Bishop Gregory (hgr) wrote,
Bishop Gregory

Fr Seraphim Rose, + 2 сент. 1982

два его письма к одному лицу, обдумывающему  идею стать монахом в Платине.

очень важно про суть монашества и его место в Церкви. а также о том, что это понимается сходным образом о.Пантелеимоном из Бостона, но совершенно не понимается русским церковным начальством, отчего с ним неизбежны конфликты.




Aug. 10/23, 1971

Dear, Brother in Christ, L. [из даты и именин совершенно ясно, что имя адресата Лаврентий]


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. [See Letter No. 2, FN] What does it say to your



Fr. F.'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 Vladika 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 3,000 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 Vladika Vitaly's Russian-oriented

work. That Fr. F. 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 Anthony "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

become 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



This is what Vladika Anthony has in mind (and Vladika Vitaly also, who

recently forbade an Athonite hieromonk to reestablish the skete at Grad

Kitezh or anywhere else), and this is apparently what Fr. F. 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.








August 10/23, 1971


Dear, Brother in Christ, L.


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 (Nektary) has openly encouraged us

to "disobedience," if that be necessary, telling us to "treasure the

blessing of Vladika John above everything", and another (Laurus) 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 Vladika Anthony) 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, book; 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 fed 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 the question 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 by 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 one's point, raising one's voice, idle comments,

complaints, and in general everything that upsets the general peace and


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 (see: Life of St. Arsenius the Great).

i. Any 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 the brother who

allows the sun to set on his anger against another brother. According

to the rule of St. John 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 Vladyka 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 given above are in accordance with the

"Decree on Monasteries" of the Russian Church Abroad, which we shall

read to you on your next visit.



  • Post a new comment


    default userpic

    Your reply will be screened

    Your IP address will be recorded 

    When you submit the form an invisible reCAPTCHA check will be performed.
    You must follow the Privacy Policy and Google Terms of use.