Dear Fr. K.!
Proof of our rightness in God is a peaceful spirit, which the Holy Spirit generates in the righteous soul. You do not have this peace, which means that you have no rightness. You are governed by fleeting impressions, and do not delve into the depths of God’s judgments, Holy Scripture, and the whole history of the Church which witnesses to them. I will not try to soothe you with persuasion, nor examples, nor with my own experience, because you do not have the main source of peace in your soul: a firm and undoubting faith in God’s Providence, and in the fact that the head and rudder of the Church is Christ Himself. You have nothing but doubt about everything.
Could it be that the Lord makes mistakes, or perhaps He does not govern the world at all? Could it be that those who blew the winds of “freedom” into the Church are the only ones who truly care for it?
The daily Gospels and Epistles answer the questions you have written to me in your letter, and I begin to wonder: could it be that Fr. K. does not read the Scriptures? Could it be that all the powers of his soul, mind and heart are spent entirely on contemporary periodicals?
Everything that is going on in the world is not a revelation. All must come to pass, and the Second Coming is approaching, while people will be saving their souls up until the world’s last days, according to the promise. Some will be saved, others will perish. Their main saving activity will be: preserving the faith. Our soul and heart should be anxious over our own faith, and the faith of those who are entrusted to our care. The lines, Thy faith hath saved thee, go in peace (Lk. 7:50), and According to your faith be it unto you (Matt. 9:29), sound throughout all time.
Without faith there can be no peace.
Everyone saves himself in his own field. Human mistakes — yours, mine, the synod members’, the Patriarch’s — are all before God’s judgment. But God’s judgment and man’s judgment are not the same.
How often it happens that what seems to the inflamed mind to be a mistake is shown in God’s good time to be a holy work, and the laborer is crowned with a wreath.
Where are those who painfully pierced the heart of Patriarch Tikhon with their serious accusations and waves of filthy slander and intrigue, nailing him to the cross?
But it was the Savior Who gave him that cross, and He it was who pronounced the final word over the victim: “Holy!”
So judge for yourselves! I have held in my hands, in handsome bindings, terrible books — witness to revolution and war against the Church.
By God’s will both saints and sinners depart from the field of battle — those who built and those who destroyed. Could you or I pronounce judgment upon how they lived? No, and again, no! But I know one thing for sure: I will have to answer for myself. Mainly I will have to answer whether or not I am doing what I am blessed to do, whether I am saving myself like a true slave of my Lord, and whether those who have been entrusted to me are being saved around me.
Believe me, dear Fr. K., if all the “warriors” of truth and Orthodox purity would arm themselves with prayer and life in God, then Orthodoxy would shine forth in Russia. But there are many “warriors,” and their numbers increase, while the Truth is gathering but a small flock around itself.
The Church is the pillar and foundation of Truth. You and I have been warned of this beforehand: Fear not little flock! For it is the Fathers’s good will to give you the kingdom (Lk. 12:32).
May God grant to you and me, that having preserved the faith and lived according to it, we might obtain a peaceful spirit and enter into that “little flock” saving itself in the Lord.
A priest and his son
Dear Fr. V.!
May God give you wisdom and strength. Glory be to God, your reasoning both about service and your son’s relations are perfectly realistic. How could your paternal heart not doubly ache: for your natural son and for your spiritual children?
Stand firm for what you know, but turn to God in prayer to assuage your sorrow, and await help for your son from Him.
I will pray for you. Do not forget your first love for God, and His mercy towards you in calling you to serve at the altar. Faith! We need to have living faith. This is the only true treasure in life.
Your son will change when sorrows begin to wash over him, for sorrow will inevitably come.
Priesthood requires love
Dear in the Lord K.!
I received your letter. Do you know why there is such a disparity between the false and the true? Because of a lack of a living relationship with God, on the one hand, and on the other — The kingdom of Heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force (Matt. 11:12).
But when it comes time for us to labor, then it gets boring and uninteresting for us again.
Yes, serving God in the priestly rank is voluntary martyrdom. We have to love God, and love His creation — people. You are trying the results of the ascetic life of the Holy Fathers on yourself, without taking into consideration the conditions out of which they grew. Now a drop of love is required of you, which would be expressed by a desire to study. What good result could there be from efforts that are only so-so? Look inside yourself and take yourself seriously; otherwise you will be simply wasting your time. Infants and children can feel the soul of the one who carries them in his arms.
May God give you wisdom!