly one of my “few.”

I had better finish this at last, for I know you must think I have deserted you. Since I began typing this, this afternoon (it is now night), I have already lost my job, and must look for another one. It is somehow a sobering thought for me, with all my philosophical and abstract pretensions, to be a failure as a lowly busboy. I will be sending soon to the monastery in New York for books and such things, and I’ll get a few things for you. Please be kinder to me than I have been to you, and write soon. And pray for me, a sinner.

In Christ, your brother,

P.s. In any kind of danger or affliction, pray (besides to the Mother of God) to Saint Nicholas; he is the greatest of the Saints, and a speedy intercessor. Also, for healing, pray to Saint Pantaleimon, a fourth-century martyr of the universal Church. I will pray to him also for you and your husband.


Sept. 3/16, 1963

Dear Brother in Christ, Gleb,

After some thought I’ve decided your idea is really quite practical. Here are some of my own ideas about putting it into effect:

First, find a garage or a small shop in or near the Richmond district, preferably on Geary, Clement, or California Street, for no more than $30 a month. (I looked at the place on California Street; an interesting building, but it has been condemned and will be torn down.) It should have a fairly large window for display purposes; if there isn’t one, we should make one. Then, equip it with a few tables, bookcases, etc., with of course an icon with lampada in one corner, Fr. German on one wall, pictures of Jordanville etc. on other walls, and a bulletin board by the door. Also a samovar, or at least a pot of hot water, in the back. Then, get a supply of books, icons, etc. from Jordanville, including present and past issues of Orthodox Life in English and Russian, and the current issue of Pravoslavnava Rus, and whatever other Orthodox materials from other places that can be obtained with little or no immediate payment. Advertisement can be through Russkaya Zhizn and by word of mouth—it could be announced also at the Bogoslovskii Kyrs [Theological Course at St. Tikhon's] and on bulletin boards of churches, as well as privately We could be open at first only a few days a week perhaps—say Tuesday and Thursday nights and Saturday afternoon, the intention being to provide an informal gathering place for whoever might be interested. Several people could be responsible for opening and closing the shop, a different person each day, to divide the labor. All work would be voluntary and unpaid, all proceeds going to expansion of the activities of the “Brotherhood”—first, purchase of more books for sale, especially the Fathers; second, providing the book store is a success, the publication of some sort of bulletin (perhaps), etc.

Such a bookstore would, first of all, be a service to Russians in San Francisco, a few of whom are beginning, through the influence of Vladiko Joann, to be interested in the Fathers but hardly know that it is possible to buy Orthodox books. Second, it would provide a gathering and discussion place for both Americans and Russians, young or old, who might be interested; third, it would be a place to which to refer Americans knowing litde or nothing of Orthodoxy, both for literature and discussion. If God blesses the undertaking, interest will be awakened and books will be sold, and that will be the financial basis of all further undertakings, which can be planned when the need and occasion arises for them.

All that is required to begin is a small amount of cash (for rent, furniture, paint, etc.), and, most of all, at least four or five enthusiastic workers. I am quite enthusiastic already, though I must confess that Jon, as usual, is pessimistic; but that need be no hindrance. If Fr. Deacon Nicolai and his friend Nicolai, and perhaps one or two others, could be inspired with some enthusiasm, the project could easily be undertaken.

Let me know your opinion of these ideas. And pray for me, your sinful brother in Christ,



Thursday, Oct. 3, 1963

Dear Alison,

I seem to recall your mentioning ghosts and such things in a letter several years ago, but I don’t remember saying anything in reply. I think these things are in a category similar to that of details concerning Antichrist and the last days: one should know something about them so as not to be led astray by false doctrines and “revelations,” but at the same time it can be spiritually dangerous to be too preoccupied with them. As a matter of fact I am somewhat interested in them myself, and I plan to devote a chapter of my book to them, since I think they will have an important (negative) role to play in the near future. The prevalence of books on the subject, both by spiritists and by scientists, is perhaps only a preparation for the approaching seduction of many souls who, having no knowledge or experience of these matters, can be easily led astray by a few spectacular “phenomena.” I think it quite possible that the words of Our Lord, “There will be false Christs and false prophets, who will rise up and show great signs and wonders, so that if it were possible, even the elect would be deceived” (St. Matthew XXIV, 24), as well as the false miracles of the “prophet” of Antichrist (Apocalypse, ch. 13), who even brings down “fire from heaven”—that these may refer, among other things, to very extraordinary psychical and demonic phenomena, which materialistic people will have to accept as “miracles.”

I have no doubt of the authenticity of many of the phenomena described in books like the one you read. The accounts of scientists are of course more trustworthy than those of spiritists, but only as regards the specific details of observed phenomena; never trust the interpretation of phenomena offered even by the most reputable scientists, for they usually know nothing at all, and never enough, either of spiritual experience or Christian doctrine.

Concerning the dead, Orthodox tradition has preserved much, both of theory and of practice, that the Catholic Church has long since abandoned. Of practice, there is the custom of remembering the dead at every Liturgy and at other special services. Everyone present who so desires submits a list of his own (one list for the living, one for the dead), and the priest reads all the names aloud, besides his own lists. If many people are present this sometimes takes 15 or 20 minutes (which the Catholic Church would surely regard as “inefficient” and a “waste of time”!), but it is a wonderful sign of the unity of all believers, living and dead, present and absent. Another sign of the Orthodox attitude to the dead is the marvelous joyousness—restrained, but still joyous—of the services for the dead, with the constant refrain of “Alleluia” and the emphasis placed rather upon rebirth in a new realm than upon the departure from this world. The coffin of a dead man is placed in Church for the whole day of the requiem service, and other services are celebrated while it is there; the holy atmosphere is beneficial for the departed, and I have found it very beneficial and comforting for myself when I attend such services. I have told non-Orthodox friends and relatives of this custom and I am always surprised at their uniform reaction: “How depressing!” I find it to be just the opposite; and how can it be otherwise, if we believe in Heaven? It can be nothing but good to be reminded of death and the next life. Another custom is for relatives of the dead to sit up all night (one at a time) the first night reading the psalter over the body.

These customs, of course, are themselves based upon definite doctrines: first and most general, that the dead are alive in another realm; second and more specific, that the soul remains in the immediate vicinity of the body for a time and receives immediate benefit from religious services and atmosphere. The most generally accepted account of this is that of St. Macarius of Alexandria, as revealed to him by an Angel to explain the Church’s custom of holding special services on the third, ninth, and 40th days after death. (The Orthodox Church preserves this custom even today, as well as holding memorial services on the anniversaries of death, name-day, etc.)

“When, on the third day, the body is brought to the Temple, the soul of the dead man receives from his Guardian Angel relief from the grief which he feels at parting from his body. This he receives because of the oblation and praise which are offered for him in God’s Church, whence there arises in him a blessed hope. For during the space of two days the soul is permitted to wander at will over the earth, with the Angels which accompany it. Therefore the soul, since it loves its body, sometimes hovers around the house in which it parted from the body; sometimes around the coffin wherein its body has been placed: and thus it passes those days like a bird which seeks for itself a nesting-place. But the beneficent soul wanders through those places where it was wont to perform deeds of righteousness.

“On the third day He Who rose again from the dead commands that every soul, in imitation of His own Resurrection, shall be brought to heaven, that it may do reverence to the God of all. Wherefore the Church has the blessed custom of celebrating oblation and prayers on the third day for the soul.
“After the soul has done reverence to God, He orders that it shall be shown the varied and fair abodes of the Saints and the beauty of Paradise. All these things the Soul views during six days, marvelling and glorifying God, the Creator of all. And when the soul has beheld all these things, it is changed, and forgets all the sorrow which it felt in the body. But if it be guilty of sins, then, at the sight of the delights of the Saints, it begins to wail, and to reproach itself, saying, ‘Woe is me! How vainly did I pass my time in the world! Engrossed in the satsfaction of my desires, I passed the greater part of my life in heedlessness, and obeyed not God as I ought, that I, also, might be vouchsafed these graces and glories. Woe is me, poor wretch!’ After having thus viewed all the joys of the Just for the space of six days, the Angels lead the soul again to do reverence to God. Therefore the Church does well, in that she celebrates service and oblation for the soul on the ninth day.

“After its second reverence to God, the Master of all commands that the soul be conducted to Hell, and there shown the places of torment, the different divisions of Hell; and the divers torments of the ungodly, which cause the souls of sinners that find themselves therein to groan continually, and to gnash their teeth. Through these various places of torment the soul is borne during thirty days, trembling lest it also be condemned to imprisonment therein.

“On the fortieth day the soul is again taken to do reverence to God: and then the Judge determines the fitting place of its incarceration, according to its deeds. Thus the Church does rightly in making mention, upon the fortieth day, of the baptized dead.”

If all of this is true, of course, there is a very basic error in the book you read: that souls remain on earth for an indefinite time in a kind of purgatory: they remain, instead, for only a few days. On the other hand, it is still true that the dead do sometimes communicate with the living, both from Heaven and from Hell, because neither Heaven nor Hell is located in “space” but in a spiritual dimension; both of them, perhaps, are right before our eyes, but we are spiritually blind and cannot see them. The Mother of God and many Saints have often appeared to men, and occasionally a dead relative or friend appears to someone for a special purpose. Among Orthodox people I have heard of someone in Hell (Orthodoxy has no “purgatory”; Hell is the place of purification as well as of punishment) who appeared to a relative to encourage her prayers for him, and of someone else (a suicide) in Hell appearing to his sister in dreadful torment to beg her to stop praying for him, since her prayer only increased his torment and he was irrevocably damned. Certainly the dead who are able to do so pray for us, as we do for them, but judging from the careless preparation most people make for death, they themselves are greatly in need of prayer and are probably unable to give much help to the living. For those who are unprepared, there must be a great shock and a great sense of helplessness upon arriving in a realm wherein every earthly talent and power becomes weakness and impotence, and only spiritual power is of avail.

The reason why it is dangerous to be too preoccupied with these matters (as well as things like clairvoyance and extrasensory perception, which are a spiritual gift of some saints, but often a spiritual evil when used by men insufficiently pure) is that, belonging to the realm of the mind and spirit, they are especially liable to the interference of demons, who live in these realms. The authentic phenomena of spiritism, for example (and there are many of them that cannot be explained as hoaxes), are probably primarily due to the activity of demons; real mediums are apparently actually possessed to some degree by demons masquerading as the dead. If there is a rare case of actual contact with the dead through spiritism (do you remember how Saul contacted the ghost of the prophet Samuel through the Witch of Endor?), the demons take advantage of it for their own purposes.


The only thing I accomplished yesterday was writing these three pages, having had to work for twelve hours. I’m a janitor in a restaurant at night (until three or four in the morning), which is hard work but quiet. Being a busboy is easier, but one has to smile at people and be properly servile. I have the same horror you do of the “business world,” and I almost become hysterical when I have to find a job. Once I find a job it’s all right; it’s rather a waste of time, but at least it makes it difficult to become overly proud. I think I lost my last job because they sensed my heart wasn’t in my work, which it certainly wasn’t.

Thank you for your kind offer of a place to go in time of need. Perhaps there will be such a time. Speaking of my family, I saw them last week, and it is obvious that they are becoming more and more worried about me. They would have been only too happy if I had followed a normal worldly vocation, but they set their hopes so high on me and now I turn out to be a religious “fanatic”—so I imagine they must...

A young Russian friend of mine who lives in Monterey showed them some slides of Russian monasteries and churches in North America, and they thought they were “quaint” but old-fashioned, etc. But what really shocked them, my father especially, was a photograph of an old monk who had spent forty years in his cell and hardly even spoke with other people. He has perhaps attained to a high spiritual state, but all my parents could see was the example of a totally “wasted life.” I fear I became rather desperate when I spoke of a life of prayer and spiritual attainment, and how the true values are not of this world but of the next—only to meet with total incomprehension and the suggestion that too much religion is really “sickness.” Well, where communication breaks down at least prayer is still possible; but it makes me both angry and sad to think of the many Protestant ministers posing as preachers of “Christianity,” but actually leading their flock down the path of seduction and leaving them totally unprepared for the severe realities of the next life. I met my parents’ minister; he never once spoke of God or religion, and on hearing I was writing a religious book he seemed anxious to change to topic of conversation.

I have more to say, but I had better send this while I can. Thank you for the photograph; I will try to get a recent one from my father. I really don’t know where the town of Warsaw is; it would be a great good fortune if your town is the one. You might try to find out if there is such an address there. I am enclosing some literature you may find interesting. I have sent to the monastery for some other things, including a very interesting account of after-death experience.

Please remember me in your prayers,

In Christ,


Dec. 18/31, 1963
St. Simeon Verkhoturski

Dear Brother in Christ, Gleb,

Most of your ideas seem fine to me. The only thing is, they should be put in the right order. Having a rather practical mind myself (in addition to being a dreamer), I offer the following as a concrete (though only approximate) procedure of action:

1. Introductory brochure—catalog, on which I am working now; to be printed by photo-off- set, or maybe by Matushka Ariadna. (Have you thought of her printing-press? It might be possible to get our brochures, and even a small bulletin, printed in this way. Perhaps we could make an agreement with her whereby we could do most of the work of printing ourselves.)

2. Opening of a store. The best thing for now is probably to find a small shop. We could look over the ones I've found together some Saturday. As for books, I begin this week getting $40 a week in unemployment insurance, so for several months I’ll have about half of that to spend for books, whether I work or not. This will be a start. As for tables and bookcases, maybe Fr. Deacon Nikolai can help—I think you said he has some money. From Jordanville we will need the whole series of books (including service books—I think several people in the Theological Course will want some). Meanwhile, Jon and I will write to publishers and see about discounts on books in English. I suppose you could begin ordering books right away from Jordanville—maybe just a box at a time, so they won't all come at once. In fact, if you ordered right now some of the books that pertain to the subject matter of the Bogoslovskii Kyrs, I could probably sell quite a few of them in class. I’ll enclose a list of these books, which you can have them send directly to me, if they will. (I hope they will send a receipt, so both they and we will know just which books we have, and how many; I’ll keep my own record, in any case. Another question: how long will it be before they expect some payment on the books?)

3. Some kind of bulletin in English, to be begun on a modest scale and distributed to names on the mailing list. But we don’t need to plan anything about this until after the store is opened and flourishing (!).

4. More ambitious plans for publishing pamphlets and books, whether in Russian or English: likewise can be thought about later. The manuscript you mentioned sounds good; the only trouble is the author. Nothing should be mentioned about the “Protocols,” and I think it might even be wise to publish the manuscript (if we get that far!) anonymously, or under a pseudonym. I don’t know how it is among Russians, but among English-speaking people the name “S. Nilus,” when it is recognized, is always associated with the name of Hitler; and so, quite apart from the Masons, the effect of publishing the manuscript under his name might be disastrous. Anyway, this project will have to wait for a little while at least.

Concerning the precise nature of our organization, I have some questions. Just what is a “brotherhood” in the Orthodox Church? Isn’t it supposed to be some kind of monastic society? For what purposes are Orthodox brotherhoods established, under whose auspices, with what qualifications for membership? Is the patronage of a canonized saint not required? As you see, I can be very practical when I have to be. In the present case there is a good reason for this, since the plan itself (I think) is quite practical, and it is time now (if ever) to make vague dreams into concrete realities.

Today is the feast of St. Simeon Verkhoturski. There was a splendid service last night in the convent, together with akathist. (Vladiko Ioann was present.) But unfortunately very few (five or ten) attended. It is not only Americans who have to be missionized!

I was planning to go mushroom-hunting tomorrow, but unfortunately I have to work tonight (at the Mark Hopkins Hotel, and everyone will be drunk, I imagine), so I will have to postpone it until Saturday. I’ve been reading some mushroom books, and I discover that there are several other very edible and easily identifiable varieties in this area.

Let us know your further ideas. Pray for me.

In Christ,

P.s. Jon will be writing in a few days.


Sunday, 30 Dec., 1963/Jan. 12, 1964

Dear Brother in Christ, Gleb,

I received your letter yesterday, which answered my questions very well and was encouraging. I myself grow more and more optimistic. Yesterday we received our first official response, from a publisher. We had feared they might not give a discount (a few don’t), but they offered 25%; so 10 or 15 of the early Fathers can go on our list.

I have found two more stores on Clement St., one near 9th Ave., the other near 25th; but the original one near 24th is still the best one, I think. It is still empty, so I’m sure we can get it for $35. There would be room in it for probably two good-sized tables, about three bookcases, one desk, and several chairs, and it has a good display area in the window. I hope you will be here soon to look at it, and also to make our plans more definite. I see no reason why we should not be in business by the beginning of Lent (March 16). I will make enquiries this week about a license and such technicalities.

I encountered, by the way, a group of English-speaking Orthodox young people the other night who are forming a group of their own. I don’t know why I was invited, but it was a good way of finding out what life there is among other Orthodox. The answer is: NONE. Dead, absolutely. They are sincere, their intentions are good; but they simply have nothing to work from. Not only are they unprepared for spiritual meat, they are hardly even ready for milk. I’ll tell you about them next time I see you. (The ones I met were Syrian, Russian-Metropolia, and Ukrainian, and they are planning to expand.) Actually, we will not be in competition with them, since their plans do not go beyond “inter-Orthodox” understanding, and study of Orthodox “traditions” on a very elementary level; beyond that, their interest is vaguely ecumenical, not missionary. They are turned inward upon themselves and are trying to “understand” their own religion; whereas we are going out to bring to the world riches of which we are not worthy, but of whose value we are certain. One of the Ukrainians let slip a disdainful remark about some of the Russians he has known who think they are preserving the “real” Orthodoxy. That’s us, and I think we should do just what he accuses us of doing: forget the other Orthodox (with a few exceptions, like Mt. Athos and the Old Calendarists, who still take Orthodoxy seriously), and concentrate on Russians and on American converts. Our adherence to the Church Outside of Russia should be made clear from the beginning; that will help frighten off at least some of the well-meaning who think they are as “Orthodox” as anyone; all their cooperation would have as its object the attempt to drag us into the mire of ecumenism and compromise.

I am still putting together a preliminary draft of our introductory brochure, incorporating the ideas in your last letter. What is important, I think, is for it to be as precise, strong, and yet positive as possible.

About printing: I had hoped to get a bulletin started almost immediately, and I have some definite ideas on its nature, That is why I thought of Matushka, on the condition that we could do the work ourselves and so have to pay only for paper and ink. If we have to pay more, of course, we’ll probably have to wait a while.

Jon and I both share the Russian distrust of “organization”; it will be good if our Brotherhood can have as much spirit and as few words as possible. The reason I asked about organization, however, was because it will never do to have things so vague that anyone who considers himself “Orthodox” thinks that a sufficient reason for joining us. The restriction of active members to the Church Outside of Russia, and the composition of a strong introductory statement, should make our nature clear enough.

The financial problem seems nearly solved. $25 apiece would probably meet all preliminary expenses, and I will have, within a month or so, about $150 more (including income tax refund), which I could present to the store in the form of books on credit (as Jordanville is doing).

That seems to exhaust the subject for now. I received your mothers Christmas card, for which please thank her. We received also a nice letter from VI. Leonty, who may perhaps be very important for us in future. The mushrooms are about exhausted in this area, but we have discovered a new and most delicious variety (the “honey mushroom”) that grows on the roots and trunks of trees and is quite common.

By the way, did you say you know someone who makes picture-frames? It is time to think about details like that. Besides books and icons, we will probably be able to carry, to begin with, only Jordanville religious objects, such as crosses; later maybe we can expand to lampadki, incense, etc.

Write if you have any new ideas or information,

In Christ,


Jan. 14/27, 1964
Feast of St. Savva of Serbia

Dear Brother in Christ, Gleb,

This morning we left our decision up to St. Savva and our Lord. The Gospel reading for Saint Savva (St. John X, 9-16) ends, “I have other sheep also which do not belong to this fold. I must bring them in also, and they will hear my voice. Then they will all become one flock and one shepherd.”

In my own Gospel reading (one chapter daily) I read today St. Luke X—which, if you recall, was the same passage I opened at random and we both read when we were returning by train from Carmel almost exactly a year ago, “The Lord sent them two and two before His face into every city and place, whither He Himself would come. Then He saith unto His disciples, the Harvest truly is great, but the laborers are few; pray ye therefore to the Lord of the harvest, that He will send forth laborers into His harvest.... Carry neither purse, nor scrip, nor shoes: and salute no man by the way...”

And Jon, opening the Psalms at random, read (Ps. 36:16),

“Better is the little which the just man hath than the great riches of sinners.... They shall not be put to shame in an evil time, and in days of famine they shall be filled.... By the Lord are the steps of a man righdy directed, and His way shall he greatly desire.”

I think the place next to the new Sobor [cathedral] is perfect. If we cannot succeed there, we can succeed nowhere. The location itself is probably worth at least $50 a month in advertising. I’ve talked to the owner and made an agreement: the rent does not start until Feb. 15, so we have almost 3 weeks free. I will pay the first months rent tomorrow. I will talk to the Zavarins tonight, but I’m sure they will lend us something. They want to bring the matter up at the meeting Sunday, and perhaps others will help out too. They know several sources of Russian books in Paris, including one who might give us books on the same terms as Jordanville. There is no reason why we cannot succeed. We have, theoretically, $250 now, and need (according to my calculations) about $250 more to begin. Pray! We’ll see you Friday.

In Christ,

P.S. You will have to apply pressure to Jordanville. Persuade them that I am a very astute businessman (!). Contact Shura again, and Vladimir, and have them pack the books if necessary!

Jon reports that this is a very auspicious day for beginning our work. God is with us!


Jan. 15/28, 1964
St. Paul of Thebes

Dear Brother in Christ, Gleb,

The passage to which I turned in the Gospel this morning was St. Luke XI “Our Father”, and then: “Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you. For everyone that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened.” Can anything be clearer?

I paid the first months rent this morning, so now it is too late to back out. Now it is time to get to work. About painting I am uncertain. Only a fairly small area really needs it, but it would be nice to change the color (which is green)—but that would mean a lot of work (and paint). The store is about 15 x 30, and about 13 feet high. It has a balcony, which will be our shipping department, and in future it can serve as a place for our printing press(!). You will like it very much, I’m sure.

I talked to Alyosha Kennedy, who is in charge of the Kiosk at the Sobor, to make sure he didn’t regard us as competition. He thought the idea was wonderful. Everyone who hears about it is enthusiastic.

Now all that is needed is to make Jordanville start sending books and icons, and to raise $300, which I don’t think will be so difficult, now that everyone can see we’re in earnest. We’ll see you soon,

In Christ,


Jan 22/Feb 4, 1964

Dear Brother in Christ, Gleb,

I am very happy that you have discovered someone else who is enthusiastic about our project, but I am a little puzzled as to what his idea will involve. Is our store to become the Kiosk of the Sobor? And if so, what about the old kiosk? And how will we be able to preserve any freedom of action? Wont the numbers of books we can sell be greatly restricted? Or does he (and do you) have something else in mind? It would be fine if the Sobor could pay the rent for a while, but it might involve certain difficulties. And what of Gubin? Is he going to take part in the business?

I have almost no new information. Genya and Alyosha Zavarin are going to lend us some money soon, but I don’t know how much. They also suggested a place where we can get a fine table top (actually a door) for $10 or less, to which we could add legs ourselves. (We will need at least two big tables.) We will need very few ordinary bookcases at first; there is a special kind I am thinking of for our English books which I can probably make myself quite cheaply. I had the electricity turned on again in the shop. Jerry, by the way, after hearing of our plans, sent us $10, which is a source of encouragement. Nina sent us a list of over 100 names.

I am doing very little about the store this week, being chiefly concerned to get some kind of job, at least for a while. My talk on Sunday provoked a very animated argument, chiefly between me and an atheist named Vadim, who set forth a complete “Superman” philosophy and accused Christianity of being a failure, both because it is no longer powerful (in a worldly sense) and because every Christian isn’t a saint. Some of his arguments were half-true, but mostly he spoke straight from Satan, and I was rather discouraged at the weakness of my own words. How small and feeble we have become! But how much more must we fail to become discouraged, and trust more in our Lord.

I am sorry to hear about Fr. Nikolai. Does this mean that he will not be buying books from us either?

I think it would be good to talk to Fr. Leonid about the “Brotherhood” side of our project (or whatever it is to be called), since he is the most missionary-minded priest here. He teaches at the Theological Course from 8 to 9 Friday night, so if you came to St. Tikhons (in the basement) by 9 Friday we could talk to him.

I always pray to St. Innokenty, and now I shall pray to Fr. Gabriel. And you pray to St. Savva, since it was through him and on his day that I decided to rent the shop. God willing, everything will be well. Let us trust Him and His saints, and His most Holy Mother.

In Christ,
Your sinful brother,


Eve of the Three Saints
Jan 30/Feb 12 1964

Dear Brother in Christ, Gleb,

I received today the first English books for our stock, 3 copies of the Pilgrim purchased with credit I had at an English bookstore. Apart from that, however, I feel rather paralyzed from lack of money. I learned today that we have to put up a bond of $200 to guarantee payment of sales taxes. The money is refunded to us when we go out of business, but at the present moment it’s just another burden. That brings our initial expenses up to $800. Against this we have the first months rent paid ($85), $35 in cash, $50 from Genya Zavarin, total $170. Then there is the $85 for one months rent which you have found—if they can pay it on March 15; and $25 from Iuri—if he can give it to us within two weeks or so. This gives us $280. Finally, Alyosha Zavarin will give us something ($50, I hope) if he gets a job soon; and we can get another $50 from early sale of Jordanville books—if they arrive soon. Therefore, even the most optimistic estimate gives us only half of what we need. (That is, unless Fr. Nick will still buy his books, but even then we will be $300 short.)

What’s to be done? The wisest thing, I suppose, is simply to give the whole thing up and curse the world for being so complicated. It would be very sad if we had to do that, especially after finding the store building and having prepared to opened accounts with 20 or 30 publishers. There is no way of cutting down expenses. $300 is the absolute minimum for books in English, and $500 is the minimum total expense to April 1. There’s only one other source I can think of: my parents. If they can lend me $400, we can begin. I’m not sure how they will react to such a request. There would be no trouble if I needed the money personally, but I don’t know what they’ll think about such a business venture. But if we can really order as many books from Jordanville as we need without beginning to pay for them for at least 6 months, we should be able to pay off all other debts by that time, assuming that the business is at least moderately successfrd.

About the business itself, it would be easiest and probably best if it is organized in the beginning in my name alone, especially since, as it now stands, I will be personally responsible for most of the money involved. That way no legal documents or contracts will be required; everything will simply be accountable to me, and I will be responsible for everything. This is just for the bookstore, of course, not the Brotherhood. In fact, it would probably be best to concentrate in the beginning on the bookstore. We could say in the introductory brochure that one of the purposes of the bookstore was to serve as a material foundation for the Father Herman Brotherhood. We would probably have a better idea of precisely what the Brotherhood should be after we see what interest the bookstore inspires, and also how much money it makes. Tell me what you think about these ideas.

Concerning Mr. Gubin’s idea I am somewhat dubious. If the bookstore is connected with the Kiosk, there would probably be legal complications, besides which the whole thing would probably frizzle out in the end. (And I doubt that Khrarov or anyone will want to pay $85 for a Kiosk anyway.)

I haven’t heard yet about the bookshelves. Jon looked at them through the window and was pleased with them, and he also thought he saw some tables we might use. Someone called this number a few days ago (twice) and asked for Evgeny Zavarin. Is it possible that you gave them my number but the wrong name?

We can talk about other things when you come up. You have to come up this weekend, because our final decision whether to proceed or not must be made immediately. Books must be ordered right away. Try to bring some money with you if you can get it (from Iuri, for example).

Pray! God’s Saints will show us the way, if what we do is pleasing to Him!

Your Brother in Christ,

P.S. Be thinking about a name for the bookstore. All I can think of is “Orthodox Christian Bookstore and Icon Shop.”


Feb 21/ March 3
Tuesday morning

Dear Gleb,

There was a package from Jordanville this morning, but I can’t pick it up until tomorrow. I’ll let you know what’s in it.

I got to your bank yesterday just as it was closing, just in time to see that they had deposit slips out, but no withdrawal slips. I presume one has to ask them for these, and I’m afraid they would regard me rather suspiciously if I did. But they do business by mail also. Why don’t you just send them your bank book and a signed note stating the amount you want to withdraw, and they’ll probably fill out the withdrawal slip for you and send you the money.

I got enough lumber yesterday for two bookcases, and I’m expecting delivery at any minute (I’m in the shop). It cost $15, including cutting and delivery charge. That’s about $5 more than I wanted to pay, but $5 less than it would have cost at the other place, and less than half what it would cost to buy them already made (if someone made them, that is). I changed the plan somewhat and managed to save a little money.

That was a good idea of Iya’s to have me write about icons for Blagovestnik. I’ve almost finished the article. I think the Vladimir “youth” is going to meet Bishop Philotheus Thursday night.

I’m enclosing a letter that arrived this morning.

Pray for me.

Your sinful brother in Christ,

P.S. If your mother can make nice Easter eggs, try to get her interested. We’ll pay her a commission!


Monday morning
[2/22/] 1964

Dear Gleb,

I don’t know whether I’ll see you today or not, so I’ll mail this now. You didn’t fill out the whole withdrawal slip, and the bank is sure to be suspicious if it’s filled out in two different handwritings. Anyway, I probably won't be downtown for a few days. Why don’t you just fill it out and mail it in? They would send it back by return mail.

I finished most of one bookcases yesterday, and hope to get them both in place by this afternoon.

I heard most of VI. Filofei’s last night and was extremely unimpressed.

The most important things for you to do by next weekend are to contact Ariadna Ivanovna about advertising, VI. Nektary about blessing (you should call him as soon as you arrive Fri. night, to make sure he has time), and making preparations for silk-screen cards.

Your Slavonic sign looks very nice.

Mme. Langeron brought her cot yesterday. She thinks she knows someone who makes eggs.

Pray for me.

Your sinful brother in Christ,


Great Wednesday

Dear Gleb,

Much business yesterday ($35)—a constant stream of people to buy cards; but today nothing at all for 3 hours. A man bought some books for a Russian girl who wants to commit suicide—pray for her (Barbara). Our friend finished Feophil in one sitting (he stayed up half the night), and apparently enjoyed it. His impression: everything is possible with faith, love, and humility.

Today was Fr. Leonid’s name-day, and many came to pray with him.

Our advertising material is being mimeographed today, and it will be ready for mailing by the end of the week.

I hope you will be able to come on Sunday. We could have a small Easter feast in the evening. I plan to go to Holy Communion tomorrow, please forgive me for everything, and pray for me.

Your sinful brother in Christ,


20 July 1964
Holy Prophet Elijah

Dear Brother in Christ, Gleb,

I was waiting for some interesting news before writing you, but there hasn’t been any interesting news, so I’ll write anyway. Business has been very slow, except for a large sale to Mr. Ivanovsky (for which I haven’t received the money yet).

The Philokalia arrived, but no one has bought yet. Vladimir was in yesterday. I gather that he has no particular interest in a Brotherhood. Which means, I suppose, that we two “brothers” should work all the harder.

You should have received your Paissy Velichkovsky by now.

Olyas Kiot will soon be finished and will look quite nice, I think. I can begin your Kiot next if you’ll bring up the icon next weekend.

From Jordanville you should order the following:

10 each of all icons 8 x10 1/2” (3rd size).
10 Prayer Book, Russian script, paperback.
10 Selected Prayers to the Mother of God.
5 Hymns from all—night Vigil and Liturgy
5 Slobodskys Brief collected articles
10 St. Theophan the Recluse—What is the Spiritual Life.
5 Talberg, ? .
10 Sologub, Fr. John of Kronstadt.
5—10 Fr. John of Kronstadt, Thought on Divine Services.
5 Living Wheel from the Spiritual Field of Fr. John of Kronstadt.
5 Chuzhoo, Fr. John of Kronstadt.
10 Fr. John of Kronstadt, vol. I. My Life in Christ.
20 Sokoloff, Manual of Orthodox Services.

I think I will run away from everything and go to the woods tomorrow (just for the day).

The shoemaker came yesterday and delivered your shoes (for which you owe $4.75).

These two feast days have been very splendid, but I suppose they were even more so in Monterey.

I’m afraid I haven’t had time to make out the list of English books, but I’ll try to get around to it soon.

As you see, nothing is new. I presume you will be here next Saturday. We should think about another ad for Russian Life.

If the tone of this letter sounds a little weary, it’s because I’m tired, but otherwise I am in good spirits and hope you are the same. My regards to your mother and Ija.

Your brother in Christ,


9/22 September, 1964

Dear Brother in Christ, Gleb,

Glory be to God! The press is already bought and will be delivered (I hope) on Thursday. (But if not then, probably not until next Tuesday, so don’t be shocked if you don’t see it this weekend.) I also bought all equipment, so all we need now is paper and ink (also a marble slab and a cabinet which I’ll have to make). If all goes well we can begin printing something in two weeks.

Everything cost $200, so the money from Fr. Gabriel will be very welcome. There should be no difficulty paying him back after Christmas. However, we will be in a critical condition until then. I am still a little stunned. There will be nothing but work from now on. To succeed we must be really brothers. May God help us!

My mother is making a Christmas card with the new Sobor on it. If it’s successful (the sample she sent isn’t bad) we can print a Russian greeting ourselves!

Pray for me.

Your sinful brother in Christ,


23 Sept/ 6 Oct, 1964

Dear Gleb,

Wait until you come this weekend before writing VI. Vitaly. He sent us an outrageous bill and it must be corrected. I forget what else you were supposed to do, but it can wait until Saturday.

You won’t recognize the printing room. I’ve gotten all equipment and we can begin printing _______ ! I have the cabinet almost finished and it is successful. I have samples of several kinds of papers—but it’s going to cost money.

You are right about a picture on the cover. But I think there has to be a “The” in the title for printing.

I’ve got another small helper for printing, I think.

Let me know when you arrive. If I don’t hear from you I’ll be at the Greyhound Depot at 7:45.

Pray for me.

Your brother in Christ,


13/26 Oct., 1964
Icon of the Iveron Mother of God

Dear brother in Christ, Gleb,

Our printing boys came yesterday and turned out some nice work. If they will give us much help, our work will be fairly easy!

Business was bad yesterday, and even though the whole week was better than usual, we are still a long way from making money—and to support a printing press we have to make lots of money. We have to have an ad in the newspaper very soon, but we must have rizas first, so that people will not come to us and get the impression that we are just amateurs and can’t supply them with even the most ordinary religious articles. Therefore:

1. Please look up the letter from the riza-deacon in New York (and bring it with you this weekend so I can mark the prices down somewhere) and order from him two gold and two silver rizas of each of the smaller two sizes (that is, four pairs altogether); we’ve waited so long now that we’ll have to take them sight unseen. Then I can make some kiots and we can be in business. I lost a $25 sale this week because we had no rizas.

2. Order 6 calendars from Martianoff—a few people do seem to want them.

3. From Jordanville order the following:

a. Service to Fr. John of Kronstadt (somebody has just printed it, and it is probably Jordanville). At least 25 copies.
b. Icons size 8x10”:
20 each of:
St. Pantaleimon, St. Nicholas (half-stature), St. Nicholas (full-stature), Of the Passion.
10 each of:
Wetbeard, Iverskaya, St. Paraskeva, Znamenie, Annunciation, Baptism of Christ, Palm Sunday, Ascension, Pentecost.
c. Small icons (4 x 8):
20 each of St. Ekaterina, and Vera, Nadezhda, Liubov, Sophia.
d. 1965 calendar, if its ready yet. 20 copies.
For the moment the icons are most important.

I’m sorry to write so much about business, but we do have to have our feet on the ground before we can do much dreaming. We're dreaming about a magazine and we can’t even afford the paper!

Nonetheless, if we work hard God will bless us. Pray for me.

In Christ, your brother,


14/27 Oct, 1964

Dear Gleb,

I received your letter this morning and have despatched the letter to Martianoff. I added a note about the 6 calendars, so you don’t have to bother—but save the envelope for future use.

The Service to St. John is being sent from Jordanville (I received the bill today), so you needn’t mention it in your letter.

We have a chance to sell the two gold rizas after all if we can get them right away—please write immediately (and tell him to rush the order).

You are not the only one who is possessed by depression. I have been attacked especially strongly in the last week or so. This only means that the devil doesn’t want us to start a magazine. But with the aid of the Lord and His Saints, we can fight him! Once we get busy, things will be much better. I started building a bookcase yesterday, and already I feel better! I’m ordering some more type today, and some paper this week, so we can begin soon. If the boys will help us I think we will have no problems. I still think we can have a first issue out in December. If you will give me proper instructions, I can see about having a sample ñl³ñhe made next week.

Pray for me.

Your sinful brother in Christ,


26 March/ 8 April [1965]
Synaxis of Archangel Gabriel

Dear Gleb,

I can’t find anything about persecutions at the Pochaev Lavra in the English Orthodox Life (there was something about the Siberian Protestant peasants in January, 1963, but that’s all), and I don’t have any issues in Russian before 1963.

The Devil has begun his work against us. A Russian lady came in this morning to look us over and tell us of the rumors about us in the Russian colony: that we are Communists with a store full of Soviet books; that we are Soviet diplomats using the store as some kind of front; that we are American converts (!); etc. By the time she discovered I wasn’t Russian, she was so charmed that she didn’t mind too much and even bought ten dollars worth of eggs, icons, and cards.

"When you come up we must think of ordering some of the Large Jordanville icons, even if they aren’t in the best style.

I placed the ad in Russian Life again for this weekend. To preserve what little reputation we have, we cannot advertise in the other newspapers. Also, we should have Skripkin or someone like that write an article about us for Russian Life.

Pray for me.

Your brother in Christ,


no date [during Archbishop John’s lifetime, before Jan. 66]

Dear Fr. in Christ Panteleimon,

I must ask you again to forgive me for my long delay in writing you about Against False Union and in returning the manuscript, but it is only now that we have finished the latest OW that I have had the time to read it once more and offer my comments.

In general, of course, the book is very good and is very needed today. We would have liked to publish it here, but it is quite true that our hands are full right now just printing the magazine. The only important criticism I would make of it concerns the author s very imprecise and even erroneous views of the whole question of Communism and the Russian jurisdictions; I think that here he is rather naive in seeing as external and secondary a question that is actually quite subtle and extremely important. The statement on p. 82, for example, that there is “full essential communion” among the different jurisdictions, is simply false. There is no communion whatever between the Russian Church Abroad and any of the other groups, and for very good reasons. The Moscow Patriarchate is subject to the anathema laid against the Soviet government and all who cooperate with it, laid upon it by Patr. Tikhon; obviously there can be no “essential communion” with those who are subject to the Church’s anathema. As for the Paris jurisdiction, it appealed to Constantinople not only to escape Soviet influences, but even more (since its spirit, after all, is close to that of the Soviet Church) to escape the traditional Orthodoxy upheld by the Synod of Bishops Abroad. Its apostasy is not accidental but quite deliberate, as is that of the American Metropolia. And the differences have nothing to do with “legalistic concepts” but with the upholding of Orthodox Truth and tradition.

I believe the author is deceived in regarding Communism as purely a political phenomenon that wears no “masks.” Perhaps he is thinking of it in terms of the Turkish Yoke—an external yoke whose intent was to enslave a nation and allow the conquerors to live well. But Communism applies an internal yoke, since it is essentially a spiritual movement (in an inverted sense). Its aim is not to conquer the world and enslave the nations, but to fight God, primarily by destroying faith in the hearts of men. There is no comparison in previous history with such as system. Communisms whole aim is to prepare the world for Antichrist, and its most subtle work is to gain control of the Church and make it over into a new Church for Antichrist. This it is very successfully doing with the Patriarch of Moscow and is now attempting to do with the whole Orthodox Church through its representatives at Rhodes. To believe that Communism is satisfied with political influence is, I believe, completely to misunderstand its nature.

As to specific corrections, it is perhaps impractical at this late date to offer many minor corrections. However, I would strongly recommend one major change: the entire omission of the paragraph on p. 82 which raises the question of the Russian jurisdictions (begin with line 5 of p. 82, ending with line 1 of p. 83). The omission would not affect the continuity of the thought (its effect is only to cause a slight pause) and leaves out no essential point (since it is only an illustration of a point already made). What it does do, I believe, is to obscure the point already made by giving as an example a situation that raises new and very complicated questions of Communism, which is nowhere adequately discussed. (What is more, it seems to me to treat rather barely the whole question of jurisdictional dependence.) Such an admission would also certainly facilitate the reception of the book among circles in the Russian Church Abroad.

I am returning the manuscript separately and certainly hope for the widest possible circulation for the book.

Concerning the article “The Patriarchate of Constantinople”—in view of the most recent sign of the rapprochement of Rome and Constantinople, perhaps some brief comment or interpretation of it has appeared in the Greek press which we could use in our magazine, either as a footnote to the article or in our “news” section. We should start printing that issue about the middle of January.

Thank you for the book of St. Mark. We will finish taking the pictures soon and return the book then. I only hope that we can succeed in transferring the spirit of such a marvelous book into our English version.

I have already written Nina Seco about Archbishop Johns reply to the Greek situation. He doesn’t want to make any decision until the Synod meets next Tuesday. He is favorable to the idea of a traditionalist Greek jurisdiction; the only complication would seem to lie in the precise means of establishing it, and especially in the connection with Bp. Peter?


August. 18/31,1965

Dear Father in Christ, Panteleimon,

Please forgive me for my long delay in replying to you. We have received your two translations, together with the letter of Br. Haralampos. Thank you very much. We will gladly print both articles, under the conditions set forth in the letter. The “Life of St. Mark” will appear in our first issue for next year, and “The Ecumenical Patriarch” perhaps in no. 5 or 6 of this year. I presume that you wish the translations to remain anonymous. If you approve, we will use the formula used by the Greek Theological Review for your other translations, “translated by a monk of the Holy Mountain.”

In connection with the Life of St. Mark, we would like to publish in the same issue a more detailed account of the state of the soul after death (this will be our issue for Great Lent). There is a homily of St. Makarios which we could reprint from Orthodox Life; it speaks of the reason for commemorating the dead on the 3rd, 9th, and 40th days after death, but mentions nothing of the “aerial custom houses,” If you know or have translated a good text on this subject, we would be very grateful to hear of it.

As for the article on the Ecumenical Patriarch, I think it would be wise to include a note on the two instances when “the Slavic Orthodox Churches gave a splendid lesson of Orthodox thinking to the Mother Great Church of Christ.” I confess I am not familiar with either instance: neither that involving Nicholas of Ochrid in 1930, nor that at the third meeting at Rhodes. Also, I wonder if you could give us the exact date of the issue of Typos in which this article appeared.

We are very interested in the small book on ecumenism which you would like to publish. Until now we have printed everything on a small hand press, but recently we have purchased a large electric press which will enable us to expand our printing activity. Our first task will be to catch up on the printing of our magazine (we are now at least a month behind), and then we will begin printing pamphlets and small books. At the present moment we cannot promise anything, but I think we will be ready to undertake the printing of such a book by early next year. I would certainly be most interested in reading the manuscript, if you could send it. As to the cost, that would depend upon just how long the book is and how many copies you wish. Since our press exists solely for the propagation of Orthodox Christianity, we would certainly charge as little as possible.

I do not recall whether or not I have sent you a copy of the icon “The Joy of All Who Sorrow.” In any case I shall do so tomorrow. I think it was quite successfully printed. I believe the cost was about $500 for 3000 copies, but I do not know what they charge for smaller icons. I will obtain the address of the company (it is near San Francisco) for you as soon as I can.

We have sent you a few extra copies of the latest issue of our magazine, which you may use as you wish. If you wish to sell them, please keep the money for your monastery. If you can use more copies than that, please tell us.

We very much look forward to receiving other translations and articles from you, as well as any suggestions or comments you may have about our magazine. God willing, may this be the beginning of a fruitful cooperation for the good of Holy Orthodoxy! We shall have many enemies, not least among the modernist Orthodox, but it is our duty to speak the truth. Please pray for me, a sinner, and for Gleb, and also for Hieromonk Savva, a young Serbian priest who may soon be joining our small missionary brotherhood.

Respectfully in Christ our Lord,


May 3/16, 1966

Christ is Risen!

Dear Gleb,
Here is your telegram, which arrived during vigil Sat. night. Also the check for VI. Seraphim. Two people came by Sunday to congratulate you:

1. Vera Utehina, who also gives her greetings to Ija.

2. Mrs. Goch (Ira Nikitina), who knew you in Latvia, I gathered. Her address now is: 3587 Notre Dame Dr., Santa Clara Telephone: 241-9521

According to Deacon Nikolay, Archimandrite Amvrossy is attached permanently to our Cathedral. There is also apparently something to the rumor that he went over (for a short while) to the Metropolia, but I haven’t heard the full story.

The rest of the brochure is finally set up and will be printed tomorrow. I’m printing 4000 copies, which takes a long time.

The neighborhood stray cat who chose us for the honor had her 4 kittens this morning in our back room. Whether that is supposed to have any significance I don’t know.

I will start setting up St. Nectarios before this weekend and have everything ready for efficient work. What’s your verdict on the color picture?

Pray for me.

In Christ your brother,


July 13/26 1966

Dear Gleb,

Here is the revised manuscript. It will take 3 pages in our magazine. It you translate it for ____, tell Fr. Constantine that it will appear in English in our magazine, so he won't try to print it himself in English.

Archimandrite Amvrossy was in this morning; he saw Vladika in a dream last night: he was in white vestments (as in the tomb) censing, and he gave a blessing with the word “_______”—and Batyshka awoke with a feeling of peace and joy. He also saw St. Mark of Ephesus in a dream before he had seen a icon of him. He’s a good man, even if he’s a little crazy He’s discouraged about doing any more scholarship—too much petty work, too little time. We’ll have to try to inspire him!

Sunday night I received an inspiring telephone call from your Dr. Nicholas Petrochko. We talked half-an hour. He’s just came back from the Holy Land and says everyone is strongly against Athenagoras and for Metr. Philaret. The Boston icon of St. Mark of Ephesus is everywhere. He ordered subscriptions for St. Sabbas Monastery, the library of the Patriarch of Jerusalem, and the Dutch Monastery in The Hague, and gave me the name of a Br. Basil to correspond with in Holland. His son is travelling with Fr. Alypy—Fr. Alypy has been refused permission to visit Athos, by the way. I promised Dr. Petrochko to make you write him (he wrote you several months ago and never received an answer); he says you can't be busier than he is, since he works 20 hours a day.

Dr. Nicholas Petrochko He ordered
631 Valley View Dr. 30 copies
Endwell, N.Y 13763 of this issue
Eric was in today, and I tried to cheer him up a little.

Pray for me.

In Christ, your brother,


Nov. 1/14, 1966

Dear brother in Christ, Gleb,

Well, it seems to be my lot in life to give people long faces. You had a very long face when you left last night. I hope it was not any kind of uninie [depression], but simply serious resolve. Tonight I kept Lawrence-Rex out in the rain even while we prayed, for his intolerable childishness and impertinence (when someone instructs him for his own good, he simply spits back), and when I left he was still outside, but very sober and glum.

Last night, after my uninie that made you so solemn, Br. Lawrence gave me a pouchenie: I do not talk enough, for instance to people like our new Br. Eugene. I received this pouchenie in silence, as usual, but in all honesty I think he is wrong. If anything I talk too much.

When I say this I do not think I am trying to justify myself; forgive me if I am wrong. I mentioned to you this weekend that I thought our skete was no longer a dream, but real. It is already so real to me that I can see it failing after we have started—for many reasons, but to begin with for one reason·, in our shop there is much talking and little action, and this kind of talk could destroy us. For you and me I am not afraid. We know what we want and when we are free we will be able to work 100% for it. But Br. Lawrence seems to get worse instead of better. This criticism of every little small point is like a cancer, and he seems unable to correct it because he has apparently no spiritual self- awareness. Fr. Sava corrected him on this tonight but it seems useless. I wonder if he is serious, and what it will take to get him serious.

And Sava himself—he came today for three days, and already Rex is worming in, flaunting the authority of our brotherhood because he knows he has a soft touch on the inside which he can use against us, Sava talks to him—for whose good? You may have a soft touch for him and think he’s just “spoiled”—but I suspect he’s quite rotten at the core and will do us nothing but harm. I hope not, but his actions indicate that he cannot be taught anything; I feel very uneasy about him.

Probably all this is giving you a long face again; please forgive me. But perhaps my main function in the brotherhood will be to introduce seriousness by pointing to the work that must be done. So far our Brotherhood has been a picnic, with much laughing, but what happens when the sorrow and tribulation and real work begins? Are we ready for it? What can we do to prepare ourselves for it?

I can try to give work quotas; but I don’t think any ustov would do much good now. We need a single minded seriousness about the work before us; otherwise any little thing can deflect us from our path. What would happen, for example, if the four of us are on our skete, and Rex drives up? If we are no stronger than we are now, it would split us. Will we be strong enough to do the work, keep up the services, get up in the morning, refrain from unnecessary talk, drive away visitors, keep all the canons, and yet keep harmony?

Do you know what we are embarking on? It’s beyond us! And yet with serious ustov and by God’s grace, we can do it. Since there is no one else, you and I must do the leading; if we are strong enough, it can cover up at least some of the weakness of our brothers.

Brother, life is passing, and we shall die. Let us be even more resolved to bring into reality what we dream about.

You can tell me if what I see is true, or if I am simply filled with a sense of self-importance.

But now enough of over-seriousness. Time is running out on our magazine, but if we start now on the Vladiko issue we may get it done in January. By Thanksgiving I want an outline and basic material of the St. John and Vladiko articles, and a complete table of contents with approximate number of pages. If it’s more than 40 pages we’re in trouble. The Kursk icon article can be short, since it’s already in O. L. and will soon be reprinted.

I was thinking this weekend, but didn’t mention—What about our January issue? We have nothing, and we’ll be so exhausted by the Vladiko issue we’ll never be able to throw anything together. But today Fr. Amvrossy called—he’ll be ready soon with a substantial article on St. Mark for the January issue (his feast is Jan. 19), all about his writings, etc.—I think again something very important. I’ll hunt illustrations. Then there’s the Tinos icon, and 2 or 3 small things will fill it up. Leave this issue to me. I think Fr. Amvrossy will come through. Again he’s wacky and lax, but he’s an important man, and I think we can help him to produce something substantial.

Well, brother, I’ve made you very pensive and serious. Today there was a comedy of errors—I went 4 times to the hardware store and came back each time with a bigger piece of pipe. Sava found a hole in the pipe and tried to repair it with candle wax. Br. Eugene came back and offered enigmatic comments. Misha came in and went to work with some gooey brown glue. Br. Lawrence came in, observed water, glue, and people everywhere, and offered criticisms of everything. Robert came, then Rex—and in the end (thanks mostly to Misha) the sink was fixed and even the toilet leaks more quietly.

Pray for me, your determined but sinful brother,


Letters of Fr. Seraphim Rose


February 15/28, 1970

The Right Reverend Theodosius
Bishop of Sitka and Alaska
Box 697
Sitka, Alaska 99835

Your Grace:

We enclose some copies of our recently-reproduced icon of Father Herman, which we beg you to accept with our compliments. Also, separately we are sending by air mail a copy of our latest Orthodox Word, which is devoted chiefly to Father Herman. You will note that in our article on Fr. Gerasim we did not pass by in silence his outspoken views on the “Metropolia” question; these were important to him and, we believe, to Orthodoxy in Alaska. In presenting this and our other article on the Metropolia, we have no intention merely to engage in polemics, but rather “to speak the truth with love.” We assure you—as you will see from our mention of you in the Fr. Gerasim article—that we have nothing whatever to say or think against you; since the time when our Archbishop Anthony introduced you to us in our former San Francisco bookshop we have had nothing but respect for you and sympathy for the immense task which you and your priests have in spreading Orthodoxy in Alaska.

Now, as we are sure you recognize, a time of crisis has come. If the Synod of Bishops Abroad has hitherto looked upon the Metropolia as something like “semi-canonical,” this will no longer be the case if the “autocephaly” is approved. We have heard from several sources that this whole project is being forced upon the Metropolia by a small group whose actions are little known and not approved by the majority. We have every hope that you yourself do not approve of it. If so, you have the opportunity to make a decision that will doubtless set the course for the future of Orthodoxy in Alaska.

We do not know what attitude you have towards the Russian Church Outside of Russia. It may be that you have received negative impressions from some few in our Church who at times become too enamored of polemics, or perhaps from some of the unfounded slanders which still circulate about our Church. But you have met our Archbishop Anthony and probably other of our leading hierarchs, who certainly do not give the impression of “fanatics”; and you know personally Abbot Panteleimon and (we believe) Father Neketas Palassis, and perhaps others of non-Russian background who, like them, have come to the Russian Church Abroad out of the conviction that here alone today is Orthodoxy being defended straightforwardly and outspokenly, whereas nearly everywhere else Orthodoxy has become the tool of politics and of everything else except love of truth. It is our fervent prayer that you too will follow their example; indeed, being of Russian descent yourself and bishop of an area where love of Russian Orthodoxy is still high, you would only be “coming home” to the Church where, for a time at least, all Russian hierarchs abroad were united in their witness of age-old Orthodoxy in the face of Communism and every other form of hatred or compromise of Christian Truth. As for the alternative—one can only imagine the pain that would come over the Orthodox soul that had to witness such a sight (which would, now become possible) as someone like Metropolitan Nikodim handling the relics of Father Herman—a man who (as the latest St. Nectarios reprint from a National Council of Churches bulletin informs us) is ready “to swear on the Cross and the Scriptures” that a certain statement protesting religious persecution in the USSR contained “fictitious” signatures, while he certainly knew otherwise and while; these “fictitious” people were undergoing interrogation and imprisonment (for “political” reasîn¾, as Metropolitan Nikodim says!). Could one’s conscience be silent at this?

We ourselves have no official status within the Russian Church Abroad, apart from personal rank of Church Reader which we both possess. We write; this letter to you prompted by nothing but our love of Father Herman, of Orthodox Alaska, and of the unchanging Orthodox Truth which— alas!—only a small flock seems interested to preserve today. As the lamentable situation caused by the “autocephaly” becomes ever more tangled and bitter, we cannot but see the hand of Father Herman himself calling those who will hear out of the politics and confusions of the conflicting “jurisdictions” onto the firm ground of unshaking Orthodoxy. Indeed, Father Alexy Ionov, who has come to the Russian Church Abroad with his parish over the “autocephaly” question, had been assigned to write the Life of Father Herman for the Metropolia!

We are certain that you will find a warm reception among us if you yourself choose this course, and a maximum of support. For ourselves, we shall certainly offer you every assistance we are capable of, whether through the pages of The Orthodox, Word or in any other way we can help the cause of Orthodoxy in Alaska.

We would be honored to receive a reply from Your Grace to this letter.

Respectfully, with love in Christ our Saviour
Father Herman Brotherhood


Feb 18/Mar 3, 1970

Dear Father David [Black],

We just received the first three issues of Orthodox Alaska and would like to share a few thoughts with you about it. It is a good and welcome beginning—sober in tone and format, conscious of past tradition (wisely preserving Bp. Philips cover), written clearly and simply, concentrating on the essentials—lives of Saints, Church calendar and feasts, monasticism, not even afraid to be a little outspoken about heresy. With God’s blessing it can do much good for the Orthodox in Alaska.

It should be pointed out, however, that Dr. Bensin’s book is so inaccurate as to be unreliable even as the foundation of an amended text. In the Father Herman article he places; St. Sergius’ Holy Trinity in Serpukhov, speaks of an “Abbot and well known preacher” who is apparently fictional or confused or confused with someone else, puts St. Seraphim in Valaam (where he never was), etc., and seems to invent some details out of whole cloth. There are better sources!

But even if not perfect, Orthodox Alaska is a welcome beginning, and to speak frankly, its tone is far more serious and Orthodox than the bulk of what passes for the “Orthodox press” in the “lower 48.” For this reason—to speak to you from the heart—we are sincerely pained at the thought of what will happen to Alaska if it accepts the “autocephaly.” I suspect you already realize that the Metropolia has been living so far on the capital of the old Russian (that is, genuine Orthodox) spirituality, which she still has some contact with owing to the presence in America of the Russian Church Abroad, which preserves and lives by this spirituality. Most of the Metropolia has strayed far from this spirituality, and only a few individuals now will probably find their way out before the Metropolia reaches the end of the trail in “Eastern-rite Protestantism.” (I’m speaking quite frankly with you because I think you see enough to know I’m not trying to “insult” anybody but only describing things as they unfortunately are.) But Alaska is remote, neglected» and besides has deeper roots in Orthodoxy. Can’t it at least be saved?

We’ve just written a personal appeal to Bp. Theodosius to stand up for the truth and put Alaska on the right path—for I’m sure you and the other priests and the whole of Alaska will follow him if he does choose this path. Of course there are tremendous obstacles in the way of such a difficult decision, but if it is not made now it probably never will be. To go with the “autocephaly” is to choose the way of the “general trend” of the times, which is away from the Church entirely. (Indeed, Moscow couldn’t even wait for the Metropolia to sign before she announced that she will give communion to Catholics that is, that the Unia is already here and the martyrdom of St. Peter the Aleut, instead of a sign and inspiration for all Orthodox faithful, becomes an absurd and futile gesture. But to stand against it (which in practical terms today means choosing the Russian Church Abroad because, whatever her human failings, she happens to be the only one even interested in truth today!) means to stand with our modern-day confessors and those unashamed of real, “narrow” Orthodoxy (the Orthodoxy that Father Herman, Bp. Innocent, and others brought to Alaska)—men of the caliber of Abbot Panteleimon and his monks, the monks of Holy Trinity Monastery, Fr. Neketas Palassis, and others.

If Bp. Theodosius does choose this path, it would be by a miracle of Father Herman (but Fr. Alexy Ionov, who was supposed to write Father Herman’s life for the Metropolia, has already chosen this path with his whole parish!). I'm convinced the response of our people would be overwhelming.

Although as brothers in the name of Father Herman our hearts are with Orthodox Alaska, up to how it hasn’t been possible for us to enter into cooperation with the official Church in Alaska, owing to its “semi-canonical” status (and our caution is only too well confirmed in the “autocephaly,” which will stamp the Metropolia with the seal of the Moscow betrayers and persecutors of the faithful); if His Grace has the courage to stand up and be numbered with the confessors of Orthodoxy, we will offer every support possible for Orthodoxy in Alaska and encourage our readers to do the same. How our hearts long to receive you all as full brothers in that small flock of Orthodox faithful which now seems about to face the hatred not only of the world but of those “Orthodox” who do not care enough for their faith. May God and Father Herman and the holy New Martyr Peter guide aright His Grace and all of you in Alaska. We are praying for you and ask your prayers for us.

With love in Christ our Saviour,
Eugene Rose

P.s. Br. Gleb sends his greetings. Enclosed is our just-printed icon of Father Herman. Separately you will receive (in case you don’t have it already) F. Golder’s life of Father Herman. Both are gifts from us.


March 8/21, 1970
St. Theophylakt

Your Grace [Bishop Theodosius of Alaska]:

We thank you for your kind response to our letter, sent through Father David Black. We were especially touched by the icons of St. Theodosius, for whom we have a deep devotion.

In looking through the Life of St. Theodosius written by our own Archbishop Anthony of San Francisco, which we hope to translate and print in a future issue of The Orthodox Word, we found the following note made by Archbishop Anthony, which we would like to share with you.

“A tiny part of the relics of St. Theodosius came as a wondrous blessing abroad to our Brotherhood of St. Job of Pochaev and was placed in an icon on the Saint painted by Archimandrite Cyprian. This icon was given as a gift and blessing from His Eminence Metropolitan Anastassy to the Sobor of the American Metropolia, being designated for the city of Cleveland for the cathedral church of St. Theodosius. The fatal decrees of the Sobor then separated us. May this icon be a pledge of the future reunion desired by all”.

By the prayers of St. Theodosius and Blessed Father Herman, may this reunion be accomplished in those who truly desire it!

With all respect and love in Christ our Saviour,
Reader Eugene Rose
Reader Gleb Podmoshensky

P.s. May we have Your Grace’s permission to use the icon you sent us as an illustration for our Life of St. Theodosius? If so, could you send us another copy from which to make the reproduction? If you have any other illustrations appropriate to the Life, we would very much appreciate the opportunity to use them. We have seen, but cannot now obtain, a photograph of the faithful holding the relics of St. Theodosius after the Soviets attempted to desecrate them.


March 16/29, 1970
3rd Sunday of Lent

Dear in Christ Father Photios,

Rejoice in the Lord! We send greetings in our Lord Jesus Christ.

We were very happy to hear from you and are only too happy to exchange ideas with you. It is good to hear about your varityper. We had one demonstrated for us several years ago, but the cost was too prohibitive, and without offset press and camera we couldn’t do it either. Our problem is a little different from yours: your problem is money, ours is time. Of course, if we had the money, the time would take care of itself, but right now we have all our own primitive equipment, and it just takes too long to print. Beginning with the new issue we’ve expanded to 50-60 pages, and it will take four weeks to print, assemble, and despatch each issue. Of course, there are just two of us to do everything, but more people won’t solve the problem either; the process of setting type by hand just requires too much concentration and painstaking labor, and with more people efficiency is actually reduced, at least in our poor experience. Our answer is linotype and, God willing, after Pascha we may have one—which of course will add mechanical complications to our problems, since the machine will have to be an old one.

Yes, we are “struggling” in the mountains—much more pleasant than struggling in the city, I assure you! We don’t notice the lack of conveniences at all. If we do spend a lot of time chopping wood, that gives us valuable exercise—printing is definitely indoor, sedentary work (or rather “stationary”). The lack of water affects primarily the garden, but we're trying “organic gardening” with mulch and hope to get some crops with a minimum of water—there’s enough in the soil for 45 inches of winter rains and snows to grow quite a bit, I think. Judging from the state of the world and America, our home-grown crops may turn out to be quite valuable in a few years. Frankly, we are pessimistic about the future and hope to print as much as possible in these few years that are given us, anticipating a drought of the printed word in perhaps a very short time. Nikolai probably described our poverty to you: right now we have two cabins, one a hunting cabin which we live in (which Nikolai helped finish), and the second a printshop which Gleb and I built. We have now an outdoor chapel with a cross and an altar table on a tree stump where Archbishop Anthony served Liturgy last fall and Father Panteleimon blessed water on November 1st; we hope to start building a real chapel this year and other buildings as possible. Whether anyone will join us we don’t know, but we are going one step at a time, trusting in God and doing our best with what we have.

You are of course welcome to use whatever materials and illustrations you wish from The Orthodox Word. We wish no payment from any Orthodox reprinters, all the more so from those few who are printing the real Orthodoxy; our copyright is to scare off Catholics, who shamelessly take Jordanville material and pass it off as their own. If you take a whole article or translation, we would like the OW credited, for the sake of identification of sources. We would love to translate some other of St. Mark’s writings from Russian, but there’s no chance now for that, and they are mostly rather long and more difficult than what we’ve translated so far (on purgatory, filioque, etc.).

May God prosper your printing plans. Lives of Saints are one thing desperately needed in America to give a dose of real Orthodoxy for those withering away from the two-dimensional academic Orthodoxy of Schmemann and the new “autocephalous” monstrosity. A word of advice: one of the best hopes for success is regularity, especially of a periodical. If you could put the Vineyard out regularly, even once every two months, you would have a good basis, both for financial support and for building a regular readership. It would help, too, if the Lives of Saints were put out in a series with some stimulus for readers to “subscribe” or somehow be inspired to get the whole series. The American Orthodox public is so undernourished with printed food that it has to be educated to know what it should read. The “official” press—Young Life, Upbeat, Concern, the learned quarterlies—is actually poisoning the Orthodox public and stunting their appetites; and now with the “autocephaly,” they will make a big point of trying to persuade everyone that this is what they should be reading. We are a minority and will have a hard time persuading many that they should be eating real food and not TV dinners.

But the “autocephaly” is perhaps really a blessing—now the sides will be clearly drawn and the choice perhaps a little clearer. Especially now at the beginning of the great divide we should try to do as much as possible to reach those who might still have doubts about the great all-American Church.

Our Orthodox Word covers are very easily done—by letterpress. We print twice—once with a halftone or line engraving in whatever color desired, once in black for the text. Total cost this way is about 2 1/2 cents per cover for 2000. In the beginning, when we had only a small hand press that couldn’t print big pictures well, we had the color picture printed outside by offset (at a cost of about 5 cents per cover including paper) and then printed the text ourselves.

We ask your prayers for our humble work, and hope to keep in contact with you. We will certainly cooperate with you however possible.

With love in Christ our Saviour,
Eugene Rose

P.s. Please pray for Bishop Theodosius and the Alaskan Church. As slim as the hopes might be for them to secede from the “official” Church and join us, with Father Herman’s prayers anything is possible. One nun from Novo-Diveyevo wrote us that the whole Autocephaly scandal is owing to the fact that Father Herman apparently does not want to be canonized by the Metropolia—and perhaps she is right! If Alaska does not come to us, Father Herman will do something, I’m convinced!


Mar. 19/Apr. 1, 1970
Martyrs Chrysanthus and Daria

Dear Father in Christ, Neketas,

Bless us, Father! Rejoice in the Lord!

We are always happy to hear from you. One feels the noose begin to tighten with which the “official” Church will try to strangle, and one treasures all the more every contact with like-minded souls who want the real Orthodoxy. We’ve heard no more about the Metropolia, but the general picture is clear: whether now or after some delay, whether Iakovos joins now of after a year or two, the “autocephalous” Church is here, and everyone who has not love for true Orthodoxy will rush to join, and they will wage war against us—not because we are any external threat (only a few will leave them), but because their consciences aren’t clean, and the Synod represents their conscience. I think 1970 is the crises year for American Orthodoxy: towards the Metropolia, the Greek Archdiocese, etc., our attitude has not been entirely definite yet, but now they force us to define ourselves and them, which is all to the good. A few of their people who might have continued with them and gradually lost their Orthodoxy until it was too late to get it back, will now step away from them. And it will all [be] to the good if the Synod now (as in 1927) excommunicates them and informs everyone that their bishops are not bishops, their priests are not priests, their sacraments are not sacraments; if Iakovos joins them, he falls under the same ban. Up to now our older priests haven’t understood the Greek situation, but now (if Iakovos joins them) they will—because they do understand the Soviet Church situation. One of our SF cathedral priests who was somewhat soft on the Metropolia has come out now with a good attack on them because, as he says, regarding Moscow the situation is absolutely clear, there is no room for any other interpretation than ours.

We received an interesting comment from a nun in Novo-Diveyevo: this whole scandal arose because Father Herman does not want to be canonized by the Metropolia! I think there may well be something to that. From the history of Spruce Island we know that Fr. Herman has been severe with those who unworthily approach him, and he was definitely on Fr. Gerasim’s side! If (as it now looks) the canonization was intended by the Metropolia leadership to be a part of their political trickery (for Meyendorff says that only a “Local” Church can canonize saints), Fr. Herman will do something and is already doing it. Fr. David Black writes us that they have two monks for Spruce Island—one of them we know as not serious, the other is probably Hieromonk Seraphim [Bobich] from St. Tikhons Monastery, who just wrote us that he has left the Metropolia for the Synod and will go to Mt. Athos—he says they wanted him to go to Spruce Island, but he won’t because he would have to remain in the Metropolia. Now the last of the best element is leaving the Metropolia, and their long- desired union can be achieved all the easier. Bp. Theodosius, by the way, responded to our appeal to him kindly (through Fr. David), if formally, and sent us icons of St. Theodosius, which, whatever the intention, touched us deeply. If any whole piece of the Metropolia can be saved, it is Alaska—as far along as it already is on the same general path of decline with the rest of America, nonetheless it has deeper roots and it has Father Herman, and being an isolated diocese it might still revive with a transfusion of real Orthodoxy. Father Nicholas Harris in Anchorage writes us asking for 5 copies of the Fr. Gerasim issue—we know nothing of him. Anyway, we’re praying especially hard for Alaska, and if it could be saved then Schmemann and Iakovos could keep the Atlantic and Pacific and the Moon as well!

We must get to printing. This issue is going nicely after a late start, and we hope to have it mailed by the end of next week. Spring is here, and we’re beginning to plant a few crops that don’t need much water. We’re glad to hear of Presvytera’s recovery—please give her our greetings. As for the article on Fr. Panteleimon’s visit; it perhaps wouldn’t be too late to put it even in the May-June issue. Approximate dead lines are: for March-April, one week after Easter; for May-June, June 5-10.

We are looking forward to the Kalomiros article on evolution. What about his other article that you started printing on the Synod etc? If that won’t come out soon in the Witness, could we get a copy of it separately? Later this year we want to print a 50th-anniversary Synod issue, with the main article by Vladika Ioann, and we are looking for another article from the missionary and/or Greek point of view—any ideas? We thought of asking Kalomiros to write one if he hasn’t already written a suitable one.

Pray for us.

With love in Christ our Saviour,


Mar. 23/Apr. 5, 1970
4th Sunday of Lent

Dear Father David [Black],

Thank you for your letter, which we read with great interest. We appreciate your frankness. On those things which divide us—actually one thing, the Synod-Metropolia question—there is not much to “argue” about; a resolution will be reached not basically through argument but through prayer, earnestly seeking God’s will, patiently awaiting its manifestation, and resolutely following it. Still I would like to say a word or two more to you, speaking as one “convert” to another.

I am no Russian, do not share particularly in any Russian psychology, and don’t think I’m viewing the issues through any rose-colored glasses. Nonetheless, I don’t think it’s possible, in the long run, to stand above the question of “jurisdictions,”—not in the Russian Church, at least. We share your respect for Fr. Georges Florovsky as a theological scholar and interpreter of the Fathers; such respect is widespread in the Synodal Church—his books on the Fathers are basic textbooks. Br. Gleb knows him and received his blessing go to Jordanville to study. But there is also a reason for the lower opinion of him that is widespread in our Church, often among the same people who respect his theological scholarship. Orthodoxy—as is particularly noticeable in times of crisis such as our whole century has been—is not merely a doctrine to be understood, but a conception of life to be lived. Fr. George, it seems to me, has failed in the vital dimension of Orthodoxy in practice. What is the result of his many years of appearances at ecumenical gatherings? Orthodoxy, to be sure, has become better known—but not as the Church of Christ, rather as a “fourth major faith” which used sometimes to give trouble to the Protestants by insisting on making “separate statements,” but now has come around to the general heretical view of the Church which the Protestants expound (Archbp. Iakovos, indeed, states clearly: “The Church in all its denominational forms is the body of Christ“!). In the situation which Vladika Vitaly describes (Orthodox Word, 1969, p. 150-1), Fr. George himself gave a push in the direction of this heresy: not by saying anything heretical himself, but by giving in to the pressures that always exist at ecumenical gatherings to say something that will please the Protestant majority and will be interpreted by them in a heretical fashion. The Orthodoxy of Fr. George at such gatherings is formally correct, but it is thus only formal Orthodoxy, not living Orthodoxy, hot Orthodoxy in practice. And Orthodoxy today is being destroyed from within precisely by this lack of living Orthodoxy. Orthodoxy has one thing to say to the ecumenical movement: here is the truth, join yourself to it; to remain to “discuss” this truth not merely weakens the Orthodox witness, it destroys it. The Protestants long ago were right when they said: If you have the truth, why are you participating in the ecumenical movement, which is a search for an unknown truth.

A second aspect of Fr. Georges failure at “Orthodoxy in practice” was his failure to stay and support the Russian Church Abroad. Where is the heresy or sectarianism involved in the basic idea of the Church Abroad: that all Russian hierarchs should remain united, at least with their fellow hierarchs abroad, but also the extent possible with the Catacomb Church in Russia—and when God shall finally permit, with the visible Church in Russia too? The Metropolia has cut the Church Abroad out of her history books, but she nonetheless was an organic part of it, and the most objective view of the history of Russian Orthodoxy abroad in the last 50 years cannot but conclude that the Metropolia does not want to be in communion with the Church Abroad and has several times deliberately broken off from it. Read the history of Metr. Platon vs. Bishop Apollinary in 1927 (that will be in our new issue!), of Metr. Theophilus who was devoted to our Church and -was forced to leave it, of the infamous Cleveland Sobor (cathedral) vs. Archbp. Vitaly: where is Church truth and justice, where are our confessors who stand for peace and unity—all in the Church Abroad, no doubt of it!

When Fr. George speaks of our supposed tendency to “Catharist sectarianism”—I do not take it lightly. He is a man whose words are to be taken seriously. But how can he back up such a extreme statement? I suspect that he doesn’t make much of an attempt, and that the statement is more emotional than rational—as is Archbp. John Shahovskoy’s recent paid advertisement which accuses the entire Church Abroad of being in a state of “delirium, hatred, and Pharisaic pride”! This is not merely unfair, it is slander! Yes, we are a minority; yes, the rest of the Orthodox Church tries to cut us off— and will redouble its efforts if the “autocephaly” is signed; yes, we are conscious of defending Orthodoxy, which is trampled on today by Orthodox hierarchs themselves. But how are we different in this from St. Athanasius in the 4th century, who found every Church in the city except one in the Arians hands? How are we different from St. Maximus the Confessor, who when informed that three Patriarchs had entered into communion with the Monothelites said: “Even if all the world enter into communion with them, I alone will not!”? (This statement was repeated, by the way, by Metr. Anthony Khrapovitsky in 1927 against Metr. Sergius.) How are we different from St. Mark of Ephesus, who defied an “Ecumenical Council” and every single hierarch with the “Catharist, sectarian, delirious” belief that he alone was in the truth?!!

Forgive me if my zeal runs away with me, but I wanted you to see my point clearly: the Church Abroad today is the focal point of the battle for Orthodox truth and principle. Of course we have many faults, of course the general decay has infected some of our members too—but we are still fighting for the truth, and there is frankly no sign that any of the “Fourteen Autocephalous Churches” or the American jurisdictions is doing so. If you are encouraged by Fr. Schmemann’s recent semi-conservative statements—-well, I can only say that they seem to be a faint reaction to Metr. Philaret and to the effect he has produced on the conscience of a part of the Metropolia; but that will soon pass, and particularly if the autocephaly is put over the path of the “American Church” is clear: in harmony with the spirit of the times to the Unia and “Eastern-rite Protestantism.”

Actually, don’t think I’m trying to convert you back to the Synod (though it might seem like it!), I cannot presume to advise you; you have your own conscience, and your desire to be with the Metropolia in Alaska—given the mutual semi-recognition that has prevailed until now between the Metropolia and the Synod—I can view as a possible alternative. But our concern is with the Alaskan Church under the conditions of the “autocephaly”—and when we spoke of Alaska joining our “small flock” we mean not merely the Russian Church Abroad but the Church of Christ, for we are convinced that they who accept the autocephaly will thereby place themselves outside the Orthodox Church even without the Synods excommunication that will probably follow. What connection can there be between light and darkness, Christ and Beelzebub, the Church of Christ and the system devised to infiltrate, weaken, and destroy it!

Archbishop Anthony, by the way, reminded us of a point which we haven’t seen mentioned anywhere in the autocephaly arguments: Moscow in 1933 excommunicated Metr. Platon and everyone in the Metropolia; if the Metropolia recognizes Moscow as “canonical,” then this act too is “canonical”—and the Metropolia has had no sacraments for 36 years! If I were a priest or layman in the Metropolia, that would give me cause for worry, indeed—to have to live with the realization that until the autocephaly is signed (when, presumably, “economy” would take effect) every sacrament that I administered or received would be invalid, and thus a mockery and blasphemy of God! Of course, we do not believe that the excommunication was canonical, any more than we believe that the autocephaly will be canonical. But whatever the one is, the other must be the same!

Every Orthodox Church has its faults and weaknesses, and there are times when one can only suffer in silence certain things that are done by the Church’s representatives; but if this silence must be stretched to include actual violence to one’s conscience and the defense of unprincipled “canonical” acts that affect the very validity of the sacraments—then how can one be Orthodox at all any more?

But I have carried on long enough. About Metropolitan Anthony Khrapovitsky I can only say: some of our own people have criticized one or two points of his theology, although to my knowledge the only people who find fault with any doctrine of his on the sacraments can do so only by drawing conclusions for him which he never made himself and which would have horrified him. In any case his “Catechism” is taught nowhere and his influence is entirely in a different sphere: precisely in “living Orthodoxy,” in the whole idea of a unified Russian Church abroad that preserves the “old” Orthodoxy and, in the midst of heretics, tells them straightforwardly that Orthodoxy is not merely one other denomination but the Church of Christ. Whereas the ecumenist heresy that Archbp. Iakovos explicitly expounds is the current in which all Orthodox will be carried unless they stand apart and confess Orthodoxy, at the risk of being cut off by the others and condemned to absolute aloneness.

By the way, we hear from Hieromonk Seraphim of St. Tikhons Monastery that he was asked to go to Spruce Island, but will not because he would have had to remain in the Metropolia, and he has now come to us. It will be no easy task in our day to establish a monastery there, and I’m convinced that unless Alaska shows solidarity with the Church Abroad and rejects the “autocephaly” Father Herman will not bless a monastery and it will not succeed. If we are not mistaken, your Athonite monk is Archimandrite Makary Kotsyubinsky—?—whom Gleb knows.

Forgive my frankness, and pray for us. We would like to hear from you again. We are happy to hear from Daniel Olson that Father Herman’s relics are soon to be returned to Spruce Island. May Father Herman guide and protect us all!

With love in Christ our Saviour,


Mar. 31/Apr. 13, 1970
St. Mary of Egypt

Dear Fr. Panteleimon and Fathers and Brothers in Christ,

Bless us, Father! I pray that this finds you all well and in the grace of our Saviour, and finishing the Fast in good shape. Thanks to God we are both fine and have just about finished the new OW-—we hope to mail it by Wednesday or Thursday. It is 56 pages including cover but still seems so small to us. But it takes a full four weeks to print, and as old age approaches we find our Gutenberg- style printing more and more difficult. On our Pascha visit to San Francisco we will look into the linotype situation, in particular one that a priest-friend of ours may sell us cheaply. Of course, we then have to build a room for it and get a new generator, so it would be two months before we could begin using it; but we shall see.

For a month we have been in the midst of spring, cool but sunny, and it is a wonder to see life reemerge. The pink-raspberry oak leaves with yellow clusters are beautiful. We discover also that we have wild gooseberries all over, and we hope to have jam before long. Two ground squirrels have taken up residence around our cabin and behave like something out of Walt Disney. They come rapping on our windows for nuts, eat out of our hand and then try to take a finger along with them, try every trick to get inside the house where the mound of nuts must be (one of them succeeded in getting in by hiding on the porch and then darting in when one of us went out); I’ve had to rescue them from inside stovepipes on the porch, and they even try to climb into our chimney. But they are good company.

This morning we have been visited by 6 inches of snow, and I fear for our poor little peas, which are just peeking through the soil. I’m taking the mail out on snowshoes for the second time— they are surprisingly fast. With snow everywhere we feel quite remote, as also when the wind blows greatly, as it has been for a month now. We’ve struck up an acquaintance with a small colony of Seventh-Day Adventists nearby, and they will sell us fresh vegetables when we don’t have any; they’ve also printed a newspaper in the past, and we exchanged ours for theirs. They don’t belong to the sect itself, as they regard it as being in apostasy, and they’ve read some of our articles with interest. They seem like down-to-earth people.

What’s the state of the autocephaly? We don’t hear anything but vague rumors. Have you seen Meyendorff’s attack on the Synod in the last Orthodox Church? That should be answered, at least for the sake of the three hierarchs who are slandered most cheaply there. Are you planning a reply? If no one else does, we’ll write him an Open Letter. The full text, by the way, of Shahovskoy’s super-political hymn of praise of the German Army in 1941 was recently printed in Orthodox Russia (the supplement for March)—and such a man dares to talk of “politics in the Church”?!

We have only Fr. Alypy’s icon of St. Seraphim; please do send the other two. Also, could you send us a few candles? Also the account of Paissy Velichkovsky and the “rags”?

We wrote an appeal to Bp. Theodosius of Alaska to come to the Synod, and are now in correspondence with Fr. David Black—good people, but lacking a certain awareness of things. I still think we have not seen the last of Fr. Herman’s deeds this year.

Pray for us.

With love in Christ our Saviour,

P.s. We are planning an all-Synod issue later in the year, with Vladiko Ioann’s long article (16 pages). We would also like something from the Greek and/or missionary standpoint, and thought of Kalomiros—perhaps a simple article on the Old Calendarists and their ties with the Synod. Any suggestions?


April 3/16, 1970
St. Nikito

Dear Father David [Black],

Thank you for your letter, which we received at the same time as the Feb. Orthodox Church. You didn’t say what you thought of Fr. Meyendorff’s attack on the Synod. I will share with you a thought or two on the question of conscience and responsibility, especially as regards someone whose words are to be printed and widely distributed.

In our new Orthodox Word, which will be sent out in a few days (God willing!), in reporting some of the Metropolia’s response to the Synod’s protest against the Autocephaly, we had occasion to quote Archbp. John Shahovskoy and others. We were very careful to make our citations exact and in context, which we believe to be a matter of principle for journalists and editors. At first we planned to preface the Archbishop's statements with the words “Archbp. John S., in a paid advertisement in Novoye Russkoye Slovo...“ Then we thought better. He did not submit it first to the newspaper as a paid advertisement, but wrote it as a letter to a laymen, and it was only subsequently printed. Thus, though our original statement was formally correct, it was not precise, and it might lead people to think that he had written the statement with publication in view. (Perhaps he did, after all—but we prefer to give him the benefit of the doubt!) Therefore we revised the statement to read “Archbp. John S., in a letter to a layman which was published as a paid advertisement in NRS...” A fine point? Perhaps—but this way our conscience is absolutely clear, and by giving every possible benefit of the doubt and by scrupulously avoiding any kind of personal attack, we keep the discussion on the level of principle, where it belongs. You will note that in our remarks on Metr. Platon in this issue we deliberately make no mention of such compromising facts as that his governance of the Diocese was so inept that St. Tikhons Monastery was going to be sold at auction, or that (after the faithful rescued it) he then took it as his private property and tried to will it to his daughter!)—because such facts, while they add fuel to a polemical argument, do not affect the basic question of principle. I think you will understand this. And I think this principle has been followed by the Synod in its present arguments against the autocephaly—I don’t recall a single personal attack; all is on the level of principle. (If you should ever find us descending from this level in the heat of argument, please tell us!)

What, then, must be our response when we read the attack of Fr. Meyendorff? One can perhaps understand his over-simplified view of Church history since 1917, when he quotes documents that favor his stand and ignores the others (however, one of his documents is an acknowledged forgery!—see the new OW); one becomes a little puzzled that he can so easily dismiss the canonicity of the Synod without seeing that his remarks must surely also apply to the Metropolia, from 1920-26 and 1936-46 (and he neglects to mention that no one recognized the Metropolia from 1926-36): one sighs at the lack of “consistency” he finds in the Synod’s recent history—for it is his own narrow view of “consistency,” based on a caricature of our stand, that is violated, not the Synods; one is, frankly quite disturbed that virtually all of the “facts” he cites are distorted, inaccurate, or simply imaginary.

But when he attacks personalities, one cannot be silent. In the first place, the argument is on the childish level—if we cooperate with the Communists, you did too, and you’re Fascists as well! Even if that were true, it would not affect the principle involved; but it is actually a slander based on half-truths and innuendo. Metr. Anastassy did not ever invoke any “blessing” on Hitler’s “state police”; he did, in 1938, thank the German government in a very proper note for money given for a church and for a law legalizing our Church. Later, when the German treatment of Jews, Russians, etc., became known, Metr. Anastassy was so outspoken that his office was subject to several crude searches by the SS. To imply that he was pro-Nazi, as Fr. Meyendorff does, is irresponsible (and to put the words “blessing” of “state police” in quotations is dishonest—he is quoting only his own imagination); to say that his attitude is equivalent Metr. Nikodim’s active service for Communism simply has no relation to facts and is a “defense mechanism” of the cheapest sort. And all this when there is a real Hitler supported in the Metropolia—Archbishop John Shahovskoy, who (having left the Synod 10 years earlier) in 1941, after Hitler had overrun Western Europe and his activities in Germany were better known than in 1938, published an astonishing hymn of praise of Hitler’s army on the occasion of the invasion of Russia: “The bloody operation of overthrowing the Third International is entrusted to the expert, experienced German physician.... This required the iron-precise hand of the German Army, a professional military experienced in the most responsible battles.... This army, having passed through the whole of Europe in its victories (over Western civilization!!!), is now powerful not only in the might of its arms and principles, but also in obedience to a higher call, to Providence.... Above everything human operates the sword of God....” (Novoye Slovo, June 29, 1941, Berlin.) Our bishops, who are supposed to be involved in “politics,” were careful to refrain from such partisan involvements even when it looked as though the Soviets might be overthrown. And yet Archbp. Shahovskoy has an honored place in the autocephaly arrangements and constantly accuses the Synod of “politics” (in fact, his harangues against the Synod in Cleveland were instrumental in causing the schism of 1946), while our Metropolitan, a man of staunch principle, is slandered! Frankly, I would rather not touch this side of Archbishop Shahovskoy—but if Fr. Meyendorff is convinced that pro-Naziism is a valid argument against a hierarch and a Church, he should know to whom he had better direct his criticism!

The same thing is true of Metro. Philaret and Archbp. John Maximovitch in China—it is formally true that for a few days in 1945, when falsely informed that Metr. Anastassy was dead, the Synod dissolved, the Church situation entirely changed in Russia as a result of the War, and the Patriarch validly elected, did commemorate Patr. Alexy—but when contact was soon resumed with Metr. Anastassy and the truth became known, they both became so staunchly anti-Moscow that Archbp. John is remembered to this day by Moscow (see One Church, for example) as the leader of the “schism” in China, and Metr. Philaret’s very life was constantly in danger from his anti-Soviet and anti-Patriarchate statements and sermons. It is complicated—and frankly boring—to tell you this in a letter, but I know you will listen to facts—but Fr. Meyendorff has built a few misleading half-truths into a monstrous innuendo against three of our leading hierarchs with the intent to discredit our whole Church, and thousands will believe his few simple words and will never be informed of the facts. It remains to be seen whether he will print our answer (if no one else writes first)—not in the interests of presenting the “other side,” but simply to correct inaccuracies, falsehood, and defamation of character.

Do you see what I mean by conscience and responsibility? Of course, I don’t mean to blame the Alaskan Church for such irresponsible (at best!) remarks of one Metropolia editor. But now we hear that the Metropolia bishops have signed the autocephaly. Will Alaska follow in conscience*. No matter how Orthodox you may be, you are now committed to this act—I say it openly—or unprincipledness. Do you think it is a coincidence that now, after so many years of ignoring us, the Metropolia begins to come out with irresponsible attacks against us? Of course Nikodim did not tell Fr. Meyendorff to do it, but don’t you think he knew the Metropolia psychology well enough to know that such attacks would now be made against the one body Moscow hates the most? The Synod has long accused the Metropolia of lack of canonical foundation; but now, it would seem, the shoe is on the other foot—thanks to Moscow!

But no, it is not on the other foot. Principle is principle, truth is truth, and if God is truth that which is untrue and unprincipled can have no part in the Church of Christ, no matter how many canons one may quote.

Well, you will read our arguments in the Orthodox Word. For us, nothing has changed, just as our Synod has kept—by God’s grace, I am convinced—the one straight, unquestionably Orthodox and principled line from 1920 to the present, while everyone else around us has changed. But 1970 is nonetheless perhaps the year of decision for American Orthodoxy. I fear that those who don’t act now will find later that it is too late, that they are already “committed” to another path. May this not be so of the Alaskan Church.

Let us pray all the harder to God and to Fr. Herman that we may all be enlightened and saved.

Trusting in your prayers, with love in Christ our Saviour,


P.s. We have just received Hieromonk Seraphim Bobich’s Open Letter to Fr. Neketas—wow! We wouldn't have dared say these things outright, because we would be dismissed as anti-Metropolia fanatics—but a priest of the Metropolia has the right, and he speaks the truth, and it can and will be demonstrated.


April 4/17, 1970
Sts. Joseph & George

Dear Father in Christ, Seraphim [Bobich],

Bless us, Father! Rejoice in the Lord! You cannot imagine the joy and fervor with which we received your letter to us and the Open Letter which Fr. Neketas published. At last, after months of intrigues, half-truths, cowardly compromises, defamation of character—from the Metropolia comes a clear, straightforward, unfearing voice of truth and conscience. Glory to our God! You have said what needs to be said, and we will fight with you on this front, the fight for true Orthodoxy!

Frankly, we would have hesitated to say outright what you have said—we are “Synod” people, and we would be accused of anti-Metropolia hysteria, fanaticism, and the rest. But you have been with them, and know them at first hand—and you say just what needs to be said.

We would like also to print your letter, and the same issue to document some of your statements about Archbishop John Shahovskoy and Fr. Schmemann. We hope to prepare also an Open Letter to Fr. Meyendorff about his recent irresponsible attack on our Synod. If such are the arguments they have against us, then they have no case at all and are operating on the basis of their emotions— and exactly according to the plan by which Nikodim, who knows their psychology, is conducting his warfare against Orthodoxy!

We would like to hear more form you—your present plans, etc. Do you know of anyone else in the Metropolia who has spoken out (besides Fr. Alexy Ionov, Mme. Tolstaya and others in the Russian press)?

Probably you will not have an easy time now—the devil will try to stir up all kinds of trouble for you. But God protects those who witness for Him. Our prayers are with you.

We ask your prayers also for us. By God s will and the prayers of his saints we have found an isolated place where, we pray, there may soon be a small skete. At present there are just the two of us. Gleb is a graduate of Jordanville and once visited you at St. Tikhons (some years ago).

With love in Christ our Saviour,
Eugene Rose


April 19/May 2, 1970
Bright Saturday

Dear Father in Christ, Panteleimon,

Christ is Risen! Bless us, Father!

On your visit to us last November you expressed interest in helping us with the purchase of a little more advanced printing equipment than we now have. The time has come for us to take advantage of this offer if you are still able to make it.

While in San Francisco for Pascha, we visited our friend Fr. Alexy Poluektov, who was in seminary together with Gleb. He is very interested in printing and recently bought a whole printshop. He is moving it soon to his “dacha” on the Russian River, and he offered to sell us his linotype (a no. 5— the smallest kind), which we saw in operation. We saw other linotypes that day also, but they were more expensive and more complicated for us to undertake.

As to cost: the linotype itself is $600—which is quite reasonable, and as the pot for heating lead operates on gas (easily adjustable to bottled gas) we save the expense (and noise) of a second generator. Cost of the annex to house the machine: $300. Moving, final adjustment by mechanic (if necessary), hookup for gas: $200 or maybe more. The whole project will cost around $1200. Of this we have $300 in a special linotype fund and can find another $200, leaving a balance of some $700. We will be most grateful for whatever help you can give us on this sum.

Enclosed is a letter to us from Hieromonk Seraphim of St. Tikhons Monastery. He is a good monk, but apparently weak, and Bp. Kiprian et al are apparently trying to exploit his humility to the extent of making him renounce his marvelous, fighting letter—for all the wrong reasons. If he doesn’t get out of there soon, we’re afraid they may capture him. We’ve just written him begging him to leave, even inviting him to come here if there’s no place else. Probably he’s afraid of “imposing” himself on someone’s hospitality. If you have any spare nook, perhaps you could invite him directly, or at least send him a word of encouragement if you aren’t already in contact with him. (Please send his letter back to us.)

We spent a profitable 5 days in San Francisco and Monterey and returned to find summer weather begun and much to do before August. Pray for us.

With love and respect in Christ our Saviour,


Bright Saturday
April 19/May 2,1970

Dear Father in Christ, Seraphim,

In truth Christ is Risen! Rejoice in the Lord! Bless us, Father!

Of course, we shall do as you wish and not print your letter. However, I must assure you that among those Orthodox faithful who value their faith above everything else, and who are aware of what is happening in the world, your letter did not at all bring ridicule to you, but instead has inspired and strengthened many in the fight for true Orthodoxy today. If there is anything ungrammatical in it—I myself did not notice anything in particular—this is not even noticeable beside the obvious fact that it was written from the heart and it exposes a situation that must be known to those who love Orthodoxy and wish to fight for it. Perhaps it could be considered a “mistake,” or at least not prudent of you, to mention the three names openly—but if so, I think it is a providential mistake, for these three men are traitors to Orthodoxy, on the same level (although more refined) as Patr. Athenagoras and Archbp. Iakovos, and it is time that the Orthodox faithful be informed of this. Archbp. John Shahovskoy for 40 years has been preaching a “poetical” Christianity that is against monasticism and every kind of strict Orthodoxy; Fr. Schmemann is clearly attempting to Protestantize Orthodoxy; and Fr. Meyendorff, by his irresponsible and slanderous attack against the hierarchs and faithful of the Russian Church Abroad (in the Feb. Orthodox Church) shows himself so anxious to follow in their footsteps that he departs even from ordinary honesty and fairness. These men are clearly leading the Metropolia into “Eastern-rite Protestantism,” and now the Metropolia hierarchs have unanimously joined with the enemies of Christs Church in order to speed up this aim—it is too late to do anything for the Metropolia, anyone who wishes to remain in Christ’s Church must leave her now before being caught in her snares.

You have been suspended—but glory be to God for this also, for you are suffering for confessing true and heartfelt Orthodoxy, and thus you are encouraging many others. Only stand firm! They will try to persuade you to be so humble that you will regard everything you said as a mistake, and then they will try to make you follow them into heresy out of “humility.” No—the monks of Mt. Athos are true monks, and they are humble, but you know what they say about Patr. Athenagoras, and they refuse to follow him or to pray for him as their bishop. Now the Metropolia itself forbids you to pray for their bishops at services—this is surely a sign that your connection with them is finished. For what could you “apologize” to them—that you do not have all the facts to back up your statements? But those facts do exist, and we will be printing many of them. Dear Father—we consider that your letter does honor to the faithful of the Metropolia; it is one of the few honest and honorable things to come from the Metropolia in recent months. But the Metropolia leadership does not want this, it is proud of its apostates, for they have given it worldwide recognition. Then do not hesitate to come and join us who are gathered around some of the few Orthodox bishops left today.

