Orthodox America

  Document From a Spiritual Son

How important it is to be guided on the sea of life by a true spiritual father and how fortunate are those who find such a guiding light in this age of increasing darkness. In the words of St. Simeon the New Theologian, "Rare are they in truth, and especially now, who know how to shepherd and treat skillfully rational souls." Behind the Iron Cur-rain, where those true to Christ face persecution, it is all the more difficult to find such a guide and thus it is all the more tragic when a true shepherd is taken from his flock.

Fr. Dimirti Dudko was just such a pastor who had literally hundreds of spiritual children thirsting for guidance. After his arrest they were orphaned, as sheep without their shepherd. His forced confession left many of them deeply shaken. But among them were many more who remain united to their spiritual father by the bond of love which even death cannot sever.

The following is a moving document writ ten by one of his spiritual children which testifies to Fr. Dimitri's ability, in the face of the godless authority, to inspire others with love for Christ and implant in their hearts that "one thing needful" which shall never be taken away.

"In his statement Fr. Dimitri addresses, among others, his former fellow-thinkers. As I can truthfully add and proudly claim to be such, I feel that I must respond. I am sincerely glad that he has been released, is with his family and can, at last, have some respite from the many years of waging

an intense struggle, in which he was always in the forefront.

"Fr. Dimitri battled incessantly and alone. He was surrounded by people who needed his support, but who were unable to support him in his most difficult hour. I feel my conscience will always be blemished by the fact that when my spiritual father was arrested, I did nothing more decisive than engage in lengthy discussions which could be of no help to him, could not influence his jailors, or open the doors of his cell.

"Fr. Dimitri's recantation is his last and, possibly, most important lesson to us all. I have lost my teacher--that is the penalty I must pay for my cowardice, laziness and inability to take action.

"Recantation is a terrible word, but the earth did not cease to rotate after Galileo recanted. Nobody could take the recantation seriously, and now it is only his great scientific achievement which lives on in the memory of men. And so, too, will the pastoral achievement of Fr. Dimitri never be forgotten.

"The truth preached by Fr. Dimitri remains. This truth of the Holy Bible he once gave to me, and nobody will ever be able to rob me of it. It will continue to warm my heart for as long as it beats in my breast.

"Fr. Dimitri has wrought great deeds in our country. That work is now completed. New tasks lie ahead, and new hands are needed to gain new achievements.

"Farewell, Father. May the Lord deliver you for all the good which you did me. And if it is not destined that we should meet again in this life and look each other straight in the eyes with trust – well, that is of no great moment, for we have all eternity before us, an eternity in which, as you taught me, there is neither fear, nor falsehood, nor doubts, but only truth and love. I believe that in eternity you will stand beside me again – strong, brave and radiating pure light, as I shall remember you to my dying day.”


“I have just reread what I have written, and am gripped by terror at the thought of the enormous void left in the place occupied for so many years by this great man. Can it really be possible that he will be unable to rise again? But to God, all things are possible, O Lord, for the sake of those hundreds of Fr. Dimitri’s spiritual children who have been cast into temptation by his moment of weakness, for the sake of Thy Church for whose purity he labored give him strength, let him once again raise his head high to look in the face of peril as behooves a man and an Orthodox priest.”

M. Probatovr

Keston News Service, August 8, 1980