(Dcn Joseph Suaiden)
On Sunday, after the posting of a short obituary for Father Lawrence, I discovered the following note in a public response to our tiny obituary, less than 24 hours after I wrote what I thought was a pretty respectful obituary for Father Lawrence.
The letter in full and our response can be found by clicking “read more”:
“I recalled that he was with Met Agathangel at some point, but I just now read the NFTU posting which says he was with RTOC:
Fr. Lawrence’s connection with Fr. Seraphim (Rose) unfortunately appears to be somewhat exploited by the NFTU message to promote the idea that Fr. Lawrence who went with RTOC showed by this affiliation that he was a true disciple of Fr. Seraphim (Rose), whereas those today who have welcomed the reunion between ROCOR and the MP and are confident that Fr. Seraphim would have done the same, must not have known Fr. Seraphim. Perhaps in time we will learn more about Fr. Lawrence and his relationship with Fr. Seraphim, and why he believed that Fr. Seraphim would have opposed the reunion. For now, Fr. Alexey Young (now Hieromonk Ambrose) and Hieromonk Damascene (Christiensen) are two spiritual children of Fr. Seraphim that have done the most to share the words, the life, and the memory of Fr. Seraphim with the world, and both of these spiritual children are confident that Fr. Seraphim would have accepted the reunion with
I intend no disrespect to the departed soul of Fr. Lawrence through this message, but express only my regret that his ecclesiological affiliation has so quickly been used for the purpose of propaganda.
I am frankly disgusted you seem to be intent on misrepresenting what we wrote as a respectful obituary as propaganda. My statement was directed equally at both traditionalists and “non-traditionalists”, the latter of which I count you a member, who throw Fr Seraphim of blessed memory’s name around as a defense of their position.
In actual fact, I never intended my words to be directed at pro-unionists: all I wrote was “In an age where folks randomly banter about the meaning of the life of Fr Seraphim and the old ROCOR (and arrogantly speak with authority about what they taught and meant though they were never there), there remain fewer and fewer of those who not only remember those days, but remember those luminaries and counted them as friends and teachers, not textbooks from which to cite polemic.”. However, I could care less if such people as I describe (and by your admission, I assume you count yourself in that number) are offended. Since this is not an RTOC site, I am not sure how you could assume that I was claiming that true followers of Fr Seraphim should join RTOC, or any Russian Traditionalist jurisdiction at all (Full Disclosure: the author is not a member of any Russian jurisdiction).
I for one have always attempted to understand Fr Seraphim’s position from his own vantage point, not mine. I make no assumptions as to what he “would have done” in the context of what I would have done, or do, 28 years after the fact. For my part I am saddened that such misrepresentation is becoming a regular occurrence. My personal belief is that he reposed because of God’s mercy, and so that he would not have to witness the horror of what would have become the future of Orthodoxy.
Being part of the Church of Christ, even if only formally, means that you believe in the truth of the Church (unless you are a hardened ecumenist and such formality is in open contradiction to a spiritual reality). The very fact that it is considered “propaganda” to list Fr Lawrence’s jurisdiction, something I am sure he took great time and care to decide upon, is revealing as to what your own personal goals and agenda involve. I pity your position.
I for one have never made a statement with certainty concerning “where Fr Seraphim would be today”, something– in both public and private discussions– for which you have been eager to make a number of insinuations, though I gather from things I’d read previously you would not have even been in grade school at the time of his blessed repose, so with all due respect, you should take this as a lesson in not making such assumptions yourself.
Deacon Joseph Suaiden
General Editor, NFTU
St Eulalia Orthodox Mission Chapel, Yonkers NY