Frankly, we are anxious to see you leave St. Tikhons as soon as possible; before they put all their pressures and persuasions to work on you. Metropolitan Philaret is spending several weeks now in Europe and the Holy Land, which is probably why you don’t hear from him. Isn’t it possible for you to go to stay at one of our places while waiting the outcome of you petition?—to Jordanville, Fr. Panteleimon’s monastery in Boston, or to the Synod in New York? We would gladly invite you to stay with us, but we are far away and so for we have only two small cabins in the forest under primitive conditions. Nonetheless, if now or in the future you wish to come to us, you are more than welcome. For eight months now we have been living in the Coast Mountains of California, about 250 miles north of San Francisco, in a complete wilderness area—the nearest town, 2 miles away, has only 50 people, and for 40 miles in three directions there is no one at all except a few hunters, hikers, etc. Gleb and I are both ordained Readers, and hope by the end of the year, by God’s grace, to be tonsured monks. Archbishop Anthony of San Francisco has celebrated Liturgy here, on an outdoor Altar-table on the spot where we hope to begin building our chapel this year. Abbot Panteleimon of Boston has also visited us. We read the daily cycle of services ourselves, but for Divine Liturgy and Holy Communion we must go to San Francisco (as we did on Christmas and Pascha) or wait for a priest to visit us.

We hope to hear from you soon, and ask your prayers for us sinners.

With love in Christ our Saviour,


April 21/May 4, 1970
Monday of St. Thomas Week

Dear Father in Christ, Michael [Azkoul],

Christ is risen! Bless us, Father!

It is probably two years now, if not more, since you wrote to us and submitted a manuscript for publication. The beginning of a long letter which I started to write to you at that time lies buried somewhere together with your manuscript among our still-unpacked things. I beg your forgiveness for such neglect. As there are just two of us to do all the work of our small “community,” some things simply don’t get done, and although our new location outside the distracting city allows more concentration, we are still far behind in everything.

In the last several years we have read with interest some of your articles in The Logos and elsewhere. We have been especially pleased to see someone outside the Russian Church situation write with such sympathy and understanding of the Russian Church Outside of Russia, and we have admired also your clear grasp of the principles involved in the present-day battle of Orthodoxy with apostasy.

As I recall, the article which you submitted to us we regarded as rather too general for our use, as we try to concentrate on practical issues as well as standard Orthodox sources. If you still wish to cooperate with us, however, there is another kind of article which we could use.

With the March-April Orthodox Word we are beginning an occasional series of articles on “Renovated Orthodoxy,” in which we hope to pinpoint some of the leading currents and figures that are trying to lead Orthodoxy off the straight and narrow traditional path into positions that, if not always identifiable as heresy, are nonetheless no longer Orthodox. The first article, by a leading Russian theologian, Fr. Michael Pomazansky, points out the Protestantism of Fr. A. Schmemann’s “liturgical theology.” We ourselves hope later to write an article on the ethereal “esoteric chiliasm” of Archbp. John Shahovskoy. For another topic we thought you might be able to give us an article: the theological-philosophical background, assumptions, implications, etc., of the activities and words of Athenagoras, Iakovos, et al. There is at least one outright heresy involved here, which Iakovos recently expressed by saying “all Christian denominations make up the Body of Christ”; but there seems to be much more involved than that. Athenagoras seems to be a chiliast, talking of the “third age of the Holy Spirit,” seeing visions of a “common chalice,” etc. Their “reforming” zeal seems to extend to the overturning of everything Orthodox and traditional while bowing down to the cheapest kind of atheistic humanism. (See Fr. Patrinakos’ editorials in recent issues of the Orthodox Observer-—he even says that we don’t have to pray for good weather any more, because man now “controls” it! I can send you copies if you don’t have them.) Etc., etc.

What is the inspiration behind all this? Where is it leading to? What are its theological-philosophical first principles? In short, what we would like to see is a documented exposition of the essence (from the Church and philosophical points of view) of Athenagoras-Iakovism, so that his disease can be pinpointed and hopefully cast out of the Church.

We’d like to hear your thoughts on this. Asking your blessing and your prayers,

With love in Christ our Saviour,
Eugene Rose


April 21/May 4, 1970
Monday of St. Thomas Week

Beloved in Christ, Catechumens Craig and Susan [Young],

Christ is Risen! We were glad to hear of your joyous Pascha as well as to receive such a frank and open letter from you. To set your minds at ease at once, I (and Gleb as well) see no great obstacle on your path to Orthodoxy from anything you wrote. Often the devil uses the most petty tricks— misunderstandings, etc.—to weaken our resolve especially over such a God-pleasing action as you are about to take. A brief explanation is generally enough to clarify the matter and dissolve the misunderstanding. I note also that, like some other new converts and those approaching Orthodoxy, you have experienced some particularly striking spiritual feelings. But these also—although without doubt they are given you by God’s grace—you should be somewhat cautious about. They should be considered rather like honey spread around the edge of a cup by which God attracts you to the strong drink of Holy Orthodoxy; but they have no particular significance in themselves, they should by no means be sought or asked for, and later when you have passed from the milk of your first “baby days” in Orthodoxy to the meat of a more solid foundation and experience in the Church, you will find that the Orthodox spiritual life is nourished in other and deeper ways.

I will try to give you whatever advice I can. You will find that in many practical questions involved in leading an Orthodox Christian life, various answers may be given depending on the person and the circumstances. Here also you may find that certain things which you might allow yourself now, you will later find objectionable when you have a more mature experience in Orthodoxy. Orthodoxy is very strict concerning doctrine and religious practice; more than this, if one enters into it deeply one will find that it gradually transforms one’s whole life so that one has an Orthodox way of approaching some things that might seem outside the religious sphere altogether; but in its approach it is never “authoritarian” or “legalistic” and you will not find in it such a thing as a “holy day of obligation” (for one comes to church not out of obligation but out of love and devotion) nor an “index of forbidden books” (although there is a definite idea of what kind of books Orthodox Christians should be reading.)

Concerning what an Orthodox Christian should or should not read: A spiritual father has the right and duty to advise his spiritual children about any kind of reading they should particularly avoid—this in general applies to those who are immature or not widely read and who might really be harmed by reading something which they were not prepared to digest or understand in the right way. (See for example our latest Orthodox Word, p. 30, where Father Herman says that “a person who may not know the truth solidly should by all means avoid” books like Saint-Simon’s.) With your background, you clearly have the experience and judgement to determine your own reading. As you grow in Orthodoxy, you will doubtless find some changes in the kind of things you read, but that is a matter for you to judge—with the occasional word of advice, perhaps, of those more confirmed in the faith. At the outset I would note only two things: (1) Whatever else you read, there should be regular reading in basic Orthodox sources—Holy Scripture, Lives of Saints, spiritual reading (writings of St. John of Kronstadt, Pilgrim, Philokalia, etc.)—which should be emphasized especially in Great Lent, when movies, worldly music, parties, TV, and frivolous readings and activities of all kinds should be avoided as far as possible. (2) One should avoid by all means eclecticism—putting Catholic saints, Buddhas, or whatever in one’s icon corner, or reading Hindu, Buddhist, Catholic or other “spiritual” writings on the same level as Orthodox spiritual writings. To read enough about Hinduism to be informed about it is, of course, another thing. There are two new converts to Orthodoxy in the San Francisco area who come from Hinduism and can tell hair-raising things about its satanism; for it is indeed true, as the Fathers say, that “the gods of pagans are demons.”

Which brings us to the question of Kwan-Yin, Buddhist temples, etc. I myself had enough experience in Buddhism and its temples never to want to get near them again, and I threw out the Buddhist idol in front of which I once prayed. But here again your developing Orthodox conscience will have to be your guide. I myself was never interested in Kwan-Yin and don’t even recall if there is much religious devotion attached to this image; if your statue had ever been in a temple or used for devotion I would be very nervous about having it around, but if (as is probably the case) it was made as a work of art, that wouldn’t be quite the same thing. Be aware, and judge for yourself. As for Buddhist temples, I should by all means avoid being present in them during any kind of service—to the cosmopolitan tourist, such a service would be only “quaint,” but for us there are involved “spiritual” presences which are not of God, and they can act upon us in ways we cannot foresee. As for visiting them when there is no service going on—well, if you do, your attitude should be more aware and cautious than the ordinary tourist’s. Frankly, to all questions of idols and temples the Fathers replied with a categorical No! But in our day of cosmopolitan indifference the question, while not basically changed, is presented in a less radical way, and a reasonably mature individual should come to this conclusion for himself. You will find, I think, that many things which you now may regard as neutral or indifferent will seem not quite the same in future.

And now I’d like to mention a few things you didn’t ask about, with the hope that you will enter the Orthodox Church with as few “residues” from Roman Catholicism as possible. For there are certain Catholic practices which, whatever secondary benefits they may have, are not in accordance with the Orthodox way of life and could interfere with adjusting oneself to it. You mention “meditation.” The Catholic practice of calling up images, memories, etc., of a sacred character is considered by our Fathers as unnecessary and improper. To reflect on one’s reading is one thing, as is likewise to say the Prayer of Jesus or any other prayer in silence; but “meditation” as such is quite foreign to Orthodoxy and in fact can be the entrance to a refined path of spiritual deception. You are on the right path when you find yourself substituting the Prayer of Jesus for it—if in fact what you mean by “meditation” is the standard Catholic practice. The principle involved here is that one should not trust one’s own thoughts and feelings, but fit oneself to the standard of the Church.

Again, it is fine to have a prayer room, but from what you say I gather that all or most of the icons in it are to be of the Holy Face—which we call “the image not made with hands.” (By the way, we do not accept the legend of “Veronica’s Veil,” but have a different account of its origin, and there is a special feast dedicated to it on the day after the Dormition, Aug. 16.) A prayer room with this icon in a central place, but with other icons also of our Saviour, His Most Holy Mother, and the saints— would be normal, as is a particular devotion to an icon or saint. But in Catholicism, I believe, there is a special connotation to the word “devotion”—a special concentration on one aspect of our Saviour’s Life, etc.—which is again, foreign to Orthodoxy. We have no special “devotion” to the exposed Sacrament, because for us the Holy Gifts have their proper place in the Liturgy and in the life of the faithful without needing any “special” or “extra” devotion. And of course we do not accept at all such later “devotions” as the Sacred Heart, which seem to us immoderate or out of balance and context with the rest of our Holy Faith.

Again, a minor point—I get the impression that you have a vigil-lamp burning before the image of Archbishop John. While it is an accepted practice to pray privately to [a] saint not yet canonized, it is best to place their image (there can be no official icon before the Church’s canonization) a little to the side of the usual icons, so that the vigil-lamp burns before an icon of our Saviour and those saints whom the Church as a whole has acknowledged as such. The Church, while not interfering with anyone’s private devotion, tries to guard us against placing too great a reliance on our private judgement and feelings.

Well, that is enough for now. We saw Archbishop Anthony on Tuesday, and he approves May 31 (Sunday) as the date of your reception into the Church. By Church “economy” your baptism and confirmation will be accepted and you will be received by confession of faith (as were Vladimir and Sylvia) before the Liturgy on Sunday. This will involve reciting the Creed, probably renouncing the errors of Catholicism in general (there is a specific formula of renouncing each of several heresies in the Hapgood Service Book, but it is generally not followed in full), and confession of sins. No specific godparents are required when one is received into the Church in this manner. If you have not yet contacted or chosen the priest who will perform this ceremony, I would advise you to write to: V. Rev. John Shachnoff, 525 36th Ave., S.F. 94121 (he lives about 10 blocks from the Cathedral), sending him a Xerox copy of your Baptismal and Confirmation Certificates (if the latter are not available, your word will be accepted if you are quite certain you were confirmed; in this case simply give as full information as possible on when, where and by whom you were confirmed) and telling him briefly of the Archbishop’s decision, of our speaking to him and to you, etc. He will then speak to the Archbishop and make all preparations. Fr. John (the “plump” priest with bass voice) probably knows English better than the others and is also Secretary in charge of recording such events. (He will give you certificates later). The last week before May 31 you should spend in special preparation and fasting—which for married couples (which is perhaps not clearly set forth in books) includes abstinence from marital relations, which is true also for all fast days.

We may be going to Fort Ross on May 30 (the Archbishop will attend, and it will be a kind of special pilgrimage to our local American Orthodox holy places before the canonization of the first American Saint) and we may see you there. Meanwhile we hope to hear more from you and will try to answer any questions.

With love in Christ our Saviour,


Wednesday of St. Thomas Week
April 23/May 6, 1970
St. George the Great Martyr

Dear Fr. David [Black],

In truth Christ is risen!

Thank you for your letter and the opportunity to continue our discussion of some of the important Church issues of the day. I shall reply to some of your rather complicated questions somewhat simply, for I think the basic issues today are simple, even though many are forced to take a tortuous path to arrive at this conclusion.

One misconception which, I believe, causes you unnecessary “problems” about the Synodal Church, is unfortunately widespread: that the Synod builds its case largely on canonical questions, big or small. The opposite is, if anything, the case: our hierarchy, well realizing the irregularity of the times, goes out of its way not to enforce the letter of the canons or condemn anyone only on this basis. Even with the Metropolia, its own free sister, for 25 years it has been extremely lenient and even now does not rush to apply the canonical penalty which she deserves. It is rather Moscow, at the bidding of its Communist masters, which tries to use canons to have the Synod condemned, to crush those few who protest in the USSR, etc.—in feet, if there are Pharisees in Orthodoxy today, it is surely the Moscow leaders and no one else, who are consciously destroying the Church and at the same time using the Church’s laws to do it.

No, the case of the Synod is based upon one thing: faithfulness to Orthodoxy, first in spirit, and then to every possible canon. Contrary to one widespread misconception, the Synod has never condemned or judged the Soviet Church or declared it to be without grace; it has many times emphasized (chiefly in the Russian language, to be sure) that the judgement of this Church and its hierarchs must be left to a future All-Russian Sobor in a free Russia, and that until such a Sobor can be called no question affecting the whole of Russian Orthodoxy—as well as any pan-Orthodox questions—can be resolved. And until that time the free Russian Church can and will enter into no contact whatever, no negotiations, no dialogue, will not even sit at the same table with the representatives of Moscow—not because they are uncanonical (although there is much that is uncanonical in their behavior) but because they collaborate with and serve the most determined enemies the Church of Christ has yet fought against. If every Orthodox Christian is commanded by the canons to depart from a heretical bishop even before he is officially condemned, or be guilty also of his heresy, how much more must we depart from those who are worse (and more unfortunate) than heretics, because they openly serve the cause of Antichrist?

But there, probably, is the crux of the issue and the root of our differences: for there can be no doubt that the Synod as a Church views our times as apocalyptic (as indeed St. Paul and all the Apostles did their times) and Communism not as merely another tyranny like the Moslem yoke, but as a radical evil in the direct service of satan for the destruction of Christ’s Church and the enslavement of mankind (all of which can be read in the writings and seen in the actions of Communism). A few outside our Church share this view, but clearly the consensus of “Orthodox opinion” today (not the conscience of the Church—that is sometimes expressed by only a few), at least among world Orthodox leaders, is that this is just another of many similar crisis in the Church’s history. But really, can the restrictions of the Moslem yoke (although, it is true, the free parts of both the Serbian and Greek Churches were at one time forced to break off with the Church authority inside the Moslem territory and form church organizations similar to the present Russian Church Abroad), or even less the admittedly unedifying behavior of some Russian bishops in submitting to the external political pressure of Peter I and Catherine, be seriously compared to the behavior of quite evident and conscious enemies of Christ’s Church, who hold their office at the will of the atheists in order to discredit and destroy the Church? Have you read some of the recent statements of Boris Talantov, who within the USSR has come to the same conclusion concerning the Soviet Church that our Church holds?—that its root disease is “Sergianism” (i.e., the concordat of the Patriarchate with the Soviet Government) and that its leaders (no one would think of condemning the ordinary clergy and faithful or even a courageous bishop like Germogen) are consciously destroying the Church? The Metropolia cannot possibly take the side of Talantov when he says openly that Nikodim betrays the Church abroad, for it has received its autocephaly precisely as one of these acts of betrayal! The Metropolia can continue to talk about “persecutions” in the USSR, but now its hands are tied and it dare not look with absolute openness at the church situation in the USSR for fear of finding itself compromised if a radically negative view of the Patriarchate should be expressed or prevail. And what happens if in future (as some Communist officials have said will finally happen) the Soviet Government decides finally to liquidate the Patriarchate by saying that it is not even a valid ecclesiastical organization but exists only to fulfill the will of atheism, and that even some bishops (quite possible!) were unconsecrated?! Well, this latter point is speculation, but I think the Metropolia has enough reason already to continue to be uneasy over the church situation in Russia, and that the autocephaly will not set everyone’s conscience at ease.

If they wish, world Orthodox “leaders” can condemn the Synodal Church (as Fr. Schmemann does) for “apocalyptic fruitlessness”—but the spiritual fruits and examples which God has granted to the Church Abroad, recognized by many outside our Church, would seem to be strong evidence against such an easy condemnation.

But to speak of “spirituality” brings-ë³¾ back to Fr. Florovsky and “Catharism“. Of course, these evident spiritual fruits are not the criterion or proof of the Synod’s soundness, but rather a result of it. But when Fr. Florovsky cites the “spirituality” of the Catharists, one’s Orthodox head swims: what possible standard of “spirituality” can he be applying to those fanatical and most anti-Christian sectarians? True, there is a Hindu “spirituality”—and I know people who have experienced it at first hand and called it beyond doubt satanic: and there is a kind of “spirituality” which fervent sectarians of many sorts have—but these have nothing to do with Orthodoxy, and none of them can be called “Christian” in any but a marginal sense. Whereas the spiritual fruits of our Orthodox pillars of the Church Abroad are unquestionably Orthodox spiritual fruits and testify to a sound Orthodox formation and environment. And by the way, the Orthodox Church still considers St. Isaac the Syrian as an Orthodox Saint, whatever Catholic scholars (and those Orthodox academics who follow them) may have deduced for themselves. (I’m not sure even Fr. Florovsky doubts this.)

But all of this does not yet lead to the deduction which you expressed (whether or not you believe that we hold it): that “the Church in Exile is the only faithful Orthodox Church.” No, our Church has not declared this, and the most one could possibly say, I think, is that the Synod almost alone is carrying on the battle for Orthodoxy today on the main fronts (against ecumenism-communism-renovationism, et al). I would rather call the Synodal Church the voice of the Orthodox conscience today; however much Fr. Schmemann was displeased over it and misunderstood the fact, nonetheless Metr. Philaret in his “Sorrowful Epistle” addressed the world episcopate in a plea—not to join the Synod—but to return to Orthodoxy. The Synod has not “condemned” Athenagoras and Iakovos, but merely warned the Orthodox faithful against their heresy and un-Orthodoxy, and some among the Greeks have obeyed the canons and departed from a heretical bishop before his condemnation so as to be free of his heresy. Our Synodal faithful are not Orthodox supermen; they are subject to the same influences that are destroying the Orthodoxy of many today, and in fact in my observation of some of our parishes a part, certainly, of their preservation of Orthodox ways is owing to their more recent immigration, but the next generations after them will be in trouble too. But their hierarchs are fighting for them, not leading the way to their apostasy.

In sum, then, the Synod is not putting itself against the Orthodox world, it is leading the fight for them also, and it must condemn heresy and apostasy where they appear. From the practical point of view, I agree wholeheartedly with those like Fr. Panteleimon and Fr. Neketas (and more and more people in Greece now) who tell their people in America to go to Synod churches and nowhere else— for the Synod in practice has preserved Orthodoxy, both outward and inward, better than the other jurisdictions, and the latter are going to become Uniates before they know it. The response is now up to the other Churches and jurisdictions. If they follow Moscow and cut the Synod oif completely from “world Orthodoxy” as uncanonical, schismatic, sectarians, etc.—then I do not know what one can possibly think, since the Synod has remained faithful to Orthodoxy and has the spiritual fruits to show for this, while the others have changed and abandoned both—than from that moment the Synod and those who follow her are left as the Orthodox Church, and the others are outside of the Church. There have been times in the Church’s history when a few hierarchs or monks represented the whole Church; it is thus conceivable that in our day one part of a Local Church could represent the whole Church. Their Orthodoxy, it is true, vindicates the integrity of the whole Church—but nonetheless, those outside of communion with them are outside the Church, in such a situation. This result would not be our doing—it would be the doing of those who would cut us—and thereby Orthodoxy—away from themselves. I do not see the situation as quite this radical yet, but it would seem to be going in this direction. Metr. Ireney calls for peace with those who prefer not to join the Metropolia now but to remain under their Mother Churches; what then of us who are not under a Mother Church. I think, alas, that another of the unwritten benefits which Moscow obtains from the autocephaly is that the Metropolia, as the preliminary articles of Frs. Schmemann and Meyendorff indicate, will be forced to wage war against the Synod, to stifle her conscience if for no other reason.

A few minor points: “autocephaly” as “independence” is, I think, adequately criticized in our Jan-Feb Orthodox Word: if the means are dubious, the end can only be illusory. And if Moscow gained anything in way of prestige, etc., then the Metropolia has a tainted “independence,” to say the least. And if now Bp. Theodosius goes to Moscow—what a cruel blow to the faithful in Russia who will find their own betrayers have deceived even America. Does the Metropolia really want to reduce the Russian faithful to absolute hopelessness?

As for the Serbian Church: if the Synodal hierarchs were indeed Pharisees or at least “canonists,” they would not serve with Serbian bishops, who in turn serve with the Soviets; but in fact the situation of each Iron Curtain Church has been viewed separately, and the Serbian Church is the only one the Synod considers not Communist-dominated and with whom there can be concelebration. I believe the Serbian Church was also the only one that accepted our canonization of St. John of Kronstadt. An abnormal situation, perhaps—but I wouldn’t call it inconsistent.

The other “inconsistencies” of which Fr. Meyendorff accuses us have been answered in Fr. George Grabbe’s reply to Fr. Meyendorff’s attack, as were the other main inaccuracies and mistakes. Fr. Neketas is probably printing this soon. We still hope to get off our own reply, bringing up some different points.

A final note: you write that “the autocephaly has been accepted from the hands of some who may have compromised their episcopacy—though, canonically speaking, no Council has confirmed that compromise, as is necessary before it is accepted as definite fact.” But if you must wait that long, you will never be able to act in an Orthodox way at all! And what if that Council turns out to be a “Robber Council”—must you then wait another 50 or 100 years to find out which Council the Church accepts? No, the Holy Spirit guides the Church now\ only one’s conscience must be attuned to receive this guidance. The Russian Church Abroad, I would say, has received a prophetic call for the Orthodoxy of these times; only let the Church hear, and act accordingly!

May Father Herman pray for and enlighten us all!

With love in Christ our Saviour,


April 26/May 9, 1970
St. Stephen of Perm

Dear Father in Christ, Neketas,
In truth Christ is Risen! Bless us Father!

Thank you for your welcome letters and the frank comments. Yes, I think you are right. Up to now we’ve emphasized the Metropolia’s Russian-ties because it should be at least reminded of its canonical and brotherly obligations. But it’s quite obvious that the Metropolia has totally “forgotten” these and is not even in the least embarrassed by them. But now that it considers itself the Orthodox Church in America, it’s time to open fire on the most general front: to show what kind of “Orthodoxy” it represents. This issue we have an excellent article criticizing Fr. Schmemann’s “liturgical theology,” by probably the leading Russian theologian today, Fr. Michael Pomazansky—now 80 years old and living in Jordanville. Frankly, up until recently I had more or less accepted Fr. Schmemann by his reputation, as an “Orthodox” scholar, somewhat open to criticism but probably not too dreadful after all. But after this article, with liberal quotations from his book, he appears as nothing less than an open Protestant. We hope before long to have an article on Archbp. John Shahovskoy also—do you know, by the way, if anything of his has appeared in English besides the Pastori I heard that Leaves of the Tree is being translated. If Fr. Schmemann is their “theologian,” he is their “spiritual” man— and what a twisted, self-deceived and deceiving “spirituality” he expounds! As far as Orthodoxy is concerned, we have all the weapons on our side, and all they can do is refer to their long-despised “canons” and make vague charges of “sectarianism,” etc. But the conscience of the more sensitive ones left there is not easy. We’re corresponding with Fr. David Black, who shows all the deficiencies of a St. Vladimir’s education—and be’s becoming hard-pressed to defend his Metropolia. He admits its spiritual impoverishment and the Synod’s spiritual wealth (but his idol, Fr. Florovsky, told him we are like Catharists, who were also “spiritual”—good heavens, what an upside-down notion of “spirituality”!); he admits the Soviet bishops may have compromised their episcopacy—but no council has condemned them, and some of Peter’s and Catherine’s bishops were also no good! He even prays that the Metropolia bishops haven’t “sold out Orthodoxy.” We mince few words with him, but he keeps writing back, so there is at least a seed planted there.

I hope you aren’t accusing yourself of getting Fr. Seraphim into trouble. He wants us not to reprint his letter, and sounds so apologetic now (after being suspended on Passion Monday) that we fear he might even give in to them, under the guise of obedience and humility, and renounce everything he said. But even if he didn’t want such publicity, I think it’s providential—a call of attack against their “strong” points, which are properly put in the same category as Athenagoras and Iakovos. I think Fr. Schmemann and others would like to present the Metropolia now as the “middle way” between the extremes of Iakovos (even Fr. David admits he’s not Orthodox) and Metr. Philaret on left and right. But under attack they can’t sustain this position, and for practical reasons anyway they will have to come to terms with the Greek Archdiocese. The weapons are all on our side, and it’s time we let loose with them—now is truly our “time of decision.”

By the way, can you give any more information of the 3 new parishes from the Metropolia— did the whole Smoky Lake parish come, etc? We hear from a friend in Vancouver that their parish will vote soon, and if the Metropolia wins a significant number will leave and come to us.

We’ve more or less concluded an arrangement to get a linotype, and we’re now building a floor for it. Pray for us. This will widen our possibilities considerably.

Vladiko Nektary just visited us for an hour or so on his way to S.F. and brought us a little Paschal joy.

With love in Christ our Lord,

P.s. Are you going to print Fr. George Grabbe’s reply to Fr. Meyendorff?


April 29/May 12, 1970
St. Memnon

Dear in Christ, Vladimir and Sylvia [Anderson],
Christ is risen!

We received a letter from Craig Young in which he told us of his “Hindu” readings and your reaction to this. I replied with a statement of the Orthodox principles involved (avoidance of eclecticism, the change in one’s whole life (including reading habits) which acceptance of Orthodoxy involves, etc.). In his reply to this, which we received yesterday, he seemed to understand the point and to be quite ready to abandon his “eclectic” readings. He seemed to have gotten quite a shock from your reaction, and this doubtless helped his “understanding” in a way that a more “objective” way perhaps would not have.

However, he seems to think that in the midst of this there has arisen some kind of bad feeling between your two families, to the extent that they think even of postponing their reception into the Church until this is overcome. I pray that this is only a misunderstanding (which the devil is always quick to stir up especially in those about to make such an important step), and that it will be quickly cleared up. In his letter to us Craig repented of his intellectual pride and self-esteem, and he seems to me to be quite willing to enter into the Orthodox point of view on such matters. They are both “infants” in the Faith (still in the womb, in fact!) and with time and experience they will breathe in the Orthodox spirit. Now that you’ve given them their “shock,” I hope you’ll make it clear to them that there’s nothing personal involved. It would be a tragedy if virtually the only two Orthodox families in northern California were not at peace and harmony with each other!

About the “Self-Realization Fellowship,” I encountered it slightly in my “searching” days, when I was exploring all kinds of Eastern religions. It seems to be more a product of post-Protestant sectarianism of the “New Thought” variety, with a facade of pseudo-Hinduism. Its headquarters used to be not far from San Diego where I was born, and I recall passing its blue-domed (rather like Russian domes!) “mushroomburger stand” (they’re vegetarians, I gather) on the highway between San Diego and Los Angeles.

I don’t know what to make of our weather. We’ve sowed our summer garden, and then yesterday it snowed for several hours, and it looks like more of the same today.
Pray for us.

With love in Christ our Saviour,

P.s. On May 30 (Saturday) Vladika Anthony will serve at Fort Ross, and he would like to make this a big event preceding the canonization of Father Herman (Fort Ross being our only accessible local holy place, with an indirect historical connection to Fr. Herman). Why don’t you arrange to set up a table outside and sell books (in English and Russian) and especially little things like icons, which the people will be likely to buy? This is done regularly at such events on the East Coast, but just hasn’t become a custom here. Only ask Vladika Anthony’s blessing first—I’m sure he’d be only too happy, to have this done. Pictures of the Tsar, Imperial Family, Vladika John, etc., would probably sell quite well. Icons of Father Herman, copies of OW with Fr. Herman on the cover, etc., would also be timely. (Just an idea!)


May 5/18, 1970
St. Irene

Dear Craig and Susan,
Christ is risen!

Please forgive me for such a delay in writing—just too much to do! I wrote Vladimir and Sylvia, begging them to clear up the unfortunate and unneeded conflict between you. They seem to be so terribly emotional! I pray that this has already been resolved by now.

Now for your questions:

Your son (what is his name?), if as I presume he has been baptized (you should then supply his baptismal certificate too) will be received by chrismation and thereafter may (and is encouraged to as often as possible) receive Holy Communion without confession until age 7, after which he must go to confession each time—which is of course very elementary at that age, but instills this Christian principle in the child at an early age. By age 7 the child should also be observing the Church fasts, especially the pre-Communion fast, and while fasting is not required of him before that it is wise to begin preparing him early for this, by giving him a smaller breakfast than usual on days when he is to receive Communion, etc. You can judge for yourself how much you can expect from your own child.

The general practice of Orthodox confession differs, I believe, from the general Catholic practice, by being less legalistic and formal. We have the same seven major sins, but apart from major sins there is a general emphasis on one's constant sinfulness in minor things, whether in word, deed, or thought. One should also make oneself aware of these things and confess them so that they won't pile up on one. One need not go into unnecessary details of circumstances, etc., unless you have some particular question about this; you will find that the local priests are accustomed to quite general confessions, the important thing being to mention specifically any major sins, to sincerely repent of all your sins and imperfections before God, great and small, and to leave nothing weighing on your soul. It is especially important to retain no animosity for anyone, and it is the custom to beg mutual forgiveness with those nearest one (usually ones family) before receiving Communion. (The customary reply is: “God will forgive; forgive me.”) As for the first confession, I am sure it will be satisfactory to mention briefly and generally any major sins of the past, and then especially any major sins since you last received Catholic confession.

On the subject of birth control, the Orthodox Church is certainly no more “liberal” than the Catholic, and any kind of interference with the natural object and result of intercourse, i.e., the begetting of children, is strictly condemned as a severe sin. Certainly the “pill” falls into this category. The “wisdom” of man is one thing, the law of God is another. As to abstinence on fast days, this is part of the same asceticism or self-denial that decrees fasting from foods. Married love is not regarded as “evil” any more than meat or eggs are, but our life here is a preparation for an eternal life where “there is neither marriage nor giving in marriage,” where there is an endless feast not of earthly foods, and a part of the discipline on the way to this Kingdom is through taming the flesh to the spirit. St. Paul speaks of husbands and wives denying each other (I Cor. 7:5), and this is interpreted as referring especially to preparation for Holy Communion, but also to other fasting periods. Women, by the way in their “unclean” periods are not suppose to enter a church. Last year, when one women was in this state on Easter, Archbishop Anthony told her she could go to church and stand in the back, without kissing icons, taking antidoron, or of course receiving Communion.

I hope all this doesn’t discourage you. I think you will understand that it doesn’t come from any attempt to place impossible demands upon people, but rather from great reverence for the things of God and the necessity for our purity in approaching these things.

It is true that the Church day—beginning with Vespers—begins at sunset, but it is the universally accepted custom in the Russian Church to fast from midnight to midnight.

As for the “intolerant” attitude of our Synod to other Orthodox Churches: Several years ago a Catholic girl was received into our Church, and she told me that one of her earliest puzzlements concerned the seemingly great contrast between the frightful statements made about heretics, apostates, etc., and the universally kind and loving approach which she always found when talking to our clergy and faithful. I see no conflict whatever. To guard the truth one must speak straightforwardly about those who depart from it, in order to protect the flock and, if possible, to enlighten those in error. But to every soul the Church opens Her treasures—if only he will listen to the truth an accept what She teaches—which comes from the Holy Spirit—and not his “reinterpretation” of it. With regard to those Orthodox Churches that are departing from the truth, one should be if anything even more outspoken—for their leaders, having known Orthodoxy, are consciously departing from it and trying to lead the flock away with them. But in all my contacts with the zealots for Orthodoxy within our Church, I can truthfully say that I haven’t found one of them without true Christian love for those in error; they would be the first to embrace Patriarch Athenagoras and others if they repented of their errors and returned to Orthodoxy. The contrary impression, I believe, comes chiefly from the criticism of those whose idea of the Church is very vague and who therefore accuse our zealots of “lack of love” when they rightfully attack apostasy.

The Orthodox Church situation, alas, is not getting any better, and the action of the Metropolia in finally siding with the Soviet Church renders communion with them impossible. One can have every sympathy with the suffering members of the Moscow Church, but the evidence that the leaders of this Church are trying to discredit and destroy the Orthodox Church in the interests of the triumph of Communism is too irrefutable for us not to speak out against them. But even here we do not pass judgment on them, but only try to refute their lies and try to help those whom they persecute and imprison in the USSR.

I hope I didn’t give you too much of a scare on “meditation.” Certainly there is nothing wrong with reading Scripture and reflecting on it. It would be even better to read also a commentary on the Scripture passages—such as that of St. John Chrysostom, which exists complete in English (Eerdmans series).

I certainly pray that you successfully fight off the Uniate temptation. I have heard of so many Catholics coming to a spiritual dead-end there, that even if I weren’t Orthodox I would advise you to stay clear of it. The universal complaint of these Catholics is that they finally realize that they are “play-acting,” they go through the motions of Orthodoxy without being Orthodox, and at the same time they lose their identity as Catholics and feel themselves to be neither Orthodox nor Catholic but in some strange limbo—and end by becoming Orthodox, going back to “Western” Catholicism, or worse.

I don’t know the exact time of services at Fort Ross, but as a rule one can count on such a feast-day Liturgy beginning about 10 a.m.

Certainly you can invite whomever you wish to witness your reception into the Church.

I hope that answers your questions for a while, but don’t be afraid to ask more. Learning about the Orthodox faith is a lifelong task, and you will hardly have touched the surface when you are received into the Church. But you have the essentials, and with these you can already swim in the Church’s current of grace.

Trusting in your prayers,

With love in Christ our Saviour


May 6/19, 1970
St. Job the Long-Suffering

Dear Dr. [John] Johnstone,

In truth Christ is risen!

Many thanks for your letter, the enclosed article, and the two checks for $15. The excess above your renewal we have applied to missionary-library funds; trial subscriptions have been entered for the three libraries whose addresses you sent.

We surely sympathize with you in your very difficult situation and pray that you will soon find a solution to your uncertainties. My own experience as a convert is rather the opposite of yours, as almost all the people I know in the Synod are Russians—and in the main I have found them to be such a caliber of people, from bishops to laymen—Orthodox through and through, aware of what’s going on today, and ready and willing to suffer and die for their unashamed faith—that there are just no words for it. The world does not know these people. Of course, most of them have known the Soviets at first hand, and that seems to make a difference that most “free” Orthodox just can’t imagine.

There is, of course, a language problem, but with time that is resolving itself. I was surprised recently when I stopped and counted some 30 converts at the San Francisco cathedral in the last three or four years (exclusive of those who marry into the Church)—at a cathedral where there are no English services or sermons, no priest who speaks fluent English (they all speak “passable” English, however), and no “convert” program whatever. And almost all of them are being successfully rooted into the faith. Here the language problem is obviously secondary to something else—which can be seen also in the fact that several of the most recent converts have come from the Greek Archdiocese and the Metropolia.

About the Moscow Patriarchate, by the way, contrary to common impression our Synod has never “condemned” it, reserving that judgement to a future All-Russian Sobor; but the Synod’s position is unbending that until such a Sobor there can be no communion or contact with such a dubious ecclesiastical organization. Speaking of the 1920’s, we’ve printed almost nothing yet of the available material on the schism of 1927—when the majority was anti-Sergian, and the “Soviet Church” triumphed only because its opponents were imprisoned, murdered, and driven underground. And now the Metropolia, for the sake of the “Patriarch’s” signature, has prejudged the case of the Soviet Church and found it “canonical”—because everyone else says so! Our Synod has yet to issue its final statement on the matter, but certainly the situation of the Metropolia has become now so dubious that no further communion with it is possible. Spiritually and theologically, also, its direction is already clear— with the current of the times; and we will print several critiques of its theologians to point this out in detail.

By the way, do you know Hieromonk Seraphim of St. Tikhon’s Monastery? After his outspoken letter which Fr. Neketas published he was immediately suspended by Bp. Kiprian (on Passion Monday), who seems to be trying to exploit his monastic “humility” and “obedience” in order to extract a full retraction of things which are, after all, true! Please pray for him.

We hope to hear more from you.

With love in Christ our Saviour,

P.s. Platina is on most maps, I believe—some 45 miles west of Red Bluff on Hwy 36 (some maps show only Beegum, 5 miles east, which is no longer on the hwy). It is a wilderness area, and our conditions are appropriately “primitive”—two small cabins with no conveniences. Our former bookshop remains in San Francisco. Under such conditions we of course are not too anxious to have merely casual visitors, but those who really want to see us are welcome; but those had better notify us in advance, as we are sometimes in San Francisco for several days at a time, and it is a 100-mile round trip from the main hwy to find this out (no telephone, either). We can put up an occasional rough- and-ready male visitor overnight. As you see, we are “escaping”! If God blesses our venture, of course, there will be more provision for visitors in future.

Fr. Panteleimon visited us for several days last November, and we are just now taking advantage of his generous offer to help us buy a linotype. It’s so old that I’m afraid Father will have to pray for us every time just to get it started! Glory be to God for all things!


May 10/23, 1970
St. Simon Zealot, Apostle

Dear Father Michael [Azkoul],

In truth Christ is risen! Bless us, Father!

Many thanks for your letter. First of all—yes, we would most certainly like to see your answer to Fr. Schmemann, the sooner the better. We might even be able to substitute it for our already prepared article on Fr. S's “liturgical theology,” which has no particular timeliness—depending on length. We ourselves thought of writing something by way of reply to that, as also to Fr. Meyendorff’s attack in Orthodox Church, but we couldn’t find the time and concentration, and than Fr. George Grabbe’s replies came out. Fr. Grabbe’s replies, while always sober and factual, are really addressed to Russians who can’t get excited about people like Frs. S & M. because they’ve long recognized them as apostates and just don’t listen to them any more. But for English-speaking people there should be a more fighting approach, I think; in English these people are “theological authorities,” and it’s up to us to prove that they aren’t. We heard just yesterday from Fr. Neketas that you had written such an article; he plans to print it together with Fr. Schmemann’s original to give the complete picture and avoid any charges of unfairness. But our circulation is probably at least double his, although I’m sure none of our outlets can come close to The Orthodox Church, which I would imagine must be 5-10,000. Diaconia does make an effort to get the whole picture and present opposing viewpoints, though I get the impression that they cull Orthodox publications and pick out the newsworthy articles rather than taking manuscripts as such.

It was our good fortune to be blissfully unaware for several years of what was being printed in The Orthodox Church, but with the Metropolia scandal we decided we had better see what they are saying. We’ve seen the last 6 issues now—and such a brand of shady, second-rate journalism is just about without peer in the Orthodox press. Quite apart from his attack on the Synod, even poor Athenagoras isn’t allowed to be represented, and then his letter is finally presented in a footnote as some kind of “mystery,” by implication a forgery. Fr. Meyendorff is apparently aware of addressing a very limited audience who can’t be trusted to distinguish the “right” point of view (evidently the party line) from any others. We’re still hoping to get the time to write him an Open Letter on this subject, with a note on its implications for their new “American Orthodoxy.”

You have confirmed our own general impression of Metropolitan Philip as a well-meaning man who unfortunately wishes to be at peace with everyone. So many of our young American priests of almost all jurisdictions go through a vague and mostly external Orthodox education and then gain parish experience mostly in how to get along with people, and they simply aren’t equipped to stand up and fight for Orthodoxy. But now—1970 being perhaps the very year of decision, our American “watershed” for Orthodoxy—those who don’t stand up and fight, knowing what they’re fighting for and against and having the weapons to do it, just won’t be Orthodox any more.

We rejoice in your coming to the Synod. In The Orthodox Word we’ve tried not to push any too-exclusive idea of the Synod, but the logic of church history itself is forcing the role of “guardian of Orthodoxy” upon the Synod. Diaconia already speaks of the forging of a Synod-Old Calendarist “ultra-conservative alliance” against the rest of Orthodoxy, a rather politically-toned appraisal, but perhaps even useful if it leads some to investigate that there is something worth conserving in Orthodoxy. Probably you do not know many of our Russians in the Synod; my own acquaintance with them, from laymen to bishops, has persuaded me—as I just wrote to Dr. Johnstone—that they are in the main of a caliber you just don’t meet in the world, or in other Orthodox Churches, today. The stamp of faithfulness to Christ and His Church, and confessing these, is on them. Experience of the Soviets has given them an awareness, also, that you just don’t find elsewhere.

About Athenagoras-Iakovos, we have nothing at all except their occasional sermons and epistles in the Orthodox Observer. Fr. Panteleimon is undoubtedly the best source for material here. Yes, perhaps a “theological” analysis is too flattering to them, but certainly we have the right to analyze those statements and actions by means of which they are changing Orthodoxy, and show what they mean and where they lead. Perhaps this is a big order, but it would be nice to have some kind of coherent appraisal of them.

Within a week or two, God willing, we will have a linotype, and hopefully the worst part of our tortuous hand-setting days will be at an end and we can start producing more. Please keep us in your prayers.

With respect and love in Christ our Saviour,
Eugene Rose


May 10/23, 1970
St. Simon Zealot, Apostle


Dear Fr. Panteleimon and Fathers and Brothers in Christ,

Bless us, Father!

We send our sincere gratitude for the $200, which was safely received. As it turns out, this was precisely the sum we needed for completing the purchase of the linotype itself, which is now accomplished. Truly, God sends us just what is necessary and just at the right time. Next week we are transporting the linotype here, which will be an enormous task, but Fr. Alexy has promised to come here and get it back in working condition for us. We’ve built the floor for it and hope to get enough of the walls and roof on at least to keep the rain off, within the next few days. By now, of course, we’ve gotten so far behind with the new OW that we would like to put the new machine into operation immediately, despite our inexperience, but it remains to be seen how easy this will be, what things have yet to be bought for it, etc.

Enclosed is a check for $10 from a girl in San Francisco (non-Orthodox, a potential convert) who recently informed me that my godson Michael Bain had died; she wishes this sum to be used in his memory, so I send it on to you and beg you to remember him at the Divine Liturgy. His is a very strange story which I do not entirely understand. He was received into the Church at the S.F. Cathedral about 4 years ago when he married a Russian girl, a zealot for Orthodoxy who has turned her whole family into zealots (her brother is now studying at Jordanville after overcoming his period of rebellion). I talked to him once or twice and gave him literature, and at the last moment I was called in to be his godfather. He was to be received with Chrismation, coming from Anglicanism, on Saturday night after the Vigil. He couldn’t produce his Anglican Baptism papers, and Vladika John, who was present, after a brief examination which the poor boy didn’t pass at all, found him unprepared to be received into Orthodoxy. However, the wedding was next day. For the next half hour Vladika sat in a chair, then walked around a little, in silence, appearing to be completely absorbed in thought (but probably, rather, praying), while the rest of us stood quietly in the darkened church and an unusual thunderstorm broke out, the lightning visible through the windows—a very eerie experience. At the end he decided the boy could be received then through Chrismation, and would produce the Baptism papers the next day. I don’t know much what happened after that, except that there was an obvious conflict between the quite ordinary jazz-loving American boy and his cultured, zealous Orthodox wife. But after several months there was some kind of incident, revealing some kind of psychological disturbance, and he was in the hospital with a badly cut hand and never completely recovered the use of his fingers. Vladika John visited him in the hospital and told the family that the devil was fighting for his soul. He nonetheless recovered and was attending school, until now I am informed that he has died—how, from what, I haven't been informed as yet. There may be some lesson from it all in the end. Anyway, I beg your prayers for the repose of his soul.

We hear that Fr. Michael has come to the Synod and has written a reply to Schmemann— who truly deserves to be brought down from his ridiculous pedestal. We’re firing one shot in this direction with our new issue. We're anxiously awaiting Fr. Michael’s article.

The Metropolia coup is over, and after it I think the air is clearer and our own consciences clean; we did what we could, and the good ship Metropolia has shown it doesn’t want to be saved from shipwreck. Let us therefore fish out the survivors and go to war in earnest for our Holy Orthodoxy!

Warm weather has come to the mountains, and we go to our nearby creek (a mile from the post office) two or three times a week to get enough water to keep our garden growing. Our mother deer had offspring last week (I think the nest is in the tall grass to the east), and we are waiting for her to display it (or them). Our squirrels drive us crazy, and one of them is also expecting. Truly, all creatures praise the Lord, even our snakes (of whom we have faintheartedly killed several). We’ve heard nothing from Hieromonk Seraphim. We are gradually building up our “skete,” in full expectation of having it turn one day into an Orthodox refugee camp. We aren’t too close to the news here, but what we get a week later (from U.S. News) is enough to evoke suitable comparisons with 1917. The whole Metropolia affair seems to fit very nicely into the political pattern of the times; I guess that’s what comes from having your “theologians” so well attuned to the spirit of the times.

Pray for us, dear Fathers,

With love in Christ our Saviour,


May 21/June 3, 1970

Mr. Alex V. Cattell
St. Tikhon’s Society, Inc.
598 15th Ave.
San Francisco, Calif. 94118

Dear Mr. Cattell,

Last Friday evening we returned to Platina with our new linotype and put it safely in place. We then opened our mail and found the check of St. Tikhon’s Society for $400. You can imagine our feelings. Truly, everything is given by God—in the right way and just at the right time. With this money we have already been able to pay some important expenses connected with the purchase of the machine.

Please extend our heartfelt gratitude to the St. Tikhon’s Society for it's most generous and thoughtful gift. And please pray for us that we may bring forth fruits worthy of the love which you and others have shown us.

With gratitude and love in Christ our Saviour,
Father Herman of Alaska Brotherhood
Br. Gleb Podmoshensky
Br. Eugene Rose


May 26/June 8, 1970
St. George the New Martyr

Dear Father Michael [Azkoul],

Bless us, Father!

We received your manuscript safely, also the corrections. Definitely, we will print it. It is just what is needed—completely fair and objective, but right to the point, and raising just the right questions for Orthodox at this crisis point. We only wish it could get an even wider circulation.

We had hoped to print the article in our new issue, but further complications added to our usual belatedness make this probably impossible. Our “March-April” issue is now so late that it will be the only one to be sure to reach our subscribers before the canonization date of Father Herman; and last week the Slavonic text of the service to Father Herman was finally approved—and so we have dropped everything else to translate it and put it in this issue, where it will take up probably half of the pages. On top of that, we just bought a linotype in a special arrangement requiring us to transport it here by June 1—into a building which is still only half-finished. The linotype is still in a hundred pieces, taking up some of our printing room, and can’t be put into working shape for some weeks, so we find it to our exasperation a short-term liability which won't start justifying itself until “May- June.” But glory be to God for all things—in a month or two, God willing, we will be doubling our production. In the meantime, we ask your prayers that we will be able to get the present issue out safely. Your article then will go in the May-June issue, together with another long and important article on the Catacomb Church, about which all too little has appeared in English. The anti-Sergianist texts of 1927, which we also hope to start printing, have a quite contemporary relevance; as with the Greeks and the Calendar-modernist question, so in the Russian Church the basis of today's disorders dates to the ‘20 s, and was already answered then.

Truly, may God grant peace to His Church! But judging from the pace of contemporary apostasy, our immediate prospect is for much battle. May God help us.

Trusting in your prayers,

With love in Christ our Saviour,
Eugene Rose

P.s. We were happy to hear of your official acceptance into the Synod, about which we would like to make a brief note at the beginning of your article. May God strengthen you in your chosen path. If you happen to see Bp. Laurus, please give him our warmest greetings; we have close ties with him.


May 27/June 9,1970
Priest-Martyr Ferapont

Dear Fr. Neketas,

Bless us, Father!

We're sitting in a surprise rainstorm of two days duration, more or less cut off from the world by a slippery road. Very good for our garden, but of dubious value to our linotype, which sits under a plastic covering and a hastily-devised temporary roof. It took us four days to get it dismantled, loaded (with a fervent prayer that the lift on our rented truck would work on a 1500 pound load), transported, and unloaded. Unfortunately it will now be a matter of weeks before the building is finished, linotype assembled, gas and electricity hooked up, etc., which also interferes with our sadly belated March-April issue, which we will start finally to handset in only a day or two, hoping to get it out not long past July 1st. Once the linotype is operating we will progress rapidly, but meanwhile...pray for us!

We received the officially approved service to Fr. Herman last week and have translated it and will include it in this issue, the only issue that will reach our readers before the canonization. It will be 24 pages in the middle of the magazine, and we’ll also print 1000 or so separate in brochure-form. We tried to keep some poetic feeling in the English, not with entire success, I’m afraid. The Slavonic itself is sometimes inspiring, and sometimes rather pale. The troparion is still in doubt; we stand for the old one, but there may be a completely new one...or perhaps a choice of two. This being really the first “American” service, we’ve tried to make it a model, right down to the acrostic, which worked out rather successfully in both languages. The Slavonic committee does not care much for acrostics, but we found it rather inspiring to have to work within the norms of a sacred phrase from the words of Father Herman. Jordanville is printing Fr. Cyprian’s icon of Fr. Herman in 2 sizes—4 x 5 and 6x9. Were having our icon reprinted in smaller size—something like 2 1/2x3 1/2.

Yes, we have the text of Fr. Michael’s answer to Fr. Schmemann—it’s just what is needed today. Unfortunately, because of the service, it will have to go in next issue. It’s 15 pages long. The Synod is now getting quite a nucleus of American priests. May God grant all to flourish under her. It will doubtless take a while before the Russian psychology comes around to accepting the. Synod’s crucial role in world Orthodoxy, but fortunately there are some who understand already.

Is the Synod priest you mention in Alaska by any chance Fr. Nicholas Harris in Anchorage? He ordered a number of copies of our Fr. Gerasim issue and subscribed at that time. We hear from Fr. Elias Armistead that he is bringing his wife to Alaska to open an Inn—but still he doesn’t say a word about what he’s doing, though he notes that our richest diocese, San Francisco, doesn’t give him a dime. But for what? Our doubts about him only grow.

We read with interest your comments on the times. Alas, I fear that the free, liberal, naive America of our childhood is gone, and the increasing anarchism will only call forth a dictatorship, of right or left, depending on who can seize it. Whichever it may be, we Orthodox don’t have a bright future, in worldly terms; but doubles this will give us our chance really to confess our Orthodoxy in difficult circumstances. The “official” jurisdictions might be able to make their peace with the new conditions and “flourish” ; la the Soviet Church or the Church of Greece, in which case we who are less politically-minded would be reduced to a more or less catacomb status even under a rightist dictatorship, while under leftists we might not even be allowed to exist. Although we don’t get much news here (mainly week-old comment in US News) and aren’t really aware of the “polarization” of feelings that is going on, my guess is that rightism will install itself, leading to one last world conflagration, out of which may emerge... the beast of the last days who will finally reconcile all.

But that is all guesswork. For us what is important is to stick to our holy Orthodoxy, which is our real battle, and face each new day in a spirit of confession.

Hitler, by the way, was a most interesting apocalyptic phenomenon. Besides his insane jealously of the Jews, which led him to destroy them so that the Germans could be the “chosen race” and he the Messiah (I even recall, though I can’t find the source, that he once said that if he couldn’t be the Messiah then he would willingly be Antichrist!) he was himself basically a Bolshevik with an idol-worship of Lenin and Communist techniques who saw 20th-century world history as a battle between his National Bolshevism and Soviet international Bolshevism, and who when he saw the end of his hopes gave his political inheritance to the Soviets in the words: “The future belongs to the stronger Eastern power [nation].” In the last days of the war the Nazis organized “werewolves” who took their inspiration from the positively “mystical” broadcasts of Goebbels to the effect that since the war was lost, Germany and Europe must be positively destroyed so that the new order of the future could be built on the total ruin and ashes of everything man had hitherto valued and built. Hitlerism, in short, is only the handmaid of Communism, which in turn points to the “mystical” pinnacle of modern times: Antichrist. Hider, also, while anti-monarchist, kept the crown and scepter of the Holy Roman Emperors “just in case” the times should change and a “monarch” should be demanded; and he once also said “if the monks of Mount Athos should ever sign a document giving me the inheritance of the Eastern Empire, by all means preserve it” for just such a change in the spirit of the times. Exactly the same features are apparent also in Napoleon, who however chose the side of the Jews and convened their Sanhedrin for the first time in 1800 years to have himself proclaimed Emperor. Napoleon also (I forget whether just in the Russian campaign or in general) had his soldiers and followers tattooed on the right hand, without which they had no right to receive food.

Perhaps these are all “minor details,” but I somehow think they will loom large when modern godlessness comes to demand its symbolic crowning.

But again, such speculations carried too far tend to divert our attention from the one important thing: Orthodoxy. World and national politics will take their course without us, but few indeed are they who care to stand up for Orthodoxy. For ourselves, we feel even more pressingly the need to print whatever we can of solid Orthodoxy while there is still time. May God help us all to work while there is still light!

Thank you for letting us see the letters to John Harwood, which we return herewith.

Please pray for us in these crucial days.

With love in Christ our Saviour,


June 1/14, 1970
Holy Pentecost

Dear Brother in Christ, Daniel [Olson],

I pray this finds you well and in the Grace of the Holy Spirit, the Feast of Whose Descent upon the Apostles we celebrated today. We spent the day here and read the kneeling prayers ourselves, as we’ve been travelling too much of late and plan to go to San Francisco again in two weeks for the day of Vladika John’s repose. Our unseasonal rains, which broke out again yesterday, made our road somewhat slippery in any case. I have a feeling our weather portends a cold, white winter, for which we had better start getting prepared!

A brief book report: I was somewhat disappointed in Hunt for the Czar, expecting to find more about the mysterious figure of Genelevsky, about whom the author has apparently written another book. There is actually nothing new revealed in the book, and about all that is documented is the fact that at various times various people have believed that one or more members of the whole imperial family escaped from Ekatarinberg. I found the author far too prone to jump to conclusions which he favors, and which half the time just don’t make sense: for example, finding a newspaper clipping of a “Nicholas Romanov” visiting S.F. in 1919 makes him think it very likely that it was the Tsar—but if he was in hiding surely he wouldn’t call himself “Nicholas Romanov”! In general the book is full of guesses and intimations which, I think, really lead nowhere because (leaving aside for the moment whatever proof there is on the opposite side) the whole idea of the survival of the imperial family does not make sense psychologically, whether from the point of view of the Tsar or that of the Bolsheviks, and it gets itself mixed up in a number of self-contradictions. For example, several times the author mentions that the Tsar and Tsarevich wanted to live in Poland because it was close to Russia in case the political situation should change—but if the Tsar is incognito and goes out of his way to make everyone believe he is dead, what possible role4s there for him in Russian politics? And the longer he waits to reveal himself, the more difficult it will be to persuade people he can possibly be alive; if he wants to be ready to reascend the throne, he surely has to let people know who and where he is far in advance. Again: if the Tsar is so anxious to make everyone believe he is dead, what is he doing coming to S. F. “very possibly” to prepare a wild book on his escape for publication and then to sell it to the movies!!? The parts of “Rescuing the Tsar” which the author quotes certainly do not carry much conviction as to their truthfulness, seeming more like far-out spy fiction. And from the Bolshevik point of view: what possible compensation could have persuaded them to let such a great potential hindrance to their cause (the very symbol of the “old order”) out of their power? And since when did they begin trusting their enemies to keep such an impossible secret? But on the contrary the Bolshevik psychology is quite understandable if they really murdered the imperial family: of course they would never let the Tsar out of their hands, and under the conditions of civil war it is quite likely that the murder would be performed not publicly by command from the top, but as the conditions (the advance of the White Army) demanded; of course they could not admit to the world that they had murdered the whole family (defenseless woman and children—nothing to the Soviets, but world opinion must be respected!) and that is why the first announcement mentioned only that the Tsar had been “executed” and left it vague where the rest of the family was—a stimulated massacre of the whole family was certainly not in the Bolshevik interests. It is also understandable why no one could be found who had witnessed the act—most if not all the participants were back of the Communist lines, where the Bolsheviks could handle them as they saw fit, and if any of the murderers were caught by the Whites, they weren’t likely to confess such a crime which would mean their own deaths; the one person who was suppose to have participated quite understandably said he was outside the building at the time. All this psychological evidence, while not direct proof in itself, does serve to confirm the generally accepted story of the massacre, for which there is after all some fairly good evidence which there seems no logical reason for the Soviets to have manufactured. Without quite strong evidence to the contrary, I think the story of Romanov survival will have to be classed with the similar stories concerning the Dauphin Louis XVII, who apparently died or was killed as a child in prison under equally shady circumstances which the revolutionary government didn’t care to reveal, but who was resurrected many times in later legends. The psychology of various pretenders, while weird, has enough precedents (false Dimitrys and by the dozen!) not to be surprising.

Here it is June and we’ve hardly started on the March-April Orthodox Word, almost half of which will be devoted to the service to Father Herman, hopefully in two colors. Pray for us. These next two months will be a trial, but after that, God willing, we should begin to make progress. Gleb’s brother in law is coming for a few days this week, and we’ll let him try to finish the linotype wing to the printshop. Fr. Alexy will probably be here within two weeks to put the linotype together, and then we can really start work. We already have a tank of liquid gas for it, and before long we might even have such modern conveniences as a gas burner and gas refrigerator! But most of all we dream of getting more building done so as to get more protection against the relentless fogs of November-September and sometimes later. Hopefully we’ll get more snow this year and so avoid the fogs in Jan-Feb, which settle in with long rainy periods.

Did I mention that Fr. Michael Azkoul sent us an excellent answer to Fr. Schmemann’s attack on the Russian Church Abroad (his answer to Metr. Philaret’s Sorrowful Epistle)? In their mutual correspondence, Fr. Schmemann finally admitted that he simply didn’t have the facts about the Russian Church Abroad. The manuscript was turned down by Fr. Meyendorff for The Orthodox Church (Fr. Michael notes that Fr. Meyendorff is extremely emotional about the Synod and simply can’t reason about it, while Fr. Schmemann is somewhat more reasonable, half of his own family being in the Synod!), but is extremely objective and fair, and mentions a fact that hasn’t been brought out before— that the Moscow-Metropolia negotiations took place in Geneva and New York under WCC auspices, with representatives of the WCC present! Alas for our beloved Alaska—Bp. Theodosius has been to Moscow twice (Once for the Patriarch’s funeral, and several weeks ago to receive the “Tomos”), and on June 5 (we just received photographs) Bp. Juvenal (second under Nikodim in the Foreign Relations Dept) served with him before Fr. Herman’s relics and on Spruce Island. Next we fully expect to hear that the Soviets, out of “brotherly” feeling, are sending monks to Spruce Island—an ideal espionage center. God save us all. It is all very sad, but we have yet to see what Father Herman will do.

Pray for us,

With love in Christ,


June 8/21, 1970
Sunday of All Saints

Dear Father David,

What is there to say: The Metropolia has gone through with its coup, which for the present involves only itself, but obviously has possibilities for a future union of all those who think a “unified Orthodox Church” is the answer for American Orthodoxy. No, it is not the answer, and is the product of very superficial thinking on the question. The answer is a return to real Orthodoxy, so sorely diluted in this century in America. The Metropolia move, I believe, is the watershed of 20th-century Orthodoxy—from now on there will be two “Orthodoxies” in America: the real one (of which no one can doubt that our Synod has become the beacon-light) and the imitation, the product of the Protestantized-academicized Paris school joined to the practical indifference and secular Protestantism of American life. The proof of the case against the Metropolia (and the other like-thinking jurisdictions) lies not in its dubious tactics or even its criminal negotiations with the Soviets, but in the fact that its leadership is not preaching Orthodoxy but a cheap surrogate thereof. Yes, some priests still try, but the future belongs to Frs. Schmemann and Meyendorff, who are not Orthodox, and the future generation is being raised on the blasphemous parody of Orthodoxy contained in the official publications, from Young Life to Concern. These people doubtless mean well, but they have been drastically miseducated, and now they try to enforce their abysmal ignorance of Orthodoxy upon the whole Church.

We assumed, in our last letter to Bp. Theodosius, that he would understand that unity with the Synod involves rejection of Moscow and vice versa. It is not only Metr. Anastassy but our own Archbp. Anthony of San Francisco and many other hierarchs who have pleaded for the restoration of this unity, to which the Metropolia always turned a deaf ear. Now, of course, the Metropolia’s schism is complete, and no further communion is possible. But now we may at least thank God that the air has been somewhat cleared, and those still able to choose can do so. The issues are critical: Orthodoxy vs. non-Orthodoxy. In worldly terms the Metropolia has all the odds on its side: numbers, prestige, publication of wide circulation with an editor who, frankly, is not to be accused of fairness or honesty. But the Metropolia does not have principle or truth on her side, nor can she be considered any longer as within the Church. The official representatives of the Metropolia either do not know the facts of Church history of the last 50 years (Fr. Schmemann has admitted to Fr. Michael Azkoul that he doesn’t know the facts about the Synod!) or else they are deliberately distorting them. The “ship” of the Metropolia, as a Church, has come to shipwreck; from now on individuals can still be rescued, but the judgment of the whole body can only be given over to the free Russian Church of the future.

The Synod’s position of truth and principle, of what Orthodoxy is and what it is not, will be presented in detail in future publications. Our Orthodox Word will soon print Fr. Michael Azkoul’s excellent reply to Fr. Schmemann’s attack on the “Sorrowful Epistle” (Fr. Meyendorff turned it down, predictably), in the hope of setting straight Fr. Schmemanns distortions and faulty theology. Fr. Michael has now come to the Synod—not because he thinks that Metr. Philip is a heretic, but because in not breaking of with Moscow over the issue of giving communion to Roman Catholics he enters also into crypto-Uniatism, as the Metropolia already has done far more decisively. “Global Orthodoxy” has not listened to the Synod’s pleas, and therefore those who wish to remain Orthodox have no choice but to leave “global Orthodoxy.” In the 15th century those who were not with St. Mark of Ephesus were not in the Church—and this situation is being approached today.

Alas, the basic Church issues of today are disguised in clouds of rhetoric and academic half- truths. The capitulation of Orthodoxy today comes not in the forms of signatures to a pseudo-Union, but as a gradual series of acts of apostasy. Those who love the truth must now separate themselves from this relentless and soul-destroying process. The Church as seen through the eyes of the Metropolia presents a timid voice to the world, ever ready to apologize for its deviations and to accommodate itself to the times and to the powerful of the world. Not such is the Church of Christ! And there is precious little time left for us to thunder the truth to an indifferent world!

You cannot imagine our sorrow at hearing of the doings of Bp. Theodosius and the visit of Juvenaly to Alaska. May Fr. Herman yet save Alaska, and enlighten and guide us all in the path of Orthodox truth!

With love in Christ our Saviour,

P.s. Is it really true that not one parish of the Exarchate decided to enter the Metropolia, as reported in the Romanian newspaper Credinta? That would make the celebrated “dissolution of the Exarchate” imaginary indeed!


June 22/July 5, 1970
Priest-Martyr Eusebius

Dear Brother in Christ, Daniel [Olson],

Many thanks for your letter and the article from America—a truly sad commentary on what can be done by “reformers” who have no love for what they’re “reforming.” One can see it coming in Orthodoxy too, and those who do not consciously stand up in defense of the Faith will most likely have the ground pulled out from under them. One can see all the more urgency in not budging one inch in the “ecumenical” direction. The new “theologians” can talk until they are blue in the face about “witnessing Orthodoxy,” but to anyone who loves Orthodoxy it is plain that their intellectual discussions and tea parties with the Protestants are simply a pleasant way of betraying Orthodoxy. Recently a group of Catholic and Orthodox “theologians” had a “dialogue” on the Eucharist, issuing in a joint statement that fundamentally the two Churches are in agreement, with a footnote to the effect that intercommunion is still premature. But how can one be “witnessing Orthodoxy” if one doesn’t even inform the Catholics that they have no sacraments and that all their intellectual formulations are a million miles from the life-saving grace to be found in the Orthodox Church? Either these Orthodox “theologians” are dishonest (and thus trying to trick the Catholics?!) or they’ve already changed Orthodoxy in their own minds to make union easier. In any case, it’s not “Orthodoxy” that is being witnessed!

We also have been continuing our correspondence with Fr. David Black. His defensiveness, I think, is an excellent example of the success of the Soviet diplomats who arranged the autocephaly. Nowhere in the agreement is it written that Metropolia clergy will now rise to the defense of the Soviet Church—yet they have to, in order to defend their own position! Truly, every blow directed against the Soviet Church is a blow directed against the Metropolia, and indeed it is now decidedly not in the interests of the Metropolia for there to be any detailed exposure of Church life in Russia, concerning the Catacomb Church, for example. In his letters to us Fr. David has tried to drag out every skeleton he can find from Tsarist times—but most of those we would never dream of apologizing for, while the Metropolia has now voluntarily placed itself in the position of defending Church figures who are involved in evils undreamed of by all the heretics and apostates of the past. One need not “judge” the Church in Russia (as we are accused of) in order to see that it is impossible, if one has a Christian conscience, to deal with such as Nikodim. We have some more comments on this in the new OW. By the way, the “dissolution of the Exarchate” is another example of a Soviet victory from their negotiations: in Canada not one church voted to join the Metropolia, and in America 43 churches voted to stay with Moscow, which includes all but one of the churches in the latest Exarchate list that we have. The priest who writes for the Hellenic Chronicle openly writes that the Metropolia and Moscow alike are perpetrators of lies who cannot be trusted.

Anyway, we are still praying for Alaska, that by the prayers of Fr. Herman the faithful there may still be awakened and saved.

This is suppose to be a short letter, as there is much to do. The service for Father Herman's canonization, by the way, will be celebrated only in San Francisco on August 9, since that is not his feast day; all other churches will have just a pannikhida the day before and a moleben after the Liturgy on Aug. 9. We will try to get together some Orthodox information on Australia in a few days. We hope to have the service printed in English within a week—in 2 colors, not an easy job!

Here were in midsummer and suffering—but probably nothing like you. 95 degrees is about as high as it goes, though it's close to 115 degrees in Redding, where we go as seldom as possible. I’ll have to tell you our animal adventures some other time—we’ve seen our first bear, kept a fawn for 24 hours, and saved our squirrel family by killing a huge rattlesnake. Gleb sends greetings.


June 29/July 12, 1970
Sts. Peter and Paul

Dear Father David [Black],

I was glad to receive your reply to my latest rather outspoken letter and welcome the opportunity to continue our “dialogue”—even under the somewhat strained circumstances that now prevail. t It would not be fair on my part to pretend that a tension does not exist between our Churches. From the tone of your letters, and from what I have heard of the words and actions of Bishop Theodosius, I would gather that you would like nothing better than to be in full peace and concord with Moscow and with the Synod. I can tell you frankly: impossible! There are issues at stake which cannot be solved by reference to canons. Above the canons is He Who inspired them: the Holy Spirit, Whose guidance is apprehended by the immediate feeling (not emotion!) of the believing Orthodox heart. On the question of canons there is no better example in the world today of Phariseeism than the Moscow Patriarchate, which insists on the letter of the law where its own worldly interests are concerned, while in everyday practice it is surpassed by none in laxness, as is quite noticeable in the former Exarchate.

But it is not as despisers of canons that our Church will have nothing to do with the Moscow hierarchs; and few in our midst even raise the question of whether there is grace within the Moscow Church—this is not for us to decide under present conditions. It is rather the indissoluble tie of the Moscow Patriarchate with an unquestionably God-hating and Satanic power that makes all contact with her impossible. You will find in our midst great sympathy and pity for all but the leading hierarchs of Moscow—and even for some of them you will find fellow-feeling owing to the inhuman circumstances under which they have been forced to betray Orthodoxy. (Rumor has it that Metr. Sergius was given the alternative in 1927: sign the Declaration, or every church will be destroyed and believers arrested and killed. If so, he signed out of faintheartedness, trusting more in the power of the Soviets to destroy than in the power of God to preserve the Church.) But this fellow-feeling cannot allow us who are free to recognize the Patriarchate and thereby freely place ourselves in the same trap she was forced into! And this the Metropolia has done, thus fixing the gulf between us as absolute. From my contact with our people I can tell you: with every fiber of our body and every feeling of our soul we are repulsed by this free act of betrayal, and the feeling of sympathy which we do have for all but the leaders of the Moscow Patriarchate we do not have for the Metropolia. No, we do not “hate” you, and we recognize that most of you have followed this act out of a lack of awareness of the Church situation today; but thereby the Metropolia has alienated herself from us even more than Moscow, where the Church consciousness is forcibly crushed, but not freely given away!

Do you not yet begin to see the enormous implications of the most important part of your agreement with Moscow—i.e., the unwritten part? Do you not yet see how your supposed “independence” binds you so tightly that you must now begin to do things that you would never have dreamed of before? With all our heart we would like to be one with you at least with those of you who sincerely love the Church and want to serve Her above all but we can be one with you only in the Truth, not in false friendliness. And this uncompromising attitude of ours will only inspire even more bitter feelings in some of you than Fr. Meyendorff has already shown in his slanderous attack, and men like Fr. Meyendorff will echo every last bit of the Moscow propaganda against us—not realizing that this is one of the most important “clauses” of the Autocephaly Agreement: to join in destroying the “Karlovitz Schismatics.”

I will tell you another of the unwritten “clauses” of that agreement, which you yourself are following in your arguments for Moscow: “Every bishop, priest, and layman of the Metropolia agrees to defend the Moscow Patriarchate, not merely as a persecuted organization that cannot be judged by those outside the USSR, not merely as a Church that may yet possess the grace of the Holy Spirit, but as a fully canonical, in no wise dubious Orthodox Church, entided to a role of leadership among the Orthodox Churches of the world.” One can even paraphrase the Declaration of 1927 to read: “Every blow directed against the Patriarchate of Moscow is a blow against the Metropolia, and her joys and sorrows are those of the Metropolia.”

Do you not yet begin to grasp the immensity of your spiritual bondage? Do you not see that the Metropolia can no longer look at the Church situation in the USSR with objective eyes? That it is no longer in the interests of the Metropolia to have a complete exposure of that situation? That the Metropolia cannot welcome the publication of the statements of many hierarchs in 1927 unequivocally condemning the Declaration of Metr. Sergius and the Church organization based on it? That it would not be in the interests of the Metropolia that Boris Talantov be released from prison and allowed to continue his writings on “Sergianism” as the root of the evils of Russian Church life today? That the Metropolia has taken its unequivocal stand on the side of Sergianism and against the Catacomb Church, about whose very existence the Metropolia now would prefer not to hear? Indeed, if any word can describe the Metropolia’s present state, it is surely: “Neo-Sergianism.”

Further, the Metropolia remains her old self, only with an inflated title that is recognized by no one save Moscow. Therefore, her dependence upon Moscow is obvious: without Moscow’s special intercession she will have no chance to sit as a full member of any Pan-Orthodox Conference; in any court cases concerning “jurisdictions” she will have to call upon witnesses from Moscow; etc. As for the Exarchate: the Russian text of the Autocephaly Agreement (but not the English text as printed by Fr. Meyendorff!) specifies that the entire Canadian diocese of the Exarchate is excluded from the “autocephaly,” and a list is given of 43 churches in the U.S. who voted to remain directly under Moscow (this includes all but one of the Exarchate churches in the latest list I have seen). Can anyone argue that the “autocephaly,” for the conceivable future, is anything but an empty tide? And likewise, that the advantages so far are not heavily on the side of Moscow and her undoubted scheme to seize hegemony of world Orthodoxy?

Yes, our statements about Frs Schmemann and Meyendorff will be documented in The Orthodox Word. We have already two long articles waiting for space. Recent complications and delays have put us several months behind, and we have an unwritten rule that contemporary polemical material must never occupy 50% of an issue. But with God's blessing this and other material will soon see the light in the hope of giving more precision to certain aspects of contemporary Orthodox thought. The small deviations of yesterday are already resulting in great divergences, which we hope some will yet see in time.

I assure you that all I have written here does not in least diminish our love and prayers for you and all of Orthodox Alaska. Through the grace of our Saviour and the prayers of Saint Herman, may we yet come to true unity in the undimmed Orthodox Faith.

With love in Christ our Saviour,

P.s. Yes, we still plan to print the life of St. Theodosius and will welcome the article on his canonization.

Fr. Michael Azkoul, by the way, received canonical release from the Syrian Archdiocese and so was not obliged to show that his Archbishop is a heretic!


June 29/July 12, 1970
Sts. Peter and Paul

Dear Father Neketas,

Bless us, Father!

It’s Sunday and a feast day, and I have a chance to rest and catch up on correspondence. First: thank you for letting us see the enclosed letter. Indeed, it is time to apply strictness in Orthodox reading material. It just can’t be assumed that the Orthodox reader will get through a book by Schmemann etc. unaffected by the big and little discrepancies from Orthodoxy, which by now have added up to a whole new approach to Orthodoxy. As the list of pre-schism Western Saints, we recently discovered this list in an old Orthodox Russia which I will try to get around to copying one of these days. It was short—probably some 15 or so names, most of them included in our article on St. Cassian last year. Whether there is another longer list I don’t know. The Dutch Orthodox sent us a list of some 40 local (Dutch) saints in their calendar, but I haven’t yet been able to get from them a list of non-Dutch Western saints.

We are plodding on with The Orthodox Word, but it will be another week before it’s out. We resolved to make the Service to Father Herman a model in every way, including typographically, which means printing every page twice (2 colors), and we printed a number of extras to bind separately. Glory be to God, it is almost finished, and we are sufficiently full of inspiration and hope to want to print a whole series of services to the glory of God and His saints and for the inculcation of genuine Orthodox piety in this direct way. We are already dreaming of the service to St. Nectarios (if Fr. Panteleimon or someone can be persuaded to translate the Orthros) and St. Mark of Ephesus.

Of course, this presumes that we will get caught up on The Orthodox Word. Our linotype still sits unassembled, and there are several complications that await resolution—such as long-awaited parts needed for gas connections, and the problem of obtaining matrices of type. One set (Roman and Italic) if new costs almost as much as the whole linotype ($500). We have located a used set at about half that, and are hoping for word of something even more reasonable from the East. Of course there is also the problem of getting and keeping the machine in operation. One look at an operators manual persuaded me that my ignorance was just about absolute. But we trust in God, and await Fr. Alexy Poluektov in a week or two to assemble the machine and give some ABCs.

We were blessed to receive Holy Communion at the Sepulchre of Vladika John last week on the 4th anniversary of his death, and again yesterday when Vladika Nektary visited us on the feast of Sts. Sergius and Herman. Glory be to God! We noticed in S.F. that attendance at the Sepulchre declines each year, and it seems, sadly, that the Russians are forgetting him, and that when the older generation of those who knew him is gone in a few years, his memory will almost vanish among them—and will be preserved then chiefly by those non-Russians, most of whom did not know him, whose acquaintance with him is based not on personal relationships but on the attraction of his sanctity. Thus are God and His saints glorified in unexpected ways.

The report of Glebs tonsure on Father Hermans canonization day—is just another wild rumor. The day for both of us is, however, indeed drawing nigh, but it will only be after the canonization. I can't remember how many times I’ve already been made a deacon or priest myself! In fact, a student-composer friend even composed an “Axios” which he rushed to me in time to be sung at my ordination! But everything comes in God’s own time.

Have you heard anything more from Fr. Seraphim of St. Tikhon's? Our letter a month ago was returned “No longer at this address,” and the other day we learned from a seminarian (his co-conspirator) that he refused to “repent“ and left at the end of May to visit relatives.

We were fortunate two weeks ago to be visited by Fr. Alexander Mileant of Los Angeles—one of our finer young Russian priests. He fell in love with our place and made us realize all the more how fortunate we are to be here. Indeed, while the world relapses into anarchy and men become lower than beasts, we live in a veritable paradise where speechless creatures, our nearest neighbors, continually praise the Lord by their very existence. Three weeks ago we found a fawn lying exhausted by the side of the road. We brought it home, kept it overnight, got it to drink milk, and returned it to the hill down which we presumed it had fallen. (We would have kept it longer but discovered there’s a strict law against it.) Then two days ago our mother deer who comes every day for our garbage brought her fawn for us to see—apparently the same one, and too touching a sight to describe. She's so used to us that she suckles the fawn only 10 or 15 feet away from us, and we hear their talk among themselves—rather like sheep’s bleating, only higher. Recently, too, we saw our first bear running up our hill—and fortunately we did not take Vladika Nektary’s advice and offer it sugar; it didn’t seem like that kind of bear, much too businesslike! Even our one local enemy, the rattlesnake, praises the Lord—such a beautiful yellow with a pattern of diamonds on his back and the bearing of a prince, albeit a sinister one! Last week we had a 15-minute battle with a huge one before we dislodged it from its squirrel-hole and beheaded it (thereby saving our squirrel family, where the father joins the mother in carrying the young from nest to nest). Of course, it is not our lot in this life to sit back and enjoy all this, but we are grateful to have a little corner where God’s order is so evident. What will be here in future—is in God’s hands, and may it be for His glory! Somehow, in the back of our minds, we keep seeing our wilderness transformed into an Orthodox refugee camp! May God’s will be done!

Of the names you sent, 4 are not present subscribers (Alepakos, Sims, Blackstone, Brukses, nor are the 3 Metropolia people (Magner, Dimoff, Eppler), to all of whom we will send the next issue.

Pray for us.

With love in Christ our Saviour,


July 7/20, 1970

Dear Father Michael [Azkoul],

Bless us, Father!

As Br. Gleb is at present overloaded with other assignments, I will take a short respite from printing The Orthodox Word to answer for him.

As you are already in contact with Archbishop Anthony of San Francisco, I am sure you have already received his permission to take part in the canonization services. As for lodging, I would advise contacting Abbess Ariadna, 3365 19th St., S.F., 94119, who has rooms to let.

We are glad to see your zeal for Father Herman for the Russian Church Abroad, and we only pray that you will manifest it in due measure, so that genuine fruits may come from it. In going to Spruce Island I am sure you realize that you must be “wise as a serpent,” proceeding with utmost caution even when you are sure of your ground. The question of Bp. Theodosius is extremely sensitive: certainly we recognize that he is in schism or worse and has no rights over us, but if we are incautious and give him unnecessary grounds for offense, he might take desperate measures that could ruin all our good beginnings; also, if he felt himself to be “attacked” by our Church he might be driven even more into the arms of the Soviets.

We shall be most interested to hear of your further plans. Frankly, we have no very clear idea of your intentions on Spruce Island, and we trust in the prayers of St. Herman to enlighten the way, that everything done may be for the glory of God and of His Saint.

Most likely we shall be seeing you in San Francisco at the canonization, if we can find each other in the crowds, and we look forward to talking to you then.

Asking your prayers and blessing,

With love in Christ our Saviour,
Eugene Rose

P.s. The English Service to Father Herman will be finished this week and we will send you several copies immediately.


July 13/26, 1970
Holy Fathers of Six Ecumenical Councils

Dear Father Neketas [Palassis],


As you rightly suspect, we don’t have much sense of the needs of publicity, but at your prodding we’ve sent “publicity packets” to the San Francisco newspapers, Time and Newsweek. We don’t have address of New York Times, so are sending their packet for you to send on, and an extra one in case you think of someone else. What about Religious News Service? We have no idea where to contact them. Our life of Father Herman is all sold out, but we sent everything else we could think of. We purposely avoided any hint of conflict between Kodiak and San Francisco, hoping the contrast of “local” vs “worldwide” will seem reasonable to the venerable editors. Of course, it’s rather late, but there should be some response at least in San Francisco. We gave them Vladika Anthony’s address for further questions.

As to our people being confused about the canonization—really, who can blame them? As far as I can recall, this new OW is the first place where it’s even hinted that there are two separate canonization services. I don’t know how successful our account will be, but it’s obvious that some kind of explanation had to come out. I suppose this issue will finally try Bp. Theodosius’ “patience” to the breaking point—but it’s about time he realized there is a war on, over the survival of Orthodoxy (or rather, over who will remain within Orthodoxy!), and he’s on the wrong side! Mrs. Fern Wallace sent us a clipping of Fr. Michael Irwin’s talk in Juneau—and he couldn’t have done any better if he had set out deliberately to discredit their cause. He admits some Soviet bishops are Soviet agents, that the whole autocephaly follows political trends set forth by the Soviet Government; Bp. Theodosius is quoted as saying the Soviet people he found to be happy and well dressed, and if some complain about the Government, well, so do Americans! Talk about stooges of the Soviets—and mixed-up ones at that; Nikodim should have reminded them not to talk about “Soviet agents,” at the least! We hope to collect a whole set of articles like this, preferably direct quotes, and base an article on them—please send us anything you come across. The Metropolia, apparently, remains the same old humbling Metropolia, and I wonder if it will even be able to follow up its advantage.

Certainly, you will be welcome at our refugee camp! Of course, we don’t know what God has in store for us, or where it will [be] possible to flee when the time comes. But there is some 1500 square miles or so of almost totally uninhabited land just south of us, the “Yolla Âolly Wilderness Area,” where even hunters and hikers are fairly rare. Up to the 1920’s, at least, according to my textbook on “California Trees,” it was the least explored part of California even from the point of view of identifying flora and fauna.

Fr. Elias [Armistead] writes: he’s coming for the canonization, perhaps “with an Alaskan or two.” He’s “desperate’ for help, and “money is no object”—he’ll gladly pay to import someone from Europe to help. Next year he’ll probably go to the Near East, or maybe throw up the whole Alaska adventure and hide in the Holy Land. ??? Frankly, we’ve about given up looking for any fruitful activity in his direction. Apparently, after all, the surest way to bring forth fruit for Holy Orthodoxy is to find yourself in a narrow, confining, almost impossible situation, with no way out but to pray and work with sweat and tears. Too much freedom, too much money, too much opportunity, too many ideas—seem too easily scattered to the wind. We must simply thank God for all our suffering and trials—there's just no other hope for us!

We’ve seen the Byzantinish icon of Father Herman by the Metropolia—but it doesn’t look in the least like Father Herman! Fr. Cyprian’s icon is the best so far, but his face doesn’t resemble Father Herman too much either.

Pray for us.


August 5/18, 1970
Pre-Feast of the Transfiguration

Dear Brother in Christ, Daniel,

Here it is already a week since the great Church events of this year, and only now am I sitting down to try to tell you a little about them. I know how anxious you are to hear about them, but this will be only a brief sketch—we hope to have a fuller account with illustrations in our July-August Orthodox Word.

For us the great celebration began a month early, with the yearly Liturgy in Vladika Johns Sepulchre on the anniversary of his repose (June 19/July 2). Father Herman was commemorated then, too. Then, on the feast of Sts. Sergius and Herman of Valaam (June 29/July 11), Vladika Nektary came to us just after dawn and served Divine Liturgy. This, probably Father Herman’s namesday, was the beginning of daily litiyas for the repose of the about to be glorified Saint.

On the feastday of St. Seraphim (July 19/Aug. 1) Vladika Anthony made a surprise visit to us not long after dawn (together with Deacon Nicholas, who brought a beautiful small cupola he had made for our printshop), and served the third Liturgy in our outdoor chapel, followed by a panikhida for Fr. Herman and the first reading of the Ukase of Metr. Philaret which will be in our new OW.

The next week we expected Bp. Laurus, Gleb’s onetime instructor at the seminary, to visit us, and we hastily finished a small kellia we had begun some months ago—a lean-to, 8x8 ft., at the back door of our living cabin. He arrived Wednesday but stayed only a few hours and went right back. Thursday afternoon we left for San Francisco, and on Friday evening the chief services began. But first we received an appropriate tongue-lashing (good for humility!) from Vladika Anthony for the “18 bishops” we had predicted—we had this printed in the Russian press also. Alas, our information was not too reliable, and no more than 12 or so had really been expected, and several of these were unable to come owing to last-minute illness, urgent business, and the like, and only 5 attended after all, making the celebrations more modest but no less solemn for all that. Later Vladika Anthony thought he had been a little harsh on us and touchingly consoled us by telling us that with Patriarch Tikhon, Metropolitan Innocent, and the reposed bishops of San Francisco and Alaska there would indeed be at least 18 bishops spiritually present!

And indeed, for all these bishops and for everyone else connected with Father Herman, commemoration was made at the requiem services of Friday night and Saturday morning. We were especially pleased to hear the list of names end each time with Archimandrite Gerasim of Spruce Island (who was also mentioned in Vladika Anthony’s sermon on Saturday morning), since he suffered so much in his own lifetime from the local Alaska clergy, and from the other side was criticized by some of our Synodal people for what they thought was his failure to take a definite stand after 1946. But now, when the whole Church was gathered to canonize his beloved Father Herman, Fr. Gerasim too was there where he belonged. Fr. Panteleimon of Boston arrived for the Friday evening service, bringing with him relics of several saints, which were put out for veneration, as well as the icon which we sent you the other day, which was given out Saturday night to all present. In the afternoon Fr. Vladimir of Jordanville arrived, bringing a relic of St. Herman (a tooth which Fr. Gerasim had given him years before), which was placed in the icon Fr. Cyprian painted together with another relic—a piece of Fr. Herman’s coffin which Fr. Gerasim had given Bp. Andrew of Novo-Diveyevo.

On Saturday evening at 6 o’clock Metr. Philaret arrived and the final panikhida was served for Father Herman alone. And then the long-awaited service to our newly-glorified Saint began. After the choir sang 3 stichera of the Resurrection, the cliros choir of seminarians and clergy began—loud and clear—the stikhera to St. Herman: “Leap up, ye waters of Valaam.” Up to the last minute, Vladika Anthony hadn’t decided how much should be sung in English, and he finally decided to begin with the final two stichera on “Lord, I have cried.” But rather than the 3 or 4 feeble voices he perhaps expected, there was a veritable crowd of enthusiastic young English-singers, and he blessed us to add the “Glory” in English too, which we did, slowly and solemnly. Here, as throughout the service, all the “special melodies” were followed strictly, whether in Slavonic or English.

At the Litia there was a procession around the outside of the Cathedral, and the first commemoration was made of “St. Herman, Wonderworker of Alaska.” Before the polyeleos, Vladika Anthony gave an inspired sermon which set the tone for the entire celebration. St. Seraphim, our paschal Saint who greeted everyone with the words “Christ is risen,” had prophesied the exile of the Russian faithful. And now, in the midst of this exile, the faithful have come together to celebrate the memory of yet another paschal Saint—Saint Herman, who reposed amidst lighted candles and the reading of the Acts, in preparation for eternal Pascha. And therefore Vladika Anthony—who earlier, for seemingly obscure reasons, had instructed all clergy to bring white paschal vestments for the canonization—now ordered all in the cathedral to hold burning candles to greet the newly-glorified Saint as at the Easter service.

After the polyeleos, the Metropolitan unveiled the icon with the relics of St. Herman, and the assembled clergy (20-some priests—32 on Sunday, 5 deacons, plus servers) thunderously sang the first triumphal Magnification of St. Herman, repeated first by the choir, then by the clergy, then by the seminarians on the cliros in English, then again by the clergy.;

The veneration of the icon and relics by the multitude of faithful took up the rest of the service, while Gleb and I read the canons—one troparion of each canticle to St. Herman in English. The lauds were sung in Slavonic and English, “O Most glorious wonder” being sung most rousingly by the seminarians in both languages. Everyone was inspired with a genuine paschal feeling, and Fr. Nicholas Dombrovsky emphasized this the next morning in his sermon at the early Liturgy by calling the celebration a second “Pascha in the summertime,” occurring just 67 years and 8 days after the first such “Pascha,” St. Seraphim's canonization, of which the Saint had prophesied in those words. After the evening service the American converts (of whom there were between 50 and 100 present) lined up to receive confession from Fr. Panteleimon, which lasted until 2 a.m.

On Sunday the whole day was one long church service, beginning with the early Liturgy at 7 and the blessing of the water at 8:30 (into which some water from Father Hermans spring was poured). The final prayer was read at 4 in the afternoon, and Fr. Panteleimon, who spent the time between 4 and the evening service in Archbishop Johns Sepulchre, could truthfully tell a group of Greeks to whom he spoke at 9 p.m.—“I came to church at 8 this morning and just got out now— glory be to God!”

The Liturgy proceeded slowly and solemnly. At the Entrance with the Gospel, the icon with relics was carried around the altar table—but not by the two oldest priests, who lifted it up at first, but by Archimandrites Panteleimon and Cyprian, as representing the monastic clergy at this monastic celebration. Vladika Anthony insisted on this understanding of the celebration and enforced it throughout. Before the Communion—in which it seemed the whole church participated—the seminarians sang stikhera in Slavonic and English.

During the moleben there was a procession around the church with the icon and relics, followed by “Many years” sung for the hierarchs, Fr. Panteleimon, Archimandrite Panteleimon of Jordanville—it was surely significant that this monastic festival should coincide with the namesday of the founders of our two leading monasteries in this country!—and for our Brotherhood. The Brotherhood, now of St. Herman, was also presented by Metr. Philaret with a Gramota from the Synod of Bishops, the text of which says perhaps as much about the Synod as it does about us. If anyone doubts that the Synod has missionary interest, the Gramota calls us to be “a missionary brotherhood, in lively contact with Americans seeking instruction.” And it sets forth our future too: “You are establishing a place for an endeavor of prayer and labor.” Indeed, within the next days or weeks, God willing, we will both be tonsured monks here, and then our real life’s labor will begin!

At the conclusion of the services the rite of the “Panagia” was celebrated: all clergy and servers walking in procession to the dining room below, singing the troparion to St. Herman. At the trapeza there were no speeches, but rather a monastic atmosphere of silence (not, unfortunately, fully observed by all!) while the life of St. Herman was read, mostly by Vladika Anthony.

In the evening, following the Vigil to the Smolensk Mother of God, a panikhida was served for Metr. Anthony Khrapovitsky. Again, how appropriate that this feast of the whole of Russia Abroad should occur on the eve of the repose of the founder of the Russian Church Abroad. Afterwards we went with Fr. Panteleimon to hear him talk to a small Pan-Orthodox meeting, composed mostly of Greeks who are extremely upset about the direction the Greek Church is taking, but are wary of following the “Russians.” Fr. Panteleimon answered their questions and gave an excellent talk on the difference between the abstract approach to Orthodoxy—academic discussions of what Orthodoxy is, definitions of “spirituality,” etc.—and the concrete approach, built up of all those things which are widely considered today as [un] important or old-fashioned—beards, cassocks, absence of pews and organs, daily morning and evening prayers, fasting.

On Monday morning after Divine Liturgy there was another moleben to St. Herman, and then a general panikhida in Vladika Johns Sepulchre, first by Fr. Vladimir in Slavonic, then by Fr. Panteleimon in Greek; and at the conclusion of this, as if summing up the whole paschal feeling of these days, Fr. Panteleimon greeted all in Russian with: Christos voskrese! to which all enthusiastically responded: Voistinu voskrese!

We arrived back home only after midnight on Monday, after seeing Fr. Panteleimon off with Fr. Neketas Palassis and Fr. Ephrem for Seattle, and the next day our great feast continued into a third day when Frs. Cyprian and Vladimir with Deacon Nicholas and four seminarians arrived to spend the day. Fr. Vladimir carried the icon with relics of St. Herman completely around our land, giving us yet another blessing of our Patron Saint. Later in the day Fr. Alexy Poluektov arrived to begin putting us back in a working spirit by starting to put our linotype into operation; he stayed 3 days. On Wednesday Fr. Elias Armistead stopped by on his way back to Alaska and spent the night.

And now, after all this celebration, we are about to start, God willing, a more productive phase of missionary work. Our linotype is operating, and as soon as type and lead arrive (any day) we will begin our new issue. We are beginning a new series on “Documents of the Catacomb Church,” as ignorance on this subject seems almost complete in America, and such ignorance is one. reason why the Metropolia so easily fell into the autocephaly trap. Fr. David Black writes us concerning Bishop Germogen as a “catacomb bishop”—which shows that he is totally unaware of the Church crisis of 1927, when the “Sergianists” seized control over the majority of bishops with aid of the Secret Police. We, of course, sympathize with Bishop Germogen, but all the same he remains a “Sergianist.”) But too, this is partly our fault, for there is very little in English on the whole question, and one of the secret blessings of the autocephaly is that now this and other important questions will be fully presented in English. How many will yet be awakened by this remains to be seen.

Meanwhile, the future of the autocephaly is uncertain. Those remaining in the Metropolia have apparently accepted it entirely and try to pass it off at a great success, but from the outside it is obvious that not all is well. Constantinople and the Patriarchal Romanian parishes in America have made a definite stand against it, and not a single parish of the Moscow Exarchate in America or Canada has joined it, and in fact Moscow has sent a new bishop and two priests from the Soviet Union to Canada. For the indefinite future it seems likely that only Moscow will recognize the autocephaly which it granted itself, which will obviously place the Metropolia in greater dependence on its “Mother”—which is perhaps the way it was planned. Bp. Theodosius of Sitka has, to our great disappointment, entered whole-heartedly into the Soviet spirit. He has reported that in the USSR he found “smiling, happy faces”; if some complain about the government there, so do Americans about their government! Of course, he says nothing about prison camps, persecutions, Catacomb Church, Boris Talantov, the 10,000 churches closed in the last 10 years—in a word, our worst fears about what would happen to Metropolia clergy seem already to be coming into reality. The psychological and spiritual price of the autocephaly is tremendous. And in the Aug. 10 New York Times Bp. Theodosius is quoted as saying, “Father Herman was a hippy”! This is sacrilege! St. Herman is our recourse and defense in the face of the evils of these times, of which hippyism is only one misguided symptom, but to mix his holy name with those very evils...! I had better not say any more. At best, this is just another sign of the ecclesiastical immaturity of the new autocephalous Church; another sign of it is the Metropolia’s “service” to St. Herman—a product of embarrassing illiteracy which, the way it is written, cannot even be performed properly, as it omits several Theotokia. It has a “velichaem” in place of “yblazhaem,” inserts the Beatitudes into every troparion of the canon (whether this is just plain ignorance or an attempt at novelty is difficult to say), includes several errors of fact about St. Herman, confuses a service with polyeleos with an ordinary weekday service, has at least one inadmissible “ecumenical” troparion in the canon, etc. Typographically it is not printed but poorly mimeographed. (This is the Slavonic service; we haven’t seen the English, which is supposedly the original.) We showed it to Fr. Vladimir and he was astonished and could only say: “Why such poverty?” The answer is clear: immaturity. And now, rather than learn from those who do know better (frankly, a quite acceptable service could easily have been written in Moscow, but the Metropolia is spiritually “independent” now from Moscow, and dependent only politically), the autocephalous Church proclaims its “maturity” to the world, thereby closing itself off from the source of genuine ecclesiastical wisdom and maturity. This is all very sad to those of us who do not at all want to enter into rivalry with the Metropolia, but would hope to grow with her in genuine Church consciousness until American Orthodoxy might one day in truth enter its Orthodox maturity. Now, alas, the Metropolia, an unripe fruit, has been untimely plucked, and who will be able to put it back in its place? We are sorry most of all for the young and inexperienced who are being led by their heads down an unfruitful path...away from Orthodoxy entirely. Seemingly it is God’s will to isolate the tree of genuine American Orthodoxy so that it will bring forth genuine, even if perhaps not many, fruits. Already those like Fr. Panteleimon, Fr. Neketas Palassis, and others who are single-mindedly cultivating real Orthodoxy, are being dismissed as “troublemakers,” “narrow-minded fanatics,” and the rest. God grant us all the strength and patience to bear all for His Holy Name and Truth!

