Letters to Spiritual Children, Part IX

I received your letter. It wouldn’t be worth it to answer but then, if I didn’t answer you might think that I was offended by you so I decided to write a reply.

1. My opinion had to have been stamped upon your mind: I am not able in any way to direct in the spiritual life, I don’t consider myself anyone’s spiritual father and don’t call any as spiritual children. Why? Because I see not only myself as unable to spiritually direct but in my whole life I haven’t seen anyone capable of this, nor have I seen one “child” capable of obedience and life under the direction of a spiritual “father.” Maybe as there aren’t any capable children there are neither spiritual fathers.

2. “If you want to have a hostile opinion of me you can listen to L.,” you write. You couldn’t have better proved my thought above than with this phrase, that is, that a spiritual father comes up with an opinion about his spiritual child on the basis of another’s idle words and judgments (as according to what you think) and that a child considers their spiritual director able of judging his children on the basis of other peoples’ opinion. How could he ever direct them?

3. For your information, L. didn’t say anything bad about you to me or to any of us.

4. By the following phrase, you again confirm my thought in item 1, particularly, you quote L. who says that, “Everyone tells you that batushka is a bad person and bad pastor.” I will also tell about myself that, only a little differently, “I’m a very bad pastor and still worse person.” Truly this is so. It’s clear that I can’t direct anyone.

5. You write that you had and have the right to judge L. and others. Probably, due to the fact that you consider yourself L.’s spiritual mother you have the right to judge her and others without any foundation? About this I will reply: you don’t have any right to judge and, especially, to proclaim your judgments to others, for this is forbidden by the Lord Himself. The consequences of your judgment are proof of this. By their fruits you will know them. [Matt. 12:33] The fruit of your words is complete disorder.

6. As far as I know Fr. V. was angry with you not because of R. but for something else which you must know yourself. I don’t know about it.

7. I ask forgiveness of you for the fact that I, due to idle talking, in some situation called you mad. You know too well what for: for your pose, whispering and such. I told you this once personally as well as in the presence of others and asked you not to do it any longer. You either didn’t hear or are not able to stop. Give it up and no one will call you mad.

8. You write, “When I came to you I was not spiritually small and my achievements were not small (these words were underlined by you), knowing God, the enemy, heaven and hell…”

I am horrified and in awe. Forgive me that I didn’t treat you with reverence.

But my only excuse is that I, then and now, not only have seen myself as small and not having any achievements, knowledge of God, hell and heaven, besides dry dogmatics, but also am aware that I’m dying in violation of all the commandments, unworthy of not only some achievements and knowledge but even the name of Christian, and, even more so, the rank of priest. I say this to you sincerely for truly feel this.

Since only a spiritual person can know a spiritual person, that is, someone on the same height, then I, being nobody and nothing, was not able to comprehend you and your height and treated you as a simple person. Forgive me, for Christ’s sake, for this. If I was capable of obedience then with tears I would beg you to be my spiritual mother and director but because of my inability and age I am not able to be a novice any longer.

I think that by item 7 item 1 is proved. To sum up: let’s be friends if you can come down to my level. But I in no way can allow you to call yourself my spiritual child and me your spiritual father. You can either find a spiritual father and director according to your age or follow the way by which you reached the spiritual height of which you wrote.

May the Lord help you! Save yourself! Remember me also in your holy prayers.

Hi to all and God’s blessings.

N.[ikon]
March 3, 1958

[Note: If you didn’t notice there is a bit of a sarcastic tone in this letter. To what degree in which points, however, it isn’t exactly clear.]

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