Letter Seven of Fr. Clement Sederholm to His Father

You think, dearest father, that I should in my letters, and in the exchange of our thoughts, not only to work to please you but to look for my own benefit and to check my one-sided view. It seems to me that I am not holding to a one-sided but to a general view. Besides, I am ready to accept truth not only from you but from anyone, because, according to the teaching of God-inspired men, the one who accepts truth accepts God Himself. But if in your letters something is not clear to me or not convincing, then I tell you directly. For example, you write that it is subject to investigation whether a man, according to faith, can go through fire and water without harm. I won’t begin to point out examples from Church history-maybe they will not convince you. It is better for us to take them from scripture: do we not see that the three youths thrown into the furnace (Dan. 3:25), according to their faith, remained unharmed? The fire did not have any power over their bodies and even their hair remained unharmed. Until the time that the Holy Apostle Peter had firm faith, he walked on water; but as soon as faith became weak he began to sink. You write that by that fact we do not gain anything. With this we have already gained that this example, taken from the Gospel (which is for you, of course, quite convincing) demonstrates how much higher faith is than reason, because reason does not give people such power and certitude, which would preserve them unharmed in fire and water.

You find that in the book of St. Dorotheus little is said about the striving for union with the Lord. But what would you say about a sick person, who, laying on his bed, with all his heart desired to be healthy, but did not take any of the prescribed medicines because they seemed to him insufficient? If a man takes medicine at the appointed time then he, without any substantial, visible striving, will recover. And by the very fact that he takes medicine, he proves his desire to be healthy. So also in the book of St. Dorotheus is the practical striving towards the health of the soul. The one who carries out what is written in the book will receive health from the Lord and unites with Him.

This book contains a practical explanation of the evangelical commandments, and the one who desires to make use of the prescribed means by that fact proves his striving for health and in time will receive it. To you many of his instructions seem of little importance, but those trifles prove the greatness and purity of soul. For example, it cannot be said that a dress is clean when it is bespattered and think that it is a trifle. Sometimes it is by those small things that a man feels offended or not. By the way, today, in stead of ordinary pride, they have found a sort of noble pride. (The father of pride is satan. What kind of nobility can there be here?) But pride, whatever kind it may be, is pride nonetheless. In the Gospel it is said, whoever hits you on the cheek, turn to him the other [Matt. 5:39], while, according to the rules of noble pride, a duel is called for such a thing. Therefore, all that gives the soul true direction and leads it to the fulfilling of the evangelical commandments are is not a trifle but, on the contrary, extremely important.

As far as Russian kind-heartedness and Polish baseness, only one thing can be said: where the Gospel of Christ acts there is love and kind-heartedness, but where the nation has been for many centuries under the influence of fanaticism there is hatred and baseness.

August 13, 1863

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2 thoughts on “Letter Seven of Fr. Clement Sederholm to His Father

  1. I really appreciate you posting these. How often do I fall to take the “medicine” give to me by my spiritual father and others!

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