I’ve been writing for 3 days and must stop at last! I hope this gives you something to fill a little of the 3 bleak months to follow. We hope to hear from you soon, and especially to hear your impressions of Orthodox (and even non-Orthodox!) Australia. Our prayers are with you. Gleb sends his greetings.

With love in Christ our Saviour,

P.s. A note that probably will not appear (at least not in full) in the OW. Two weeks before the canonization our Vladika Anthony flew to Kodiak to obtain a blessing at Fr. Herman’s relics. He went incognito, without panagia or any outward sign of his rank, although when he found the church closed he did answer Fr. Macarius Targonsky’s question as to who he was. Under his ryassa he wore cuffs and epitrachelion and while making the rounds of the church and altar he sang a panikhida in a whisper, ending with “Eternal Memory” at the relics of St. Herman. He told us that this was what was done by Orthodox clergy at the tomb of St. John the Merciful when it was in the hands of the Catholics. Thus our statement about the relics of St. Herman being like St. Nicholas’ was verified by the action of this true hierarch of the Church. Undoubtedly Bp. Theodosius who seems to want to please everyone, would have welcomed Vladika Anthony and allowed him to serve freely, but from our side the conscience does not allow this—a seemingly fine but very important point. It was precisely the lack of such a conscience, of such a sensitivity for real Orthodoxy, that led the Metropolia hierarchs to their downfall. God preserve us all in His True Faith!


August 8/21, 1970
Apostle Matthias

Dear Father Michael [Azkoul],

Bless us, Father!

Thanks be to God, our linotype is now operating, and as soon as lead and type arrive in a few days we will begin, and hopefully quickly finish, our May-June Orthodox Word with your article. In rereading this article we find two important statements for which we would like to have some kind of confirmation available in case of attack: namely, “Was not the ‘secret meeting’ between the Metropolia and Moscow at Geneva under the auspices of the WCC? Were not representatives of the WCC present at the recent ‘meeting’ in New York?” Can you give us any more detail or evidence on these statements, and if possible name the WCC representatives involved? I don’t think we need to footnote these statements, but we would like to have some further evidence handy in case someone chooses to challenge them.

And there doubtless will be attacks! The Metropolia would like to ignore the Synod, but their response so far indicates that they have been hit hard by the various criticisms from our side. Your article is important especially as coming from someone “outside” and not from those troublesome reactionary Russians.

I wonder how your investigation of Iakovos & Co. is progressing? Recent statements of Athenagoras, Iakovos, the Clergy-Laity Congress, and The Orthodox Observer indicate progress in abandoning Orthodoxy is going very rapidly—but how do you grasp hold of the whole situation and explain what’s going on? That’s a real problem.

We were happy to see Frs. Panteleimon and Ephrem from Boston, Fr. Neketas Palassis, Fr. Michael Lightfoot, and Fr. Elias Armistead at the canonization of St. Herman in San Francisco. The significance of this event for American Orthodoxy is doubtless great—spiritual seed of which the future will reveal the fruits. We will have a full account in the July-August OW. The San Francisco Cathedral is a real stronghold of Russianness, and that we were able to sing a large part of the service in English is a wonder in itself, and probably a sign of the times. The San Francisco Examiner of Aug. 10 reported our view of the canonization, but the AP story in other papers carried headlines blowing up Bp. Theodosius’ sacrilegious statement: “Russian Church Canonizes a ‘Hippy“Monk.” How just plain painful.

But God is with us, and in these critical years it’s up to a small number of us to fight for that genuine Orthodoxy that has been faithfully handed down to us.

We ask your prayers for us.

With love in Christ our Saviour,
Eugene Rose

P.s. We would appreciate if your would send us any material you find that reveals a change in attitude of Metropolia, especially clergy, concerning Soviet Church and Government. Bp. Theodosius has already taken the lead by finding Soviet people “comfortable and happy” and saying that “as Americans we have to reassess our ideas of life in the Soviet Union.” A collection of such statements would make a good article!


August 14/27, 1970
Prophet Micah

Dear Brother in Christ, Daniel,

Rejoice in the Lord! We were happy to hear of your trip to Australia, and especially that you were able to meet Fr. Vladimir Evsukoff. We do have quite a few subscribers in Australia, and we suspect that there could be quite a few more if we could find a way to reach them. Any suggestions?

We were very happy that you were able to supply the Geelong parish with an icon of St. Herman—but that probably means that many other churches in Australia were without one, thanks to a not very efficient distribution system. We received a very touching letter from Abbess Tamara of the Eleon Convent in Jerusalem. When Archimandrite Anthony Grabbe returned from New York she asked him: And where are the icons of St. Herman? To which he had to confess his total forgetfulness. She thought of having the Convent iconographer paint an icon, but only a few days remained. And then she thought of The Orthodox Word, and looking through back issues she found our small icon in color, and that was the icon of the feast in Jerusalem. We sent her some more of the other icons, so by December they will be better prepared!

Thanks for the clippings. We have quite a few now, most of them with slight variations on each other, but none so hurting as the AP story of Aug. 10, which appeared in some form in the NY Times (which we haven’t seen yet). In the Monterey Peninsula Herald it was headlined: RUSSIAN CHURCH CANONIZES U.S ;;;;;;’ MONK, and began: “In a centuries-old ceremony, a Russian monk described as a ‘hippie’ of his time has become the Orthodox Church’s first American saint. ;; modern terms you might call him a hippie,’ said the Rt. Rev. Theodosius, bishop of Sitka and Alaska. ‘He was a real conscientious objector, a pacifist.’” Even without the sacrilege of “hippy,” all the Metropolia material on Father Herman makes him a representative of the “social gospel.” The official booklet with his Life and Service (which we finally obtained yesterday) states: “Father Herman first championed all these causes (civil rights, freedom of the individual, respect and dignity of all people, especially the long suppressed and often ignored minorities) within the context of the Christian Faith. He was a contemporary American...and a worthy patron of the newest of the Autocephalous Orthodox Catholic Churches.” This is the voice of a “mature,” “Orthodox” Church? I think the Metropolia is already well on the way to something else entirely, the vague “Christianity-in-general” that floats in the air today at the mercy of every wind of senseless new doctrine.

From what we hear, the Metropolia’s canonization in Kodiak was, at least outwardly, a great success. We are happy for the Alaskan people, who now have an intercessor to whom everyone can pray, but our hearts are pained at the prospect of these and other simple people being led away from Orthodoxy entirely by their leaders. The Metropolia tells us that their canonization was a “demonstration of the young powers” of the new autocephalous Church—but if one looks at the basis on which the future “Orthodoxy” of this Church is to be based, one can only conclude that their canonization was rather a last sign of the old Orthodoxy which they are leaving behind, a part of that Orthodox capital which they received from Holy Russia and through the Synod, and which they now think they are enough to do without, striking out on their own. One need only look at their Service to St. Herman to see what they can do on their own. This, their first Service in English to the first American Saint, should be a model for all the future, based on the best Slavonic model so as to transmit the genuine Orthodox spirit and forms of piety to future generations. But what do they produce? An amateur, not at all well grounded in church services, is left free to write whatever he feels like, and then he signs his work! As a result, the link with the past becomes very weak, and once one or two more services are written based on this model (they already speak of canonizing Metr. Innocent) there will be nothing at all left of the solid framework upon which 1000 years and more of Orthodox piety has been based. Without this framework everything becomes dependent upon individual feeling, and the result is pure Protestantism. One can’t help but think of the Roman Catholics: probably a thousand years ago they were still more or less Orthodox, but having separated themselves from the Church and followed leaders who took as their standard various contemporary currents instead of unchanging Orthodox standards of piety, they gradually evolved for themselves a piety no longer in the least recognizable as Orthodox, permeated with prelest. Today the situation is worse, because the contemporary currents that will be taken are no longer even vaguely Christian, but at best are a humanistic “social gospel” or worse—as Bp. Theodosius has already suggested—Hippyism, which is already strongly permeated with open satanism.

With all this in view, I think we should thank God that our Synod is separated from the Metropolia—and not through any “uncharitable” action of ours, but through the deliberate act of the Metropolia itself—and now offers a refuge to those who still sense and want real Orthodoxy. The times are late, and it must needs be, as Apostle Paul says, that there be heresies, that those who are proved may stand out. God help us to stay on this difficult path, in the face of increasing attacks and eventual persecution. Appropriately, we begin in our new issue of OW a series on the Catacomb Church in the USSR—perhaps giving us a foretaste of what is to come even in America. The last US News & World Report (a very sober and reliable news magazine, not at all like Time or Newsweek) reports what is undoubtedly a nationwide conspiracy to kill policemen and blow up police stations (they have struck several times in the S.F. area in recent months) and quotes some authorities who say that at this rate there will be open civil war in America within 5 to 10 years.

About Spruce Island: I somehow feel that the Metropolia will now conveniently “forget” it; if they cannot find anyone to go there, they will of course not send any relics there at all, and Fr. Gerasim’s worst fears will be realized. Thanks be to God that we have a least a small relic in San Francisco. Actually, it has apparently always been assumed in the Metropolia (we have a 10-year-old letter of Fr. Macarius Targonsky to prove it) that Fr. Gerasims own homesteaded property on Spruce Island (but apparently not including the church) would go to the Synod on his death. But whether there was a will, or what the situation is now, I don’t know. Fr. Michael Lightfoot of San Diego recently went there to try to find out. But don’t breathe a word of this to Fr. David Black, or else Bp. Theodosius will leap to some kind of defensive action! We’re afraid even to ask any kind of question of the Alaskan clergy, since they’re all so much behind their Sovietized bishop. (I enclose a clipping on this subject.)

From your letter I presume we never sent you the separate service to St. Herman, as we thought we had. It’s enclosed, together with icons to give to Australia or anyone else. Our lead came and we expect type today and hope to begin printing the new OW by Saturday. Pray for us.

With love in Christ our Saviour, Eugene


[Fr. Seraphim's handwritten notes at the top of next letter read: “quiet intercessor, peace & harmony, translate into action (Fr. As paper) [Possibly Aug. 1970]

Dear Fr. Vladimir S. [Bridievey, OCA],

Thank you for the materials on Fr. H. which you sent to us, as well as for your letter, which touched us deeply. For the sake of the love of St. Herman which we share in common, please permit us to share a few ideas with you on the church troubles of today which give sorrow to us all.

You write that you regret that our labors for St. Herman remain so “distant and separate” from yours in the Metropolia, and you pray that “peace and harmony” will come to the Church, especially through the intercession of St. Herman by means of “translating into action” St. Herman's example to us. We agree with you wholeheartedly and fully. But do you not see what is involved here? The difference between us is real and it will not vanish if we simply forget it. And the difference (the chief one) is so great that no compromise is possible on it. One of us must make a definite move: either we must say that our 43-year-old attitude to the Moscow Patriarchate is wrong and we accept your stand; or else you must say that your attitude is wrong and you renounce the autocephaly and all contacts with the Moscow Church. There is no middle position.

Do you not realize the seriousness of our firm conviction that the Metropolias concordat with Moscow is a betrayal of the Orthodox Church and of the faithful both within and without the USSR? Do you know of the propaganda benefits which the Moscow Church and the Soviet Government have already obtained from the autocephaly? (Thanks, for instance, to published statements of the Bishop of Sitka that are pure Soviet propaganda.) Do you know the whole story, from 1927 to today, of the Catacomb Church and its persecution by the Soviet Secret Police according to indications given by the Moscow hierarchs? Your Metropolia now supports this persecution by its support of the Patriarchate, and when your bishops appear in the Soviet Union as honored guests of the Patriarchate, the faith of every Catacomb Christian is publicly trampled upon. Do you see, in a word, how we are opponents of your autocephaly and protest publicly because of sorrow in our hearts that is too deep to hold back?

We believe that you and many other sincere people in the Metropolia have accepted the autocephaly out of ignorance of its full implications. But it is then our duty to inform you of the full facts and beg you to stop this path of betrayal and sacrilege. St. Herman cannot possibly be the patron of such an “autocephaly,” and we only pray that in time this will become clear to many.

Do you know the Life of St. Maximus the Confessor? All the Orthodox Patriarchs accepted the Monothelite heresy, and he was begged, for the sake of peace and harmony in the Church, to do what everyone else was doing and keep his opinions to himself. And he said: “Even if the whole world enter into communion with the (heretical) Patriarch of Constantinople), I alone will not.” That is the kind of Orthodox confession that has preserved the Church for 2000 years; that is the faith that St. Herman lived; that is what we must follow today. Indeed, we have the example of St. Peter the Aleut who died for refusing to accept Roman Catholicism, which, according to our modern ecumenists, is very little different from Orthodoxy. And we are gladly willing to suffer torture and martyrdom for this faith, but we will never recognize either the Patriarchate or the Metropolia, which have betrayed this faith.

Yes, dear Father, with all our heart we wish unity with you—but only on the ground of Orthodoxy, without any reservations of conscience, without betraying our unity with those who suffer persecution in the USSR. You are one with the official Soviet Church, but not with the faithful of Russia. Whereas we are one with the faithful in the USSR, and they have informed us of this, [handwritten letter ends]


August 30/Sept. 12, 1970
St. Alexander Nevsky

Dear Father Michael,

Bless us Father!

Thanks be to God, our linotype is running and your article is nearly set, and hopefully in two weeks the whole issue will be out. Most of the rest of the issue is devoted to two very moving accounts of the Catacomb Church in the USSR, by someone who spent five years in the Solovki concentration camp. I believe the whole question of the Catacomb Church is extremely hazy in the minds of most Orthodox, and with God’s help we will try to correct that with a whole series of articles—for the basic issues are, after all, quite clear and can even be named: “Sergianism” vs. Orthodoxy. The statements of the non-Sergianist hierarchs in 1927 were quite explicit and should serve as a foundation for further discussion of the question. An interesting revelation of the ignorance touching this subject: Fr. J. Meyendorff in a recent note in The Orthodox Church, trying to explain how the Metropolia was really not under the Synod in 1935-46, notes that in the agreement of 1935 both the Metropolia and the Synod commemorated first of all “Metropolitan Peter of Krutitsky”—i.e., the leader of the opposition to Metr. Sergius, the head of the Catacomb Church! The Metropolia from top to bottom is simply absolutely ignorant of the facts and principles of the Russian Church situation in the 20th century. The only change in the situation since 1935 is that we no longer know the name of the head of the Catacomb Church, or even if there is one; but the existence of the Catacomb Church is attested in Soviet sources themselves.

Concerning the autocephaly and WCC: the point is quite important and will doubtless not be mentioned anywhere else, so we will go ahead and print it. When you have time, we hope you will look up the detailed information, which we would like to have whether or not we are challenged on it.

Your move to St. Louis should be a comfort to Dr. Johnstone, about whom we had been somewhat worried. He had written us that the nearest Synod parish was in Chicago, and definitely Russian-oriented, and that certainly would have meant great hardship for him and his family. May God grant you strength in your pastoral labors!

On the Iakovos article: Please don’t think we’re trying to press you to supply an article; in fact, it will be a while before we have the space to print it, so there’s no rush at all. However, re your remarks, I think it is indeed important to point out that the present crisis within Orthodoxy is not at all superficial but profound and doctrinal. What Constantinople is coming up with is simply unbelievable (and Fr. Meyendorff in the June-July Orth. Church puts the Metropolia fully with Athenagoras & Co. by stating that those not in communion with him are “outside the communion of world Orthodoxy”), and the only other question is—not whether heresy is involved—but where to start describing such an all-embracing apostasy. By the way, Fr. Constantine Dombalis has recently appealed in the Hellenic Chronicle for the canonization of Athenagoras while alive! In the face of such Orthodox disorientation, the burden of proof would rather lie with the Athenagorists to show that their teaching has anything in common with Orthodoxy. But the times being what they are, most Orthodox will have to be shown why and how Athenagoras and Iakovos are not Orthodox.

Therefore, the question is: how to make the situation dear? The most obvious doctrinal issue is the heresy concerning the nature of the Church; both Ath. and Iak. can be quoted on this. But that does not say too much yet, because this heresy seems to be an only incidental part of their teaching. But what is it, then, that actually motivates them? I have always found, in trying to understand and criticize systems of thought, that the most effective criticism must first understand the basic motivation of the thinker and then strike at the heart of the whole system, letting incidental heresies and errors fall into proper perspective.

Now, of course, the frustrating thing about Athenagoras and Iakovos is precisely that they seem to have no system, no real ideological motivation, at all, but are simply at the mercy of every wind of doctrine that falls in with their own ambition. But I think one should take as an axiom that ideas, after all, are primary, and even those who themselves are not motivated by ideas are nonetheless at the mercy (in that case) of someone else’s ideas. And certainly, the present crisis of Greek Orthodoxy cannot be traced to Iakovos’ ambition or any other personal motive—these existed in past times and did not cause the crisis in ideas, in theology, which exists today.

Several years ago I myself began an investigation into what might be called the “basic philosophy of the 20th century.” This exists now partly in unfinished manuscript, partly in my mind; but I pursued the question far enough, I think, to discover that there is, after all, such a basic philosophy in spite of all the anarchy of modern thought. And once I had grasped the essence of this philosophy (which, I believe, was expressed most dearly by Nietzsche and by a character of Dostoyevsky in the phrase: “God is dead, therefore man becomes God and everything is possible”—the heart of modern nihilism, anarchism, and anti-Christianity) everything else fell into place, and modern philosophers, writers, artists, etc., become understandable as more or less clearly, more of less directly, expressing this “philosophy.”

And so it was (getting back to Iakovos) that the other day, as I was reading Iakovos’ article in the July-Aug. Orthodox Observer. “A New Epoch?” that I suddenly felt that I had found an insight into the “essence of Iakovism.” Is not, indeed, the basic heresy chiliasml What else, indeed, could justify such immense changes and monstrous perversions in Orthodoxy except the concept that we are entering entirely new historical circumstances, an entirely new kind of time, in which the concepts of the past [are] no longer relevant, but must be guided by the voices of the new time? Does not Fr. Patrinakos, in past issues of the Orthodox Observer, justify Athenagoras—not as a theologian, not as traditionalist, but precisely as prophet, as one whose heresies cannot be condemned because he already lives in the “new time,” ahead of his own times? Athenagoras himself has been quoted (I can’t find this source now!) as speaking of the coming of the “Third Age of the Holy Spirit”—a clearly chiliastic idea which has its chief recent champion in N. Berdyaev, and can be traced back directly to Joachim of Floris, and indirectly to the Montanists. The whole idea of a “new age,” of course, penetrates every fiber of the last two centuries with their preoccupation with “progress,” is the key idea of the very concept of Revolution (from French to Bolshevik), is a central idea of modern occultism (visible on the popular level in today’s talk of the “age of Aquarius,” the astrological post-Christian age) and has owed its spread probably chiefly to Freemasonry (there’s a Scottish Rite publication in America called New Age). (I regret to say that the whole philosophy is also present in the American dollar bill with its masonic heritage, with its “novus ordo seclorum” and its unfinished pyramid, awaiting the 13th stone on top!” In Christian terms, it is the philosophy of Antichrist, the one who will turn the world upside down and “change times and seasons.” Indeed even the Calendar is involved, for the most thorough Revolutions (the French; and Bolshevik tried and failed and had to be satisfied with the compromise of the Gregorian calendar) introduce new calendars. The Pope and Athenagoras have already expressed themselves as for the new “universal” calendar. And the whole concept of ecumenism is, of course, permeated with this heresy and the “refounding of the Church.”

The recent “thought” of Constantinople (to give it a dignified name!) is full either of outright identification of the Kingdom of Heaven with the “new epoch” (the wolf lying down with the lamb) or of emphasis on an entirely new kind of time and/or Christianity that makes previous Christian standards obsolete: new morality, new religion, springtime of Christianity, refounding the Church, the need no longer to pray for crops or weather because Man controls these now, etc.

How appropriate, too, for the chiliast cause that we live (since 1917) in the “post-Constantinian age”; for it was at the beginning of that age, i.e., at the time of the golden age of the Fathers, that the heresy of chiliasm was crushed—in the West, I believe, chiefly through Augustine and in the East by Origen(?), with their commentary on the thousand years of the Apocalypse not as an earthly “millennium” but as the life of grace in the Church on earth. And indeed, together with the Revolutions that have toppled the Constantinian era we have seen a reform of Christianity that does away with the Church as an instrument of God’s grace for men’s eternal salvation and replaces it with the “social gospel.” Iakovos’ article has not one word about salvation, but is concerned only for the “world.”

I have said enough! I offer these ideas as suggestions, and if you find them useful in organizing thoughts on Athenagoras and Iakovos I’d be glad to help with what references I have. I wouldn’t mind tackling the subject myself, but for the foreseeable future I simply won’t have the time or opportunity, and besides that my research has been primarily in contemporary thinkers, and what is needed now is something more strictly patristic as well as concise.

Let us know your thoughts, and pray for us.

With love in Christ,


Sept. 4/17, 1970
St. Ioasaph of Belgorod

Dear Brother in Christ, Daniel,

Greetings in our Lord Jesus Christ! I'll write a note while your letter is fresh, and while we're paralyzed waiting for our generator to be repaired. We're still kept busy enough on building projects, however!

Your letter was a joy to us, too. Sometimes I’m afraid we let the worldly side weigh a litde too heavy with us, and we start sliding toward despondency. The linotype is slow (so many things to watch for, and I proceed almost purely by trial and error; the books I have sometimes omit the most elementary things because, apparently, everybody is supposed to know them—but I don’t find out until I have lead squirting out and then have to find out what to do about it! Gleb took one look at the machine in operation, with its rumblings and groanings, the big arm slamming down from the back of the machine and (hopefully) returning with the type in one piece, and he retreated to the printing department. But I’m beginning to master the principles at last and am finally beginning to set type faster than we could by hand.)—the linotype is slow, the generator breaks down, paper doesn’t arrive, Post Office breathes down our neck to be more regular, etc. But this apparently is to be expected if the work is God-pleasing, and we take comfort from that.

We’ve finally heard about (but not from) Father Seraphim, from several sources. He left St. Tikhon’s just before their May-30 celebration, with Soviet hierarch present, and is now safely on Mt. Athos in the Skete of St. Elias. It will, however, be a miracle if he survives, as the conditions are most difficult—all old, feeble monks, and he alone is strong enough to serve and work. He told a seminarian who visited us two days ago that he likes it there, but he can’t keep it up if someone else doesn’t join him.

Several Canadian parishes have apparently left the Metropolia for the Synod, but I’m not too certain about the details. The Metropolia seems convinced that their autocephaly is a great success, but objectively I don’t think it could be considered so. Indications are no one will recognize it for a while except Finland and Iron Curtain Churches (and not all of them); the Exarchate churches in America met in August and, despite Nikodim’s attempts to persuade them, they voted unanimously to stay out of the Metropolia, some of them even preferring to join some other jurisdiction if necessary. So Moscow will have at least three bishops here all the same, with foreign titles—Mark of San Francisco becomes “of Ladoga.” Nikodim was quietly kept away from the canonization in Kodiak, but he visited the next week with Archbp. John Shahovskoy—and on Spruce Island they met our Fr. Michael Lightfoot—who wrote us that he was not allowed to serve on Spruce Island, and a seminarian was assigned to watch him and give the now-standard argument in some Metropolia circles (Alaska, for example): we know your bishops are the best, that you alone have monasteries and spiritual centers, that you preserve Orthodoxy better than anyone else—but why pick on everyone else and judge them? I hope our new article by Fr. Azkoul will make it clear that the Synod is “judging” no one, only calling on all to stand up with us for Orthodoxy. The response to this is close to zero so far, but I think there’s more below the surface than appears in broad daylight and before long there will be solidarity shown in a few places, but not many. The Greek Church (Athens), by the way, has protested so strongly to Athenagoras against Moscow giving Communion to Catholics that I don’t see how they can avoid breaking off Communion with Moscow now—and that from the “ecumenist” Archbp. Ieronymos—one senses he feels the pressure of the Old Calendarists, who are apparently getting stronger. Meanwhile, even though Athenagoras did not recognize the autocephaly, the Metropolia is clinging to him, and Fr. Meyendorff writes in the new Orthodox Church that anyone who does not recognize Athenagoras as a genuine Orthodox Patriarch is simply “outside the communion of world Orthodoxy.” And this at a time when Athenagoras is being driven to wilder and wilder statements (he’s afraid that Moscow will turn out to be more modernist that he, and thus will take over the leadership of “world Orthodoxy”!), and when a Greek Archpriest in America (Fr. Dombalis) has seriously called for the canonization of Athenagoras while alive!!!

Truly, the Orthodox way in our times is not easy, and more and more we begin to look to the time of martyrdom. Our new issue has two articles on the Catacomb Church in Russia, and the relevancy to our own situation already becomes visible. We are beginning a collection of statements from the Metropolia on the situation in the USSR today (“things there are changing, full churches, happy people,” etc.), and its service to the Communist cause is only too apparent—and this at a time when many documents exist concerning the actual situation there, some of them positively bloodcurdling—such as Anatoly Marchenko’s My Testimony, which Gleb just read, concerning the satanic tortures he has undergone just recently (and for smuggling the book out he was put back in concentration camp) where he indicates that treatment is getting worse, if that is possible! The writer A. Kuznetsov (who recently escaped) writes: “If you are a citizen of Soviet Russia, you automatically cannot be a 100-per-cent decent person”; and Marchenko writes that when he was in freedom he couldn’t bear to look at happy, successful people, knowing how they had to sell their souls (and often help out in torturing others) in order to achieve this status. But Bp. Theodosius of Alaska says he was surprised how well off and happy people were...

As I see it, there are two great gifts that God has given Orthodox people today: in the Soviet world, the difficult gift of suffering, which by God’s grace will probably be the salvation of Russia; and in the free world, the gift of freedom—to speak and witness the truth and tell what is going on. How poorly this gift is being used among us—and how soon, perhaps, it will be taken from us. While there is daylight, we must speak out.

But I am being carried away, and my short note is going over into worktime. Already we are getting cooler weather and the leaves are turning yellow, and winter promises to be earlier and harder than last year. Vladika Anthony paid us a surprise visit two days ago and served Liturgy—probably drawn to us by the relic of St. Mamas (on whose day he came) which Fr. Panteleimon gave us in August. The day of our tonsure is tentatively set for Oct. 14/27, if Deacon Nicholas can help us get a church built by that time—a small chapel about the size of our printshop.

We look forward to seeing you before long. Please keep in mind that you are welcome to come and share our life here at any time, for a short or long time. If you get here early enough, you can spend the winter, and take turns with us going for the mail on snowshoes! Pray for us—and pray also for Archbishop Leonty of Chile and his flock—a Marxist government is about to be installed, and the future is uncertain. Archbishop Leonty has already been in prison in the USSR and served Catacomb Liturgies there and knows well the character of these times.

With love in Christ our Saviour,


Sept. 4/17, 1970
St. Ioasaph of Belgorod

Dear Brothers in Christ,

Rejoice in our Lord Jesus Christ!

We were most happy to receive your letter and hear of the existence of your Orthodox mission in Madrid. We will gladly enroll you as our regular subscribers, and we have already sent you copies of all the back issues that we still have—one copy of each issue for your library, and extra copies of issues that we thought might interest you especially and which you can distribute as you see fit.

We are sending your name also to two other places in America where people of our Russian Synod are publishing material in English: to Holy Trinity Monastery in New York, and St. Nectarios Church in Seattle, Washington, and they will undoubtedly send you their publications. Please tell us also if you are in contact with our missionary centers in Europe: with Fr. Basile Sakkos in Geneva (who publishes La Foi Transmise in French), with the St. Seraphim Brotherhood in England (which publishes a magazine in English), and the Dutch Orthodox mission in The Hague (some of whose members speak English). If not, we will send their addresses to you and you can establish contact with them also.

And truly, it is important for our small flock of true Orthodox Christians to have contact with each other, for the days are evil, and many seek to destroy the Orthodox Church today—even some of those who are called “Orthodox bishops.” Here in America we are very familiar with the apostasy of “Athenagoras & Co.,” and unfortunately the other national jurisdictions in America are hardly any better; all of them fraternize and pray with Catholics and Protestants and are ashamed to tell the heterodox that they have wandered far from the Truth, which is only in Orthodoxy. The members of our Russian Church Outside of Russia almost alone stand up and fight for the purity of our holy Orthodox doctrine and practice, and for this we are slandered and called names everywhere. But here at least we are perfectly free to speak the truth, which is not the case in many countries.

Please write us and tell us more about your Mission. How often and where do you have services? How did you discover the Orthodox Faith? What kind of difficulties do you have with the Greeks, the Catholics, etc? Please write us fully about yourselves.

We will send you regularly two copies of The Orthodox Word. If there are many of you and you need more copies than this, please tell us and we will send you more; we have a “missionary fund” for just such a purpose.

We ask your prayers for us. There are just two of us so far who do all the work on our publication, and it is often very slow and hard work. We are Brother Gleb and Brother Eugene. We look forward to hearing more from you.

With love in Christ the Saviour,


Sept. 8/21, 1970
Nativity of the Most Holy Mother of God

Dear Brothers in Christ, Lev [Puhalo] and Vassili,

Rejoice in our Lord Jesus Christ! We greet you on the feast which you so love, the Nativity of our Most Holy Theotokos, and wish you abundant spiritual joy in these holy days. These summer and fall feasts have been very important for us too, and have given us many important beginnings— and soon, God willing, will give us the beginning of our monasticism, too.

We are sorry to hear of your difficulties and sympathize with you in them. But of course they are also from God and doubtless are for your benefit, as Orthodox Christians and chosen of God. Only be patient and don’t get discouraged! The Apostle indeed, doubtless seeing how easily we become disheartened, repeats his words of encouragement for us: “Rejoice in the Lord always, and again I say, Rejoice!” So be it!

Please permit us to be quite bold and offer you an alternative to your present plans. Of course, if you are quite definite on going to Montreal, don’t let us dissuade you, but we have the impression that you are not that definite about it.

Perhaps we should not be so bold as to “invite” you here to share our poverty, for we have almost nothing to invite you to. But in all seriousness, if you have it in your hearts, you are more than welcome to come here and share what we have for a short or a long time. I will give you a word on the pros and cons.

Con: Our accommodations are limited and primitive, consisting of two buildings: printshop and living cabin (which now has something like 4 or 4 1/2 rooms, depending on how you count), with a reasonable capacity of four or five like-minded souls. This week, on orders from Archbishop Anthony, we are supposed to have help in building a small chapel, the back part of which could double as a study-room. There is a wood stove in each building and a 2-burner hotplate, but no water except what we carry in or collect from rain and snow, and a outdoor privy. Our winter, while mild by ;ast Coast standards, is severe enough by California standards: temperatures occasionally below 20 degrees, precipitation 40 to 50 inches, including anywhere between 2 feet (last winter) to upwards of 8 or 10 feet (2 years ago) of snow. From November to March, but especially in midwinter, we have almost complete isolation, including the possibility of being snowbound for a month or more (not last year, but this winter looks to be harsher); we have snowshoes, however, and the trip to town for mail and emergency rations is not really difficult (2 miles). For the time being, of course, we do not have a priest, and in the winter it may be several months between Liturgies, although last Christmas we were able to get out (to San Francisco). On Sundays and holy days we sing the Typika, in addition to the regular cycle of daily services.

Pro: A good library, chiefly in Russian, of Holy Fathers and basic Orthodox books; the daily cycle of services (as much as our strength allows), with ample opportunity to gain practice in reading and singing—we have all the Slavonic service books; daily reading of lives of saints and spiritual reading at trapeza; a common task—translating and printing for the spread of Orthodoxy in English.

Do you get the picture? It would probably be irresponsible to “invite” you to this, our Orthodox “refugee camp,” especially in winter, but if your hearts respond, do not hesitate to act. You would not in the least “inconvenience” us, so don’t give that a thought; it is we who would inconvenience you. Just remember that you have a place here. And to speak from the heart: we think you belong here, as someone who knows you in fact told us at the canonization.

Write us. And pray for us especially in these next weeks. God willing, on Oct. 14/27 Gleb and I will be tonsured here and what we have will become, such as it is, a monastic institution. Whether you are here or elsewhere (we’d like you to be here!) pray for us especially on that day.

With love in Christ our Saviour,
Eugene Rose


Oct. 17/30, 1970
St. Andrew of Crete

Dear brother in Christ, Daniel,

Greetings in our Lord Jesus Christ. By God’s grace your onetime brothers Gleb and Eugene are now (for four days already) Fathers Herman and Seraphim, and still overwhelmed by the magnitude of what has happened. Our humble place is now the St. Herman of Alaska Hermitage—already a contradiction, since our rule is coenobitic, but we just can’t find a more suitable translation for “Pustyn,” which is the name given us by the Synodal Ukase. After a time of some agitation and uncertainty—ten days of rain which ended only the day before our tonsure, which was a beautiful calm, sunny day (though cold), fear that the church wouldn’t be finished (it wasn’t, but we managed to put up temporary walls and roof), both of our trucks broke down, etc.—we are now in our fourth day of calm monastic life, although of course not without trials. We were unable to follow the full monastic custom of spending five days in church, or even three (as in Jordanville), but Vladika Nektary stayed over for a second day and so we did spend the better part of two days in church and received Holy Communion both days. And now we are alone, trying to adjust to our now somewhat stricter rule of life, reading the holy Fathers and praying for guidance in our still somewhat uncertain first days until we shall be confirmed in our permanent rule of life—with, God willing, our own priest to serve Liturgy and keep our good Archbishop from worrying about us. Already we’ve had a sign of how close God is to us, for on our first trip to the post office after our tonsure we found a letter from our longtime friend Priest-monk Theodore (one of Vladika John’s orphans from Shanghai), who for several years has been priest at an Old-Calendarist convent in Greece and now unexpectedly is in America and wants to come to us right away—whether for a short or long time only God knows, but he was a member of our Brotherhood from the beginning, and his sudden reappearance now after so many years is surely providential. Please pray for him.

What more is there to say? Our new Orthodox Word weighs upon us, and now we must get back into the rhythm of a full working life. The new issue will be double and will be mostly devoted to the canonization, with a great many pictures. There is a great deal else we should be doing—getting our wood supply ready (the nearby mountains are already covered with snow and our cold season has started), finishing our kitchen on the balcony, building new kellias—but we have only four hands and must do what our strength allows. Fortunately Deacon Nicholas has taken the building of the church entirely in his hands and—except for last week when we worked full time with him—we can concentrate on printing.

Our future here—is in God's hands. Everything that has happened so far is so much beyond us that we don’t even dare dream of the future. We are trying to go forward one step at a time, watching out for a fall, and trusting in the prayers of Vladika John, who is surely with us now—in fact, in these days we have seen the realization of two prophecies (if it is not too bold to use that word) which he made to us. But we will tell you of those in person.

Pray for us, and let us hear from you soon.

With love in Christ our Saviour,
Sinful Monk Seraphim

P.s. Just imagine the names that were given us! And Vladika Anthony didn’t even realize that the day of our tonsure was the namesday of Abbot Nazary of both Sarov and Valaam! (the one who is mentioned in the service.) Glory be to God!


Oct. 25/Nov. 7, 1970
Martyrs Martyrius and Marcian

Dear Brothers in Christ [in Madrid],

Rejoice in the Lord! Please forgive us for such a delay in answering your last letter. Since that time the two of us who live here permanently have been tonsured monks and are now Fathers Herman and Seraphim, and our monastery is the St. Herman of Alaska Hermitage.

In answer to your question, the address of the St. Seraphim Brotherhood in England is: c/o Nicolas Mabin, 8 Golders Green Crescent, London NW 11, England. I am sure they will gladly send you their Orthodox Chronicle.

We have great sympathy for your problems as a young mission; in fact we have some of the same problems ourselves, and we are quite poor. Right now the only help we can give you is to send our publications. A friend of ours who has lived in Brazil says he can obtain some liturgical books in the Portuguese language—would this help you, or is the language too much different?

We will be very interested to know whether you had any special commemoration of the canonization of St. Herman of Alaska, or will have the service to him on his feast day (Dec. 12/25). Also, what icon you have of him—the one from Holy Transfiguration Monastery in Boston, or another one?

We hope you have received by now the first copies we sent of The Orthodox Word. You will notice there that we have already devoted some attention to the Western saints of the Orthodox Church, and we hope to print much more about them. We would be most interested to receive from you the lives of your patron saints, or information on any other Spanish Orthodox saints.

We ask your prayers for us,

With love in Christ our Saviour,
Sinful Monk Seraphim


Oct. 30/Nov. 12, 1970
Martyrs Zenobius and Zenobia

Dear Father David [Black],

Thank you for your frank letter to Br. Gleb of some weeks ago. Although, of course, your tone was distressing to us, we very much appreciate knowing how you really feel, so that real differences and misunderstandings between us will not be glossed over by polite words. Please permit me to be now just as frank.

We must confess to being uninformed on one point: just what is this “literature,” these “irresponsible mailings” to which you refer as containing “vicious untruths” designed to mislead the faithful? As for our Orthodox Word, we can understand that you do not share the point of view expressed in some articles there; but I am quite certain that there is nothing there that could reasonably be called a “vicious untruth.” If you are referring, therefore, to some other literature of which we do not know, please tell us about it, and if possible send it to us. If there are, indeed, “vicious untruths” there, we would be as anxious as you are to have this situation corrected. The true issues at stake are much too important to approach them with any but the highest standards of integrity.

What are these issues? We have the distinct impression that you have not faced up to them. In your letter you are still talking around them. The question is not who is more “pious” than the other, who keeps or breaks more canons, or how many unedifying cases one can find in the other “jurisdiction.” No one has said that piety or faithfulness to canons are the “special virtues” of the Synod. Of course there are pious and impious, strict and lax, alike in several jurisdictions. But in a day when traditional Orthodox piety is literally trampled on and despised in the highest circles (especially, of course, by Athenagoras and Iakovos), and when through lack of inspiration or examples the faithful are losing the very essence of Orthodox life, it is necessary to defend it and to point out shining examples of it in our day—and these, whether one likes it or not, are chiefly to be found in the Synod.

What about ecumenism? Entertain whatever abstract ideas you like about “good ecumenism,” —can’t you see that those who invented it understand it in a heretical sense, and they see Orthodox involvement in it as a more or less grudging acceptance of that heresy?—or that the actual practice of it is literally dissolving the fabric of the Orthodoxy of those who participate (“the Truth which we have not known”; “refound your Church,” invocations of “Saints” Gandhi, Martin Luther King, etc.). Don’t you see that no one speaks out unequivocally about this except the Synod (and please don’t cite the Metropolias episde of a year or two ago that was condemned by the people in the Metropolia itself for its compromising, lukewarm spirit!), and that Metropolitan Philaret’s heartfelt and truly Orthodox appeal to all Orthodox bishops found no response in the Metropolia except for Fr. Schmemann’s inaccurate and evasive reply wherein he does not answer the Metropolitan’s points, but ³nstead argues ad hominem, trying to discredit the Synod’s right to speak the truth to other Orthodox bishops. If the Metropolia is really not soft on ecumenism—then let us see a straightforward epistle from her hierarchs, calling Athenagoras and Iakovos (by name—that is the only brotherly Orthodox way!) to account and showing solidarity with Metropolitan Philaret—but on the contrary, the Metropolia runs away from Metropolitan Philaret straight into the arms of Moscow, which is currently competing with Constantinople for the lead in spectacular un-Orthodox acts and statements, and Fr. Meyendorff states that anyone outside of communion with Athenagoras (I believe you realize he is a heretic?) is outside the Orthodox Church.

And Moscow? No one has said that the Metropolia is “soft on Communism”; that is not the question at all. But cannot you see that the position [into] which the Metropolias act has put its own clergy and faithful is such as to make them, willing or not, apologists for the Moscow Patriarchate and, directly or indirectly, for the Communist Government in back of it—this against the best information available in the West concerning Soviet agents inside the Patriarchate (which your Metropolia apologists accept). And against the witness of the brave protesters within the Patriarchate in the USSR, who openly call their hierarchs traitors to Orthodoxy, not to mention other more personal names. Your best people become such apologists—witness your own Bp. Theodosius and his remarks “life is not uncomfortable, people are not unhappy.... We have to reassess our ideas of life in the Soviet Union,” etc. Such remarks can be excused only on the grounds of absolute ignorance—of the prison camps and tortures behind those “not unhappy” people, of the most recent testimony such as that in the book of A. Marchenko (My Testimony), articles and press conferences of A. Kuznetsov, etc., etc. that prison treatment is if anything getting worse, that the only “happy” people are those who escaped the concentration camps through hypocrisy and (often) through willingness to torture others, that “it is impossible to be a Soviet citizen and at the same time a decent human being.” (These are from people who lived the Soviet Life.) Even Bp. Theodosius, in his ignorance, becomes the apologist of the bestial Soviet system—but he literally has to, in order to defend his own position. No, you are not “soft on Communism,” but you are beyond all doubt the dupes of the very skillful politicians of the Soviet Patriarchate.

I hope you will read carefully our new Orthodox Word with its two articles on the Catacomb Church. You will see then that is not only we in the free world, but those over there as well (who have earned the right to their judgment by the tortures which they have undergone for Christ and Orthodoxy) who do not accept the Moscow Sergianists. And perhaps you will begin to see that our uncompromising rejection of the Metropolias concordat with Moscow has nothing to do with theoretical concepts of “canonicity,” but is part of the very life-blood of our Orthodoxy; this concordat is not “uncanonical”—it is treason to the Russian Church and to her new martyrs. You cannot begin to imagine the profound sorrow and tears the “autocephaly” has caused us. And if now representatives of the Metropolia begin to deny the existence of the Catacomb Church (we expect they will, for that is the Moscow “line”—in defiance of present-day documents and information in the Soviet press-—this will only be another indication of that instinctive “defense-mechanism” which forces the Metropolia into an ardent defense of “Sergianism” with all its propaganda line. And even if not a single Catacomb Christian could be found, that would not change the truth of the Catacomb position in 1927— attested in numerous documents—nor would it make Sergianism true or Orthodox.

When you talk of reconciliation, therefore, you are truly seeing things through rose-colored glasses. In 1946 the Metropolia slapped the Synod in the face and kicked her bishops out (have you really not read that disgraceful history?); in 1970 she betrays the Russian Church entirely. To what, then, are we supposed to be reconciled? To total lack of principle? To the “spirit of the times”? The conscience of your own “silent minority” of older Russian priests is not at ease; should we betray them too by joining you? Our bishops for 25 years have been kind and over-kind, preserving Orthodoxy and being ready at any time for full reconciliation, with no loss of “autonomy” to the Metropolia; but the Metropolia has never wanted this, but waited the time when she could make her separate terms with Moscow—which, you must surely know, has “excommunicated” us just as she had “excommunicated” you—you yourself, in fact, were not even a priest of God until April 9, 1970, if you accept the canonicity of Moscow! The Metropolia has chosen her path—then what rosy-pink idea of Christianity must you have to turn to us for “reconciliation” now? Orthodoxy is more serious than that!

And whatever you may say of “certain circles” of the Synod, I can assure you that our bishops and our priests and most devoted faithful think as we do. Bishop Nektary certainly does, however polite he may be on the telephone; Archbishop John Maximovitch most emphatically did; and as for Father Gerasim,—the fact that he remained in communion with the Metropolia while considering himself a priest of the Synod should not mislead you into rosy ideas about him either. His past statements leave no doubt whatever as to which side he would have been on today; and his correspondence, of which we have seen a large part, contains some statements about the Metropolia and its clergy (by name) that are so strong we would rather not print them.

What, then, would you have us do when our conscience says that the Church has been betrayed? Keep silent—when we are free (for God knows how much longer!) and can speak the truth as we see it? St. Mark of Ephesus was not silent, though he was called a troublemaker; St. Maximus the Confessor would not keep his opinion to himself, even though this “confused” the faithful: the whole history of the Church is an inspiration to us to cry with a loud voice when the Church has been wronged.

You doubtless disagree. But I hope you can at least glimpse the depth and sincerity of what the “autocephaly” has inspired. “Autocephaly,” by the way, is surely a euphemism for the event that has occurred, when the Metropolia remains exactly what it was, when Moscow keeps every one of its parishes and even sends a new bishop and priests, when no Churches outside the Soviet block recognize it and Athenagoras calls it “non-existent” (and surely we will be allowed to agree with Athenagoras when he speaks the truth?). No, what has occurred is a concordat, a “legalization” of the Metropolia like that of the Soviet Patriarchate in 1927; and if you and the vast majority of even the clergy of the Metropolia were not in fact ignorant of Russian Church history for the last 43 years you would know that Metropolitan Sergius’ act in 1927 was condemned by many bishops in the USSR as initiating a “neo-renovationist schism,” that those bishops were imprisoned and/or killed because they opposed Sergius, and that therefore in your ignorance you are not only receiving “legalization” from a neo-renovationist schismatic body but are acting fully in accord with the Soviet “new church politics” whose aim is to use the Church to destroy itself, after giving maximum benefit to the Soviet Government itself. At the very least, you should have refrained from any kind of concordat when there is the slightest doubt that any of this might not be false, and when the majority of free Russian hierarchs do not agree with you; you should have waited (even [if] it takes a hundred years—truth is that important for the Church!) for a true and free All-Russian Council, instead of accepting the poisoned gift of the Moscow Robber Council.

I am perhaps being unjust when I say “you,” as if you agreed with everything that has been done; but as a matter of fact, whether you agree or not, you are responsible before God and before the Church for what has been done if you do not speak or act against it. And I fear that you will find, if you wish to remain in favor in the Metropolia, that you will have to agree with what has been done, and you will have to apologize for it when it is attacked, and that—unless you are fully in accord with it, which we cannot believe—you will defend it for psychological reasons (because we and other “trouble-makers” are attacking it) and not for reasons of conscience.

You talk about the “unity” of your diocese and the “Orthodox preaching” of your bishop, as though these existed in a vacuum that has nothing to do with the betrayal from on high of your whole Church, in which your bishop very activity participated (doubtless in ignorance—may God forgive him!). By our articles in The Orthodox Word we have no intention to fragment your “unity,” but only to speak the truth. Where that truth leads, we firmly believe, is in the hands of God—and, for Alaska, St. Herman.

And if St. Herman is truly God-pleasing—as no one now doubts—and the Metropolia’s concordat with Moscow is really the monstrous betrayal we firmly believe it to be: then it can scarcely be that Alaska will escape troubles. You perhaps think it evil of us to have connected St. John of Kronstadt with the burning of St. Michael’s Cathedral—but Orthodox piety has always taken such “coincidences” most seriously. And such acts are signs of God’s love, for “whom God loveth, He chastizeth.” May St. Herman act less severely, yet just as openly, for the salvation of Alaska!

There, dear Father, I have spoken my mind and heart, and my conscience is clear and without any bitterness. Please forgive me if anything has offended you. And please, Father, has a litde charity toward Fr. Elias Armistead—he is surely not a “creature” in the sense you mean! We know very little about his activity there; but if there is any serious canonical irregularity there, our Church is surely no less anxious than yours to have it corrected. We would appreciate hearing any facts that disturb you.

In general, as I said at the beginning, we are not in possession of all the information that apparently inspired your letter and we hope you will enlighten us on this. But your tone sounds a little bitter, and I pray that will not last. The past of Orthodox Alaska has seen many sorrows and disappointments, and only God knows what the future holds. May His will be done, through the prayers of St. Herman and—if we can be so bold—of Father Gerasim. Amen.

Since I began this letter, Br. Gleb and I have been tonsured monks, and are now Fathers Herman and Seraphim, by God’s grace.

With love in Christ our Saviour,
Sinful Monk Seraphim

P.s. We hope you will continue to send us Orthodox Alaska—but since we are literally without funds we hope you will consider it as an exchange for your own subscription to The Orthodox Word.

Letters of Fr. Seraphim Rose


Dec, 28/Jan. 10, 1970/71
Sunday after Christmas

Dear Brother in Christ, Lavrenty [Campbell],

Rejoice in the Lord! We tried to call you Friday night to tell of the conclusion of our visit with its trials (from Elena Yurevna’s), but no answer. I rested at her place for a while, while Fr. Herman conversed, and we left in time to reach here safely by daybreak Saturday.

As you are our brother, and furthermore are directly exposed to Vladika Anthony, I must give you a brief outline of our most unpleasant experience with him. Please keep it to yourself, but do not forget it either.

Thank you for your phone call of Friday morning. While we were quite conscious of our obligation to visit Vlad. Anthony on the way back, we would not at all have been prepared for what happened if you hadn’t warned us. You sounded quite troubled by what Vladika told you about us; and undoubtedly you had cause. Frankly, I think the man is sick—and his disease is the state of being unable to trust anyone except himself, which leads him to build fantasies out of nothing—either much better or much worse than they really are.

Of course, we ourselves are to blame for not trying harder to see him before anyone else—I called his upstairs phone without even thinking that he was very likely downstairs and we made a few other mistakes like that. But others are more debatable—that we were obliged to be at the late Liturgy so everyone (or at least Vlad.) could look at us, etc. But all this is secondary and was only a pretext for Vlad s real concern: to show that he is our boss, that we will do nothing without him, that otherwise we are “disobedient” and he will reform us or break us trying. And the means he uses are cheap: he made me wait downstairs for 2 hours while, using every trick of Russian psychology (I, being an American, am apparently unimportant and will simply do whatever the Russians tell me!), he shouted and bullied Fr. Herman to tears and breakdown, until Fr. H. finally rallied himself to give it back to him punch for punch. I meanwhile was in a similar state downstairs, and barely overmastered the temptation to do something desperate like break in on them and demand to hear for myself what was being done to my brother and our monastery. (I haven’t prayed so fervently, especially to our real Vladika downstairs, in a long time!) I was finally ushered in to attend the rather calm conclusion to the whole affair, when Vlad s wrath was finally changed into something resembling mercy.

Legitimate chastisement from ecclesiastical superiors should begin and end in mutual trust and without undue disturbance. But we for two days have been turned inside out and have no peace, feeling our very consciences to be violated. I have experienced one of the greatest disillusionments of my life, and both of us have been given a wound that will last for life. Vlad, had loosed his very demons on us, and something is dreadfully wrong. He has “played” at being Staretz and Abbot, and it is a grim game, [letter ends]


Jan. 4/17, 1971
The 70 Apostles

Dear Father in Christ, Panteleimon,

The spiritual bond between you and your Synodia and our small Brotherhood has always been most close. Years ago you offered us refuge if we should ever need it, and we offered the same to you when you came and saw for yourself the wilderness which God and Vladika John have given into our keeping. And so now we turn to you before anyone else in a time of great trial and crisis for us, begging your counsel and your prayers. We will also consult with several of the Russian clergy (bishops) before making any decisive step, but your advice will be of especial value to us, inasmuch as our very existence is for the sake of the American Orthodox Mission. And we feel most strongly that at this moment our existence is in grave danger.

The danger before us is by no means a new one in the history of the Church; it concerns the independence of a monastery in the face of the power of the local bishop. I will give you a rather detailed account of the events of the past months so that you can get as full a picture as possible of our situation.

In several brief meetings with our Archbishop Anthony in the months before our tonsure, the subject of our status after tonsure was discussed in rather general and indefinite terms. I was a little disturbed even then that on two occasions Vladika took Fr. Herman aside to speak to him privately on these matters (undoubtedly because he is Russian and thus easier to communicate with), because in everything we have done we have always acted together and in absolute unanimity, doing nothing without the other's blessing. But such was our trust and confidence in Vladika Anthony, and our sense of the blessing and presence of Vladika John and the rightness of our path (on which we have been led quite beyond our own will and our own powers), that we could not harbor suspicions of any kind right up to the day of our tonsure. We were aware that Vladika Anthony was to be, purely formally and temporarily, our “Abbot” for the sake of tonsuring us, and that then or soon he was to appoint one of us to this position, as he had promised. This also we did not especially welcome, but we understood that once a “monastery” was organized (which we had not asked for; we only asked Vladika to tonsure us, being afraid of too grandiose ideas) some kind of “Abbot” was of course required, although our principle of mutual counsel would continue as before. Then, shortly before our tonsure Vladika Anthony shocked us by inquiring whether we would consider moving away to some place with water and conveniences for the sake of those who would join us; and we were hard pressed to get Vladika to see that there was no one in sight who was about to join us, and that in any case it would not be water and conveniences that would attract like-minded people, not to mention the fact that it was due to the evident help of Vladika John, after our fervent prayer to him, that we obtained this land. We were so concerned over Vladika Anthony’s seemingly unrealistic plans for us that we immediately wrote him a letter explaining our position more fully (we sent a copy of this letter to Bishop Laurus); and he replied in writing with seeming understanding and with the statement that he would apply no “episcopal pressure” of any kind on us.

Finally, the day of our tonsure arrived, and we cannot doubt that God’s blessing led us to this decisive act of our lives, truly a second baptism. After the tonsure Vladika Anthony announced the opening (by Synodal Ukase) of the St. Herman of Alaska Hermitage, with himself as Abbot for the time being. His title was proclaimed by the deacon during several ektanias, which made us, despite ourselves, a little uneasy. Then, after the trapeza, he announced, in the presence of Vladika Nektary and our Staretz, Fr. Spyridon, that both of us were to be ordained hieromonks within five days. This caused astonishment to both of us, as we thought that Vladika had informed us that this question would not be raised for some time. In our present state of overwork and with no place to serve Liturgy during the winter (our church is not even half finished), the question was impractical in any case, and such a rapid and radical change of our status we felt to be a threat to what we already had. Our urgent plea to be allowed to establish ourselves in the monastic life finally dissuaded Vladika, although he was greatly displeased and announced that he felt personally offended, but that our “disobedience” might be spiritually beneficial for us. Vladika Nektary comforted us after this incident, and indeed came to our defense in front of Vladika.

In the three months since then we have been hard at work preparing and printing our canonization issue of The Orthodox Word in the face of cold weather, much snow, and mechanical difficulties. We are quite aware that the monastic life is not supposed to be easy, and also that we must be prepared to accept responsibilities that we would frankly rather avoid—for our very status as a missionary monastery is an open invitation to American truth-seekers and would-be monks to come and disturb our blessed peace and quiet, even if only to find out how unworthy we are. Whether God will bless a larger or smaller missionary community here, or whether we will remain two “crazy monks in the forest,” we are prepared to accept anything that God sends us in furtherance of the cause which Vladika John blessed and which brought us here: the mission of the Orthodox printed word, especially in English.

On the day before Christmas, much against our own inclination, we left on a 3-day trip to San Francisco to fulfill what we felt to be our obligations: to receive Holy Communion on the feast day, to pay our respects to the Archbishop, to visit Marina (who for months has urgently wanted to talk to me about her troubles of the last months, most of which you know about) and Mrs. Kontzevitch (who needed to talk to Fr. Herman), and to pay a brief visit to our mothers in Monterey. We left only with much forcing of our will, because the moment we left our Hermitage we felt extremely unsafe and uneasy, and the very thought that we would have to appear in church before everyone, wearing our mantias (which we thought was required of us) persuaded us that we were simply hypocrites who were going to show ourselves off and therefore increase the totally unjustified and unrealistic awe and respect which many people in San Francisco (who are far away and so respect the idea behind us without seeing our many faults and sins at close range), apparently have for us. The warning of the Saviour, “Beware when all men shall think well of you,” has long troubled us.

After stopping in Redding to pick up a metal part which we had ordered to replace a part of our printing press that had broken a few days earlier, we passed through Berkeley and stopped there to see if we could drive Mrs. Kontzevitch to church in San Francisco. She was already waiting for a ride with someone else, and so we spent a brief hour with her before going to San Francisco, where we arrived only in time for the beginning of the Vigil service, without being able to stop first and pay our respects to the Archbishop, as we had hoped, knowing that he is rather sensitive about such things. After entering the Cathedral, we immediately went into the Altar and received the Archbishop’s blessing. After the service he asked us if we would stay with him, and we replied that we would be staying with Deacon Nicholas Porshnikov, as we always do (reading our rule of prayer together with him), making a particular point of trying to nourish the spark which he has within him and which could, God willing, become a flame of great service to Christs Church. He too has an exaggerated opinion of us, but we feel responsible for him in that he has told us more than once that the very idea of our existence in the wilderness is the one thing that keeps him alive in the face of what he finds an extremely discouraging time. He told us long ago that Vladika Anthony had destroyed the spark within him, but we attributed this to his immaturity and emotional temperament; in recent months he has served only rarely, and the fact that he served at the canonization and several times recently in the new Cathedral is owing chiefly if not entirely to us.

On Christmas morning we attended the early Liturgy, as we have always done in the past (except for the day of canonization, when we attended both Liturgies), and had hoped to leave right away for Monterey; but Marina had persuaded us to have lunch at her house, and then we hoped to see Vladika briefly. From Marinas I called Vladika at his upstairs phone, and received no answer; as it turned out, he was apparently downstairs where I somehow didn’t even think of calling. Therefore, as it was already almost dark, we decided to go to Monterey and return by noon the next day to see Vladika on the way back to Platina. We read the Vespers service in the car on the way.

On leaving Monterey in the morning (neither of our mothers had given us any difficulties at all, at which we marveled and thought: our trip has been too smooth, probably Vladika will give us trouble!) we stopped at the St. Seraphim church, where Fr. Gregory was about to begin the Liturgy. We talked with him for a few minutes and then left, anxious to get to Vladika in San Francisco by noon.

Dear Father, please forgive me for burdening you with all these details; but perhaps you will be able to see in some of them where our heart and soul are and give us a word of advice. Here we are alone. We have our Russian friends and advisers among the clergy, but they do not see us as we really are, but place us in some Russian frame of reference which does not encompass that mission to which God has evidently called us and Vladika John blessed. Please be patient!

Already before we left Monterey, Laurence Campbell had called me and warned me that Vladika Anthony was extremely angry at us, and that to his (Laurence's) great disturbance Vladika was saying things about us which did not seem at all true or fair. At any rate, we were at least a little prepared for what followed.

Shortly after noon we arrived to find Vladika at trapeza. He received us with extreme coldness, and none of us said more than a word or two while eating.

Then he called us to his quarters—rather, he called Fr. Herman, and had me sit below for two hours alone. At this I was extremely upset, and imagined to myself that my brother was sitting upstairs being subjected to all the tricks of Russian psychology in order to force him into some kind of breakdown—for what crimes and to what purpose I did not know, knowing only that I would be expected meekly to accept the result, as an American “without rights.” My imaginings, it turned out, were precisely correct. I have not prayed so hard, especially to our Vladika John in front of his kellia, in many, many months. I looked at the portrait of the Tsar-Martyr and begged him to help us too! It was evident immediately that a powerful monastic temptation had struck us; and while rejoicing that our path was now not too smooth, that at least someone was no longer “thinking well” of us, I already feared for the very existence of our young Hermitage and of our entire work.

After two hours I was ushered upstairs to hear the rather quiet conclusion of the whole event. Vladika informed me that he was very disappointed in us because we did not see him first to receive his blessing to go to Marinas, to Monterey, etc., because we wore our mantias (not proper for visiting monks)—for which he thought of depriving us of them for a while so we would not show them off— because we did not attend the late Liturgy so that people (and he himself) could look at us, because we went to confession to our former secular priest instead of visiting our Starets in Palo Alto, not to mention lesser transgressions such as not staying with him, etc. To this I begged forgiveness, as Fr. Herman had done. But one other point astonished me: he complained of recently receiving a letter from us in which (as we had orally agreed with him months before) we spoke of presenting the Rule of our Hermitage for his approval, and we apologized for not presenting it by Dec. 12/25 as we had promised. He told us now that it was not for us to present our Rule to him, but for him to give us a Rule. In conclusion he had decided that he had misplaced his confidence in us and had mistakenly tonsured us without sufficient trial, and that now he would have to see how we pass through his trials of us. He then smiled, gave us a cake and two bottles of wine, and blessed us to leave.

From Fr. Herman I learned that in the preceding two hours Vladika had indeed played fully on the Russian psychology, had shouted, bullied, pointed out the monastic vows accused him of disobedience to his Abbot, using crude language and telling him that he had not been “tonsured in a barbershop,” and in general brought Fr. Herman to tears and breakdown in front of him. Finally Fr. Herman in desperation replied to Vladika in the same manner, and to his dismay he found that Vladika liked this kind of combat and in general gave the impression of “playing” at being Abbot and threatening with his authority, etc. In substance Fr. Herman protested that Vladika had blessed us as an independent church organization and should leave us alone, to which Vladika loudly stated: “I will not leave you alone!” And he proceeded to tell him of those monastic obediences which we should owe him as Abbot: not to write anyone or invite anyone to come to us without his blessing, to sign over our property to him, to have our publications supervised by him, etc. etc.

Dear Father, I can only say that from this meeting I have received one of the greatest disillusionments of my life, and both Fr. Herman and I have been given a wound that will last all our lives. I cannot say that we had not been warned. Vladika Nektary had warned us that Vladika Anthony will allow no individual initiative within his Archdiocese and that he feels himself to be his slave, and that his attempt to take away Vladika Nektary's podvorye had so exasperated Vladika Nektary that he had replied to him: “You can talk about this to my lawyer.” Father Alexei Poluektov had told us of his extremely bitter experience with him in his own parish, and how under the guise of “confirming” the printed word he has been smothering Fr. Alexeis own printing activity, taking and keeping manuscripts without further word. Deacon Nicholas Porshnikov had described his own unpleasant experience which had completely destroyed his trust in his own Archbishop. And others had warned us in the most alarming terms, even telling us not to put our fingers in his mouth or “he will bite them off.” All these warnings we attributed to the particular circumstances of these individuals, and our trust in our Archbishop did not waver. Now this trust and confidence has been completely and absolutely shattered. Perhaps we know nothing of monasticism, but we nonetheless firmly believe that in the Church of Christ a legitimate chastisement from ones ecclesiastical superiors should be carried out in mutual trust and end in a peaceful state for all concerned; I myself was on several occasions chastised by Vladika John and always felt the rightness of the chastisement and benefitted from it. But for over a week now we are completely upset and almost despair over our very future and the future of The Orthodox Word.

Dear Father, please understand that our concern is not that we have been chastised for our monastic transgressions; whether justly or unjustly accused of them, we will gladly bow down in obedience to our Archbishop, who indeed tonsured us, and follow his advice in future trips to San Francisco. Further, our concern is not that in administering this chastisement to us our Archbishop used means which we feel to be utterly wrong and extremely painful to us, and which have only served to undermine and destroy the mutual trust and confidence which existed between us until now. This is a secondary and transitory matter, even though it has left a deep scar in both of us. And we have no personal feelings whatever against our Archbishop, and no desire to cause him any trouble or shake his legitimate authority in any way. We understand also that Vladika Anthony had only the highest motives in all that he said to us: to uphold his own authority and to apply a chastisement in order to make “real monks” of us (in his own understanding!); he even told us that one day we would be in his position and administering the same kind of chastisement to others—to which Fr. Herman cried out from his heart: “God forbid!”

Rather, what we are deeply concerned about is that this incident has revealed Vladika Anthony’s hitherto hidden idea of what we are as a church organization; perhaps, indeed, he used this incident as a pretext to make this known to us. Vladika Anthony believes—in complete contradiction of our oral understanding with him before our tonsure that we are simply monks in absolute dependence on and obedience to him alone as “abbot.” But this conception of our Hermitage can result in nothing but the total destruction of what we have built up for seven years now, and it is based on nothing but the Archbishop’s own purely external preconceptions of us.

In Vladika Anthony’s conception our Hermitage is evidently a Diocesan institution of which Vladika is Abbot and dictator, and wherein nothing will be done without his express blessing. He himself, I believe, has only come to this conception gradually, through feeling out our weaknesses, and now he feels that the time has come to strike out for his conception. But now that we look back we can see many signs that very early Vladika Anthony did not see us for what we are and are doing, but that even then he was already fitting us into his own picture of what we should or could be in his Diocese. Thus, when we first told him of our plan to move to Platina he smiled and said: “I am not against having a monastery in my Diocese.” On the day of our tonsure, when he could not persuade us to accept priesthood immediately, he shook his head and said: “But what am I going to say at the Synod?”—meaning obviously that he had already informed the Synod of his plans for us, which did not in the least correspond with our own ideas. (To this Vladika Nektary very sensibly told him: “Just tell the Synod the way it is; there should be no problem in that!” On that same day, just before the services and our tonsure (as if as a final temptation of the devil to dissuade us at the last moment from this decisive step) Vladika Nektary informed us that at the Synod and everywhere else everyone was talking about us, and report had it that we would be ordained priests within the week, would soon rise in the clergy ranks, and “you won't be here very long!” etc. etc. And what kind of spiritual picture must Vladika Anthony have of us if in October he considered mature enough to become immediately hieromonks (i.e., already spiritual fathers) and in January, for the sins which I enumerated above— which we, in spite of ourselves, cannot see as anything more than formal and external—he loses all trust in us and feels it needful to take us over completely?

Our own picture, which we have built up over seven years, is this: we must follow exactly the Synod s Ukase which founded our Hermitage: “to conduct in the monastic calling the very same missionary and publishing work which they have conducted up to this time.” There are only two changes in our present status: our Brotherhood has become a Hermitage, and we have entered the monastic calling. God willing, our missionary and publishing work will continue and expand, but it will do so only under the previously-existing conditions of independence and freedom. The Orthodox Word cannot be censored: Vladika John blessed us to print without censorship, and he only made occasional suggestions and we came to him on doubtful points. For the rest, we take most seriously into account your opinion and the opinion of other of our fathers and try to print nothing solely on our own authority. Even the Zeytoon article to which you took such exception we printed only after long talks with Archimandrite Cyprian of Jordanville, who really talked us into it and overcame our doubts; and Vladika Anthony himself looked at all the pictures in that article before the issue was printed. (At that time we did not even suspect the existence of a contrary opinion in the Greek press.) This is a policy of prudence and council and mutual trust, which censorship would utterly destroy. Again, to fulfill our monastic and missionary function we must be absolutely free and trusted to write to whom we feel the need, we must be able to tell anyone at a moment s notice to come here in time of trouble, we must have all authority to dismiss troublemakers, and in a word we cannot afford the idle luxury of waiting while someone 250 miles away, on the basis of opinion and hearsay, makes our decisions for us. There are at least 5 or 6 people to whom we have confidentially said: If ever you have trouble or need, this is a place of refuge for you. Now this would become impossible.

But of all this, as an abbot, you yourself are much more aware than we, and I write it down only to clarify my own thoughts.

Dear Father: You know us well enough to know that we are in all things obedient and respectful of legitimate ecclesiastical authority, and that we have never tried to impose any kind of authority over others (this if anything is our great weakness!) or seek for ourselves any kind of position or tide in the Church. But if it now comes down to practicing “humility” and “obedience” and allowing a complete outsider to take over and destroy our work, our conscience will not allow it. (Please tell us if we are wrong!) Vladika Anthony has never given any comments on The Orthodox Word and has told us that he does not read it; he knows nothing of our daily life or ride of prayer and asked nothing about these even on the day of tonsure, by which we assumed that he gave his blessing for us to continue as we are with full trust in us, our relation to him being exactly that of St. Sergius of Radonezh to the Abbot Metrophan who tonsured him and then left him alone in the wilderness; he knows nothing of Americans or of the needs of the American Mission and has never spoken to either of us about these things, even though the Synodal Gramota and Ukase have blessed us precisely as a “missionary” organization. In a word, he is not capable of assuming responsibility before God, as Abbot, of our work.

And worse, as we now see: he views everything in his Diocese precisely as a “Diocesan” activity for which he alone is responsible—and if we let him do it The Orthodox Word too would become a Diocesan publication, and there are already a number of articles which he would doubtless not have allowed us to print (for reasons of his personal taste) if he had been censoring us as he would now like to do.

We have thus been led into a situation where, in order to preserve our independence and continue our Orthodox Word as before, we will have sooner or later to show open “disobedience” to our Archbishop, insofar as he regards himself as our “Abbot.” And we believe that he, being of an extremely dominating character, will try to crush this “disobedience” even if he has to break us or destroy our work in doing it. I am not exaggerating! For Vladika Anthony there exists no other principle except the authority of the Archbishop. We had only to mention to him the word “Stavropignialny” in connection with the independence of our Hermitage to cause him to shout: “Too late! That will never be!”

Now you have the picture of the crisis which is upon us. In our minds there is only one way out, and that is to become absolutely independent of Archbishop Anthony Since the Synod (without our approval) has made him temporary Abbot, we will have to petition the Synod to let us have an abbot from among our own number, while granting us Stavropignialny status, dependent directly on the Synod. Before doing this we will have to do what, if we were wiser, we should have done before our tonsure: let Vladika Anthony know exactly how we regard ourselves, in writing; to which he will give us a reply which should state clearly enough how different his own conception of us is. The unfortunate part of this is that Vladika will most certainly not give up his hold over us without a fight; and since he occupies an important position on the Synod, we already have much against us. It should not be too difficult to paint a suitable picture of us: young, self-willed, proud, disobedient, untrustworthy, milk-drinking novices, etc. Our only defence will be people like you who know us and our work and can say a word for us—not to defend our words against an Archbishops words, but simply to speak of us as we are.

We are most eager to hear your comments and to have your advice. Now, as always before in our activities in the Church, we wish to act not on the basis solely of our own opinion, but with the counsel of others wiser than we. Also, any advice you might give us as to the form or content of a petition to the Synod, as well as of the Rule which we should submit to the Synod, would be most welcome. Your monastery is the model which we wish to follow for our own “American monastery in regard to organization, independence, etc.

Please use your discretion in revealing the contents of this letter to others. We would wish, however, that the letter itself not be shown to anyone at the Synod, in order to protect the people mentioned therein. Also, I have written extremely frankly and in a way which would not be understood by those who do not know us well. We firmly believe that Vladika Anthony will stop at nothing to get his way with us as well as with others—not because he has bad intentions, but because he is possessed to an extreme degree with the sense of his own authority and rights. We sorrow all the more over the necessity of writing this letter in that we sincerely love and pity our Archbishop. He is apparently a lonely man; all fear him, but there is no one close to him, and he regards us as “his own” whom he will force to be his obedient disciples. We cannot do it! Vladika John blessed us for an entirely different path, and by his prayers and God’s grace we have travelled for seven years on this path. If we had wished to be a Bishops disciples, we would long ago have joined Bishop Nektary, who has wanted to establish such a monastery. For the sake of the independence of our own work, we have already had to preserve carefully our separate status with respect to him also, and to this day our relationship with him is very good. If our Hermitage requires supervision by the Synod, we would gladly welcome him as our “supervisor”—but not as “Abbot”!—all the more so as he has already promised to drop in on us every time when travelling between San Francisco and Seattle. Our relationship to Vladika Anthony could also be quite good—on the condition of our absolute independence from him.

Pray for us, dear Father, and please send us at least a short word. We realize that this trial has come upon us for our sins, that it is a trial of our monastic resolve which we must bear worthily and in patience, that in the end it will doubtless be for our benefit in forcing us to define ourselves more precisely in order to preserve our independence and our missionary work. For the next two weeks we hope to do nothing but concentrate on finishing our much-delayed OW (for July-October!), but at any time after that our disagreement with our Archbishop might come out into the open. We are already facing another trial in the expected influx of summer visitors, whom we have neither people nor facilities to handle; but in everything we trust in God, Who has brought us this far by the prayers of His saints and His Most Holy Mother.

With much love in Christ our Saviour,

p.s. It is now the day after Epiphany, and we are still as upset as ever over our future. A thought occurs to us after another sleepless night: would you be our “advisor” in all problems concerning our organization, Rule, etc.? After all, insofar as we are an “American” institution, we are direcdy imitating you, and we value and need your advice more than anyone else s. If you will help us by being our “advisor,” we will submit to you our Rule for advice and correction before submitting it to the Synod, and consult you first on all questions of organization. We have already decided that from now on all our documents will be written and submitted first in English, and there is no one here who can advise us in this language or on the problems of preserving our status. (Our bishop friends will most likely tell us that we simply have to bow down to the powerful ones on the Synod, but that “Russian” psychology is not relevant to our case. Please forgive us, but we are really frightened, and unless you help us we will become desperate! We are naive babes in those questions, and it will be very easy for us to be taken advantage of.

Upon rereading last night the Synod’s official “Decree on Monasteries,” it becomes evident that Vladika Anthony has all along (without saying a word to us) been regarding us as a Diocesan Podvorye (Metochion). That would be the end of us!

If you would like to talk to us by phone, tell us what time we can reach you conveniently, and we will call from town. For us the best time is between 12 and 4 p.m. (Pacific Time) any weekday or Saturday, although another time could be arranged if necessary.


Jan. 23/Feb. 5, 1971
Priest-Martyr Clement

Dear Sister in Christ, Nina [Kojevnikov],

Rejoice in our Lord Jesus Christ! I was glad to receive your letter—not because I have any particular means to help you, but because all of us who have been baptized in Jesus Christ are one in Him, and it is our joyful duty to bear one another’s burdens, as the Apostle Paul tells us. This is all the more true of me, since I myself have gone through somewhat the same experience you seem to be going through. Coming from a Protestant background, I rejected it completely and became an agnostic and atheist, and then started searching for some meaning to life in various philosophies and Eastern religions, until I finally came to the point where I thought there was no meaning to life at all, and I wondered why I should keep on living. And then I went for the first time to a Russian Orthodox Church, and something in my soul responded to this, and I began a gradual but sure recovery from my spiritual disease of despair and lack of faith.

Many people today say that God has turned away from us and does not listen to us. But I have found that just the opposite is true: it is we who have turned away from God and followed vain philosophies and our own selfish desires. But God remains always the same and is always ready to receive us with great love.

Right now you probably feel that there is no hope for you. This may be very painful for you, but it us actually a good sign—if only you do not give up but continue to beg God’s mercy. Real spiritual death is the state where one no longer desires God or feels anxious because of not having His grace, but instead is satisfied with those worldly things which actually separate us from God—wealth, honors, and the rest. Because you are anxious and unhappy—that means you are still alive spiritually, and there is indeed hope.

However, do not expect any sudden light, revelation, or whatever. True faith comes from a small seed which is planted in our hearts by God Himself, and which is nourished and gradually grows through God’s grace and through our own actions which are in accordance with His commandments and the tradition of the Holy Orthodox Church, which has been given by the Holy Spirit and handed down to us through our Holy Fathers.

You do not say what you are doing in trying to open the door of faith, and so here I will give you a suggestion: God is everywhere and sees and hears everything; therefore you do not need to cry out to him loudly or dramatically—but you must be persistent. The seed of faith which you have within you will sprout and grow only if you water and tend it every day, and not just when you feel like it. Therefore:

(1) Every morning just after getting up and every night before going to bed you should read the morning and evening prayers in the Orthodox prayer book—at least the opening prayer “O Heavenly King” (where we call on the Holy Spirit to come and dwell in us) and a few of the other prayers. (If you do not have a prayer book, tell me and I will get you one.) Say a brief prayer also for those who are close to you, asking God to preserve and save them; and for those who have died, asking God to grant them eternal rest. And add a prayer in your own words for your present situation: Î Lord, grant me faith in Thee and set me on the path of salvation—or something like that. Even 5 minutes in the morning and evening of such prayer, spoken from your heart, will begin to open the door of faith for you.

(2) Read every day at least a chapter or even a few verses from the Four Gospels: begin with the first chapter of St. Matthew and read all the way through the book of St. John, and then start all over again. The whole foundation of our salvation is there in the life of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, and it is there that you will learn to love Him and have faith in Him.

(3) We have already sent you (after Mrs. [Tania] Blinoff told us about you) the book Unseen Warfare. Try to read a little of it every day too, if possible, for it tells about the spiritual warfare which is the whole meaning of our existence on earth.

Do not read any books on “spirituality” by Catholics, Protestants, psychologists, or anyone who is not Orthodox, because they will only mix you up. There may be wisdom or insights in some of these, but only in our Orthodox Faith is there to be found the whole path of salvation, the infallible way of coming to God. Many people spend a lifetime trying to find what is only to be found in the Orthodox Church; but God has granted you the good fortune of being born in His Holy Church, and you only need to return to what is yours already. Even I, from a Protestant background, felt that I had “come home” when I found Holy Orthodoxy; how much more you will feel the same way when faith begins truly to grow within you.

When you pray, please pray for the sinful monks Herman and Seraphim, who are trying to serve God in the monastic calling. Please write again, and feel free to ask any questions, and I will try my best to answer them.

With love in Christ our Saviour,
Monk Seraphim


Jan. 31/Feb. 13, 1971
Sts. Kyr and John

Dear Sister in Christ, Catherine,

Many thanks for your letter of a month or more ago. It's a comfort to us whenever we get a live response from out there in the somewhat indefinite region of American Orthodoxy. Our whole purpose is to keep up contact and mutual inspiration among the isolated Orthodox “sparks” out of which, God willing, the flame of genuine American Orthodoxy will blaze up.

Where do you go to church when you can go? Do you have contact with Fr. Michael Azkoul in St. Louis? He’s probably our closest English-speaking priest to you. Right now he’s building a congregation starting from the living room of Dr. John Johnstone.

I hope our latest Orthodox Word will make up a little for your having missed the canonization of St. Herman.

The Pryzbylski's, as I recall, recently subscribed on their own.

Please keep in contact with us, at least occasionally and keep us informed on the state of Orthodoxy in the great Midwest. And pray for the sinful monks Herman and

Seraphim, Monk


February 26, 1971

The Minister of the Interior
Government of Greece
Stadiou and Dragatsaniou Sts.
Athens, Greece

Your Excellency:

We have heard that the Archimandrite Cyprian Koutsoumbas has been reduced to the lay state by the official Church of Greece. We beg you to use your authority to protect him and his priesthood against any act of violence from the official Church of the Government.

In America we know Archimandrite Cyprian Koutsoumbas as a highly respected priest of the Old Calendarist jurisdiction, which is recognized by the Holy Synod of the Russian Church Outside of Russia and many bishops outside of Greece. We, in common with many Orthodox Christians in America, wish to believe that the Greek Government will respect the sincere religious convictions of those in Greece who have separated for canonical reasons and for reasons of conscience from the official Church, and will allow Father Cyprian to freely practice his Orthodox faith and exercise his priesthood without interference from the Government.

If, despite our hope, Archimandrite Cyprian should be subjected to any kind of violence on the part of the Church or Government, we and many thousands of Orthodox Christians outside of Greece can only regard this as an ACT OF PERSECUTION against the true Orthodox Church and faithful, about which we would be obliged to inform the readers of our Magazine.

With respect Seraphim, Monk
Herman, Monk

Editors, The Orthodox Word


March 12/25, 1971
St. Theophanes the Confessor

Your Grace, Dear Vladika Laurus,

Bless us, Vladika! Evlogeite!

We hasten to inform you of an extremely serious situation which has arisen with us, and which already threatens the whole future of the missionary work which we have conducted now for seven years. We beg you to give us your help and advice. We are writing in English, inasmuch as that is the language of our publications and our everyday life, and because our whole existence is for the sake of English-speaking people, above all Americans, who form the majority of our 1500 subscribers.

First we should tell you that we are laboring to the best of our strength in the monastic life, rejoicing in Gods great mercy in granting us to wear the angelic habit. The trials that have come upon us since we received the monastic tonsure we understand and accept as a part of the hard and narrow path of Christs Cross which we have taken on ourselves, and not for a moment have we regretted receiving the tonsure.

Please read what follows not as any kind of “complaint”—for we are not protesting against any individual act, and we are not in any immediate trouble—but rather as a statement of principle concerning the nature of our existence as an organization within the Russian Church Outside of Russia. However, we must tell you at the very beginning that our Archbishop Anthony does not understand this principle and in fact is trying to substitute for it his own plans, and in a very short time, if we do not act very soon, his misunderstanding will lead to a crisis that could bring an end to The Orthodox Word and to our work in the name of St. Herman. The Synod itself has acknowledged the value of our missionary work, and we are therefore all the more certain that to preserve this work we must act decisively, even if by this we must incur the anger—which we believe would be completely unjustified—of our Archbishop.

Already before our tonsure we had occasion to believe that Vladika Anthony was beginning to form unrealistic ideas about us, and we sent you a copy of our letter to him in which we tried to give him a more realistic picture of us. To this he replied with a letter saying that he fully understood and agreed with us and would apply no “episcopal coercion” of any kind on us. We had complete trust in Vladika Anthony and thought that he did understand us. We had made clear to him that whatever official status we might have (whether as a “monastery” or not), we could only operate with complete independence from the local Diocesan Bishop, just like our monasteries in Jordanville and Boston, and he readily agreed with us, telling us that one of us would have to be the Head. We informed him that we were preparing our Rule and would present it to him by St. Herman's feast day in December, to which he also agreed. We realize now that in order to obtain the status that was necessary for us we should have appealed directly to the Synod instead of allowing our local Bishop to be intermediary for us; but such was our trust of Vladika Anthony that, even though we did not know all that he was doing and saying at the Synod, we had no suspicions whatsoever that any kind of misunderstanding would arise later.

On the day of our tonsure, October 14/27, we heard for the first time that the Synod had blessed the opening of the St. Herman of Alaska Hermitage, which we accepted with joy, and also that Vladika Anthony had been appointed Head (“for the time being”)—which upset us very much. But we still did not understand what was happening, and we waited for the Synod s Ukase to see exactly what it said. For the next two months we were extremely busy with the Canonization Issue of The Orthodox Word, with difficulties caused by bad weather, etc., and we did not find out anything more definite until Christmas, when we went to San Francisco. At the end of December we saw the Synod’s Ukase for the first time, and then at Christmas we were subjected by Vladika Anthony to a terrifying “inquisition” lasting several hours, in which when we tried to make clear our position he merely threatened us with his rights as “Head” of our monastery (all the way to supervising our daily correspondence), telling us that an independent or stavropignialny status for us is “out of the question” and that we had no right to write a Rule for our own monastery, but that he would give us one. If we do not agree to all this, he told us, we are guilty of “self-will” and “disobedience.” After this we were completely shocked and shattered and did not know what to do. For several nights we could not sleep, and we thought of writing to you and a few other of our friends in the clergy; but we were in such a state of shock that we really did not know what to say, and we were afraid that our letter would merely sound like another “complaint,” of which you probably already see too many. Also, we simply could not believe what had happened, and we waited for some written document from Vladika Anthony that would give us something definite to act on. We are very glad that we waited before writing to you, because now we have a written document to base ourselves on, and in the 2 1/2 months that have passed since our last meeting with Vladika Anthony we have gotten over our shock and are able to think and act clearly and calmly, without any agitation in our souls and without any bad feelings against Vladika Anthony. In spite of everything, we have the utmost respect and love for him, especially because of all that he has done for the canonization of our patron, St. Herman; we have no intention of questioning or disturbing his legitimate ecclesiastical authority, and it is only with the greatest sorrow and heaviness of heart that we are now about to undertake those steps which will preserve our independence from him. However, this is an obligation which we owe, not only to our own work, but to Vladika Anthony; because before God he cannot take responsibility for an activity he is not familiar with, in a language he does not know.

Enclosed is a copy of Vladika Anthony’s Ukase of Feb. 25/Mar. 10, which we received last week, and which makes clear what he thinks he has done: he has opened a Diocesan monastery with himself as Head, and we are in absolute obedience to him.

Dear Vladika: you know us as loyal sons of the Russian Church Outside of Russia, in everything obedient to lawful ecclesiastical authority, not in the least inclined to “rebellion” of any kind, and that in The Orthodox Word we have defended the Synod and every one of its bishops with such firmness and devotion that it is no exaggeration to say that a large number of our readers look up to the bishops of the Synod with extreme respect, as virtually the only pillars of Orthodoxy and true bishops in the world today. Further, we must tell you that so far Vladika Anthony has not given us any specific “obedience” against which we protest; therefore, we repeat, this is not a letter of “complaint,” and Vladika Anthony himself could not give you any case where we have disobeyed him.

The question, therefore, is much bigger: the whole organization of the “St. Herman of Alaska Hermitage” was devised entirely without us, who are its only members, and now that we see what is involved we must decisively declare: the Ukase of Vladika Anthony establishing a Diocesan monastery with himself as Head, is not acceptable to us and we do not accept it. Not only in principle must we oppose a Diocesan monastery which cannot preserve the independence that is absolutely necessary for a work such as ours, but we have discovered to our great sorrow that Vladika Anthony himself is a man we cannot and do not trust. He has badly deceived us—of which, perhaps, he is not even aware, for we now suspect that he has never even listened to what we have told him, but always had in mind his own completely different plans for his own monastery—and he is now trying to force us to accept what he has accomplished by his deception for the sake of obedience.

But such “obedience”—for the sake of a worldly end—is very clearly spiritually illegitimate. We are the disciples of Vladika John, who blessed and inspired our work from the very beginning and, we firmly believe, is with us now in spirit; it is to his blessing, in fact, that we ascribe entirely whatever success we have had so far. And from him we have learned: above canons, church discipline, etc., comes the spirit. If by obedience, by faithfulness to the letter of canons, or by any other thing good in itself, the spirit of a man is crushed and is extinguished, then there is something terribly wrong. Vladika Anthony has already accused us of a tendency to “disobedience” and “self-will”—and, while admitting that we are in all ways sinful, we can only say that in the present case these accusations are beside the point. Before such virtues as obedience have any meaning, they must have a place in a definite context, in a common task, in a fruitful work. Such a context would be, for example, a monastery with a Elder responsible for the souls of everyone living in it (such as Fr. Panteleimon's monastery in Boston), or an established working monastery such as Jordanville; in our case, the context is The Orthodox Word and our missionary printing labors, which for seven years now we have followed with great labor and sacrifice, in everything being obedient to the Church and to each other, so that never did one of us exercise his “own will,” obeying rather each other and the common task that united us. Without this we would never have survived; but with this and the blessing of Vladika John we have survived this long and now seem called by the Church to expand our work and bring forth greater fruits.

But now Vladika Anthony, not knowing our work (he does not read The Orthodox Word and knows almost nothing of the American mission) is trying to impose his own “work” upon us—a “monastery” governed by him from San Francisco, where one of the “obediences” at the present time happens to be the printing of The Orthodox Word. But since he does not know us or our work, all of his plans and Ukases are based purely on external appearances—on what kind of role it looks as though we could play in his diocese, or (he used these exact words with us once) on “what will they think at the Synod?” We tell you frankly, Vladika: this is not serious; it is some kind of game with him, enforced precisely through the “episcopal coercion” he promised he would never use on us, and the result is precisely that it harms our common work and instills in us such a sense of gnawing, inner frustration that if it is allowed to continue it will completely destroy our missionary work and extinguish the spark, the spirit, that Holy Orthodoxy has given us, and that Vladika John knew how to fan into a flame of desire to serve the Holy Church. Perhaps that flame is weak in us, but it exists, and it is quite possible for it to be extinguished.

It is not our intention to start a fight, or to force anyone to accept our word against Vladika Anthony’s—because undoubtedly he will have a completely different version or interpretation of everything that has happened to us. We can only make it clear that, whatever may have happened in the past, in the future we can have no tie with Vladika Anthony: he cannot be any part of our monastery (if the Synod affirms that we are a monastery), and our monastery cannot be a Diocesan institution. If Vladika Anthony has opened a monastery, we are not a part of it. We promised obedience to him, “God helping us,” and in our conscience we cannot believe that God will help us to destroy the blessing of Vladika John and that small beginning of service to the Holy Church that we have begun with his blessing. Doubtless Vladika Anthony thinks we are inexperienced and he must “take us in his hands” and “make something of us” for the sake of the growth of the monastery. We have our own candidates who may in future be joining us—but if Vladika Anthony is to be our Head, we must tell them to stay away or go elsewhere, rather than to become a part of his totally unrealistic plans. And we will tell you frankly: Vladika Anthony has no one who would be interested in joining “his” monastery, and in fact that is why he has to act through us.

All of this is probably shocking to you, and you may wish to advise us to be patient, to accept what ever Vladika Anthony imposes on us for the sake of obedience, or to try to “negotiate” or “compromise” with him. But we tell you firmly: no compromise is possible. Vladika Anthony does not listen to us, and in fact he thinks we have no right to tell him anything. He has already shown us his intentions, and as long as he has any direct authority over us we will be filled with mistrust, suspicion, and gnawing frustration. These are the fruit, not of legitimate authority, but of usurpation.

However, we will listen most carefully to whatever you may advise us to do. In particular, we beg you to help us with practical advice: how can we achieve our independence? We wish henceforth to talk with the Synod not through the intermediary of Vladika Anthony, but directly. Should we appeal to be declared a stavropignialny monastery? We had always thought it too far above us even to be called a “monastery,” but the Synod has already approved this in principle, and Vladika Anthony still thinks highly enough of us to appoint one of us as Blagochinny. Or, if the Synod will not bless us as a monastery, what status can we have directly dependent on the Synod? We do not ask anything “special,” but only that status Fr. Panteleimons monastery and Jordanville have enjoyed from the beginning: independence, not for the sake of self-will, but for the sake of the common work which the Synod has already blessed. You and others among the bishops and clergy know both us and our work far better than Vladika Anthony does

In the meantime, we urgently request of you:

(1) Not to sign any documents about us based on material coming to the Synod through Vladika Anthony;

(2) If Vladika Anthony’s Ukase of Feb. 25/Mar. 10 is going to be published in Orthodox Russia or elsewhere, please try to stop it, as it does not correspond to reality and will only cause trouble if it becomes widely known.

Please do not think that we are despondent. We are in good spirits, even though we are quite worried about our future. This attack upon us has convinced us more than ever that we are doing a God-pleasing work and it has strengthened our resolve to continue and stand firm in it. Our few months of monastic life have already given us so many trials and temptations—yet in every one of them Gods help has been close, and we only marvel at how close God is to us. Our last trial began when we received Vladika Anthony’s Ukase last week, and we were very much troubled—but in less than 24 hours, completely unexpectedly, Vladika Nektary and Fr. Boris came with the Kursk Icon, and our trouble was turned into joy and the certain realization that God is with us!

And now we approach the difficult time ahead as a literal Golgotha—for we fully expect Vladika Anthony to be furious when he finds out what we are trying to do, and he will doubtless do everything against us that he can. But at the same time we rejoice, knowing that the sufferings before us are much less than our sins deserve, that only from such a narrow and difficult path can spiritual fruits come forth, and that in everything God and His saints—St. Herman and Vladika John—are with us.

A final point: in Vladika Anthony’s Ukase the name of our Staretz, Archimandrite Spyridon, is mentioned. We are on the best of terms with him and we would hope that after, God willing, we achieve our independence, he will continue as our Staretz. But in the meantime, for obvious reasons, we do not want to involve him in our difficulties, and so we emphasize that the responsibility for this letter and for everything we may do in future rests solely with the two of us.

We ask your holy prayers and will welcome your advice. Please be assured that we will not do anything rash, and will act only after having consulted others among the clergy who know us well.

With love and respect in Christ our Saviour,
Monk Herman Monk Seraphim

Orthodox Christian Books and Icons


March 13/26, 1971
St. Nicephorus of Constant.

Dear Father in Christ Panteleimon,

Evlogeite! Thank you very much for your word of encouragement, and please forgive us for preserving such a long silence. We have been very busy printing, and not until last week has there been anything new regarding our status and relationship with Vladika Anthony. After writing you we decided to do nothing more until Vladika Anthony should make some written statement; and now that Statement has come.

Last Wednesday we received Vladika Anthony’s Ukase of Feb. 25/Mar. 10, apparently sent to all priests of the Diocese, which says in part: “A coenobitic monastery for men has been opened by us.... Headship of this new monastery has been taken by me upon myself” (in ink there is added in our copy—whether it is in the original or not we don’t know—“for the time being”); “for the regulation of the monastic life of the brethren, who may increase in number, by the present Ukase MONK HERMAN is appointed BLAGOCHINNY (one in charge of ‘good order’) of the monastery. The Blagochinny is responsible for the doings of the monastery immediately before me, as its Head...”; “the publication of the magazine The Orthodox Word...the brethren should now look upon as their monastic obedience... Concerning everything else additional instructions will be given to the Blagochinny.”

In a word, our worst fears are realized: Vladika Anthony has taken us over, and although so far he has not given us any “obedience” to which we object, it is clear that our work, blessed by Vladika John, has lost all independence and will now proceed solely on instrucdons from San Francisco. Clearly, if we are going to do anything about this intolerable situation we must begin to act now.

We have written—in English—a letter to Vladika Laurus (we will send you a Xerox copy next week when we go to Redding again), informing him that we do not accept this Ukase and have lost all trust in Vladika Anthony, and asking his advice on what to do to become independent of Vladika Anthony.

You will see our arguments in that letter; but to you we would like to say something more. To Vladika Laurus we did not mention any of the San Francisco clergy we mentioned to you in our last letter, fearing lest word of this might somehow get to Vladika Anthony and he would cause them trouble; for this reason we wish to fight entirely by ourselves, on the basis of our rights as an independent monastery, without raising any question as to the character or motives of Vladika Anthony.

