I received your letter about Fr. V. The very fact that you are uneasy witnesses to your error. Hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother’s eye. [Matt 7:5] This points to a deep psychological fact. If man with the help of God is cleansed from sin and in the same way will look at everything then (1) everything is revealed to him in a different light and then only will he give a correct evaluation to all, (2) then in his heart will be only love to all creation, unfathomable pity, and a desire that no one suffered or in any way suffered any harm (see St. Isaac the Syrian).
Only then can you teach your neighbor (as well as by the indication of the Grace of God) and then a word will be effectual, beneficial, and will heal and not harm. But for now we won’t attain for such a state; we don’t need to make ourselves into teachers. If you would be more quiet with Fr. V. and only made short answers when you’re asked (and if follows to not answer from yourself but with the thought of one or another Holy Fathers) then Fr. V. would relate to you differently, and what was said by you might inspire him to reflect or to be interested in what you referenced.
St. Nil Sorsky never answered from himself but only set forth the though of the Holy Fathers. If they didn’t make a decision right away then he didn’t give an answer until finding a thought of the Holy Fathers on the given subject. And we, not knowing anything ourselves by hearsay or just because “it seems that way to me” say an earful. A wise man will immediately understand the lightness of our words and censure us. You would have to either prove your own thought or reference to a reputable authority. Could you do that? Of course not. So don’t be surprised of his coldness.
You have too much rubbish in your head or, it’s better to say, in your heart and, therefore, you especially need to be quiet. Only to a direct question can you answer very briefly, saying that you don’t know (which is truly so!), just to not torture someone with your silence. We all are in “wicked spiritual deception*” as St. Symeon the New Theologian said, that is, in darkness, in error, in slavery to the devil. Only a few are released by the Lord from this state. How can the blind lead the blind? And you teach everyone everything. Cease!
The publican didn’t teach but with humility said, “God, be merciful to me a sinner;” he said it not only in the church but always had this attitude (otherwise even in church he wouldn’t have been able to pray in that way). Could he, or anyone else, have taught others always being in such a state? Clearly, no. And for those situated in slavery to sin and the devil there is only one correct state: the state of the publican. Only when this state seizes all of a man will the power of God be accomplished in him. My strength is in weakness, that is, when a man comes into the state of the publican (humility) then the power of God will be accomplished in him and will lead him out of Egypt to the land of promise. There is no other way. If I am writing this to you it is as a spiritual father. Forgive me.
May the Lord keep you and lead you into all good. Hi and the blessing of the Lord to you and all acquaintances.
January 2, the day of St. Seraphim
A bow to grandfather. I ask [him] to remember me.
January 17, 1954
*Translator’s note: prelest