Dear in the Lord M.!
He who turns back is not fit for the Kingdom of Heaven.
But the enemy is warring against you, and you need to experience all of this, pass through this, to conquer his intrigues by patience.
Remember more often your first love; this was a call from God. Now come labors, pangs, and sorrows, which are overcome by patience and firm faith in God’s Providence. The time will come when you will thank God with all your heart that He blessed you to pass through the school of monasticism.
Test of obedience
Dear A. A.!
I call for God’s mercy upon you and request that you magnanimously forgive my infirmities.
Apparently the time has ended when nothing prevented me from responding fully to whatever people asked who came to me. It is hard to press myself into all the present limitations that age dictates, however in order to continue pastoral communications with many spiritual children, I am compelled to observe them strictly.
I usually communicate by correspondence, as I am now with you, and I find a particular benefit and convenience in this method of communication with respect to those who ask about something in the future. Such a time has come when many people have short memories, and personal interests can easily bend the truth. But I speak generally, not about you.
Well, a year of tense life has ended for you and for me, one which should have determined your future.
Your personal account of this year is before my eyes, but in my eyes, in my mind, and in the secret chambers of my soul there is a different determination for your life, analyzed and recognized not by us. According to one and to the other understanding, the terms of change in your life have been set aside until a special decision has been made. Why? It is difficult for me to answer this question. There is only one answer to my perplexity: “Thus it must be!”
Thus it must be, that A. remain a musician, thus it must be, that he continue the matter he has begun in his union with K., thus it must be, that his Christian world-view and life should live as a healing example in his particular sphere of musicians, and he himself is and was a musician beloved and honored by the great grandfather (Patriarch Pimen). Therefore, I do not protest nor gainsay the decision from on High on your behalf. I call you also to this. Put away your ryassa, the poor one as well as the rich one, and limit yourself to a church podrasnik [reader’s cassock], remaining beloved by all: in the ecclesiastical sphere, and in the music world, A. A. Do not bind yourself with vows which would not bring the benefit you suppose to you or to others. This time will be for you a time of testing in obedience — something that cannot be avoided on the path to monasticism. This, of course, refers to monasticism of the spirit, and not of the clothing.
Your confession has been accepted; repeat it in detail only when the time comes for you to discuss the tonsure. For now, you will confess for those short periods from confession to confession. This is also a great benefaction to you — this period when you will be looking into your heart. The crude and fleshly has gone away, sunk into oblivion. You have not yet had a chance to tackle the subtle illnesses of the soul.
Thus, dear A. A., God’s blessing to you — do not change anything in your life until it has been announced to you from on High to do so. May the Lord Himself teach you how to pray, hope, believe, endure, forgive and love everyone.
“Rejoice, O Sovereign Lady, who hast shown the Sign of thy mercy.”
Be healthy and guarded by God.
Your well-wisher and poor intercessor in prayer.
Paradise in the monastery, hell in the heart
And just look at you, Ryassaphore Monk V.!
We can take you, but how and with what will you come? You say that you ran away from life, not yet having begun to live, nor having understood anything in life. You came [to the monastery] in order to hide from carrying your saving life’s cross to the Heavenly Kingdom.
Do you think that we will be received in the Heavenly Kingdom with such an answer? Won’t they ask us what we have done in life for God, for the Church, and for people?
So, Ryassaphore Monk V., this is your program: to continue to live, not according to your own desires, but according to God’s command.
Our Father is God, and God is our judge. Your Valaam is paradise, and our monastery is paradise, while in our hearts we have something more resembling hell.