But to you we speak frankly: Vladika Anthony, under the guise of outward correctness and good form, is a “quencher of the spirit.” Vladika Nektary was here last week, and he told us: “You are fortunate that you have someone to complain to; I have no one. But if you only knew what a gnawing frustration he instills in me....” Vladika Anthony is an excellent “peacemaker,” but he crushes every good initiative. Vladika Nektary wanted to do something about Alaska, travel there, etc.—but Vladika Anthony forbade it outright. We gave Fr. Alexei Poluektov the text—smuggled out of the Soviet Union by a Catacomb nun—of an akathist to St. Nina which apparently exists no where else in the free world; Vladika A. heard of it and exclaimed: “it must be approved,” and he took it and it was never seen again. Even the Service to St. John of Tobolsk—which Vladika John served for many years—was printed in Blagovestnik without Vladika As knowing of it, and he forbade the last part of it to be printed—on the grounds that it was never “approved.” Vladika A., when he first came to San Francisco, said he would continue everything started by Vladika John; but he forbade the Liturgy to be served in the Sepulchre more than once a year, and the people in the Archbishop John Society tell us that Vladika A. is not devoted to the memory of Vladika John and they feel he is a foreigner. Laurence Campbell, I believe, grasped exactly Vladika As psychology when he recently told us: Vladika A. does not encourage veneration of Vladika John because he still has many enemies and thus Vladika A. regards his memory as a divisive factor in his diocese. Vladika A. deliberately omits the name of Fr. Neketas Palassis from the Jordanville calender of clergy because, he told us in December, “we don’t want to irritate Athenagoras”! And a few weeks ago Deacon Nicholas Porshnikov visited us and told us straight: “Vladika A. has killed my spiritual life”—that, of course, is an exaggeration, because the Deacon himself should be doing something about it, but it has meaning when you contrast it with another statement he made to us several years ago: “Vladika John saved me; without his encouragement and pushing me to be a Deacon, I probably wouldn’t be in the Church at all today”—that is all the difference between a bishop who inspires and a bishop who stifles the soul under the form of external correctness.

It does not require much imagination to see what will happen to us if we accept Vladika As “coup” over us. All our “peculiarities” as an independent monastic institution will be abolished. Already when Vladika A. serves here he forbids mentioning “Orthodox Kings” in the troparion to the Cross; “the Synod has approved another text”—but Vladika John left us another tradition which almost no one but us is keeping; our right to follow the Spruce Island tradition of celebrating a second feast to St. Herman on Nov. 15 will doubtless be abolished as an example of “self-will”; if Vlad. A. ever becomes aware of how much we are “irritating Athenagoras” in The Orthodox Word, that will have to be censured out; any special veneration of Vladika John, especially in Russian, will be blocked as too “controversial”; etc., etc., etc. If we give one inch in the beginning, we will end with a completely soulless and pointless “obedience” which has no ability to inspire anyone else. Lev and Vasya are returning to America in May and will probably come here—frankly, we think they fit here, and they seem to have no other place, and their spirits could well be quenched and their service to the Church wiped out if they don’t find their place; but do you thing Vladika A. could understand that, or care? Laurence Campbell visited us last weekend and told us of the uninspired and uninspiring condition of church life in the midst of the city; and we were horrified most of all that souls are thirsting and perishing and almost no one cares; even the clergy and shepherds are minding their own business or “establishing monasteries” (by force!) for the glory of the diocese without even seeing these perishing souls. We are content to let the world bury its dead; but Vladika John gave us a spark and a mission, and we will be faithful to that even to death.

As you see, we speak to you with absolute frankness. Our eyes have been opened, and we are absolutely resolved not to fall into the hands of a man who only wants to use us for his grandiose external plans. We are acting with great sorrow and heaviness of heart, with all love and pity for our Archbishop, but with unflinching resolve.

Since our last letter to you we have become much calmer and much firmer. All the events of Christmas are of minor importance beside the main issue: are we to continue independent, in the tradition and with the blessing of Vladika John, or do we become the slaves of someone who thinks only of the Church’s outward prosperity and success and probably thinks he is assuring us a good “career” in the Church? In spite of everything, we will follow Vladika John, and if need be we will flee completely to the wilderness or become “fools” in order to remain faithful to Vladika John.

In these last months we have been very conscious of how close God is to us. On Feb. 1 we finished the Canonization issue with Daniel Olson’s help (another one who fits very well with us but would wither away under Vladika A.!), and no sooner had we returned from delivering the issue to the Post Office and seeing off Daniel, then immediately our truck broke down and would not move an inch. We thanked God and began carrying water a half mile from a newly-discovered spring (not on our property) and carrying mail, groceries, and gasoline up hill from town on foot—very difficult, but good for us. Then, in the middle of the new OW, our generator broke, and Fr. Herman for the first time heard me fall close to despondency: “maybe what we’re doing is not right, after all”—but in 24 hours Deacon Nicholas arrived with two mechanics (without knowing about our desperate plight), fixed our truck enough to take it back to San Francisco for major repairs, and left us another truck on which we took the generator to be repaired, and just now mailed the new OW. But then again in Redding the Post Office inspectors discovered a technicality according to which we cannot have a 2nd Class Mailing Permit unless we open an office in Redding; but this has resulted now in a change whereby we will mail here in Platina instead of Redding (assuming everything is approved by the Post Office bureaucrats). And then last Wednesday we received Vladika As Ukase—but in 24 hours Vladika Nektary arrived with the Kursk Icon, which he allowed us to carry around our mountain, and we received Holy Communion from the Reserved Gifts.

Therefore, in spite of our troubles, we are bold and joyful; for truly God and His saints are with us.

Our next step will depend on Vladika Laurus’ practical advice as to what we should do next. We hope to speak at length with Vladika Nektary when he comes to celebrate Liturgy for us in the next week or so, and also with our Starets, Archimandrite Spyridon, who wants to serve on Annunciation (or, we hope, Pascha itself), and then we will act. We will probably call you after receiving a reply from Vladika Laurus.

Please forgive our frankness; but we are sure you understand the spirit in which this is written. How we wish we could talk to you. So much has happened in this last year, and so much has become clearer—by the prayers of St. Herman and Vladika John, we are sure. Pray for us,> dear Father. Enclosed is a question sheet on manuscripts, which we hope you will be able to answer.

With love in Christ our Saviour.


March 21/April 3, 1971
Praise of the Mother of God

Dear Father in Christ Panteleimon,


Enclosed is our letter to Vladika Laurus, to which we have not yet received a reply. There is no new development in our “case” as yet.

Our Staretz, Archimandrite Spyridon, is planning to come to us for a week or more—from Annunciation to Palm Sunday, and then just after Pascha (he has to serve Passion Week and Pascha in Palo Alto), and so, God willing, we shall have the Divine Liturgy several times here.

Glory be to God for everything! In all our trials, we become more and more conscious that something is happening that is far beyond us. What the end will be, God alone knows, and it is in His hands. We begin to get a rather definite idea that “Synodal opinion” does not place much confidence in our future. In February Archimandrite Cyprian wrote us from Jordanville, advising us to pack up as soon as possible and come to Jordanville, because we are in danger of falling into prelest, and because Jordanville is dying off and in ten years there won't be anyone left to do the work. Recently Fr. Vladimir also began hinting that we would be best off in Jordanville, and Vladika Laurus last year also emphasized how much they need people there. With all respect to Jordanville, to which we are absolutely devoted, we are so conscious of the blessing of Vladika John to trod a different path, that we can only accept the opinion of these respected fathers as a “temptation” to get us off our path. The devil, it appears, is trying his utmost to get us out of here, and we are thereby all the more convinced that we are where we should be. Two days ago, as if we didn’t have problems enough already, I met an Indian at the Post Office in Platina, who asked me what we were building, and when I replied “A chapel,” he told me, “this land belongs to us Indians, and I’ll do everything I can to stop you.” I don’t know exactly what he meant, but as we are unarmed and two miles from the nearest neighbor, it is not difficult to imagine what could be done to us. And so we are literally reduced to trusting in God and the protection of our patrons, St. Herman and Vladika John. May God s holy will be done!

With love in Christ our Savior,
Seraphim, Monk


To Vladika Averky [outline for letter in Russian Spring 1971]

1. I am in terrible state.

2. Interview with Vladika Anthony—brief— ______?

3. We are horrified because in back of this event is a frightful lack of______: We think we
are still independent again, in monastic calling; and he thinks he has taken us over as Abbot.

4. Already on top of posting[?] he announced Ukase whereby he was Abbot (temp.) and tried to force priesthood on us as obedience—we were greatly disturbed but were calmed by thought that this was some purely formal temporary status.

5. Throughout these last months when thought of monasticism approached, our discussion with Vladika Anthony was much too indefinite and almost entirely oral (although he wrote to us discussing use of______?). Now we find that his idea is entirely different from ours.

6. We cannot operate within the idea blessed by Vladika Ioann which we have pursued for 6 years, and which is now blessed as monastery by Synod (“to conduct in monastic calling the same missionary work....”) unless we are absolutely independent: in organization, in our life and work, able to make all decisions necessary for this life and work and organ, without dictation from without.

7. Since Vladika Anthony insists on giving outside direction, we must be free of him; stavropignialny [followed by 8 page letter in Russian by Fr. Herman]


Mar. 24/April 6, 1971

Dear Elena Yurevna,

You know how upset we have been in the past few months over the status of our Brotherhood and the whole future of our missionary work in the Church. Unfortunately, Father Herman's letters to you seem to have communicated more our present feeling of disturbance than the basic principles that have inspired us and continue to inspire us; and from this you have come to believe that we have a revolutionary or reformist idea of monasticism.

Please believe us that nothing could be farther from our intention. In order to explain this, I am writing you this letter in English in an attempt to avoid some of the emotional overtones that we seem to become involved with when we write in Russian, and to give you in this way as clear and brief a picture as possible of our present situation and our hopes for the future. After Vladika John, it is you and Ivan Michaelovich who have helped and inspired us on this path, and nothing would cause us more sorrow than for you to become convinced that our Orthodoxy was in danger, or that our missionary work is about to come to an end.

It is true that we are presently threatened, and we take this threat very seriously. But the cause of this threat is not difficult to understand, and it does not in itself place us in any uncanonical position. In a word: our bishop does not understand us or our work, and he is trying to “use” us for his own plans. Spiritually and canonically, we are in the right: it is absurd and impossible to “establish a monastery” against the wishes of the only monks in that monastery; the very “Decree on Monasteries” of our Synod of Bishops sets forth the right of monks to elect their own Head; and the very idea of monasteries in Orthodox history is clearly that of independent spiritual centers that have their own autonomous life and are not subject to interference from bishops unless they try to introduce novelties in dogmas or church life. This is the ideal, and this is the way Jordanville and Father Panteleimons monastery in Boston are operated today; and this is why monasteries can be inspirers for the rest of the Orthodox people—because they offer the possibility to preach and live Orthodox Christianity free from all external influences—whether the cares of parish life, the whims of bishops, or whatever.

In our present case, we have a fundamental disagreement with our bishop over the organization of our monastery: we wish to be independent and continue the tradition of Jordanville and Father Panteleimon, while our bishop wants to control everything himself which would mean the end of our missionary work (as you yourself very well realize). Therefore, the question of “obedience” does not enter in at all, and it is spiritually illegitimate for our bishop to try to impose his ideas concerning the organization of our monastery by this means. When Fr. Panteleimon was received into the Synod, no bishop appointed himself “Head” over his monastery; and we have exactly the same right to independence. Our mistake was that we did not in the very beginning stand up for this principle, and this allowed our bishop to believe that we were weak and that he could do whatever he wanted with us. We misplaced our trust in him, and we confess that you were right all along about him. But now we are prepared to stand up and fight for the independence which the Church and its canons guarantee to monasteries.

Monastic obedience cannot possibly be “slavery”; if that were true, then the Church would be divided up into “slaves” and “tyrants.” Some people in the Church at various times have tried to enforce this perverted concept, but it does not come from the Church or from monasticism. All Orthodox Christians, and especially monks and nuns, are trying to cut off their own will and lead a God-pleasing life; but to meekly bow down to tyranny, most especially when this tyranny only destroys a God-pleasing work and extinguishes the Christian and monastic spirit in its victims—is certainly only a parody and mockery of Orthodoxy and monasticism.

We are absolutely resolved, in all obedience to the Church and lawful ecclesiastical authority, not to become a part of any such mockery. We pray that our firmness will not lead to any scandal, and that we can proceed according to the letter as well as the spirit of all the Church’s canons. But we know also that the canons were made for man, and not man for the canons, that above the canons is the spirit that inspired them, and that to preserve this spirit we are prepared even to go against the letter of separate canons, if these are enforced in order to crush our spirit. In actual fact, no one would dream of trying to enforce the letter of every canon today, for then there would be no Orthodox Christians left at all! Our own bishop is in San Francisco “uncanonically,” for it is against the canons to transfer bishops from one Diocese to another (this canon has caused considerable fighting recently in the Church of Greece); it is also against the canons to ordain a deacon before the age of 25, or a priest before 30 (this is strictly enforced in the Greek Church, and one of our priest correspondents in Africa wrote us a year or two ago that a priest was desperately needed for Tanzania, but the only candidate there was 25 years old and under no circumstances could he be ordained before 5 more years— but according to the letter of this canon most of our Russian priests are “uncanonical”. Etc.

Please believe that despite our recent trials we are not crushed in spirit. In fact, on the contrary, now that our very existence is being attacked, we are more persuaded than ever that the path on which Vladika John blessed and inspired us to go, is correct, and that by his prayers, and in accordance with God’s will, we will go on this path through every suffering, all the way to martyrdom, if God calls us to this. The fact that such a severe attack has come upon us only persuades us that the devil wishes us to give up this path, because it is right.

You seem to believe that we cannot continue the path we have begun as monks. But we believe, on the contrary, that only in monasticism, with all the suffering and trials that this choice must inevitably bring upon us, can our work spread and bring the maximum good. While we were “in the world” everything came easy to us—we had much work but no great trials and attacks—but now everything is difficult, on every side we are attacked, trials and temptations are many. But these are spiritual proofs that our path is right, even more right now than it was before.

We are weak and sinful, and what we have undertaken is far, far beyond our strength and our spiritual talents. Nonetheless, God multiplies His favors to us, and we go forward with difficulties and sorrows, yet certain that He is with us, and Vladika John also. The form which our future existence will take is still uncertain. We always thought that to be a “monastery” was beyond us, but in principle the Synod has blessed this and the only problem now is one of organization and independence—and this has happened without our own will being involved at all, in fact it has been forced upon us. If our work so far has pleased God, then surely He will not leave us now or abandon us to the path of pseudo-Orthodoxy!

Glory be to God for everything! Do not believe for a moment that we are abandoning the path we began with Vladika Johns blessing. We go forward with absolute trust in God, on the straight monastic path which Vladika John foretold to us when he called our Brotherhood a “reflection of Valaam” and when he told me, when I told him of our hopes for a missionary monastery away from the city: “I too believe that there will be such a missionary monastery in California.”

Only pray for us, dear Elena Yurevna, and do not lose hope in us; and do not cease to tell us what is right!

With love in Christ our Savior,
Sinful Monk Seraphim

P. S. After I had written the above, Father Herman read the address of Vladika Vitaly (the elder) on the occasion of his consecration as bishop. One paragraph in it tells of what inspired the great accomplishments of his younger years, what his basic spiritual orientation was. It is precisely the same as ours, and even if we never accomplish a fraction of what he accomplished, this attitude is worthy of imitation, and we are both absolutely convinced that only by its means will we be able to bring forth any fruits at all in the Church of Christ. The Pharisees will doubtless find that these words of Vladika Vitaly are full of “self-will” and “disobedience,” but following them he accomplished great things in and for the Church, and they burn with the very spirit that is so needed in the Church today, the same spirit we long to burn with!

[quote in Russian follows]


25 March/ 7 April
Annunciation of the Most Holy Mother of God, 1971

Dear Brother in Christ, Daniel,

Rejoice in the Lord! I pray this finds you well and laboring successfully in the fast—or rather, prepared for the Great and Holy Week. With us these last weeks of long services (abbreviated, at that!) have been rather difficult, but at least we are left with few illusions about being “ascetics”! Our peace and quiet have been almost undisturbed.

Your question on the difference between the Turkish and the Communist Yoke is a very important one, but the answer is not entirely simple, and those who think only in terms of “canonical-uncanonical” will probably find it much too complicated. I think it’s important, first of all, to realize that the question of the Moscow Patriarchate is not primarily one of “canonicity”—that question ultimately will be resolved only by a free Russian Church Council (after the Soviet Yoke is overthrown). At that Council doubtless much will be forgiven owing to the unprecedented difficulties of these times, and those who will be justified then are not necessarily those who regarded themselves as “canonically correct,” but rather those who kept alive the spirit of the Church, which is after all above the canons and inspires them. But in the meantime we have to live with the situation that exists, and choose whether to have contact and communion with Moscow or not; and therefore we have to somehow penetrate to the spirit of this question and make our decision on this basis. A very great help in this is the “Documents of the Catacomb Church” which we are now printing, because in them the bishops who were present at the very outbreak of “Sergianism” give their judgements on what was then the central question of the day, and most of those who opposed Sergius did so because they believed he had placed himself outside the Church, and they had to speak out in order to remain within the Church themselves. In our days the atmosphere is not so tense and most people probably regard the question now as academic—although the reaction to the Metropolia’s autocephaly has considerably sharpened the issue.

To answer the question, one can say that first of all, in so far as the political situation is concerned, the situation of Moscow under the Soviets and Constantinople under the Turks is exactly the same. But those who are satisfied with this argument do not realize how Greeks outside of the Turkish boundaries reacted in the 19th century. (I’m paraphrasing now an article on the “Russian Church Abroad” by our Archbishop John, which we hope to print soon). When the Patriarchate of Constantinople obeyed the Turkish political demands and excommunicated the Greek rebels, the latter in their turn, while not doubting the Patriarch’s Orthodoxy and remaining with him in spirit, nonetheless declared his decrees invalid and governed themselves in complete independence from him—and when an independent Greek state was formed, this independence took the form of the autocephalous Church of Athens. A similar situation prevailed under the Serbian Patriarchs Arsenius III and IV, who went into exile with their flocks and refused to submit to the new Patriarchs elected inside the Turkish boundaries. Thus, from the political point of view, the existence of the Russian Church Abroad is fully justified by Orthodox history, while the Metropolia is chiefly to be criticized for being insensitive to the whole situation of the Russian Church and for helping, even if ever so little, the political schemes of the Soviet State.

But there is a deeper dimension to the question. The Turks persecuted the Church and, when possible, used it for political purposes. But their worst intention did not go beyond making Christians slaves and, in some cases, forcibly converting them to Islam. The Christian thus might be a slave or martyr, but on the spiritual side he was free; the Turkish Yoke was external.

But with the Soviets, the aim is much deeper: ultimately, to destroy the Church entirely, using the Church’s hierarchs themselves (when possible) as the agents of this scheme; and, on the way to this end, getting the Church to defend Communism abroad and to preach a “Communist Christianity” that prepares the way ideologically for the coming triumph of world Communism, not only as a universal political regime, but as an ideological and pseudo-religious tyranny as well. In order to appreciate this one has to realize what Communism is: not merely a power-mad political regime, but an ideological-religious system whose aim is to overthrow and supplant all other systems, most of all Christianity. Communism is actually a very powerful heresy whose central thesis, if I’m not mistaken is chiliasm or millennialism: history is to reach its culmination in an indefinite state of earthly blessedness, a perfected mankind living in perfect peace and harmony. Examine the printed sermons of the Moscow hierarchs: again and again one finds the same theme of the coming of the “Kingdom of God on earth” through the spread of Communism. This is outright heresy, or perhaps something even worse: the turning aside of the Church from its very purpose—the saving of souls for eternal life— and giving them over to the devil’s kingdom, promising a false blessedness on earth and condemning them to everlasting damnation.

The whole of modern Western Christianity is permeated already with this worldly, basically chiliastic orientation, and the more “liberal,” more worldly Orthodox Churches (such as the Metropolia) have been infected from this source; and probably the reason why most people in the Metropolia so easily accepted the autocephaly is because inwardly they do not grasp what is happening, they are themselves already halfway on the same path that the Moscow Patriarchate has taken.

Just the other day I read an astute comment on the iconoclastic crisis of the 7th-8th centuries. Before the Seventh Ecumenical Council the Orthodox Church did not have any explicit “doctrine on icons,” and so one could argue that the Iconoclasts were not heretics at all, and the dispute was one over the secondary issue of “rite” or “practice.” Nonetheless, the Church (in the person of Her champions, the leading icon-venerators) felt She was fighting a heresy, something destructive of the Church Herself; and after Her champions had suffered and died for this Orthodox sensitivity, and Her theologians had finally managed to put down explicitly the doctrine She already knew in Her heart—then the cause of Orthodoxy triumphed at the Seventh Ecumenical Council, and the Iconoclasts were clearly singled out as heretics.

I suspect that the very same thing, only much vaster and more complicated, is happening today: that those who feel Orthodoxy (through living its life of grace and being exposed to and raised on its basic treasures—lives of saints, patristic writings, etc.) are battling together against an enemy, a heresy, that has not yet been fully defined or manifested. Separate aspects or manifestations of it (chiliasm, social Gospel, renovationism, ecumenism) may be identified and fought, but the batde is largely instinctive as yet, and those who do not feel Orthodoxy in their heart and bones (e.g., those who are brought up on Concern and Young Life instead of lives of saints!) do not really know what you’re talking about and they can't understand how you can become so excited over something which no council has ever identified as heresy. In the testimony of the Catacomb bishops of the late 1920’s one finds again and again that the GPU agents asked them first of all whether they were for or against Sergius, and if they were against, then these agents demonstrated that Sergius had “violated neither dogmas nor canons”! Thus, either the atheist torturers are “defending the Church”—or else there is something dreadfully wrong, and the Church is up against an extremely formidable enemy. As it turns out, however, there are several dogmatic and canonical grounds on which Sergius was wrong; but first of all the Orthodox soul sensed that he was on the wrong side.

So the first part of the battle comes down to presenting basic Orthodoxy and raising people in the real spirit of Orthodoxy—above all the example of those who have lived Orthodoxy, God’s saints and confessors. That’s why, for our times, the most important thing is not general and abstract knowledge of Orthodox history, dogmas, canons, etc. (St. Sergius’ and St. Vladimir’s Seminaries turn out many who know these pretty well, but they do not become defenders of Orthodoxy, WHICH IS WHAT is needed), but rather the examples that have been given for our time—most especially Russia’s new martyrs and confessors. And one of the saddest signs in the present controversy over Moscow is that those who defend the Metropolia, instead of setting forth such inspiring examples, quote the most shameful documents and examples of Turkish and Russian history (Fr. David Black quoted several unedifying examples from the Synodal period of the Russian Church to us, and he probably doesn’t even know the worst ones!) thinking thereby to defend their own position. That is, the Church has always been bad, and it’s no worse now than before! But what a horrible, what a psychologically and spiritually crippling defense! If that’s how they have to defend themselves, then wouldn’t it be better to avoid doing the things that reduce them to such an extremity? Is “stepping out on the world Orthodox scene” really so important to the Metropolia that it must do it at the expense of the suffering Russian Orthodox faithful? To give one small example: Metr. Nikodim is the Metropolia’s great “benefactor,” and no one can doubt that his success with the Metropolia has strengthened his position with the Moscow Patriarchate. On the other hand, the layman Boris Talantov in the USSR has openly called Nikodim a betrayer of the Church, a liar, and an agent of world anti-Christianity, for which statements (among others) he was imprisoned by the Soviets; Metr. Nikodim tells the West that he was in prison for “anti-governmental activities”. On Jan. 4 of this year Boris Talantov died in prison, undoubtedly the victim of Nikodim (among others). Can the Metropolia feel itself to be on the side of this confessor? I don’t see how it can. By the way, we’ll have an article on him in this issue—pray for the repose of his soul.

I think I’ve said enough for a while! Our “Catacomb Documents” and “New Martyrs” will doubtless give a clearer picture, once we’ve got more of them translated and presented. Our new issue will have Metr. Joseph—a real champion of the Church! Interestingly, in him as well as in others the statement comes out that Sergius has done something that is “worse than heresy,” THAT HE has murdered the Church from within.

About library information: can you Xerox a page or two from each of the two books you mentioned? That way we can get an idea of how detailed the listings are, and maybe we could commission you then to do some Xeroxing from one of them. How many pages in each book?

Our weather has been up and down since you left. It turned cold just after you left, and since then spring weather has alternated with cold and rain. The first days of March were just about the coldest since we came here—19 to 20 degrees at night, with tremendous hurricane winds and flurries of snow. We’ve only had 5 inches of snow and about the same of rain since January. Real spring is later this year than last, and only a few of the smaller bushes have fully blossomed out. The leaves are just beginning to break through the buds at the tops of the oaks—beautiful little pink leaves with yellow blossoms that will become acorns. The peak of spring won’t be here until early May, most likely. Last year was the first time that I’ve gone through spring in the country—a really inspiring experience!

This last week we’ve finally got the refectory erected, for which you gave the foundation. It’s not finished, but at least we got it all covered and waterproofed before yesterday’s rains. We were expecting Fr. Spyridon to serve Liturgy today, but the bad weather probably kept him away. Most likely he’ll come for Lazarus Saturday and Palm Sunday. If it rains then, we can have services in the new refectory-church.

Our life in the wilderness continues to have its trials and temptations, but much more its joys. At one point when our spirits were low Vladika Nektary arrived completely unexpectedly with the Kursk Icon, served a moleben, gave us Holy Communion from the Reserved Gifts (we were in the midst of Vespers when he came and hadn’t eaten yet), and let us carry the Icon over our mountain. God’s blessings to us just never cease! Only we’re continually worried that we don’t produce enough; just too much to do.

By the way, thanks for sending the Jeane Dixon book. We were interested to see that her doctrine of Antichrist was basically Orthodox, and who knows, maybe even the details or her predictions about him are correct. However, in one important respect she is off: for his reign is the culmination of human history, after which comes the new heavens and the new earth, whereas she predicts after his reign a new age of peace and harmony and union of world religions, which are themselves the doctrines of devils! Looking at her “ministry” as a whole, one cannot but think that whatever truth she speaks (whether in doctrine or accurate predictions) is only used by the devils to gain credence for her whole philosophy—which seems to be a combination of “conservative” Catholic prelest and the chiliastic philosophy of the age. She seems entirely too persuaded that her “gift” obliges her to go around being a combination healer-holy woman. But where does her “gift” come from? It seems to be a combination of a rare natural faculty (6th sense) and information given by demons. She hears voices giving the names of winners at horse races—do angels do that?! And often her voices and visions come in pieces and fragments—a few letters of someone’s name, etc.—which is typical of the way devils operate, as for instance at seances, and reveals that she is in contact with the infernal, anarchic world, and not with the heavenly. Doubtless a well-meaning woman, but her “holiness” fits in too nicely with the “spirituality” of this evil age!

Pray for us, and drop us a line or two.

With love in Christ our Savior,
Seraphim, Monk

P.S. I just read in an old Readers Digest Jeane Dixons own account of her two interviews with President Roosevelt in 1943-44.1 think they show very well how the devils “use” her “gift”. She predicted a few things such as the Presidents death within 6 months, but the President was most interested in one question and asked it several times of her: “Will we be allies with Russia?” “Am I right in going with Russia?” She—who seems to be quite anti-Communist—told him the results of her visions and voices, that in a generation the U.S. and USSR would fight together against Red China, and FDR was finally reassured: “Then I am right to go with Russia.” In a few weeks he went to Yalta and gave half of Europe to Stalin!

Father Herman sends his greetings and poklon.


April 17/30, 1971
St. Zossima of Solovki

Dear Mr. [John] Dunlop,

Christ is risen!

I pray this finds you well and in the grace of our dear Saviour. Actually, I've been meaning to write you for some time, but the pressure of work never seems to give me a minute. Even this will just be a note concerning one practical question, and everything else will have to be once again postponed. But so that you will at least have some idea what is on our mind—we would like somehow to encourage or enlist a gathering of the talents and minds for the better propagation of genuine Orthodoxy in English: i.e., not just the collection of translators and translations, but perhaps some kind of consensus on what should be printed, and how, given the resources we have—the printing establishments of Orthodox Life, Orthodox Christian Witness, Orthodox Word. Well, perhaps what I’m saying is coming over foggily, but if you see what I’m trying to get at, perhaps you could make a comment or two.

Your study on the Moscow Patriarchate is an extremely good example of one kind of thing that is needed today, and one could only wish for it a wider circulation and a more permanent format—as a regular book.

But to get to the point of this letter: From your quotations from the two articles by Talantov (“Sergievshchina” and “The Secret Participation of the Moscow Patriarchate in the Struggle of the CPSU...”), it appears that these are by far the most interesting and profound of the documents to come out of the USSR in the last decade. But in “Patriarch and Prophets” there are only a few brief excerpts from both. Is Bourdeaux planning to print them elsewhere? And in any case, do you have the complete manuscripts, either in Russian or English, and if so is it possible for us to obtain a copy of them from you? And if they can be obtained only from Bourdeaux himself, do you have his address?

As you can see, we are very interested in printing one or both of them ourselves, perhaps in their entirety (depending on length). Our present Orthodox Word has an article in Talantovs memory, mostly taken from his own writings. But these two articles would be first-class documents in themselves.

We will be most eager to hear from you.

With love in Christ our Saviour,
Seraphim, Monk


May 1/14, 1971
Prophet Jeremiah

Dear Father Innocent,

In truth Christ is risen!

I will be honest with you and come to the point: Why “strain at a gnat and swallow a camel”? While souls are starving and perishing for want of Holy Orthodoxy, are you going to devote your time and energy to idle academic exercises?

Doubtless you are correct that at one time the accepted English form of “Germanus” was “Germain”; that was a matter of usage and not of principle, since there is no reason in the world why foreign names must come to us through the French. But language is a living thing, and the name “Germain” is virtually nonexistent in present American usage, and is, I would say, almost quaint. Even the great French saint of Auxerre is widely known in English as “Germanus,” not “Germain.” (Both names, surely, are good usage.) Why, therefore, force “Germain” on people? It has nothing to do with “correctness”; there is no “proper traditional way,” as you say, of transcribing Orthodox names into English. “Germain” is old English usage; “Herman” is at least one present American usage. Your campaign to force one usage over the other seems to us wasted energy.

When our Brotherhood of St. Herman was founded, we gave some thought to the variant versions of this name. Then and since we have seen defended (some of them with just as much certainty as you display) such variations as: German, Gherman, Guerman, Germain, Gairman, Germanus, Germanos. We preferred “Herman” for one simple reason: it has long been the accepted English usage of those who love and revere the Saint. If you went to Alaska today, you would scarcely find one person who would know who you are talking about when you mention “St. Germain”; and to call them “Metropolia proletarians” under “German influence” is quite beside the point—they are just simple village people who love St. Herman and would be bewildered to find that it’s a matter of “principle” to change his name. How many prayers the Saint has answered, how many miracles worked, when addressed as St. “Herman”! Surely therefore, the Saint himself does not consider his glory lessened by this name and spelling!

We, therefore, cannot agree that the name “Herman” is “private and peculiar”; and in fact, whatever may be the philological accident or coincidence that produced this result, the spelling “Herman” comes closest in pronunciation to the Slavonic “German” (where G is closer to English H than G). But we are not in the least interested in engaging in controversy over the issue, nor are we concerned to enforce the name “Herman” on the English speaking world. We see no good reason to change our spelling, but there are too many other important things to be doing to be upset if someone else chooses a different spelling. Uniformity on the matter would be desirable, but there are other things much more necessary and critical.

In the name of our Precious Savior, Fr. Innocent, do not make a major issue out of something so minor. The new parish in Tucson has several recent converts to Orthodoxy; you will only upset and scandalize them if you insist on waging a campaign, and using their parish to do it, for the name “Germain.” No matter how “correct,” academically speaking, you might think yourself to be, such a campaign would in fact be your own private campaign, and you would get other people to accept it chiefly so as not to offend you personally—surely a small triumph.

We have spoken with absolute frankness. Forgive us, Father, and pray for us, and be assured of our prayers, and of all respect and love in Christ our Saviour,

Seraphim, Monk


May 1/14, 1971
Prophet Jeremiah

Dear Brother in Christ, Anastasios [Luebke],

Christ is risen!

We were glad to hear from you, and pray that this finds you well and in the grace of our Risen


In the same mail with your letter we received a letter from Priestmonk Innocent, who enclosed a copy of a part of his recent letter to you, concerning the names “Herman” and “Germain.” He had recently written us two letters on the same subject, which we had not yet answered—we were slow in answering, to be frank, because we are not at all interested in entering into controversy on this subject, considering it to be of very minor importance. Fr. Innocent, however, insists that it is extremely important, and he even seems determined to make a regular campaign out of the issue; therefore, I have just written him a letter, and I write this now to you, so that our Brotherhoods opinion on the subject might be known.

When our Brotherhood was formed, we gave some thought to the variant versions of this name. Some people, for reasons unknown to us, are very adamant for one form or another, although Fr. Innocent is the first person we have heard to defend “Germain” with such determination. Others have said that the name should or even must be German, Gherman, Guerman, Germanus, Germanos, even Gairman. There are things to be said for and against almost all of these; and we finally decided to accept the name “Herman” for one simple reason: it has long been the accepted English usage of those who love and revere the Saint, in Alaska and elsewhere. Call it a philological accident if you will, nonetheless the usage is well established (and the Saint himself has granted miracles to those who use it!), and it would require a major campaign, probably causing much bad feeling and totally unnecessary fighting, to establish any other version in its place. Such a campaign, we believe, would be a sin, because it would detract from more important things and it would constitute precisely what Fr. Innocent calls the forcing of a “private usage” upon the Church. Incidentally, the Slavonic “G” is actually closer to English “H” than “G”, and so “Herman” is just about the closest way of transcribing the pronunciation of the Slavonic name.

We are amazed that Fr. Innocent insists that his way is the only “proper traditional way of doing things in the Church.” Despite his insistence, we cannot see that one spelling should be preferred over another as a matter of principle. The question is not one of “principle” at all but of usage. He is doubtless correct that the standard form of “Germanus” in English at one time was “Germain.” But language and its usages, which are relative, change; and I do not think one could say that “Germain” is standard usage any more at all. In America it is virtually unheard of, and even the great French Saint of Auxerre is more commonly referred to on English as Germanus, not Germain.

Fr. Innocent writes, in his letter to you, that Metropolitan Philaret “agrees with my contention.” It may be that the Metropolitan agrees that “Germanus,” abstractly considered, might be most fittingly rendered by the old English “Germain”; but I doubt very much that the Metropolitan agrees that a campaign should be undertaken to force everyone to use this unfamiliar version. On matters which do not directly concern doctrine and church practice, the Church is flexible, judging minor issues by the spirit and not the letter. The question of “Herman-Germain” is one of the letter, and should not be allowed to take the place, time, and energy of the far more important questions facing Orthodoxy in America today. That Fr. Innocent refused to serve in your parish unless you call it “St. Germain”—simply bewilders us, and seems to us a case of misplaced priorities.

Dear brother in Christ: we are sorry we had to write all this and thus, in spite of ourselves, enter into controversy on this matter. But Fr. Innocent has demanded an answer of us, and so we have given it. But we beg you: do not let this small “temptation” swerve you from your path to serve God’s Church in the name of His glorious Wonderworker. If you are at all like us, you are probably at least a little hurt by this seemingly unnecessary controversy. But that, of course, is just exactly the way the devil attacks: he will try to bring down the loftiest ideas and plans by the most trivial means. But our experience in warfare with him is built up by an appropriate and prayerful response to each such temptation and trial.

Please be assured that we are with you fully, whatever spelling your parish may adopt! Uniformity on this question, while desirable, is itself a secondary question, and the times are too critical to waste time on it, we know in any case that it is one and the same Saint who is being glorified. We will not presume to advise you on your answer to Fr. Innocent; pray to God and His Saint and they will guide you. In case of doubt, Fr. Panteleimon (I believe you said he is your spiritual father) will give you wise advice.

As for liturgical goods: we have not sold any for some time. Previously we bought some hanging icon lamps from the Central Book and Art Shop in New York City (321 East 14th St., 10003); chalices and other sacred utensils are probably best ordered directly from Greece. We no longer have any Greek addresses, but doubtless Fr. Panteleimon could give you several, and you can request catalogues from them.

Please pray for us, and keep firm your spirit of serving God’s Holy Church and praising His saints.

With love in Christ our Savior,
Seraphim, Monk


May 5/18, 1971
Martyr Irene

Dear Father Ambrosius [Pogodin],


Thank you very much for the letter and gift, and please forgive our long delay in answering. There is so much for just the two of us to be doing, and as you see, we are very late in publishing our magazine. But by God’s mercy and the prayers of our patrons, St. Herman and Vladika John, we continue to exist and have hopes to increase our publications.

We are sending you separately our copy of St. Gregory’s [Palamas] Homilies, and are happy to be able to help you in this.

We are very touched that you would like to visit us. But probably you have far too idealistic a picture of us! Our whole “pustyn” is only two cabins and a small unfinished church, to which we add a little at a time, and we have very little of modern conveniences. Still, for us it is a paradise, for it enables us to concentrate on our work, removed from most of those distractions which are such a temptation today for those who would serve the Holy Church. We are sufficiently remote so that our visitors are few, and generally interested to see us, and not just “tourists.”

You are correct that it would be very unwise to write to our Archbishop about visiting us. Because of your situation our contacts with you will have to be “informal” for an indefinite time. With the Moscow Patriarchate, of course, we have no contact, as a matter of principle; but we know that you are not in your present situation because you support their “principle” against ours, but rather by force of circumstances. As you see in The Orthodox Word, we believe in the principle of the Church Abroad; but sometimes a living soul becomes caught, as it were, in a net of circumstances that threaten to choke and strangle him, and then it would be a sin of phariseeism not to offer, if one can, at least a word of encouragement. That is the testament we have received from Vladika John, from whom we have also learned that in Christ not all “hopeless” situations are really as hopeless as they seem.... I believe you understand all this well enough, being yourself, just like we are, an “orphan” of Vladika John! As to what form, on the basis of all this, our future contacts will take—surely God, through the prayers of Vladika John, will teach us! We only know that God does not want living souls to be stifled, nor fruitful trees to remain barren.

But perhaps I am becoming too philosophical! May God and His saints guide you aright in all your ways.

With love in Christ our Saviour,
Seraphim, Monk


May 6/19, 1971
Righteous Job


Dear Father in Christ Neketas,

Evlogeite! Please forgive our long silence. Somehow, since the Canonization last year our correspondence with you has slowed to a trickle, which is unfortunate, as our common mission of English-language Orthodox enlightenment would profit by more intercommunication, not to mention the mutual encouragement which is often so necessary. Anyway, please know that spiritually we are with you and think of you often and pray for the success and expansion of your endeavors for Christ’s Holy Church in these dark days.

As for us: we plod along and even begin to feel—thanks largely to the linotype, which is now operating fairly smoothly—that we can begin to catch up and even undertake a little more than The Orthodox Word. Our trials are many, which persuades us we're on the right path—but they are almost all of a rather menial character, mostly mechanical failures and strange “accidents” and bureaucratic red tape. Most recently the Post Office discovered (after a year and a half!) that we have no right to mail with a 2nd Class permit in Redding, as we have no city address there; but fortunately our local Postmaster agreed to accept our mailings, and after the inspectors vainly searched for a rule that says a 4th Class post office can’t do this, they finally agreed.

Laurence Campbell tells us of your interest in his calendar. It will need additions and corrections, but it is a good and necessary beginning. His labors have crystallized our own calendar ideas, and God willing, we will print such a calendar this fall for 1972. Fr. Panteleimon is sending his own additions and corrections, and we’ve found some Romanian and Western saints to add. Our next OW will have the Synod’s Resolution in 1952 concerning Vladika John’s list of 20-some Western saints, which we will also add. Please send your own suggestions. We will of course add the Saints of Mytilene. As for St. Peter the Aleut: frankly, the Synod, or rather the Russian Church since long before the Revolution, has always been timid about doing anything without elaborate official confirmation; thus the feast of the Martyrs of the Boxer Rebellion was always observed in China as a requiem service, and they were considered apparently “uncanonized.” However, if God grants us to print the calendar, we will add all these saints, only probably keeping them somehow distinct so that no one will fly on our necks.

Which brings us to another important point: As you note in regard to the unfortunate article in the recent St. Seraphim Chronicle (which we haven’t seen), there are people in the Synod who just aren’t aware of what’s going on, who are living Orthodoxy unconsciously on the capital of the past, as it were. Such an attitude is actually probably quite widespread in the Synod, and one can even suspect that the fact that the Synod as a body can be said to preserve Orthodoxy as no one else has, is due more to the historical “accidents” (of course, this is first of all God’s Providence) of Revolution, exile, etc., than anything else. In San Francisco after Vladika John died we felt distinctly that he almost alone had been the spiritual power of San Francisco’s (or at least the Cathedrals) Orthodoxy, and if there was no counteracting force in the meantime, the services in the Cathedral in 20 years time would be perilously close to the Metropolia spirit. Among Russians there are very few sources of such a spiritual force that can counteract the drift of the times—anywhere! The conscious Orthodoxy of the Synod in future years, we believe will come from converts and Greeks, for the most part. And it may even be that this will cause friction and trouble. But of course we must just go forward trusting in God, speaking the truth and being vigilant.

We read the Newsletter with great interest. For improvement, we can only wish for a regular section of Greek news. (Mostly translations from Typos, I presume.) Perhaps Mrs. Vagin could help out on that— there’s an informed and aware Russian! Also, is it possible to issue the Newsletter in magazine format, i.e., like the beautifully done Supplicatory Canon; or does that involve too much extra labor in typing, stapling, etc.?

I somehow thought I had lots more to say to you, but it’s gotten lost somewhere—that’s what comes from letting our correspondence lapse. We’ll try to write a little more frequently. Anyway, don’t by any means thing you’re conducting a monologue with what you publish—every word of real Orthodox material in English is a seed whose future fruits are incalculable.

Pray for us, and let us hear a word occasionally. It would be nice to see you and have a good long talk, but God knows when that will come about. You’re always welcome here, if you ever venture that far out!

With love in Christ our Saviour,


May 8/21, 1971
St. John the Theologian St. Arsenius the Great

Dear Father in Christ, Panteleimon,


It was very good to talk to you, and one only regrets that the time was so short. We do hope you will be able to visit us the next time you are out on the West Coast, and we can discuss many things more thoroughly.

Glory be to God, we are well and in good spirits. As for the “problem” that still hangs over us, we have been so immersed in our printing work and plans—calendar, Catacomb Church, new martyrs, etc.—that we haven’t been thinking much of it, and in our conversation with you we hardly mentioned it. But for your information as well as to keep our ideas straight, we will give here a brief progress report.

First of all, since Christmas Vladika Anthony has left us alone, so much so that one might almost be tempted to think that he was really content to let us be independent. But such an appearance is deceptive. The Ukase he sent us in March clearly sets forth, in his mind, his “rights” over us, and he can feel himself able to put these rights into effect at any time. And again, we already know from past experience and from talking to others that Vladika likes to assert his “rights” suddenly and unexpectedly, and one is apt to find that what seemed to be a time of peace and repose was really some kind of trap in which one has committed all kinds of sins, usually of omission, against these rights. Our “day of reckoning” with him is doubtless not too far off.

Please forgive us for speaking in a way that might perhaps seem disrespectful to our bishop, but we know that you are fully as aware as we have become of being realistic about such things among ourselves, so as to avoid worse evils in future. In all, we have told only seven people of our situation: besides you and Vladika Laurus, the five people in San Francisco (Vlad. Nektary, Fr. Alexey, Deacon Nicholas Porshnikov, Laurence Campbell, Mrs. Kontzevitch) already knew or suspected, or even warned us, what was going to happen.

From San Francisco there are only two new developments: Laurence Campbell on a recent visit told us that there is talk among laymen who are close to Vladika about our “disobedient” attitude toward him. There is no way they could have formed such an opinion except from whatever Vladika himself has told them. Which only reinforces our idea that Vladika is not acting very seriously with regard to the “monastery” he has formed, talking about our “faults” to others. His approach is worldly, and his behavior is apparently governed by the fact that he has been personally offended by our behavior. You will remember that he declared himself to be personally offended when we declined to be made priests immediately; and to this was added our improprietous behavior at Christmas. This seems to us an unsound basis of behavior, and it can only be a potential threat to our common work, which certainly transcends the personal offenses of a day.

The second new development: when Vladika Nektary visited us recently he called Vlad. Anthony shortly before and requested permission to serve and give us Holy Communion. Vladika told him to relay to us this message: since our Starets was unable to come for Pascha (he is serving in Palo Alto now), and since our behavior at Christmas shows that we are in danger of falling into prelest (?!), he asks us to reconsider our decision about accepting priesthood. Does this make sense? Does one ask a person in danger of falling into prelest to accept priesthood?! Clearly, neither the suspicion of prelest nor the offer of priesthood can be taken seriously in the context of any serious church activity. They are not the statements of someone who knows our work and wants to do what is best for that work; they come, rather, from someone on the outside who is thinking about what will look best, and also what he can best control; for clearly a priest is more closely bound to his bishop than is a simple monk. And so we are only confirmed in our diagnosis of our case and in our desire to be independent of Vladika Anthony. If any further good will come from our Brotherhood, it will be from our independendy pursuing the path already begun, with Vladika Johns blessing, not by meekly accepting directions from without. We recently found, by the way, Vladika Vitalys (Maximenko's) address on his consecration as bishop, in which he movingly speaks of the spiritual-psychological conditions under which he was able to bring such fruit as a missionary of the printed word: in absolute independence, “not bothering anyone and not bothered by anyone.” Exactly! And that’s normal in the Church, not bending oneself into some other shape for the sake of a purely formal and fictitious “obedience,” That’s the way Vladika John acted, and that’s the inspiration he gave us. If we fall into heresy or give scandal, that’s another matter. For us here in the wilds, our idea of a bishop is somewhat modelled on the vultures who circle our mountain constantly now: “overseeing” everything, they nonetheless do not bother those animals that move around doing their own affairs, but come down to examine and clean up only when they smell something rotten! If Vladika A, after all his “disillusionment” with us, still wants to ordain us priests, then clearly he doesn’t smell anything seriously rotten!

We had a good long talk with Vladika Nektary about all this, and, while he said he would not “advise” us, if it were he that was involved he would simply disobey those directives which he felt to be destructive of the idea by which we live, and thus if there were going to be a complaint at the Synod it would have to come first from Vladika A. himself. This of course reinforces what Vladika Laurus told us about not taking any formal action but nonetheless expressing our disagreement with such actions. And so we are patiently awaiting what will come, content that at least for the time being we are not actually being bothered by any pressing demands and can concentrate on the work at hand, with which we are only slowly catching up.

Vladika Nektary told us in more detail about his own relation to Vladika Anthony, and we will tell you of one or two points so that you will be informed of what seems clearly to be an unsound situation that may later have broader repercussions in the whole Church. Vladika Nektary told us: “I am not a bishop; I am a doll in a ryassa.” Vladika A. gives him no freedom whatsoever, and will not even allow him to tonsure a candidate to be his cell-attendant. One incident in particular is most revealing: In the cell in which Vladika John reposed in Seatde there is small bed, on which he was laid just after his repose. One day at the Synod Vladika Anthony, without saying a word to Vladika Nektary in advance, in an irritated tone announced to the bishops that an intolerable situation exists: Vladika John never lay down to sleep, and yet in his cell in Seatde there is a bed; it must be removed. The bishops more or less agreed (although apparently this hasn’t been done yet), and Vladika A receives the impression of a zealot for the memory of Vladika John. Later Vladika A. came to Vladika Nektary’s cell at the Synod and made a prostration to the ground before him, begging pardon if he offended him. We do not want to believe that all this was some kind of “act,” and we can easily enough believe that Vladika A acted sincerely, unaware of how very wrong such behavior surely is. Why create such a scene, when the matter could easily be discussed with the local bishop (Vladika N.) on the scene? The Synod need not be involved at all. But why, after all, remove the bed when it actually does have such significance, as the first bed in which Vladika John lay in 40 years? The basis for such behavior is surely unsound. In our own case we have noticed that Vladika A. does not care to discuss things with us; he acts only as he sees fit, and everyone else must agree with him. And as regards his veneration of Vladika John, we find it to be, like other things, more outward than real. Otherwise he would not have simply declared our Brotherhood abolished, without consulting or even telling us in advance, and certainly without thinking whether, for the sake of the blessing of Vladika John which rests upon it, the name should somehow be preserved even in our monastic state. Likewise he would not have abolished Vladika John’s Blagovestnik in order to begin his own (frankly trivial) Tropinka. He told us directly: I’m opening my own little magazine; Blagovestnik is closed; if you want to print anything in Russian, you will not call it Blagovestnik. Vladika Nektary, a very sensitive man, was very hurt by this. Are we wrong to suspect some kind of jealousy at work here? Of course, it’s not our business to judge that; but we cannot be blind to actions which are, in a church sense, wrong.

I think you can understand after all this why we do not care to have any direct contact at all with Vladika Anthony. Rather than have a monastery subject to him, we will have no monastery at all—that will be more fruitful. For the time being we will stay as we are, acting independendy while awaiting future developments. The question of priesthood, of course, will not even arise until we can be assured of an officially independent status; for someone who does not understand what we are doing here, it would be the easiest thing in the world to send a useless wilderness priest to one of the several S.F. parishes that need or will soon need a priest.

For the immediate future we sense two sources of trouble: Vladika A., against our wishes and without our knowledge, collected money in every parish for his monastery—probably several hundred dollars at least. That was six months ago, and we have not heard anything from him as to giving it to us. We suspect that it will involve some kind of “plan” of his own, and so we are >afraid of this money. Even accepting it with no strings attached bothers us, because he would give it as “Abbot” of his “Diocesan” Monastery. Of course, we also would not want to offend those who gave in good will, knowing us, although we would never have asked them ourselves, not wishing to be parasites. So we are hoping that our “day of reckoning” with the Archbishop will come before he tries to give us the money, and then the use of it will be up to his conscience.

Secondly: soon we will put out our Orthodox Word devoted largely to Vladika John, openly confessing his sanctity. We believe that Vladika A. would prefer the veneration of Vladika John to be quiet and private, and all emphasis on sanctity to be hushed up. If so, he might react adversely to this issue; although we don’t know, (all of this would become more evident, of course, if God grants us to print something in Russian.) Then, of course, we would only rejoice if we were to suffer for our veneration of Vladika John.

A third point I forgot: Probably soon will be the S.F. Diocesan clergy assembly; and as a “Diocesan” organization we would be obliged to attend and give a report. What do we do about that? I think we had probably better send instead a letter explaining why we do not attend, not acknowledging ourselves to be a “diocesan” organization; and of course, that would precipitate our day of reckoning. To become involved with the Diocesan clergy would be our spiritual suicide. To name only one point: possibly the majority, or at least the most vocal members, of the clergy are against Vladika John, and our public veneration of him would be a Diocesan scandal.

All of this is a clearing of our mind, our Brotherhood’s “confession” to you, as it were. Please do not despair for us. We are in good spirits and working hard, and are much better prepared now for the coming trials than we were some months ago. We are most consoled of all by the fact that the bishops in whom we have confided did not at all tell us to be falsely meek and let the powerful do what they want. Thus we are not too unrealistic and naive in believing that truth and principle and serious labor for the Church should come first, and all politics and organizational questions second.

After receiving a third letter from Priestmonk Innocent (together with a copy of the letter he wrote to Anastasios Luebke, telling him he would not serve for a parish that was calling St. Herman instead of Germain), we wrote a reply to him begging him not cause a scandal and make a useless campaign out of such a minor thing which is after all a matter of usage and not principle. But we will stick to the Alaskan usage of Herman.

With love in Christ our Saviour,
Seraphim, monk


June 23/July 6, 1971
Vladimir Mother of God

Dear Father Panteleimon,

Evlogeite! This is solely a “Publication Question Sheet”; a letter will follow shortly. Thanks be to God, we are well and in good spirits.

1. Life of St. Mamas: safely received with many thanks. It will go in the May-June issue, as Vladika John will have to be our saint for March-April! By the way, it does no good to send us anything by “special delivery,” which is unheard of here; all our mail just sits in the post office until we go and get it.

2. Life of Blessed Archbishop John in Russian is enclosed—this is our closely guarded “secret project” about which no one knew. Glory be to God, we finished it the evening before Vladika Johns repose and delivered it at 6. a.m. to the Sepulchre before Liturgy. First response from everyone was favorable, after the shock wore off, but we await further repercussions. We visited for two hours with Vladika Nektary, who was just sent home; his condition is still serious, but hopeful; he is on a strict regime with absolute rest prescribed, even idle gestures being prohibited.

3. Calendar: have you checked through the whole thing? How widespread are the discrepancies in dates of commemoration of saints, and how can we make the calendar usable for Greeks as well as Russians? We would like to start printing, God willing, in Sept.

4. Service to St. Nectarios: we would like to print this year as part of OW (and separately), if possible before November. We hope to print one service a year, next year hopefully St. Mark of Ephesus. We have your translation of Vespers and the French translation of part of Matins; can you supply the Canon and anything else missing? If you want to supply the whole Matins, wonderful; otherwise we will translate from French. But we will need to know what Tone the kathismata are in, also the stikhera or lauds, and whether there are any “special melodies” here or in Vespers. Also, please give Acrostic, if any—but we don’t require it to fit the English Canon! (This is what the Slavonic Menaion does.) And please suggest whether we should supply more rubrics and/or text of the “common” parts of Vespers and Matins for our Americans who don’t know the order of services.

5. If we catch up, print the calendar, etc., this year, we would like to begin thinking, for next year, of printing a full Horologion for church use. What do you say and suggest? Will we need to appeal to an “English Liturgical Committee” of the Synod, which might involve endless complications and delays, or is it sufficient for your monastery and ours to work out the text between us and then offer it jointly to the English-speaking Orthodox world? Daniel Olson was just here for another week and volunteered his services, and astutely observed: everything depends on a standard Psalter, no adequate version of which has yet been printed in English; and he thought we should use yours. Can you send us a copy, or is it being printed?

If we do not hear from you in writing within a reasonable time, we will have to put you again to the expense of a phone call! As you see, we are full of hopes and plans for the future, while God gives us the time and opportunity. We are more than ever convinced that Vladika John and St. Herman are with us, and with their help we can do much.

Asking your prayers,

With love in Christ our Saviour,
Seraphim, monk


July 7/20, 1971
St. Thomas of Melea

Dear Father in Christ, Panteleimon,

On looking over our file of letters to you since our “crisis” began in January, I note that we have sent you a “progress report” about every two months; and another one is now due! And so I send you this brief report, even though there is very little if any change in our situation, in order to keep you informed and, for our own benefit, to bring everything out in a “confession” so it will not lie hidden within us and later, taken too much for granted by us, cause some kind of trouble. This, by the way, is the exact opposite of the principle by which Vladika Anthony operates: keep everything hidden, do not let a person know how he stands, and then operate suddenly so as to catch him by surprise so you can do with him whatever you want. This we find to be spiritual poison, which only produces bitterness and resentment, which are pointless and fruitless.

After our last letter to you we heard from San Francisco that Vladika Anthony knew or suspected our attitude toward him, and that he was resolved not to lose his reputation of “peacemaker” for our sakes, and so he would not touch us for the time being. Perhaps Vlad. Nektary advised him not to be so hard on us, or perhaps he just guessed at our feelings. At any rate, we received a striking confirmation of this diagnosis very soon. On the Feast of the Ascension, when we were still unable to travel to San Francisco because of our truck, we were astonished when shortly after dawn who should arrive but Vladika Anthony himself! He acted as though it were the most natural thing in the world for an Archbishop not to be serving in his own Cathedral on such a feast day (Vladika Nektary served there), and told us he had wanted to come to us after Pascha but only now got the opportunity. We of course were quite nervous, but resolved to place all our hope in God, and His saints, to accept gratefully the spiritual gifts of Divine Liturgy and Holy Communion, and then see what God would send us—we rather hoped that we would finally “have it out” with Vladika and bring everything into the open.

After Liturgy Vladika said we would have no reading at Trapeza, as we had “much to talk about.” After some small talk, the Russian who had driven Vladika retired to rest, and we waited to see what Vladika would say. To our great astonishment we found that he was just as tense and nervous as we were—and that he didn’t say anything at all! He asked about our service on Pascha, without expressing any disapproval of the fact that we didn’t try harder to get to San Francisco then; he told us about the service at Fort Ross the next week without even suggesting that we come to “be seen”; and said not a word about “obedience,” “prelest,” or anything of the sort!

After Vladika himself retired to rest for a while (to my kellia, where Fr. Herman had placed in a conspicuous place a small card with the text in Russian, to inspire us: “Stavropigialny missionary Brotherhood of St. Job of Pochaev—Vladika Vitaly”), Fr. Herman and I consulted: we decided he had indeed come as a “peacemaker,” and that if he himself does not raise any issues we also should say nothing, following Vlad. Laurus’ advice not to do anything rash but simply to continue acting independently. After resting, Vladika briefly looked at our printshop, where he made the offhand comment (with a nervous laugh) that perhaps he had offended us in the past?—to which we said nothing at all. And he left.

Nonetheless, with this visit our situation did not change in the least; only a “cease-fire” had been declared, as it were. We simply continued our independent printing activities expecting war to break out again when we finished our Russian Life of Vladika John, which we issued as published by the Brotherhood of St. Herman of Alaska”—which Vladika had supposedly abolished! We left San Francisco on the same day we came, and Vladika Anthony had time only to read the text hurriedly before we left, and obviously he had not yet “digested” it thoroughly. To our surprise, in principle he did not seem opposed to it, did not even protest that he hadn’t been informed in advance, and about the text he only wondered “what will people in the Kazan church think?” (Here is the life of a saint of universal significance, a patron saint of the Russian Diaspora—and he wonders what the local trouble-makers might think! That surely reveals something about restriction to a narrow, “diocesan” outlook, to say the least!) But we fully expect some later repercussions, and do not expect the “ceasefire” to last indefinitely!

So you see, we have “peace” for a while, and we continue to operate independently; but the basic unhealthy situation remains unchanged. How long it will be before the next battle breaks out we do not know, but we suspect it will not be until after the Sobor of Bishops in Sept., at which Vladika will doubtless wish to present himself as “head” of a peaceful and flourishing monastery. We remain at our battle stations, but we follow the advice of Vladikas Laurus and Nektary not to do anything rash and to wait until we are provoked into action. Meanwhile we will shortly send a new letter to Vladika Laurus and see if he has any further advice. Our present idea is to wait until Vladika Anthony makes some new attack against our independence, and then to present him with an outspoken letter, full of respect and love but very firm, telling him what we will not do. We are convinced that he will listen only to strong words and actions; meek requests he will simply ignore or crush. We are quite certain that he will fight long and hard against a stavropignialny monastery in his Diocese (Matushka Ariadna has that status, and he can’t do a thing with her!), and that he would never have permitted it if we had asked for it explicitly before our tonsure; doubtless he will finally grant it, if at all, only to avoid a scandal. If only he could be made to see that as independent we will be his best friends, whereas as his crushed slaves we would be only his secret enemies! Our resolve to be unflinchingly firm is only reinforced by seeing Vladika Nektary—who, facing death, finds his most difficult trial is to accept spiritually Vladika Anthony’s unjust and condescending treatment of him, not allowing bitterness to creep in. Vladika Nektary chose the path of meekness; but we cannot afford that! We are only sad that we ourselves cause Vladika Nektary sorrow because we would not become his disciples when he himself wanted to establish a monastery—but we realized then that that would be the end of our independent mission of the printed word, and we hate to think of the position we would now be in if we had agreed to follow him out of politeness or pity. We do not regret that we have faithfully followed the words of St. John Cassian: “Flee women and bishops!”

We regretfully come to the conclusion that in the San Francisco Archdiocese, under the present leadership, there is simply no room for monks; they can exist and flourish only independently of that lead leadership, as Abbess Ariadna does. Vladika Anthony’s relentless (but apparently unintentional—that’s just the way he operates) persecution of his monks is emphasized by his visit to Vladika Nektary in the hospital, where he so upset the sick and dying man that the nurse had to make him leave” (He was apparently chastising him for opening a parish in Portland without his knowledge—he needn’t worry, that parish seems to be in the process of closing itself down, and almost certainly will do so without Vladika Nektary.)

There you have our situation, up to date. If we do not hear from you on our manuscript questions, we will call you within the next 3 weeks or so. Our summer has been mercifully cool until the last few days, but now the heat has begun in earnest and both of us are suffering from it. Pray for us, dear Father!

With love in Christ our Saviour,
Seraphim, monk

P.s. A bad sign—word reaches us from S.F, that laymen (whom we know) close to Vlad. Anthony are spreading the story that we are in “prelest,” have no one in charge of us, etc. Why doesn’t the ruling hierarch tell us his “suspicions” instead of laymen?


Aug. 3/16, 1971
St. Anthony the Roman

Dear Brother in Christ, Laurence,

Greetings in our Lord Jesus Christ. Rejoice in the Lord!

Congratulations with the namesday child. We are sending him an inscribed copy of vol. 6 of the OW, so he can clearly see what we are doing.

The calendar has been sent to Nicholas Mabin, airmail. Time is fast approaching when we must either print it or give up the project for this year. First we must finish two OWs, the first of which has been begun. Pray for us!

Response from the Russian OW has been very disappointing. Have the Russians really lost all sense of what a podvizhnik is?

We’ve apparently reached the peak of the pilgrim season. Yesterday we had a surprise visit from our nearest Orthodox neighbors, the Harveys of Redding (a Russian woman married to an American, at whose baptism by Vladika John, it turns out, I was present). Mrs. Harvey knows much about Vladika’s Shanghai days and says, “Vladika performed so many miracles that we took them for granted, and most of them are not written down.”

Last week Fr. Neketas visited us for 2 days and served Liturgy twice, once at midnight, Greek style; Fr. Sergius from San Diego arrived in time for the second Liturgy. Now there is a real priest who puts our Russians to shame. From what he says, added to what we've already heard, it would seem that he is not at all in favor with the Archbishop—why, is a mystery, but it’s sad.

Our cool summer finally became warm (but not really hot) for a month, until last week when we had three days at 98 degrees (the hottest since we’ve been here), with 80 degrees at night, and we felt in a constant state of fever. But that was all, and today one feels already an early-autumn coolness in the air. Mrs. Harvey confirms our fears of a hard winter—there’s an abnormal amount of butterflies on the highway! (I don’t know whether that’s Russian folklore or what!) Anyway, we expect that God’s kindness to us our first two winters is about to change to strictness, and the problem of firewood and winterproofing what buildings we have is about to be undertaken in earnest. Problems of chicken coops and hens also stand before us.

We got two more rattlesnakes after your departure, which cause us to “walk circumspectly.” We also struck up an acquaintance with a small owl who came at dusk two nights looking for our mice. We even talked to him, and he answered 4 or 5 times with a clucking sound, until he got tired of answering the same question so much.

How goes your resolve to abandon the world, both within and without yourself? ·.

Pray for us.

With love in Christ,
Seraphim, monk

P.s. We’re sending you a book on forced labor in USSR: please xerox it (you’ll probably find it interesting reading too) and send it to the address below. The Meteora book is for you to read; bring it back with you your next trip.

Mr. Y. Gabriel Jegoroff
932 1/2 Margaret St.
Monterey, Calif. 93940

[Fr. Herman’s note:] rush, hurry up! quick, as soon as possible, immediately, at once, fast, NOW!


Aug. 10/23, 1971
St. Laurence the Archdeacon

Dear Brother in Christ Laurence,

Congratulations on your namesday! May God grant you to grow with each year in Christian virtues and attain in the end to His eternal Kingdom!

Enclosed is our official epistle to you to help you make up your mind about joining us. What does it say to your heart?

Fr. Fyodor s being so upset is apparently significant of something; he complained also to Deacon Nicholas. As for giving advice, he asked for it, telling Fr. Herman that he was dissatisfied where he was, that he had a chance to go to Vlad. Vitaly, or maybe he would join us, and what did Fr. Herman think? Fr. Herman's reply was by no means unkind or sharp, but it was very definitely based on the idea that we could not possibly ask someone to travel 3000 miles to our primitive conditions when he was no more than casually (if at all) interested in what we are doing. Fr. Herman suggested that he read several issues of the OW if he wanted to know what makes our community “tick,” but that probably he would find himself more at home with Vlad. Vitaly's Russian-oriented work. That Fr. Fyodor could get so upset at this leads one to suspect that he indeed did have in mind just what he told you: that he, being experienced (?) in monasticism, wanted to come and “run the show.”

But of course he is correct when he says that what we are doing is “irregular”—from the point of view of the prevailing Russian Church practice. There are, however, plentiful precedents from the lives of Saints—St. Sergius, for example—for going to the wilderness to save your soul. “Establishing a monastery” is another matter, but we did not come here with the intention of “establishing a monastery,” and in fact we’ve had nothing but trouble since Vladika A. “established a monastery” for us; but if this is what God wills and the Church desires that we have, then we will fight to have a real one, and not a fake one that is just a bishop’s whim, and we will fight for the genuine, independent monastic spirit and not be tempted by any barren fig trees that come around boasting of their “experience,” ukases, organizational ability, or whatever.

In the prevailing Russian understanding today a “monastery” is a place with an incidental collection of people, with a definite function in the Church: to serve as a bishop’s summer residence, picnic center, manpower pool for church needs, etc. And “monks” are those people who becomes slaves, crushed by the authorities for the sake of “obedience,” who can be used by the church organization: the more hopeful ones as bishops, the less hopeful ones as hieromonks in parishes that can’t afford anything better, and the complete fools to remain in the monastery and tend the cows. Against such a perverted idea, both of monasteries and of “obedience” and the monastic virtues, we emphatically protest, and if God grants us to have a real monastery here, it will fit into this “accepted” picture only over our dead bodies. This is what V. A. has in mind (and Vlad. Vitaly also, who recently forbade an Athonite hieromonk to reestablish the skete at Grad Kitezh or anywhere else), and this is apparently what Fr. Fyodor thinks also. In this concept “monasticism” has become some kind of spiritual gymnastics (pokloni, obediences, etc.) which can be acquired by living for a while in a “monastery” and once you have it you can become an incidental member of any other “monastery” and offer others the fruit of your gymnastic experience—in the meantime rising in the hierarchy of church ranks until, if you’re lucky, you become a bishop and you can run your own show. No! Monasticism is a disposition and effort of the soul striving for salvation, and its coenobitic form is forged by living in community with others of the same mind and soul and coming to be one in aspiration with them, each one spurring the others on to salvation. This, from all signs, is what Fr. Panteleimon has, and the Greeks in general seem still very aware of monasticism in itself and not just as a function in the Church at the mercy of bishops. Fr. Neketas was shocked when we spoke to him of Fr. Panteleimon as a candidate for bishop; an abbot isn’t supposed to be “promoted” to bishop, but remain where he is for life; and if Fr. Panteleimon did become a bishop, except in an extreme emergency, he would lose all respect in Greece.

This concept, however, seems to be dying out among Russians, certainly among bishops.

Concerning your quitting your job: it would doubtless be best for your peace of mind (“economic security”) if you took a “leave of absence,” preserving the right to return to your job; this would be normal and we would not regard it as a lack of faith in us or anything of the sort. However, in this way you would not get your retirement money and so would not be able to take your trip?? or maybe a shorter trip?? Decide what is wisest, by normal human standards.

This will be background for the accompanying epistle. We hope to see you on Uspeniye, when you will see the fantastic invention being put into operation for us by our Redding Orthodox neighbors.

With love in Christ,


August 10/23, 1971
St. Laurence the Archdeacon

Dear Brother in Christ, Laurence,

You have told us of your willingness to drop everything and come to join us here as a full-fledged brother; and you have expressed your doubts. Now it is for us to tell you what you can expect and what we expect of you when and if you join us, no longer as an honored guest and brother from far away, but as a full member of our community.

1. First of all, we welcome you as a full and organic member of our monastic-missionary body, fully sharing our common joys, sorrows, difficulties, and everyday life, and giving your maximum to the common work and responding to the common need without second thought. We will sacrifice ourselves to the utmost to make room for you in our common body, and we will expect the same of you. Under no circumstances will we allow you to live as a “bachelor” and adjust ourselves to your whims and eccentricities, nor as any kind of “guest,” paying or free, who gets room and board in exchange for work or money. You are a full member of us, or there is no point in your coming.

2. Our spiritual orientation is: devotion to St. Herman and discipleship to Vladika John and faithfulness to his testament and tradition to us, which includes in some degree being a “reflection of Valaam.” We have neither startsi nor great spiritual gifts to offer you; we can only invite you to be our fellow-orphan of St. Herman and Vladika John, asking together their help to make up our numerous deficiencies. Many from outside, as you already see, will judge us, will say we are in “prelest,” etc., and you will fall under the general condemnation. We cannot defend ourselves by pointing to any “spiritual” qualities which we do not have, but only by the fruits which God may bring forth from our common labors. We have sufficient testimony from outside to tell us that these fruits so far, even if small, are nonetheless real.

Vladika John divided his day into four parts of six hours each: rest, spiritual reading and reflection, work, and prayer. That is also the formula of our common life, only with the hours adapted to our weakness and needs. The active part of our day is devoted to work and prayer; no idleness. You will be given a chotki and a brief rule of cell prayer; besides this, you will carry the chotki with you everywhere and use it as your chief weapon against idleness and vain imaginings, fighting the devil with the Jesus Prayer.

3. As you know, we are experiencing difficulty with the local “authority,” whose ideas concerning our status and the idea that inspires us are totally opposed to our own. Therefore, you must know that we do not accept him as Head of our community, nor do we accept his Ukase concerning our monastery, concerning which we have reported in writing to the Secretary of the Synod. Sooner or later there will doubtless be an open battle with the “authority,” and you will be expected to stand shoulder to shoulder with us in this, fighting for the common idea that inspires us (without which we will not be faithful to Vladika John), and being counselled by responsible persons in the Church who know us and our work. We may well have to endure disgrace. But know that one bishop (N) has openly encouraged us to “disobedience,” if that be necessary, telling us to “treasure the blessing of Vladika John above everything,” and another (L) has said: “the fact that sorrows come to you testifies to the fact that you are doing a work of God... I think that you should be patient, undertake no dramatic moves, but by your conduct and your ‘line’ show that this (the behavior and ukase of V.A.) goes against your soul and is not suitable to you.” In the meantime we consider that our monastery does not yet have an official status and is in a state of “persecution” until such day as we shall be free to exercise our monastic right to present our own Rule to the Synod and elect our own Head. Until that time we take protection under the name of “Brotherhood” which Vladika John blessed.

4. Our rule being coenobitic, everything is held in common, and no one has anything of his “own”—except, for practical purposes, the personal effects, books, icons, etc., in his own cell. All needs are paid for out of the common treasury; you must come to us poor. We will ask you to put whatever money you have left from the world in a safe place outside and not touch it until you either leave (in which case the money becomes your adjustment money back to the world) or make your final decision to remain with us (in which case you distribute the money to whomever you please, or to the monastery). If you come with your car, you will put the keys in the common treasury and it will be used by the community as needed and with blessing and will not become “yours” again until you make your final decision on staying or leaving, when you will decide how to dispose of it. In other words, you will be entirely dependent on the community, which means also: you on us, and we on you. The worry that we cannot feed another mouth is real only if you do not intend to work; the additional income to be expected from the wholehearted addition of two hands to the work force will more than feed one extra mouth.

5. Authority, when necessary, is exercised by the eldest in our community, Fr. Herman, and after him by Fr. Seraphim. The obediences to be given form a part of the whole work and circumstances of the community, and their importance will generally be evident. If in particular cases you do not always see this, you will just have to trust us. So that the activity of community will proceed by common consent, and not according to the whim of individuals, nothing is undertaken without a blessing, no matter what one may “feel” or “think,” and all obediences are performed according to the rules and spirit of the community. Phrases such as “I insist, I demand, I refuse,” etc., are absolutely forbidden. General questions affecting the whole community will be decided “soborno,” by common consent (such as questions of stoves for winter). We do not acknowledge the right of any ecclesiastical authority outside the community to issue commands regarding our internal life, organization, or any individual member; any such attempt will be judged and acted on by the common consent of all members of the community. Our community is a monastery and not an episcopal dacha.

6. Worldly actions, conversation, manner, tone, objects, etc., are absolutely prohibited, as being utterly destructive of the monastic spirit. This includes:

a. Singing worldly songs, whistling, ostentatious spitting, littering.

b. Radio, newspapers, or magazines besides those received by the community, unless by special blessing for a definite purpose.

c. Crude or sexually oriented talk, reference to “urination,” etc.

d. Arguing, proving ones point, raising ones voice, idle comments, complaints, and in general everything that upsets the general peace and order.

e. Demanding of special treatment or privileges, such as bed pans, special foods or preparation, or other paraphernalia and habits of old maids and self-pampered bachelors. Sufficient allowance will be given in cases of illness, allergy, etc.

f. Demands to be placed in a position of authority, on a “Board of Directors,” etc.— these concepts are foreign to the nature of our community’s existence.

g. Nosiness, curiosity, idle questions.

h. Crossing the legs (for: Life of St. Arsenius the Great).

i. And free and easy, worldly manner with visitors. After visitors have been greeted one or more brothers will be assigned to them, and the others will continue their work.

j. No food is kept in kellias, and no eating between meals, unless with blessing (water is allowed between meals).

7. Finally, in everything the spirit of mutual love, trust, and respect must prevail. For infractions of the above rules, penances of pokloni may be given; but the severest punishment will be given to the brother who allows the sun to set on his anger against another brother. According to the rule of St. Cassian, such a one will not be allowed to pray with the brethren until he comes to repentance and begs forgiveness. For without mutual love, trust, and respect, nothing written above makes any sense, and there cannot be any community at all.

And so, dear brother in Christ, you have the picture. We expect much of you, and we will try to give you much in return. Only in principle you must agree with all that is written above; and if you fall, accept correction. As slaves of Christ we cannot offer to God and His Church great spirituality, wisdom, organization, or podvigs; but we can offer our absolute determination and strenuous effort to be faithful to the testament of Vladika John to us and to forge a community which in some way preserves his spirit, helping, encouraging and strengthening each other in our weaknesses and falls, and being open and honest with each other. The rules above are in accordance with the “Decree on Monasteries” of the Russian Church Abroad, which we shall read to you on your next visit.

Your brothers in Christ our Saviour,


August 13/26, 1971
St. Tikhon of Zadonsk

Dear Brother in Christ, Dimitry,
Rejoice in the Lord!

We were very glad to receive your letter and read it with great interest. We were touched at your defense of such “unpopular” ones as we. However, it would probably be best to discount a good part of what is said about our dire straights. Our last winter was a little harsh for the first month, but we were never in a very desperate condition; and after Christmas the weather turned quite mild. Fr. Cyprian apparently took too seriously some comments Fr. Herman made to him, which were not intended seriously. In January we received a letter from Fr. Cyprian: “immediately pack up and come to Jordanville by the beginning of Lent; we’ll send Holowka to help you move. Your situation is hopeless and you’ll fall into prelest, and besides Jordanville is dying off and in ten years there’ll be no one left to do the work, and if you don’t come nobody else will be inspired to come either.” Needless to say, we took this as another temptation, of which we’ve gotten quite a share since our tonsure (that, by the way, is supposed to be a sign that what we’re doing is good after all), and we stayed put. Last month we saw Fr. C. again in S.F, and his refrain how is: “You’re bezpopovtsi, you must get ordained or you’ll fall into prelest” (which logic is not too clear to us).

Well, in the meantime we stay put, do our work (which never stops piling up), and remain more convinced than ever that we are right where we should be. By the way, so you will know: we aren’t really trying to persuade anyone to join us. We didn’t come here to “establish a monastery,” but to save our souls and print the OW. If others are crazy enough to join us, perhaps God will bless a real monastery here; and if He blesses it, then He will give us the means of nourishing it, both physically and spiritually. Vladika John did tell us that he “believed' there would be a missionary monastery such as we dreamed of, but we wait to see what God’s will is for us. We told a few people (you, Fr. Seraphim, and 3 or 4 others) that in case of need or if your heart feels so moved, there is a refuge here; whereupon Fr. Seraphim started looking for “candidates” to send us—which we don’t need! If a monastery here is God-pleasing, then it will “build itself,” or so we believe.

But about you: you’re undecided, the clergy give you various advice.... Can I “advise” you too? If so—then don’t take any advice too seriously, not even (or maybe even especially!) from bishops; 9 out of 10 bishops are entirely preoccupied with their own problems, such as finding priests, etc. The fact that you are undecided means—that you’re undecided, neither more nor less. It doesn’t mean you want to be in the white clergy, for that is a definite decision in itself.

Vladika Andrey’s advice to join the white clergy is probably not a revelation. Fr. Herman, for all his veneration for Vladika Andrey (he was his spiritual father), on several occasions found it necessary to go against his advice—once when he refused to bless him to go to the seminary, and again several years ago when word came through a third person: “if Gleb isn’t married yet, he should become a celibate priest.”

The most sensible advice right now, of course, is to finish the seminary. But not necessarily; there is something more important, and I don’t know if anyone else will come out and say it to you, so I will. We recall your discouragement about Jordanville last year; last week a visitor told us that you walk around the monastery with a very discouraged look; and your letter repeats that Jordanville doesn’t inspire you. Answer a question: Of that which was inside you two years ago and persuaded or inspired you to go to Jordanville, how much is left? Or another question: What (or who) does inspire you? The greatest mistake—or rather, sin—you could make would be to allow the spark that brought you back to the Orthodox Faith to go out. And if Jordanville is doing that to you—and it has been known to do it—then you had better get out. If you sacrifice everything to finish the seminary, and while doing it go around gloomy, accepting thoughtless mockery and humiliation for the sake of “humility” (while in your heart carrying not humility at all, but just fatalism), and not being inspired by anything—then you may finish the seminary, but you probably won’t be good for anything! ·

Forgive me for being so bold, but I feel a certain responsibility for you, having known you since before the day when you said: “If I should ever become really Orthodox, I would want to be a monk.” In fact, your sister even tells me that my vague answer to your question about drugs led you to take marijuana—so maybe I can make up for that!

But what can one say by letter? We would like very much to have a good talk with you. But from this distance I will venture my opinion: down deep you are not undecided at all; it is circumstances, lack of inspiration, and no one to guide you that make you that way. Down deep you’re burning with a converts zeal and thirst for podvig, serving the Church, weeping and shouting for joy at what God has opened up for you—that whole undreamed of heavenly world which the Church gives you the means to approach, as compared to the filth and stench of the state in which you once were. Do I need to say more? We’re both converts too!

Down deep you want the full uncompromising Orthodox life. You want not merely to “serve the Church” or find a place in the Church establishment” (probably you don’t want that!), but you want to give your whole heart and soul and strength to God. But what form does this take? Apparently you have no one to point the way or inspire you. And you’re faced with an atmosphere wherein the Church has become a habit, even a career, a clique with its own jokes and vices—and worst of all, the means of deadening a living soul and putting out its spark. It’s wrong to douse this spark in the name of humility, patience, obedience, or any other Christian virtue; these too can become habits and deadening. The spark of Christian faith must be nourished; it can survive for a time with little nourishment, but if there is nothing to inspire it, it will not survive long. You were stupid enough (let me be frank) to fall for Nikita’s line, disregarding good advice and falling behind in your studies by doing so; but now if you let your disillusionment leave a scar on your soul, and you go around as an embittered, complaining, bored zombie, you will be no good to anyone, and it will be your own fault.

Your heart will say whether all this is right. But what to do? I’ll tell you what I’ve felt for a long time, since the time when what we have now was still a dream and you didn’t know what you believed: that if God opened your heart to Orthodox faith, you would think and feel as we do, and you belonged here with us. But you have to have something more definite than that to guide you, and our existence here is, frankly, so precarious that we couldn’t ask anyone to join us who didn’t come to it by himself. And we couldn’t accept you without first having a good long talk with you and presenting to you the real difficulties that face us, which are somewhat more serious than firewood and “prelest.” But first of all comes your own heart, which must find a place where it can be nourished so that you can produce fruit. If that place is with Fr. Panteleimon, we would be more than glad for you, because we believe he can nourish the “spark” as few others seem to do.

We fear most for you that “public opinion” will force you into a category into which you don’t belong, and that you will be weak enough to accept this and get stuck in it for life—or even worse, as happens too often, get bored with the whole thing and quit the Church altogether. You’re probably not in high repute in Jordanville—a weakling who thinks too much, gloomy, behind in his studies, knows English better than Russian, with some kind of shameful sins in his past; he won’t amount to much—put him in the korovnik, and maybe we can find a parish or some such place for him. If this is anything like the truth—don’t accept it! You’re called to more than that. You still have the “spark”— and you’re called to keep it alive and communicate it to others, producing fruit on Christ’s harvest, perhaps in an unconventional way. Don’t forget it! And don’t let anyone tell you to be “humble” and “obedient” and let someone else—who doesn’t see your heart or care who you are—fit you into a conventional mould that doesn’t fit you.

Keep in mind Vladika John; pray to him. He’s our guiding star, and when we sometimes get gloomy and begin to think that it’s pointless to go against the conventional view, that after all the Church is supposed to be a career and not something to get inspired about and inspire others with, that what we're doing is too risky, that it’s better to let our enthusiasm die out and let someone else tell us where we can be of “humble service” to the Church—then we bring to mind Vladika John and somehow everything makes sense again, and the “conventional” view doesn’t make sense at all and if this attitude continues to prevail among Russians abroad they will fulfill the threat of Vladika John in 1938 and uzrezhetrcr ________. And then we go back to our lives of Saints and Holy Fathers and get our inspiration from them.

Our relationship to Vladika Nektary, by the way, is quite good, and in fact, although Archimandrite Spyridon (and not Fr. Mitrophan) is officially our “starets,” we do not get to see him too often, and this function is actually performed for us by Vladika Nektary, who has comforted us greatly in our trials, and who tells us: I (Earlier he tried to persuade us to join him at his podvorye in Alameda (not Burlingame), but our soul was just not in the kind of monastery he wanted, and it would have placed our mission of the printed word in a decidedly secondary position, which we viewed as dangerous. And besides, we have always been very sensitive of the rule of St. John Cassian: “It was the advice of the Fathers, an advice always in season, that a monk should at all hazard flee the society of bishops and women; for neither women nor bishops permit a monk to remain at peace in his cell, nor fix his eyes on pure and heavenly doctrine.” Monks and bishops are of most benefit to each other and to the Church when they are independent of each other, we’re thoroughly convinced!

We’ve already heard about the Coptic service in Jordanville, and are only puzzled how it could have been allowed. But then, we ourselves were thoroughly chastised by Fr. Panteleimon and the Greeks about our Zeytoon article, although our minds are still open on that subject.

Fr. Theodore Tenkevich I knew for several years before he went to Jordanville, and was well acquainted with some of his strangenesses. We somehow thought he had “outgrown” them, but alas.... He was one of the original “founders” of our Brotherhood, and when he returned from Greece and wrote us he wanted to come to us, we had hopes; but Fr. Panteleimon painted us a dismal picture of him, and his sporadic correspondence with us only confirms it.

Pray for us. Write. We would love to see you, but will wait and see what God sends. Local folk tell us we're in for a real winter this year, but we go forward blindly. The Post Office recently tried to take away our 2nd Class mailing permit on a technicality, that we don’t have an office in the city in which we mail. But the outcome was happy: now we mail in Platina instead of Redding, and if the snow is deep, our winter OWs will go down the hill on sleds! (Don’t tell that to Kippie!)

With love in Christ our Saviour,
Seraphim, monk


Aug. 13/26, 1971
St. Tikhon of Zadonsk

Dear Brothers in Christ [Fr. Panteleimon et al.],

Rejoice in the Lord!

Thank you for the card and manuscripts (Arkady and Transfiguration). We note that Jordanville celebrates St. Herman on July 27—but somehow this feast hasn’t caught on with us. What does the monastery do with St. Panteleimon?

The Arkady ms raises several questions, about which I will be frank. Of course, we appreciate it, but right now it will go into our file and we have no idea when we can make use of it. Wasn’t it you who once called for a task force for the problems facing Orthodoxy? Well, in the general scheme that won't work, but in specific areas such as the New Martyrs it’s probably just what’s needed. The New Martyrs can be presented, not just at random, but according to a definite scheme. The Polsky volumes are just a first collection of materials, a starring point, for a presentation of the New Martyrs. Few of them can or should be presented just the way they are—which is why we recently gladly promised Vladika Vitaly that we won’t go into competition with him by printing vol. 1. And these volumes have the great weakness of understating the sources—they’re stuck at random in the back, and half of them are pseudonyms or initials. On the contrary, one of the first things one should know is who is telling the story—and most of the material is simply quotes, improperly or not at all identified as such. We are in contact with a number of the sources of this material, and they supply some supplementary material; we also have some manuscript material, which should be added. As a result, of our New Martyrs of the past year, only Bp. Maxim is a more or less straight translation from the text. The rest of them are compiled from various sources, and the witnesses identified.

Therefore: a systematic approach, all the way down to an index of all martyrs mentioned in Polsky and elsewhere, which we are doing. (Part I of the System, as you can see, is: witnesses of the Catacomb Church). But this requires hands and minds. So far 90% of our hand and mind labor is devoted to the sheer physical problem of printing (and chopping wood, etc.), and our translation and intellectual work is snatched fitfully between hours at the printing machines. (That’s not a complaint—it’s probably our salvation!) Therefore our presentation of the New Martyrs comes out painfully slow; but the plan is there, and there is quite a bit of material. In this plan, by the way, our next need is for a translation of the whole of Archbishop Seraphim of Uglich (vol. 2, pp. 12-18), which was written by Alexei Rostov (formerly “S. Nesterov”), who has also given us some additional information; and hopefully we will also be able to get something on Archbp. S’s years in America.

Your epistles are too cryptic. Send us a word—not necessarily about your “plans,” but about your souls. Where are your hearts? Give us a word or two.

With love in Christ our Saviour,
Seraphim, monk

p.s. Thanks also for the Theophil translation of some months back, which we’ve read several times to guests at trapeza. Is the monastery coming out with the book soon?


Aug. 16/29,1971
The Holy Napkin

Dear Brother in Christ, Laurence,

Thank you for spending the feast day with us. Our services for some reason today took 3 hours, so you were probably to Williams before we finished. With Uspeniye we go on autumn time, and getting up time becomes pre-dawn, as you aptly reminded us.

In the last few hours we’ve reflected a little on your problem and will offer the fruits of it, in the form of a few principles and recommendations, which perhaps, when put together, will help you on the way to a decision.

1. Keep the “spiritual” and the “worldly” distinct: both spheres have their own logic. Your decision to join us, and later on to remain with us, God willing, should be taken according to spiritual logic; but preliminary questions such as trip, job, etc., are still subject to worldly logic. It is a dangerous mistake to start applying spiritual logic too early or in the wrong place, for that can hinder one later from making a safe retreat back to the world. Our wandering and ex-monks are living examples of what not to follow; if one is to live in the world (and one can do so fruitfully, from the Christian point of view), it should be with the independence and advantages of anyone else living in the world, and not with the handicap of the spiritual crippling that comes from not knowing where one belongs, trying to mix monastic and worldly life, having regrets about past decisions, etc.

Monastic rules give precisely a trial period of at least 6 months, during which time one’s worldly rights, while as it were suspended, remain intact. Therefore it is simply not appropriate for you to make a once and for all decision now about staying with us. We welcome you and hope that you will eventually make this decision, since it appears to us that you would be most fruitful here; but that decision belongs at the end of the trial period, during which period all previously incalculable questions should be resolved. Therefore, definitely, if at all possible, you should take a leave of absence, so that if you do decide to return to the world you will have maximum freedom and security in which to bring forth what fruit you can bring forth in the world (the calendar is a good first fruit) without using up your psychic-spiritual energy on vain regrets and job insecurity.

2. One of your important debts to the world is the visit to your mother, which from what you have said and the way you apparently feel, should be made if at all possible this year.

3. The first two principles being, apparently, mutually exclusive, perhaps you should change some other element in the equation to make them both possible. What about visiting your mother, relatives, and Boston on your vacation (3 weeks?) on borrowed money which you would pay back after Christmas (when your $400 debt will be finished?), and then joining us in spring instead of November? Of course, I don’t know what sums of money this would involve or how long it would take you to pay it back, but your trip would obviously have to be as modest as possible.

Beyond this we don’t know what to say or recommend, as we don’t see any other alternatives. Pray about it to Vladika John.

We forget to mention: Father Theodoritos (Mt. Athos monk, formerly John Mavros, who wrote articles and helped us set type in 1965) is now visiting Fr. Panteleimon, and will be coming to S.F. this week or next to spend several weeks with his brother. He would like to visit us,.and Fr. Panteleimon is giving him your phone number. Please do whatever you can to get him here: giving instructions (in case his brother might bring him), notifying us where and when to pick him up (we’ll be going to the PO at least every other day) in case he comes by bus or plane, or maybe even bringing him yourself (we’ll gladly pay for your trip). He’s written two books in Greek, of which we are getting a partial Russian summary made: one on the life of St. Nectarios, another consisting of anti-ecumenist dialogues. In any case you would do good to meet him—his brother, Anthony Mavros, is [in] the phone book; call him if he doesn’t call you in a week or two.

Pray for us. And watch out; besides the human factor, the devil is likely to try and disturb you or mix you up in future weeks. Don’t trust your feelings too much, and make sense at least by worldly logic. [Letter ends.]


Aug. 16/29, 1971
The Icon of the Lord Not Made with Hands

Dear brother in Christ, Alexey,

Greetings in our Lord Jesus Christ. After I resolved finally to put off no longer writing to you, but to do it unfailing today—I realized that the feast celebrated today is that .of the Icon for which you have such devotion. And so I congratulate you on the feast, which according to the Russians is the “Third Saviour”—i.e., the third feast of the Saviour in the summer, the others being the feast of the Cross on Aug. 1, and the Transfiguration.

Please forgive my long silence, but in addition to our printing labors (which include a Russian Orthodox Word devoted to the Life of Archbishop John, which we finished the day before the 5th anniversary of his repose), we have had quite a bit of company—comparatively speaking. Seven people in a week is quite a crowd by our wilderness standards!

We read the article you sent with great interest; in fact, I read it several times, the last time just now. I find nothing wrong with it, and could think of only one possible change in the English, which I noted. The point is a good one, aptly illustrated by Holy Scriptures and ancient and recent Fathers, and it is written with feeling, not as an idle academic exercise. It is not at all “vain and presumptuous” for you to write such an article, for if nothing else it helps you to clarify and develop your own ideas and feelings and check them against the “sources”—both Scripture and those who have lived the Faith which we profess and try to live ourselves. I can even think of a place where it might suitably be published: in a newspaper called Orthodox America, which, besides giving Orthodox news, enlightenment, and the proper Orthodox viewpoint on contemporary issues, has a section where Orthodox converts and all the dispersed children of “Orthodox America” in general share some of their ideas, insights, hopes, etc. Unfortunately, such a newspaper doesn’t exist! Maybe it will one day. Nonetheless, even without a newspaper, it doesn’t hurt for converts to share ideas with each other. Dr. Johnstone, for example, would probably be interested in seeing it.

Some years ago I wrote brief articles somewhat in the same vein, at the insistence of Archbishop John, who wanted at least a page or two of English material in the San Francisco diocesan bulletin (now defunct). I don’t know who if anyone read them, and looking back on them now I find them, despite the “feeling” I put into them, somewhat “abstract,” the product of thinking that hadn’t had too much experience as yet either of Orthodox literature or Orthodox life. Still, for me, they served an important function in my understanding and expression of various Orthodox questions, and even in my Orthodox “development,” and Vladika John “pushed” that.

Therefore, if you feel moved to write similar articles, by all means do so. You mention an important point: the great usefulness of citing the works of the Fathers. To this I would add: the great usefulness also of citing incidents from their lives, when appropriate. Especially in our days, clever “theologians” are able to quote the Fathers and twist them far enough to confuse the faithful. But what the Fathers did is often so clear and unequivocal that it can’t be twisted. As an example” There is much talk now of the approaching “Eighth Ecumenical Council,” how binding it will be on all Orthodox Christians as the ultimate authority in the Church, etc.—and then one remembers that the Orthodox already had such an “Eighth Ecumenical Council”—for the representatives of all the Patriarchates signed the decree of the Council of Florence. Nonetheless, because one bishop, St. Mark of Ephesus, stood up for the truth against the whole council, rejecting its decree (the Unia) because it contradicted Orthodox tradition—the whole Orthodox Church eventually likewise rejected it. Even so today the proponents of reform and unia will have many and subtle arguments, and we will oppose them not only with arguments and citations from the Fathers, but even more with the example of St. Mark of Ephesus.

If I have any suggestion for your future articles, then, it would simply be to keep in mind the lives of the saints. In this very article, in fact, there are at least two points that would be made more forceful by references to the lives of the authors of citations (one saint and one modern-day confessor). On p. 3, you quote St. John of Kronstadt on “love”—but he is not merely a great Orthodox saint of this century, he is a very incarnation of the love he talks about, and there is scarcely to be found a parallel in the lives of other saints to his absolute self-crucifying love and service to others, blessed by God in the manifestation of an abundance of miracles that can only be compared to those of St. Nicholas.

Again, or p. 2 where to quote I. M. Andreyev on Christianity as an “all-embracing new principle of life,” this becomes yet more forceful when you know that this statement comes out of his experience of the horror of Soviet reality, and was born in prisons and catacombs and the awareness that was forced upon him there, that now one can't be a half-hearted Christian, but only entirely, or not at all; Christianity is either everything for one, or it simply will not stand the test of Soviet reality.

In this same line of thinking, by the way, you will probably find the enclosed little book of interest, a contemporary witness of Orthodoxy in the face of the same unbending Soviet reality. You can keep the book, as we were sent several.

Now that I’ve begun in this vein, I can think of other examples. On grace, for example, the Egyptian Father St. Paisius the Great failed to recognize his own disciple after he returned from a brief trip to Alexandria. It turned out that the disciple had met a heretic and had agreed with him that “perhaps” some Orthodox dogma was not true after all—and grace left him, and this was literally seen by his elder—so real is grace, and so carefully must it be kept.

I’ve said enough for a while. Give our regards to Susan and Ian. Tell Ian we have two baby deer with spots. Perhaps we will see you again before winter? Rumor has it the winter will be early and harsh, and it’s true that our summer, except for a short period, was abnormally cool, and today is actually cold. We had three spectacular thunderstorms too.

