Sunday, December 15, 2002

I tend to write far less about my work as a prosecutor than I do about life on the farm. Most of the good stories from work are told over meals, or after dinner, to friends curious about the oddities and tragedies seen in the practice of criminal law. A lot of what I do I simply don't talk much about. Some material is confidential, some of it is simply too sad for this forum. Some involves people who's right to privacy or anonymity I feel bound to respect. Nonetheless, there are a few tales that I have told and retold over the years. Perhaps I will tell them here in the coming months. In the meantime, here is a photo of the site of the other half of my life, taken the day of our recent snowstorm.

Bishop Seraphim has been writing about Mother Maria Skobstova in his LiveJournal. At various times in her life a student, a poet, a revolutionary, a wife, a mother, a social worker, and a professed Orthodox nun, she worked among the destitute and mentally ill in Paris between the wars. Mother Maria died in the Ravensbruck concentration camp, sentenced for the "crime" of protecting Jews in Nazi occupied France. It is perhaps too early to tell whether her life is a precursor of new kind of sanctity in the Orthodox Church, or simply a unique and glorious aberration. There is a growing movement of devotion to her life and memory, as witnessed by this web site, which (somewhat prematurely) contains material for veneration of her as a canonized saint. There is a fine biography of Mother Maria, Pearl of Great Price by Sergei Hackel, which appears to be out of print (temporarily one can hope.)

In a second post on Mother Maria, Bishop Seraphim includes a sketch of her with Fr Dimitrii Klepenin. Fr Dimitrii worked alongside Mother Maria, and died in Ravensbruck as well. He has been a hero of mine since I read the following exchange with Hofmann, his Gestapo interrogator, recounted in Hackel's book:

Fr Dimitrii was interrogated for four hours. He made no attempt to exculpate himself. Later, at Lourmel, Hofmann was to describe how he was offered his freedom on the condition that he helped no more Jews. Fr Dimitrii had raised his pectoral cross, shown the figure on it and asked, "But do you know this Jew?" He was answered with a blow to the face. "Your priest did himself in", stated Hofmann. "He insists that if he were to be freed he would act exactly as before."