From the editors: Russian Orthodox Christians in San Francisco continue to abide in the light of the memory and celebration of the 10th anniversary of the Church’s glorification of St. John (Maximovich, +1966). “The days of St. John” in San Francisco are usually ended on the day of the Birth of John the Forerunner, when the funeral of the Saint of blessed memory was performed by a host of archpastors and clergymen (including then-Archimandrite Laurus [Shkurla]) and buried in the crypt under the altar of the Cathedral back in 1966. On this day of the culminations of the “Johns’ days,” the following letter is brought to the attention of our readers, and especially of our young people, which was written by this great hierarch of the Church in August 1927, during his days as a teacher of church law in Yugoslavia, and addressed to his male and female students.
My Dear Students!
To my great disappointment, I am no longer your teacher of ecclesiastical law and can only appeal to you in writing. Two school years I spent with you, teaching you the truths of the Holy Orthodox Church and preaching to you the word of the Lord. The time I spent with you will never vanish from my memory. As always, even now I often remember all of you, each of you individually, and wish you all the best. I will always consider you my dear students, and it would be good if you did not forget me; from time to time you should write to me.
I always receive and read all your letters with great satisfaction.
But more than this, I will always rejoice when I learn that my labors with you were not for naught, that you remember and act upon that which you learned from me. Love God, be devoted to the Orthodox faith. Remember that without God there is no good, no joy, that
“Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights” (James 1:17).
Let every one of you have the Holy Scripture and read from it, since these are God’s words, they teach us how to live and prepare ourselves for the future life. Pray at home daily, and on Sundays and holidays, come to church, to this holy place which is devoted to service to God, where God’s angels abide and pray together with you.
Do not think that now you do not need to come to church if I am not here to look after you. You must attend church not for people, but for God, Who sees the hearts of those who come. Listen to the one who will be your teacher of law, and learn the Law of God not for grades, but to discover the will of our Heavenly Father. Be obedient to your parents, as Christ was obedient to the Most-Holy Virgin Mary.
Be obedient to your teachers and all elders who teach you goodness. Labor, and guard yourselves against laziness, which is the mother of all sins. More than anything, guard yourselves against conflict, forgive each other when you are insulted. Remember: he who quarrels consoles the devil; he who makes peace gladdens Christ; he who makes peace among others helps Christ and will be accepted into the Heavenly Kingdom as a Son of God (Matthew 5:9).
Having no way of sending each of you this letter, I send it to all whose addresses I have, but through them I appeal to everyone and I would hope that, if possible, every one of my students, male and female, would read it, and that my words would fall into your hearts and leave a mark upon your souls. I bid farewell with each of you and invoke God’s blessing upon you. God is omnipotent and merciful, may He bless you, preserve and guide you to all good things! Glory to Him for ever and ever.