With love in Christ our Saviour,
Seraphim, monk


Aug. 29/Sept. 11, 1971
Beheading of St. John the Baptist

Dear Brother in Christ, Dimitry,

Greetings in our Lord Jesus Christ. I pray this finds you safely returned—although from what we hear not all your fellow-pilgrims left unscathed from Mt. Athos!

Alas, I’ve done it again! My letter has inspired you to take a decision—a leave of absence from the seminary. But after reading your new letter I very much doubt that that is a wise thing for you to do now. If you give up the seminary (and a leave of absence amounts to that), it should be only because it has become a spiritual dead end and because you have at least a promising alternative to it. But what’s your alternative—Getting a job (if you can) and waiting for God to do something. Not much chance! You have to show an effort, some kind of “podvig,” first. However discouraging you may find the Jordanville atmosphere, it is still a Church-saturated atmosphere and it gives you valuable Church learning. Whereas a job in the world, with no definite spiritual orientation or goal, is all too likely to be precisely a spiritual dead end for you.

Forgive me again for my frankness, but I sense that you are in great danger. You are floating in a cloud of indefiniteness, no definite goal in mind, waiting for something up happen; and meanwhile feeling somewhat sorry for yourself and piling up some negative experiences and (probably) attitudes. For example: how have you taken your trip fiasco? Are you still thinking: that Nikita did this to me! Or are you thinking as you should: even though by worldly standards I “deserved” this trip, still, God, for my sins and my completely foul, complacent, and self-centered attitude toward serving Him, deprived me of seeing the holy places. Which of these is closest to your attitude?—that should be a key to your spiritual state.

Your letters give this impression: you’re a great big spiritual baby who needs, first of all, a good spanking, and second of all some good hard work; and then you might be in a position to start thinking of your spiritual needs. If you are going to take any “advice” from me, I would give this advice: stick through this year of the seminary and do your best to catch up; and only then stop to think about what’s next. Pray hard for guidance from God and from the God-pleasers—pray to Vladika John; but pray in the midst of some kind of labor to please God—the seminary is a good such labor— and not in a cloud of indefiniteness unaccompanied by hard labors, without a definite goal. IF YOU HAVE NO OTHER DEFINITE GOAL, THEN AT LEAST KEEP THE GOAL OF FINISHING THE SEMINARY, ONE YEAR AT A TIME, and God will surely send you guidance beyond that.

This is primary; other questions, such as frequent communion, will have their meaning and place only after you have sweated through more basic labors and attained a more definite idea of your goal and aims.

Nonetheless, to answer briefly your questions: About frequent communion, we discussed this recently with Fr. Neketas Palassis, and we found ourselves quite in mutual agreement on the question. Our present state “without sacraments” (but actually we do partake of the Mysteries about once a month or sometimes two) is temporary and has its place in our whole “plan,” the first and absolutely essential step of which was to get free of the world and its ties, and not to do anything that will drag us back to it; and the context in which the priesthood has been offered to us so far has only promised to drag us back to the world we had escaped, and so we remain in our present state and await a more favorable sign. But that’s a complicated story which can't be gone into by letter.

As for the restoration of Russia—we can only wait to see what happens, when it will be and what form it will take, and act accordingly. We feel God’s guidance strongly up to this point, and pray he will not deprive us of it in future. May His holy will be done in us all!

With love in Christ our Saviour,
Seraphim, monk

P.s. We don’t recall ever writing up the Munich podvizhnik!


Aug. 31/Sept. 13, 1971
Placing of Sash of Most Holy Theotokos

Dear Father Neketas,

Evlogeite! To answer your requests immediately: the manuscript is going to Fr. Michael [Azkoul] in today's mail (but please send us a complete copy as soon as its out!) The 1968 copies are going to you likewise today. The stapler is Acme #1. Enclosed is the new OW, whose mailing has been delayed because we ran out of staples!

Concerning the whole Church situation which faces us, we had two interesting and indicative encounters this week. On Friday we [were] visited by Fr. Theodoritos, and what joy there was in meeting and praying with this true Athonite zealot. We were only confirmed in our judgment that, if the Greeks look to our Synod bishops for confirmation of their stand for true Orthodoxy, we in the Synod look to you zealot Greeks for inspiration in true and unbending Orthodoxy. Then, a few hours after Fr. Theodoritos left, we were visited by Hieromonk Theodore, newly moved to S. F. (surname Hoeins, not the one who was tonsured by Fr. Panteleimon)—and it turns out that he fully recognizes Athenagoras “until he preaches a heresy” (long since!), and is against the Old Calendarists and views the Athonite zealots as fanatics who will end in priestless sectarianism. I fear his views are all too close to the “organizational view” that prevails among many of our priests, and, one fears, even higher. This Sobor will doubtless reveal much concerning this. Please remember that we are with you Greek zealots in this, and keep us informed of crucial developments, decisions, etc. The day of “unconscious Orthodoxy” is past, and truly it is not enough for Russians to sit aloof and just wait for the restoration of Russia—which, when it comes, may take a surprising form and find most Russians off guard! We are more than ever concerned to preserve the independence of our monastery so that if—God forbid!—there should come a division in the Synod, we will be free to act according to conscience.

After you left us our weather turned abnormally cold, but now has turned hot again; but in general people are warning us of a cold winter. Our Orthodox friends in Redding have been overwhelming us with their benefactions, which include a gas refrigerator and a 1000 gallon water tank, for which we mush now devise a water collection system from rain and snow. But already we have running water on our front porch!

Pray for us.

With love in Christ our Saviour,


Oct. 1/14, 1971
Protection of Most Holy Theotokos

Dear Brother in Christ, Alexey,

Greetings in our Lord Jesus Christ. We read your two letters with great interest. Little did I suspect, when I casually mentioned Orthodox America in my letter, that it would evoke such a response! We have thought of such a periodical—actually a newspaper—as something to be realized only in an indefinite future, and rather along the lines of Fr. Neketas’ Newsletter, only greatly expanded. An American version of Orthodox Russia. But your idea is actually quite different, so it should have its own title and its own content and governing idea.

Which brings me to the point. There is no doubt that more Orthodox material in English is greatly needed, and there is definitely room for another Orthodox periodical in America. But before a single line is printed, the whole thing should be thoroughly thought—and probably also suffered! through. Vladimir has just written us of his concern that such a periodical might tend to duplicate the coverage of one of our existing Synod periodicals—i.e. Orthodox Word, Orthodox Life, and Fr. Neketas’ publications. The fact that you are interested in serializing the “Shroud” article, when a similar article has already appeared in Orthodox Life, might tend to confirm this fear.

In our experience, the single most important thing for such a periodical is to have its own distinct “personality,” its definite guiding idea together with the way this idea is expressed. This “personality” is seen not merely in the content, format, and editorial policy, but as well in the style, and the revelation of who is behind it (not anyone personally, but what kind of person: scholar? preacher? instructor? the voice of a “jurisdiction”? a convert speaking to and with other converts, etc.) and to whom it is directed (a scholarly audience? popular or semi-popular? converts? etc.). All this is not too easy to define, but it has to be at least felt if the periodical is in fact to have its own personality and not be merely a miscellaneous collection of materials.

Father Herman and I would be happy to be your “advisors” (in this sphere our two heads are definitely better than one!) in this, but that function is limited to general advice, plus any specific comments on content. The “creative” burden—specifically, the creation of a “personality,” and that not as an artificial thing but as coming out of a definite desire to meet a definite need—will rest right on you and your collaborators.

But first of all: be warned. You are a convert, and a pretty new one at that. It is characteristic of converts to start out with big ideas, usually on an insufficient foundation, and most of their projects fall flat, leaving wounds behind them. I say this not to scare you, and certainly not to discourage you, but to encourage your sobriety! When convert schemes fail there are definite reasons. Sometimes it is trusting oneself too much and “knowing better” than anyone else; most often, perhaps, it is the lack of the down-to-earth dimension of practical wisdom and deep determination. A few years ago one convert wanted to build a boat, go to Alaska, and “open a monastery, orphanage, or what have you.” One can almost guarantee that whatever he starts is not going to work out, because he himself does not reveal the specific determination to do one definite thing, and his schemes are not based on a specific need (not even his own) but rather an idle dreaming.

Having said this I’d like to encourage you to do some thinking on the “personality” of your proposed publication. Specifically you mention, besides the “Shroud,” the departments of “Fathers” and “Orthodox Heritage.” These are fine, but they do not yet give a personality or tone to the publication. In fact, this “personality” is so important that the very same article present in magazines of entirely different personality will be read and understood quite differently.

Father Herman and I discussed this matter at some length the other day, and we came up with something that may give you a “hint”; take it for what you find it to be worth. One thing that is largely lacking in our American Synodal publications is what might be called a sense of the “life” or “pulse” of the American mission. Perhaps this pulse is still faint, but it’s the foundation of whatever will be in the future. Fr. Neketas keeps us informed of his parish’s activities, but that’s about all we hear. Are the rest of the American Orthodox, then, just isolated individuals in a Russian sea, or is there really something that ties us all together, which means: that we can help each other. A periodical could help to bring together, which means: that we can help each other. A periodical could help to bring together and mutually encourage our widely-separated brethren. If one looks, one finds quite a few who want the real Orthodoxy for which the Synod stands, as against the spinelessness of what passes for “American Orthodoxy” in general. There is Fr. George Lambros’ parish in Buffalo, Fr. James Griffiths in NYC, Fr. Michael Azkoul s in St. Louis, the new parish in Tucson: and of course Fr. Neketas in Seattle and Holy Transfiguration Monastery in Boston (and its daughter convent there); and even our predominantly Russian monasteries at Jordanville and Novo-Diveyevo have their part in our true American Orthodoxy; not to mention Fr. Peter Carras and his spectacular Greek mission in Toronto (which has attracted 1000 families in less than two years!); and our many individual converts scattered throughout the land. By the way, Vladimir could write a very interesting report on his trip this last summer. In fact, if you want to know whom to consult, you should consult people just like yourself and put out a periodical by and for converts.

All of this is, conceivably, the raw material for a periodical; the use that would be made of it would be up to you. There could be good articles on various Orthodox topics by Dr. Johnstone, Fr. Michael Azkoul, and others; “reports” from parishes or missions; just plain “letters to the editor,” if they were somehow revealing or significant; etc. etc. There are three of you now interested in this: you, Vladimir, and Dr. Johnstone; all American converts with families. We would hope to see coming out of this common situation something answering to the common needs of Orthodox Americans. In fact—to repeat myself again—“need” is probably the key word to the whole project. It should be undertaken not merely as a “good idea” or something perhaps usefiil—but only as and if it tries to meet a definite and even desperate need. How do you view this need, and what have you to offer?

Another question which is a whole field in itself: Orthodox material for children, which is badly needed. Whether and how that can be included in your project is, of course, another question.

All this I write not in the form of “suggestions,” but rather to give you something to “react” to and to help make your own ideas more definite.

There are many “secondary” questions that are important too, and they should be thought through: practical questions of printing, format, cost, circulation, etc. We will be glad to discuss some of these with you when you come in two weeks (Oct. 23 is fine).

Concerning the title: Orthodox Spirit is already the title of a pan-Orthodox newspaper in Cleveland!

Reflect, consult, pray. Pray to Vladika John. There wouldn’t be any Orthodox Word today without him.

Yes, it will be appropriate, when the project is definite, to get the blessing of Vladika Anthony, and you have the right to tell your readers so, as it is a part of your “personality.”

Concerning the “Shroud”: it is wise to take seriously (even when you may not agree!) Fr. Neketas’ opinions, which generally reflect the views of Fr. Panteleimon and traditionalist Greeks in general. To this day we are not sure the Greeks are right about Zeytoon (they denounce it as a demonic apparition), but in deference to their strong views we will print nothing more about it, barring some spectacular development. Frankly, we don’t know whether the “Shroud” falls into this category or not, as we have not studied it carefully, even though we have been disposed to accept it on the authority of Jordanville. But certainly Fr. Neketas’ objections should be studied and his further opinion (after reading Sarah’s manuscript) taken seriously. Neither of us read it yet, so we can’t comment ourselves.

Many thanks for the offer to bring us anything. If there is anything specific we need, we’ll write a few days before you come. We’ve already had two cold spells, and our warm weather of the last 2 weeks seems to be fading again today. We’d better get our stove established in the trapeza, or you’ll suffer!

With love in Christ our Saviour,


Nov. 1/14, 1971
Sts. Cosmas and Damian

Dear Father Neketas,

Evlogeite! Many thanks for your letters, and please forgive our usual long silence. As you notice, our OW is again late. Cold weather struck us already a month ago, and we were finally forced to finish our winter preparations; most likely we will have our hardest winter so far. Then two weeks ago I cut my finger badly in the linotype (carelessness) and had to have it stitched up. But God willing, the new issue will he out before Thanksgiving, and then we start on the calendar, which this year we will force upon our readers as the Sept.-Oct. issue, hoping to publish it regularly hereafter as a separate publication. We will see what the response is. It is slightly corrected from last year, and hopefully much more improved in future years.

Alexey Young was here several weeks ago, and we tried to give him as sober a view as possible about starting a new periodical; but he’s still enthusiastic, so, God willing, the project will go on. We hear now that there is to be a new official Synod newspaper under Vladika Vitaly. May God prosper all there new shoots; but as for results, we will just have to wait and see. Sometimes a seemingly solid foundation just does not produce the expected results, and vice versa.... We only mentioned incidentally to Alexey an idea we have long had, for a newspaper to be called Orthodox America, somewhat modelled on Orthodox Russia, and viewed somewhat as an extension of your own Newsletter. In fact, we thought of you as the most likely to produce such as thing. But it’s been only a vague dream with us. Doubtless the future of genuine American Orthodoxy itself will govern the possibility of such a periodical. In the meantime, we printers have to be patient and “humble ourselves” before reality....

Strange... we thought we would be the winners in our proposed trade arrangement. By the way, could you send us 5 copies of Bp. Ignaty’s Arena?

Sorry to hear about John Shaw’s offensive letter. We met him last year at St. Herman’s canonization, and then he came here for a few hours with a group of seminarians. He’s a Jordanville graduate of this year, a convert and orphan (some kind of descendant of G. B. Shaw) who, as I understand, was raised by Fr. Dimitry Alexandrov (who has the mission to Old Believers, which has always seemed to us rather an academic thing) and made himself noticeable at Jordanville by his adherence to some Old Believer customs. Recently he wrote an article in Orth. Russia on a visitation to Bp. Peter in Astoria, and he may well have picked up some hostility to Fr. Panteleimon there. But most of all he probably has a bad case of what Russians call “self-opinion,” or just plain conceit (of the convert-young graduate type), and it’s probably incidental to him just how he proves that he’s “more Orthodox” than you or anyone else. Doubtless this will pass, but how he will end up is another question. I’ve always found this type of petty bickering very sad, when the primary question of Orthodoxy itself is what is really at stake. Even some fundamental differences on minor points are not that important; but half the time the supposed differences are no more than temporary circumstances, as is the case with your new church building. Surely the few true Orthodox Christians of these last times should have more sympathy for each other, a disposition to believe the best possible and not the worst, and if necessary, to forgive the forgivable!

Some of the decrees of the recent Sobor of Bishops were encouraging, but some of the “undertones” worry us, if you know what I mean! But doubtless we will hear more of these and have something more solid to talk about in the future. From the first “milk” I drank in as an Orthodox Christian in the Synod, I was taught that we have two kinds (or perhaps “traditions”) of bishops: on one side Vladikas John, Averky, Leonty, Nektary, Savva; on the other, those who now seem to have the governing positions. (Metr. Philaret would classify as an “independent,” and as long as he is Metropolitan I see Vlad. Ioann’s influence as somehow present.) Not to say that anyone is a heretic or enemy of any kind; but nonetheless the two characteristic dispositions, rather difficult to define, do seem to exist. The one group of bishops has now just about died out, and from them we have inherited some things which, I fear, may make us somewhat “out of fashion” in the Synod in the future, about which we’ve already had some hints. But perhaps this is too cryptic, or in any case is more suitable for oral communication than written. (Next August, perhaps?)

We were saddened to hear that Fr. Theodoritos didn’t accept ordination. But thereby is only emphasized the necessity in these dangerous times for all of us to make an extra podvig of sympathy and understanding for our fellow True Orthodox Christians.

We anxiously await your service to St. Nectarios in 1972. In the meantime, could you send us a copy before his Feast next week, of the Paraklesis Canon to him? All we have is the Vespers and whatever is in the French version.

Please pray for us, and forgive my idle talk.

With love in Christ our Saviour,
Seraphim, monk

P.s. How is your progress on the “Convert’s Manual”? Can you tell us some of your specific ideas for it?

Letters of Fr. Seraphim Rose


Jan. 25/Feb. 7, 1972

Dear Brother in Christ, Michael [Farnsworth?],

Greetings in our Lord Jesus Christ. We read your letter with great interest and sympathy. Glory be to God that you are on fire with love for the narrow path the truly leads to salvation. May God grant you in His time to take on yourself the angelic habit which protects and separates us from the world—yes, even us poor monks of the autumn (or rather winter) of monasticism. If St. Macarius the Great could say: “I am not a monk, but I have seen monks,” then what are we to say who dare to call ourselves monks and possess not one of the virtues of monks? And yet even we may dare to hope for mercy from God if we “love much,” if we keep alive the flame that brings us to the Orthodox Church, where in monasticism can and should be the surest way to travel the narrow path to salvation. Whatever you do or wherever you go, dear brother in Christ, do not let this flame go out. But know that you cannot follow this path without taking the cross upon yourself, the “chain of suffering” which the Christian life is. And so be prepared for trials, troubles, sufferings, and everything you might expect or want the least. There is no other path of Christian, and least of all monastic, life. Be firm in these trials, knowing that with them you are on the right path, and without them you are on the path straight to hell. “He that endureth to the end, shall be saved.”

As regards Jordanville (and the rest of us too!), you should know that St. Anthony the Great prophesied that in the last days monasticism would so decline that monks would not be distinguishable from laymen—and yet, because of their enduring of the sufferings of those times, their reward would be greater than that of the early desert monks.

You ask for our advice. First, do nothing quickly (in any case, we are still snowed in, and getting in and out is a problem). If you are in a place where it is possible to serve God and to work on yourself (you aren’t required to eat so much are you?—you’ll find we feed you too much too!), then get the maximum benefit from it, with patience and without judging anyone else. Make any move only after due consideration, and bring with you to any new place what you have acquired in the old place through patient enduring and learning.

Finally: we ourselves came to this place to serve God and to save our souls, not with the intention of acquiring novices. If anyone wants to be a novice with us, it is his choice—we will not persuade him. If, after sufficient reflection, prayer, and advice from whomever you can get sound advice, you choose to come here, we will welcome you to w[armly?] and do the utmost to give you whatever we can give you. But you cannot come here to do what you please, or to reach for spiritual heights on your own before you’ve put the foundation under your feet. We will demand of you obedience, trust, and openness.

Please forgive me if this sounds abrupt. I write praying God that I may say something of use for you. Whatever you do, we would hope to hear from you. And please pray for the worthless monks Herman and Seraphim.

With love in Christ our Saviour,


March 5/18, 1972
Martyr Conon (a wonderful life!)

Dear Brother in Christ, Laurence,

Rejoice in the Lord! We sympathize with you in your trials and troubles, which however are doubtless for your good. Use them wisely!

It’s good news that there was 760 pounds of lead. Enclosed is $20 more for payment—but wait a day or two to cash it, as the money won’t be in the bank until Tues. or Wed. Now I’ll be able to start setting the calendar early, so it won’t be too great a burden all at once. But who’s going to buy it if it’s not an issue of the OW? We have no idea how many to print. In a few years it will very likely support us, but right now it’s all still uncertain.

If Alexey wants a review of Nicholas and Alexandra, by all means write him one. Our hesitance is based only on our monastic scruples, but for most Orthodox laymen in America movies are a part of their life, and if “Orthodoxy” intrudes into this sphere, by all means they should be told what’s what. Only don’t be all grim and negative—i.e., the film itself may be all grim and negative and should properly be lambasted; but let the readers know about the bright phenomenon which the film didn’t get. That they are saints!

Our weather is bright and warm, and green leaves are visible (the oaks are waiting a while). The frightful winter never came, but it looks like we may have a frightful summer instead. But that’s in God’s hands. We've been doing a little spring cleaning, and the kitchen begins almost to look like a kitchen.

I guess we’ll see you when we see you. Fr. Spyridon may be coming on Palm Sunday-Lazarus Saturday with Dmitri Murzo, but we haven’t heard anything certain. We pray he does.

Pray for us.

With love in Christ our Saviour,
Seraphim, monk

As for “rehabilitating the dead,” anything is possible under Communism! Vladika Laurus writes that, even apart from his recent accident, Archim. Constantine has been failing lately, and the crucial time is at hand—who’s to take his place? Only by a miracle will it be someone better, and obviously a certain “Eminence” would like to take over! Our own independence becomes all the more important. Nata icon was from Boston.


Mar. 21/Apr. 3, 1972
Passion Monday

Dear Brother in Christ, Laurence,

Glory be to God for all things! We had Liturgy yesterday, but a joyful feast nonetheless, with 3 pilgrims (Alexey and family). We also received, on Saturday, a very moving letter from Vladika Anthony, which reveals a loving heart. After it something of the empty pit in the bottom of the stomach seems to have been removed. Nonetheless we thank God that in His Providence the events of the past year and a half have cut us off, as it were, from the ecclesiastical world and left us to make it on our own in the wilderness; this is only for our good and perhaps even the good of others.

Unless we hear something before then to change our plans, we will most likely go to Sacramento early Thursday in order to receive Holy Communion (probably in the smaller church), and return here before dark, creating as small a ripple as possible on the church surface. God willing, we will meet Pascha externally (at least) like the desert-dwellers, even though internally still our old selves.

But if one of our “problems” seems to be looking better, new troubles have not been slow in peeking their heads over the horizon. Fr. G. Grabbe writes that one does not dare call anyone “Blessed” before the Church gives us the right to do so, and he cites the case of St. John of Kronstadt. But for all his correctness, G. G. is wrong!—the Church does not call anyone blessed by fiat—that’s R. Cath. “beatification” (as on back cover of latest Orth Life!). St. John of Kr. still is not called blessed, because he doesn’t fit into that category. Fools for Christ are called blessed even during their lifetimes: Bl. Xenia, Bl. Theophilus, etc. etc. Of course, there are those who wouldn’t like to call Vlad. John a fool for Christ, and in fact (that’s the key!) would rather forget him entirely. But we stand and fall with his “foolishness,” which surely one day will be seen to be wiser than the wisdom of many. But we are being watched....

Pray for us.

With love in Christ,
Seraphim, monk

P.S. Whenever you come, don’t forget another box of lead.


Apr. 13/26,1972
St. Artemon, Martyr

Dear Brother in Christ, Laurence,


Enclosed is absolutely the first copy of the new issue, slightly delayed due to uckywenie (various).

Enclosed also is a letter from a prospective catechumen, to whom (today) we have given your name and tel. number. Pray to your guardian angel and lead him to the true Church. (We told him Metropolia isn’t in communion with Synod.) Don’t forget: he’s a living soul, and probably quite fragile!

Glory be to God, we are surviving, although amid various adventures and trials. Monday the truck broke down (fuel pump) and is now in Cottonwood, whither it went at AAA expense. Hopefully I’ll get a ride somehow this morning to go pick it up.

But how close is God! —As I was sitting in the truck waiting for the tow truck, I read the days mail—in which there were the fantastic catacomb documents which are mentioned on p. 3 of this issue, the likes of which have not been seen since 1927-29. The day after receiving them, we printed that page—as if we had been waiting for them!

[in Russian]

Will try to get the prokeimena texts out to you on Saturday.

Pray for us.

With love in Christ
Sinful monk Seraphim

P.S. Any chance for more lead soon?


April 18/May 1, 1972
St. John of Decapolis


Dear Father Neketas,

Evlogeite! It was good to hear from you again, even if some of the news is bad. But it is all our common sorrow, and only emphasizes how careful we must walk these days, and how close the small flock of Christ must be bound together in mutual love and concern.

My how the Metropolia must be hurting to come out with such an irrational attack! One almost feels sorry for them—the Greeks don’t recognize them, their patron Moscow is being discredited everywhere, and the Synod kidnaps her own people by “fanaticism.” Nonetheless, one cannot forgive them for one thing: they call themselves Orthodox; and so we have to keep speaking the truth! And my, Father George is a real fighter, isn’t he! That’s refreshing, even though we wouldn’t use just the same approach ourselves—but they won’t forgive him for it!

We haven’t heard about Father Lev’s and Vassily’s troubles. But frankly, we’ve been rather concerned about them for some time, seeing in some of their actions and letters many of the symptoms of an all-too-often fatal convert’s disease: overly-critical, “know-better” attitude, somewhat flippant tone, frequent running about, hypersensitivity, etc. When Father Lev was ordained, our concern only increased, because if these symptoms are accurate then ordination might be just the fatal step from which it’s impossible to turn back and be just an “ordinary Christian” again. But all these speculations don’t help the situation; we can only pray for them and ask God’s mercy for us all. Any more news of them?

The April Logos brings yet a stronger dose of Pentecostalism, and some of their defenses against the arguments you and others have been raising; which helps us strengthen our own article. Fr. Eusebius’ “charismatic” experience is not nearly as spectacular as many others’, and in fact seems to belong more to the category of Protestant-revival type emotional release than to some of the darker aspects of the “charismatic” movement. Frankly, I doubt that he’s had the full “Baptism in the spirit,” because in “charismatic” literature it’s unheard of for someone who wants “tongues” not to get it if they’re really “baptized.” Our article will be quite strong, as it becomes increasingly evident that the movement could become widespread—the necessary conditions are all present in the “American” jurisdictions. And who is the Synod priest Emmert mentions as having “advised” him? We fear it sounds like Fr. James Griffiths, about whom we’ve been receiving alarming indications of late. Both Emmert and Monios, by the way, have recently become subscribers to Orth. Word.

We received a good letter recently from Fr. Michael Dudas in Florida (Metropolia), who gets your Witness (and agrees “90 per cent” with it), and sees through Eusebius very well.

The True Vine·. We were waiting for your comments before giving ours, but we’ll go ahead anyway! Laurence Campbell sent us a copy of his letter to Vladika Vitaly—it displays of course his usual lack of tact! Also it pays perhaps undue attention to some small points which in all charity could be overlooked. However—it’s doubtless very disrespectful of us!—we find its bluntness rather refreshing and perhaps even useful for the common task, entering as it does a context where the expected response is “Yes, yes, very good,” etc. (while in the meantime one says what one really thinks behind the scenes where the “official” people don’t hear). And frankly, considering the material which Vlad. Vitaly had to work with, the first issue really is a disgrace. Knowing Vlad. Vitaly and his Russian publications (the article on “Ecumenism” is a rather notable exception) we expected something like this; and in fact I told Fr. Herman sometime before the first issue appeared: “if he puts a Dore on the cover, it’s the last straw! That will crush the Greeks and converts!” Mercifully, he saved his Dore for an inside page! We will make three frank comments:

(1) The editor does not have the feeling for what’s going on: what inspires converts, iconographic taste, the approach to the whole subject of mission. The periodical is not conceived as a missionary publication; it is an immigrant jurisdictional publication, Victorian in taste, the contents of which are entirely incidental and do not point up a single theme or point of view. Its power to inspire is zero.

(2) The “Editorial Staff” cannot possibly be responsible for this! We heard Fr. Panteleimon was to be in charge of art—if so, he should be fired immediately! It would seem that whatever advice the “editorial staff” gave was not listened to very seriously—on the principle, most likely, that the “bishop knows best.” Do you know how Vlad. Vitaly referred to The True Vine in his Diocesan bulletin in Russian?—“under the editorship of Archbp. Vitaly with the cooperation of the most outstanding theologians of true Orthodoxy.” This all sounds to us suspiciously as though advantage is being taken of the “editorial staff” in order to put across something they don’t entirely sympathize with! They don’t claim to be “outstanding theologians” at all; they are zealots of Orthodoxy—but “theologians” sounds more important and official!

St. George the Great Martyr
(What a wonderful text to his service—full of Pascha and spring! But too difficult to translate because of all the variations—until we finally have our English Paschal Triodion. So much for us all to do!)

Since beginning this we’ve received your note, which seems to confirm the first two points above. But it’s the next point that’s most disturbing to us.

(3) We’ve known for years that Vlad. Vitaly does not approve of the “Jordanville ideology,” that (at least 10 years ago when Fr. Herman visited him) he purposely does not even receive Orthodox Russia, that at the Synod’s 50th anniversary celebrations he spoke of the need not only for an English publication but also for a Russian one “because there is no satisfactory Orthodox publication in Russian” (approximate quotation). (We also have our complaints about Orth Russia—but nonetheless it’s fully Orthodox, has its definite function in our common Orthodox task, and now that Fr. Constantine is failing in health we dread to think of any conceivable alternative to it; many people are “tired of Antichrist”—but the subject is precisely becoming most relevant right now!) We know also that despite his many words about the need for English publications, Vlad. Vitaly has never even mentioned in his Russian publications or in his small correspondence with us (except to grant us permission to translate and print his article) either Orthodox Life or Orth Word—the reason in our case being apparently, as he once told a friend of ours, that we have “gone overboard” on the subject of Archbishop John, with whom his differences were apparently not merely personal, but seem to involve a whole different orientation to Orthodox life and mission.

And now in The True Vine we find that no other Synodal publication is mentioned (except for the Witness, which is not however identified). Further, the lengths he goes to avoid using the word “Jordanville” are truly astonishing: he lifts a whole article from OL without a word as to source; he reprints “Feofil” and barely manages to say “Holy Trinity Monastery” (but not “Jordanville”); he “steals” the whole translation, word for word (and it is still in print!) of “St. Mary of Egypt” from Jordanville (and he sets it up again himself, while one of his priests tells us that his English-language publications have cost him a great deal of effort), and goes out of his way to say that he “encountered it in the English language”!!! Likewise the “New Martyrs” gives no credit to Jordanville.

All this is quite distressing to us, because it shows a total and evidently deliberate setting aside of the “common task” which the rest of us have been working and sweating over for some years now. It is almost as if, now that the “official” publication has come, all the rest of us “unofficial” laborers in the vineyard can quietly retire, or perhaps pay our dues to the central organization!

Well, we don’t want to upset you, which is also why before The True Vine came out we never mentioned to you or others our fears about VI. V. We have always placed the common missionary and Orthodox cause for which were all working above every kind of personal difference or suspicion, and will continue to do so. But it is essential for all of us for whom this cause is not merely an “official” assignment, but our very life’s blood, to be aware of certain tendencies and dangers. Judging from the first issue we personally doubt that The True Vine will ever amount to much, and very , likely it will more or less die out by the third or fourth (increasingly tardy) issue—unless a real “official” campaign is made for it and it becomes fully subsidized. In any case, the “unofficial” labors of the rest of us become all the more important!

About this whole thing there are other points we would like to mention, but we will save them until we see you personally. The ground is a little dangerous!

Concerning 2nd Sorrowful Epistle: By all means keep the St. Nectarios masthead on, and we won’t need over 100 copies at most. We’ll give your address, but some just might find it easier to order from us.

We haven’t seen the reviews of The True Vine by Dr. Johnstone or Fr. Photios. Where are they?

Good for our confessor Polycarp! But what a sad situation it reveals! We dread to think of how typical it might be. Thank God for you Greeks, who are forcing some of our Russians to take steps they otherwise might not have thought of for some time. (But don’t tell that to Basil—rather Vassillyy!)—who when you mentioned something like that to him before almost accused us of selling out to the Greeks!)

We will be very happy to see you and your parishioners in June. We will be here all the time, God willing, except on July 2.

Monday we start setting up our “charismatic” article—our biggest bombshell to date, and it really contains our whole missionary confession of faith. Please pray for us that we can see it through to completion, and that it will open some eyes to the truth!

With love in Christ our Saviour,
Seraphim, monk

P.s. We’ll write the Governor— “obedience”! What texts did you send him?


Sunday of All Saints of Russia
All Saints of Mt. Athos, 1972
[June 3/16, 1972]

Dear Father Neketas.


Yesterday’s mail brought the second issue of The True Vine and a letter from Alexey Young telling of your proposal to print Nikodemos as a supplement to your Newsletter. (Alexey says were supposed to get a copy of your letter—?) Somehow in our minds these two events seem to be related; but at any rate we’d like to make a few comments.

The new True Vine is technically improved over the first, from the printing point of view very impressive, and of course almost all of the articles are good, even irreproachable. To be sure, the “ecology” article, and especially the illustration, give a worldly tone that is not pleasant, and Vladika Vitaly seems to make a point of insisting on Dore (and the engraving seems to have been ordered especially for The True Vine, as it’s too large to have been printed in his Russian magazine), and in this he reveals much more about himself than one could infer from the articles! But that’s perhaps not a major point. Again, one does not sense that anyone on the editorial staff, except for Dr. Johnstone, had anything to do with this issue.

More importantly, the deliberate blackout on Jordanville continues (at least two articles are reprints from Jordanville without acknowledgement, although the word “Jordanville” does appear in one or two articles). But still more importantly, one wonders: what place is this periodical supposed to have among the already existing Synod English publications? It seems not to be trying to find its “place” among the others, but rather to be encroaching on the others, and especially on your publications. Again the thought occurs to us: is The True Vine trying to put the rest of us out of business? We have a definite feeling that something is going on, some “plan” we don’t know about, and it makes us uneasy. We will welcome The True Vine as long as it has a definite function in the “common task” of all of us. It would certainly not harm your work, for example, if you could know for sure that when you comment on something like Solzhenitsyn’s letter in your Newsletter, you could refer readers to the full text which would appear in the next True Vine. But we doubt very much that such cooperation will ever exist. A little duplication among our periodicals is not harmful (even so, we ourselves have needlessly duplicated your work once or twice through miscalculation),—but a systematic process of duplication (amounting to some 3/4 if the new issue of The True Vine) raises some fundamental questions. Our Synodal publications are too few and limited to require a “readers digest” of them. (By the way, the Reader’s Digest is Vladika Vitaly’s secret ideal—when you come we’ll show you his early Russian publications which are a direct copy of it.)

Hopefully, we can discuss all this when, God willing (we always say this too!), you visit us next month. In the meantime, we fear that you may be in a discouraged and uncertain state. Specifically we don’t know what you might be thinking—whether to revise or rethink the Newsletter or whatever. But please believe us: your continued existence as an independent voice within the Church Abroad is extremely important, and perhaps much more important than you may realize. It may be that some will try to persuade you that your Newsletter has already “served it function” and can be absorbed into The True Vine. But I think we do not exaggerate in telling you that it probably has not even begun to serve its main function.

I will be more specific—all of this is strictly between us, you and Fr. Panteleimon. We can say frankly that we do not trust Vladika Vitaly to give the “one thing needful.” So far his basic attitudes as revealed in English are “correct”—but there are certain things in which he has not yet revealed himself (which are evident in his Russian publications) But first of all there is lacking in his “correctness” a certain spark, a certain indefinable Orthodox “fragrance” which may be, when the time comes, the only thing that will enable us to discern and cling to Orthodoxy. It is the “spark,” and not correctness, which draws the converts, and when we sense its absence in Vlad. Vit. we become uneasy. (“Sergianism” also seems to be bound up with the loss of this spark.)

Second, more tangibly, there is in the Synod a “dogmatic” issue which is potentially not only explosive, but absolutely catastrophic. We would rather not even hint at what it is until we can explain it more fully from the materials we have and from the opinion of bishops we know. We have wanted for some time to write Fr. Panteleimon a long explanation of it, but that will take some time and concentration. We will tell you about it when you come. For now the important thing is: Vladika Vitaly is on the wrong side of this issue, a side that has not been accepted by the best Synod theologians living and dead; and if, as seems quite possible, the Synod s enemies grab hold of this issue, and Vlad. Vit. is called on to defend the Synod—his “defense” (if he follows what he has printed in Russian) will be disastrous for the Synod.

This is only one “small” issue about which we know something, and which convinces us that in the perilous days ahead there must be not only an “official” Synod press, but also an “independent” Synod press.

Please forgive us for being so cryptic and alarming, but I think you well realize that not everything in the Synod is the same quality of gold, and for our own sake and the sake of those who trust and listen to us we must find out and cling to only the best quality. All of us who have the “one thing needful” at heart should become even closer together in the dangerous days ahead. Right now there are indications that Jordanville (again) is in danger. Probably you have heard the tragedy there last month when one seminarian stabbed another to death (both on marijuana). This has caused a great scandal, police investigations, etc.—so much so that the last issue of Orthodox Russia brings the whole thing out in print, apparently in an effort to defend the monastery’s reputation. Our Vladika Anthony (who basically is a very good man, but is subject to “political” pressures) was sent to investigate, and when he went to the Synod Vladika Vitaly launched into such a violent attack against Vladika Averky (who was absent) that the cell-attendant of Vladika Laurus (through whom we heard about it) was absolutely sick about it. Fortunately our Vladika Anthony came to Vlad. Averky’s defense. It’s well known that for years Vlad. Vit. has wanted to move the seminary away from Jordanville to Mahopac (where presumably he would be in charge), but he’s never been able to make it sound practical.

Alexey tells us that after much prayer he declined your offer, based partly on advice we had given him some months ago concerning the necessity to remain “independent” in case he should be offered a “Nikodemos page” in The True Vine (which however won’t likely happen, and Vladika Vitaly does not like small unofficial projects). As a general principle we still think you both have more to gain by remaining independent. But of course we don’t know the details of the present case, and there are certainly conditions which make such “mergers” sometimes wise also.

If you are already discouraged, I hope this all doesn’t add to your discouragement! Our own attitude is that all this should not discourage us but make us sober and ready for battle. In the end, the one question that matters is the purity of Orthodoxy.

Please pray for us, and also especially for Vladika Averky and Vladika Nektary.

With love in Christ our Saviour,
Seraphim, monk


June 5/18, 1972
St. Abba Dorotheus

Dear Brother in Christ, Alexey,

Greetings in our Lord Jesus Christ. We pray that Susan has returned safely and that this finds you well and in the grace of our Saviour. I will start right out with our comments on the material for Nikodemos No. 4.

1. Editorial: By now you should have received our “charismatic” issue, where in part 6 we bring up some of the signs of the end of the world, emphasizing the great deception which will then occur. From further reading in Pentecostal “prophecies,” I would say that this deception may be even worse than we imagine, and that there will be “miracles” that will cause most “Christians” to believe that Antichrist actually is coming from the sky, together with the sign of the Cross—in a word, that his imitation of Christ will be almost “perfect.” Therefore, this whole question is one about which we should be extremely careful.

Your editorial on the whole is good, but one thing bothers us about it: the quote from C. S. Lewis. In itself there is nothing wrong with quoting a heterodox writer if it makes a point which such a writer is competent to make. But from the language of this quote it doesn’t seem entirely clear whether he’s referring to the coming of Christ, or actually to the coming of Antichrist. “Land in force, invade”: this sounds a little like the “Messiah” of Herbert J. Armstrong (Plain Truth) and others, who rules the world with a “rod of iron” from Jerusalem. “The play is over”—this, even as an image, is anathema—Orthodox Fathers such as St. John of Kronstadt have spoken of drama as the opposite and parody of the Liturgy and the whole Christian world-view. All images taken from the stage: “drama,” “role,” “scene,” etc., should be avoided in a church context. “Melting away like a dream”— even if this is not meant literally, it could tempt some to be reminded of the Hindu cosmology. Of course, his point is right—that the end is something absolutely spectacular; but the images are taken from the wrong catalog, so to speak, and it’s better to leave him out of it entirely.

Beyond this, while you are on the subject of “watchfulness,” there seems to be one emphasis you are missing. In the middle of the apocalyptic chapter of Matthew (24:32; also Mark 13:28), the Saviour takes a parable from the fig tree and says: “Even so ye also, when ye see all these things, know ye that it is nigh.” In other words, we must “watch” for the signs of the times so we will not be deceived. Therefore it is not precisely true that “The King of Glory may arrive at any moment”—it is only those who have not discerned the signs of the times who will be totally taken by surprise; but watchful Christians will know ahead of time “that it is nigh,” having recognized the signs and seen through the deception of Antichrist, with whose coming the end is but a few years away—the exact day is not known until it comes, but its approach becomes ever more obvious, just in the way we see the fig tree leafing out.

The rest of the article is good; we only hope these comments haven’t thrown a wrench into the whole conception!

2. St. Symeon: fine, and the point of presenting the Fathers should sink more deeply in with each installment.

3. The Righteous Eucharistus and Mary: Superb, and we are very happy to see the beginning of a fruitful collaboration with Mrs. Vagin.

4. The letter from Ron Pryzbylski and your response are an illustration of the point of the “Righteous Eucharistus,” and perhaps “say” more than anything you’ve printed so far. This is where the whole mission of Nikodemos becomes evident. We rejoice to see the seed of genuine Orthodoxy taking root and bearing sprouts, opening up a “dimension” of Orthodox life that has not been too much seen yet in America: lay Orthodoxy that is not “worldly,” that searches for deeper roots and feels that it cannot “fit it” with the world; that is not satisfied to be like everyone else only with an “Orthodox point of view” on everything; that looks to the Fathers for answers, not on academic questions or theology, but on how to live. There is a glimpse here of an Orthodoxy not merely “added to” the American way of life and then apologized for and made understandable to non-Orthodox, “fitting in” as a fourth major faith—but something rather that transforms life, makes Orthodox people something of a scandal to the world, that grows up on its own principles quite apart from the world around it, and yet that is quite sound and normal in itself. Your reply and citations from the Fathers are very much to the point. If you can keep up the tone of this exchange (and evoke other people like that to write)—you’ve justified your existence!

5. Letters: fine.

6. “In this dark time”: good, and timely.

The whole issue looks good, and the only changes we would recommend would be in the first article, in the interests of greater precision.


We haven’t heard anything yet from Fr. Neketas about his proposal to you, and we don’t quite know what he had in mind. Of course, there are sometimes special conditions which would make such an amalgamation logical and fruitful; but in the absence of such condition we would still think that you are both better off working independently. You both have your own distinct approach and point of view, which, while they are mutually complementary, are still probably better nourished “autonomously.”

In the new True Vine we notice that Archbishop Amvrossy’s Statement is printed for the fourth time! It looks about time that we retreated from this realm about completely and stuck to those things that aren’t being taken care of quite adequately elsewhere!

Our summer season is beginning, and just two days ago our “baby” deer gave birth to twin fawns, apparently right in front of our church! They were under 12 hours old when we first saw them, but already running (and stumbling) around. To our surpirse, we note that “Baby” has no nest or anything or the sort, but just moves the fawns about from place to place, letting them sleep wherever they fall, and then taking up her station some distance away. This is the third day, and they haven’t departed yet from the monastery area—which shows we are “trusted.” We look around once in a while, and once we found one fawn curled up under our “St. Gerasim tree” with an icon looking over her. A very touching sight.

Please pray for us.

With love in Christ our Saviour,
Seraphim, monk


June 12/25, 1972

Dear Fr. Neketas,

Evlogeite! Thank you for the Xerox of the letter of the man in Texas—we are sending him a few things. We are always grateful for your Xeroxes, even if we may not always mention them.

Please forgive us, but here are some more observations on a sad trend!

We visited San Francisco on Friday (June 10/23) to attend Liturgy in Vladika John’s Sepulchre; because June 19/July 2 falls on Sunday this year, Vladika Anthony decided to have the one Liturgy that he allows each year on Vladika John’s namesday instead. This is a little strange, as once before when July 2 fell on Sunday there was a Liturgy—without a panikhida following, since it was Sunday, but nonetheless there was a Liturgy to mark the anniversary. Rumor has it, and it’s quite plausible, that Vlad. Anthony was acting on advice of the cathedral clergy, who have been opposed to veneration of Vladika John from the first, and used the excuse of its being Sunday to obliterate the “competition” this year.

Being ourselves somewhat upset in general over the sad direction in which Russian Orthodoxy Abroad seems to be going, this seemingly small transference of the day of Vladika Johns veneration led us into further reflections. It is now 6 years since Vladika Johns repose. The spark of Orthodoxy in the Russian diaspora has continued to decline in those years—and yet here is a God-given fuel to ignite and spread the spark! We thought: why such efforts to limit veneration of an obvious wonderworker and saint for our times? Why not more than one Liturgy a year in his Sepulchre (as there was before Vladika Anthony came, when Vlad. Nektary was temporary ruling bishop)? Why are not regular pilgrimages arranged?

Well, of course there are some definite reasons why not, and these were confirmed for us by our visit to Vlad. Anthony after the Liturgy. He spent most of the time pointing out 3 or 4 places in our Russian Life of Vladika John which people had complained about. Well, it’s true that these points could have been expressed or presented better; but in back of these somewhat technical points, we sensed that—just as you mentioned when speaking to Vlad. Vitaly—that we weren’t speaking the same language, that Vlad. Anthony was somehow just pushing aside the main point about Vlad. John. He kept saying: the whole thing is too fresh, too controversial; we always wait at least 50 years before talking about sanctity (by which time, of course, our Russians will have forgotten) etc. At this Fr. Herman finally had to say: But Vladika John is a saint, a wonderworker! Vladika Anthony’s reply: Well, you and I can talk like this among ourselves, but not in public! We left feeling that our ruling hierarch had given us the advice (although he hadn’t expressed it in so many words): Your devotion and love are commendable, but don’t be so enthusiastic, not so much zeal, don’t make Vlad. John such a hero, let his small group of venerators keep it pretty much to themselves.

What to say? We don’t judge Vlad. Anthony. Obviously he is in an unenviable position and subject to many pressures and responsible for keeping peace among a difficult flock; and we can think of a bishop or two who probably wouldn’t have allowed a Liturgy ever to be served in the Sepulchre. But this is the path to the dying out of Orthodoxy, making it something “non-controversial” and not at all attractive to the younger generation. It’s precisely the Orthodox “heroism” of someone like Vladika John that can inflame the youth with fervor for Orthodoxy; but in San Francisco it’s obvious that the veneration of Vladika John is going to be allowed to die out if possible.

We left completely discouraged about the possibility of presenting the “Orthodox Word” to Russians. It just happens that a number of the needful topics today are “controversial,” but are we therefore supposed to sit back and let the kill-spirits triumph and dampen everyone’s spirits? We dread to think of where we would be now if The Orthodox Word had been appearing in Russian all these years—in fact, there aren’t many bishops besides Vladika John who would have encouraged us. In our early issues when we began to get complaints about being so outspoken about Athenagoras, about comparing the Pope to Antichrist, etc., we went to Vladika John in some doubt—perhaps we really shouldn’t be so outspoken? But glory be to God, Vladika John fully supported us and blessed us to continue in the same spirit.

June 18/July 1, 1972
Martyr Leontius

The new Logos arrived, revealing the latest stage of Fr. Eusebius’ pitiful march into sectarianism. Hopefully he is becoming so absurd that only a few will follow him so far; but who knows?

The same issue has Fr. Michael Azkoul’s actual attack on Fr. George Lewis. Are we out of step, or do we correctly diagnose a completely wrong attitude there? One may question the effectiveness of some of Fr. George’s observations, because those who are not already sympathetic to what he’s saying will try to dismiss it as being in the nature of a “personal attack.” But there’s no hint of innuendo or slander—everything he says is true and symptomatic. Certainly it is no secret that Metropolia bishops eat meat (we used to know a cook at St. Tikhon’s, who prepared meat even—to our surprise—for Shakhovskoy) and that no one expects them not to; and this really reveals their attitude toward podvig and church tradition. But unfortunately the Metropolia mentality is such that if they found even one of our monks eating meat it would offset their whole Sobor of Bishops and justify their calling us “pharisees” for bringing up the issue.

Fr. Michael seems to be writing from a point of view “above” the whole battle (and indeed, writing for a Protestant charismatic journal). No one in his right mind, surely, wants “peace” with the Metropolia now—unless, of course, there were a miracle and the Metropolia would confess and repent of its autocephaly, modernism, laxness, and everything else. And from the Synod side the controversy has been on a high level. Official statements have been very restrained and if anything understated; and unofficial statements such as Fr. George’s and yours have correctly grasped the main points and zealously pursued them. This is not a “jurisdictional” dispute; it is a case of galloping, apostasy vs. preserving oneself from it and awakening others to it. The soundest Synod opinion has always said: thank God the Metropolia has left, the unsound member has been cut off and will thus not affect the rest of us. We are simply baffled and cannot understand with what Fr. Michael wants to make “peace”? This doesn’t seem to be the “fighting” Orthodoxy we need today.

But even high circles are indifferent to the “fighting” Orthodoxy that we want. It sometimes occurs to us that we are really all “fools” who are doing the fighting; hopelessly outnumbered, we march into battle with the full expectation of being cut down—if not from in front, then from behind, which is worse. But glory be to God, let us fight while it is day and we have the chance; truly it is not for an earthly kingdom that we are fighting, and if we have to stop for “politics” we are not going to do much fighting. We are very much inspired by the new “Catacomb” documents which we will start setting up next week—which give probably the best insight yet into true Orthodox life in the USSR, with sharp observations on the use of “obedience” and “humility” for political ends. These weapons are used not only in the USSR!

We are being visited this weekend by Vladika Derugin, a young zealot of Orthodoxy (who is responsible for the note in the Talantov articles about opinion in Russia about the autocephaly—we gave somehow a misleading impression that he is from the Metropolia, but he is not, even though most of his family is and he’s even related to Shahovskoy). He’s written a good reply to Shahovskoy’s underhanded article on Solzhenitsyn’s Lenten Letter, where Shahovskoy by flattering it attempts to neutralize. Hopefully this letter will appear in some Russian newspapers. Unfortunately almost all the Russian newspapers are rotten. The best one is the weekly Nasha Strana in Argentina, which is the only one to print the Talantov manuscripts which we sent in Russian to several newspapers. Its monarchist, but on a rather high ideological level, and the only newspaper that dares to be openly for the Church Abroad.

We look forward to your visit, and will welcome whoever comes with you! (Melchisedek [Russell] mentioned he also might want to come then.) We have a couple more cots this year and can put up whoever comes, somehow. We have twin fawns and hot weather right now.

Please pray for us.

With love in Christ,
Seraphim, monk


June 13/26,1972
Martyr Aquilina

Dear Brother in Christ, Daniel,

Many thanks for your letter and the Xerox of St. Nil. The Christian “magic” booklet is also interesting and typical of the whole tone of this kind of “Christianity,” which I think differs from the charismatic movement only quantitively, not qualitatively. Many of the “signs of the end” which he and others give are not really very convincing—for example, the earthquakes, famines, signs in the sky, etc., will surely be much more spectacular than they’ve been up until now. It would seem that we are now still in a “preparatory” time—i.e., a time when for the first time many of the signs of the end become conceivable and possible, but have not yet been fully revealed. And of course, these people miss one of the biggest signs of all: themselves and their apostasy, which also leads them to completely misinterpret Antichrist, seeing him as a dictator with magical powers rather than a true spiritual tempter who could deceive even the elect.

The editor of The Celtic Cross visited us on Memorial Day weekend (for the second time and we tried to give him what advice we could. Fr. Neketas also advises him. Melchisedek is a zealous young (23 years old) convert, received by Fr. Neketas several years ago from the Latins. He’s married with a child (Adam Melchisedekovitch!) and seems aware of many of the problems in such a project. Of course, without Vladika John such a project wouldn’t really have been possible, or would have ended up being just another fancy of some crazy convert. But at least now the principle of Western pre-schism saints is accepted by the Synod, one list of them exists as a beginning, and two seemingly solid mission Churches (Dutch and French) continue to grow, so the whole thing is not academic. Of course, there are many possible pitfalls ahead. We hear that the St. George Information Service is compiling some kind of list of English saints—but alas, they’re doubtful of St. Augustine of Canterbury (apparently because he came from Rome), and they reject St. Cuthbert of Lindesfarne because he was a “turncoat and a traitor to the Celtic cause”! If ever there was a trap for converts, it’s the “Celtic cause,” which seems perilously close to a kind of Old Believerism (although I don’t think it ever caused a schism). In the central issue (the date of Pascha) Rome was on the Orthodox side, besides which the whole dispute never involved any dogmatic or really substantial issue. Also, the St. Seraphim Brotherhood (or at least Father Mark [Wakingham], who perhaps is the only brother left?!) has proclaimed the Sunday after All Saints the “Sunday of All Saints of Britain”—a good idea, but it would seem to be quite premature, especially if one doesn’t know which saints are to be included! Hopefully The Celtic Cross will not be leaping on to these bandwagons.

As regards the “millennium,” unfortunately Vladika Averky does not give specific references in the Fathers. Perhaps some of these can be found in the indexes to English editions of some of these Fathers; besides the ones mentioned in our footnote, Vladika Averky mentions as anti-chiliasts Dionysius of Alexandria, Origen, Eusebius of Caesarea (Church History), Epiphanius, Jerome. One definite reference is the Second Ecumenical Council, which specifically condemned the chiliast Apolonarius and introduced into the Creed the phrase “and of His Kingdom there shall be no end” specifically to combat the idea of the millennium. Also, Blessed Augustine has a good account of the Orthodox view in the City of God, Book XX, 7-9 (Modern Library edition, pp. 718-728). The Protestant view, which is based upon a literal, “common sense” reading of the Apocalypse involves one in so much confusion that it becomes ridiculous: there is not one Last Judgment, but two: one for believers, and the “White Throne Judgment” exclusively for unbelievers; the devil is let loose not once but twice (first the apostasy and Antichrist come, then the millennium, which is a strange half-way state where death still exists and everything becomes only “almost” perfect; then the devil is let loose again; but there is only one binding of the devil, which is the same as John 12:31: “now shall the Prince of this world be cast out”—i.e., at the time when the Church was established; and there are not two but three comings of Christ according to the chiliastic view. (The Second Coming of Christ is supposedly in the clouds, all believers being “zipped” up into the sky (we have a picture in a Protestant booklet showing this!) from where they watch the “tribulation” period and Antichrist below, and then apparently everyone comes down to earth for the millennium. And then, “Christ” apparently is not strong enough to prevent the whole millennium dissolving in the final war with the devil, after which the scene is changed and everybody tries all over again in a new kingdom.)

Laurence knows the whole story of the Jordanville tragedy. Apparently it was more in the nature of a tragic accident rather than any outright murder. Fr. Neketas Palassis expects many worse things to come in the days ahead to tempt us, and indeed both the world and Church situation do not give many grounds for optimism. Of course, the saddest thing is when an attitude of pessimism and discouragement begins to creep into the Church—making it all the more important for those who can to preserve centers and islands of true spiritual striving and inspiration.

We attended the Liturgy at Vladika John’s Sepulchre last Friday, which was well attended. Unfortunately, I think the lack of Liturgy on July 2 is a subtle revelation that the veneration of Vladika John is not going to be encouraged among Russians—he’s too “controversial” and our booklet on him was not well received in some places. Apparently he is to be a prophet more for those without—the converts, who have spontaneously taken to him and are already glorifying God in him in many languages.

The True Vine seems satisfactory as far as it goes (except for a few things like the illustrations!)—but we’re still waiting for a certain “spark” to shine through, so we’ll know that Orthodoxy is not just “correctness” but something more.

Fr. Herman’s goddaughter’s brother, a 17-year-old boy [Gregory Petrochko] from New York (3rd generation and speaks little Russian, but has gone to Jordanville for years)—is now here to spend part of the summer with us, so hopefully we’ll get some building done.;

We look forward to your visit and help on the calendar—we already have 101 orders (100 from Fr. Neketas). We hope to receive soon from Boston the additional Greek saints for each day, which may complicate things; and the whole list of saints has to be checked more closely, as there are a number of mistakes. About the left side of the calendar: perhaps in your spare time (?!) you could put it together (perhaps with scissors and paste?) in a form from which the type could be set up? We have the lead now, and I also discovered the principle by which multiple castings can be made (a very simply principle which only a dunce could miss!), so things should be much simpler this year, and even easy next year, God willing.

By the way, concerning one point on the millennium: I believe Augustine mentions that the millennium lasts through the reign of Antichrist, for the Church does not cease to exist even then; and thus the unloosing of the devil occurs during the last years of the millennium, and not after its end.

Pray for us.

With love in Christ,
Seraphim, monk

P.s. “Afosya” still eats from our hands, and now she has twin sisters, born a week ago right in front of our church.


July 20/Aug. 2,1972
Holy Glorious Prophet Elias

Dear Father Panteleimon,

Please forgive our long silence, but it seems we just don’t get around to correspondence until it’s absolutely necessary. It would be so nice to have a good talk with you. Father Neketas tells us you will be coming out West in November, and perhaps will be able to come to see us then. We certainly hope that you can, and please know that we eagerly look forward to your visit. Alexey Young would also like very much to meet you and hopefully he can arrange a visit at the same time. Although Northern California is still quite a desert from the Orthodox point of view, there nonetheless are still a few tiny settlements of the devout, separated by rugged mountains but united in spirit.

Glory be to God, we are surviving and thanking God that our trials are not impossible ones and that through them we are learning much. At the present time we are in a state of peace with the ruling bishop, but we find it somewhat sad that this peace is sometimes a real struggle and requires of us a certain degree of just plain “stubbornness,” in which two bishops have encouraged us and which is just about the only thing about us that the ruling bishop seems to understand (at least at times it seems that way). On his last visit to us he proclaimed us “old monks,” which seems to supersede certain of his earlier comments. We proceed in the belief that we are free and independent and so far Vladika John’s blessing protects us and guides us in a very definite way. We are somewhat saddened by Vladika Anthony s “cool” attitude toward Vladika John (he’s too “controversial” in S.F.), but Vladika Nektary’s warm devotion to him more than makes up for it. Several weeks ago, after the Divine Liturgy which he served here, Vladika Nektary led us in singing the “Magnification” to Vladika John and then had us sing the stikhera from your service (for which we rejoice and thank God!), and he asked us to translate them into Slavonic. This is strictly confidential; but if we correctly sense the difficult road ahead for us Synodal “zealots” there may well come a day when we will have great joy and consolation in remembering that one of our bishops “canonized” Vladika John! (The date was July 12/25.)

We have been blessed with the presence of a 17-year-old “laborer” from New York (a Russian, related by baptism to Fr. Herman) who has helped us greatly in putting a little more order into the external appearance of our humble monastery, which is however still far from complete. In a few weeks Daniel Olson is supposed to arrive to help put out the Calendar—he aided greatly last year. This year our illustrations will be of Mt. Athos monasteries (mostly from Cavarnos’ book). It would be nice to have a short article or some comments on Mt. Athos to accompany the calendar—if you have anything appropriate we would greatly appreciate having it. We should start on the calendar before the end of the month, however.

Fr. David Black wants to visit us this month. Do you know anything about his present orientation? Our last letter to him in 1971 was so devastating that we really didn’t expect to hear from him again, so perhaps something is up.

Something strictly confidential: I believe that in one of our “suffering” letters to you last year we mentioned Fr. Alexey Poluektov, who has had a difficult time with the ruling hierarch. We haven’t mentioned him for some time, but just yesterday we received an urgent letter from Ûù begging our prayers and if possible yours also in a very difficult crisis which he sums up by saying that the local bishop is about to “strangle his soul,” and he is desperate. I don’t know how much our comments to you and to Fr. Neketas also in the past have communicated concerning the extremely difficult position that some of our Russian priests are in under certain of our bishops; perhaps one must first get fully involved (trapped?) in the Russian psychology of the Synod to really appreciate it. However that may be, we urgently ask your prayers at Liturgy for Fr. Alexey and his family (list of names enclosed). Also for Vladimir Anderson and his family, who are going through the ultimately blessed but at the same time extremely difficult experience of watching their 8-year-old daughter Margaret die of an incurable brain disease. (They all visited us yesterday.) (List of names also enclosed.)

With love in Christ our Saviour,
Seraphim, monk


Sunday of All Saints, 1972

Dear Father Neketas,

Evlogeite! Thank you for the letter and the Sorrowful Epistles, which arrived safely. Our new issue has a 1-page notice about the latter.

Melchisedek was here for Pentecost weekend, and unlike his last visit he talked quite a bit, which seems to be good for him. Nonetheless, he’s obviously the iceberg type, with a great deal more inside than ever comes out, and capable of acting in surprising and unexpected ways—this is our opinion from reading “between the lines,” as nothing he said would lead to such a conclusion. He seems to have the genuine spark of Orthodox fervor, and also the determination to be really Orthodox and sober. The first Celtic Cross is not bad, but we tried to point him more in the direction of early sources, so as to give more of the atmosphere and “feel” of early Orthodoxy in the West instead of his own retelling of it. Of course, some of the latter element is inevitable, but if it is the sole or predominant element it just isn’t as convincing, at least until there is substantial basis (a number of issues, with sufficient original sources in them) to trust him as a reteller. And there are a number of early lives by contemporaries who are themselves irreproachable (say, the Life of St. Germanus of Auxerre by St. Hilary of Poitiers(?), which can at least be quoted from, and several collections of shorter lives which might be taken in toto—St. Gregory the Dialogist, St. Gregory of Tours. Melchisedek said nothing about having us as “chief” advisors so we advised him to continue his procedure of the first issue and have you be his prepublication critic. (He didn’t show us any of the material in the first issue until he arrived with the printed version.) May God bless this fragile but hopeful beginning!

Our “charismatic” issue is almost finished, and we are relieved that we have said it all (40 pages, thinly spaced), even though we have no idea what the reaction will be—apart from the undying hatred of the Orthodox “charismatics.” One feels sorry for most of them, for they certainly have no idea what they’re getting into (perhaps one could better say: they have no idea what they’re getting away from, for the whole question seems to be lack of knowledge and “feel” about Orthodoxy). The time is obviously at hand when only those deeply rooted in Orthodoxy and the Fathers will be able to stand against the temptations to come. Eusebius and Co. have gone astray concerning the doctrine and action of the Holy Spirit, but the key for us seems after all to be the doctrine of the Church. If we know what and where the Church is, and also of course something of how the devil works, then all the “miracles” in a “Christian” context will not unbalance us as it did Eusebius—and he probably hasn’t even heard of the most spectacular “miracles,” such as those coming from Indonesia.

Frankly, the time ahead looks so dark, that one only marvels that we still have the freedom to speak out (how much longer?). Obviously, everything that can be said must be said soon. And the brightest spot in the whole picture is the New Martyrs and the Catacomb Church—after all, one does not have to sell one’s soul!

Have you received a copy of “The Russian Synod Deceivers”? (if you haven’t, we’ll send you ours.)—a cheap attack which really doesn’t merit a reply, especially as it seems to be anonymous (some Ukrainian names are given, but no return address—perhaps a front for someone in the Metropolia?) That’s probably only a sample of what’s in store for us, and the problem is that of course they will be able to find all kinds of plausible “inconsistencies” and worse among us, which will be convincing to anyone who stops at the surface and doesn’t care to go deeper. To this day seemingly sophisticated people like Fr. David Black still think that were picking on individual, isolated cases in order to promote a case of “jurisdictional triumphalism,” and it seems impossible to get such people to see that what is involved is mutually irreconcilable views of what Orthodoxy is.

I just read I Was an NKVD Agent by Anatoli Granovsky—a frightfully revealing expose of the Soviet system (in comparison with which Hider s Nazism was only a romantic daydream). One revealing chapter tells how he was offered the assignment of the “priesthood” (in 1944), but even apart from that, from his testimony it is absolutely inconceivable in Soviet conditions that Nikodim and the younger hierarchs could be anything but NKVD agents who have been assigned the “episcopacy.”

Were pleased to hear that Jerry Norman has been attending Liturgy. We haven’t seen, and scarcely heard from him for years. When I knew him he was quite sound and conservatively oriented, both politically and ecclesiastically. Even then he had just about given up on the Catholic church with its reforms, but where he stands now we don’t know.

Please forgive the rambling letter, and pray for us.

With love in Christ our Saviour,


August 16/29,1972
Image of Our Saviour not Made with Hands

Dear Brother in Christ, Alexey,

Congratulations on the feast of the Image of Our Saviour. May the grace of our Saviour be with you now and always.

Thank you for your very frank letter, in which your deep concern is very evident.

Please forgive us if we ourselves have added to your confusion (on the question of the cover), but I sincerely hope you won’t be confused just on our account! I believe (and hope) I presented the matter not in any arbitrary fashion but solely for your consideration, simply to let you know that such an attitude does exist, at least among pious Russians, who don’t feel quite right when they see anything that looks like an icon (that’s why it’s being on the cover is important, because it’s seen) placed under or beside other ordinary objects on a table or wherever, when by its appearance it seems to belong rather in an icon corner. As I think I said (though I believe I wrote in a rush and may not have expressed myself very clearly), it’s a rather fine point and is not subject to a categorical judgment. You’ve correctly observed that we ourselves have violated this “rule” to some degree. I would say, in sum, that where a 100% full-fledged icon is concerned—say, a color icon-reproduction with a large figure, which looks as if it belonged in an icon corner—it would definitely be best and most sensitive not to use it on a cover. Where anything less of an icon than this is used—something more like a line-drawing or simple illustration (such as will in fact appear on the new cover of The Orthodox Word) then it’s a matter of Orthodox taste and feeling. If were the only ones who mentioned the matter to you, then by all means don’t give it any more thought, it’s “passed.” In case we didn’t mention it, we also thought that the illustration is a very good one and very effective, and we certainly don’t think it disrespectful or anything of the sort, and we won’t give you any more trouble about it!

Concerning your being “forbidden” by Fr. Lev not to print on certain subjects: I trust you realize that he’s not in any position to “forbid” you to do anything whatsoever; and it’s only sad that he wants to make himself think so! Vladimir also mentioned on his visit last weekend his being upset at hearing about some intra-Synod personal quarrels about which numerous carbon copies of private letters are circulated via the “grapevine.” Thanks be to God, we are mostly out of this “grapevine” and only seldom get one of these carbon copies; but having received a couple of them in the last few days, we certainly appreciate your distress, because all they do is instil in one a peculiar and frustrating sense of uneasiness about which one really can’t do anything, because the “issues” involved are so bound up with personal attitudes and emotions (and sometimes fantasies) that ther just isn’t anything to grasp hold of. We’ve heard several accounts in particular, of the Ischie-Puhalo fight, in which both are evidently demanding that the other be defrocked, and all we can say is: let’s stay as far as possible away from such things. We frankly aren’t interested in what the “truth” of this case might be; it really looks as if they’re both unbalanced, but one would hope that thereby they would have more compassion for each other! The atmosphere of a large part of the “grapevine” is surely unsound, and your distress over it is a healthy reaction.

Thanks be to God, in the Church Abroad we have much freedom and independence to do and speak as we think is right. Even if there may be some who abuse this right and cause scandal, we would certainly rather weather through such small scandals rather than force everything through some kind of forced higher “censorship,” as some people seem to think or imply. Anyway, let’s just do what we can while there is time, and not get drawn into side issues. You with Nikodemos should by all means treasure your independence, of course drawing on sound counsel wherever it might come from, but never feeling bound to “obey” anyone who pops out of the woodwork and claims to “know more” than you or to be some kind of “authority.”

Concerning the “Shroud,” we poor ignorant ones are not even informed on the subject because we’ve been too busy and lazy to read about it! We’re favorably disposed to the subject and wonder what possible proof there can be that it’s a “fraud”—one might be uncertain or dubious, but to call it a “fraud” one must be quite definite and have proof. And even if one did have “proof,” I wonder what benefit there will be in exposing the “fraud.” It will certainly confuse the readers of Orthodox Life, that’s for sure!

As for evolution, which is a hoax and fraud if ever anything was, we have long wanted to have a good objective åõðî¾; (because of its devastating anti-Christian religious overtones and even foundation), but have never had the chance to go into it ourselves. The statements of Fr. Lev’s which you quoted on it sound naive in the extreme. Over a year ago Fr. Neketas mentioned he was going to print an article on the subject by Kalomiros, but we assumed it would be entirely critical and expose the whole fraud of it. We know of no conceivable watering down or modification of the evolutionary hypothesis which would make it acceptable either to theology, philosophy, or science—certainly the more sophisticated scientists today no longer take it seriously, and recognize that it became popular solely by an act of faith and highly rigged evidence!

Well, I think it’s beyond us to start “interfering” with other fellow Orthodox publications and argue over what we think they should print, unless of course we have some facts or information they don’t have, or unless they ask us to give our opinion. But surely we have the right to accept or reject what they do say, and even (if we feel it is necessary) to publish something that contradicts it—without, of course, publicly “fighting” with them. I guess we’ll just have to wait and see (there’s usually more noise that ever comes out of the “grapevine” into public view). We can’t imagine that Fr. Neketas or Fr. Panteleimon would publish anything really pro-evolution, but even a vague middle of the road article would be harmful enough, in view of the fact that evolution seems to be such a key in the whole program of anti-Christianity.

We pray that all these “temptations” won't get you down or swerve you from your path— which is obviously the devil’s object in working to send them to you! Basically, such temptations are trivial—but that’s precisely one reason why they’re so frustrating! If there were some great attack or error we would find out how to arm ourselves and reply; but rumors and gossip and unsolicited advice and “grapevines” can be so unsettling because one doesn’t know quite what to believe or where one stands in the whole picture. There is a type of unstable converts who delight in all this, and that only feeds the whole fire; may God have mercy on them and enlighten them. Certainly we don’t need to judge them, but we shouldn’t allow them to interfere with the honest and good labors that God has blessed us weak ones to perform.

Above all, we are all human and weak and subject to mistakes and hasty judgments ourselves. We should always keep in mind that we don’t “know better” about Orthodoxy than anyone else and we aren’t “experts” in anything at all (much less the “instant experts” that some converts seem tempted to become), but we only follow the path that we firmly believe leads to salvation, spending our whole life in learning and growing, never really progressing beyond the state of infants in the Faith, and bound by bonds of love and respect with our fellow learners.

We sympathize with you in your family’s misfortunes. Such things only remind us the more forcibly that life isn’t a matter of “knowing better” at all, but of suffering through whatever God sends us in His wisdom, by means of the grace which He also sends.

We hope you’ll be able to visit us again before winter and talk over some of these things. Melchisedek informs us that he probably won’t be coming this summer after all.

Pray for us. Our regards to Susan and Ian.

With love in Christ,
Seraphim, monk


Aug. 23/Sept. 5, 1972
Apodosis of the Dormition

Dear Brother in Christ, Nicholas [Eastman],

Greetings in our Lord Jesus Christ.

We were happy to hear from you again, and please forgive our very hasty replies to your previous letters. As you see, the Orthodox Christian life is full of trials and temptations, usually of a seemingly very trivial nature. By this the devil tries to weaken our resolve and keep us on a very low level of battle—until he’s ready to put a real temptation in our way. Our answer is to try our best to keep on an even, sober path, using the weapons which Christ’s Church gives us—the Church services and sacraments, regular evening and morning prayer, spiritual reading, prayer-rope, etc., and in everything trusting not in our own strength but in God’s power and grace. Fight as well as you can against all temptations—laxness, impurity, overeating, idleness, judging others. Do not be alarmed if at times your prayer seems dry and unfeeling; that often happens, but feeling will return if you remain constant in your rule of prayer.

Keep the thought of monasticism in your heart, but don’t be too concerned about it now. Be resolved to serve God in your life as He wills, and God will soon enough open the path to you to fulfill this resolve, whether as a monk or in the world. Both monasticism and living in the world have their own advantages and trials, and in neither place can one escape the responsibility of striving to live a God-pleasing life. God will show you His will for you.

Of the three books you mention, Unseen Warfare would be the best for you to buy and read now; it is a good guide to the Orthodox Christian life, which is a warfare with the devils and our own passions. The Rudder is dangerous for beginners, because most of the canons concern Church administration and are meant for the clergy who are in charge of this and who know how the canons should be interpreted and applied.

Some of Blessed Augustine’s books are better not to read, by the City of God is good, Of course, now with school beginning again you probably won’t have much time for reading, and what time you do have is better spent on spiritual reading such as Unseen Warfare.

College life will doubtless give you many temptations. But remember that learning in itself is useful and can be used later in a Christian way. Try to avoid the idle activities and temptations you will meet that serve no useful purpose, so that even in a godless atmosphere you can “redeem the time,” as the Apostle Paul says, and make maximum use of the opportunities you are given for learning. What subjects will you be taking?

Pray for us.

With love in Christ our Saviour,
Seraphim, monk

Letters of Fr. Seraphim Rose


Jan. 7/20,1973
Synaxis of St. John the Forerunner

Dear Father Neketas,


We received the plane tickets, and also noted the urgent tone of your brief letters. Apparently there is nothing to do but obey.

However, it is really impossible for both of us to be away from here for more than 24 hours, and the more now when my 12-year-old godson [Tommy Anderson?] is staying with us. Father Herman insists that I go, and he makes it as urgent a matter as your letter sounds.

Accordingly, we are sending you back the ticket made out to both of us. If you wish to trade it for a single ticket for me, then may Gods will be done, I will bow to the obedience, trusting in Vladika Johns prayers that I will travel safely (never having travelled in an airplane before).

We “feel” that there is much that should be “said” between us, you and Father Panteleimon (and Father Ephraim), but not at all on the level of logic, projects, etc. How do you hold a “conference” based on what can’t really be “said”? Nonetheless, may God help us to do it—in the days ahead we sense spiritual shipwreck or prosperity for many, hanging precisely on this intangible thing. I think you also feel something of this.

Many, many thanks to you and your parish for your kind gift of $50. May God reward your kindness and grant us to bring better and more fruits.

With love in Christ our Saviour,
Seraphim, monk


Jan. 31/Feb. 13,1973
St. Nicetas of Novgorod
Sts. Cyrus and John, Unmercenaries

Dear Brother in Christ, Alexey,

Greetings in our Lord Jesus Christ. Please forgive our usual long silence, but we’ve really been overwhelmed with happenings of late. I’ve just returned from three days in Seattle, at Fr. Neketas’ request, in order to have a good talk with Fr. Panteleimon—about which more below.

The new Nikodemos arrived and looks good; the Freud article in particular should evoke some interesting response.

The “Evolution” article for the next issue looks very good to us, quite comprehensive and to the point, and also I don’t think there’s anything there to which Fr. Panteleimon and others could object (I’ll tell you what I gathered from them below). However, the article could be improved by expanding a little on several points:

1. At the bottom of p. 1 you mention “any farm of evolution? and at the end of that paragraph you specify: “atheistic physical evolution, or theistic physical evolution, or spiritual evolution.” However, your article is really addressed almost entirely against atheistic physical evolution and its absurdities, and some people might take advantage of this to say you haven’t really considered more “refined” forms of theistic or spiritual evolution. In such as short article, of course, it’s really not possible to go into them, but perhaps a sentence or two more on them will show why they can’t be taken seriously either and are not at all more “refined” (just more vague and confused!). Thus, “theistic” evolution, as I understand its motives, is the invention of men who, being afraid that physical evolution is really “scientific,” stick “God” in at various points of the evolutionary process in order not to be left out, in order to conform “theology” to the “latest scientific discoveries.” But his form of artificial thinking is satisfactory only to the most vague and confused minds (for whom, apparently, “God” supplies the energy and order that can’t be explained according to the Second Law of Thermodynamics): it is satisfactory neither for theology nor for science, but just mixes the two realms up. Again, “spiritual” evolution applies the “conclusions” of atheistic physical evolution to the “spiritual” realm and comes to results which are monstrous and unacceptable either from the scientific or the theological point of view: a mixup and confusion which can only disguise itself in fantastic jargon a la Teilhard de Chardin. Both these kinds of evolution depend entirely on acceptance of physical evolution, and if that is shown to be unsound they fall; and in addition they are self-contradictory because the whole purpose and intent of the theory of physical evolution is to find an explanation of the world without God·, i.e., physical evolution is by its nature atheistic, and it’s only ridiculous when “theologians” run after the latest “scientific” theory in order not to be left behind by the times.

I’m afraid I’m wasting too many words on this point, but you really should tell the reader a little more as to why other kinds of evolution are no more satisfactory. The central point, of course, is that evolution is not at all “scientific, but rather a kind of science-fiction theology, the product of faith (an atheistic faith, but nonetheless faith). That it is still so widely accepted surely shows how low not only theology, but just plain common-sense thinking have fallen today. (I still remember my freshman professor of zoology expatiating on the “great ideas of man”: for him the greatest idea man ever invented was the idea of evolution; much greater, he believed than the “idea of God.”)

2. On Piltdown, Peking, Java Man, etc. on p. 3: Isn’t Piltdown the only one that is universally accepted as a fraud? If so, it would be wisest to emphasize it (citing the book on the subject, if you have the reference at hand) and mention the great doubts and questions surrounding the others, so as not to be accused of racing ahead of the evidence!

3. The Second Law of Thermodynamics: you’d better give a brief definition at the beginning (see also the enclosed clipping, showing what brought a Soviet scientist to God).

4. You end with a reference to the “Gospel of foolishness”—which might inadvertently lead some readers to think that, after all, you admit that evolution somehow makes sense and you have to be higher and more spiritual to see that it doesn’t. No—on every level, from common sense on up, evolution is nonsense! Behold what real, unredeemed foolishness they fall into who try to do without God!

The article, though short, is excellent, with a very good use of quotes from Darwin and others. Probably you will get lots of discussion on this. Perhaps one day you could put together a longer, more detailed article on evolution, with ample citations both from evolutionists (showing their naive faith and sloppy thinking) and their sound critics (I recall a good book I read some years ago by an ornithologist: Francis Dewar, Some Difficulties of the Evolutionary Theory), to serve as a reference source for those who care to think seriously on the subject. In general, people are so afraid of challenging scientists “on their own ground” that they’re afraid to get into this subject; a little clear thinking such as your short article reveals can dispel a lot of this fear and the fog that surround the question.

The other two articles are good, and we have no comments, except that it might be wise to mention with each installment the date of St. Juliana’s commemoration (Jan. 2); and in the editorial it’s really unfair (to the Soviets) to mention “depraved Nazis” without throwing in the Soviets too, who even today continue “horrendous experiments” on their millions of prisoners. Nazism was really but a pale imitation, often greatly tempered by a remnant of still human feelings, of the .Soviet experiment; and its depravity was small compared to the systematic depravity and inhumanity which the Soviet torturers still practice. I’m not defending the Nazis!—but by making the word “Nazi” almost synonymous with 20th-century inhumanity, we can lose sight of the frightful reality of today’s Soviet system. It’s doubtful that the Nazis had any depraved tortures that the Soviets didn’t try first and are still performing. By the way, in the article on Marx it would be good to get some examples of systematic Soviet inhumanity to show Marxism in practice: what the “new man” of Marx actually is, once all Christian and religious “superstition” has been abolished. Do you have quotes from Marx on his idea of “violence” and its role in forming the “new man”? Or Lenin’s quote on the whole world becoming a single factory, with no escape, and all dissenters will be crushed like vermin? Are you going to mention the question of chiliasm, which is what Marxism really is? Marxism is different from your two earlier installments in that in it we can see plainly what “modern ideas,” the “wolves” you are discussing (even with a picture of them!) mean when they are put into systematic practice.


I was in Seattle for three days and had good frank talks with Frs. Panteleimon, Ephraim, and Neketas. I left completely reassured that we are all on the same side of the great battle of our times, that our spirit and emphases are basically the same, and that our occasional differences in attitudes or approaches to some questions do not at all detract from our spiritual unanimity. Fr. Panteleimon is a very strong personality and holds strong views also about some things which seem of secondary importance (for example, the Shroud of Turin), which could understandably cause some friction and conflict. But it Would be a crime if any of us allowed such secondary differences to destroy our unanimity on basic points, especially in view of the great armies of pseudo- and anti-Orthodoxy that surrounds us, and also the great weight of inertia and ignorance which exist even within our Church Abroad. I found Fr. P. just the same as the last time I saw him several years ago, and there was not so much as a hint from him that we should print or think otherwise than we already do. When he or Fr. Neketas make suggestions to you, I am sure it is done not at all with any idea of “pressuring” you, but solely as sincere and well-meant advice, which you should take as such and not as an attempt to pressure or command you. [letter ends]


Feb. 3/16. 1973
Righteous Simeon and Anna

Dear Father Neketas,


Father Herman returned safely Wednesday from Edmonton with his mission accomplished, thanks be to God. (It turns out that Vladika Savva himself left the money for Father Herman’s trip.) We had so many obstacles in the way beforehand—3 cars in the ditch, ruined transmission, dead battery—that we began to doubt whether he should go; but once he got off everything went well and more than well, even to the obtaining of those things of Vladika John which Fr. Panteleimon told us about, and so we saw that all the diffculties were only “iskushiniye.” Fr. Herman was sorry not to see you on the way back, but he had only time for a talk with Vladika Nektary (11 p.m. to 4 a. m.!) before his plane left Wednesday morning. God willing, we will be seeing you more often in future. Fr. Herman was able to visit Vladika Savva’s grave at the convent also and have a good talk with Mother Amvrossia.

Again, we thank you very much for this opportunity of seeing you and Frs. Panteleimon and Ephraim, and we are more than ever persuaded of the importance of such contacts. It would seem that in just about everything we are in the same “boat” with you—not only in the confession of True Orthodoxy, but even in our uncertain acceptance by some of the Church leadership.

More than once you have mentioned your concern for getting the True Orthodox message to the Russians. After these last two weeks we are more convinced than ever that we should really begin something in this direction (no one else is going to); but also, we are more than ever convinced that our ruling bishop will not only disapprove, but will squash our attempt. However, Vladika Nektary suggested to Fr. Herman an idea which now won’t give us rest until we do something about it: that he, as Bishop of Seattle, revive Vladika Johns Blagovestnik (Good Tidings), of which Fr. Herman was once editor, as his own publication, but entrusting it entirely to us. (Vladika Anthony several years ago deliberately ceased publication of this, starting an insignificant publication of his own, and told us that we could not use the name—for reasons which now become more and more evident!) Previously Blagovestnik was devoted almost entirely to lives and services of saints, ascetics, and new martyrs, but now we would definitely add contemporary editorials, speaking explicitly about Constantinople, telling about Fr. Panteleimon and old calendarists, etc. (Some of our people in Canada whom Fr. Herman met have no idea who Fr. Panteleimon is.) We are of course short of hands and time, but 16 pages or so every 2 months I think we could handle.

Now: could you help us by taking charge of the address stencils, sending us the stickers for each mailing? We make bold to ask you this in the belief that with the typing being done outside it would not place too much of a burden on you (?), also because of your interest in presenting Russian materials, and also because anyone who wanted to come and search our skete would not find the names and addresses of subscribers (enough said!). It would also emphasize that this is the work of Vladika Nektary and the Seattle Diocese. Such a file, of course, would be kept quite distinct from True Vine or any other file, and need not be shown to anyone (even a bishop) without the blessing of Vladika Nektary.

Please tell us your response to all this. As you see, we are trying to be “wise as serpents,” but even so it’s obvious that this will be interpreted in at least one circle as tantamount to an open declaration of war (which is, of course, not our intention, but if that is the result of speaking the free Orthodox word, then let it be so!). Vladika Nektary, however, is willing to take the brunt of the attack upon himself, and that makes us bold. We ourselves feel that the pressure will increase on us also now that it is seen that Vladika Savva’s trust and blessing rested upon us and not upon any of his fellow hierarchs (except, of course, Vladikas Averky and Nektary, and perhaps one or two other of the older bishops). We haven’t told you the whole story, but the treatment of Vladika Savva by his fellow hierarchs at the Sobor was simply a disgrace. When asked later why he had to endure such treatment, Vladika Savva only pointed his finger heavenward, and at the end he was very peaceful in soul. He wrote us that he received this because he helped Vladika John (probably as much in a spiritual as in a literal sense). Sadly, in one of his letters to us he wrote that he had given up the idea of printing Vladika John’s life in Russian (he wished to print something in Serbian) for fear that the Synod would ban it, although in his last letter he indicated he was going to print something in Russian anyway. But at the present time we, thanks be to God, have a freedom he didn’t have, and we won’t stop until were really squashed or it should become evident that we are not doing God’s will. Our boldness, it may be, is born of the utter hopelesness of our situation—having no “princes or sons of men” to trust in, we have to trust in God and in Vladika Johns prayers. We strongly suspect that Vladika John will be the “stumbling block” against which some who trust in politics and dead formalism will finally fall—and, hopefully, learn a “lesson.”

The new issue of Nasha Strana from Buenos Aires has a necrolog of Vladika Savva by Archbishop Afanasy, which dares to mention that “he did not fear or hesitate to accuse unjustness or lying,” and even that “he was a great venerator of Archbishop John Maximovitch of San Francisco.” We’ve just learned that Vladika Afanasy himself, and also Vladika Savva of Australia, also supported Vladika John. Of course, we don’t want to divide everyone into sides or parties because of Vladika John! and also we have no bitter feelings against anyone—it’s just that he seems to be a touchstone of Orthodoxy in our days, and those who go against him seem to be off in their whole approach to the critical issues of today.

Needless to say, all this is in strict confidence—between you and Fr. Panteleimon. I haven’t the strength or time to write Fr. Panteleimon a long letter, so perhaps you could just send him a copy of this. We’ve just been warned by the Post Office that we have until July 1 to get The Orthodox Word out on time, so for a while we will be concentrating on that. But, God willing, we would hope to start the Russian publication by the 7th anniversary of Vladika Johns repose—and the first issue, needless to say, must come as an absolute surprise, without any warning beforehand!

Pray for us and especially for Vlad. Nektary, and let us hear your response to all this.

With love in Christ our Saviour,
Seraphim, monk

P.s. We would probably have a list of several hundred names for the first issue, and over 1000 names in a short time. We would doubtless get enough contributions to pay for the cost of stencils (30 cents apiece?) and paper. What kind of 2nd class permit do you have? — “controlled circulation”?


Feb. 4/17,1973
St. Cyril of New Lake

Dear Brother in Christ, Nicholas [Eastman],

Greetings in our Lord Jesus Christ. We were glad to hear from you again and are happy to try to answer some of your questions.

Your mixed feelings lately, especially at Holy Transfiguration Monastery, doubtless reveal several things. One of them, as you yourself must realize, is your own immaturity! Clearly, you do not yet know your own mind, and so you should not hurry to make any decision regarding something so important as the monastic life. A decision pleasing to God and which is for your own salvation should not be accompanied by feelings of confusion. If your feelings are confused, stop for a while and let them “settle” and see where your heart really is or wants to be. In the meantime, keep your regular life of spiritual discipline, church services, etc., as well as you can, also doing your duty in the place where you happen to be. In your case, this certainly means applying yourself to study, so as not to lose this opportunity. Do not fall into the trap of thinking (mostly idly!) about “spiritual” things so much that you neglect the humble “worldly” things right in front of your nose. Any learning you can get now, even if it seems very boring or worldly, can be very valuable to you later. Do not waste the opportunity you have and incur judgment later for this! When and if God leads you to the monastic life— then will be time enough to concentrate on “spiritual” things, under proper guidance.

Another cause of your confusion has some substance to it, and about this you should have the right ideas. This is the difference between “Russian” and “Greek” Orthodoxy. Most of the differences are not really substantial, such as the difference in music, details of church services, etc. But a few of them are important and could get you unnecessarily confused. One of these is the practice of confession and receiving Holy Communion: the “Russian” practice is usually not to receive Communion without confession, while the Greeks receive Communion a number of times without confession. Basically, this question is solved for one by one’s own spiritual father, and the only confusion arises when someone from “Russian” practice enters a “Greek” church or vice versa. Our own rule (which I practiced, for example, when I visited Fr. Panteleimon and Fr. Neketas in Seattle last week) is always to receive confession before receiving Communion the first time in a “Greek” church, but after that to receive Communion for several days in a row without going to confession again, provided that one keeps the full “Russian” rule of prayer before receiving Holy Communion and that nothing has come up that disturbs one’s conscience. This is also the usual “Russian” practice in Passion Week, when those who have confessed on Great Thursday may receive Communion without confession on Great Saturday and on Pascha. The important thing is that one has a regular discipline of confession (which should be rather frequent) and not receiving Holy Communion carelessly or with an unclean conscience. There is no problem at Holy Transfiguration Monastery, since there the novices and monks confess their thoughts daily to their elder and receive sacramental absolution at least once a week, as I have heard. In your case, you should ask your spiritual father what to do, and not change to “Greek” practice until you should be under a “Greek” spiritual father. There is much more that can be said on this subject, but basically I would say that if frequent Holy Communion is a good thing, then frequent confession is also good!

Most other differences between the “Greek” and “Russian” traditions are of minor importance, and one can find that in some respects the “Russians” are closer to more ancient and traditional practice (as I discovered last week in Seattle when I asked Fr. Ephraim of Holy Transfiguration Monastery about the way they performed the services), and in some respects the “Greeks” are closer. In music, the “Greeks” have preserved the more ancient practice, as 4-part harmony certainly does come from the West. In our Hermitage we try to stay to 2-part harmony, which is closer to “Greek” practice. (Fr. Neketas, the Greek priest from Seattle, found this quite satisfactory when he visited us some time ago.)

You notice that I put “Greek” and “Russian” in quotations marks—because we are one in Christ, and we should by no means let differences of nationality or custom cause rivalries among us. We have much to learn from each other, but both of us must learn first of all from Christ our Saviour and the pure tradition of His Church! Both “Greeks” and “Russians” have faults and have introduced some minor “innovations” into church practice; but if we love each other in Christ, these faults are tolerable, and it is far preferable to tolerate them than to go about “reforming” other people and being overly critical. Each parish and monastery is free to preserve the Orthodox tradition as fully as it wishes and can, preserving all humility and love.

Concerning your parents, pray to God and do not despair over them. Even if they were to die outside the Faith, you can pray for them privately, even though the Church cannot pray for them as for her own children.

Since Father James would like you to visit us, why don’t you come for the summer or part of the summer?—not as a novice, but as a “laborer.” Of course, you will find that we are very primitive and disorganized, as we are certainly not well established as is Holy Transfiguration Monastery, and all we have are some shacks and an unfinished church. Nonetheless, we are remote from the world and quiet, and there should be no more than one or two other people with us this summer, so one of us would have time to talk with you. Also, there is lots of physical work! Please know that you are welcome.

Please pray for us, and write again. Please ask Father James to pray at Liturgy for the newly reposed Bishop Savva and for Elena (Lopeshanskaya, a friend of ours).

With love in Christ our Saviour,
Seraphim, monk


Feb. 7/20,1973
Sts. Parthenius and Luke

Dear Brother in Christ, Igor [Kapral],

Greetings in our lord Jesus Christ. We are well and thanking God for His mercies to us, and trust you are also well.

We were very glad to have even a brief letter from you, for somehow we feel even more kin to you now with the repose of Vladika Savva. We were most moved when we found out that Vladika Savva had willed us his books and papers, and had even left money for Father Herman to come as soon as possible and take care of them. (It would be best not to go into some of the reasons for that!) Thanks be to God, Fr. Herman did so last week, distributing some of the books also to Elizabeth Mandick and another lady in Edmonton in accordance with Vladika Savva’s last wishes. When, God willing, we have our Skete library built, it will be in Vladika Savva’s memory.

Among Vladika’s papers, of course, were the materials for his book on Archbishop John. As we already suspected from our correspondence with him, there is not too much of this material that has not already been printed in Prav. Rus. (He complained to us that people in San Francisco and elsewhere just didn’t send material when asked.) We will certainly try to get more of it printed in Russian, although it is too early for us to think specifically about a book yet. Vladika Savva himself has now become a part of the whole story of Archbp. John: his concern for his memory and his unashamed acknowledgement of his sanctity are an encouragement for the rest of us who sometimes become dejected over the blindly negative attitude towards him in some places. We plan to tell about Vladika Savva in the new Orthodox Word and to begin translating some of his material on Vladika John, together with his own valuable comments. We feel ourselves to be spiritual heirs and debtors of Vladika Savva, and we will certainly do all we can, with God’s help, to collect all his material on Archbishop John into one book.

How true that in Vladika Savva we have lost a spiritual and righteous bishop, and I fear to say, one of the last of them. In the last two weeks both Fr. Herman and I were in Seattle and spoke both with Frs. Panteleimon and Neketas and with Vladika Nektary. No one is optimistic about the future! In Vladika Savva’s righteous and patient enduring of the injustice which fell to him in his last moths on earth, there seems to be an example and pattern for the rest of us who wish to remain honest and upright Orthodox Christians. Let us make a covenant among ourselves, that wherever we may happen to be in Christ’s Church, that we will not be anything but honest and upright, whatever Church politics may say or what we might have to sacrifice for it!

I hope you understand! With Vladika John’s repose we were orphaned; but now with the passing of Vladikas Leonty and Savva, and with Vladikas Averky and Nektary in such a frail condition, who will we have left to whom we can speak our hearts?

We are very concerned about Jordanville, hearing the widespread rumors about great demoralization there. Are things really as bad as they are reported to be, or as hopeless?

Let us hear from you. Please pray for us, and especially for Vladika Nektary.

With love in Christ our Saviour,
Seraphim, monk

P.s., the cliches for Blessed Xenia are going out in today’s mail.


Feb. 13/26, 1973
St. Simeon the Myrrh-gusher of Serbia

Dear Brother in Christ, Alexey,

Greetings in our Lord Jesus Christ. Just a brief note—since you mentioned that you might be printing Sarah’s article on the Shroud of Turin separately. I read it yesterday at last, rather quickly but enough to see that it shouldn’t be printed as it is, for several reasons:

(1) The most compelling reason: it was obviously written for Roman Catholics and contains a number of purely Latin phenomena and expressions: The “Stations of the Cross,” “merits” of the Cross, etc. In such a form it would evoke a furor among many Orthodox and perhaps dose their minds completely to any possibility that the Shroud might after all be Orthodox!

(2) Secondly, I would question the very large emphasis given to the Shroud in the article as a scientific proof, such phrases as “the most important verification of Christianity outside of Holy Scripture,” and “It can establish that Jesus Christ is true God and true man.” How can science establish such a non-scientific truth?! As secondary evidence it might corroborate the fact of Christ’s Resurrection, true—but not unless we have other then scientific grounds to accept the Shroud. “Scientific” knowledge by its nature is the least reliable form of human knowledge, very subject to revision and deception; not to mention the very real possibility of demonic counterfeits. Also, Sarah seems to be much more certain about such points as the dating of the Shroud than I recall the Walsh book as being (which only said, as I recall, that such cloth was used in the Near East around the time of Christ but not in Medieval Europe).

(3) Almost no attention is given in the article to what from the Orthodox point of view is crucial: actually identifying the Shroud as an Orthodox holy object. Page 6 of the article from this point of view is crucial: each one of these references should be carefully researched and documented, and more found. Where, for example, does the reference from St. Nina come from? Its known that she was involved with the Lord’s Tunic, but not (as far as I know) the Shroud. It’s extremely important that the Orthodox history of the Shroud be made quite certain; then the scientific corroboration becomes stunning. But to build almost the whole argument on the scientific evidence is extremely risky.

