Penitential letter from Igumen Nikon (Vorobyov) to Fr. Raphael (Sheichenko) of Optina

At the time that Igumen Nikon was a parish priest at Kozelsk, Fr. Raphael (Sheichenko), who had been at Optina until it was closed, was freed from work camp and returned to Kozelsk to be the second priest at the church with Igumen Nikon. At some point the wiles of the devil sewed discord between them. I have not been able to find any specific details about this except for the following letter which was written after Igumen Nikon had been transferred to another city.

Dear Fr. Raphael,

I received your letter unfortunately, I cannot find this letter] with your Christian forgiveness of my sins and untruths in my behavior towards you.

I’ve had to live sixty years in order not to only understand with my mind but to feel with my whole soul that I am exiled from Jerusalem, covered in wounds from robbers, that I am incapable and don’t have the strength to do any good without a mingling of evil, that only the Good Samaritan (that is, the Lord Himself) can save me if I will cry out to Him for salvation. In the light of this spiritual state, it seems to me that all of my former life is a succession of falls, the breaking of all the Gospel commandments, and a distortion of them even in the cases when it seemed that I was acting in a Christian way.

In particular my behavior towards you and my conduct was also imbued with sin. And this is why I sincerely asked you for forgiveness and warmly thank you for your forgiveness of me “for everything.”

I long ago forgave you and with this letter I confirm: the Lord forgive you all your transgressions against me, voluntary and involuntary, and I, with my whole heart, forgive you.

May you have peace, salvation and a quick return to service in the Holy Church [Fr. Raphael at the time was in captivity].

Unworthy priest-monk Nikon. (16.11.53) Gzhatsk

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