All this is said not to throw any cold water!—but just to emphasize that to make the Shroud convincing to many Orthodox people much more than the scientific evidence is needed—the whole Orthodox context must be established. There must be found, for example, a sufficient answer for those who argue that it couldn’t be genuine because there is no Orthodox feast day or service to it. All this requires thought and research, and a premature presentation of the issue will only harm the cause of its acceptance.

Pray for us—we are still in last year with the OW and the Post Office has given us until July 1 to get caught up!

With love in Christ our Saviour,
Seraphim, monk


Feb. 25/Mar. 10, 1973
St. Tarasius of Constantinople

Dear Brother in Christ, Alexey,

Greetings in our Lord Jesus Christ, in Whom rejoice!

Good heavens, we didn’t mean for our poor letter to put you into such a state! Indeed, the evil one beset you. It is doubtless profitless to sort out all the reasons, both demonic and human, for such a trial; what is important is that you survive it and are able to go forward having safely passed through the depression and anxiety and trusting in God Who can bring us through every trial.

What to say further about the Shroud article? Fortunately, we had a visitor these past few days, a young convert who came from the Metropolia several years ago and is very sensitive to the mission of true Orthodoxy today (he likes Nikodemos very much, by the way). We “tested” his views:

1st, on the Shroud itself, about which he has read one or two books and accepts it as authentic;

2nd, on what he thinks of Fr. Panteleimon’s outright rejection of it: although he gready respects Fr. Panteleimon, he suspects this might reflect more his strong anti-Latinism than anything else; he would like to see what arguments he has against it.

3rd, what he thinks of Sarah’s ms, which he read here for the first time: he said he was quite sympathetic to the article and its approach, although he would prefer to see everything documented; and he noted that Sarah seemed to be just as certain about some secondary, questionable points (he mentioned the concept of “Basileus,” for example) as about the stronger main points. In general, however, he said he would welcome its publication by an Orthodox publisher as a preliminary, tentative study—but he would definitely wince if he had to read about “Stations of the Cross” from an Orthodox publisher! When he was told it had already been printed, he wondered if it wasn’t possible to reprint at least page 12, leaving out the “Stations.” When asked about the idea that the main point about the Shroud was that it confirms itself—he said no, he couldn’t accept science as that important to faith, it’s too relative and open to change and it’s very important that the Shroud’s Orthodox history and status be documented.

Well, that’s one man’s opinion, and we give it to you (and we solicited it in the first place) because he is doubtless typical of the thoughtful Nikodemos reader. His ideas are rather close to our own. I will only add a few more comments.

(1)  As to publishing it as is: that, of course, is up to your conscience. We gave you advice, but certainly not a command. It would be nice to have the whole presentation stronger and with as few points as possible that are open to doubt and legitimate criticism. But, like our friend—and as I noted in my last letter—we find the strongest thing against it to be the R.C. references.

(2) Why are the RC references so objectionable? Not so much because some people will “pick” on this point (that’s secondary) as because these references help to “pollute” the Orthodox atmosphere of the reader and either make him cringe and perhaps even doubt because of them (if he is aware of such things), or (if he isn’t aware) helps him to accept some purely RC “traditions” as though they were authentic—which is worse, as the poor Orthodox people are already “Latinized” enough! Concerning the “Stations of the Cross,” our friend couldn’t see any compelling reason why they were put in in the first place, and indeed the testimony of a certain number of falls certainly is not a part of the primary testimony of the Shroud. The “Stations” are a late Latin innovation, and to speak of them being sanctioned by “Holy Tradition” and “authority” is to do a disservice to the Orthodox reader (which is who your reader is!). On one point, indeed, (“Veronica”) the Latins actually have a “countertradition,” since that is their equivalent of the Orthodox tradition of the Holy Face given to King Agbar.

Another point on Latin influence in the article (which I skipped over in my first letter) is brought out by Fr. Grabbe’s letter to you: indeed, Orthodox tradition is quite certain about the four nails, i.e., the feet of the Saviour were nailed separately, and the RC crossed feet is definitely a later innovation (13th century, I believe). This point, by the way, is also emphasized in the Jordanville [article] on the Shroud. Evidently the Shroud itself does not give proof one way or the other on this point. To overthrow or cast doubt on this quite firm and certain Orthodox tradition, although it might seem like a “small point,” would be very bad. For the Shroud to be Orthodox (i.e., authentic), it cannot contradict firm Orthodox tradition in any respect. Otherwise science is placed before tradition, and the gates are opened! (By the way, I don’t think such as point as the nails through the wrists and not through the palms can be criticized on this ground; there has been no actual tradition about the palms, only a general conception, which is not infallible.)

If these distinct Latin elements could be omitted, or those pages reprinted without them, the article would be much more easily accepted by Orthodox. Otherwise the Shroud is placed in a pretty distinctly Latin context, which is the chief criticism that some people already have against it: that it is not only physically in a Latin land (as are the relics of St. Nicholas; this of course is no argument), but is actually a Latin holy object (however it might be explained), and therefore questionable. If you send it out with such Latin references, your preface would have to do a lot, and you would doubtless have to emphasize that it was written in an RC context and has to be “corrected” by the Orthodox mind.

(3) There are many small criticisms, which are however not really crucial as long as the article is understood as preliminary and tentative. In particular, one reason why we emphasize the need to document its history is that the reference to St. Nina seems to be a mistake, in that her Life contains much material on the Lord’s Tunic, but not a word, as far as we recall, on the Shroud. I haven’t read the whole life recently so can’t be absolutely certain, but one mistake like that would indicate that whoever documented the history wasn’t always careful. A detailed documentation, with full references, and quotes showing how the historical evidence does or doesn’t point to the Shroud of Turin (for example, what precisely are the measurements made by Arculphus—can they be identified in modern measure and do they correspond rather exactly to the Shroud; that would be an important corroboration)—would probably be a long article in itself, but one day it should be done, and by an Orthodox Christian! Research should also be done on the history and texts of the services of Great Friday, the background of the bringing out of the Winding Sheet at Great Friday Vespers, etc. I admit that it rather looks as though all of this material will fit soundly and stunningly together—but until this is done, i.e., as I said before, the Orthodox context of the Shroud is fully established, it will still remain in the realm of private opinion and not something generally and wholeheartedly accepted (or reaccepted!) by the Church.

(4) Agreeing with our friend, we must repeat that we are not impressed with the scientific evidence of the Shroud in itself, it needs confirmation from Church tradition. 75 years ago a new scientific discovery unlocked the truly remarkable secret of the Shroud; but what if a new scientific discovery tomorrow would reveal (to make just one out of many possible speculations!) that a body could separate from such a Shroud and leave the markings intact without being resurrected? Science restored faith, and then took it away!? No—science is only the handmaid of higher knowledge and must be kept in its place. I really think the idea of the Shroud as chiefly self-authenticating is onesided and insecure.

As a conclusion: whatever you choose to do, the question of the Shroud and its acceptance among Orthodox Christians is of course not finished. It is doubtless true that almost anything you could write would not convince Fr. Panteleimon (although conceivably a thorough investigation of church services and history might convince him—he has changed his mind before on such things). Sarah's article has many good, and some not so good, points; use it as your conscience.tells you. Do not do anything about it as long as your conscience is disturbed or you have gnawing doubts one way or the other—let everything settle down first so you can think and act clearly. Of course, one can always act “wrong” even on a clear conscience!—but even that is not a fatal mistake as long as one's mind and heart remain open and one keeps first things first.

Please be assured, by the way, that you’re welcome at our humble skete in no way depends on your attitude toward the Shroud or the points of your defense of it! We are all human and fallible and there are many points here that are subject to personal interpretation. We are inclined to agree with you on its authenticity (although we are waiting for the articles on the services and history!)—but if we disagreed we wouldn’t “excommunicate” you—we would just gather our strongest evidence and present it to you.

We hadn’t heard of Vladika John’s attitude toward the Shroud, though of course it’s very likely that he accepted it; where did you hear this?

Tomorrow is Forgiveness Sunday and the beginning of our lenten labor. Father Herman and I both bow before you and Susan (and Ian also) and beg your forgiveness if we have sinned against you in any way, in word, deed or thought. May God forgive and have mercy on us all!

We look forward to your visit.

With love in Christ our Saviour,
Seraphim, monk


March 1/14, 1973
Third Day of Great Lent

Dear Father Neketas,

Evlogeite! We are very glad to hear your positive reply to the proposed periodical. We are very grateful for your offer to print it for us. However, the printing itself would be the least of our labors, as we would plan to print 4 pages at a time (smaller than Orth. Word), 16-24 pages, and probably only 1000 copies to begin with—so the printing would entail only a fraction (10% or so) of the labor in printing OW.

At any rate, we still have to talk the whole project over again with Vladika Nektary, who at times can be very timid about such things. It may be better to begin not quite so soon, only remembering that no matter what happens, Vladika Nektary did give us his blessing to revive Vladika Johns periodical.

Still, we would like very much to print something for the 7th anniversary of Vladika Johns repose. We would also like to do something for Vladika Savva’s memory. In reading over his papers and also his articles in Orthodox Russia, we see that he had a definite message for the Russian people, which will probably be forgotten now if we don’t do something about it. His articles on Vladika John speak more strongly than any of us on the fact that he is a saint who is not yet properly valued and who is of great significance for the Orthodox people. His testament to us is, clearly, to continue speaking this truth, even if the “organization” mentality doesn’t like to hear it.

In reading the papers of Bishop Savva, we find addressed to him the usual complaints against Vladika John (these are the worst things they can find about him!): that he is irritable, crude, unthinking of others, (for example because he comes late to services), disrupts the usual order of things, is a poor administrator, can’t be understood, mumbles and falls asleep in the midst of the most important (worldly) discussions, that the clergy of the S.F. Cathedral consider it a holiday when he isn't present. I myself had occasion to witness most of these phenomena, and I can testify, for example, that on the several occasions when he was “crude” with me I was extremely grateful and saw only spiritual benefit in it. In all of this I think there is hidden a significant fact about Vladika which hasn’t been brought out much: that he refused to allow the Church to become a habit, and by his seeming crudeness, he tried to jolt people out of the spiritual rut into which it can be so easy to fall. As soon as Vladika was gone, everything became “smooth” in the Cathedral and the clergy were content—because now they could and did make the Church a habit, incapable of inspiring anyone except on the capital of the past which has not yet been used up (but will be before long!).

But to come to the point: we would like to print, before July 2, Vladika Savva’s articles on Vladika John in book-form. This would mean about 100 pages of offset material from Orthodox Russia, and a little more material and some pictures which we could print ourselves. How realistic is the possibility of your printing these 100 pages (i.e., 50 printings of 8 1/2 x 11 paper, 2000 copies)? At what rate can the work be done and how much, for example, could be done if one of us (or possibly both) were to come and help for up to the better part of a week? If this proposal doesn’t overwhelm you completely, please let us know something of the technical and time factors involved. What is the biggest sheet your machine can take or your plate-maker make? (If it was 11x17 it would speed things up, but we doubt it.)

As you see, we would very much like to come out with something now which would be both for the glory of Vladika John and the memory of Vladika Savva, and to do it as joint tribute from both you and us would please us all the more.

All this, of course, is “secret,” and we haven’t even mentioned it to Vladika Nektary. It’s probably better for him if he’s kept “uninvolved” anyway! Although our ruling bishop will probably not be pleased with it, we don’t think he’ll say anything, since after all its only a “reprint.” (If he were informed in advance, of course, he would insist on advising, discouraging, etc., and in the end destroying the whole idea.)

We look forward, again, to your response to all this. Please pray for us.

With love in Christ our Saviour,
Seraphim, monk

P.s. In regard to our other project: how do you have a 2nd class permit without needing paid subscribers? Does the “non-profit” label obliterate that rule?


March 4/17,1973
St. Gerasimus of the Jordan

Dear Sister in Christ, Nina,

Greetings in our Lord Jesus Christ. This will be mainly replies to your questions.

We have no immediate plans to reprint the “charismatic” article, so Fr. Neketas is certainly welcome to do so. If no one does reprint it, later we might collect that series of articles on non-Chris- tian religions and have it reprinted by offset, but now we’re too overwhelmed with other things. We get the Logos and have noted with decreasing interest its progress from worse to worser.

Yes, the repose of Vladika Savva was a loss for all of us, and as usual, it is only now that we begin really to value him. We have an article on him in the new (;;;-Dec) OW and will be printing regularly some of his material on Vladika John. Unfortunately, there is not too much beyond what he already published in Orthodox Russia, but some of it is very valuable (for example, a letter from Vladika Johns younger brother describing his childhood). We haven’t started going through Vlad. Savva’s norebooks yet, but they seem at first glance to be full of nothing but Holy Fathers (handwritten!). Certainly you are welcome to have the icon of the Forerunner as a remembrance of him.

Concerning the Panagia and Cross of Vladika John, I wrote a hasty scribbled note to Fr. Panteleimon when Fr. Herman returned from Edmonton, but probably it was too unclear or cryptic. In a word: after hearing about them from Fr. Panteleimon in Seattle, Fr. Herman asked about them in Edmonton: the Panagia, with inscription on the back from Archbishop Gabriel, he got and we have here. However, no one knew about a Cross with particles of the True Cross; there was only a Cross with many relics inside, of which we have a list. This we also have. Is it the same one, or is it absolutely certain that it has particles of the True Cross and not relics? By the way, don’t spread it (beyond

Fr. Panteleimon) that we have these, as we have them “unofficially” and would never have asked for them if Fr. Panteleimon hadn’t spoken. Vladika Nektary knows, but his ruling Vlad, doesn’t, and we have yet to hear his response to all this. Unfortunately, he is not well disposed to the glorification of Vladika Johns memory, and besides he seems to stand in mortal fear of Vlad. Vit. We belong to the “other” tradition: do as your conscience says and speak out, and if they persecute you or “retire” you for it, well and good. (Did you ever hear of a “retired” monk? Maybe you will!)

We have no copies left of the original St. Herman Life. One day we’ll print a better one!

The Skete at Inverness Park has long since folded. It was never more than Fr. Dimitry and one or two hopefuls, but there was no attempt to introduce a rule of life, so the candidates soon moved on. There were picnics there in the summer. Now it is a “retreat center” for the SF parish with its “young, intellectual” (Schmemannized) priest, and a convert (Daniel Everiss) stays there as caretaker. Fr. Dimitry now lives in Santa Rosa where he is parish priest. We are told that Daniel bought a set of bells for the “Skete” from Sears Roebuck, I guess to tickle the ears of the “retreatants.”

We’ll be interested in the Hilandar checklist. The 1794 Paisius Life is probably the original version of the Life we are now printing—very beautiful, and we hope it will move our readers as much as it has moved us. It will take 4 issues to complete, and then God willing we’ll print it as a book. Between this and our other projects we are kept quite busy. This spring we must also finish the outside of the chapel and demolish several cabins in Platina (we’ve been offered the lumber). There’s also our “Vladika Savva Memorial Library” to start building, not to mention other construction projects! And the Post Office has given us until July 1 to be caught up on OW “or else.” Pray for us.! It looks as though we might have several more hands shortly, but that might be a trail too!

With love in Christ,
Seraphim, monk


April 5/18, 1973
St. Mark the Anchorite of Athens

Dear Father Neketas,

Evlogeite! We hasten to reply to your letter regarding Alexey Young and Nikodemos, which frankly caused us some astonishment. Concerning some of the points you raise we can set your mind at rest, for Alexey is quite innocent with regard to some to your fears, but I’m afraid regarding some other points there are some basic disagreements which your letter points to and which we simply did not know existed up to now. As always we will state frankly our opinions and trust that bringing such things into the open will serve good purpose.

1. Concerning Alexey’s “teaching” like a “convert” and retaining his “Roman perspective”: We know Alexey rather well and can testify that he is by no means an “unstable convert” who rushes to put his own fancies into print. Perhaps you will be shocked to learn that from the beginning of Nikodemos, Alexey has submitted all the material in it to us for prior approval and criticism, and every one of our suggestions he has taken with extreme seriousness, to the extent of changing, omitting or adding whole passages, and also of not printing some things altogether. With regard to himself as a “teacher” of Orthodoxy we have found him to be most humble, reasonable, and anxious to learn and not to project any Latin or other non-Orthodox attitudes into his printed material. To say that we have “approved” the content of Nikodemos is not to say that we would have printed such articles ourselves, or if we did, in the way or with the tone of Nikodemor, it is only to say that we did not find them objectionable, but, in most cases, useful. But I will say frankly that our “censorship” never took the form of a command, but always of advice, even though sometimes expressed in no uncertain terms. Vladika John taught us that laborers in the missionary field are to be guided and inspired, but not pushed or forced; therefore we have never tried to force on Alexey our own points of view in matters of opinion, encouraging him rather to mature his own points of view in full accord with Church tradition and with a constant awareness of how much he has to learn about this. We believe he is maturing in this way soundly and normally, and that his particular outlook is reaching and benefiting people who do not find that the present Orthodox publications exhaust all one has to know about Orthodoxy or the present situation of Orthodox believers.

2. With regard to Father Ephraim’s letter and the advice of Holy Transfiguration Monastery in general: We have advised Alexey to accept with utmost seriousness any advice the Fathers may offer, not as “infallible” of course, but as well-meant and in all likelihood sound counsel. He was most anxious, in particular, to avoid legitimate criticism from the Monastery on the subject of evolution, and therefore he made a real effort to avoid even the appearance of the pitfalls that Fr. Ephraim brought out in his letter. As I recall, we told him that we think he did indeed avoid those pitfalls—specifically, the possible charge of “fundamentalism” (which I seriously doubt that he ever held). And indeed, rereading the evolution article, we do not find that it can seriously be criticized on the grounds of “fundamentalism” by any but a biased or uninformed reader. It is true that he gets into the realm of science—but evolution precisely claims to be “scientific” (which it certainly is not, it is religious philosophy masquerading as science), and it is quite impossible to discuss it at all without examining its scientific evidence (which simply does not exist—and why should we be afraid to say so, just to avoid being called obscurantists who think the earth is flat?). But more on evolution below.

I must say, as I think I already wrote you, that we found Fr. Ephraim’s letter not very satisfactory on several points, and in particular because it did not really answer Alexeys real concerns, but instead projected on to him some fundamentalist viewpoints which he doesn’t hold. I think this must be because Fr. Ephraim doesn’t know Alexey and somehow didn’t get what was bothering him; but in any case what I say in no way diminishes our respect for Fr. Ephraim, it only convinces us that no one is perfect, least of all we ourselves, and if we in the battle for true Orthodoxy do not have tolerance for each other’s weaknesses and mistakes (even those expressed in print!), there is no hope for any of us or for the Orthodox mission today. As I recall, Kalomiros made this same point in Against False Union, and we have impressed it on Alexey and others many times. From this point of view, it is certainly very unfortunate that The Old Calendarist printed Fr. Ephraim’s letter in full and with names given— for what? to call to a debate among laborers in the mission field? There must be more caution and tact here!

3. Regarding Alexey and “lay saints” etc.: I must say frankly that your idea that he has a “soft- sell” approach to Orthodoxy is unjust to him. We have discussed often with him the tone, content, orientation, etc., of Nikodemos, and he and we are quite agreed that Nikodemos is in full harmony with other Synod publications as complementing them, and not as repeating their stands. You have probably noticed that our Orthodox Word, also has had of late much less concerning contemporary subjects, anti-ecumenism, etc.—not at all because we’ve changed our mind about these things of have changed our orientation, but solely because your publications (and a few others) are now doing this work for us. We have no reason to doubt Alexey's Orthodoxy or his awareness of the dangers of Latin-type thinking, etc.—it’s just that he doesn’t feel it’s his mission to go into that. And on another point: he’s certainly not weak on monasticism, and in fact the reason he was so interested in printing the Life of St. Juliana is because it shows the monastic spirit in a lay person, hence points out that lay life too must be penetrated by monastic ideals. We agree with him that such lives can be very inspiring in just the right way—more directly so than the lives of monk saints (of which, by the way, The Orthodox Word has had nothing but for a long time now!).

4. The most important point, regarding evolution:

a. First of all, let us shock you right off by saying that we read the article before publication, made many suggestions (which were all incorporated into the article), and fully approved it; and now rereading it after receiving your letter we find nothing seriously wrong with it—except that it is much too short and concise. Of course, now with your letter it becomes obvious also that the approach was perhaps too abrupt and direct for many Orthodox readers today, and more preparation of them should perhaps be made.

b. Therefore, there is obviously some deep disagreement between your views and ours on this subject. I have always regarded evolution, in all its ramifications, as an important part of the “American modern” intellectual baggage which I left behind when I became Orthodox, and it never before occurred to me that any aware Orthodox Christian would regard it as an unimportant, especially now when may scientists have abandoned it (purely on scientific grounds), when the pseudo-religious presuppositions of its supporters are so evident, and when it is so much bound up with masonry-ecumenism and the whole pseudo-religious modern outlook.

We were frankly astonished at your objection to the article, and have been thinking long and hard to try to find your thinking on this subject. Then it occurred to us: apparently you regard “modern” ideas as being of two types: those that directly attack the Church, which must be confronted and uprooted mercilessly (masonry, ecumenism); and those which do not directly attack the Church and are not directly theological (evolution).

Is this true? Nonetheless, I don’t see how it can be denied that “modern” ideas are after all one whole: they are formed first outside the Church, develop in atheist-agnostic minds, and then move through the whole of society until they reach the Church, changing form in the meantime to fit in with each current of ideas. “Evolution” is one such idea (but it’s not really an “idea”—see below) that has not yet directly attacked Orthodoxy. But look what it has already done to papism: is it not true that the whole dissolution of papism in the past decade is directly bound up with the “unleashing” of Teilhardism (whose books were more or less banned up to then) in that same period, a process which was presented for popular consumption 10 years ago in a rather cheap but symptomatic novel, The Shoes of the Fisherman? By this I do not mean that a certain number of Teilhardian theses were opposed to so many papist theses and conquered them: for his evolution is not really a “heresy” (we will agree that this term applied to him, especially from the Orthodox side, is imprecise!), but rather a whole rival thought-pattern offering a whole different approach to life (and, consequently, religion); and being already so much a part of the “spirit of the age,” its approach was persuasive not by argument but by fitting in with unconscious attitudes of people who were outwardly papist.

We were rather surprised when you (and Fr. Ephraim too, as I recall) mentioned that you haven’t read Teilhard and weren’t familiar with his ideas; i.e., you are waiting for the wave to hit Orthodoxy before you start thinking of the subject. But really, Teilhardism is the “Christianity” (and “Orthodoxy”) of the future, or rather its metaphysical foundation (it fits very nicely in with “charismatic” phenomena), and it is by no means too early to find out what is hitting us! Here it may well be that Alexeys position (as a layman in the midst of the world, and coming from outside of Orthodoxy which has already been completely captured by “evolutionary” spirituality and philosophy) has enabled him to be aware of something that the more “sheltered” Orthodox (clergy, monks, life-long Orthodox) simply don’t see yet. How overjoyed I myself was to find this “shelteredness” when I became Orthodox, because I saw that in this “world-to-itself” I would be able to change completely my mental orientation (not to mention spiritual) and no longer think at all in terms of the reigning despotism of ideas (in which evolution has a key place). I did notice, however, that other converts didn’t seem to grasp this point, and some of them began to discuss how this or that modern current can be understood or accepted or criticized in terms of Orthodoxy—a false outlook, because there are two quite separate mental worlds involved, and the difference is rather greater than that between two totally unrelated languages. But the Russian Church Abroad, of course, is the only place I found where this separate mental approach was kept intact; in the other “jurisdictions” one would have to keep all this intellectual baggage. But all this is becoming too philosophical. This, by the way, explains why some Synod priests are blissfully unaware of those issues which bother the rest of us!

We fully agree with Alexey that “evolution is one of the most dangerous concepts that faces the Orthodox Christian today”— perhaps it is the very key (intellectual) to the assault upon the Church, to the very “philosophy” (and there is such a thing!) of the coming Antichrist. If we understand you and Father Ephraim aright, you regard it as merely an “idea” which one can take or leave, and which can involve one in endless modernist-fundamentalist discussions which are totally pointless (how many “hours” in the first “seven days”? etc.) We certainly agree on the pointlessness of such discussions, but now the issue is much deeper than that; “evolution” is a whole mind-set that is quite incompatible with Orthodoxy. But that is a treatise in itself. Alexey’s article, as I said, is much too brief, but perhaps it will have the good effect of inspiring a thorough treatment of the subject (not a “modernist-fundamentalist” fight, but also not what Fr. Ephraim apparently wants to do, to stand so far above the issue that one can’t even discern that evolution is a crucial question, and destructive of Orthodoxy not so much because of its theses as because of its intellectual-spiritual orientation.).

Significantly, the same mail that brought your letter brought also Concern, with the article of Theodosius Dobzhansky (who just received a Doctorate honoris causae from St. Vladimir s Seminary) on “Evolution: God’s Method of Creation.” Well, here are the arguments of an “Orthodox evolutionist,” and they are the same as all other evolutionary arguments, emotional faith with not one shred of genuine evidence to support it (although he presents material that looks very formidable and “scientific”). But more important: read between the lines and answer: does this man believe in God as a true Orthodox Christian believes in Him? He does not! He believes in Him as “modern” man believes; he is a deist. And very revealing is his conclusion: “One of the great thinkers of our age, Teilhard de Chardin, wrote the following: ‘Is evolution a theory, a system, or a hypothesis? It is much more—it is a general postulate to which all theories, all hypotheses, all systems must henceforward bow and which they must satisfy in order to be thinkable and true. Evolution is a light which illuminates all facts, a trajectory which all lines of thought must follow—this is what evolution is.”’

This indeed is Teilhardism, and by “all theories and systems” he means in particular theology and spirituality, as being part of the highest evolutionary layer, the “noosphere,” which is just now converging in the evolutionary apex called the “Omega Point” or “Super Christ.” I hate to appear “fundamentalist,” but his mammoth structure rests on just a few little “fundamental” facts (or fabrications), which most people seem afraid to get near because they seem so “scientific,” beginning with the transition of one species into another and so up the ladder.

To sum up: Whatever weaknesses Alexey’s article on evolution may have, it is an attempt to answer a real problem which we cannot avoid: that ideological orientation and value-system which is taught in all public schools as fact and which poisons and stupefies Orthodox minds without ever attacking Orthodoxy as such. Alexey’s response is sound, even if it is not (of course) perfect. We Orthodox are not afraid to be “narrow” on the question of ecumenism; why should we be afraid to be “narrow” on the question of evolution? The two issues, after all, are very closely bound up with each other.

Regarding Alexey and “lay thinking” in general, we continue to regard him and it as very positive and healthy—provided, of course, that it does not try to proceed on its own opinion alone but always looks for and receives counsel from within the more “official” part of the Church. Under this condition, we are not even afraid of his possible “mistakes” on matters open to personal opinion (i.e., not involving heresy, attacks against bishops, etc.)—for he is not an “authority” who must always come out with some “official” or impeccable statement of Church teaching but rather a struggler in an intellectual jungle whose dangers and real problems are not always too apparent to us formal “ecclesiastical” people—but this is precisely the world in which our Orthodox Christians live today.

Enough for this for now. Please forgive my longwordiness. Regarding our printing projects in Russian: We will not think about the periodical until after we’ve caught up with OW and gotten the 1974 Calendar out, but maybe by the first of the year we will be ready to start, depending also on Vladika Nektary. Please keep it quiet, however. The book of Vladika Savva is also not too easy because we will have to add quite a few pages ourselves that were not in Orthodox Russia. I doubt if we can do it before July 2. We have also just gotten the address of a place in Taiwan that offers to print offset books and hardbind them for hardly more than the cost of the paper in the US., and we are of course looking into this also.

Please pray for us, and be assured of our love and respect for you and the Fathers. However, I think there are some issues we should all be thinking seriously about!

With love in Christ our Saviour,
Seraphim, monk


April 5/18,1973
St. Mark the Anchorite of Athens

Dear Alexey,

Just a note. We received Monday a rather shocking letter from Father Neketas expressing extreme displeasure with your “evolution” article. He apparently sent you a letter too, a copy of which he said he was enclosing in his letter to us (but he didn’t).

After reading his letter, we read your article together once again—and neither of us find anything wrong with it, except that it is much too short and concise. After looking in vain for any other source of Fr. Neketas’ displeasure, we can only conclude that Fr. Neketas and Fr. Ephraim apparently are just not aware of the whole issue of evolution, whether in its scientific side or in its religious-theological implications. Obviously your article has touched something very deep (frankly we are astonished that people so keen on ecclesiastical matters, ecumenism, etc., should seem never to have given much thought to such an important thing as evolution; apparently it is because it seems to be outside the Church sphere).

However, now it is very important for all of us to approach this “disagreement” very carefully. We are sending Fr. Neketas (hopefully with today’s mail also) a long letter expressing our surprise at his letter and giving something of our own views, also, incidentally, removing the illusions he seems to have formed about you as a self-willed convert who takes no one's advice and has never thrown off his Latinism. We have frankly no idea what his response will be when he reads that we approved the article before publication and continue to approve it. Maybe we will get thrown in the “fundamentalist” boat too, I don’t know. We certainly hope not, but rather that he and the Fathers in Boston will start to do some thinking about their own “American-modern” baggage which they seem to have dragged with them this far.

We must be “wise as serpents and gentle as doves” in what we do and say now, and by no means must we allow ourselves to be dragged into an argument on “modernist-fundamentalist” lines. Maybe they are “modernists,” I don’t know; but we certainly are not fundamentalists. The truth lies much deeper than either of these merely rational positions, and it will not be easy to present it so that it will be properly understood, judging from Fr. Neketas’ first response. I don’t think either you or we should “argue” at all, but prepare for a more thorough presentation of the whole subject. Frankly, we want to really persuade them, and the way to do that is to go into the subject deeply, especially the spiritual implications.

What we must keep in mind and get across, I think, is not really evolution as a heresy or wrong idea, on the same level with other ideas, and therefore go out fighting with the ordinary weapons of polemics. Evolution is not that kind of idea—but rather a kind of deep-seated primordial force which seems to capture people quite apart from their conscious attitudes and reasoning. (There’s a good reason for that: it’s been drilled into everyone from the cradle, and therefore is very hard to bring out and look at rationally.) It’s a rival thought-pattern to Orthodoxy, not just another idea.

Your article, beyond any doubt, is going to make you “unpopular” in places. Do not let this discourage you, or force you into a “defensive” posture. Your article is probably going to do something very painful at first but ultimately positive: bring out into the open some attitudes which have long been hiding in the shadows.

Do you get Ñîncern? In the same mail with Fr. Neketas’ letter (surely more than coincidence!) we also received the latest issue with an article by Theodosius Dobzhansky (who just was given an honorary Doctor’s Degree by St. Vladimir’s Seminary) called “Evolution: Gods Method of Creation”—a rather supercilious ridiculing of anti-evolutionism concluding with a fantastic quote (which we are sending to Fr. Neketas) from the “great thinker” Teilhard de Chardin. We’ll make a copy of it for you if you didn’t get it.

May God guide us all aright so that we may speak the truth in love—not to be “right,” but to enlighten and save souls.

With love in Christ our Saviour,
Seraphim, monk

P.s. Have you thought about the icon for the chapel?


April 8/21,1973
Lazarus Saturday

Dear Father Ioannikios,

Thank you for remembering us poor sinners. The subscription has been entered for the slave of God Constantine. May God hear his prayer and grant him the true grace of repentance!

We feel deficient in our desire to keep in closer contact with you in your very difficult path. It seems there are many who do not appreciate the labors of the fathers at Jordanville and “know better” how they should labor. May God guard us all in fruitful labors wherever we may be, but not to intrude on the good labors of others!

Apparently Fr. Lev is more or less in charge of Orthodox Life? Is anyone in Jordanville watching closely what he prints? We have in mind in particular the possibility of Metr. Anthony’s unacceptable ideas on the “Dogma of Redemption” being included in the series of articles by him. Hopefully they will not be. I made a report on this subject to Fr. Panteleimon in Seattle recently, and he at least saw some of the difficulties and said he didn’t have any chance to print anything like this anyway in the conceivable future (despite the fact that The Old Calendarist says so!). But Fr. Lev seems to be a rather independent operator. May God grant him good fruits—but we doubt that he’s aware of this issue!

What do you think of Nikodemos? Did the article on “evolution” bother you in the last issue? It didn’t us, but our Greeks seem a little upset over it. May God grant that there will not be unnecessary quarrels over points open to some personal opinion, among laborers in the true Orthodox mission field today! We try to be in harmony with everyone as best we can, but are frank when we feel it necessary. Frs. Panteleimon and Neketas don’t much like Tsar Constantine and Blessed Augustine in the calendar, but thanks be to God, they are peaceful about it and I hope got the point that we don’t want to take the authority of dropping anyone until we have good reason from the Russian sources to do so.

We are supposed to be helping Vladimir Anderson prepare for the priesthood. But please tell us precisely what it is that he can get by going to Jordanville for the summer or part of the summer. Is there some regular course now or tutoring in English language? (which we doubt.) Or is he supposed to go there only to pass tests on the books in Russian you indicated to him? (which his daughter can’t translate). In any case, we have started giving him some lessons (beginning with liturgies) and will proceed depending on what we hear from you. We will be glad to take quite a bit of rime with him. We have a feeling that Vladika Anthony’s idea of “sending him to Jordanville” is a little vague—?

Laurence Campbell has just joined us and asks that you send the remaining number of Orthodox Life on his subscription to our address. Please pray for us, that we may be able to proceed truly in the spirit of Blessed Paisius! You are the first to comment on our printing his Life—but it is time, isn’t it?

We greet you in advance with the Paschal greeting and beg your prayers. Please give our greetings to Father Vladimir, who has gladdened us with his recent letters.

With love in Christ our Saviour,
Seraphim, monk

with greetings from Father Herman and Brother Laurence


Palm Sunday, [April 9/22], 1973

Dear Father Neketas,


My dear, my dear, what to say now?! In the same mail with your latest letter came a letter from Alexey about the “news” which he is sure will be greeted by us with “sighs and sadness”—that he decided to send out the “Shroud” article over our objections, and how much he regrets it now! We haven’t received the printed version yet, so have no idea what he said in his preface, which we assured him could not make up for the blatant Latinisms in the text. (By the way, he didn’t submit this preface to us for criticism, if indeed he wrote one.)

Well, is this supposed to one of those “mistakes” which we just wrote you we weren’t afraid of his making?! I hope you don’t think this is one of the articles we “approved”!)

However, let us shock you again by saying that we aren’t afraid of an article on the Shroud itself; but such an article isn’t the one! It doubtless will do exactly what we told Alexey: (1) Cause a great furor; (2) do so justly because an article written for Latins is given as Orthodox (and the text speaks more strongly than anything he could have said in his preface), and therefore the true case for the Shroud (if there is one—see below) will be rejected outright by many because of the papist trappings; and (3) in general the article “pollutes” the spiritual atmosphere with papist attitudes and outright errors, from which the poor Orthodox people have already suffered so much. Not to mention (4) what will happen to Nikodemos as an Orthodox voice after this?

But what about the Shroud itself. Until very recently we have never been the slightest bit interested in it and could not even bring ourselves to read the Jordanville pamphlet on it or anything else pro or contra. Finally, however, we saw that in view of all the controversy (our Russians as a whole certainly accept it, and by no means are they all papophiles, and we knew that Fr. Panteleimon was strongly against it) we reluctantly decided that we would have to at least become informed on the subject, to the extent of reading a few works on it. This task was assigned to me, and I must confess my initial repugnance at approaching a sacred object by means of laboratory experiments on cadavers and the like. But I swallowed that and read on to get the whole picture.

Well, I got a pretty good picture of the whole and presented the leading points of it to Father Herman. Now brace yourself: we think it extremely likely that it is genuine. We are not entirely convinced as yet, as we told Alexey the absolutely crucial point for Orthodox believers will be the thorough documentation of its history and the evidence for the Church’s veneration of it.

Where is the service to it? —the Vespers of Great Friday and the Matins of Great Saturday! (This startling idea, by the way, has occurred to several people we’ve asked quite independently.) When is its feast day—Great Friday and every Friday, if we are to believe the 11th century testimony (I don’t recall if Sarah’s article or the Jordanville article mention it or not) that it was brought out for veneration by the faithful every Friday (in the Blachernae Temple, I believe).

Well, that’s enough to suggest that we think there might be a case for it—but were not going to “defend” it for you, because we haven’t gone into any sources. We are completely open on the subject, but frankly sympathetic toward it. The “bloody detail” of the Shroud itself does not bother us— if it is what it is claimed to be, then of course it is full of bloodstains! How one should write about it if it is genuine—that, of course, is another question.

However, to get back to the article—as I said, this is not the article with which to defend it, if it is genuine, and we agree with you on the points you raised, all of which (and others) we made to Alexey. We emphasized the importance of the four nails (not three) even though he thought it at first an unimportant “detail”—but the Jordanville article precisely mentions the four nails and the lateness of the Latin tradition of three, because there is no evidence from the marks of the Shroud one way Or the other. We told him that the Lord’s Tunic has an important part in the Life of St. Nina, but we don’t recall a single reference to the Shroud there, which makes us not convinced by the other references either, until they are checked and others found. We told him that the article places disproportionate emphasis on the scientific side, which by no means can prove that the God-man rose from the dead or that this is His Winding-shroud, but at most can be a startling confirmation of these facts to the extent that scientific knowledge can “confirm” anything—and we specifically warned him against trusting scientific knowledge so much, as it is the lowest and least stable form of knowledge). (By the way, in case I didn’t make it clear in my last letter, the argument against the supposed “scientific” theory of evolution is not itself scientific, for “science” itself can neither prove nor disprove it, for science its only guesswork: the argument against it is theological, that it involves implications which are entirely unacceptable for Orthodoxy, and these implications can't be escaped, and every propounder of evolution uses them, the theists and spiritualists being worse that the atheists.) We warned him that Sarah speaks with equal confidence about some dubious speculations (the Roman “Basileus,” etc.), outright errors (the three nails), and the more important points of evidence which the Shroud seems to give, which will make it easy for someone to tear the whole thing apart by pounding on her errors; etc., etc.

Unfortunately, we didn’t read Sarah’s article (it’s 100% hers!) until just before Great Lent, when Alexey told us he was thinking of distributing it during Lent, and by the time we read it and got our comments to him he had already sent it to the printer. Our letter made him abandon for a while the idea of sending it out (despite the considerable sum it must have cost him), and we thought he had really abandoned it for good. But alas, temptation overcame him and for the first time he did something directly against our counsel to him—and of course, at the worst possible moment, when a hornet’s nest has erupted over “evolution” (which in our view is a completely different matter, as you already know). We are sending him a good scolding—but one with love and genuine concern over what he should do now. Of course, he hasn’t gotten rid of all his Latin background (and has now proclaimed it to the world) (although in articles he writes himself he’s cautious and always asks), but he’s trying and learning, as we said in our last letter, and this mistake (if he survives it!) will help him on that path.

I say, “if he survives it,” and doubtless you are already rather certain that another “crazy convert” has gone off the deep end. But with this we can’t agree—not unless he does go wild or collapse completely now under this trial which his own blunder has caused him. He still respects and trusts us, and we will do our best to keep him from going off that “deep end” right now. Should he abandon Nikodemos? We don’t see why he should—Orthodox Life printed a Shroud article (admittedly a better one) and survived, and you still advertise it, having passed that article over with benign oblivion. Nikodemos also can survive, we think. And you already know our approval of this kind of “lay periodical,” although we didn’t give you all our thinking on this subject.

Well, now at the end of a second long epistle this week you probably have some conclusions about our attitudes and approaches. Specifically, you are perhaps thinking that inexperienced people like Alexey should be “taken in hand” and not simply “counseled,” as we have tried to do. To this we will disagree, for two reasons: (1) Vladika John gave us the path which we are following in this respect, and he is our guiding star, and we see pretty clearly the meaning of his approach to missionary labor and why he chose it; and (2) what is the alternative? We were frankly horrified when we heard that Fr. Panteleimon had suggested a year or so ago that Vladika Vitaly be somehow placed “in charge” of converts or convert priests, to avoid the “mistakes” of the past. Well, yes, that might mean the end of the “mistakes” of the past (but somehow we doubt even that), but it would also mean the end of the Orthodox missionary movement in the Church Abroad, period. (And it wouldn’t help to have someone better in charge—the principle itself is the dangerous thing.)

But speaking of Vlad. Vitaly (can I speak more frankly, now?)—do you see now something of what this alternative to Nikodemos and a reasonably free missionary movement is? We could have told you two years ago everything you now know about him and his approaches and more besides, but we deliberately refrained from this, not because of his high rank (which we respect, but we still speak the truth when it is called for), but chiefly for fear of causing any kind of hindrance to the possible good that might come out of the “missionary committee” (or whatever it was called) of which he was head. We do not believe in discouraging any kind of missionary labors which seem to be heading in the right direction. We even gave a notice to The True Vine after this first tentative issue when its full orientation was not yet visible—and not as a duty to an Archbishop, but as a duty to the missionary movement. (We would be glad to give such a notice to The Celtic Cross, by the way, but we have been waiting for another issue or two to test its stability first.)

Now we’ve just received the fourth (Jan.) issue, and there at last is Vlad. Vitaly in full color: a sub-mediocre sermon that reveals him as a disciple of the worst (“literary-sentimental”) side of Metr. Anthony Khrapovitsky—and such discipleship will only serve to discredit someone who in other respects was a great hierarch; a Protestant “childrens legend” which, Fr. Herman urges me to say, is an absolute mockery of Orthodox Russians, who do not believe in German “Christmas trees” (and Jordanville is so strict on the subject that the fathers won’t even allow greens inside the church during the feast days around Christmas); an endorsement of “Schmemannism' (p. 11) which reveals to our dismay that Fr. Michael doesn’t get the point about Schmemann—which is not his “incorrect views” in this or that subject, but this whole hothouse approach to theology, which our simple Russian priests grasp immediately from their genuine Orthodox instinct without needing a theological degree; a Vasnetsov “icon” (how much we’ve fought in the Russian Church over him) which is a blasphemy against the saints; a mediocre article on holiness (apparently revealing Vlad. Vitaly’s apologetic approach) over the signatures of one who is the leading public scandal of the Church Abroad; etc., etc.

This publication is a disgrace; it is not merely off the beam and completely unaware of what is needed today, it is positively harmful, and it presents our Church’s official stand!?? Whatever is good in it is swallowed up and given the tone of the rest. Well, I won’t rub in the fact that you are on the “editorial staff” and still advertize it, especially since we know how much you must be suffering over it yourself (to the extent to using it for kindling, so we hear!) But Alexey's efforts result in a much purer Orthodoxy than it, and even the blunder of the Shroud article (which at least is not part of the periodical) can be forgiven as the mistake of a young struggler, and not simply swallowed as the “official” statement of our Church.

Well, you already have our defense of Alexey, and we don’t defend him for sending out the Shroud article—for which he will have to suffer—but, God willing, for his own good and the good of Nikodemos, which we really hope will not collapse because of this trial. Please pray for him.

Laurence Campbell has finally joined us for good, and you can probably imagine some of the adjustments that are now going on. So far all is peaceful, and we trust in God to bring a harmonious coenobia out of our previous “middle path,” which incidentally is described (on a much higher level, of course!) in the installment of Elder Paisius’ Life.

At the same time, Daniel Olson made his final decision to go to Fr. Panteleimon for good, and two weeks ago he came here to bid us a tearful farewell. His final decision was inspired by a long talk with Fr. Herman on his last visit, and we really feel that he is our “offering” to the Monastery and a part of the indissoluble tie that must always bind together us true laborers in Christ s harvest, whatever minor differences (or even seemingly major) in views we may have. Forgive us, Father, and pray for us. [Letter ends.]


Passion Tuesday, 1973 [Apr. 11/24]

Dear Brother in Christ, Alexey,

Greetings in our Lord Jesus Christ, in Whom rejoice always! We received your new letter with the sad news, and in the same mail installment no. 2 of Fr. Neketas’ displeasure, for which I’m afraid you have given him cause (he hadn’t received our first letter yet.). We’ve written him a new letter making clear our own connection with the Shroud article, but also shocking him anew by saying we regard the Shroud as “extremely likely” genuine. In his letter he doesn’t mention a single point that we didn’t already give you as an objection to printing Sarah’s article the way it is—see what happens when you trust yourself? I’m afraid what will happen is just what we told you—that Sarahs Latinisms will just give ammunition to those who are violently against the Shroud and make it more difficult for Orthodox to accept it. Also, it gives all the “proof” needed for anyone disposed to believe that you are hopelessly in bondage to your Latin background. You should not have sent it out!!!

Well, that being said, what is done is done, and spiritually it could be quite good for you if you don’t now act like a “crazy convert” (as I’m sure some are expecting you to). In strongest fashion we now urge you: DO NOT ENTER INTO ANY ARGUMENT WHATEVER WITH ANYONE OVER EVOLUTION OR THE SHROUD AT THIS TIME. If someone wants to provoke you into an argument, give him a reply such as you gave to Fr. Ephraim’s letter, BUT DO NOT ARGUE. No letters to bishops or anyone else either! The dust is too thick and arguing will only make it thicker, no matter who is right or wrong, and it will be spiritually very harmful for you. Don’t even think about these two subjects until the dust settles, if you can help it.

Concerning the issue of evolution—yes, your question about “heresy” is a semantic question, about which I hope to speak more in detail a little later—no time right now. The issue is a little complex, which explains why some people don’t seem to grasp it, but is also a danger point in that violent arguments can take place between people who aren’t even talking about the same aspect of “evolution.” I’m going to ask Fr. Neketas to tell us exactly what Kalomiros said about some kind of “evolution” of which he “approves,” so we won’t be at all uncertain about this.

Do not be upset about this whole furor; learn humility from this trial, but do not think of abandoning Nikodemos, go right ahead with the next issue as if nothing had happened and don’t even hint at anything there.

Always and ever regard yourself as a struggler and learner, and beware of thinking you know the whole answer on anything. We frankly think you are wrong that the case for the Shroud is secure just because of the scientific evidence—science simply cannot give that kind of secure knowledge. More emphasis must be placed on evidence of its tradition in the Church.

Pray for us. May Christ our God grant you to meet His Resurrection with joy and peace and in His grace.

With love in Christ,
Seraphim, monk

P.s. You are correct that the “Holy Family” is not an Orthodox icon or idea. The Latins in this have overemphasized the earthly side, while the Orthodox see clearly that this is not a family at all—a Virgin Mother and a seeming father who is only the guardian of Her virginity, and a Child Who is God! The Mother of God is often depicted rather as an Abbess, but never in any way as an ordinary mother or part of the earthly institution, the family.


Bright Wednesday, 1973 [Apr. 19/May 2]

Dear Brother in Christ, Alexey,

CHRIST IS RISEN! We trust that you and your family spent a spiritually profitable Pascha. We had a peaceful and quiet day here, after going to the “world” earlier in the week to receive Holy Communion and being there impressed by the deep spiritual bond which unites us supposed “desert- dwellers” with the simple Russian faithful, the sincere and striving converts, and with all the true Orthodox people today.

We received from Fr. Neketas copies of two letter which he sent to you, but no letter from him as yet. The letters to you were very disappointing to us; he wrote the second one surely after receiving our detailed defense of you. We have always looked upon Frs. Neketas and Panteleimon and their views with maximum sympathy, as you well know. But we believe we must look on all sincere and striving Orthodox people with the same sympathy and join no “camp” or “clique.” And the fact remains, as we see it, that apart from printing a text without removing from it the somewhat scandalous Latin references (and we understand the temptation of having this text on hand after printing it doubtless at considerable expense), you have done nothing at all worthy of such a severe upbraiding (and that isn’t what he’s unbraiding you for!), whose effect, whatever the intention, can only be to cause you great discouragement.

Let those who wish accept every opinion of Fr. Panteleimon; that is their right and we do not dispute it. But to take these opinions (and both “evolution” and the “Shroud” are surely questions where opinion has a large place, concerning their importance, the approach to them, etc.) and beat someone over the head with them because he doesn’t agree—seems to us totally uncalled for.

Concerning evolution: they regard it as unimportant and obviously haven’t thought much about it (and this is why Sarah was wrong to get so excited and accuse them of “heresy”; they obviously haven’t thought enough about it to form any kind of “heresy” on the subject; whatever views they have on evolution as a scientific “hypothesis” are doubtless quite vague and they don’t seem to think there’s any connection between that and anything theological). You, on the other hand, find that the whole question of evolution is quite deep and important and involves implications which are dangerous to purity of faith, even though no one in the Orthodox Church right now is explicitly trying to overthrow any specific dogma on the basis of evolution. We think you are right, and the question is very largely a philosophical one (with theological implications) that cannot be decided simply on the experience of being “40-years-0rthodox.” But even assuming that you have overemphasized the importance of evolution—even then we are simply shocked by Fr. Neketas’ violent response (all the way to the implied threat of “exposing” you in print for future transgressions!), which seems all out of proportion to any possible fault of your article.

Concerning the Shroud: obviously, here again is a matter very open to differing emphases, evaluation, etc. Fr. Neketas has raised a few questions which should really be answered in a thorough defense of the Shroud (nonetheless, they are still questions raised by common sense and logic, not by “revelation”); but he has by no means presented a case against it. Indeed, there are many more questions from the other side which I rather think he can’t answer. As you know, we are wary of relying too much on scientific evidence; nonetheless, the scientific evidence in the case of the Shroud is so striking that it cannot be avoided, and it is not sound simply to dismiss the Shroud with no better evidence against it than Fr. Neketas gives (which, like all negative evidence, is quite inconclusive) and without even examining the scientific evidence. According to such an approach, we should all cease thinking altogether and just follow whatever the “leader” says—the only problem being that whoever the “leader” might be, he is also human, with passions and prejudices very similar to the ones the rest of us have!

But let me get to the point: Obviously, the violence of Fr. Neketas’ reaction means that something deeper than either “evolution” or the “Shroud” is involved, and we think we see what it is: authority. Obviously, for Fr. Neketas, Fr. Panteleimon is the authority, and we see now that he expects everyone else to agree. You were worried about this question last year, and we rather tried to talk you out of your fears, based on our own experience; for it is indeed true that Fr. Panteleimon has never tried to influence our views in any way that we could detect (save for a fairly mild protest after the Zeytoon article). Of course, it is also true that our Brotherhood was established and we were printing The Orthodox Word before he joined the Russian Church Outside of Russia, and in that respect we are his seniors. Also, Fr. Herman knew him several years before even that, when he was still quite young and inexperienced (to say the least) in questions of “jurisdictions,” etc. But apparently his relation (or perhaps it is chiefly that of his followers? we don’t know) to the young convert movement today is somewhat different.

Alas, it now becomes pretty clear why Fr. Neketas wanted to merge his Witness with Nikodemos some time back! As I recall, at that time we repeated our earlier advice to you to preserve your independence, and we can only continue to repeat it now. If you had succumbed to that temptation then, I’m afraid you would be so discouraged by this time that you would be ready to quit entirely. Fr. Neketas’ approach to Nikodemos as a part of the Orthodox mission of the printed word is wrong, and we say this with great pain, because we both love Fr. Neketas and Fr. Panteleimon very dearly and respect their labors for Orthodoxy, which otherwise seem to us rather sound, even though none of us is perfect. We do not need an infallible “authority” on questions such as the “Shroud” and “evolution,” but rather much more love and mutual understanding; there is too much mind here and too little heart. We should not have to fight or threaten over such questions, but precisely “speak the truth in love,” if indeed God has enabled us to see the truth more clearly than our fellow Orthodox on some point or other. We would gladly listen with open mind to any genuine arguments against the Shroud; but there is no point just sitting and being beaten over the head with someone else’s opinions (and probably emotions) about it.

The “anti-Latinism” of our Greeks is simply overdone. It seems that just about everyone except themselves is under “Latin influence,” almost the whole of Russian and Greek theology and spirituality for the last several centuries is rotten—all this is too much. Of course there are Latin influences visible here and there—but unless the Orthodox tradition itself has been preserved intact up to now, then there is no Orthodoxy left, and Protestantism triumphs. Fr. Panteleimon does not speak with the theological authority of some other people in our Church, and he simply cannot be made the universal standard.

Fr. Neketas is of course right on some of his points, such as the danger of getting involved with 17th-century Western mystics—but we wonder if he isn’t quoting your words back to you out of context or at second or third hand? At any rate, what’s the point of trying to build up a case against you as an unregerate Latin?! We all have our faults, theological and otherwise (the fathers in Boston also!); therefore, why not rather try to inspire and guide in the right direction by positive means and examples? Alas, his sympathy for you has been overcome by his disappointment that you do not bow down to the authority of Fr. Panteleimon; that seems to be the whole story!

We are unimpressed with the “40 years Orthodox” argument which he also uses against you— there are 40 and even 80-year Orthodox who disagree with him on a number of issues!

This whole outbreak makes us very sad, but we are still rather glad that it came out now rather than later. Fr. Neketas will probably not try to “help” you any more, now that you have declared your independence by writing on “forbidden subjects” (say, isn’t the Index a Latin institution!?), but you will have to keep him in mind as one of the “occupational hazards” of being an editor in the Church Abroad. By no means should any of us “fight” him and the fathers in Boston, nor form a “camp” against them. Let us all keep up our own independent labors, relying on the counsel of others in cases of doubt, and trusting in God’s grace and the prayers of His God-pleasers to help us. How well Vladika John knew how to inspire and guide without crushing anyone’s spirit or dictating his personal opinions to anyone (and yet he was more a theologian that any 100 of the fathers in Boston!). Let us pray for everyone and continue our path.

About Fr. Ischie: apparently the Greeks think he is part of a “conspiracy” against them. We have no idea about that, but would only caution you not to join “sides” with him if he wants to start a fight. We have the impression also that he is a lonely man, but probably for that very reason he has a tendency to get involved in controversies which only detract from the larger mission from which we should not be distracted.

We will be interested to hear what response you have gotten on “evolution” and the “Shroud.” We told Fr. Neketas (before the Shroud article) that for us the cause of a free Orthodox missionary movement is so dear that we are not afraid of the “mistakes” that you might make. The “Shroud” article with its Latinisms was a mistake in that form, but I really doubt that it will do any harm ultimately to the cause of defending the Shroud, whose acceptance or rejection within Orthodoxy must be decided, ultimately, in a free and objective manner. Whether or not the Latins venerate it, and no matter with what kind of piety they have surrounded it—makes no difference whatever to us, one way or the other.

Your letter to Andrew Bond, by the way, seems calm and reasonable enough. You are right not to demand “equal time” or start a fight over it. Let us keep our attention on the important issues, and all these petty mistakes and misunderstandings will die out by themselves.

If I can somehow remember where I put it, I will try to get out the Concern article in today's mail, and also the reprint of your article on page 1 of the Serbian newspaper, which perhaps you’ve already seen. These Serbs are very well-meaning, anti-Communist, but alas, pretty far gone down the road of worldliness (roast pig during lent, dances with the bishop present on Saturday nights, etc). We know several of their priests, but Vladika John told us quite definitely that they are uncanonical and not priests at all. You can keep the newspaper, but we’d like the Concern back after you’ve read or copied it.

Pray for us.

With love in Christ our Saviour,
Seraphim, monk


St. Thomas Sunday, 1973 [Apr. 23/May 6],

Dear Fr. Neketas,

In truth Christ is risen!

Thank you for your letter and the advice concerning “spiritual” vs. “polemical” orientation. I think on this point we are quite in agreement.

We have nothing to add to our earlier letters, but we are very concerned that we have not gotten across to you the very important point concerning Vladika John’s attitude toward missionary labors. Of course, to a large extent this point must be “felt” rather than explained, but please try to realize that Vladika John was not at all “mistaken” on this matter, but on the contrary it was one of the most important aspects of his inspiring and holy life. One might disagree with him on some specific “economies,” but his basic approach was right and is indispensible for us today. His point was, as I think I said, previously to guide and inspire, not to push and force. He did not at all leave converts without guidance; he rather knew exactly how and when to give the guidance, so that it would inspire and not crush the spirit. Some people point to the “mistake” of the French Church—but the fact remains that there is a healthy French mission within the Church Abroad today, and without him it is hardly likely that there would be. Which is better, to inspire and let the tree grow and then collect fruits from only half the limbs, or, out of “strictness,” to stomp on the plant in the first place and get no tree at all?

Father, look at yourself and Fr. Panteleimon. You came to the Church Abroad as “converts” of sorts, surely, and you yourselves tell us how un-Orthodox was the body from which you came. Do you not realize there were and are people in the Church who think you should have been stomped on, whether for your mistakes (and surely you have made them, being human) or for those practices which you have which seem strange to the “normal Russian” standard? Do you think you would have been accepted in the Church Abroad if the spirit (and direct participation, in the case of Fr. Panteleimon) of Vladika John has not prevailed? Don’t you realize that your very existence in the Church Abroad is an “economy” of which some “strict” observers do not approve?

Father, let us not introduce that kind of “strictness” into the Church Abroad. Let us thank God that you and Fr. Panteleimon have been allowed to exist freely and mature in your own rhythm within the Church Abroad; then let others do do also, particularly if in general their approach seems sound and if they are getting sound counsel. There does not have to be absolute agreement on all issues—by which I mean specifically such things as the relation between Confession and Communion, the authenticity of the Shroud of Turin, the attitude toward contemporary ideology—for us to be part of the same true Orthodox Church and its mission.

We have grounds to believe we know Alexey Young much better than you, and the person you have been talking about does not seem like the same person to us. We can only conclude that you are “reading into” him certain impressions and fears of your own, and also expecting him to conform to certain of your opinions which are not by any means shared by the whole Church. And please do not dismiss all who disagree with you as being under “Latin influence.” That is just a guess, and in many cases it is circle [?] of the work. An example: How could a saint who wrote so strongly about the “grace-less Papists” (Vladika John) also sing the service to Blessed Augustine? Probably for the same reason that the latter s name was introduced into the Russian Calendar in the 19th century on the authority of St. Nikodemos of the Holy Mountain! Was he a Uniate too? or is it after all possible to have a difference of opinon on this subject? [Letter ends, handwritten, possibly never sent.]


St. Thomas Sunday, 1973B [Apr. 23/May 6],

Dear Brother in Christ, Alexey,

In truth Christ is risen!

My letter crossed yours in the mail, but even so I think I answered most of your letter in mine already. Please forgive me if I somehow offended you in my previous hasty letter. The comment on “no letters to bishops” was written rather tongue in cheek, and with no real idea that you might do so, but I did want to mention all possibilities of wrong actions, knowing how upset Fr. Neketas’ uncalled- for letter must have made you.

However, now that the dust has settled a little, it really looks as though it is Fr. Neketas who has acted rather like “crazy convert,” whereas you in your restraint have been quite level-headed. Perhaps we’ve all done a little too much talking about “converts”—the pitfalls into which they fall are really the same ones that any believer can and does fall into!

We had a brief letter from Fr. Neketas yesterday. He does not write about evolution, the Shroud, or Nikodemos, evidently because the differences between us on these points are so great, but raises two other points which show that whatever we tried to get across to him did not get across. Truly, as you wrote to him, “grave misunderstandings” exist between us. We sense something is deeply wrong there, but I’m afraid not much can be done or said about it, at least now. For your own peace of soul we would advise you not to worry about “getting through” to him, and in fact for the future to pay as little attention as possible to him*(By that I don’t mean to encourage a harsh or unfeeling attitude toward him, but just to stay as detached as possible from the situation where there seems no hope for “dialogue” right now!) If the Greeks are really trying to “take over” and dictate their ideology to the rest of us, they have simply fallen into the biggest “convert” trap of all, and there is danger for everyone from this. If this is so, their folly will doubtless be exposed sooner or later; but meanwhile, let the rest of us stay as uninvolved with them as possible. Fr. Neketas in the new Witness writes about “converts”; it would be tragic if he and the Boston fathers did not apply all those words first of all to themselves. This is what we must all do when presuming to “teach” (which some of us, surely, are called to do, but in utmost humility).

Concerning “theologians”: some of the fathers in Boston have been to the (apostate) Greek seminary in Brookline, which they admit does not teach Orthodox theology. Orthodox theology they got for themselves by reading books, and I’m afraid they sometimes reveal themselves as amateurs. Fr. Michael Pomazansky (see his article in OW, 1970, no. 6) and others at Jordanville are genuine theologians, with a school and tradition underneath their feet. The Boston fathers are “self-made,” and we’ve already seen several examples (particularly when they try to get into the Russian sphere, in which they are totally lost) of how they jump on some points purely on the basis of impression and whim, owing precisely to their lack of a thorough theological background. They do not trust their Russian elders (and we rather doubt that they have any Greek elders to take counsel of either), because they are under “Latin influence”—this is an extremely dangerous sign. We ourselves, not being “theologians,” follow the Jordanville school, which is in the best Orthodox tradition (and is being much and unjustly slandered today), and we frequently take counsel from Fr. Michael Pomazansky and others, whose judgment we trust and respect, knowing that thus we are in a good tradition and do not have to trust our own faulty judgment for all the answers. Fr. Michael in particular is quite aware of the problem of “Latin influence” and where it exists he explains very soberly why it is not Orthodox, but he has none of the emotional animus which, I’m afraid, clouds the judgment of the Boston fathers on this question.

We see no reason to sit in fear and trembling over Fr. Neketas’ threats. Let’s wait and see if he or the Boston fathers come up with something on “evolution” or the “Shroud,” and if they do let’s examine it objectively for what it’s worth. Whatever any of us says about these subjects later on should be quite calm and with no sense of being part of a noisy controversy. Anything written on evolution, I think, should be quite extensive, with much reference to sources, and treating thoroughly the questions which “evolution” raises for faith and which people seem afraid to bring up. On the theological implications we should by all means ask counsel of Fr. Michael and perhaps others, so as to make any presentation as precise as possible. An important thing also is the approach to be made to readers, for any presentation must be made in a way that is somehow “in their language.” (This probably explains Fr. N s violent reaction—he simply wasn’t prepared for such a straightforward approach.) What do your readers write about “evolution”? Do they indeed find it a problem, no problem, or what, and how did they respond to the article?

On the Shroud, any future article should take into consideration the whole argument of the Greeks against it, and also involve more thorough research into the evidence for Orthodox veneration of it. Unless the Greeks come up with some extremely convincing arguments, the case for the Shroud would seem to be fairly secure, and there is no need for anyone to rush in to “defend’ it as if it were a controversial issue.

We have accepted in the past, and can continue to accept, the Greeks as fellow strugglers on the true Orthodox missionary path. A “struggler” is one who does not trust his own opinion and no one else’s; who does not “know better” on everything, who does not set himself up as an ultimate authority, who does not form cliques and try to crush anyone outside the clique. But if they are not strugglers, but only “experts,” all their good labors will come to ruin, sooner or later. Our Church Abroad has had much experience of this, has had much patience, and has survived those who have gone astray.

You have had quite a few trials in your first year and a few months of missionary labors. Know that God sends these to test and strengthen you, and also to know one day how to help others in a similar situation. We trust that by this time you are not feeling yourself as being so much in the midst of a “storm,” as hopefully the Greeks will relax for a while the pressure that seems to be causing it.

In connection with all that has been happening, we would like to do much more translating of some basic texts. We have a cassette tape recorder now, and now that Laurence has joined us we have set him to work typing out some texts that I read into the recorder, translating orally from Russian so as to save all the time I usually have to spend transcribing and typing. There is a very good text of Fr. Michael Pomazansky on Orthodox Dogmatic Theology, 200 pages long and a very good introduction and background to this whole important sphere. Assuming that it hasn’t already been translated (which we will find out shortly), I would like to start translating it orally. Would you or Susan be able to help out on the transcribing of it?

We’ve also obtained a cassette of the Akathist to the Mother of God sung in the San Francisco cathedral with Vladika John serving. Hardly a word of his is understandable, but the dear familiar voice is there! You are welcome to make a copy for yourself on one of your visits.

We notice, by the way, that Ashanin seems to be talking about you in the new Logos (March- April), apparently paying you back for what you said about him but not mentioning you by name (it’s always easier to discourse beautifully on extremely general themes!).

Pray for us.

With love in Christ our Risen Saviour,
Seraphim, monk


May 8/21 1973
St. John the Theologian

Dear Sister in Christ, Sylvia,

Christ is risen!

It's Sunday and apparently Vladimir isn’t coming this weekend. The new Orthodox Word is out, so I’m able to think straight for a while (we have that problem too!) so I’ll write these comments on your letter.

Yes, you have problems, but they aren’t necessarily as bad as the immediate tensions which they cause might make you think. A few days out of the tense atmosphere (which will probably be possible once school is out) should let the muddy waters settle enough to see more clearly the real problems that are there—and that’s already half the solution.

Organization is important, but of course, first you have to have a pretty good idea of what you’re organizing—that is, what you’re doing and want to be doing, and how you can best do it. Sometimes this becomes much clearer just by talking about it with someone from outside the situation, which we’ll be glad to help on whenever you come.

The aching thoughts of Maggie are natural—but that’s the side that belongs to earth. Her soul is with God, and the trial which you underwent with her was God’s visitation to you, and the proof that in everything that has been happening there is something deeper than human logic and feelings can fathom.

Some people seem to have an “easy” and uncomplicated path in life—or so it seems from outside; while for others like you everything seems complicated and difficult. Don’t let that bother you. Actually, from the spiritual point of view, those who really have an “easy” time are probably in danger!—precisely because without the element of suffering through whatever God sends, there is no spiritual profit or advancement. God knows each of us better than we know ourselves, and He sends what is needful for us, whatever we may think!

Maggie’s grave is a source of great joy for us. On the Tuesday after Pascha week, when the dead are commemorated again for the first time, we went there and sang, mingling the funeral hymns with Paschal hymns, then breaking and eating eggs, symbols of the resurrection, over the grave. Truly the living and the dead are one in Christ, and it’s only our blindness that makes us sometimes forget it!

We will be glad to see you whenever you can come. Pray for us.

With love in Christ our Saviour,
Seraphim, monk


May 14/27,1973
St. Isodore of Chios

Dear Irina Constantinovna [Vagin],

Christ is risen! Enclosed are two recent articles of Fr. Theodoritos, which we hope you will be able to tell us something about. The printed article is evidently directed against some “uncanonical activities” of Fr. Panteleimon concerning the Old Calendarist situation (Fr. Theodoritos supports one group of Old Calendarists, Fr. Panteleimon the other group). We hear that it is already being translated into English, so perhaps you could give us just a brief summary of what it is all about.

The typed manuscript is an article Fr. Theodoritos has sent for The Orthodox Word. If we do print it, it will not be right away; rather than translate the whole article now, perhaps you could give us also just a brief summary of it together with your comments on its tone and spirit. The two canons which are quoted in English make us a little apprehensive that the article may be too “strong” for us— i.e., that it will try to “prove” that all Christians must receive Holy Communion at every Divine Liturgy, without taking into consideration the questions of local customs, the general spiritual state of today's flocks, church “economy,” etc. We hope we are wrong, and that the article is after all very sober, well-balanced, and truly pastoral in orientation, in which case we could nicely print it with an introduction of our own concerning the Russian situation. This is a rather sensitive question, taking into consideration the differences between the Russian and Greek Churches today on the questions of confession before Communion, preparation before Communion, etc. Of course, we would like to encourage more frequent reception of Holy Communion, but not just as an end in itself, but rather as part of a renewal of the whole of spiritual life, and also in such a way as not to cause unnecessary quarrels over “fanaticism” and the like. Please give us your frank comments on the article in view of all this.

Unfortunately, the harmony between the “Greek” and “Russian” parts of our Russian Church Abroad has been somewhat upset lately, as perhaps you have heard. For some reason Fr. Neketas reacted violently against the articles on “Freud” and “Evolution” in Nikodemos and sent us a letter indicating that he was “withdrawing his support” from Nikodemos because Alexey was a hopeless Roman Catholic, was propagating “lay saints” as opposed to monastic saints, etc. We were rather startled by this and wrote him a reply defending Alexey, telling him we basically agreed with the articles on Freud and Evolution (although, of course there might be different opinions on how these questions should be approached, what emphasis should be given them, etc.) and that we viewed the articles on “lay saints” very positively, inasmuch as they present basically monastic values as applied in a lay situation, which seems to us extremely appropriate and important today. But then, alas, Alexey sent out (just at the wrong time) the article on the “Holy Shroud,” which was originally printed for Roman Catholics, and for Fr. Neketas that was all he needed to prove that Alexey is really an unrepentant Catholic. We had told Alexey that he should not send out that article without “cleaning it up” of Catholic references, but unfortunately he had already printed it and so sent it out anyway. Of course, the Greeks would be against it in any form, because they think that the Holy Shroud is some kind of “demonic counterfeit” (?!), even though so far they haven’t given any substantial evidence to prove this. Holy Transfiguration Monastery is now apparently working on a long article against the Holy Shroud, which we fear may be a tragic mistake, both because it will introduce an element of “controversy” into a realm where up to now there has been no real problem, and because (as we suspect) they are so full of anti-Catholic emotions that they might not properly distinguish between the Shroud itself and its place in Roman Catholic piety, between which of course there is no necessary connection at all. We ourselves hadn’t read anything on the Shroud until very recently, but from what we have read now we find ourselves very disposed to accept it as authentic, as indeed many of our Russian clergy do; in fact, it seems to explain the very existence of our plaschanitsa with the image of the Saviour on it.

Of course, the tragic thing in all this is not that there are different opinions on such matters, but rather that the “Greeks” seem to have a certain narrow approach to such questions, a certain insistence that their opinions are right and everyone else is wrong, and from such an attitude we really are afraid that there is danger ahead. Also, there seems to be a question of “authority” involved: Fr. Neketas told Alexey some time ago: “Don’t print anything on evolution or the Shroud.” Alexey asked us about this and we told him that there is no reason we could see why these should be “forbidden subjects,” as long as they were handled well. Probably Fr. Neketas was upset, more than anything else, precisely because Alexey seemed to be “defying the authority” of Fr. Panteleimon. The result right now is that Fr. Neketas is telling everyone not to trust Alexey because he is a “Catholic”—but we, knowing Alexey much better than Fr. Neketas does, know that this is not true, that actually he is learning and struggling very diligently to be a true Orthodox Christian, that he is always ready to be corrected when he makes a mistake, and that on some points he is probably more aware of the needs of contemporary laymen than Fr. Neketas is! We ourselves respect Frs. Panteleimon and Neketas very much, but we simply disagree that everyone must accept their “authority” as final, especially as they have been wrong a number of times in the past (8 or 10 years ago they were writing us letters defending the Moscow Patriarchate, saying the Weeping Icons were “demonic,” etc., and since then they’ve changed their minds on these points and probably others.).

Somehow, all of this makes us very sad, and we only pray that it will not mean deeper disagreements later. We would be very glad to hear your own comments on some of these matters.

With love in Christ our Saviour,
Seraphim, monk

P.s. Thank you very much for the comments on the Greek books. We really don’t need any more on the Abbess’ book, and some very brief resumes from the book on “Eucharistical Communion” should be sufficient for us, if you have time.


May 27/June 9, 1973
St. John the Russian

Your Grace, Dear Vladika Laurus,


Please forgive us for disturbing you once again with a “problem,” but this “problem” is fortunately not one that concerns us personally, but is rather something more general, about which we think you are probably well aware already. We are rather upset by it, and we beg your advice and a word of encouragement.

As you know, from the beginning we have given full support to our “Greeks” in the Synod, Frs. Panteleimon, Neketas, and others, because we have seen them to be “zealots” of true Orthodoxy and an inspiration for others to follow. Occasionally, it is true, we have noted in Fr. Neketas’ Orthodox Christian Witness some statements that seem rather “narrow,” and a few completely unnecessary comments that do more harm than good (such as his comments on the Metropolia’s Mexican bishop). However, we have always excused these failings, recognizing that no one is perfect and that all of us in the missionary field within our Russian Church Abroad must always be willing to forgive and defend each other and not make big issues out of points which are of secondary importance. And so we have never mentioned these things to the “Greeks” or tried to correct them.

However, in the last few months we have become increasingly disturbed over some of the things which our “Greeks” have been doing and saying. At first our good friend Alexey Young began to tell us that he was very disturbed by the fact that Fr. Neketas was trying to “pressure” him to join his parish in Seattle (instead of going to the Russian Cathedral in San Francisco) and to tell him what he should not be printing in his periodical Nikodemos. Here I should say that from the beginning of Nikodemos Alexey has asked our advice and has even submitted articles for us to correct, and he has always (except once—which I will mention below) taken our advice. Unfortunately, he reacted rather emotionally and hastily to some things which Fr. Neketas said about “evolution,” and this led him to give material to his friend Sarah Hoffman, which she used in the letter which she sent to all our bishops, accusing Fr. Panteleimon, on very flimsy evidence, of “heresy.” This was unfortunate and due to his inexperience. Then, however, Fr. Ephraim wrote a reply to Alexey which was chiefly an excuse for him to express some of his own (or Fr. Panteleimon’s) theological speculations, but he 'did not at all answer Alexey’s questions, and besides that he even dragged in Metr. Anthony’s “Dogma of Redemption,” showing that he did not at all understand the errors and dangers of the “Dogma.”

When we heard that the “Dogma” had been mentioned, we wrote Fr. Panteleimon a letter warning him about this controversial issue, and when Fr. Panteleimon was in Seattle several months ago I went there and gave to him, with the approval of Vladika Nektary, a “report” on the “Dogma,” telling him of the errors in it which have been pointed out by Archbishop Theophan of Poltava, Fr. Michael Pomazansky, and others. At the end of my “report,” Fr. Panteleimon acknowledged that he had not known about some of these points, but that anyway he was not really thinking of publishing anything on the subject. I went away encouraged, and from my personal contact with Frs. Panteleimon and Neketas I did not feel that they were trying to “pressure” anyone or “take over the convert movement,” as some people have been telling us.

Not long after that, however, Fr. Neketas became very upset with Alexey for publishing an article on “Evolution” and then the pamphlet on the “Holy Shroud,” and since then he has been telling everyone that Alexey is “still a Catholic” and should not be supported or trusted. This has made us very sad, because we know Alexey very well and he is very willing to accept correction and to learn when he is wrong. We did not find anything wrong with the article on evolution, although of course it was much too short to say much about such a complicated subject, and it is possible to have different opinions on some aspects of the question—nonetheless we thought his approach was basically right, more so than the approach of Fr. Neketas, who seems to be more under the influence of “modern ideas.” Nonetheless, even here we should all be meek and forgiving of each other, so we think, and we were simply amazed that Fr. Neketas should react so violently against the article.

As for the pamphlet on the “Holy Shroud,” we warned Alexey that he should not print it without removing all the Roman Catholic references (“Stations of the Cross,” etc.) but unfortunately he had already printed it before he received our letter, and of course it had a violent effect on Fr. Neketas. We ourselves do not claim to know absolutely that the Holy Shroud is genuine, but from all the evidence it seems very likely to be so, and we respect the opinion of Archimandrite Constantine and others who have accepted it; but when the Greeks shout to us that it is some kind of demons’ work, we feel very uneasy, especially because so far they do not give any definite evidence to prove the fact. It seems, in fact, that their reaction is very largely emotional, based on their violent anti-Catholicism.

From all that has happened in the last few months we have discovered several facts which disturb us:

(1) Fr. Neketas has said that there are “great theologians” in Holy Transfiguration Monastery and that the converts should trust them and not anyone else, and certainly not anyone from the “Jordanville school,” which Fr. Panteleimon finds to be not very Orthodox. (We suspect he is rather under the influence of Vladika Vitaly in this respect.) This point disturbs us very much, both because of the disdainful attitude which the “Greeks” thus show to such a truly great theologian as Fr. Michael Pomazansky, and because the “theology” of Holy Transfiguration Monastery, as shown in Fr. Ephraim’s letter to Alexey, does not at all seem to us to be sound, but rather fidl of self-importance, exaggerated arguments, and a very bad light-minded tone. Nonetheless, Fr. Neketas has now printed this letter for everyone to see!

(2) The “Greeks” find “Catholic influence” to be everywhere, even in our great Russian Fathers such as Metr. Philaret of Moscow. But they do not know the Russian language, and their con- vert-translators are not at all familiar with the Russian theological tradition, and when they begin to tell the rest of us what is right and wrong in Russian theology, they are going to make terrible mistakes, such as they have already made regarding the “Dogma of Redemption,” Further, they seem to be so fanatical concerning “Catholic influence” that they are not capable of distinguishing between small failings such as any great theologian might have, and great theological errors. To deny the importance of Metr. Philaret of Moscow, who was exactly a great champion against “Catholic influence,” just because of some small points which may (or may not) be influenced by Catholicism—is a terrible error and a sign of a theologically unbalanced outlook, so we believe.

We already know that not all Greek “zealots” think like Fr. Panteleimon. For example, Frs. Panteleimon and Neketas have been trying to persuade us to throw Blessed Augustine out of the Orthodox Calendar. We told them we do not have the authority to do this, and besides, we know that Vladika John has great veneration for him and celebrated the service to him every year. Nonetheless, Fr. Neketas says that he is in the Russian Calendar because of “Uniate influence.” However, we investigated and found out that he was introduced into the Russian Calendar in the 19th century on the authority of St. Nikodemos the Hagiorite, a Greek anti-Latin zealot! We asked Fr. Theodoritos of Mt. Athos about this, and he wrote back: “Yes, I think Augustine must be a Saint, because St. Nikodemos placed him in the Synaxarion.” Of course, we all know that Blessed Augustine had theological errors or at least wrong emphases, but that does not prevent us from paying the due reverence to him. Therefore, the “fanaticism” of our “Greeks” on this point seems entirely unnecessary and a cause of vain disputes.

(3) Most of all we are disturbed because it does indeed seem to be true that our “Greeks” wish to “take over the converts”—and now even our Russians too! We have known Fr. Panteleimon for many years and greatly respect him and his labors, but we know that he has faults, make many errors, and also that in many respects our Russian tradition (especially the Typicon of Divine Services) is much more complete than the tradition Fr. Panteleimon follows. Also, they are “Americans” and have many of the typical symptoms of “converts.” We feel strongly that they cannot be made the only standard for the whole Russian Church and not even for all converts. That would be very dangerous for them and for everyone. We have already noted that their “authoritative” atittude has been very discouraging for a number of converts whom we know,—that is, for those who do not want to have Fr. Panteleimon for their “starets.” (We also are very much afraid of the possibility of “false stachestvo” in him, because we have seen several suspicious cases of people who have been under his influence.) Our “Greeks” are very “intellectual,” but we feel that they do not understand much of the “wisdom of the heart” which some of our simple Russian batiushkas have, even though they may not be “great theologians.”

Please forgive this long letter, dear Vladika. We very much hope to receive from you a letter telling us what you think of all this. We feel that some kind of disaster may be coming in the future because of these things, which would effect not only our converts but Russians also. Please tell us what you think.

By God’s grace we are well and working hard and peacefully. Br. Laurence has been with us for two months now and is struggling.

We beg again your blessing and prayers.

With respect and love in Christ,
Seraphim, monk


May 29/June 11, 1973
St. John, Fool for Christ of Ustiug

Dear Brother in Christ, Alexey,
Greetings in our Lord Jesus Christ.

Both Fr. Herman and I read the article on Humanism and received about the same impression from it: that each point taken by itself makes sense, but that the whole article is too long, tries to include too many different citations and strands of thought, and that as a whole it is not sufficiently functional: i.e., at the end one is left with a lot of different thoughts but with no real resolution of them—one’s mind has been rather clouded by the diverse strands of humanist philosophy, and in the end these thoughts are not sufficiently dispelled by a clear, forceful, and serene conclusion.

With this in mind I read the article again and began to think of ways to add clarification: I rearranged several paragraphs, added some suggestions for giving some “punch” to the beginning, and then thought of suggesting that you greatly abridge the whole central portion where you discuss the different strands of humanism, making it more into an outline or series of highlights. But somehow this too wasn’t enough, and so I went back and read the first two articles in the series, on Freud and Evolution, and went from there straight into “Humanism.” From all this I came to the conclusion that this installment is quite different from the two earlier installments: the earlier installments treat specific questions with rather clear and definite conclusions that don’t leave any loose strands of thought; but the new article goes into a rather complex phenomenon which has many diverse strands and repeats some things from the earlier installments. Further, looking at the introduction to installment no. 1, it is clear that this is really an introduction to “humanism” in general, and both installments are themselves chapters in a study of “humanism” understood as the philosophy that underlies the whole attack of the “wolves” today. Therefore, “Humanism” should not be simply installment no. 3 (which is to be followed by other installments apparently on other aspects of humanism), but rather a kind of summing up and placing in perspective of all the earlier installments.

Therefore, we would strongly advise putting aside the “Humanism” article altogether for now, and give instead another installment on a specific topic, such as the “educational philosophy” which you’ve promised for the next issue. You should still be early enough for the July-August issue to do this, I hope. And then when you’ve finished all the specific articles you want to give—then give “Humanism” as a summing up and overview of the whole—only not so long as it is here. As I said, we have some suggestions of putting more “punch” into the article, and we think the whole middle part should be greatly abridged and presented rather as a summary-outline. We’ve always had an unwritten rule for The Orthodox Word—that “controversial” or polemical subjects should never take up more than 50% of one issue if possible, so as to preserve a certain necessary balance and prevent us, even unconsciously, from going “overboard” on something which we might feel very strongly about.

Another point: We’ve heard one or two comments on the first two installments, something like: “What he says about these things is true enough, but is he really giving us an answer?” Of course, part of the “answer” you are giving so far is: be aware and protect yourselves and your children from these ideas. However, that alone is not enough, and if that’s all there’s going to be for an “answer” some people will end by saying you’re just crying “wolf, wolf!” and they won’t take with sufficient seriousness what you’re saying. Therefore we think the conclusion to the whole series should be quite clear and forceful, which perhaps you already have in mind: either at the end of the last installment, or as a separate final installment (though it probably doesn’t really need to be more than a paragraph or a page), you should definitely give the “answer”: that Orthodox Christians, surrounded by and already swimming in a sea of humanist-worldly philosophy and practice, must do everything possible to create their own islands in that sea of other-worldly, God-oriented thought and practice, and then tell some of the ways how. reading, services, etc. We are planning an article in the 1974 Calendar somewhat on this line, which hopefully will be out before you come to the conclusion of the series (Sept.-Oct.).

Well, such are our ideas; let us know what you think of them. We can talk about this and some other things when you come, God willing, on Pentecost. Pray for us.

With love in Christ our Saviour,
Seraphim, monk

P.s. In connection with our earlier discussion on “bishops,” we wonder if the last sentence in the quote on the last page of the May-June issue isn’t placing some unnecessary emphasis on a point you’ve already made well enough? We are already in the age of “impious bishops’ which St. Seraphim prophesied, and already in many places (most notably Russia) a degree of “hiding” from or even outright disobedience to bishops has already become a spiritual necessity, and one which it is by no means easy to justify always on dogmatic or canonical grounds. This by no means changes the “rule” which you cite, but alas, there are people (also in our Russian Church Abroad!) who are only too anxious to take advantage of such “rules,” not for the good of the Church or the bishops, but for their own private purposes. And after all, everything depends on the “interpretation” of such rules: whether broadly and with the heart, or narrowly and coldly and calculatingly. Let's not give any ammunition to certain pharisees! Enough said?


June 29/July 12, 1973
Holy Apostles Peter and Paul

Dear Brother in Christ, Alexey,

Greetings in our Lord Jesus Christ.

We received Fr. Ephraim’s “Open Letter” today, together with your note. Yes, we found too that he completely missed the point, and all the very nice quotes from the Fathers on the different degrees of knowledge mean nothing when one stops to realize that you are not at all attacking scientific knowledge, but only pseudo-scientific pseudo-religious philosophy masquerading as science, and you are using scientific knowledge not to defend theology but only to destroy the self-contradictory theories of the pseudo-scientists. Are these points really so difficult to understand or impossible to defend?

Unless we are crazy, Fr. Ephraim has gone off somewhere in the clouds and is not at all in contact with what is going on in the world today, intellectually—which is very much of concern to Orthodox Christians who live in this world. Fr. Ephraim, in trying to stand so far “above” the whole question, does not give the impression that he speaks from the heights of the third degree of knowledge (which seems to be what he is trying to hint at?), but rather uses such exalted knowledge for rather rationalistic purposes. We are very disappointed to see such narrowness. And the reply of the mother to the Orthodox “high school youth” (p. 17—this apparently sums up his “answer” to the whole problem of evolution!)—how naive and spineless! Can Fr. E. really be so unaware of the anti- Christian purposes of such “scientific” education? His reply is an open invitation to the youth to accept whatever the school teaches him—because we poor Orthodox Christians, alas, having such high knowledge, cant “know any better.” I’ll tell you frankly (but don’t quote me!)—this isn’t theology, its hogwash. There’s a real and pressing problem here, and you’ve attacked it honestly, freshly, and well (considering the short space you had); if there are deficiencies or mistakes in what you’ve said, they can be talked about in a friendly manner. But alas, his only aim is to discredit you and put you in your place. This is wrong and sick. Forgive my strong language.

Our first thought was—a reply is pointless. However, if you are writing one, we would be glad to read it for an “objective” (or at least third person) evaluation. However, a point by point answer is really pointless. Despite Fr. E’s avowals, he obviously has no sympathy for you and has no particular desire to find out what you’re trying to say—he already “knows better,” and everything you say will be interpreted in the light of this “knowledge.” Every good point you can make in reply will be “picked on” and torn to pieces so as to prove that you are an unreliable convert and theologically unsound. I don’t think this is deliberate on his part—he just has a preconceived idea and isn’t going to change it.

Unfortunately, the overt Catholic references in the “Shroud article” give Fr. E. all the ammunition he needs to prove you’re still a “Catholic,” and he’ll interpret everything you say in this light. Your chief other weak point on which he capitalizes is the overemphasis (so it seems to us) on science in the “Shroud” article. Apart from these points, we don’t see that he has any legitimate cause for such a hostile and public letter—in fact, in any case there’s no cause for anything more than a friendly and concerned note.

It is rather frustrating to get Kalomiros thrown at one again,—still without knowing what he says about evolution! I strongly suspect that he doesn’t really say anything to which any of us would particularly object and that he doesn’t at all believe in the “evolution” you’re attacking. We get the impression that Fr. E. isn’t aware enough about any kind of evolution to tell the difference, but is only using Kalomiros as a handy weapon against you.

After reading Fr. E’s epistle, we begin to despair about the “Greek wisdom” of our own day, which seems to have all too much in common with the ancient variety! What will happen when they really begin to find out how simple and unconcerned about all those things that excite them we “Russians” are? One basic element seems lacking in all their “wisdom,” one which the Holy Fathers emphasize is essential for genuine Orthodox life: suffering. The “wisdom” born of leisure and idle disputes is not worth having; but the wisdom born of deep suffering (such as God has given above all to the Russians in our day) is alone truly balanced and sound, even if it can not give a glib answer to every mocking question. Let us try to enter more deeply into this suffering, God giving us His grace to do so!

A revealing point: the use of “royal jelly” in a supposedly serious theological article is unpardonable levity. A Russian theologian might occasionally bring home some polemical point with humor—but with a sober humor, not just plain levity.

Already you are somewhat entering into this suffering through being unjustly mocked. May God give you the strength to endure and not fight back with the same weapons, but rather continue to look freshly (and not abstractly) at the real problems facing those today who wish to be Orthodox in a world gone mad.

Any reply you make to Fr. E. should be brief and to the point. He has obviously taken unfair advantage of you in order thoroughly to discredit you, based on the reputation of the monastery as against you, a “nobody.” He is riding on a current of intellectual fashion, and this will pass, and it will not be for the good of the monastery that it has allowed itself to do this and not face the real intellectual problems of the day. Pray to Vladika John for guidance. Know that not everything depends on what some people “think” of you, and also that at the proper time others will speak up for you.

You are welcome to visit us next weekend, or whenever you can come.

With love in Christ our Saviour,

P.S. It would doubtless be best not to tell Fr. Ephraim that you are working on a longer study of evolution—let it come as a complete surprise, or else he will try his best to undermine it before it ever comes out.

It will not be easy to get the point of your longer study on evolution across to people who think like Fr. Ephraim, but with God’s help it can be done. There is something deep and important here—a rather “academic” approach to theology that does not come to grips with the anti-theology of our day.


July 4/17, 73
Royal New Martyrs of Russia

Dear Father Ioannikios,

We have talked with Vladika Anthony about Vladimir Anderson, and indeed it turns out that Vladika had in mind only that Vladimir go to Jordanville to be tested, and perhaps to spend a few days there, meet the seminary instructors, etc. And so, apparently we will be mostly conducting his “course,” and on his last visit he already began reading on the cliros. Unfortunately, he has had almost no time for study in the past months, so we don’t know how long it will take him to get prepared. He plans to visit us several more times this summer.

Fr. Alexander Lebedev repied to us that he has had no time to begin translating Fr. Michael’s Dogmatic Theology, and so, God willing, we will soon undertake this ourselves, after we hear from Fr. Michael concerning any corrections, etc. Vladika Anthony also thought it would be very good to translate Vladika Averky’s two volumes on the Gospels and Epistles, and even though this is beyond us right now, perhaps you could inform us if anyone has started or thought of such a translation?

We have just received the new “Open Letter” of Holy Transfiguration Monastery to Alexey Young, which was obviously written with the intention to discredit him completely and wipe him off the face of the map. We certainly hope Alexey will not reply in the same spirit, and hopefully the letter will not receive too wide a circulation. With grief we must say that there are so many half-truths, innuendos, and dubious theology in this letter, that in any case there is almost sure to be trouble later on when this is used as a starting point for more speculations. Well, we will be calm and careful, as Vladika Laurus recently advised us, but also we are prepared for the worst. Wherefore, could you tell us whether, in your study of Metr. Philaret of Moscow, you came across any definite views of his concerning the validity or lack thereof of Latin sacraments? If, as the “Greeks” say, there is evidence to indicate that he accepted their validity (which we rather doubt), have you found any plausible explanation or justification for it?

We greatly hope that there will be no vain and useless “theological” disputes in our poor small flock, but nonetheless there are some points on which our Russian theological tradition must be defended, if need arises. (Cautiously!)

Our Brotherhood is temporarily four in number with Daniel Olson's arrival several weeks ago. Please pray for us feeble strugglers, especially at the Divine Liturgy, that we may bring forth a few small fruits while there is still the opportunity.

With love in Christ our Saviour,
Seraphim, monk


July 4/17,1973
Royal New Martyrs of Russia

Dear Alexey—

Just a short note, Fr. E s letter has sunk in a little deeper, and it makes us even more disturbed than at first. This is not an answer to anything, and is a disservice to English-speaking Orthodox Christians. Such “theology” we do not need. We thought of writing a note to him ourselves, but there is no point, since he already has read our letters to Fr. Neketas defending you and speaking of the need for all of us to get rid of our “American modern” intellectual baggage re: evolution, etc.

Without entering into a public debate with him, we should by all means try to present sound Orthodox views on those points where he is obviously off the beam. Your “evolution” booklet will be very important from this point of view, and we are writing out a number of points which we hope to see treated or mentioned there, and also some suggestions on how to avoid being placed into certain stereotyped categories, by which people can be persuaded not even to listen to what you say. Do you have a general outline of the article yet?

We’ve written Dr. Kalomiros a letter, and hope to receive confirmation of our suspicion that he is quite wrongly used as virtually a proponent of evolution.

How are you? Not frightfully discouraged, we hope?—With love in Christ.

Seraphim, monk


Transfiguration of the Lord, 1973
[August 6/19]

Dear Father Ioannikios,

Blagoslovite! We send you greetings on the glorious feast of our Lord s Transfiguration.

Thank you for your letters and the copy of your letter to Alexey Young. We are very glad to see your sound counsel to Alexey, which I think is basically what we also have tried to tell him. Alexey was here last Sunday and was very encouraged by an earlier letter you had written him. Of late he has been rather abandoned (to say the least) by many who supported him in the beginning, and this of course has been discouraging for him, but he seems to be holding up well and not losing his zeal. The whole experience is doubtless very sobering and ultimately very good for him, but he needs our prayers. He is also having financial difficulties right now, and that also is discouraging for him. We so much hope and pray that, in a time of such indifference and discouragement, this one little candle of zeal will not go out, but will continue to burn and give hope and encouragement to others, as we think Nikodemos has done so far.

Please forgive us for scaring you about a possible “major conflict” ahead. We truly hope and pray that there will be no such thing, and we certainly aren’t going to start one! Even if our fears come true, and attempts will be made to discredit some of our great Orthodox teachers, we certainly do not intend to answer by means of open letters, counter-accusations, and that whole useless polemical approach among missionary laborers who should always be brothers—but our only “answer” would be to present these Orthodox teachers in the true and inspiring light in which they should be presented, insofar as God gives us strength.

But still I will tell you our sorrow: we have been extremely shocked and discouraged by the attack of Fr. Neketas and the Boston fathers on Alexey. Fr. Neketas wrote us that he was “withdrawing all support” from Alexey, and we have had visitors direct from Seattle who were astonished that we approved of Nikodemos, since Fr. Neketas had just old them that Alexey was a “catholic” and can’t be trusted. We wrote two long letters to Fr. Neketas in defense of Alexey (while admitting his mistakes) and begging him to apply Vladika John’s principle of trusting and encouraging missionary laborers and not trying to make them fit into a preconceived pattern or forcing them to submit to some standard “authority.” To our grief Fr. Neketas replied that on this point Vladika John was wrong, and converts must at times be “stomped on.” Well, Fr. Neketas’ attitude and Fr. Ephraim’s letter constitute a “stomping on,” no doubt of that, with the distinct impression that anyone else will also be “stomped on” if he doesn’t accept our “Greeks” as the one and only Orthodox authority.

May God forgive us and keep us from judging anyone—but we don’t like this whole tone and attitude, and we feel extremely uneasy about it. The whole ideal for which we have tried to labor for these many years is precisely one of mutual trust and encouragement, not one of forcing our “authority” on someone else.

For these many years we have seen in Fr. Panteleimon and our “Greeks” nothing but the best kind of Orthodoxy and a source of inspiration for others. When we visited the Fathers in Seatde last February, both Fr. Herman and I left with a feeling of renewed and strengthened ties of brotherly love and __________. And then, behold, because Alexey has a different view of evolution and the
“Shroud,” such a merciless attack is directed against him! Fr. Neketas wrote him that he was refraining from a public denunciation of Nikodemos at this time (Fr. Neketas underlined it); but actually Fr. Ephraim’s letter, although couched in kind terms, amounts virtually to this threatened denunciation.

Whenever we think of Fr. Panteleimon and our meetings with him, which have always left the warmest impression on us, we are simply in perplexity: Fr. Neketas’ attitude and Fr. Ephraim’s letter just do not fit in with this impression.

May God forgive us all and renew the ties of love among us, and may this whole thing be indeed some kind of superficial misunderstanding. And if, as we do not cease to fear, this is all the sign of some deeper disagreement—then may this trial at least be for the benefit and enlightenment of all of us, and not for open warfare.

We have seen the draft of Alexey’s reply to Fr. Ephraim, and it seems to us to be written with meekness, heartfelt sincerity, and attention to causes and not to personalities, without any element of bickering or bitterness at all. We breathed a sigh of relief when we read it. May it lead to peace and better understanding on all sides!

Concerning the translation of Fr. Michael’s Dogmatics: We’ve just received his (and Vladika Averky’s) blessing to start the translation, together with Fr. Michael’s revisions. Will you really have time to help on the translation? We are making first a preliminary translation (by means of tape recorder, which saves the translator much time, since it can be typed out by others) which we will keep in a looseleaf notebook (8 1/2 x 11 paper) until the whole text can be gone over for a final version. If you will really able to help, we can divide the text up with you. I notice that the section beginning on the bottom of p. 26) (_____), through p. 36 inclusive, a little over 10 pages, has almost no revisions in the text, so you could translate it straight from the printed text and send it to us as is. But please let us know if you really have the time for this.

Brs. Laurence and Daniel are becoming acclimated. Please pray for us all, and also for the repose of newly-departed Tatiana (Kursell), the sister of my godmother, who died suddenly on July 10/23, the day of the Konevits Icon of the Mother of God! We don’t know the meaning of this, but we know that God is close!

Sept. 3/16, 1973
St. Theoctistus

This letter has been a long time in getting out! Since I started it, Michael Farnsworth has joined us, and we ask your prayers for him. We have also received another letter from Fr. Neketas, repeating his previous opinions about Alexey and recommending as an “objective Orthodox presentation on evolution” a Greek Archdiocese article which we found to be a typically simple-minded “liberal” presentation, even to the recommending of the evolutionary views of T. de Chardin. We told him as much in reply, but added that we haven’t the time to engage in debate on such a complicated question, that we are not upset about his opinions on evolution or the Shroud, and we entreated him not to allow any such differences of opinion to introduce any feeling of coldness or hostility between any of us laborers in the missionary field. We also urged him to look at Alexey’s positive qualities and not exaggerate his supposed faults, and above all not to publish “open letters” against him (which he mentioned he was still thinking of), reminding him that this is not in the spirit of Vladika John, whom we all revere. May God grant that peace and mutual love and respect may reign always in our midst!

Asking your prayers, with love in Christ our Saviour,


Aug. 19/Sept. 1, 1973
St. Andrew Stratelates

Dear Father Neketas,

Evlogeite! Please forgive our long silence. This summer has been an extremely busy one for us, and our two new brothers have only increased the work we have taken on. But I will be frank and add this: your letters and attitude regarding Alexey Young have left us so shocked that we have been just about speechless.

Thank you for your new letter. On “evolution”: what can we say in reply? We will tell you just what we think: the articles of “exetastes” by no means is an “objective Orthodox presentation on evolution”—it is rather a simple-minded “liberal” presentation, in no way different from what any Protestant or Catholic magazine might publish, and is exactly what one would expect of the Greek Archdiocese, in harmony with its general “liberal” orientation. The article does not even raise the most serious questions which “evolution” poses, much less answer them. It is an absolutely typical product of the “spirit of the times.”

Apparently you think rather differently. But Father, let there be peace among us! “Evolution” is an extremely complicated question, all aspects of it considered, and not one of us is in a position to know “all about it” and give a definitive judgment on all its aspects. Calling it a “heresy,” of course is a great simplification, for it is much more complex than that, and it is evident that different people have quite different things in mind when they hear the word “evolution,” which complicates matters even more. Alexey's article was intended not for theologians but for simple people, and therefore its tone and presentation are admittedly somewhat simplistic and sharp. There are disadvantages to this, the first of which is that it obviously didn’t say anything to you and apparently others of a similar outlook. Obviously, for such people a much more thorough presentation should be made, and I think this would make it much easier for you to see how inadequate the “Exetastes” article is, as we think. If you had read the grotesque, satanic “theology” of Teilhard de Chardin, you would certainly get a funny feeling from an article in which he is held up as an example of a reasonable approach to this question. But who has time to write thoroughly on this subject? We don’t, certainly not now.

Incidentally, the “sharpness” of Alexey’s article we liked—and it is exactly the same “sharpness” (“here’s the truth and you others are all wrong”) which we have recognized in your publications quite often, and for which many have also criticized you. It is refreshing to see such simplicity going boldly in the face of the “generally accepted” errors of the times, even at the risk of being called “unsophisticated,” “behind the times,” etc. Alexey's article is not perfect, but it certainly makes much more sense than “Exetastes.” But THIS DISAGREEMENT SHOULD NOT CAUSE US TO START FIGHTING EACH OTHER!

I will mention one more point before getting to the main purpose of this letter. The “Shroud” article, as you already know, we regard as unfortunate because of its Latinisms, and it was unwise of Alexey to send it out in this form. (But so that you will feel better: he has no copies left and has no intention of distributing anything else on the subject.) Nonetheless, the articles is really not so terrible as your reaction would seem to indicate, and it is really too much for you (and Fr. Ephraim in his letter) to accuse Alexey of spreading “heresies” in it (you’re doing the same thing to him that you accuse him of doing!). You use the term “heretical Anselmian theology” rather too loosely. (By the way, here again: wasn’t it you who criticized Alexey for saying that T. de Chardin was a “heretic”—because he is obviously a heretic, being a Catholic? In the same way, you call Anselm a “heretic” when there’s no need, because he is obviously a heretic, being a Catholic. This reinforces a suspicion we have that one reason for this sharp conflict between you and Alexey is that deep down you are very similar, in a good sense: both full of zealot spirit, even though you might sometimes have disagreements or make mistakes. I say this trying to urge you to find the good points in Alexey and not concentrate on what seem his faults.) The complete Anselmian doctrine on redemption is not held even by the Catholic Church, much less by those recent Orthodox Fathers whom you think are in the “Latin captivity.” Is everyone who writes of “satisfaction” a heretic? Then you will have to decanonize St. Nectarios and throw out many excellent Greek and Russian Fathers. And what of those who were in communion with these “heretics,” or those zealots (such as Blessed Paisius Velichkovsky and Blessed Archbishop John Maximovitch) who indisputably have more theology in their little fingers than any of you or us put together—who did not protest or break communion with those who openly taught “satisfaction”? Father, you have gone a little overboard on this point. The same applies to “merits”—certainly our Orthodox Fathers who use the word do so in a very general sense, and by no means have in mind purgatory, indulgences, and the rest of the strictly Latin context. We will agree with you that it might be preferable to use a different vocabulary so as to avoid any possibility of confusion with Latin legalism—BUT THE ISSUE IS SIMPLY NOT THAT IMPORTANT, and when used by recent Orthodox Fathers these words do not constitute a “heresy,” but are just one possible way of talking about a subject which NO WORDS CAN POSSIBLY DO JUSTICE TO. Let us be milder and more circumspect in the way we speak of such things!

Further on “Latin (and/or Protestant) influence”: must we decanonize St. Macarius of Corinth because he used the Catechism of Metropolitan Platon? What of St. Nikodemos, who redid several Latin books on spiritual life (!) and included Blessed Augustine in his Synaxarion? Don’t you see, Father, that with such zealotry you are undermining your own foundations by casting doubt on virtually all the Fathers and Saints of the past several centuries, and proclaiming to the world that you (and those who believe as you do) “know better” than these holy men, many of whom were great theologians?! Logically speaking, this points you in the direction of a kind of Protestantism, by placing a gap in the Orthodox theological tradition which only your group manages to span by skipping the interval of Latin captivity” and getting back to the “original sources.” You wrote some time back that if Blessed Augustine is in the Russian Calendar, it must be due to the “Uniate influence” of recent times. Well, we investigated and found that Blessed Augustine was introduced into the Russian Calendar in the 19th century SOLELY ON THE AUTHORITY OF ST. NIKODEMOS OF THE HOLY MOUNTAIN—i.e., because the Russian Church was so concerned to be in harmony with the best tradition of the Greek Church! Isn’t this a good thing? Do you see how far off you can get by making vast generalizations about “Catholic influence” or “Latin captivity”? The very notion of “Latin captivity” is played up by Schmemann and his kind precisely with the aim of destroying the idea of the continuity of Orthodox tradition throughout the centuries. DO NOT FALL INTO THAT TRAP! There are great theologians of the past several centuries who used expressions which one might like to see improved; but that does not mean that they are in “Latin captivity” or should be discredited. They just do not use these expressions in the same context as the Latins, and therefore the issue is not a very important one. We ourselves have great respect for Metropolitan Anthony Khrapovitsky, despite the inadequacy of some of his theological expressions, and despite the thorough ridiculousness (forgive the crude expression) of his extreme Westernized views (or rather, taste) in iconography, for example (considering Vasnetsov and Nesterov as the pinnacle of “Byzantine iconography”!!!). Orthodox zealots can live in peace with each other without agreeing on all possible subjects.

But enough on these points. I told you we were shocked by your attitude: we are not particularly shocked by anything you may happen to believe about “evolution” or the “Shroud.” We can live with you in complete mutual confidence, respect, and love without agreeing entirely on such things. But we are shocked that you seriously think of publishing “open letters” against Alexey’s articles, and that you have “withdrawn all support” from him and tell people he is “still a Catholic” and can’t be trusted. Have you lost all awareness of the common task to which all we missionary laborers in the Church Abroad are committed? Vladika John would rap your knuckles for that. It is not Vladikas attitude toward missionary labors that is wrong, but yours, on this point. Alexey is an extremely sympathetic, open, and humble person, and there is no justifiable reason why there should be conflict between you and him; your violent reaction has produced an entirely unnecessary alienation between you. Please do not confuse Alexey with Sarah Hoffmann, who is indeed way off in this respect (and who now, by the way, has also abandoned Alexey as being just as “un-Orthodox” as Fr. Panteleimon, you, and us). You are apparently being misled by the sharp tone of some of Alexey’s articles into thinking that he is a “narrow fanatic,” which is certainly not the case; and even now, after the quite unjust letter of Fr. Ephraim (who obviously misunderstands Alexey completely), Alexey does not have any hard feelings against you and is quite anxious that there be peace between you. Your attitude has caused him quite some pain, but he is taking it all quite in the Orthodox spirit and not harboring any ill feelings. Perhaps you yourself are not aware, Father, how some people are “afraid” of you before they meet you in person, believing from some of the things you print that you are ready to “bite the head off” of anyone who approaches; and they are always pleasantly surprised to meet you and find that such is not the case at all. A good dose of “compassionate love” on all sides would certainly improve the general situation!

Father, I have been as frank as possible, and we pray that this will be for the common good of all. Please show this letter to Father Panteleimon. UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES, GOD GIVING US STRENGTH, WILL WE ALLOW THERE TO BE ANY FIGHTING OR HOSTILITY BETWEEN US. You and Fr. Panteleimon have a somewhat different approach from ours—for which, glory be to God! We do not need to be carbon copies of each other, and different people find help and inspiration in different approaches within the one and same zealot tradition. Our own labors and ideals are so in harmony with those of Fr. Panteleimon that we feel a definite support just by the fact of his existence. You and he both are a help to the Russian Church (though sometimes this isn’t recognized in our midst), but in order to continue a sound and faultless path you will have to be circumspect about how you express certain things, so as not to cause unnecessary conflicts and misunderstandings. In particular, we strongly urge you not to let certain disagreements cause you to make sweeping judgments, such as that Alexey is an “unrepentant Catholic,” or that Russian theologians with whom you disagree are under “Latin influence.” Such judgments prevent you from seeing the deep agreement which you actually have with such people on the basic issues of Orthodox zealotry, and they reduce theological questions to some kind of personal level, making discussion impossible. (Obviously, nothing that someone who is under “Latin influence” may say will be acceptable to you, since you think he’s “tainted” and apparently can’t say anything without this sinister “influence” making itself felt. But do you think you yourself are entirely free of some “influences” or other? Being brought up in and being at home in an entirely “Western” environment, have you really entirely escaped this influence? I can tell you frankly our experience from living in the wilderness: if you go to a supermarket or listen to radio or television, or read newspapers—you are certainly not going to escape some kind of “modern” influences, in ways you are probably unaware of. And what if some ill-wishers begin to find a sinister “Greek-Archdiocese influence” in you?) All this talk of “influence” is extremely shaky and probably useless; let us attack the issues directly instead, and let the differences come out and be resolved (if possible) by reasonably objective criteria, rather than just dismissing someone because we fancy him to be under some “influence” or other.

Regarding Jordanville: we ourselves can recall a few articles which the monastery printed which didn’t seem to us to be very useful, but we certainly don’t recall any “Protestant sectarian literature concerning the ‘Anti-Christ’ and the ‘last days’”! Is this real, or an exaggeration? PLEASE DO NOT ALLOW YOURSELF ANY EXAGGERATIONS WHATEVER IN THIS RESPECT: the common zealot cause for which our Church Abroad, despite the human failings and intellectual incompetence of all of us her members, stands almost alone today, is too precious to allow it to be damaged by such unsympathetic judgments of our fellow laborers. Much can be forgiven, if only the basic Orthodox orientation is present; and even if that be lacking, silence is usually the wisest policy (with regard to the printed word).

After all this I bow down to the ground and beg your forgiveness if I have offended you in any way by this letter or anything else, and Father Herman does likewise. Let peace and mutual love and respect always prevail between us!

We thank you for your prayers and beg you to continue them. Yes, our Brotherhood seems to be growing, and we only pray God that we will be able to use rightly the gifts which He showers upon us and the souls He sends us.

With heartfelt love in Christ our Saviour,
Seraphim, monk
with the blessing of Father Herman

P.s. We are not sending any copy of this letter anywhere. Let it be strictly between us, you, and Fr. Panteleimon.


Sept. 8/21, 1973
Nativity of the Most Holy Mother of God

Dear Brother in Christ, Alexey,

Greetings in our Lord Jesus Christ on the Feast of the Glorious Nativity of His Most Holy Mother! This is just a note to acknowledge your letters and clippings. We haven’t read the “Secret Gospel” clipping yet, so have no comments on it.

Your projected “prisons” series sounds promising and certainly doesn’t conflict with anything we have in mind. On Soviet prisons you should also read some other material if possible—for example, Anatoly Marchenko’s My Testimony, which is in English (in paperback, I believe), a ghastly account of today's prisons in the USSR. He’s not a believer, but his description of the systematic dehumanization in Soviet prisons shows anti-Christianity clearly in practice.

We received, after a long absence of communication, another letter from Fr. Neketas (written apparently before he got your reply to Fr. Ephraim), and he repeats his former statements to the effect that anyone who is against evolution and for the Shroud is in a bad way; so we wrote a reply telling him we quite disagree, but also begging that he will not allow disagreements on such questions, which after all are rather complicated and on which none of us is an absolute “expert,” to cause him to lose sight of the larger Orthodox zealot cause of which we all strive to be a part.

Then yesterday we finally received a reply from Alexander Kalomiros to our letter inquiring as to his views on evolution—and he promises soon to send a detailed reply in English, with quotes from the Holy Fathers. We look forward to this with open mind and some expectation!

Michael Farnsworth has been with us for a month now, and it appears there will be five of us to struggle through the winter here. We will have enough to do preparing for it, not to mention the constant pressure of printing (which is good for us!).

By the way, Vladika Nektary’s visit to us with the Kursk Icon on Oct. 2 (which Laurence mentioned in his note to you) is quite indefinite—i.e., it could occur any hour of the day or night, and it might not occur at all, in view of the fact that Vladika must catch a plane the next morning going to the Holy Land!

I’ve finally begun the translation of Fr. Michael Pomazansky’s Dogmatic Theology and hope to get the first tape (10-12 pages) to you before long. Fr. Michael has just printed an article defending the 19th-century theologian, Metropolitan Macarius, and in particular his use of the terms “satisfaction” and “merits,” as precisely a way of combatting the false Latin views involved with these terms,— defeating the heretics with their own language, as it were. We will probably translate part of this and make a note out of it for the book.

We pray you are all well, and that Barbara and the children are learning to suffer and endure for Christ in their difficult trials. Pray for us all.

With love in Christ our Saviour,
Seraphim, monk

P.s. Congratulations on the new Nikodemos. May God grant you to continue in the same sober and inspiring tone! Can we have another three copies?


Oct. 25/Nov. 7,1973
Martyrs Marcian and Martyrius

Dear Brother in Christ, Daniel [Olson],

Greetings in our Lord Jesus Christ. We are glad to hear you are safe.

Your letter states again your “position,” which is exactly as we understood it to be when you left. My words now, on the other hand, are intended once again, quite deliberately, to “avoid the question” and “to talk about something else.” Why? Because you wish to talk logically, to discuss a “problem,” whereas we can only speak from the heart, where this “problem” does not exist. Dear Daniel, because we love you dearly, I am going to bawl you out and tell you once again that the real “problem” does not exist. Dear Daniel, because we love you early, I am going to bawl you out and tell you once again that the real “problem” is something quite different from what your “wisdom” tells you; I beg you to read what I will say with your heart, and then act with your heart.

In your letter you have lectured us, accused us, judged us, and from your “position” it must indeed seem ridiculous and amazing that we cannot understand the Church’s teaching and practice as well as you can. The main point of your accusation is that we have “felt ourselves competent to decide a matter which according to Church practice can be decided only by a bishop,” and that therefore we are saying that we “know better than the Church.” Child Daniel, how stupid do you think we are?! And how proud and unfeeling you must be to accuse us of such stupidity! Do you really think we are acting with the same soulless calculation which set off your fit? Your letter in effect offers us to work out some kind of “compromise” with you and your Church “principles.” Father Herman was quite correct in telling you that you are setting yourself against the central idea which we follow—because we will not involve ourselves on that level of soulless calculation, where everything in the Church which inspires and guides us becomes “correct” or “incorrect,” “proper” or “improper.”

However, to answer your question: did we “canonize a Saint”? We did not! That is the work of bishops. We rather nourished our own piety, which is constantly in danger of being extinguished in present conditions, and we did so in a way which is by no means foreign to the history of the Church and is approved by present-day Fathers whom we trust, such as Vladika Nektary and Father Panteleimon. Must we call a council of bishops to nourish our piety, six forest-dwellers in a remote cabin, whom any sensible worldly person already regards as crazy? How spoiled rotten you must be, by thinking you know so much about Church history and the “rights” of bishops, in order to think like that!

If you wish to understand under what “category” our actions fall and may be understood, I will tell you by giving an example from the act of a bishop whom you have respected up to now. You know the “secret” which we share with Bishop Nektary, precisely because he did here just what you accuse us of doing. He did not do it in his capacity of bishop, because he does not have episcopal jurisdiction over this piece of land. He did it solely out of love for a Saint, and out of grief over the realization that political and other worldly considerations have made cold the hearts of those, including bishops, who should already be glorifying this Saint; and in doing it he likewise followed the apparently “uncanonical” act of Father Panteleimon, which he applauded. (You must realize, by the way, that by your present behavior you have fallen out of oneness of mind not only with us, but also with Fr. Panteleimon and Vladika Nektary, because you know better what the Church teaches than any of us, and you have judged us all.

And now I must shock your “principles” even more, in order that you will finally understand what is at stake: Vladika Nektary’s act (or rather, acts, for he has repeated it) was done with full knowledge that his own ruling bishop would certainly not approve if he knew of it, but on the contrary would give him great trouble if he heard of it. What?! Does Vladika Nektary, whom you have regarded as “holy,” know so much less of Church “principles” than Daniel Olson, that he would dare to usurp the “competence” of his own ruling bishop? Or does he place himself “above” Church principles?! Î you fool, if you dare to think like this! He acted “secretly”—precisely because those who should be shouting the praises of a newly-revealed Saint are silent due to the political considerations and cold hearts that reign in our midst; and if it were not for such loving hearts which beat with holy Orthodoxy, the fire of true Orthodoxy would be completely absent from our midst today. In future, we trust in God, the loving zealous acts of such men (which of course are not at all “uncanonical” because they have nothing to do with any canons whatever) whether they be hierarchs or priests or monks or simple laymen, will be praised and lauded by the whole Church, because throughout the Church’s history these are the stuff of which Orthodoxy is made in practice.

If you wish to know the “principle” on which Vladika Nektary (and others who practice living Orthodoxy) have acted, and that which inspires even us poor ones just to go on under an extremely difficult and unfavorable spiritual climate (which you cold heart does not even see)—it is the principle of catacombness, of nourishing in secret those sprouts of true Orthodoxy which are not being encouraged in official Orthodox circles.

(Even if you do not understand all this, nonetheless I must strictly forbid you to speak to anyone of anything I have said in connection with Vladika Nektary, which is a strict secret among those who think as he; if you speak of it to anyone, you are his and our betrayer.)

Our dear brother: yes, we fervently desire the return to us of you, our lost sheep, because we really do believe that this place was given to you to work out your salvation, and that your salvation in the world, especially with your cold heart and calculating mind, and with ;; one to humble you in love, is dubious. But you yourself must make the effort to return to the oneness of soul with us which you left with your calculating “principles.” But you must have trust in us, with entire resolution and commitment—not with your mind, as you seem to think, but with your heart. The trust of the mind is merely calculation (“do they really know better than I do, or not?”); but the trust of the heart is self- sacrificing devotion, that path of commitment upon which you entered some months ago, and which you now wish so easily to abandon, without having offered yourself as a sacrifice to God.

You say that you wish to “work out your differences” with us. I will give you an example of how that is done—with the heart and not with the mind. Four years ago Fr. Panteleimon visited us, before the canonization of St. Herman. We asked him to serve a panikhida for him, and he replied that he simply couldn’t serve a panikhida for someone to whom his community prays as a Saint. Behold, a “difference” between us and Fr. Panteleimon—and we rejoiced! And how did we work out our “difference,” even as we were rejoicing over it? Fr. Panteleimon served a panikhida for “Monk Herman”—but he prayed for the newly-reposed Jordanville Monk Herman, while we prayed for Fr. Herman of Alaska—to whom for a long time we had already sung the troparion, magnification, and akathist. (How inconsistent” of us!) And how “inconsistent” for Vladika John to end his panikhidas for Fr. Herman with the magnification to him! And how “inconsistent” that we both glorify Elder Nazarius and pray for his Repose! What kind of “canonization” is that?!

Come to your senses, child Daniel! You have trapped yourself in a satanic net of “principles” which you are too cold and stupid to know how to apply; and yet you think yourself smart and worthy enough to do so.

If your heart responds to this that I have said, then return to us with tears and repentance that you fell away from unity with us through your accursed calculating logic, which is not at all based on “principles” but on pride, and which does not at all join you to the mind of the Church, but on the contrary separates you from it. However, we must tell you straight: we can give you no “answer” to the “problem” you imagine you have with us; you will simply have to trust us and wholeheartedly accept our judgment—or else there is no hope that you will ever attain humility, or even desire it. There can be no “compromise” on the petty point you raised, because we simply refuse to think in those terms, and we will continue to follow our heart right up to the time we are persecuted and banished for it; and if we ever did agree to begin thinking in those terms and “calculating” together with you, we would precisely then lose just what attracted you to us in the first place, about which you are evidently not very much aware.

If you return to us, it must not be a “gentlemen's agreement” or “concordat” whereby each of us jealously guards his opinions, but rather by a wholehearted commitment to travel the path of humbleness and oneness of soul with us. Out of love for Christ we must continue to try to humble you, according to your strength, which so far has been very little. You are very proud, and up to now you have set a limit and condition to your humility: you will accept being humbled only if it can be proved to you that you are “wrong” of have done something “improper.” Now you must strive harder to enter into true humility and not think you “know better” about the conditions of collecting firewood or transporting ladders, or whether you should be bawled out for your transgressions immediately or later: in fact, it is because you would not give up your own will and understanding on such petty points that you were caught in the devils nets on the “principles” which caused you to grow cold, judge us, and walk away from us. It is this pride also which allowed tne devil to get into your heart when the Kursk Icon came and reduce you to a state of total unfeelingness.

Daniel, God gave us to you to help fight your pride; come to us in repentance and let us help you. By yourself you will only spend your whole life trying to preserve your soul, under the pretext of your understanding of Church “principles” and the like; and he who would preserve his soul will lose it. Only if you try to lose your soul for Christ, by really committing yourself, will you finally gain it.

I pray that these words will get through your stupid cold mind and speak to your heart, for despite their seemingly harsh tone, I assure you they are written from the heart. You have fallen into an extremely elementary trap of the devil, which has been repeated a million times in the history of Orthodoxy and monasticism. And the only way you can get out of this trap is humbly to recognize your own stupidity and trust in God and your brothers.

I close with a quote from St. Barsanuphius, in answer to a question of Abba Dorotheus (when he was a novice), which I copied out this morning:

Q: The thoughts which arise in me say: Go to a different place and there you will be saved.

A: Brother! May he be cursed who has sowed in your heart such thought of leaving this place because of the transgression of commandments here. This is the devil. He presents this to you under an appearance of truth, so that, having mocked you, he might make you an object of scandal for many, so that you might bear condemnation for them also.

You are being subjected to this for your negligence and vainglory. You say: “If I go away to a different place, there I will endure dishonor.” But why is it that now, just as soon as you hear that your brother has said something against you, your heart is disturbed, and you do not wish that anyone should know of your transgression? To negligence and vainglory the demons also join their nets so as to cause your soul to perish. Be assured in the Lord, that if it were not for the help of God and the prayers of the true slaves of God who are in this place, you could remain even a year in the monastery. But just as a blind man sees nothing, so also you do not see the benefactions which God has shown you and continues to show by the prayers and the Saints. Beorhwe! Pay careful heed to yourself; labor against thoughts so as not to fall into negligence and vainglory, not to do anything according to your own will, and not to accept the thoughts and self-justification which arise in you: otherwise you will be subjected to a powerful fall. Know for sure, that wherever you might go, though you might go over the whole earth from end to end, nowhere will you receive such benefit as in this place. What an anchor is for a boat, such will be for you the prayers of the Fathers here. Acquire firmness, and it will remove from you familiarity in your relation with your near ones, which is the cause of all evils in a man. Leave off all outward care, and then you will freely serve God.

With love in Christ our Saviour,
Seraphim, monk

P.s. This reply has been delayed by a week of rain, and a litde snow.


Week of Nov. 6, 1973

Dear Brother in Christ, Alexey,

Greetings in our Lord Jesus Christ. Thank you for the new Nikodemos, which was full of spiritual food from first to last, including the “fillers.” May God give you the strength to continue giving this spiritual food to those who are starved for it (often without knowing it).

We received two days ago, with a sigh, Fr. Ephraim’s third letter to you. Before reading it we wondered, “is this really necessary?” And after reading it, of course, we saw that it is not. And. now (after starting this letter) we have received your new letter expressing your being “shaken” over Fr. E s -epistle. This I think I understand, although not perhaps too rationally, and I will try to express something of what I feel you might be going through.

Of course, the sometimes flippant tone disturbs you, especially as coming from a monastery which is supposed to give precisely the right, serious, (but not pompously solemn) tone. Again, there is much that is totally irrelevant in the letter, as though you are to be awed by the very fact that Lives of Saints and Holy Fathers are thrown at you, quite apart from whether they are relevant or not. Then, the patronizing tone toward St. Nikodemos and St. Nectarius, as much as to say: “we know better than our own Saints; they are not as sophisticated in theology as we are.” Yet again, the citing of Metr. Anthony and Bolotov, which means the authors think they are in the full Russian tradition, and therefore you have no ground to stand on at all (more on this below). Again, the letter contains much quibbling over words, in a rather “scholastic” spirit. And perhaps most of all: their approach and assumptions are so different from yours (and ours) that you probably just don’t know what to say in reply. Their use of Anselm is a variation on the standard joke: “Have you stopped beating your wife?”—i.e., if you enter into a discussion on their terms, you will never get out of the swamp, but will have to force yourself to be “defensive” about something that is actually quite unimportant.

Here I will set down a few impressions which this letter produced on me:

(1) Positively, it would seem that the Fathers are no longer, as in the second letter, intent on annihilating Nikodemos, but have apparently accepted the fact that you will continue to exist, outside their control. If so, glory be to God for such a measure of peace, at least.

(2) The whole letter is written in what seems to us an idle, sometimes frivolous tone, and it would really be a waste of your time and energy to make any substantial reply to it. We do not need “debates” on this level. Obviously, they have certain set ideas which are not going to be changed by any “point-by-point” reply. Your best “reply” is to continue publishing Nikodemos without letting this static interfere with you.

(3) It has now become rather obvious that Holy Transfiguration Monastery is quite limited in its theological and philosophical understanding. It is apparently not capable of understanding in full Orthodox context what is happening in the world today (intellectually [or] philosophically), nor of placing in proper perspective the theological writers of the last two centuries.

(4) The reasons for this, it would seem, lie: (a) in the poverty of the recent Greek theological- intellectual tradition, which must really have been thoroughly paralysed and devastated by the Turkish experience (in a way that the Russian tradition certainly was not). If this is so, then such Fathers as Sts. Nikodemos, Macarius, and Nectarius are evidently rare exceptions who do not really form a continuous tradition (and notice that Fr. E. disowns the theology of even these Fathers!).
(b) In the consequent unrootedness of the Fathers of Holy Transfiguration Monastery in any Orthodox theological tradition—they have to “do it themselves,” with no one and no stable tradition to correct them. Their “roots” are rather in 20th-century America, which accounts for the “modern” tone of their epistles, their failure to understand the whole significance and religious origin and context of “evolution,” the utter ridiculousness of dilettantism of their dabbling in Russian sources. To say that Metr. Philaret of Moscow is not in the Orthodox theological tradition, whereas the academic scholar Bolotov is, and that virtually all our great recent theologians and Saints teach “anselmism”— means that as theologians they are irresponsible and unaware, and their convert translators from the Russian cannot give them the whole context of Russian theological thought which might straighten them out.

(5) Therefore, let us thank God that Holy Transfiguration is raising up monks in the genuine Orthodox discipline of monasticism, inspiring zealot parishes, and translating and spreading some patristic texts and Lives of Saints. But let us not expect more of the Fathers than they can give; they are not capable of giving the Orthodox theology and philosophy which is needed for our times. (Not unless they change their outlook, that is.)

(6) This Orthodox theology and philosophy must obviously come from the Russian tradition of the last two centuries, in particular the tradition inspired by Blessed Paisius Velichkovsky. Therefore, there is much for us to do who love this tradition and want to be formed in it!

(7) Concerning evolution: Fr. E. is quibbling over words, because he simply does not understand the whole question. He obviously misunderstands both St. Nectarius (who certainly is not trying to make a “scientific” statement, but is only, quite properly, ridiculing the pseudo-scientists who find man’s origins in the àðå-kingdom) and St. Basil (who is scientifically correct in his statement on pines and oaks, and he certainly did not intend to say that the seed of one produces the other, since the whole Hexaemeron emphasizes that each kind of creature reproduces only according to its kind). But it is futile to make an answer to these points: rather, the whole discussion must be placed in a different, more serious context. Hopefully, this will be what your future article on evolution will do (whenever God wills!).

Above all: what we need now are persistent, independent labors, such as you and we are trying to make; and not useless debates.

The new Orthodox Life, by the way, has an article by Fr. Lev Puhalo which apparently comes from the same theological “school,” and which we found very unsatisfactory. Not only is such frequent and open discussion of the “sex act” distasteful and unnecessary, but the whole context of the discussion is rather pagan-modern than Orthodox. True, marriage is sacred, but the “sex act” among fallen humans certainly is not, but should always be bound up with repentance, awareness of sin (as in Psalm 50), and a humble awareness of how short married life falls of the perfect Christian life. (Likewise, one who lives in virginity should be constantly reproaching himself for the vileness of his thoughts; in no state of Christian life is there room for smug self-satisfaction.) Fr. Lev’s “positive view of sex” would seem to be rather a 20th-century reaction against Victorian prudery than anything patristic or Orthodox.

A very important point: it is not enough to talk about a “return to patristic sources”—that can be just another intellectual fashion, which I’m afraid it is to some extent among some of our new theological “experts.” There are some tell-tale signs by which these academic theologians reveal their own inadequate patristic foundation, one of the most obvious of which is the attitude: we know what is right and everyone else is wrong, under foreign influence, etc. (including great Saints and theologians). Fr. E. is telling you that he and his group (who are graduates of the pseudo-Orthodox seminaries of Holy Cross and St. Vladimir’s) know more about Orthodox theology than: St. Nikodemos, St. Nectarios, Metr. Philaret of Moscow, Bishop Theophanes the Recluse, St. John of Kronstadt (who also talks about “merits” of Christ), Archbishop John Maximovitch (who sang the service every year to Blessed Augustine, and in fact commissioned the writing of it!), and also the Elders of Optina! Such presumption can only do harm to the real cause of renewing Orthodox life by drawing from the fresh springs of Orthodox tradition.

The best advice we can give you is this: do not enter into any further discussion with Fr. Ephraim on his level. You are entirely correct that a public apology for the Shroud article would complicate rather than simplify matters. Indeed, if you were to apologize for publishing a heresy (which you certainly did not do), you would thereby publicly accuse many Saints of heresy, as well as the whole Russian Church (which uses Metr. Philaret’s catechism as an official statement of faith). Fr. E. has gone quite overboard on this subject, thereby revealing the academic amateurish level of his “theology”; do not allow yourself even to think in the same terms he does. Neither you nor we are “experts” in theology, and it is not for us to enter into debates with those who think they are. Let us rather follow the stable path which our recent Fathers have trodden before us, and not get excited over issues which did not bother them.

By the way, it cannot be doubted that the issue of “Latin influence” is real—our own recent Fathers tell us of this; but Fr. E. does not have the proper, balanced and sober, approach to it.

We just received the O.C. Witness with the article on “intellectual converts.” I don’t know what use such an article can have. Everyone when reading it will think of his own favorite “crazy convert”; the first one that came to our mind was Fr. Lev Puhalo! But let us rather be patient with each other and help each other with love and encouragement to overcome our faults and ever strive to enter more fully into the Church’s true spirit.

It does look as though the winter will be longer and severer than usual. We had snow flurries several times, but with no more than an inch of snow so far; however, the first real snow looks to be close (27° this morning, and probably colder down in Platina). We had two solid weeks of rain, which makes one place in our road (very close to us) quite difficult, but so far we’ve managed to get up and down safely. We have almost all our winter supplies, and need just two more trips for paper and gasoline.

Yes, Daniel left us, which saddened us and makes us realize all the more how strongly the devil is fighting us (for Daniel really belongs here). Our Catechumen John also left last week, without yet receiving what he came for—another attack of the devil. But we try to learn through our trials, and we have many consolations also. Last Tuesday Fr. Spiridon came and served Divine Liturgy on his namesday, and we all received Holy Communion.

We will be glad to talk to David, whenever you can bring him. St. Seraphim tells us to sow the seed of the Word whenever and wherever we can.

Trust in Vladika John’s prayer. Pray for us all.

With love in Christ our Saviour,
S. M.

P.S. I am enclosing (or maybe sending separately) two cassettes, which you might try to type out. One is the life of St. Simeon of Verkhoturye which I mentioned to you before, which is almost complete on the two sides (there’s a little more on another tape, which we’ll type out). This tape (and the other as well) were translated “live” and so will need some correction before being printed as a whole; but if you want to abridge it yourself you might be able to do so from this preliminary version.

The second cassette is part of a booklet we may be printing: Vladika Averky s commentary on the Apocalypse, which comes from Vol. 2 of his New Testament Commentary. Vladimir Anderson asked about the Orthodox interpretation of the Apocalypse recently, so we re doing this, which might be able to be printed much sooner than the Orthodox Dogmatics. (40-50 pp.) If they aren’t too difficult to transcribe (I’m doing the Dogmatics with puctuation marks, erasing my mistakes, etc., so it’s easier to follow), then please send us one copy of the complete text of both tapes (8 1/2x11 paper, doublespaced) so we can make corrections.


Nov. 10/23, 1973
Apostles Herodion and others

Dear Father Lev,

Greetings in our Lord Jesus Christ.

We received your note and learn with astonishment that doe Acquisition of the Holy Spirit of I. M. Kontzevitch is being printed in English, it would seem, without the widow of the author (who actually wrote half of it) even being informed of it, despite the clear notice in the beginning of the book about all rights being reserved to the author (and his heirs). Vladika Nektary, the authors brother, will also not be pleased. This is not merely a lack of elementary courtesy, but also an extremely incompetent approach to the book, in view of the corrections and additions which should be made in it. Mrs. Kontzevitch will certainly not approve of any translation of her husband’s books without her first examining them, both for mistakes and for quality of translation (she knows English well). Both she and her husband have entrusted to our Brotherhood the work of editing, translating, and correcting the writings of I. M. Kontzevitch and have given us instructions concerning this. This is all the more important, by the way, in the case\of the book Optina and Its Era of which Fr. Herman was co-editor with Mrs. Kontzevitch, and which will require much revision before being presented in English. We ourselves are by no means against others laboring in the translation of Prof. Kontzevitch’s works; we only ask, in view of the desire of the author and his widow, that we see the manuscripts before publication so they can be properly revised. As long as she is alive, Mrs. Kontzevitch also must certainly see all translations before publication.

If it is really true the Acquisition is already being printed, it is truly unfortunate, especially if the book is as haphazardly done as was the “New Martyrs.” Mrs. Kontzevitch is very outspoken and will probably send an indignant letter to the Metropolitan if this is done. But even if bishops may do more or less as they please, let the rest of us laborers in Christ’s vineyard be humble and sensible and not undertake projects without knowing their full background.

Please forgive the straightforward language, but we have known the Kontzevitches for a long time and know how careful and precise they are with regard to their writings, and how much they detest literary amateurishness.

With love in Christ our Savior,
Seraphim, monk


Nov. 10/23, 1973b
Apostles Herodion and others

Dear Brother in Christ, Alexey,

Greetings in our Lord Jesus Christ.

We have an extraordinary request to make of you—if it is possible and if things turn out as expected. For twenty years Fr. Herman has known a female convert to our Church on the East Coast, Nina Seco. (I’ve known her, chiefly by correspondence, for over half that long.) She went through all the trials of the earliest “convert period” in connection with Jordanville, and was actually Fr. Herman’s “spiritual daughter.” (She is about our age.) Then she discovered Fr. Panteleimon in Boston and continued under his spiritual direction. Together with her friend Margaret, she laid the foundation for Holy Nativity Convent, which in the beginning was just the two of them, praying and laboring together in an upstairs apartment in Boston. The Convent grew, and a year of two ago Fr. Panteleimon imported an Abbess for it, which gave somewhat a different emphasis to the convent. Then, after Pascha of this year, Nina left the convent—she says it’s because of her own temperament and her lack of confidability in the Abbess. She’s been back to visit several times since then, and has finally come to see quite definitely that she doesn’t belong there. People tell her she should go to a Russian convent, but she has no inclination for this, being extremely devoted to the whole labor and dream of presenting Orthodoxy in the English language. Right now she’s staying with a Russian priest in New Jersey but cannot stay there beyond Russian Christmas, and she wants to come to California for a while, perhaps on the way to our Convent in Bluffton, Alberta. She doesn’t really know anyone out here except us, and she’s been inquiring as to whom she might stay with in San Francisco. (She thought of coming to visit us on St. Herman’s day Dec. 12/25, but access to us then already looks dubious, and also Father Herman has been asked to come to Jordanville just/at that time to give a talk to a Youth Pilgrimage at the Monastery (which he hasn’t seen for 12 years, after being spiritually reborn in it.).

And so the thought came to us: If she comes to California, perhaps she could spend a week or several weeks with you? (Assuming you have room, of course.) Somehow we think this would be very good both for her and for you, both of you being so devoted to the English-speaking mission. There is, however, a possible complication in that she might be coming (although it doesn’t look like it now) with a like-minded younger convert-friend Barbara.

Please let us know frankly what you think of all this, so we can know what advice to give her on her proposed trip.

We’ve had an inch or two of snow every day for 3 days, and today it looks like more snow— quite an unusual mid-November weather pattern for us, looking more and more like a preparation for a severe winter. Indeed, you had better come to us as soon as you can, and not wait for St. Herman’s day in December (where Father Herman probably won’t be here, also) If Nina will be staying with you for a while, we can arrange her visit to us by telephone (whether with one of your visits, or separately by Greyhound).

Hoping to hear from you soon,

With love in Christ our Savior
Seraphim, monk

P.s. We’ve just received the first of Alexander Kalomiros’ promised epistles to us—a long one on the Old Calendarist situation, and extremely revealing, about which we’ll speak when you come.


Dec. 20, 1973
St. John of Kronstadt

Dear Alexey—

Greetings on the feast of our 20th-century wonderworker!

I’ve been finding more patristic citations, and the “patristic notes” I sent should really be expanded into a little treatise on the Orthodox view of the creation, including the eating of the fruit of the tree of knowledge—but how can you keep the whole article within manageable size if that’s done?

By the way, according to St. Gregory of Sinai, the incorruption of the first creation was a somewhat modified one, which means you probably shouldn’t be so bold as I was in saying “no fossils”—the main point remaining that in any case it is unknowable to present-day science. With thorough documentation of each point you make, the whole article can be even understated and still turn out extremely powerful.

Father Herman returns tomorrow morning. According to the account of his talk at Jordanville in “Orthodox Russia,” it left a powerful impression—with 150 people present.

Pray for us—with love in Christ,

Seraphim, m.

Letters of Fr. Seraphim Rose


January 9/22, 1974
St. Philip of Moscow

Dear Brother in Christ, Alexey,

Greetings in our Lord Jesus Christ.

Yes, our mountain was rather drenched with rain also, and all that snow that Nina and Barbara trudged through was washed away in less than two days! For a day or so all the bridges between us and the Sacramento Valley were under water, and I think the road to Redding is still closed, but the Red Bluff road is apparently open, as the mail comes through all right. There are some very deep ruts (2 feet!) in our road, but with caution the road is still usable, and it is now open all the way to us.

We rejoice at the life of your little Orthodox community—you should give great thanks to God for having such an opportunity to live remotely and independently, where Orthodoxy can readily enter into your daily life. You have just about everything you need—and what you don’t have God will provide when the time comes!

The Elder in the photograph is Schema-Archimandrite Gabriel.

Interestingly, just before receiving your letter I was reading and thinking about Khomiakovs close friend Kireyevsky, who thought very similarly and is even better because of his close connection with Optina and the Holy Fathers. We’ll be interested to see what you’ve compiled of Khomiakov. Kireyevsky’s thoughts on the difference between the Catholic-Wes tern mentality and Orthodoxy might well serve as an article or pamphlet also, which would be very instructive especially for converts today. The answer to Medieval Scholasticism, he says, is the great Orthodox Fathers who lived at the same time—namely, St. Simeon the New Theologian, St. Gregory the Sinaite, St. Gregory Palamas.

And speaking of this contrast, my research into the Fathers concerning evolution has turned up something remarkable—the Catholic and Orthodox doctrines of Adam and creation are significantly different, and “evolution” can be fitted rather nicely precisely into the Catholic doctrine, but not at all into the Orthodox! This point can be made pretty well by comparing several passages of the Summa Theologica of Thomas Aquinas (I always wondered why I kept that book!) with the passage from St. Simeon which you have, and another from St. Gregory the Sinaite. The whole discussion of “evolution,” if it is presented just right, can be very important for giving our genuine Orthodox outlook on contemporary science and “wisdom.”

I’ve also found commentaries on Genesis by St. Ephraim the Syrian and St. John Chrysostom, and some more isolated statements in other Fathers. There can be no doubt at all how the Fathers understood Genesis—quite “literally”! I was at first a little uncertain about a quote from St. Gregory the Theologian, showing that he regarded the tree of the knowledge of good and evil as a symbol; and some Fathers, such as St. Gregory of Nyssa, are full of such symbols, leading a scholar like Florovsky to ask: does he understand the account of creation as entirely symbolic or not? And then, to resolve my uncertainty, leafing through a French translation we have of St. Gregory Palamas, I found that, in opposing those who say that the Uncreated Light of Mt. Tabor is only a “symbol,” he cites the very passage from St. Gregory the Theologian about the tree of knowledge, and says that of course he also accepted it as having an existence of its own! All of these quotes put together should do much to give our Orthodox people the sound Orthodox approach to Genesis and creation, which I think many are now afraid of, due to the prestige of “science.”

The “Orthodox” disciple of Teilhard de Chardin is a little disappointing—he is so naive and simple-minded! Nonetheless, there are some things there that can be used in the “philosophical” part of your study.

About becoming principal, there’s not much we can advise you. It seems a logical step, and it comes to you without asking on your part—but you alone can measure what it will mean in practical terms for your life. How is the present principal surviving it? Is he under great pressure and tension or not?

Don’t be upset about Nina’s ideas on evolution and the like. As Fr. Herman says, she’s been “Panteleimonized,” which means: in general, the right attitudes, but a little “too-intellectual,” too sophisticated tone, with thinking a little divorced from reality. She’s also “been around” a little too much; it’s really much better to sit quietly in a corner such as God has given you! Hopefully, she will change a little in Vladika John’s diocese!

How was the transcription of the Apocalypse tape? We’ve finished the text in 14 more sides, including the first side or two which has already been transcribed. But we don’t want to overburden you. We would rather like to print a little book of 50-60 pages including this and other apocalyptic passages from the New Testament in Vladika Averky’s commentary—to give the Orthodox view of the last things and refute the heretical views on the millennium, tribulation period, rapture, etc. This would be rather a complement to your study of evolution and the patristic view of the first things, creation. In general, it seems that no one has really thought through the whole question of evolution, and many Russian priests are satisfied just not to think about the “species” and the “six days,” as long as Adam is kept as an historical person who lived about 7500 years ago. But “evolution” will hardly tolerate such a concession to theology in any case! It might be good, by the way, to give a brief resume somewhere in your study on the response of Catholic theology to evolution—how they gave way point by point, ending in the Rahner “theology” we sent you.

The idea has come to us to pay you a visit this Sunday, Jan. 14/27. What do you think of that? Will you be home? About what time do you read the hours in the morning? We would come about mid-morning, 10 or so. Let us know.

With love in Christ,
Seraphim, monk


Jan. 24/Feb. 6, 1974
Blessed Xenia of Petersburg

Dear Brother in Christ, Alexey,

Greetings in our Lord Jesus Christ in Whom rejoice!

Here are some more notes on evolution, specifically your chapters which we are returning herewith.

II. Chapter on the “context”: too broad, and in the wrong place. The study should begin with a “bang” (after the Preface, which should be written last), and most logical is to start with “Early Man” itself, so the reader can see what is being talked about. The “Context” offers a history of different strands of Humanism whose importance to the subject of evolution is not clear at the beginning. In any case these pages are too broad and general, and distract the reader’s attention from the central point.

III. “Science as a Fetish” and “Early Man”: the points are good (we’ll have more detailed criticism later when we see how they fit into the whole study); but here we’ll give a word of advice: try as much as possible not to “play your hand” too much or too soon. The Preface will already make it clear enough that you are against evolution: but all the way through, and especially in the “scientific” chapters, you should be as “objective” and serene as possible, omitting in particular any comments that might show how you “feel” about what you are presenting or criticizing (such as the “heavens no” on p. 5 which I’ve marked)—such comments will have an adverse effect on those who aren’t convinced yet, giving them the impressions that you are just hostilely disposed to evolution from the beginning, and therefore you are not open to whatever “truth” it might contain. Remember that from the beginning (that being the character of our times and its mentality) the burden of proof is on you, and the majority of readers will not sympathize with any disparaging comments. Your basic tone in these chapters should not be: “I’m going to show you how ridiculous evolution is,” but rather: “Let’s look at this question seriously and soberly, one point at a time, being as fair as possible to evolutionists, and see just what they believe and how much sense it makes.” Actually, there are probably very few “convinced evolutionists” among Orthodox believers, but very many who just “go along” with the intellectual current, but still do have some nagging doubts about evolution which they just can’t explain to themselves. For them you should be making the greatest possible clarification of this whole issue.

III. B.: Further study of “Early Man” seems the logical next step. Presumably your conclusion at the end of this chapter will not be: “Evolution is proved false and special creation true,” but rather: evolution, presented popularly as “fact” and “truth,” has no coercive scientific evidence whatever to support it. All the supposed “proofs” of evolution can equally be used to “prove” another theory, depending on your presuppositions. Here you should set down in summary form all the major “proofs” of evolution (preferably quoting some major evolution textbook, or perhaps Encyclopedia Britannica—the 11th edition lists 8 evidences), showing that they presuppose a whole philosophy of nature which is not at all derived from “proofs” but from the intellectual climate of the age. (See, for example, the enclosed booklet, p. 67.) Here you should also have some quotes from evolutionists themselves showing how they realize that there is no actual coercive proof of evolution; but that it “makes more sense,” or “the alternative is unthinkable”—i.e. God’s creation; or other similar quotes. And when you thus quote evolutionists “against themselves,” as it were, you should be careful not to “pounce” on them and say “Aha, they disprove themselves”—but rather continue in a serene tone, not taking maximum advantage of their admissions—because you are going to let all their self-incriminating evidence speak for itself, until it piles up and at the end becomes absolutely self-evident, and then your own summation of this evidence will be very powerful!

And then, here is where you should give the intellectual “context” of evolution, but much more specific than your ch. II. It is too much for most readers to understand the whole movement of Humanism, etc.; besides which, they are still not disposed to think you are giving them the real story about it. It would be good to quote an authoritative, objective source at this point. So: enclosed find 5 pp. of quotes from a good textbook on modern “intellectual history.” The author is himself “modern” and believes in evolution, and so does not have your “prejudices”; yet he is quite precise and aware on the whole. These excerpts show accurately the change from the Newtonian mechanistic universe to, the evolutionary universe of our times. Some quotes like these, perhaps with a few comments in between, may be all you need to establish the “intellectual climate” in which evolution developed.

Now you are ready to enter the area of philosophy and theology: for the lack of strict scientific proof of evolution means that these questions basically are not scientific, but come from faith. At the same time you disengage yourself from the dead-end of trying to “disprove” evolution: by science it can be neither proved nor disproved; it is a question of a different order than science.

IV, V: I don’t know what or how much you planned to write on “Orthodox evolutionists” and Teilhard, but I think it might be possible to combine them in a single chapter called “Christian evolutionism.” (Rather in the same way that, in our “charismatic” article, we combined testimony from Protestant, Catholic, and Orthodox charismatics—both because the testimony of all groups reinforce each other, and because there is really no difference between them; so also, “Orthodox evolutionism” is exactly the same as “Catholic evolutionism.”) This also would give more punch to the section which I am compiling to follow the Patristic quotes, and which might be called, effectively I hope: “Latin Scholasticism: the Theological Foundation of‘Christian Evolutionism’.”

In such a chapter on “Christian evolutionism,” a basic thing to show will be that adding “God” to evolution does not at all change its basic philosophical-theological outlook and intent. God becomes a deus ex machina for saving evolution when the absurdity of believing in it without God, as a pure chance process, becomes too evident. Thus, quoting Dobzhansky and others, you can show how they believe in the same naturalistic universe, without God’s interference, as do the atheistic evolutionists: the denial of God’s Providence, etc.

As to the climax to this section: Teilhard de Chardin as extremely symptomatic of the “spirit of the age”—a “religious” thinker has come into fashion, favored even by Julian Huxley and the Soviet Union! (I’ll send some material from Russia on Teilhard.) You might look at Lecomte DuNo;y also, since the Greek Archdiocese article mentions him together with T. de Ñ.; I have a feeling it will be easier to find good quotes from him!

An important part of this “Christian evolutionism” chapter: quote T. de C. (the passage quoted by Dobzhansky at the end of his article) on evolution as absolutely “universal”—by this time the mere quoting of this passage will already show the reader how much such a view is dependent on simply absorbing the “spirit of the times.” This quote shows the blind faith of some “religious” figures in the latest current of scientific faith; and it offers an exact parallel (which you should by all means take advantage of!) to the blind faith of Alexander Pope in a different scientific faith: his adoration of Newton and his mechanical-deist universe of perfect order, which was mocked a century later by Voltaire in Candiele, a satire on the “best of all possible worlds” (the phrase is Leibniz’, but it sums up the faith of the whole 17th and 18th century philosophical “establishment”). Popes words are “jingly” and will catch your readers unawares and perhaps make them begin to see that one should not place so much faith in any scientific philosophy-faith.

Alexander Pope, “Essay on Man”:

All are but parts of one stupendous whole,
Whose body Nature is, and God the soul,...
All Nature is but Art, unknown to thee;
All chance, direction, which thou canst not see;
All discord, harmony not understood;
All partial evil, universal good:
And, spite of pride, in erring reasons spite,
One truth is clear, whatever is, is right.

And in another place in Popes works:

Nature and Natures laws lay hid in night:
God said, Let Newton be! and all was Light.

Voltaire mocked this philosophy because it had become out of date·, and thus your reader is warned, the suggestion is made: maybe evolution too is such a passing faith that will become out of date one day, or is already becoming so! And this inevitably happens if Christian philosophy accepts the philosophy of the “spirit of the age,” which comes and goes. In general it will be a good idea to contrast the Newtonian universe with the evolutionary: this contrast will give the reader probably all the intellectual “context” of evolution he needs, and in a very painless way, without forcing him to understand the whole history of modern thought. Many people simply aren’t aware that there has ever been a “science” that wasn’t “evolutionary,” and the contrast between Newton and evolution shows how one scientific theory gives way to the next. Thus you will undermine the scientific “faith” of your readers! (In our theological section, we will also be quoting St. Basil the Great and Fr. Michael Pomazansky on this subject.)

By the way, the thought occurs to me that the spiritual tone of Fundamentalism’s opposition to evolution is actually based more on the Newtonian universe than Christianity! Undoubtedly Archbishop Ussher was a convinced Newtonian!—you should look into that. The climax of the whole article will then be in presenting the Orthodox theology of creation—Adam, which is totally independent of all scientific fashions.

For Orthodoxy DOES NOT FOLLOW THE PHILOSOPHY OF THE AGE, rather Orthodoxy has its own philosophy based on Revelation. (The Holy Fathers have a complete theology of the origin of man and creation which) This Revelation is not bound up with any intellectual fashion that passes away. It is a doctrine not modified with every passing philosophy, not bound up with either the static universe of perfect harmony of Newton (which departed from Orthodoxy by making the universe purely naturalistic—and evolution is actually just the present philosophy of the naturalized universe divorced from God and His action), nor with the “developing” universe of T. de C. and other fashionable thinkers today. Orthodox philosophy is NOT OF THIS WORLD; but it is THE ANSWER to the vain speculations of modern man, and certainly the answer to a mankind filled with the “spiritual malaise” D. [Dostoyevsky] perceives.

Above all, the whole study should be as simple and as much to the point and as “objective” as possible. If one accepts the principle of objectivity, and believes in the Holy Fathers—then the whole study, even in a very low key, should gradually build itself up to a devastating and convincing conclusion.

By the way, in your “scientific” chapters I hope you have a good account of the “carbon dating system” and whatever “evidence” there is for “millions of years”; also, you must be prepared for answers in several points of the “history of mankind”—how do you explain Neanderthal Man, for example? (I’ve just found an Orthodox pamphlet on this subject, written 25 years ago, which views him as the descendant of Cain.)

We’ve received Fr. Neketas’ newest comments on evolution, where he tries to identify antievolutionism with the sectarian fringe. Why such pointless comments? One senses that he somehow feels unsafe on evolution, is somehow threatened by anti-evolutionism. Actually, he only confuses more those people who are already uncertain enough what to believe about evolution.

And then yesterday we received from the “Zion Orthodox Hermitage” a copy of the letter to Fr. Neketas which you had already showed us, together with an article which we hadn’t seen, called “The Creation Narrative.” Seeing the quote from St. Hippolytus on page 1, we looked forward to some patristic documentation. But alas, the author doesn’t come through with this, and he turns out to be quite vague on the whole subject himself! In the next to last paragraph of p. 2 he quite losses himself in wild “speculations” which are not only unscriptural (I’ve never heard of anyone who threw dinosaurs in before the six days of creation) but are also doctrinally unsound (the suggestion that there could have been evil in the visible creation before Adam’s transgression). In a word, the author is quite naive, and in his fear that “science might be right” about the “millions of years” he already has quite a lot in common with many present-day evolutionists. (Same viewpoint is in the enclosed booklet.) We look forward to your objective presentation of the proof or lack of it concerning the “age of the earth” and man.

It is time to get this out. Pray for us.

With love in Christ our Saviour,
Seraphim, monk

P.S. Why don’t you think of printing in a format something like the enclosed booklet? It could be “popular”! We could make the cover and give some other help.


Feb. 2/15, 1974
Meeting of the Lord

Dear Alexey—

Just a note to go with the Teilhard article—I think it was Sarah who sent it to us, but maybe it was you; in any case you might as well keep it in your “evolution” file. It is well done but, of course, “unpublishable,” as she says. Most people will just stop listening when they hear “fraud,” “conspiracy,” or anything like that. If you mention “fraud” in connection with Teilhard de Ch. it should be no more than a hint. Likewise Vatican II should be mentioned as little as possible in the “Christian evolution” section, as there are those who will leap at the opportunity to believe that you are of a “pre-Vatican II” mentality.

I suspect also that Sarah is overestimating Teilhard’s direct influence on the “New Christianity.” That phrase was coined (I think) by St. Simon 150 years ago, and much preparation was made for it before Teilhard. Probably T. appeared at just the right time to take advantage of the modernist current and make everyone start to think of it in connection with his name.

There are some good points for the “Christian philosophy” section on pp. 39-41.

Concerning your chapter on “Early Man”—very good! We will send it back shortly with a few comments. This is most of the “scientific” raw material you will need to support your conclusions on the “scientific” side of evolution. Only—where is the “fluorine dating system”? Isn’t that in fashion now?

This whole “book” on evolution seems to be piecing itself together very well—and its doubtless better this way than it would have been starting from a pre-conceived plan. Frankly, we had never even thought of some of the theological aspects which we have been uncovering now.

It would be good to have a quote from Charles Lyell or someone else from the period when the “immense antiquity” of man and the earth first “dawned” on men, to show precisely why they started thinking that way.

We look forward to your visit on March 1. Please pray for us.

With love in Christ,
Seraphim, monk


Monday, Feb. 19, 1974

Dear Sister in Christ, Nina,

Greetings in our Lord Jesus Christ.

From the sound of your letters, you are in need of an “epistle.” I really can’t give it, but being a like-minded American Orthodox dreamer, I must give you at least a paragraph or two.

Yes, the Church situation in San Francisco is gloomy, and you can’t even pretend that you “fit” into it. You can’t help but feel discouraged by this—and so here is where your virtue begins to be tested. You’re not about to relapse into being a “moody, immature convert”—but how strong is your positive attitude? You know that it is not “chance” that you are where you are, even though it may not be so much by deliberate plan, either. Perhaps you begin to think that deep down the whole thing is “crazy” after all? When such ideas arise, my favorite question is: What’s the alternative? Does anything else make sense? It doesn’t seem to. Then endure, and thank God that you are being tested.

In order not to be submerged by the petty “Church” world, YOU MUST BE LIVING IN A WORLD OF YOUR OWN—and that is the real Church world of ascetics, desert-dwellers, and all those “queer birds” who inspire and keep the spark alive inside us. Especially the desert-dwellers speak to us today, when the desert has all but been banished from the Church. Does that mean we think we can be like them? No, it just means that we love them and more than anything else we want to have even the tiniest reflection of their kind of life, if only God will have mercy on us and not destroy us in our sins, our self-opinion, and the rest of our darkness.

Thursday, Feb. 22

Since this letter was started we received your letter of joy on seeing a little light in your seemingly dark situation. Glory be to God for that! But don’t let it make you light-headed, as many trials are yet in store for you! Spiritually rejoice, and use God’s gifts to you for spiritual profit; but be prepared for whatever the devil will send you next. And rejoice also that you have trials, which prove that spiritual life still exists and that there is hope even for the wildest dream, if it is dreamed with real hope in God!

On Tuesday morning VI. A. himself paid us a surprise visit, together with our starets, Fr. Spy- ridon, and Deacon Nicholas Porshnikov. Glory be to God, we received Holy Communion, for which we are grateful to VI. But afterwards we had a talk—which revealed, despite our almost tearful entreaty, that he does not understand not only us, but any of the young idealistic priests or monks, and talks a totally different language, fitting everything into a set “Synodal” pattern. Alas, he will be presiding over empty parishes without priests in a very short time. How many of the young zealots will survive if such attitudes continue at the top? Nonetheless, precisely because the situation seems so hopeless, let us hope in the Lord and continue on the path God has given us—to love the desert- dwellers and keep the desert in our hearts.

Different subject: so you are a “peacemaker?” Where do you get your license? Don’t you realize that in such a role you will begin to get answers that the other party thinks you “expect”? If there are misunderstandings, it is better not to think you can “patch them up,” but rather just don’t get involved in them yourself. About the “Shroud,” Alexey just plain made a mistake, and he got it pretty hard from us for it too. The “Greeks” also made a mistake, however, in making such a big issue of this and beating people over the head just because they don’t agree with a certain opinion. That hurt Alexey, but it was also extremely good for him spiritually. At present he seems to be at peace with everyone as far as we can see. As for the angry exchange of letters with John Johnstone some months ago, we cant comment, not having seen them, but we know Alexey is upset at having written in this tone, but after all it is Dr. Johnstone who refuses to continue the correspondence, and not Alexey, who deep down is a very loving and meek and forgiving person. In the time ahead the devil will be using every chance to get true Orthodox Christians upset at each other over matter big and (mostly) small. We must firmly try not to take the bait, but [page ends]

This is already becoming too much of an “epistle” and much too “teachy.” Forgive me. Fr. Ephraim sends us the Troparia, and we already have Feb. and March. In his last letter Fr. E. asks if Alexey would be interested in receiving the service material from the Monastery, and I wrote back, definitely yes. We are sending Alexey Feb. and March, and presumably he will receive the rest from Boston.

Do you ever get to the UC Berkeley library? We have some research projects which we would love to give you!

Pray for us miserable sinners, who have the name of monks without the deeds.

With love in Christ,
Seraphim, monk

P.S. Marina the Starosta’s wife is my god-daughter, and in fact she married her husband with my blessing! Until a year or two ago we were on the best and closest terms, but since then something seems to have happened, as I haven’t heard a word from her, even in answer to my namesday greetings to her and her son Alexander, also my godson. Apparently something is cooking, very likely in connection with the fact that she is (or at least was) quite close to Sarah Hoffman. Speaking of whom, as a principle one must be very kind and forgiving of all converts, but at the same time one must realize that some of them can be “dangerous,” so watch out! Sarah seems to belong to this category—she is very friendly with you until she discovers that you hold some “dangerous” view, when she quite suddenly drops you with never a word, and what she says to others who can say? First she dropped Fr. Panteleimon, then when we defended him she dropped us, then when Alexey defended us she dropped him, etc. She also dragged Alexey’s name into her “heresy” epistle, which I’m afraid for the Boston Fathers to thinking Alexey was part of a plot against them, which he certainly wasn’t. All of this is supposed, not to make us upset, but to keep us sober and not to spread tales and rumors ourselves, or believe them. We suspect the tales about us in S.F. are something fantastic, and we are only thankful that we don’t hear most of them.


Jan. or Feb. 74

[Fragment of letter to Alexey Young, p. 3 only]:

Fr. P. mentioned a little the question of evolution (I didn’t mention your forthcoming article on the subject), enough for me to see his basic attitude and fears, I think. His concern about “fundamentalism” seems to stem from a fear that the Orthodox battle against evolutionism might get bogged down on the same level as the “supposed” scientific arguments for it, and there thus might be endless arguments on fossil evidence, the precise meaning of the “Six Days,” etc. He is of course right that our Orthodox approach to the subject should not be on the scientific but rather on the theological level; but I also gathered that he is not fully aware of the flimsiness of the “scientific” evidence in favor of evolutionism, which makes him perhaps over-cautious and fearful on the whole subject. Yes, we should keep our basic approach high and theological; but we can also blow up that “scientific” evidence which just doesn’t make sense and which is really the result of blind prejudice and false theologizing in the guise of science.

Just as we thought, Fr. P. does not read Deacon Levs mail and has been having difficulties being accused of holding views which Deacon Lev writes from the monastery!

Fr. Neketas announced in a recent bulletin that he was printing a letter on “evolution”—part of Fr. Ephraim’s letter to you! That really wouldn’t be wise, and Fr. P. when he heard of it put a stop to it. In general I found Fr. Panteleimon quite willing to listen on subjects about which he’s not fully informed, and open to changing his mind.

By this time you are probably a father again! May God bless the child’s first days and prosper him (her) all the days of his life. Pray for us.

With love in Christ our Saviour,
Seraphim, monk


Feb. 25/March 10, 1974
Second Sunday of Lent

Dear Brother in Christ, Alexey,

Greetings in our Lord Jesus Christ.

We received yesterday the long-awaited epistle of Dr. Kalomiros on “evolution”—40 pages long! I must confess that it is shocking beyond our expectations—giving the “evolutionary” teaching quite unadorned and unqualified, complete with the “evolved beast Adam” and “he who denies evolution denies the Sacred Scriptures.” In a way, however, we are rather glad of this—because now for the first time we have found a reputable Orthodox “evolutionist” who is willing to be quite frank about matters which others, I believe, are afraid to speak up about for fear of offending “weak consciences” which are under “Western influences.”

I have written him a short letter saying I wish to make a long and detailed reply to him and to start a “dialogue” with him on this subject. I believe that if we can answer him point by point, and raise the points he doesn’t mention, we can make the forthcoming publication a very powerful one.

I must confess to being rather disappointed in the tone of his letter, which is somewhat in the “elevated” tone of Fr. Ephraim, with repeated comments about “Western rationalists,” etc. However, he ends very nicely and begs us to tell him where he is wrong—so we must do this. Frankly, I would like to “convert” him completely. But God only knows what is possible, and how much his mind is still open. The most encouraging thing is that he, like us, regards the matter as extremely important, as opposed to those who think it’s unimportant and that everyone can believe as he wishes. With Dr. Kalomiros at last the real battle begins.

You can read the letter on your next visit (I’m beginning now on my reply to it, but in general this is my feeling about it (Father Herman hasn’t read it yet):

1. Patristically it is very weak. Very few Fathers are quoted, and the only really “evolutionary” quote is a passage from St. Gregory of Nyssa—a passage which I noted a few weeks ago, by the way, and thought at the time: “I’d better use this and explain it, because one who already believes in evolution will be sure to think it ‘proves evolution.’” It does not, of course—it is merely a general statement of the orderly progression of God’s creation from the lowest to the highest, with the most perfect creature, man, coming last. Nothing is said about man or any creature “evolving,” and in another part of the same book (“On the Creation of Man”) St. Gregory says explicitly that Adam was ««generated, but was created directly by Christ.

2. There is a long “theological” discourse on man’s nature, which is very partial and one-sided, but will require a solid answer with quotes from Holy Fathers—for evolution above all involves a false anthropology, doctrine of man.

3. It is quite obvious that Kalomiros has gone to the Fathers already knowing that evolution is a “fact.” He obviously has not given deep thought to examining the presuppositions of the “fact” of evolution, so we will have to challenge him to start thinking and not bring to the Holy Fathers his preconceptions based on modern Western “wisdom.”

4. He is very imprecise on the very meaning of the word “evolution”—he thinks the development from embryo to mature man is “evolution,” and that the existence of different races of men is due to “evolution.” Very naive.

5. The man is not a theologian, but reads the Fathers by hit and miss.

We are almost forced to a painful conclusion: the Greeks have lost the patristic tradition, and all their shouting about “Latin influence,” etc., is only an expression of their own uncertainty. They try to “reconstruct” the patristic tradition, but they have no living Fathers to guide them. Perhaps Father Theodoritos of Mt. Athos is more in the patristic tradition, but the impression becomes ever stronger that modern “Orthodox Greece” is theologically corrupt and disjointed, whereas the so- maligned Russian tradition kept the theological tradition intact.


We rejoice to hear the news of Felicity. May God ever protect her.

About the baptism: it is out of the question to get a priest to go anywhere on a weekend of Lent. Our priest was here last Tuesday (with Vladika Anthony), but cannot come again unto (hopefully) Pascha week. You would do best to go ahead with the plans for the baptism, and then leave it in God’s hands whether you can go to S.F. for Pascha also. If you cannot make it to S.F. for Pascha, you are welcome (all of you) to spend it with us here—we will be having services off and on from 2 a.m. Saturday morning to 2 a.m. Sunday morning. However, please don’t mention this possibility to anyone in S.F., as we have trouble enough already from people (who don’t know the Orthodox skete tradition) who call us “priesdess,” and if we invite people to share our “priestlessness,” it must be twice as bad! It would obviously be best for you to be able to receive Holy Communion at Pascha, but we will be here in case you can’t. (We ourselves follow the tradition of Russian desert-dwellers, which is not to leave the desert at Pascha, but either to have a priest come, or else go to the world shortly before or after the feast, when there are few people in church.)

Don’t be discouraged if the response to Nikodemos seems to diminish. That is “natural” once it ceases to be a novelty. Of course it’s difficult to know what the readers are thinking—but just go on giving what you think they need. We thought the issue was good, and the Kourdakov quotes indeed added a “punch.” I think we “explain” Sergei K. sufficiently in the new Orthodox Word (sent out yesterday); tell us what you think of it.

With love in Christ our Saviour,
Seraphim, monk

p.s. From Kalomiros’ letter it is obvious that as a part of the “scientific” part of our “evolution book” (as it now seems to become) there should be a discussion of what evolution is and what it isn't. In the patristic quotes I gave you there are good points from St. Basil on this—but it would be best to keep them in the final, theological section, and have a separate discussion of the same subject in the scientific section.


Feb. 25,1974B
Second Sunday of Great Lent
St. Gregory Palamas

Dear Dr. Kalomiros,

Greetings in our Lord Jesus Christ.

We have received your letter concerning “evolution,” for which we thank you very much. I have read it, trying, as you said, to remove all Western conceptions from my mind. I hope, if God gives me the strength, to study your points carefully and write you a very long and detailed reply before too long, but for the present I wish to say only a few things.

I myself have been searching the Holy Fathers for some time seeking to find out their teaching on the questions which are raised by “evolution.” I have been compiling a great many passages from their writings, including most of the passages which you quote in your letter. I have tried very hard not to project into these passages any “preconceived” opinions of my own, but I must acknowledge that my conclusions regarding the teaching of the Holy Fathers are quite different from yours. I believe that I can show you that some of your interpretations of the Holy Fathers are incomplete— that is, that you have presented only a part of their teaching and have overlooked other parts that are quite essential to the question. I would also like to present to you patristic texts on questions which you do not raise in your letter, but which I believe are also quite essential for understanding the questions raised by evolution.

I note also in your letter that your use of the term “evolution” is somewhat imprecise, and I would like to discuss this question also in some detail.

I agree with you that this subject is vital and extremely important. We have found very few people who are willing or able to think clearly in this subject, with the result that there is much confusion in the minds of Orthodox faithful concerning it. We are therefore very grateful to you for writing your views so clearly and outspokenly.

Like you, we also do not want to have merely “our own opinion” on this subject, but only wish to accept the teaching of the Holy Fathers. So far we have not found any “evolutionist” or “antievolutionist” who sets forth the real Orthodox teaching on this subject, and that is why we ourselves have been making research on it. The Protestant Fundamentalist objections to evolution are mostly superficial and rationalistic (as you yourself have noted), being based on an interpretation of the book of Genesis that comes from “common sense,” and not from the Holy Fathers.

We are not theologians (and I will tell you frankly that we distrust people who call themselves “theologians,” for almost all of them seem to us to be just academic rationalists) but we dearly love the Holy Fathers and wish to live by their teaching, and we sense that you do also. May it be that by this love, with the help of God and by the prayers of these Holy Fathers, we may now begin a “dialogue” with you that will bring us all to the true Patristic teaching and be of help also to others.

Everything that I write will be read and criticized by my co-laborer Father Herman, to whom I am in obedience, and we will try also to obtain the opinions of some of our Russian theologians whom we respect.

With love in Christ our Saviour,
Seraphim, monk .


March 2/15, 1974
Reigning Mother of God

Dear Brother in Christ, Alexey,

Greetings in our Lord Jesus Christ. I pray this has found you successfully laboring after three weeks of the fast. After the labor of fasting, what joy in the week of Pascha! (The services are also very short—how wise the Church is with our fallen nature!)

I have almost finished my “reply” to Dr. Kalomiros, and I think God has helped me to put all the Patristic material (or almost all) I have been collecting into a coherent presentation, and much more effectively than if I had gone ahead with the “sober and objective” presentation I had planned on. One of the Egyptian Elders once said to St. John Cassian (roughly!): “I’m glad you expressed this question so stupidly, because now I can clearly set forth the true doctrine.” Kalomiros has expressed “stupid evolutionism” so well (which other Greeks are afraid to do openly), that the reply to him almost writes itself. Although I know the Fathers only poorly, still their doctrine touching on “evolution” is so clear once one puts it all together, that I am simply amazed at the power “evolution” has over even educated Orthodox minds. Such is the power of this world and its fashionable ideas. I will send you a copy of my letter and Kalomiros’ letter also when I finish typing it—it is almost twice as long as Kalomiros’ letter to us and will probably be 40 printed pages!

Of course, now that I’ve done this I don’t quite know what relation this letter has to our projected book—which is absolutely necessary to get out! It may be that the book might be most effective precisely in this letter form, only somewhat revised and divided up into chapters, and with all your scientific and philosophical material entered at the appropriate places. (You will notice that I mention this material at various points of the letter without going into it, as the letter is almost entirely patristic.) Anyway, see what you think once you read the letter, and we will also see what Kalomiros replies—the letter is intended to really shake him up!

Of course, many people will be upset that the evolution question is “raised” again and not kept quiet—but we agree with Kalomiros that it should be raised and the true Patristic teaching set forth. There is something very unsound about wishing to keep “quiet” about a question which remains so confused in most Orthodox minds.

It may be that this “evolution book” may be the most controversial issue to erupt on the English-speaking Orthodox scene in many years, (but maybe not, I’m not a prophet). Therefore, and also because for maximum effectiveness it should come as a surprise and shock in the midst of our Orthodox complacency, please don’t mention my letter or the book to anyone. We haven’t mentioned them to anyone at all. Let it be our “secret” until we know better just how to attack.

And now other questions: Father Herman has written a letter today, which is going out in the same mail with this letter, to Vladika Anthony conveying your request to have the Baptism on Monday or Tuesday of Passion Week because of the fuel shortage. I don’t see why that couldn’t be done, as those days are not at all as busy for the priests as the last days of the week, and the Liturgy (Presanctified) is also celebrated on those days. But we’ll see what Vladika says. As I recall he is quite insistent that baptisms be performed in the morning, however, so that one receives Communion right after being baptized.

About Leslie [Salas] and the Jesus Prayer, we’ll try to collect our thoughts and give some suggestions before too long.

About Fr. Theodoritos’ attack on Fr. Panteleimon—since Fr. Ephraim has asked you for a copy, I suppose the decent thing is to make one for him. This whole quarrel among the Greek Old Calendarists is very unfortunate; besides involving personalities, which only clouds the issues, the real issues involved and very subtle and delicate ones which require much tact and patience and love, not theological and canonical tirades. It seems to us that much can be said for both sides, and both sides have made mistakes.

Pray for us. Today I hope to finish the last and most important section of the letter to Kalomiros, concerning the nature of man—on which Kalomiros has expressed something perilously close to Augustinianism, based on a very wrong interpretation of the words of St. Seraphim of Sarov!

With love in Christ our Saviour,
Seraphim, monk

P.S. It will probably be a week before I have the letter typed.


Fifth Week of Lent, 1974
[Mar. 2-9, approx.]

Dear Dr. Kalomiros,

Greetings in our Lord Jesus Christ.

At last I am writing my reply to your letter on "evolution." This reply expresses the view of our Brotherhood on this question. I will repeat to you that I have written this reply not as an "expert" on the Holy Fathers, but as a "lover" of the Holy Fathers, which I believe you are also. Most of the citations I have made here from the Holy Fathers I have translated from the Russian Patristic translations of the 19th century, with some also from the English translations of the 19th century which are printed in the "Eerdmans" Nicene Fathers Series. I have given the sources as fully as possible so that you can read them in Greek. I you have any questions about these or any other Patristic citations I will be glad to discuss them further with you. I am not at all concerned merely to find citations that "prove my point," and in fact you will notice that I have also included some citations which do not seem to "prove my point"—for I am interested first and only in finding how the Holy Fathers thought on these questions, for I believe that is the way we should think also. May Christ our God bless me to speak truthfully.


The question of "evolution" is an extremely important one for Orthodox Christians, for in it are involved many questions which directly affect our Orthodox doctrine and outlook: the relative worth of science and theology, of modern philosophy and» Patristic teaching; the doctrine of man (anthropology); our attitude toward the writings of the Holy Fathers (do we really take seriously their writings and try to live by them, or do we believe first of all in modern "wisdom," the wisdom of this world, and accept the teaching of the Holy Fathers only if it harmonizes with this "wisdom"?); our interpretation of the Holy Scriptures, and especially the book of Genesis. In what follows I will touch on all these subjects.

Before one begins to discuss the question of evolution, one must have a dear idea of what he is talking about. I say this because I have had very surprising experiences with very learned people who speak as if they knew all about this subject and yet they make very elementary mistakes which reveal that there is much that they do not know about it. In particular, almost everyone who writes about evolution assumes that he knows what "evolution" is—and yet what he says reveals that he has a very confused idea of it. The question of evolution is by no means a simple one, and there is so much confusion in people's minds about it—including the minds of most Orthodox Christians—that we cannot even talk about it until we are quite sure that we know what we are talking about.

You have asked us to "clear your mind very carefully of all Western conceptions, whether these are theological, philosophical, or scientific." I assure you that I have tried to do this, and throughout this letter I will constantly be on the watch not to think in terms of Western conceptions, because I agree with you that these conceptions falsify the subject matter, and by means of them one cannot understand the question of evolution. But in turn I ask you to try very carefully to cleanse your mind of whatever preconceptions about the question of evolution you may have—what you have learned in school, what you have read in scientific books, what you may think about "anti-evolutionists," what Greek theologians may have said about the subject. Let us try to reason together, not in the manner of Western rationalists, but as Orthodox Christians who love the Holy Fathers and wish to understand their teaching, and also as rational beings who do not accept the teaching of any modern "wise men," whether they be theologians or philosophers or scientists, unless that teaching accords with the Scriptural and Patristic teaching and does not come from some foreign philosophy.

1. First of all, I agree entirely with you when you say (p. 4): "You must not confuse pure science with the "different philosophical theories written to explain the facts discovered by science. Facts are one thing (pure science) and explanations of facts is another (philosophy)."

I must tell you first of all that at one time I believed entirely in evolution. I believed not because I had thought very much about this question, but simply because "everyone believes it," because it is a "fact," and how can one deny "facts"? But then I began to think more deeply on this question. I began to see that very often what calls itself "science" is not fact at all, but philosophy, and I began very carefully to distinguish between scientific facts and scientific philosophy. After many years I came to the following conclusions:

a. Evolution is not "scientific fact" at all, but philosophy.

b. It is a false philosophy which was invented in the West as a reaction against Roman Catholic-Protestant theology, and which disguised itself as "science" in order to make itself respectable and deceive people who are willing to accept scientific fact. (In the West almost all modern errors do this same thing; even "Christian Science" claims to be "scientific," so also Spiritism, various Hindu cults, etc.)

c. It is contrary to the teaching of the Holy Fathers on very many points.

I have deliberately given you my conclusions before explaining them to you, in order to make you stop and think: are you sure that you have put away all your preconceptions about evolution and are prepared to think clearly and dispassionately on this subject? Are you willing to admit that there may be some truth in what I will now have to say on this subject? I must tell you frankly that most "evolutionists" will stop at this point and say: this man is crazy, he is denying facts. I am trusting that your mind is at least open enough to read the rest of what I will say, which I try to base entirely on the Holy Fathers. If I make mistakes, I hope that you will tell me.

2. Many of the arguments between "evolutionists" and "anti-evolutionists" are useless, for one basic reason: they are usually not arguing about the same thing. Each one of them means one thing when he hears the word "evolution," and the other means something else·, and they argue in vain because they are not even talking about the same thing. Therefore, in order to be precise, I will tell you exactly what I mean by the word "evolution," which is the meaning it has in all textbooks of evolution. But first I must show you that in your letter you have used the word "evolution" to mean two entirely different things, but you write as it they were the same thing. You have failed here to distinguish between scientific fact and philosophy.

a. You write (p. 2): "The first chapters of the Holy Bible are nothing else but the history of creation progressing and being completed in time... Creation did not come into being instantly, but followed a sequence of appearances, a development in six different ‘days.’ How can we call this progress of Creation in time if not evolution?"

I answer: all that you say is true, and if you wish you can call this process of creation "evolution"—but this is not what the controversy over evolution is about. All scientific textbooks define evolution as a specific theory concerning HOW creatures came to be in time: BY MEANS OF THE TRANSFORMATION OF ONE KIND OF CREATURE INTO ANOTHER, "COMPLEX FORMS BEING DERIVED FROM SIMPLER FORMS" IN A NATURAL PROCESS TAKING COUNTLESS MILLIONS OF YEARS (Storer, General Zoology). Later on, when you talk about the "evolved beast" Adam, you reveal that you believe in this specific scientific theory also., I hope to show you that the Holy Fathers did not believe in this specific scientific theory, even though this is certainly not the most important aspect of the doctrine of evolution, which more fundamentally is in error concerning the nature of man, as I will show below.

b. You say (p. 4): "We all came into being by evolution in time. In our mothers uterus each one of us was at first one single cell organism...and finally a perfect man." Of course everyone believes this, whether he is an "evolutionist" or an "anti-evolutionist." But this has nothing to do with the doctrine of evolution which is being disputed.

c. Again you say (p. 27): "Adam was of which race, white, negro, red, or yellow? How did we become so different from one another when we are descendants of one single couple? Is this differentiation of man in different races not a product of evolution?"

I answer again: No, this is not what the word "evolution" means! There are very many books in the English language which discuss the question of evolution from a scientific point of view. Perhaps you do not know that many scientists deny the fact of evolution (meaning the derivation of all existing creatures by transformation from other creatures), and very many scientists state that it is impossible to know by science whether evolution is true or not, because there is no evidence whatever that can conclusively prove or disprove it. If you wish, in another letter I can discuss with you the "scientific evidence" for evolution. I assure you that if you look at this evidence objectively, without any preconceptions about what you will find in it, you will discover that there is not one piece of evidence for evolution that cannot be explained by a theory of "special creation."

Please by very clear that I am not telling you that I can disprove the theory of evolution by science; I am only telling you that the theory of evolution can neither be proved not disproved by science. Those scientists who say that evolution is a "fact" are actually interpreting the scientific facts in accordance with a philosophical theory, those who say that evolution is not a fact are likewise interpreting the evidence in accordance with a different philosophical theory. By pure science alone it is not possible conclusively to prove or disprove the "fact" of evolution.

You should also know that many books have likewise been written about "the difficulties of the evolutionary theory." If you wish, I will be glad to discuss with you some of these difficulties, which seem to be totally unexplainable if evolution is a "fact."

3. I wish to make very clear to you: I do not at all deny the fact of change and development in nature. That a full-grown man grows from an embryo; that a great tree grows from a small acorn; that new varieties of organisms are developed, whether the "races" of men or different kind of cats and dogs and fruit trees—but all of this is not evolution·, it is only variation within a definite kind of species; it does not prove or even suggest (unless you already believe this for non-scientific reasons) that one kind or species develops into another and that all present creatures are the product of such a development from one or a few primitive organisms). I believe that this is clearly the teaching of St. Basil the Great in the Hexaemeron, as I will now point out.

In Homily V:7 of the Hexaemeron, St. Basil writes: "Let no one, therefore, who is living in vice despair of himself, knowing that, as agriculture changes the properties of plants, so the diligence of the soul in the pursuit of virtue can triumph over all sorts of infirmities." No one, "evolutionist" or "anti-evolutionist," will deny that the "properties" of creatures can be changed; but this is not a proof of evolution unless it can be shown that one kind of species can be changed into another, and even more, that every species changes into another in an uninterrupted chain back to the most primitive organism. I will show below what St. Basil says on this subject.

Again St. Basil writes (Hexaemeron, V, 5):

"How then, they say, does the earth bring forth seeds of the particular kind, when, after sowing grain, we frequently gather this black wheat? This is not a change to another kind, but as it were some disease and defect of the seed. It has not ceased to be wheat, but has been made black by burning." This passage would seem to indicate that St. Basil does not believe in a "change to another kind"—but I do not accept this as conclusive proof, since I wish to know what St. Basil really teaches, and not make my own arbitrary interpretation of his words. All that can really be said of this passage is that St. Basil recognizes some kind of a "change" in the wheat which is not a "change to another kind." This kind of change is not evolution.

Again, St. Basil writes (Hexaemeron, V, 7): "Certain men have already observed that, if pines are cut down or burned, they are changed into oak forests." This quote really proves nothing, and I use it only because it has been used by others to show that St. Basil believed (1) that one kind of creature actually changes into another (but I will show below what St. Basil actually teaches on this subject); and (2) that St. Basil made scientific mistakes, since this statement is untrue. Here I should state an elementary truth: modern science, when it deals with scientific facts, does indeed usually know more than the Holy Fathers, and the Holy Fathers can easily make mistakes of scientific facts; it is not scientific facts which we look for in the Holy Fathers, but true theology and the true philosophy which is based on theology. Yet in this particular case it happens that St. Basil is scientifically correct, because it often in fact happens that in a pine forest there is strong undergrowth of oak (the forest in which we live, in fact, is a similar kind of mixed pine-oak forest), and when the pine is removed by burning the oak grows rapidly and produces the change from a pine to an oak forest in 10 or 15 years. This is not evolution, but a different kind of change, and I will now show that St. Basil could not have believed that the pine is actually transformed or evolved into an oak.

Let us see now what St. Basil believed about the "evolution" or "fixity" of species. He writes:

"There is nothing truer than this, that each plant either has seed or there exists in it some generative power. And this accounts for the expression ‘of its own kind.’ For the shoot of the reed is not productive of an olive tree, but from the reed comes another reed; and from seeds spring plants related to the seeds sown. Thus, what was put forth by the earth in its first generation has been preserved until the present time, since the species persisted through constant reproduction." (Hexaemeron, V, 2.)

Again, St. Basil writes:

"The nature of existing objects, set in motion by one command, passes through creation without change, by generation and destruction, preserving the succession of the species through resemblance, until it reaches the very end. It begets a horse as the successor of a horse, a lion of a lion, and an eagle of an eagle; and it continues to preserve each of the animals by uninterrupted successions until the consummation of the universe. No length of time causes the specific characteristics of the animals to be corrupted or extinct, but, as if established just recently, nature, ever fresh, moves along with time." (Hexaemeron, DC, 2.)

It seems quite clear that St. Basil did not believe that one kind of creature is transformed into another, much less that every creature now existing was evolved from some other creature, and so on back to the most primitive organism. This is a modern philosophical idea.

I should tell you that I do not regard this question as being of particular importance in itself; I shall discuss below other much more important questions. If it were really a scientific fact that one kind of creatures can be transformed into another kind, I would have no difficulty believing it, since God can do anything, and the transformations and developments we can see now in nature (an embryo becoming a man, an acorn becoming an oak tree, a caterpillar becoming a butterfly) are so astonishing that one could easily believe that one species could "evolve" into another. But there is no conclusive scientific proof that such a thing has ever happened, much less that this is the law of the universe, and everything now living derives ultimately from some primitive organism. The Holy Fathers quite clearly did not believe in any such theory—because the theory of evolution was not invented until modem times. It is a product of the modern Western mentality, and if you wish I can show you later how this theory developed together with the course of modern philosophy from Descartes onward, long before there was any "scientific proof" for it. The idea of evolution is entirely absent from the text of Genesis, according to which each creature is generated "according to its kind," not "one changing into another." And the Holy Fathers, as I will show below in detail, accepted the text of Genesis quite simply, without reading into it any "scientific theories" or allegories.

Now you will understand why I do not accept your quotations from St. Gregory of Nyssa about the "ascent of nature from the least to the perfect" as a proof of evolution. I believe, as the sacred Scripture of Genesis relates, that there was indeed an orderly creation in steps; but nowhere in Genesis or in the writings of St. Gregory of Nyssa is it stated that one kind of creature was transformed into another kind, and that all creatures came to be in this manner! I quite disagree with you when you say: "Creation is described in the first chapter of Genesis exactly as modern science describes it" (p. 4). If by "modern science" you mean evolutionary science, then I believe you are mistaken, as I have indicated. You have made a mistake by assuming that the kind of development described in Genesis, in St. Gregory of Nyssa and in other Fathers, is the same as that described by the doctrine of evolution; but such a thing cannot be assumed or taken for granted—you must prove it, and I will gladly discuss with you later the "scientific proof" for and against evolution, if you wish. The development of creation according to God’s plan is one thing; the modern scientific (but actually philosophical) theory which explains this development by the transformation of one kind of creature into another, starting from one or a few primitive organisms, is quite a different thing. The Holy Fathers did not hold this modern theory; if you can show me that they did hold such a theory, I will be glad to listen to you.

If, on the other hand, by "modern science" you mean science which does not bind itself to the philosophical theory of evolution, I still disagree with you; and I will show below why I believe, according to the Holy Fathers, that modern science cannot attain to any knowledge at all of the Six Days of Creation. In any case, it is very arbitrary to identify the geological strata with "periods of creation." There are numerous difficulties in the way of this naive correspondence between Genesis and science. Does "modern science" really believe that the grass and trees of the earth existed in a long geological period before the existence of the sun, which was created only on the Fourth Day? I believe you are making a serious mistake in binding up your interpretation of Holy Scripture with a particular scientific theory (not at all a "fact"). I believe that our interpretation of Holy Scripture should be bound up with no scientific theory, neither "evolutionary" nor any other. Let us rather accept the Holy Scriptures as the Holy Fathers teach us (about which I will write below), and let us not speculate about the how of creation. The doctrine of evolution is a modern speculation about the how of creation, and in many respects it contradicts the teaching of the Holy Fathers, as I shall show below.

Of course I accept your quotations from St. Gregory of Nyssa; I have found others similar to them in other Holy Fathers. I will certainly not deny that our nature is partly an animal nature, nor that we are bound up with the whole of creation, which is indeed a marvelous unity. But all this has nothing whatever to do with the doctrine of evolution, that doctrine which is defined in all textbooks as the derivation of all presently-existing creatures from one or more primitive creatures through a process of the transformation of one kind of species into another.

Further, you should realize (and now I begin to approach the important teachings of the Holy Fathers on this subject) that St. Gregory of Nyssa himself quite explicitly did not believe in anything like the modern doctrine of evolution, for he teaches that the first man Adam was indeed created directly by God and was not generated like all other men. In his book Against Eunomius he writes:

"The first man, and the man born from him, received their being in a different way; the latter by copulation, the former from the molding of Christ Himself, and yet, though they are thus believed to be two, they are inseparable in the definition of their being, and are not considered as two beings.... The idea of humanity in Adam and Abel does not vary with the difference of their origin, neither the order nor the manner of their coming into existence making any difference in their nature." (Against Eunomius, I, 34)

And again:

"That which reasons, and is mortal, and is capable of thought and knowledge, is called ‘man’ equally in the case of Adam and Abel, and this name of the nature is not altered either by the fact that Abel passed into existence by generation, or by the fact that Adam did so without generation" (Answer to Eunomius, Second Book, p. 299 in the English "Eerdmans" edition.)

Of course I agree with the teaching of St. Athanasius which you quote (p. 35), that "the first- created man was made of dust like everyone, and the hand which created Adam then, is creating now also and always those who come after him." How can anyone deny this obvious truth of Gods continuous creative activity? But this general truth does not at all contradict the specific truth that the first man was made in a way different from all other men, as other Fathers also clearly teach. Thus, St. Cyril of Jerusalem calls Adam "God’s first-formed man," but Cain "the first -born man" (Catechetical Lectures, 7). Again, he teaches clearly, discussing the creation of Adam, that Adam was not conceived of another body. "That of bodies bodies should be conceived, even if wonderful, is nevertheless possible; but that the dust of the earth should become a man, this is more wonderful" (Catechetical Lectures, XII, 30).

Yet, again, the divine Gregory the Theologian writes:

"They who make ‘Unbegotten and ‘Begotten natures of equivocal Gods would perhaps make Adam and Seth differ in nature, since the former was not born of flesh (for he was created), but the latter was born of Adam and Eve." (Oration on the Holy Lights, XII).

And the same Father says even more explicitly:

"What of Adam? Was he not alone the direct creature of Go åé Yes, you will say. Was he then the only human being? By no means. And why, but because humanity does not consist in direct creation? For that which is begotten is also human." (Third Theological Oration, "On the Son," ch. XI.)

And St. John Damascene, whose theology gives concisely the teaching of all the early Fathers writes:

"The earliest formation (of man) is called ‘creation and not ‘generation.’ For ‘creation is the original formation at God’s hands, while ‘generation is the succession from each other made necessary by the sentence of death imposed on us on account of the transgression." (On the Orthodox Faith, II, 30.)

And what of Eve? Do you not believe that, as the Scripture and Holy Fathers teach, she was made from Adam’s rib and was not born of some other creature? But St. Cyril writes:

"Eve was begotten of Adam, and not conceived of a mother, but as it were brought forth of man alone." (Catechetical Lectures, XII, 29.)

And St. John Damascene, comparing the Most Holy Mother of God with Eve, writes:

"Just as the latter was formed from Adam without connection, so also did the former bring forth the new Adam, who was brought forth in accordance with the laws of parturition and above the nature of generation." (On the Orthodox Faith, IV, 14.)

It would be possible to quote other Holy Fathers on this subject, but I will not do so unless you question this point. But with all of this discussion I have not yet come to the most important questions raised by the theory of evolution, and so I shall now turn to some of them.

4. In what I have written about Adam and Eve, you will note that I quoted Holy Fathers who interpret the text of Genesis in a way that might be called rather "literal." Am I correct in supposing that you would like to interpret the text more "allegorically" when you say (p. 34) that to believe in the immediate creation of Adam by God is "a very narrow conception of the Sacred Scriptures"? This is an extremely important point, and I am truly astonished to find that "Orthodox evolutionists" do not at all know how the Holy Fathers interpret the book of Genesis. I am sure you will agree with me that we are not free to interpret the Holy Scriptures as we please, but we must interpret them as the Holy Fathers teach us. I am afraid that not all who speak about Genesis and evolution pay attention to this principle. Some people are so concerned to combat Protestant Fundamentalism that they go to extreme lengths to refute anyone who wishes to interpret the sacred text of Genesis "literally"; but in so doing they never refer to St. Basil or other commentators on the book of Genesis, who state quite clearly the principles we are to follow in interpreting the sacred text. I am afraid that many of us who profess to follow the Patristic tradition are sometimes careless, and easily fall into accepting our own "wisdom" in place of the teaching of the Holy Fathers. I firmly believe that the whole world outlook and philosophy of life for an Orthodox Christian may be found in the Holy Fathers', if we will listen to their teaching instead of thinking we are wise enough to teach others from our own "wisdom," we will not go astray.

And now I ask you to examine with me the very important and fundamental question: how do the Holy Fathers teach us to interpret the book of Genesis? Let us put away our preconceptions about "literal" or allegorical" interpretations, and let us see what the Holy Fathers teach us about reading the text of Genesis.

We cannot do better than to begin with St. Basil himself, who has written so inspiringly of the Six Days of Creation. In the Hexaemeron he writes:

"Those who do not admit the common meaning of the Scriptures say that water is not water, but some other nature, and they explain a plant and a fish according to their opinion. They describe also the production of reptiles and wild animals, changing it according to their own notions, just like the dream interpreters, who interpret for their own ends the appearances seen in their dreams. When I hear ‘grass,’ I think of grass, and in the same manner I understand everything as it is said, a plant, a fish, a wild animal, and an ox. "Indeed, ‘I am not ashamed of the Gospel’.... Since Moses left unsaid, ' as useless for us, things in no way pertaining to us, shall we for this reason believe that the words of the Spirit are of less value than the foolish wisdom (of those who have written about the world)? Or shall I rather give glory to Him Who has not kept our mind occupied with vanities but has ordained that all things be written for the edification and guidance of our souls? This is a thing of which they seem to me to have been unaware, who have attempted by false arguments and allegorical interpretations to bestow on the Scripture a dignity of their own imagining. But theirs is the attitude of one who considers himself wiser than the revelations of the Spirit and introduces his own ideas in pretense of an explanation. Therefore, let it be understood as it has been written." (Hexaemeron, DC, 1).

Clearly, St. Basil is warning us to beware of "explaining away" things in Genesis which are difficult for our common sense to understand; it is very easy for the "enlightened" modem man to do this, even if he is an Orthodox Christian. Let us therefore try all the harder to understand the sacred Scripture as the Fathers understand it, and not according to our modern "wisdom." And let us not be satisfied with the views of one Holy Father; let us examine the views of other Holy Fathers as well.

One of the standard Patristic commentaries on the book of Genesis is that of St. Ephraim the Syrian. His views are all the more important for us in that he was an "Easterner" and knew the Hebrew language well. Modern scholars tell us that "Easterners" are given to "allegorical" interpretations, and that the book of Genesis likewise must be understood in this way. But let us see what St. Ephraim says in his commentary on Genesis:

"No one should think that the Creation of Six Days is an allegory; it is likewise impermissible to say that what seems, according to the account, to have been created in the course of six days, was created in a single instant, and likewise that certain names presented in this account either signify nothing, or signify something else. On the contrary, one must know that just as the heaven and the earth which were created in the beginning are actually the heaven and the earth and not something else understood under the names of heaven and earth, so also everything else that is spoken of as being created and brought into order after the creation of heaven and earth is not empty names, but the very essence of the created natures corresponds to the force of these names." (Commentary on Genesis, ch. I.)

These are still, of course, general principles; let us look now at several specific applications by St. Ephraim of these principles.

"Although both the light and the clouds were created in the twinkling of an eye, still both the day and the night of the first day continued for 12 hours each." (Ibid.)


"When in the twinkling of an eye (Adams) rib was taken out and likewise in an instant the flesh took its place, and the bare rib took on the complete form and all the beauty of a woman, then God led her and presented her to Adam." (Ibid.)

It is quite clear that St. Ephraim reads the book of Genesis "as it is written"; when he hears "the rib of Adam" he understands "the rib of Adam," and does not understand this as an allegorical way of saying something else altogether. Likewise he quite explicitly understands the Six Days of Creation to be just six days, each with 24 hours, which he divides into an "evening" and "morning" of 12 hours each.

I have deliberately taken the "simple" commentary on Genesis of St. Ephraim the Syrian, before quoting other more "mystical" commentaries, because this "simple" understanding of Genesis is the most offensive to the "enlightened" modern mind. I suspect that most Orthodox Christians who are not well read in the Holy Fathers will immediately say: "This is too simple! We know more than that now. Give us more sophisticated Fathers." Alas for our modern "wisdom"—there are no more "sophisticated" Fathers, for even the most "mystical" Fathers understand the text of Genesis in just the ‘‘simple" way St. Ephraim does! Those who wish more "sophistication" in the Holy Fathers are under the influence of modern Western ideas which are entirely foreign to the Holy Fathers of the Orthodox Church. But I will have to show this by quoting many Holy Fathers.

Let us examine now specifically the question of the "length" of the Six Days of Creation. I believe that this is still a question of secondary importance among those raised by the theory of evolution, but it certainly will not hurt us to know what the Holy Fathers thought of this, all the more so because here we will begin to glimpse the great difference which exists between the modern Western I idea of creation, and the Patristic idea of creation. No matter how we understand them, these "Days" are quite beyond the comprehension of us who know only the corrupt "days" of our fallen world; how can we even imagine those Days when God’s creative power was mightily at work? Blessed Augustine well says (unless you refuse to accept anything he wrote!): "What kind of days these were is very difficult for us to conceive, or even completely impossible; and all the more impossible is it to speak of this." (City of God, XI, 6).

The Holy Fathers themselves do not seem to speak much about this question, doubtless because for them it was not a problem. It is a problem for modern men chiefly because they try to understand God’s creation by means of the laws of nature of our fallen world. It seems to be assumed by the Fathers that those Days, in duration, were not unlike the days we know, and some of them indeed specify that they were 24 hours in length, as does St. Ephraim. But there is one thing about these Days which it is most important for us to understand, and that concerns what you have written about whether God created "instantly."

You write (p. 33): "Since God created time, to create something ‘instantly‘ would be an act contrary to His own decision and will.... When we speak about the creation of stars, plants, animals and man we do not speak about miracles—we do not speak about the extraordinary interventions of God in creation but about the ‘natural’ course of creation." I wonder if you are not substituting here some "modern wisdom" for the teaching of the Holy Fathers? What is the beginning of all things but a miracle? I have already showed you that St. Gregory of Nyssa, St. Cyril of Jerusalem, St·, Gregory the Theologian, and St. John Damascene (and indeed all the Fathers) teach that the first man Adam appeared in a way different from the natural generation of all other men·, likewise the first creatures, according to the sacred text of Genesis, appeared in a way different from all their descendants: they appeared not by natural generation but by the word of God The modern theory of evolution denies this, because the theory of evolution was invented by unbelievers who wished to deny God’s action in creation and explain the creation by "natural" means alone. Do you not see what philosophy is behind the theory of evolution?

What do the Holy Fathers say about this? I have already quoted St. Ephraim the Syrian whose whole Commentary on Genesis describes how all God’s creative acts are done in an instant, even though the whole "Days" of creation last for 24 hours each. Let us now see what St. Basil the Great says about God’s creative acts in the Six Days.

In speaking of the Third Day of Creation, St. Basil says:

"At this saying all the dense woods appeared; all the trees shot up.... Likewise, all the shrubs were immediately thick with leaf and bushy; and the so-called garland plants...all came into existence in a moment of time, although they were not previously upon the earth." (.Hexaemeron, V, 6.)

Again, he says:

‘"Let the earth bring forth.’ This brief command was immediately mighty nature and an elaborate system which brought to perfection more swiftly than our thought the countless properties of plants." (Hexaemeron, V, 10.)

Again, on the Fifth Day:

"The command came. Immediately rivers were productive and marshy lakes were fruitful of species proper and natural to each." (Hexaemeron, VII, 1.)

Likewise, St. John Chrysostom, in his commentary on Genesis, teaches:

"Today God goes over to the waters and shows us that from them, by His word and command, there proceeded animate creatures. What mind, tell me, can understand this miracle? What tongue will be able worthily to glorify the Creator? He said only: ‘Let the earth bring forth’—and immediately He aroused it to bear fruit... As of the earth He said only: ‘Let it bring forth’—and there appeared a great variety of flowers, grasses, and seeds, and everything occurred by His word alone·, so also here He said: ‘Let the waters bring forth’... and suddenly there appeared so many kinds of creeping things, such a variety of birds, that it is impossible even to enumerate them with words." (Homilies on Genesis, VII, 3.)

Here I will repeat: I believe that modern science in most cases knows more than St. Basil, St. John Chrysostom, St. Ephraim, and other Fathers about the properties of fishes and such specific scientific facts; no one will deny this. But who knows more about the way in which God acts: modern science, which is not even sure that God exists, and in any case tries to explain everything without Him; or these God-bearing Holy Fathers? When you say that God does not create instantly, I believe that you are giving the teaching of modern "wisdom," not the teaching of the Holy Fathers.

Of course, there is a sense in which it is true that God’s creation is not the work of an instant; but here also the Fathers are quite precise in their teaching. I have quoted St. Ephraim, who says: "It is likewise impermissible to say that what seems, according to the account, to have been created in the course of six days, was created in a single instant." With this in mind, let us look at the passage you have quoted from St. Gregory of Nyssa: "Man was created last after the plants and animals because nature follows a path which leads gradually to perfection." "It is as if by steps that nature makes its ascent in life properties from the least to the perfect." In quoting these passages, you have tried to understand them in the sense of the modern doctrine of evolution. But certainly it is not proper to read into these ancient texts the conclusions of modern philosophy! Here St. Gregory of Nyssa is surely teaching nothing different from what many other Fathers taught, based on a very "literal" understanding of Genesis.

Thus, St. Gregory the Theologian teaches, when he, like St. Ephraim also states that the creation is not "instantaneous":

"To the days (of creation) is added a certain firstness, secondness, thirdness, and so on to the seventh day of rest of works, and by these days is divided all that is created, being brought into order by unutterable laws, but not produced in an instant by the Almighty Word, for Whom to think or to speak means already to perform the deed. If man appeared in the world last, honored by the handiwork and image of God, this is not in the least surprising; since for him, as for a king, the royal dwelling had to be prepared and only then was the king to be led in, accompanied by all creatures." (Homily 44, "On New Week, Spring, and the Commemoration of the Martyr Mamas.")

Again, St. John Chrysostom teaches:

"The Almighty right hand of God and His limitless wisdom would have had no difficulty in creating everything in a single day. And what do I say, in a single day?—in a single instant. But since He created everything that exists not for His own benefit, because He needs nothing, being All-sufficient unto Himself, on the contrary He created everything in His love of mankind and goodness, and so He creates in parts and offers us by the mouth of the blessed Prophet a clear teaching of what is created so that we, having found out about this in detail, would not fall under the influence of those who are drawn away by human reasoning's.... And why, you will say, was man created afterwards, if he surpassed all these creatures? For a good reason. When a king intends to enter a city, his armsbearers and others must go ahead, so that the king might enter chambers already prepared for him. Precisely thus did God now, intending to place as it were a king and master over everything earthly, at first arrange all this adornment, and only then did He create the master." (Homilies on Genesis, III, 3; VIII, 2)

Thus the Patristic teaching is clearly that God, although He could have created everything instantly, chose instead to create it in stages of increasing perfection, each stage being the work of an instant or a very short time, culminating in the creation of man, the king of creation; and the whole work is completed, neither in an instant not in an indefinitely long time, but as it were a mean between these two extremes, precisely in six days.

St. Ephraim and St. John Chrysostom, in their commentaries on Genesis, clearly regard God’s creation as being the work of six "literal" days, on each one of which God creates "immediately" and "instantly." And St. Basil the Great also, contrary to a widespread belief of "Christian evolutionists," viewing God’s creations as "immediate" and "sudden," regarded the Six Days as being precisely of 24 hours duration; for he says, regarding the First Day:

"‘There was evening and morning.’ This means the space of a day and a night.... ‘And there was evening and morning, one day.’ Why did he say ‘one’ and not ‘first’?... He said one’ because he was defining the measure of day and night and combining the time of a night and a day, since the 24 hours fill up the interval of one day, if, of course, night is understood with day." (Hexaemeron, II, 8.)

But even St. Gregory the Theologian, this most "contemplative" of Fathers, believed precisely the same thing, for he says:

"Just as the first creation begins with Sunday (and this is evident from the fact that the seventh day after it is Saturday, because it is the day of repose from works), so also the second creation begins again with the same day," i.e., the day of Resurrection (Homily 44, "On New Week...")

And again the Theologian says, giving the Patristic view of the kind of world into which Adam was placed:

"The Word, having taken a part of the newly-created earth, with His Immortal hands formed my image..." (Homily 7, "On the Soul.")

As I have said, I do not regard this question as one of the first importance in discussing the question of evolution; but it is nevertheless quite symptomatic of the influence of modern philosophy on them, that "Christian evolutionists" are so anxious to reinterpret these Six Days so as not to appear foolish before the "wise men" of this world, who have "proved scientifically" that whatever "creation" there was took place over coundess millions of years. Most importantly, the reason why "Christian evolutionists" have such difficulty believing in the Six Days of creation, which gave no problem to the Holy Fathers, is because they do not understand what happened in those Six Days: they believe that long natural processes of development were going on, according to the laws of our present corrupt world: but in actual fact, according to the Holy Fathers, the nature of that first-created world was quite different from our world, as I will show below.

Let us look now more closely at another basic Patristic commentary on the book of Genesis, that of St. John Chrysostom. You will note that I am not quoting obscure or dubious Fathers, but only the very pillars of Orthodoxy, in whom our whole Orthodox teaching is the most clearly and divinely expressed. In him once again we find no "allegory" at all, but only the strict interpretation of the text as it is written. Like the other Fathers, he tells us that Adam was formed literally from dust, and Eve literally from Adams rib. He writes:

"If the enemies of truth will insist that it is impossible to produce something from what is non-existent, we will ask them: Was the first man created from earth, or not? Without doubt they will agree with us and say, Yes, from earth. Then let them tell us, how was flesh formed from earth? From earth there can be dirt, bricks, clay, tile: but how was flesh produced? How were bones, nerves, sinews, fat, skin, nails, hair (produced)? How, from the single material at hand, are there so many things of different qualities? To this they cannot even open their mouths (to reply)." (.Homilies on Genesis, XV, 4.)

And again, St. Chrysostom writes:

"God took a single rib, it is said: but how from this single rib did He form a whole creature? Tell me, how did the taking of the rib occur? How did Adam not feel this taking? You can say nothing about this; this is known by Him Who created.... God did not produce a new creation, but taking from an already existing creation a certain small part, from this part He made a whole creature. What power the Highest Artist God has, to produce from this small part (a rib) the composition of so many members, make so many organs of sense, and form a whole, perfect, and complete being." (Homilies on Genesis, XV, 2-3.)

If you wish, I can quote many other passages from this work, showing that St. John Chrysostom—is he not the chief Orthodox interpreter of Sacred Scripture?—everywhere interprets the sacred text of Genesis as it is written, believing that it was nothing else than an actual serpent (through whom the devil spoke) who tempted our first parents in Paradise, that God actually brought all the animals before Adam for him to name, and "the names which Adam gave them remain even until now" (Homily XIV, 5). (But according to evolutionary doctrine, many animals were extinct by the time of Adam—must we then believe that Adam did not name "all the wild beasts" (Gen. 2:19) but only the remnant of them?) St. Chrysostom says, when speaking of the rivers of Paradise:

"Perhaps one who loves to speak from his own wisdom here also will not allow that the rivers are actually rivers, nor that the waters are precisely waters, but will instil in those who allow themselves to listen to them, that they (under the names of rivers and waters) represented something else. But I entreat you, let us not pay heed to these people, let us stop up our hearing against them, and let us believe the Divine Scripture, and following what is written in it, let us strive to preserve in our souls sound dogmas." (Homilies on Genesis, XIII, 4.)

Is there need to quote more from this divine Father? Like St. Basil and St. Ephraim he warns us:
"Not to believe what is contained in the Divine Scripture, but to introduce something else from one's own mind—this, I believe, subjects those who hazard such a thing great danger." (Homilies on Genesis, XIII, 3.)

Before going on I will briefly answer one question which I have heard from those who defend evolution: they say that if one reads all the Scripture "as it is written" one will only make oneself ridiculous. They say that if we must believe that Adam was actually made from dust and Eve from Adam’s rib, then must we not believe that God has "hands," that He "walks" in Paradise, and the like absurdities? Such an objection could not be made by anyone who has read even a single commentary of the Holy Fathers on the book of Genesis. All the Holy Fathers distinguish between what is said about creation, which must be taken "as it is written" (unless it is an obvious metaphor or other figure of speech, such as "the sun knoweth his going down" of the Psalms; but this surely does not need to be explained to any but children), and what is said about God, which must be understood, as St. John Chrysostom says repeatedly, "in a God-befitting manner." For example, St. Chrysostom writes:

"When you hear, beloved, that ‘God planted Paradise in Eden in the East,’ understand the word ‘planted’ befittingly of God: that is, that He commanded: but concerning the words that follow, believe precisely that Paradise was created and in that very place where the Scripture has assigned it" (Homilies on Genesis, XIII, 3.)

St. John of Damascus explicitly describes the allegorical interpretation of Paradise to be part of a heresy, that of the Origenians:

"They explain paradise, the heaven, and everything else in an allegorical sense. (On Heresies, 64.)

But what, then, are we to understand of those Holy Fathers of profound spiritual life who interpret the book of Genesis and other Holy Scriptures in a spiritual or mystical sense? If we ourselves had not gone so far away from the Patristic understanding of Scripture, this would present no problem whatever to us. The same text of Holy Scripture is true "as it is written," and it also has a spiritual interpretation. Behold what the great Father of the desert, St. Macarius the Great, a clairvoyant Saint who raised the dead, says:

"That Paradise was closed and that a Cherubim was commanded to prevent man from entering it by a flaming sword: of this we believe that in visible fashion it was indeed just as it is written, and at the same time we find that this occurs mystically in every soul." (Seven Homilies, IV, 5.)

Our modern "Patristic scholars," who approach the Holy Fathers not as living founts of tradition but only as dead "academic sources," invariably misunderstand this very important point. Any Orthodox Christian who lives in the tradition of the Holy Fathers knows that when a Holy Father interprets a passage of Holy Scripture spiritually or allegorically, he is not thereby denying its literal meaning, which he assumes the reader knows enough to accept. I will give a clear example of this.

The divine Gregory the Theologian, in his Homily on the Theophany, writes concerning the Tree of Knowledge:

"The tree was, according to my view, Contemplation, upon which it is only safe for those who have reached maturity of habit to enter." (Homily on the Theophany, XII.)

This is a profound spiritual interpretation, and I do not know of any passage in this Fathers writings where he say explicitly that this tree was also a literal tree, "as it is written." Is it therefore an "open question," as our academic scholars might tell us, whether he completely "allegorized’ the story of Adam and Paradise?

Of course, we know from other writings of St. Gregory that he did not allegorize Adam and Paradise. But even more important, we have the direct testimony of another great Father concerning the very question of St. Gregory’s interpretation of the Tree of Knowledge.

But before I give this testimony I must make sure you agree with me on a basic principle of interpreting the writings of the Holy Fathers. When they are giving the teaching of the Church, the Holy Fathers (if only they are genuine Holy Fathers and not merely ecclesiastical writers of uncertain authority) do not contradict each other, even if to our feeble understanding there seem to be contradictions between them. It is academic rationalism that pits one Father against another, traces their "influence" on each other, divides them into "schools" and "factions," and finds "contradictions" between them. All of this is foreign to the Orthodox Christian understanding of the Holy Fathers. For us the Orthodox teaching of the Holy Fathers is one single whole, and since the whole of Orthodox teaching is obviously not contained in any one Father (for all the Fathers are human and thus limited), we find parts of it in one Father and other parts in another Father, and one Father explains what is obscure in another Father; and it is not even of primary importance for us who said what, as long as it is Orthodox and in harmony with the whole Patristic teaching. I am sure that you agree with me on this principle and that you will not be surprised that I am now going to present an interpretation of the words of St. Gregory the Theologian by a great Holy Father who lived a thousand years after him: St. Gregory Palamas, Archbishop of Thessalonica.

Against St. Gregory Palamas and the other hesychast Fathers who taught the true Orthodox doctrine of the "Uncreated Light" of Mt. Tabor, there rose up the Western rationalist Barlaam. Taking advantage of the fact that St. Maximus the Confessor in one passage had called this Light of the Transfiguration a "symbol of theology," Barlaam taught that this Light was not a manifestation of the Divinity, but only something bodily, not "literally" Divine Light, but only a "symbol" of it. This led St. Gregory Palamas to make a reply which illuminates for us the relation between the "symbolical" and "literal" interpretation of Holy Scripture, particularly with regard to the passage from St. Gregory the Theologian which I have quoted above. He writes that Barlaam and others

"do not see that Maximus, wise in Divine matters, has called the Light of the Lord’s Transfiguration a ‘symbol of theology’ only by analogy and in a spiritual sense. In fact, in a theology which is analogical and intended to elevate us, objects which have an existence of their own become themselves, in fact and in words, symbols and homonymy; it is in this sense that Maximus calls this Light a ‘symbol’... Similarly, Gregory the Theologian has called the tree of the knowledge of good and evil ‘contemplation,’ having in his contemplation considered it as a symbol of this ‘contemplation,’ which is intended to elevate us; but it does not follow that what is involved is an illusion or a symbol without existence of its own. For the divine Maximus also makes Moses the symbol of judgment, and Elijah the symbol of foresight! Are they too then supposed not to have really existed, but to have been invented ‘symbolically? And could not Peter, for one who would wish to elevate himself in contemplation, become a symbol of faith, James of hope, and John of love?" (Defense of the Holy Hesychasts, Triad II, 3:21-22.)

It would be possible to multiply such quotations which show what the Holy Fathers actually taught about the interpretation of Holy Scripture, and in particular of the book of Genesis; but I have already presented enough to show that the genuine Patristic teaching on this subject presents grave difficulties for one who would like to interpret the book of Genesis in accordance with modern ideas and "wisdom," and indeed the Patristic interpretation makes it quite impossible to harmonize the account of Genesis with the theory of evolution, which requires an entirely "allegorical" interpretation of the text in many places where the Patristic interpretation will not allow this. The doctrine that Adam was created, not from the dust, but by development from some other creature, is a novel teaching which is entirely foreign to Orthodox Christianity.

At this point the "Orthodox evolutionist" might try to salvage his position (of believing both in the modern theory of evolution and in the teaching of the Holy Fathers) in one of two ways.

a. He may try to say that we now know more than the Holy Fathers about nature and therefore we really can interpret the book of Genesis better than they. But even the "Orthodox evolutionist" knows that the book of Genesis is not a scientific treatise, but a Divinely-inspired work of cosmogony and theology. The interpretation of the Divinely-inspired Scripture is clearly the work of God-bearing theologians, not of natural scientists, who ordinarily do not know the very first principles of such interpretation. It is true that in the book of Genesis many "facts" of nature are presented. But it must be carefully noted that these facts are not facts such as we can observe now, but an entirely special kind of facts: the creation of the heaven and the earth, of all animals and plants, of the first man. I have already pointed out that the Holy Fathers teach quite clearly that the creation of the first man Adam, for example, is quite different from the generation of men today; it is only the latter that science can observe, and about the creation of Adam it offers only philosophical speculations, not scientific knowledge.

According to the Holy Fathers, it is possible for us to know something of this first-created world, but this knowledge is not accessible to natural science. I will discuss this question further below.

b. Or again, the "Orthodox evolutionist," in order to preserve the unquestioned Patristic interpretation of at least some of the facts described in Genesis, may begin to make arbitrary modifications of the theory of evolution itself, in order to make it "fit" the text of Genesis. Thus, one "Orthodox evolutionist" might decide that the creation of the first man must be a "special creation" which does not fit into the general pattern of the rest of creation, and thus he can believe the Scriptural account of the creation of Adam more or less "as it is written," while believing in the rest of the Six Days’ Creation in accordance with "evolutionary science"; while another "Orthodox evolutionist" might accept the "evolution" of man himself from lower creatures, while specifying that Adam, the "first-evolved man," appeared only in very recent times (in the evolutionary time-scale of "millions of years"), thus preserving at least the historical reality of Adam and the other Patriarchs as well as the universally-held Patristic opinion (about which I can speak in another letter, if you wish) that Adam was created about 7500 years ago. I am sure you will agree with me that such rationalistic devices are quite foolish and futile. If the universe "evolves," as modern philosophy teaches, then man "evolves" with it, and we must accept whatever all-knowing "science" tells us about the age of man; but if the Patristic teaching is correct, it is correct regarding both man and the rest of creation.

If you can explain to me how one can accept the Patristic interpretation of the book of Genesis and still believe in evolution, I will be glad to listen to you; but you will also have to give me better scientific evidence for evolution than that which so far exists, for to the objective and dispassionate observer the "scientific evidence" for evolution is extremely weak.

5. Now I come at last to the two most important questions which are raised by the theory of evolution: the nature of the first-created world, and the nature of the first-created man Adam.

I believe you express correctly the Patristic teaching when you say (p. 36): "The animals became corrupted because of man; the law of the jungle is a consequence of the fall of man." I also agree with you, as I have already said, that man, on the side of his body, is bound together with and is an organic part of the whole of the visible creation, and this helps make it understandable how the whole creation fell together with him into death and corruption. But you think that this is a proof of evolution, a proof that man’s body evolved from some other creature! Surely if this is the case, the God-inspired Fathers would have known about it, and we would not have had to wait for the atheist philosophers of the 18th and 19th centuries to discover this and tell us about it!!

No, the Holy Fathers believed that the whole creation fell with Adam, but they did not believe that Adam "evolved" from some other creature; why should I believe differently from the Holy Fathers?

Now I come to a very important point. You ask: "How is it that the fall of Adam brought corruption and the law of the jungle to the animals, since animals have been created before Adam? We know that animals died, killed, and devoured one another since their first appearance on earth and not only after the appearance of man."

How do you know this? Are you sure that this is what the Holy Fathers teach? You explain your point, not by quoting any Holy Fathers, but by giving a philosophy of "time." I certainly agree with you that God is outside of time; to Him everything is present. But this fact is not a proof that animals, who died because of Adam, died before he fell. What do the Holy Fathers say?

It is true, of course, that most Holy Fathers speak about animals as already corruptible and mortal; but they are speaking about their fallen state. What about their state before the transgression of Adam?

There is a very significant hint about this in the Commentary on Genesis of St. Ephraim the Syrian. When speaking of the "skins" which God made for Adam and Eve after their transgression, St. Ephraim writes:

"One may suppose that the first parents, touching their waists with their hands, found that they were clothed with garments made of animal skins—killed, it may be, before their very eyes, so that they might eat their meat, cover their nakedness with the skins, and in their very death might see the death of their own body." (Commentary on Genesis, ch. 3.)
I will discuss below the Patristic teaching of the immorality of Adam before his transgression, but here I am only interested in the question of whether animals died before the Fall. Why should St. Ephraim suggest that Adam would learn about death by seeing the death of animals—if he had already seen the death of animals before his transgression (which he certainly had according to the evolutionary view)? But this is only a suggestion; there are other Holy Fathers who speak quite definitely on this subject, as I will show in a moment.

But first I must ask you: if it is true as you say that animals died and the creation was corrupted before the transgression of Adam, then how can it be that God looked at His creation after every one of the Days of Creation and "saw that it was good," and after creating the animals on the Fifth and Sixth Days He "saw that they were good," and at the end of the Six Days, after the creation of man, "God saw all the things that He had made, and behold, they were very good." How could they be "good" if they were already mortal and corruptible, contrary to God’s plan for them? The Divine services of the Orthodox Church contain many moving passages of lamentation about the "corrupted creation," as well as expressions of joy that Christ by His Resurrection has "recalled the corrupted creation." How could God see this lamentable condition of the creation and say that it was "very good. "?

And again, we read in the sacred text of Genesis: "And God said, Behold I have given to you every seed-bearing herb sowing seed which is upon all the earth, and every tree which has in itself the fruit of seed that is sown, to you it shall be for food. And to all the wild beasts of the earth, and to all the flying creatures of heaven, and to every reptile creeping on the earth, which has in itself the breath of life, even every green plant for food, and it was so" (Gen. 1:29-30). Why, if the animals devoured each other before the Fall, as you say, did God give them, even "all the wild beasts and every reptile" (many of which are now strictly carnivorous) only "green plants for food"? Only long after the transgression of Adam did God say to Noah: "And every reptile which is living shall be to you for meat; I have given all things to you as the green herbs" (Gen 9:3). Do you not sense here the presence of a mystery which so far has escaped you because you insist on interpreting the sacred text of Genesis by means of modern evolutionary philosophy, which will not admit that animals could ever have been of a nature different from that which they now possess?

But the Holy Fathers clearly teach that the animals (as well as man) were different before the transgression of Adam! Thus St. John Chrysostom writes:

"It is clear that man in the beginning had complete authority over the animals... But that now we are afraid and terrified of beasts and do not have authority over them, this I do not deny... In the beginning it was not so, but the beasts feared and trembled and submitted to their master. But when through disobedience he lost boldness, then also his authority was diminished. That all animals were subject to man, hear what the Scripture says: He brought the beasts and all irrational creatures ‘to Adam to see what he would call them’ (Gen. 2:19). And he, seeing the beasts near him, did not run away, but like another lord he gives names to the slaves which are subject to him, since he gave names to all animals.... This is already sufficient as proof that beasts in the beginning were not frightful for man. But there is another proof not less powerful and even clearer. Which? The conversation of the serpent with the woman. If the beasts had been frightful to man, then seeing the serpent the woman would not have stopped, would not have taken his advice, would not have conversed with him with such fearlessness, but immediately on seeing him would have been terrified and run away. But behold, she converses and is not afraid; there was not yet then any fear." (Homilies on Genesis, IX, 4.)

Is it not clear that St. John Chrysostom reads the first part of the text of Genesis "as it is written," as an historical account of the state of man and creation before the transgression of Adam, when both man and animals were different from what they now are? Similarly, St. John Damascene tells us that

"at that time the earth brought forth of itself fruits for the use of the animals that were subject to man, and there were neither violent rains upon the earth nor wintry storms. But after the fall, ‘when he was compared to senseless beasts and was become like to them\..then the creation subject to him rose up against this ruler appointed by the Creator(On the Orthodox Faith, Book II, ch. 10.)

Perhaps you will object that in the same place St. John Damascene also says, speaking of the creation of animals, "Everything was for the suitable use of man. Of the animals, some were for food, such as deer, sheep, gazelles, and the like." But you must read this passage in context·, for at the end of this paragraph we read (just as you have noted that God created man male and female foreknowing Adam’s transgression):

"God knew all things before they were made and He saw that man in his freedom would fall and be given over to corruption·, yet for man’s suitable use He made all the things that are in the sky and on the earth and in the water." (Ibid.)

Do you not see from the Holy Scripture and the Holy Fathers that God creates creatures so that they will be useful to man even in his corrupted state·, but He does not create them already corrupted, and they were not corrupted until Adam sinned.

But let us turn now to a Holy Father who speaks quite explicitly about the incorruption of the creation before Adams disobedience: St. Gregory the Sinaite. He is as Holy Father of the highest spiritual life and theological soundness, who attained to the heights of Divine vision. In the Russian Philocalia he writes:

" The presently-existing creation was not originally created corruptible; but afterwards it fell under corruption, ‘being made subject to vanity,’ according to the Scripture, ‘not willingly, but by reason of him,’ Adam, ‘who hath subjected it in hope’ of the renewal of Adam who had become subject to corruption (Rom. 8:20). He who renewed and sanctified Adam has renewed the creation also, but He has not yet delivered it from corruption." ("Chapters on Commandments and Dogmas," 11.)

Further, the same Father gives us remarkable details about the state of the creation (in particular, Paradise) before Adam’s transgression:

"Eden is a place in which there was planted by God every kind of fragrant plant. It is neither completely incorruptible nor entirely corruptible. Placed between corruption and incorruption, it is always both abundant in fruits and blossoming with flowers, both mature and immature. The mature trees and fruits are converted into fragrant earth which does not give off any odor of corruption, as do the trees of this world. This is from the abundance of the grace of sanctification which is constantly poured forth there. (Ibid., 10) (This passage is expressed in the present tense—because the Paradise in which Adam was placed is still in existence, but it is not visible to our normal sense organs.)

What will you say of these passages? Will you still be so certain, as "uniformitarian" evolutionary philosophy teaches, that the creation before the fall was just the same as it is now after the fall? The Holy Scripture teaches that "God made not death' (Wisdom 1:13), and St. John Chrysostom teaches that

"Just as the creature became corruptible when your body became corruptible, so also when you body will be incorrupt, the creature also will follow after it and become corresponding to it." (.Homilies on Romans, XIV, 5.)

And St. Macarius the Great says:

"Adam was placed as the lord and king of all creatures... But after his captivity, there was taken captive together with him the creation which served him and submitted to him, because through him death came to reign over every soul." (Homily 11.)

The teaching of the Holy Fathers, if we accept it "as it is written" and do not try to reinterpret it by means of our human wisdom, is clearly that the state of creatures before the transgression of Adam was quite different from their present state. I am not trying to tell you that I know precisely what this state was; this state between corruption and incorruption is very mysterious to us who live entirely in corruption. Another great Orthodox Father, St. Simeon the New Theologian, teaches that the law of nature we now know is different from the law of nature before Adams transgression. He writes:

"The words and decrees of God become the law of nature. Therefore also the decree of God, uttered by Him as a result of the disobedience of the first Adam—that is, the decree to him of death and corruption—became the law of nature, eternal and unalterable." (Homily 38, Russian edition.)

What the "law of nature" was before Adam’s transgression, which of us sinful men can define? Certainly natural science, bound up entirely with its observation of the present state of creation, cannot investigate it.

Then how do we know anything at all about it? Obviously, because God has revealed something of it to us through the Sacred Scripture. But we know also, from the writings of St. Gregory the Sinaite (and other writings which I shall quote below), that God has revealed something besides what is in the Scriptures. And this brings me to another extremely important question raised by evolution.

6. What is the source of our true knowledge of the first-created world and how is it different from science? How can St. Gregory the Sinaite know what happens to, the ripe fruits of Paradise, and why can natural science not discover such a thing? Since you are a lover of the Holy Fathers, I believe you already know the answer to this question. Still, I will set forth the answer, based not on my own reasoning but on the unquestionable authority of a Holy Father of the highest spiritual life, St. Isaac the Syrian, who spoke of the souls ascent to God based on his own experience of it. In describing how the soul is enraptured at the thought of the future age of incorruption, St. Isaac writes:

"And from this one is already exalted in his mind to that which preceded the composition of the world, when there was no creature, nor heaven, nor earth, nor Angels, nothing of that which was brought into being, and to how God, solely by His good will, suddenly brought everything from non- being into being, and everything stood before Him in perfection." (Homily 21, Russian edition; Homily 85, Greek edition.)

Do you see that St. Gregory the Sinaite and other Holy Fathers of the highest spiritual life beheld the first-created world in the state of Divine vision, which is beyond all natural knowledge? St. Gregory the Sinaite himself states that the "eight primary visions" of the state of perfect prayer are: (1) God, (2) the Angelic powers, (3) "the composition of visible things," (4) the condescension of the Word (the Incarnation), (5) the universal resurrection, (6) the Second Coming of Christ, (7) eternal torments, (8) the eternal Kingdom of Heaven. (Chapters on Commandments and Dogmas, 130, in the Russian Phtlokalia.) Why should the "composition of visible things" be included together with the other objects of Divine vision which are all within the sphere of theological knowledge alone, and not scientific knowledge? Is it not because there is an aspect and state of creatures beyond the sphere of scientific knowledge, which can only be seen, as St. Isaac himself saw Gods creation, in vision by God's grace? The objects of these visions, St. Gregory teaches, "are clearly beheld and known by those who have attained by grace complete purity of mind." (Ibid.)

In another place St. Isaac the Syrian clearly describes the difference between natural knowledge and faith, which leads to vision.

"Knowledge is a rule of nature, and this rule preserves it in all its steps. But faith performs its journey above nature. Knowledge does not attempt to permit anything to come to it which is subversive to nature, but avoids this; but faith permits this and says: ‘Thou shalt tread upon the asp and the basilisk, and thou shalt trample on the lion and dragon (Ps. 90:13).... Many by faith have entered flames, bridled the burning power of fire and passed unharmed through its midst, and walked on the surface of the sea as on dry land. But all this is above nature, contrary to the capabilities of knowledge, and it is shown that the latter is vain in all its capabilities and laws. Do you see how knowledge preserves the bounds of nature*. Do you see how faith goes above nature and there traces the steps of its path? The capabilities of knowledge for 5000 years, or a little more or less than this, governed the world, and man in no way could raise his head from the earth and acknowledge his Creator, until our faith shone forth and delivered us from the darkness of earthly doing and vain submission to the empty soaring of the mind. And even now, when we have found an imperturbable sea and an inexhaustible treasure, again we desire to turn away toward tiny springs. There is no knowledge that would not be poor, no matter now much it might be enriched. But the treasures of faith can be contained neither by the heaven nor by the earth." (Homily 25, Russian edition; Homily 62, Greek edition.)

Do you now see what is at stake in the argument between the Patristic understanding of Genesis and the doctrine of evolution? The doctrine of evolution attempts to understand the mysteries of God s creation by means of natural knowledge and worldly philosophy, not even allowing the possibility that there is something in these mysteries which places them beyond its capabilities of knowing; while the book of Genesis is an account of God s creation as seen in Divine vision by the God-seer Moses, and this vision is confirmed also by the experience of later Holy Fathers. Now, even though revealed knowledge is higher than natural knowledge, still we know that there can be no conflict between true revelation and true natural knowledge. But there can be conflict between revelation and human philosophy, which is often in error. There is thus no conflict between the knowledge of creation contained in Genesis, as interpreted for us by the Holy Fathers, and the true knowledge of creatures which modern science has acquired by observation; but there most certainly is an irreconcilable conflict between the knowledge contained in Genesis and the vain philosophical speculations of modem scientists, unenlightened by faith, about the state of the world in the Six Days of Creation. Where there is a genuine conflict between Genesis and modern philosophy, if we wish to know the truth we must accept the teaching of the Holy Fathers and reject the false opinions of scientific philosophers. The world has not become so infected by vain modern philosophy posing as science that very few, even among Orthodox Christians, are willing or able to examine this question dispassionately and discover what the Holy Fathers really taught, and then accept the Patristic teaching even if it seems utter foolishness to the vain wisdom of this world.

Concerning the true Patristic view of the first-created world, already I think I have indicated enough to you of the Patristic views which at first sight seem "surprising" to an Orthodox Christian whose understanding of Genesis has been obscured by modern scientific philosophy. Most "surprising" of all, perhaps, is the fact that the Holy Fathers understood the text of Genesis "as it is written," and do not allow us to interpret it "freely" or allegorically. Many Orthodox Christians with a "modern education" have become accustomed to associate such an interpretation with Protestant Fundamentalism, and they are afraid of being considered "naive" by sophisticated scientific philosophers; but it is clear how much more profound is the true Patristic interpretation than that of the Fundamentalists, on the one hand, who have never even heard of Divine vision and whose interpretation sometimes coincides with that of the Holy Fathers only accident, as it were; and on the other hand, how much more profound is the Patristic interpretation than that of those who uncritically accept the speculations of modern philosophy as if they were true knowledge.

It may help the "modern" Orthodox Christian to understand how the incorruption of the first-created world is beyond the competence of science to investigate, if he would examine the fact of incorruption as it has been manifested by God’s action even in our present corrupted world. We can find no higher manifestation of this incorruption than in the Most Holy Mother of God, of Whom we sing: "Thee Who without corruption gavest birth to God the Word, true Mother of God, we magnify." The Theotokia of our Orthodox Divine services are full of this doctrine. St. John Damascene points out that in two respects this "incorruption" is beyond the laws of nature. "So far as He had no father, (Christ's) birth was above the nature of generation," and "in that His birth was painless, it was above the laws of generation" (On the Orthodox Faith, IV, 14). What does the Orthodox Christian say when a modern unbeliever, under the influence of modern naturalistic philosophy, insists that such "incorruption" is "impossible," and demands that Christians believe only what can be proved or observed by science? Does he not hold to his faith, which is a revealed knowledge, in spite of "science" and its philosophy? Does he not indeed tell this pseudo-scientist that he cannot possibly know or understand this fact of incorruption, inasmuch as the works of God are above nature? Then why should we hesitate to believe the truth about the creation before Adams fall, if we become convinced that the Holy Fathers indeed teach us that it is something quite beyond the competence of science to investigate or know? One who accepts the evolutionary philosophy of the creation before Adam's transgression, and thus rejects the Patristic teaching, only prepares the way in his own soul, and in the souls of others, to accept an evolutionary or other pseudo-scientific view of many other Orthodox doctrines also. We hear today many Orthodox priests who tell us, "Our faith in Christ does not depend on how we interpret Genesis. You can believe as you wish." But how can it be that our negligence in understanding one part of Gods revelation (which, by the way, is indeed closely bound up with Christ, the Second Adam, Who became incarnate in order to restore us to our original state) ‘will not lead to negligence in understanding the whole doctrine of the Orthodox Church? It is not for nothing that St. John Chrysostom closely binds together the correct and strict interpretation of Scripture (specifically Genesis) and the correct dogmas which are essential for our SALVATION. Speaking of those who interpret the book of Genesis allegorically, he says:

"Let us not pay heed to these people, let us stop up our hearing against them, and let us believe the Divine Scripture, and following what is said in it, let us strive to preserve in our souls sound dogmas, and at the same time to lead also a right life, so that our life would both testify of the dogmas, and the dogmas would give firmness to our life.... If we live well but will be negligent over right dogmas, we can acquire nothing for our salvation. If we wish to be delivered from Gehenna and receive the Kingdom, we must be adorned both with the one and with the other—both with rightness of dogmas, and strictness of life." (Homilies on Genesis, XIII, 4)

There is one other question regarding the state of the first-created world about which you may wonder: what about the "millions of years" of the world's existence which science "knows to be a fact"? This letter is already too long and I cannot discuss this question here. But if you wish, in another letter I can discuss this question also, including the "radio-carbon" and other "absolute" dating systems, giving you the views of reputable scientists about them and showing you how these "millions of years" also are not at all a fact but only more "philosophy." This very idea was never even thought of until men, under the influence of naturalistic philosophy, began already to believe in evolution and saw that if evolution is true, then the world must be millions of years old (since evolution has never been observed, it is conceivable only under the supposition of coundess millions of years which can bring about those processes which are too "minute" for contemporary scientists to see). If you will examine this question objectively and dispassionately, separating genuine evidence from suppositions and philosophy, you will see, I believe, that there is no genuine factual evidence which requires us to believe that the earth is more than 7500 years old. What one believes about this is entirely dependent on his philosophy of the creation.

To sum up the Patristic teaching of the first-created world I can do no better than to copy out the divine words of a Holy Father who so shone forth in mental prayer that he was only the third Father to be called by the entire Orthodox Church "Theologian": I mean St. Simeon the New Theologian. In his 45th Homily (Russian edition), speaking from Patristic tradition and probably also from his own experience, he says:

"God, in the beginning, before He planted Paradise and gave it over to the first-created ones, in five days established the earth and what is in it, and the heaven and what is in it, and on the Sixth Day He created Adam and placed him as lord and king of the whole visible creation. Paradise then did not yet exist. But this world was from God as a kind of Paradise, although it was material and sensual. God gave it over into the authority of Adam and all his descendants.... And God planted Paradise in Eden in the East. And God made to spring up also out of the earth every tree beautiful to the eye and good for food’ (Gen. 2:9), with various fruits which never spoiled and never ceased, but were always fresh and sweet and afforded a great satisfaction and pleasantness for the first-created ones. For it was necessary that an incorruptible delight be furnished for those bodies of the first-created ones, which were incorrupt... Adam was created with a body that was incorrupt, even though material and not yet spiritual, and he was placed by the Creator God as an immortal king over an incorrupt world, not only over Paradise, but also over the whole creation which was under the heavens...."

(After Adam’s transgression) "God did not curse Paradise...but he cursed only the whole rest of the earth, which was also incorrupt and produced everything by itself.... He who had become corrupt and mortal by reason of the transgression of the commandment, in all justice had to live also on a corruptible earth and eat corruptible food.... Then also all creatures, when they saw that Adam was banished from Paradise, no longer wished to submit to him the transgressor.... But God restrained all these creatures by His power, and in His compassion and goodness He did not allow them immediately to rush against man, and He commanded that the creation should remain in submission to him and, having become corruptible, should serve corruptible man for whom it was created, with the intention that when man should again be renewed and become spiritual, incorrupt, and immortal, and the whole creation, which had been subjected by God to man in bondage to him, should be delivered from this bondage, it would be renewed together with him and become incorrupt and as it were spiritual....

"It is not fitting for the bodies of men to be clothed in the glory of resurrection and become incorrupt before the renewal of all creatures. But as in the beginning, first the whole creation was created incorrupt, and then from it was taken and created man, so also it is fitting that first the whole creation should become incorrupt, and then the corrupt bodies of men should be renewed and become incorrupt, that again the whole man might be incorrupt and spiritual and that he might dwell in an incorrupt, eternal and spiritual dwelling.... Do you see that this whole creation in the beginning was incorrupt and created by God in the order of Paradise? But afterwards it was subjected by God to corruption and submitted to the vanity of men.

"You should know likewise that kind of glorification and bright-shining the creation will have in the future also. For when it will be renewed it will not be again the same as it was when it was created in the beginning. But it will be such as, according to the word of the divine Paul, our body will be.... The whole creation, by God’s command, after the general resurrection is to be not such as it was created—material and sensual—but it will be re-created and will become a certain immaterial and spiritual dwelling, far above every organ of sense."

Could there be any clearer teaching of the state of the first-created world before the transgression of Adam?

7. And now I come to the final and most important question which is raised for Orthodox theology by the modern theory of evolution: the nature of man, and in particular the nature of the first-created man Adam. I say that this is the "most important question raised by evolution because the doctrine of man, anthropology, touches most closely upon theology, and here, perhaps, it becomes most possible to identify theologically the error of evolutionism. It is well known that Orthodoxy teaches quite differently from Roman Catholicism regarding man's nature and Divine grace, and now I shall attempt to show that the theological view of man's nature which is implied in the theory of evolution, and which you have explicitly set forth in your letter, is not the Orthodox view of man, but is much closer to the Roman Catholic view; and this is only a confirmation of the fact that the theory of evolution, far from being taught by any Orthodox Father, is simply a product of the Western apostate mentality and even, despite the fact that it originally was a "reaction" against Roman Catholicism and Protestantism, has deep roots in the Papist scholastic tradition.

The view of human nature and the creation of Adam which you set forth in your letter is very much influenced by your opinion that Adam, in his body, was an "evolved beast." This opinion you have obtained, not from the Holy Fathers (for you cannot find one Father who believed this, and I have already showed you that the Fathers indeed believe quite "literally" that Adam was created from the dust and not from any other creature), but from modern science. Let us then look, first of all, at the Orthodox Patristic view of the nature and value of secular, scientific knowledge, particularly in relation to revealed, theological knowledge.

The Patristic view is very well set forth by the great hesychast Father, St. Gregory Palamas, who was forced to defend Orthodox theology and spiritual experience precisely against a Western rationalist, Barlaam, who wished to reduce the spiritual experience and knowledge of hesychasm to something attainable by science and philosophy. In answering him, St. Gregory set forth general principles which are well applicable in our own day when scientists and philosophers think they can understand the mysteries of creation and mans nature better than Orthodox theology. He writes:

"The beginning of wisdom is to be sufficiently wise to distinguish and prefer to the wisdom which is low, terrestrial and vain, that which is truly useful, heavenly, and spiritual, that which comes from God and conducts toward Him and which renders conformable to God those who acquire it." (.Defense of the Holy Hesychasts, Triad I, 2.)

He teaches that the latter wisdom alone is good in itself, while the former is both good and evil:

"The practice of the graces of different languages, the power of rhetoric, historical knowledge, the discovery of the mysteries of nature, the various methods of logic...all these things are at the same time good and evil, not only because they are manifested according to the idea of those who use them and easily take the form which is given them by the point of view of those who possess them, but also because the study of them is a good thing only to the degree that it develops in the eye of the soul a penetrating view. But it is bad for one who gives himself over to this study in order to remain in it until old age." (Ibid., Triad I, 6.)

Further, even

"If one of the Fathers says the same thing as do those from without, the concordance is only verbal, the thought being quite different. The former, in fact, have, according to Paul, ‘the mind of Christ’ (I Cor. 2:16), while the latter express at best a human reasoning. ‘As the heaven is distant from the earth, so is My thought distant from your thoughts’ (Is. 55:9), saith the Lord,’ Besides, even if the thinking of these men were at times the same as that of Moses, Solomon, or their imitators, what would it benefit them? What man of sound spirit and belonging to the Church could from this draw the conclusion that their teaching comes from God?" (Ibid, Triad I, 11.)

From secular knowledge, St. Gregory writes,

"we absolutely forbid to expect any precision whatever in the knowledge of Divine things; for it is not possible to draw from it any certain teaching on the subject of God. For ‘God hath made it foolish’." (Ibid., Triad 1,12.)

And this knowledge can also be harmful and fight against true theology:

"The power of this reason which has been made foolish and non-existent enters into battle against those who accept the traditions in simplicity of heart; it despises the writings of the Spirit, after the example of men who have treated them carelessly and have set up the creation against the Creator,:" (Ibid., Triad I, 15.)

There could hardly be a better account than this of what modern "Christian evolutionists" have tried to do by thinking themselves wiser than the Holy Fathers, using secular knowledge to reinterpret the teaching of the Sacred Scripture and the Holy Fathers. Who can fail to see that the rationalistic, naturalistic spirit of Barlaam is quite close to that of modern evolutionism?

But notice that St. Gregory is speaking of scientific knowledge which, on its own level, is true: it becomes false only by warring against the higher knowledge of theology. Is the theory of evolution even true scientifically?

I have already spoken in this letter of the dubious nature of the scientific evidence for evolution in general, about which I would be glad to write you in another letter. Here I must say a word specifically about the scientific evidence for human evolution, since here we already begin to touch on the realm of Orthodox theology.

You say in your letter that you are happy not to have read the writings of Teilhard de Chardin and other exponents of evolution in the West; you approach this whole question "simply." But I am afraid that this is where you have made a mistake. It is well and good to accept the writings of the Holy Scripture and the Holy Fathers simply·, that is the way they should be accepted, and that is the way I try to accept them. But why should we accept the writings of modern scientists and philosophers "simply," merely taking their word when they tell us that something is true—even if this acceptance forces us to change our theological views? On the contrary, we must be very critical when modern wise men tell us how we should interpret the Holy Scriptures. We must be critical not only with regard to their philosophy, but also with regard to the "scientific evidence" which they think supports this philosophy; for often this "scientific evidence" is itself philosophy.

This is especially true of the Jesuit scientist Teilhard de Chardin; for not only has he written the most thorough and influential philosophy and theology based on evolution, but he was also closely connected with the discovery and interpretation of almost all the fossil evidence for the "evolution of man" that was discovered in his lifetime.

And now I must ask you a very elementary scientific question: what is the evidence for the "evolution of man"? This question too I cannot go into in detail in this letter, but I will discuss it briefly. I can write more in detail later, if you wish.

The scientific fossil evidence for the "evolution of man" consists of: Neanderthal Man (many specimens); Peking Man (several skulls); the "men" called Java, Heidelberg, Piltdown (until 20 years ago), and the recent finds in Africa: all extremely fragmentary, and a few other fragments.' The total fossil evidence for the "evolution of man" could be contained in a box the size of a small coffin, and it is from widely separated parts of the earth, with no reliable indication of even relative (much less "absolute") age, and with no indication whatever of how these different "men" were connected with each other, whether by descent or kinship.

Further, one of these "evolutionary ancestors of man," "Piltdown Man," was discovered 20 years ago to have been a deliberate fraud. Now it is an interesting fact that Teilhard de Chardin was one of the "discoverers" of "Piltdown Man"—a fact which you will not find in most textbooks or in biographies of him. He "discovered" the canine tooth of this fabricated creature—a tooth which had already been dyed with the intent to cause deception regarding its age when he found it! I do not have the evidence to say that Teilhard de Chardin consciously participated in fraud; I think it more likely that he was the victim of the actual perpetrator of the fraud, and that he was so anxious to find proof for the "evolution of man" in which he already believed that he simply did not pay any attention to the anatomical difficulties which this crudely fabricated "man" presented to any objective observer. And yet in evolutionary textbooks printed before the discovery of the fraud, Piltdown Man is accepted as an evolutionary ancestor of man without question; his "skull" is even illustrated (even though only fragments of a cranium had been discovered); and it is confidently stated that "he combines human characteristics with others far retarded" (Tracy L. Storer, General Zoology, N.Y., 1951). This, of course, is just what is required for a "missing link" between man and ape; and that is why the Piltdown fraud was composed precisely of a mixture of human and ape bones.

Some time later this same Teilhard de Chardin participated in the discovery, and above all in the "interpretation," of "Peking Man." Several skulls were found of this creature, and it was the best candidate that had been found until then as the "missing link" between modern man and the apes. Thanks to his "interpretation" (for by then he had established a reputation as one of the world's leading paleontologists), "Peking Man" also entered evolutionary textbooks as an ancestor of man—in utter disdain of the uncontested fact modem human bones were found in the same deposit, and to anyone without "evolutionary" prejudices it was clear that this "Peking Ape" had been used for food by human beings (for there was a hole in the base of every skull of "Peking Man" by which the brains had been drawn out).

Teilhard de Chardin was also connected with the discovery and above all the interpretation of some of the finds of "Java Man," which were fragmentary. In fact, everywhere he went he found "evidence which exactly matched his expectations—namely, that man has "evolved" from ape-like creatures.

If you will examine objectively all the fossil evidence for the "evolution of man," I believe you will find that there is no conclusive or even remotely reasonable evidence whatever for this ‘evolution." The evidence is believed to be proof for human evolution because men want to believe this; they believe in a philosophy that requires that man evolved from ape-like creatures. Of all the fossil "men" only Neanderthal Man (and of course Cro-Magnon Man, which is simply modern man) seems to be genuine; and he is simply "Homo Sapiens," no different from modern man than modern men are different from each other, a variation within one definite kind or species. Please note that the pictures of Neanderthal Man in evolutionary textbooks are the invention of artists who have a preconceived idea of what "primitive man" must have looked like, based on evolutionary philosophy!

I have said enough, I believe, not to show that I can "disprove" the "evolution of man" for who can prove or disprove anything with such fragmentary evidence?!), but to indicate that we must be very critical indeed of the biassed interpretations of such scanty evidence. Let us leave it to our modern pagans and their philosophers to become excited with the discovery of every new skull, bone, or even a single tooth, about which newspaper headlines declare: "New Ancestor of Man Found." This is not even the realm of vain knowledge; it is the realm of modern fables and fairy tales, of a wisdom which truly has become astonishingly foolish.

Where does the Orthodox Christian turn if he wishes to learn the true doctrine of the creation of the world and man? St. Basil tells us clearly:

"Whence shall I begin my narration? Shall I refute the vanity of the heathens? Or shall I proclaim our truth? The wise men of the Greeks wrote many works about nature, but not . one account among them remained unaltered and firmly established, for the later account always overthrew the preceding one. As a consequence, there is no need for us to refute their words; they avail mutually for their own undoing? (Hexaemeron, I, 2.)

Like St. Basil,

"let us leave the accounts of outsiders to those outside, and turn back to the explanation of the Church," (Hexaemeron, III, 3.)

Let us, like him,

"examine the structure of the world and contemplate the whole universe, beginning, not from the wisdom of the world, but from what God taught His servant when He spoke to him in person and without riddles." (Hexaemeron, VI, 1.)

Now we shall see that the evolutionary view of man's origin not only teaches us nothing in reality of man's origin, but rather teaches a false doctrine of man, as you yourself prove when you are forced to express this doctrine in order to defend the idea of evolution.

When setting forth your view of man's nature, based on your acceptance of the idea of evolution, you write, (p. 22): "Man is not naturally the image of God. Naturally he is an animal, an evolved beast, dust from the ground. He is the image of God supernaturally." And again (p. 25): "We see that by himself man is nothing, and let us not be scandalized for his natural origin." "God’s breath of life transformed the animal to man without changing a single anatomical feature of his body, without changing a single cell. I would not be surprised if Adam’s body had been in all aspects the body of an ape" (p. 26). Again (p. 27): "Man is what he is not because of his nature, which is dust from the ground, but because of the supernatural grace given to him by the breath of God."

Now, before examining the Patristic teaching of man’s nature, I will admit that this word "nature" can be a little ambiguous, and that one can find passages where the Holy Fathers use the expression "human nature" in the way it is used in common discourse, as referring to this fallen human nature whose effects we observe every day. But there is a higher Patristic teaching of human nature, a specific doctrine of human nature, given by Divine revelation, which cannot be understood or accepted by one who believes in evolution. The evolutionary doctrine of human nature, based on a "common sense" view of fallen human nature, is the Roman Catholic, not the Orthodox teaching.

The Orthodox doctrine of human nature is set forth most concisely in the Spiritual Instructions of Abba Dorotheus. This book is accepted in the Orthodox Church as the "ABC," the basic textbook of Orthodox spirituality; it is the first spiritual reading which an Orthodox monk is given, and it remains his constant companion for the rest of his life, to be read and re-read. It is most significant that the Orthodox doctrine of human nature is set forth in the very first page of this book, because this doctrine is the foundation of the entire Orthodox spiritual life.

What is this doctrine? Abba Dorotheus writes in the very first words of his First Instruction:

"In the beginning, when God created man (Gen. 2:20), He placed him in Paradise and adorned him with every virtue, giving him the commandment not to taste of the tree which was in the midst of Paradise. And thus he remained there in the enjoyment of Paradise; in prayer, in vision, in every glory and honor, having sound senses and being in the same natural condition in which he was created. For God created man according to His own image, that is, immortal, master of himself, and adorned with every virtue. But when he transgressed the commandment, eating the fruit of the tree of which God had commanded him not to taste, then he was banished from Paradise (Gen. Ú), fell away from the natural condition, and fell into a condition against nature, and then he remained in sin, in love of glory, in love for the enjoyments of this age and of other passions, and he was mastered by them, for he became himself their slave through the transgression."

(The Lord Jesus Christ) "accepted our very nature, the essence of our constitution, and became a new Adam in the image of God Who created the first Adam; He renewed the natural condition and made the senses again sound as they were in the beginning."

"The children of humility of wisdom are: self-reproach, not trusting one’s own mind, hatred of one’s own will; for through them a man is enabled to come to himself and return to the natural condition through purifying himself by the holy commandments of Christ."

The same doctrine is set forth by other ascetic Fathers. Thus Abba Isaiah teaches:

"In the beginning, when God created man, He placed him in Paradise, and he had then sound senses, which stood in their natural order, but when he obeyed the one who deceived him, all his senses were changed into an unnatural state, and he was then cast out from his glory." ("On the Natural Law," Russian Philokalia, II, 1.)

And the same Father continues:

"And so, let him who desires to come into his natural condition cut off all his fleshly desires, so as to place himself in the condition according to the nature of the (spiritual) mind." (Ibid., II, 2.)

The Holy Fathers clearly teach that, when Adam sinned, man did not merely lose something which has been added to his nature, but rather human nature itself was changed, corrupted, at the same time that man lost God's grace. The Divine services of the Orthodox Church also, which are a foundation of our Orthodox dogmatic teaching and spiritual life, clearly teach that the human nature which we now observe is not natural to us, but has been corrupted:

"Healing human nature, which had become corrupted by the ancient transgression, without corruption a child is born anew." (Menaion, Dec. 22, Matins, Theotokion of 6th Canticle of the Canon.)

And again:

"The Creator and Lord, desiring to save from corruption the corrupted human nature, having come to dwell in a womb cleansed by the Holy Spirit, is unutterably formed," (Menaion, Jan. 23, Theotokion of the 6th Canticle of the Canon of Matins.)

It can be noted in such hymns also that our whole Orthodox conception of the Incarnation of Christ and our salvation through Him is bound up with a proper understanding of human nature as it was in the beginning, to which Christ has restored us. We believe that we will one day live with Him in a world very much like the world that existed, here on this earth, before the fall of Adam, and that our nature will then be the nature of Adam—only even higher, because everything material and changeable will then be left behind, as the quote already given from St. Simeon the New Theologian clearly indicates.

And now I must show you further that even your doctrine of human nature as it is now in this fallen world, is incorrect, is not according to the teaching of the Holy Fathers. Perhaps it is a result of careless expression on your part—but I believe it is probably precisely because you have been led into error by believing the theory of evolution—that you write (p. 24): "Apart from God man is from his nature nothing at all, because his nature is the dust from the ground, like the nature of the animals." Because you believe in the philosophy of evolution, you are forced either to believe that human nature is only a low, animal nature, as you indeed express by saying that "man is not naturally the image of God" or at best (since I think that you do not really believe this, being Orthodox) you divide human nature artificially into two parts: that which is from "nature" and that which is from God. But the true Orthodox anthropology teaches that human nature is one, it is that which we have from God; we do not have some nature "from the animals" or "from the dust’' which is different from the nature with which God created us. And therefore, even the fallen, corrupted human nature which we have now is not "nothing at all," as you say, but it still preserves in some degree the "goodness" in which God create it. Behold what Abba Dorotheus writes of this doctrine:

"We have naturally the virtues given to us by God. For when God created man, He sowed virtues in him, as also He said: ‘Let us create man in our image and likeness’ (Gen. 2:26). It is said: ‘In our image,’ inasmuch as God created the soul immortal and with authority over itself, and ‘in our likeness,’ referring to virtues... By nature God gave us virtues. But passions do not belong to us by nature, for they do not even have any substance or composition... But the soul in its love of pleasure, having inclined away from virtues, instills the passions in itself and strengthens them against itself." (Instruction XII, "On the Fear of Future Torment.")

Further, these God-given virtues still exercise themselves even in our fallen state. This is the extremely important Orthodox teaching of St. John Cassian, who thus refuted the error of Blessed Augustine, who indeed believed that man apart from God’s grace was "nothing at all." St. Cassian teaches in his Thirteenth Conference:

"That the human race after the fall actually did not lose the knowledge of good is affirmed by the Apostle, who says: ‘When the gentiles, who have not the law, do by nature those things that are of the law, these who have not the law are a law to themselves, who show the work of the law written in their hearts (Rom. 2:14-16). "And again: "To the Pharisees He said that they can know the truth: ‘Why even of yourselves do ye not judge that which is just?’ (Luke 12:57). He would not have said this if they could not have discerned what is just by their natural reason. Therefore one should not think that human nature is capable only of evil." (Thirteenth Conference, 12.)

Likewise, with regard to the righteous Job, St. Cassian asks whether "he conquered the various snares of the enemy in this battle apart from his own virtue, but only with the assistance of God’s grace," and he answers:

"Job conquered him by his own power. However, the grace of God also did not abandon Job; lest the tempter burden him with temptations above his strength, it (God’s grace) allowed him to be tempted as much as the virtue of the tempted one could bear." (Conference XIII, 14.)

Again, with regard to the Patriarch Abraham,

"God’s righteousness wished to test the faith of Abraham, not that which the Lord had instilled in him, but that which he showed by his own freedom." (Ibid.)

Of course, the reason why Augustine (and Roman Catholicism and Protestantism after him) believed that man was nothing without grace, was because he had an incorrect conception of human nature, based on a naturalistic view of man. The Orthodox doctrine, on the other hand, of human nature as it was created in the beginning by God and is even now preserved in part in our fallen state, prevents us from falling into any such false dualism between what is "man’s" and what is "God’s". To be sure, everything good that man has is from God, not the least his very nature, for the Scripture says, "What hast thou that thou didst not receive" (I Cor. 4:7). Man has no "animal nature" as such and never did have; he has only the fully human nature which God gave him in the beginning, and which he has not entirely lost even now.

Is it necessary to quote for you the multitude of clear Patristic evidence that the "image of God," which is to be found in the soul, refers to man's nature and is not something added from without? Let it suffice to quote the marvelous testimony of St. Gregory the Theologian, showing how man by his constitution stands between two worlds, and is free to follow whichever side of his nature he will:

"I do not understand how I became joined to the body and how, being the image of God, I became mixed with dirt.... What wisdom is revealed in me, and what a great mystery! Was it not for this that God led us into this warfare and battle with the body, that we, being a part of Divinity," (how boldly the Theologian speaks of man’s nature, so boldly that we cannot take his words absolutely literally!) "and proceeding from above, might not be haughty and exalt ourselves because of our dignity, and might not disdain the Creator, but might always direct our gaze toward Him, and so that our dignity might keep within bounds the infirmity joined to us?—So that we might know that at the same time we are both immensely great and immensely low, earthly and heavenly, temporal and immortal, inheritors of light and inheritors of fire or darkness, depending upon which side we incline towards? So was our constitution established, and this, as far as I can see, was in order that the earthly dust might humble us if we should imagine to exalt ourselves because of the image of God." (Homily 14, "On Love for the Poor.")

This image of God which man possesses by his nature was not completely lost even among the pagans, as St. John Cassian teaches; it has not been lost even today, when man, under the influence of modern philosophy and evolutionism, is trying to turn himself into a sub-human beast—for even now God awaits man’s conversion, awaits his awakening to the true human nature which he has within him.

And this brings me to the very important point of your interpretation of the teaching of the God-bearing Father of almost our own times, St. Seraphim of Sarov, contained in his famous "Conversation with Motovilov."

St. Seraphim is my own patron Saint, and it was our Brotherhood of St. Herman that first published the complete text of this "Conversation" in the Russian language in which it was spoken (for the pre-revolutionary edition was incomplete), as well as other of his genuine words which had hitherto been unpublished. So you may be sure that we do not believe that he taught a false doctrine of the nature of man, one that contradicts that of other Holy Fathers. But let us examine what St. Seraphim himself says.

As you correctly quote him, St. Seraphim says:

"Many explain that when it says in the Bible ‘God breathed the breath of life’ into the face of Adam the first-created, who was created by Him from the dust of the ground, it must mean that until then there was neither human soul nor spirit in Adam, but only the flesh created from the dust of the ground. This interpretation is wrong, for the Lord created Adam from the dust of the ground with the constitution which our dear little father, the holy Apostle Paul describes: ‘May your spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ" (I Thes. 5:23). And all these parts of our nature were created from the dust of the ground, and Adam was not created dead, but an active being like all the other animate creatures of God living on earth. The point is that if the Lord God had not breathed afterwards into his face the breath of life (that is, the grace of our Lord God the Holy Spirit...), Adam would have remained without having within him the Holy Spirit Who raises him to God-like dignity. However perfect he had been created and superior to all the other creatures of God, as the crown of creation on earth, he would have been just like all the other creatures, which, though they have a body, soul and spirit, each according to its kind, yet have not the Holy Spirit within them. But when the Lord God breathed into Adam’s face the breath of life, then, according to Moses’ word, Adam became a living soul’ (Gen. 2:7), that is, completely and in every way like God, and, like Him, forever immortal."

This is the one Patristic quote you give which seems to support your view that man was first a beast, and then (later in time) received the image of God and became man. This is indeed what you must believe if you accept the theory of evolution, and I am glad to see that you have the courage to express clearly what all "Orthodox evolutionists" actually believe (even if in a rather confused manner) but are often afraid to express openly for fear of offending other Orthodox believers who are "naive" and in their "simplicity" refuse to believe that man in actual fact is "descended from apes" or ape-like creatures.

But here let us remember the words of St. Gregory Palamas which I have already quoted:

"If one of the Fathers says the same thing as do those from without, the concordance is only verbal, the thought being quite different. The former, in fact, have, according to Paul, ‘the mind of Christ’ (I Cor. 2:16), while the latter express at best a human reasoning.... What man of sound spirit and belonging to the Church could from this conclude that their teaching comes from God?" (Defense of the Holy Hesychasts, Triad I, 11.)

And in fact, I must tell you that you have completely misunderstood the teaching of St. Seraphim, who is not at all teaching what the doctrine of evolution teaches. This I can show by quoting both the clear teaching of other Holy Fathers and that of St. Seraphim himself.

But first I must explain what might seem to a rationalist to be a "contradiction" between the teaching of St. Seraphim and that of other Fathers. First, we should be clear that when St. Seraphim speaks of man as being composed of "spirit and soul and body" he is not contradicting those many other Holy Fathers who speak of human nature as merely "soul and body"; he is merely making a distinction between different aspects of the soul and speaking of them separately, as many Holy Fathers also speak. Second, in saying that the "breath of life" which God breathed into the face of Adam is the grace of the Holy Spirit, he is not contradicting the very many Holy Fathers who teach that the "breath of life" is the soul, but is only giving a perhaps more profound and precise interpretation of this passage from Scripture. But is he actually making the rationalistic distinction which you make between the nature of man which existed "before" this breathing, and the grace which was communicated by it? Does Orthodox theology accept the rigid dichotomy which Roman Catholic teaching makes between "nature" and "grace," as though men knew everything there is to know about these two great mysteries?

No; Orthodox theology does not know such a rigid dichotomy, and that is why rationalist scholars find so many "contradictions" between different Orthodox Fathers on this subject, as will be clear from a single example: Does immortality belong to the human soul by nature or by grace? Different Orthodox Fathers who are of equal authority answer differently on this question, not because they teach differently about man and thus "contradict" each other, but because they approach the question from different sides. Those who approach the question of man’s nature more from the side of the present corrupted human nature say that man’s soul is immortal by grace; while those (especially the ascetic and mystical Fathers) who begin with the view of man’s nature as it was in the beginning, view the soul rather as immortal by nature. It may be that one and the same Father views the question now from one and now from the other side, as does St. Gregory of Nyssa when he says in one place (Answer to Eunomius, Second Book): "That which reasons, and is mortal, and is capable of thought and knowledge, is called ‘man’"; but in another place he says: "Man did not in the course of his first production have united to the very essence of his nature the liability to passion and to death." ("On Virginity," ch. XII.) Does this great Father "contradict" himself? Of course he does not.

What belongs to first-created Adam by nature and what by grace} Let us not make false rationalistic distinctions, but let us admit that we do not fully understand this mystery. Nature and grace both come from God. The nature of first-created Adam was so exalted that we can only faintly understand it now by our own experience of grace, which has been given to us by the Second Adam, Our Lord Jesus Christ; but Adam’s state was also higher than anything we can imagine even from our own experience of grace, for even his high nature was made you more perfect by grace, and he was, as St. Seraphim [says], "completely and in every way like God, and, like Him, forever immortal."

What is absolutely clear, and what is sufficient for us to know, is that the creation of man—of his spirit and soul and body, and of the Divine grace which perfected his nature—is a single act of creation, and it cannot be artificially divided up, as though one part of it came "first," and another part "later." God created man in grace, but neither the Holy Scriptures nor the Holy Fathers teach us that this grace came later in time than the creation of man’s nature. This teaching belongs to Medieval Latin scholasticism, as I will show below.

St. Seraphim only appears to teach this doctrine, because he speaks in terms of the simple narrative of the sacred text of Genesis. But it is clear enough, as St. Gregory Palamas says, that "the concordance is only verbal, the thought being quite different." To be convinced of this we have only to examine how the Holy Fathers instruct us to interpret the sacred narrative of Genesis at this point.

Fortunately for us, this very question was raised and answered by the Holy Fathers. This answer is summed up for us by St. John Damascene:

"From the earth (God) formed his body and by His own inbreathing gave him a rational and understanding soul, which last we say is the divine image.... The body and the soul were formed at the same time—not one before and the other afterwards, and the ravings of Origen would have it." (On the Orthodox Faith, II, 12.)

Here let us be sure again that we understand that although St. John speaks of the inbreathing of God as the soul, he does not teach a doctrine different from St. Seraphim, who speaks of this inbreathing as the grace of the Holy Spirit. St. John in fact hardly speaks of grace at all in the creation of man, for it is understood as being present in the whole process of creation, above all in the creation of the image of God, the soul, which he teaches is part of our nature. St. Gregory of Nyssa likewise speaks of the creation of man without paying special attention to what comes from "nature" and what from "grace," only ending his whole treatise with the words:

"May we all return to that Divine grace in which God at the first created man, when He said, ‘Let us make man in our image and likeness.’" (On the Creation of Man, XXX, 34.)

St. John Damascene and others who speak of the inbreathing of God as the soul view this matter from an aspect slightly different from that of St. Seraphim; but clearly the teaching of all these Fathers regarding the whole creation of man, and in particular regarding the question of whether the narrative of Genesis indicates a difference in time between the "forming" and "inbreathing" of man—is the same. St. John Damascene speaks for all the Holy Fathers when he says that they occurred "at the same time—not one before and the other afterwards."

In saying this, St. John Damascene was refuting in particular the Origenist heresy of the "pre- existence of souls." But there was also a heresy opposed to this, which taught the ‘‘pre-existence" of the human body, just as it is taught by modern "Christian evolutionists." This heresy was specifically refuted by St. Gregory of Nyssa, whom I shall now quote.

After discussing the Origenist error of the "pre-existence of souls," St. Gregory continues:

"Others, on the contrary, marking the order of the creation of man as stated by Moses, say that the soul is second to the body in order of time, since God first took dust from the earth and formed man, and then animated the being thus formed by His breath: and by this argument they prove that the flesh is more noble than the soul, that which was previously formed than that which was afterwards infused into it: for they say that the soul was made for the body, that the thing formed might not be without breath and motion, and that everything that is made for something else is surely less precious than that for which it is made.... The doctrine of both is equally to be rejected." (On the Creation of Man, XXVIII, 1, 8.)

Specifically refuting the doctrine of the "pre-existence of the body." St. Gregory says:

"Nor again are we in our doctrine to begin by making up man like a clay figure, and to say that the soul came into being for the sake of this; for surely in that case the intellectual nature would be shown to be less precious than the clay figure. But as man is one, the being consisting of soul and body, we are to suppose that the beginning of his existence is one, common to both parts, so that he should not be found to be antecedent and posterior to himself, if the bodily element were first in point of time, and the other were a later addition.... For as our nature is conceived as twofold, according to the apostolic teaching, made up of the visible man and the hidden man, if the one came first and the other supervened, the power of Him that made us will be shown to be in some way imperfect, as not being completely sufficient for the whole task at once, but dividing the work, and busying itself with each of the halves in turn." (Ibid. XXIX, 1, 2.)

Do I need to point out that the "God" of "Christian evolution" is precisely this kind of God who is not "completely sufficient for the whole task at once"; and the very reason why the doctrine of evolution was invented was to account for the universe on the assumption that God either does not exist or is incapable of creating in six days or bringing the world into existence by His mere word?. EVOLUTION WOULD NEVER HAVE BEEN THOUGHT OF BY MEN WHO BELIEVE IN THE GOD WHOM ORTHODOX CHRISTIANS WORSHIP.

The account of the creation of man in the book of Genesis must be understood in a "God- befitting manner." Here you had made the mistake of accepting a literal interpretation of the text precisely where the Holy Fathers do not allow this\ How important it is for us to read the Holy Scriptures as the Holy Fathers instruct us, and not according to our own understanding!

It is quite clear that St. Seraphim did not understand the text of Genesis in the way in which you have interpreted it. Indeed, there are other passages in the same "Conversation with Motovilov" which reveal that St. Seraphim viewed the creation and nature of Adam in precisely the same way as the whole Patristic tradition.

Thus, immediately after the passage which you quote, and which I have reproduced above, there follow these words which you did not quote (the English translation here is not precise, and so I am translating from the Russian original):

"Adam was created to such an extent immune to the action of every one of the elements created by God, that neither could water drown him, nor fire burn him, nor could the earth swallow him up in its abysses, nor could the air harm him by its action in any way whatsoever. Everything was subject to him...." »

This is precisely a description of the incorruption of Adams body in a creation subject to laws quite different from todays "laws of nature"—in which as an "evolutionist" you cannot believe, since you must believe with modern philosophy that the material creation was "natural, " that is, corrupted, even before the fall of Adam!

Again, shortly after this passage, St. Seraphim says:

"To Eve also the Lord God gave the same wisdom, strength, and unlimited power, and all the other good and holy qualities. And He created her not from the dust of the ground but from Adams rib in the Eden of delight, in the Paradise which He had planted in the midst of the earth."

Do you believe in this creation of Eve from Adam’s rib as an historical fact, as all the Holy Fathers do? No, you cannot, because from the point of view of evolutionary philosophy it is quite absurd: why should "God" evolve Adam’s body from beasts "naturally," and then create Eve miraculously? The "God" of evolution does not preform such miracles!

Let us look now specifically at the Orthodox Patristic view of the body of first-created Adam, which according to the evolutionary doctrine had to be corruptible like the corruptible world from which it "evolved," and might even have been, as you state, entirely that of an ape.

The Holy Scripture explicitly teaches: "God created man incorruptible’’ (Wisdom 2:23).

St. Gregory the Sinaite teaches:

" The body, theologians say, was created incorruptible, which is how it will arise, just as the soul was created passionless, but just as the soul had the freedom to sin, so the body had the possibility to become subject to corruption." ("Chapters on Commandments and Dogmas," 82.)

And again:

"The incorruptible body will be earthly, but without moisture and coarseness, having been unutterably changed from animate to spiritual, so that it will be both of the dust and heavenly. Just as it was created in the beginning so also will it arise, that it may be conformable to the image of the Son of Man by entire participation in deification." (Ibid., 46.)

Notice here that the body in the future age will still be "of the dust." When looking at the corruptible dust of this fallen world, we are humbled to think of this side of our nature; but when we think of that incorruptible dust of the first-created world out of which God made Adam, how exalted we are by the grandeur of even this, the lowest part of God’s unutterable creation!

St. Gregory the Theologian suggests giving a symbolical interpretation of the "garments of skins" with which God clothed Adam and Eve after their transgression, that the flesh of our present human body is different from the flesh of first-created Adam·.

Adam "is clothed in garments of skin (perhaps a coarser, mortal, and antagonistic flesh" (Homily 38, "On the Nativity of the Saviour.")

Again, St. Gregory the Sinaite says:

"Man was created incorruptible, as also he will arise; but not unchangeable, nor yet changeable, but having the power at his own desire to change or not." "Corruption is the offspring of flesh. To eat food and excrete the excess, to hold the head proudly, and to lie down to sleep—are the natural attributes of beasts and cattle, into which we also, having become like to the cattle through the transgression, fell away from the God-given good things natural to us, and became from rational cattle-like, and from divine bestial." ("Chapters on Commandments and Dogmas," 8, 9.)

Concerning Adam’s state in Paradise, St. John Chrysostom teaches:

"Man lived on earth like an Angel; he was in the body, but he had no bodily needs; like a king, adorned with purple and a diadem and clothed in royal garb, he took delight in the dwelling of Paradise, having an abundance in everything.... Before the fall men lived in Paradise like Angels; they were not inflamed with lust, were not kindled by other passions either, were not burdened with bodily needs; but, being created entirely incorruptible and immortal, they did not even need the covering of clothing." (Homilies on Genesis, XIII, 4; XV, 4.)

St. Simeon the New Theologian likewise speaks clearly of first-created Adam in Paradise, and his final state in the future age:

"If now, after we transgressed the commandment and were condemned to die, people have multiplied so much, just imagine how many of them there would have been if all who have been born from the creation of the world had not died? And what a life they would have lived, being immortal and incorrupt, strangers to sin, sorrows, and cares and serious needs?! And how, having advanced in the keeping of the commandments and in the good ordering of the dispositions of the heart, in time they would have ascended to the most perfect glory and, having been changed, would have drawn near to God, and the soul of each would have become as it were light-shining by reason of the illuminations which would have been poured out upon it from the Godhead! And this sensual and crudely- material body would have become as it were immaterial and spiritual, above every organ of sense; and the joy and rejoicing with which we would then have been filled from contact one with another in truth would have been unutterable and beyond the thought of man.... Their life in Paradise was not weighed down by labors and was not made difficult by misfortunes. Adam was created with a body incorruptible, even though material and not yet spiritual.... Concerning our body the Apostle says: ‘It is sowed a natural body, it will arise’ not such as the body of the first-created one was before the transgression of the commandment—that is, material, sensual, changeable, having need of sensual food— but ‘it will arise a spiritual body (I Cor. 15:44), and unchangeable, such as was the body, after His Resurrection, of our Lord Jesus Christ, the second Adam, the first-born from among the dead, which is incomparably more excellent than the body of the first-created Adam." (Homily 45.).

From our experience of our own corruptible body it is not possible for us to understand the state of the incorruptible body of Adam, which had no natural needs as we know them, which ate of "every tree" of Paradise without excreting any excess, and which did not know sleep (until God’s direct action caused him to sleep, so that Eve might be created from his rib). And how much less are we able to understand the even more exalted state of our bodies in the future age! But we know enough from the Church’s teaching to refute those who think they can understand these mysteries by scientific knowledge and philosophy. The state of Adam and the first-created world has been placed forever beyond the knowledge of science by the barrier of Adam’s transgression, which changed the very nature of Adam and the creation, and indeed the nature of knowledge itself. Modern science knows only what it observes and what may be reasonably inferred from observation; its guesses about the earliest creation have no more and no less validity than the myths and fables of the ancient pagans. The true knowledge of Adam and the first-created world—as much as is useful for us to know—is accessible only in God’s revelation and in the Divine vision of the Saints.


All that I have said in this letter, derived strictly from the Holy Fathers, will come as a surprise to many Orthodox Christians. Those who have read some of the Holy Fathers will perhaps wonder why they "haven’t heard it before." The answer is simple: if they have read many of the Holy Fathers, they have encountered the Orthodox doctrine of Adam and the creation; but they have been interpreting the Patristic texts hitherto through the eyes of modern science and philosophy, and therefore they have been blinded to the true Patristic teaching. It is also true that the doctrine of the body of Adam and the material nature of the first-created world is taught most clearly and explicitly in the later Fathers of exalted spiritual life such as St. Simeon the New Theologian and St. Gregory the Sinaite, and the writings of these Fathers are not widely read even today in Greek or Russian, and hardly any of them exist at all in other languages. (In fact, several of the passages I have quoted from St. Gregory the Sinaite have been mistranslated in the English Philokalia.)

I was very interested to read in your letter (p. 16) that you set forth the correct Patristic teaching that "The creation of God, even the angelic nature, has always, in comparison with God, something material. Angels are incorporeal in comparison with us, biological men. But in comparison with God they are also material and bodily creatures." This teaching, which is set forth most clearly in the ascetic Fathers such as St. Macarius the Great and St. Gregory the Sinaite, helps us to understand the "spiritual body" with which we shall be clothed in the fixture age, which is in some way of the dust, earthly, but has no moisture or coarseness, as St. Gregory the Sinaite teaches; and it also helps us to understand that third state of our body, that which first-created Adam had before his transgression. Likewise, this doctrine is essential in our understanding of the activity of spiritual beings, Angels and demons, even in the present corruptible world. The great Russian Orthodox Father of the 19th century, Bishop Ignatius Brianchaninov, devotes an entire volume of his collected works (volume 3) to this subject, and to comparing the authentic Orthodox Patristic doctrine with the modern Roman Catholic doctrine, as set forth in 19th century Latin sources. His conclusion is that the Orthodox doctrine on these matters—on Angels and demons, heaven and hell, Paradise—even though it is given to us by sacred tradition only in part, nonetheless is quite precise in that part which we can know; but the Roman Catholic teaching is extremely indefinite and imprecise. The reason for this indefiniteness is not far to seek: from the time Papalism began to abandon the Patristic teaching, it gradually gave itself over to the influence of worldly knowledge and philosophy, first that of such philosophers as Barlaam, and then of modern science. Even by the 19th century Roman Catholicism no longer had a certain teaching of its own on these subjects, but had grown accustomed to accept whatever "science" and its philosophy say.

Alas, our present-day Orthodox Christians, and not least those who have been educated in "theological academies," have followed the Roman Catholics in this and have come to a similar state of ignorance of the Patristic teaching. This is why even Orthodox priests are extremely vague about the Orthodox teaching of Adam and the first-created world and blindly accept whatever science says about these things. It may be that the Holy Trinity Seminary at Jordanville, N.Y., is the only remaining Orthodox school where the attempt is made to teach the Holy Fathers not "academically" but as living parts of a whole tradition; and it is significant that a Professor of this seminary, Dr. I. M. Andreyev, who is also Doctor of Medicine and Psychology, has expressed in print the very idea I have tried to communicate above, and which seems beyond the understanding of those who approach the Holy Fathers from the wisdom of this world instead of vice versa. Dr. Andreyev writes:

"Christianity has always viewed the present state of matter as being the result of a fall into sin... The Fall of man changed the whole of nature, including the nature of matter itself, which was cursed by God (Gen. 3:17)." ("Scientific Knowledge and Christian Truth," in St. Vladimir National Calendar for 1974, N.Y., p. 69.)

Prof. Andreyev finds that Bergson and Poincare have glimpsed this idea in modern times— but of course it is only our Orthodox Holy Fathers who have spoken clearly and authoritatively about it.

The vague teaching of Paradise and creation of Roman Catholicism—and of those Orthodox Christians who are under Western influence in this matter—has deep roots in the past of Western Europe. The Roman Catholic scholastic tradition, even at the height of its Medieval glory, already taught a false doctrine of man, and one which doubtless paved the way for the later acceptance of evolutionism, first in the apostate West, and then in the minds of Orthodox Christians who are insufficiently aware of their Patristic tradition and so have fallen under foreign influences. In fact the teaching of Thomas Aquinas, unlike the Orthodox Patristic teaching, in its doctrine of man is quite compatible with the idea of evolution which you advocate.

Thomas Aquinas teaches that

"In the state of innocence, the human body was in itself corruptible, but it could be preserved from corruption by the soul." Again: "It belongs to man to beget offspring, because of his naturally corruptible body t" (Summa Theologica, I, Quest. 98, Art. 1.)


"In Paradise man would have been like an angel in his spirituality of mind, yet with an animal life in his body." (Ibid., I 98, 2.) "Man's body was indissoluble, not by reason of any intrinsic vigor of immortality, but by reason of a supernatural force given by God to the soul, whereby it was enabled to preserve the body from all corruption so long as it itself remained subject to God.... This power of preserving the body from corruption was not natural to the soul, but the gift of grace." (Ibid. I, 97, 2.) "Now it is clear that such a subjection of the body to the soul and of the lower powers to reason (as Adam had in Paradise) was not from nature, or otherwise it would have remained after sin." (Ibid, I, 95, 1.)

This last quote show clearly that Thomas Aquinas does not know that mans nature was changed after the transgression. Again:

"The immortality of the first state was based on a supernatural force in the soul, and not on any intrinsic disposition of the body." (Ibid., I, 97,.)

So far is Thomas Aquinas from the true Orthodox vision of the first-created world that he understands it, as do modern "Christian evolutionists," solely from the viewpoint of this fallen world; and thus he is forced to believe, against the testimony of Orthodox Holy Fathers, that Adam naturally slept in Paradise (Ibid., I, 97, 3.) and that he voided faecal matter, a sign of corruption:

"Some say that in the state of innocence man would not have taken more than necessary food, so that there would have been nothing superfluous. This, however, is unreasonable to suppose, as implying that there would have been no faecal matter. Therefore there was need for voiding the surplus, yet so disposed by God as not to be unbefitting." (Ibid., I, 97, 4.)

How low is the view of those who try to understand God’s creation and Paradise when their starting point is the everyday observation of this present fallen world! As against St. Seraphim's splendid vision of man's invulnerability to the elements in Paradise, behold Thomas Aquinas’ purely mechanistic explanation of the rationalistic question: what happened when a hard body came into contact with the soft body of Adam?

"In the state of innocence, man’s body could be preserved from suffering injury from a hard body, partly by the use of his reason, whereby he could avoid what was harmful; and partly also by divine providence, which so preserved him, that nothing of a harmful nature could come upon him unawares." (Ibid., I, 97, 3.)

Finally, Thomas Aquinas himself does not teach, but other Medieval scholastics (William of Auxerre, Alexander of Hales, Bonaventure) did teach, the very foundation of present-day "Christian evolutionary" views of man's creation:

"Man was not created in grace, but grace was bestowed on him subsequently, before sin." (See Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologica, I, 85, 1.)

In a word: according to Orthodox doctrine, which comes from Divine vision, Adams nature in Paradise was different from present human nature, both in body and soul, and this exalted nature was perfected by God s grace; but according to Latin doctrine, which is based on rationalistic deductions from the present fallen creation, man is naturally corruptible and mortal, just as he is now, and his state in Paradise was a special, supernatural gift.

I have quoted all these passages from a heterodox authority, not in order to argue over details of Adams life in Paradise, but merely to show how far one corrupts the marvelous Patristic vision of Adam and the first-created world when one approaches it with the wisdom of this fallen world. Neither science nor logic can tell us a thing about Paradise·, and yet many Orthodox Christians are so cowed by modern science and its rationalistic philosophy that they are actually afraid to read seriously the first chapters of Genesis, knowing that modern "wise men" find so many things there that are "dubious" of "confused" or need to be "reinterpreted," or that one may obtain the reputation of being a "Fundamentalist" if one dares to read the text simply, "as it is written," as all the Holy Fathers read it.

The instinct of the simple Orthodox Christian is sound when he recoils from the "sophisticated, " fashionable view that man is descended from an ape or any other lower creature, or even (as you say) that Adam might have had the very body of an ape. St. Nectarios of Pentapolis rightly expressed his righteous anger against those who try to "prove that man is an ape, from which they boast that they are descended." That is the view of Orthodox holiness, which knows that creation is not as modern wise men describe it by their vain philosophy, but as God revealed it to Moses "not in riddles," and as the Holy Fathers have seen it in vision. Man’s nature is different from ape nature and has never been mixed with it. If God, for the sake of our humility, had wished to make such a mixture, the Holy Fathers, who say the very "composition of visible things" in Divine vision, would have known it.

HOW LONG WILL ORTHODOX CHRISTIANS REMAIN IN CAPTIVITY TO THIS VAIN WESTERN PHILOSOPHY? Much is said about the "Western captivity" of Orthodox theology in recent centuries; when will we realize that it is a far more drastic "Western captivity" in which every Orthodox Christian finds himself today, a helpless prisoner of the "spirit of the times," of the dominating current of worldly philosophy which is absorbed in the very air we breathe in an apostate, God-hating society? An Orthodox Christian who is not consciously fighting against the vain philosophy of this age simply accepts it into himself, and is at peace with it because his own understanding of Orthodoxy is distorted, does not conform to the Patristic standard.

The sophisticated, worldly-wise laugh at those who call evolution a "heresy." True, evolution is not strictly speaking a heresy; neither is Hinduism, strictly speaking, a heresy: but like Hinduism (with which it is indeed related, and which probably had an influence on its development) evolutionism is an ideology that is profoundly foreign to the teaching of Orthodox Christianity, and it involves one in so many wrong doctrines and attitudes that it would be far better if it were simply a heresy and could thus be easily identified and combatted. Evolutionism is closely bound up with the whole apostate mentality of the rotten "Christianity" of the West; it is a vehicle of the whole "new spirituality" and "new Christianity" in, which the devil is now striving to submerge the last true Christians. It offers an alternative explanation of creation to that of the Holy Fathers; it allows an Orthodox Christian under its influence to read the Holy Scriptures and not understand them, automatically "adjusting" the text to fit his preconceived philosophy of nature. Its acceptance cannot but involve the acceptance also of alternative explanations of other parts of Divine revelation, of an automatic "adjustment" of other Scriptural and Patristic texts to fit in with modern "wisdom."

I believe that in your feeling fir Gods creation, as you describe it in your letter, you are Orthodox, but why do you feel that you must corrupt this feeling with modern wisdom, and justify this new ideology which is so foreign to Orthodoxy? You have written most movingly "against false union"; how we wish that you would now become just as great a zealot "against false wisdom." and tell the Greek-speaking Orthodox Christians who have accepted this new doctrine much too uncritically that our only wisdom comes from the Holy Fathers, and all that contradicts it is a lie, even if it calls itself "science."

I beg your forgiveness is anything the I have said seems harsh; I have tried only to speak the truth as I see it in the Holy Fathers. If I have made any mistakes in my citations from the Holy Fathers, I beg you to correct them, but not to let any small mistakes keep you from seeing what I have tried to say. There is much else that I could say on this subject, but I will wait for your reply before doing so. Above all, I have the heartfelt wish that both you and we might see the true Patristic teaching on this subject, which is so important for our whole Orthodox world-view. I ask your prayers for myself and our Brotherhood.

With love in Christ our Saviour,
Seraphim, monk


March 9/22, 1974
Holy Forty Martyrs of Sebaste

Dear Brother in Christ, Alexey,

Greetings in our Lord Jesus Christ,

We have started the new Orthodox Word, so typing on my letter to Kalomiros is just beginning. We just spent four evenings, after evening trapeza, listening to the whole Kalomiros letter and then my reply. I can safely say that the whole Brotherhood was deeply shocked by the doctrine of Kalomiros, and also astonished at the low level both of its science and its theology. My reply was approved.

It is clear, however, that my reply is not the “last word.” To be of general benefit it will have to have additions of those points I didn’t discuss either because Kalomiros doesn’t question them (such as Patristic testimony of the Divine inspiration of Genesis) or because there just wasn’t room (Patristic testimony of the age of the world, etc.). Some points might be cut down too, and Kalomiros’ reply will also give us farther indi