Русский | Orthodoxy and modernity. Digital Library.
English translation by Katherine Ilachinski

Saint John of Shanghai (June 22)

Metropolitan Philaret (Voznesensky)
Sunday sermon originally delivered July 3, 1966

Orthodox Russian people have from the ancient time believed that the bishops of the Orthodox Church depart this life "in three" - of course, spanning for a certain period of time. This ancient belief involuntarily came to me now. Shortly after the last Council of Bishops of the Church Abroad, year and a half years ago, a very old man reposed, a member of the Council - Vladika Archbishop Stefan. Then - over a year ago, the orphaned Church Abroad in the prayer accompanied "the way of all the earth," the primate of many years and spiritual father - the unforgettable elder Metropolitan Anastasy. And then, finally, the third name … Yesterday during the vigil urgent phone call from Vladika Nectarios from far away California has brought us the sad news that one of the oldest bishops of our Church, the First Deputy Chairman of the Synod, Archbishop-hermit, Vladika Archbishop John died suddenly in Seattle, where he arrived with the miraculous image of Our Lady, accompanied by Vladika Nektarios. Stunning news … Now, when I think of Vladika John, I remember what was a long time, more than thirty years ago, when my late father, Bishop Demetrius, knowing what sorrow and trouble have, Metropolitan Anthony, Primate of the Church Abroad, experienced in Yugoslavia, invited him to the Far East, to the distant Harbin, where they were building church life. "You will rest with us, Vladika," - wrote Vladika Demetrius to the Orthodox head of Church Abroad. Vladika Anthony replied: "Friend, I'm already so old and weak that I can not think of any trip, besides traveling to the cemetery … But instead of myself, I like my soul, like my heart, I am sending to you the Vladika Bishop St. John. This small, weak man, looking almost as a child, but he is a miracle of ascetic firmness and rigor in our time of universal spiritual relaxation … "So the Vladika has defined Vladika John then still very young, newly ordained bishop, his great Abba. This was Vladika John then — and so he stayed, and even now, today, he was right before our eyes the same "miracle of ascetic firmness" - an example of a high spiritual, prayerful mood. Vladika John has prayed always, Vladika John prayed everywhere. No wonder the young hieromonk Methodius in Harbin, also spiritually minded, delicately noted, "all of us - are starting to pray and Vladika John does not have to start, he is always in a prayerful mood" … And what changes would occur either in the external environment, external conditions of life and work of Vladika John, in the matter of prayer and God's service was always in the first place, and nothing could tear him from it. No man can hold in himself all the perfection and be the bearer of all talents. Everyone can make mistakes, one makes mistakes - from this no person is free. But those who have dealt with Vladika John, as a man of prayer, as with a bishop, who was concerned about the human soul and was always ready to help those who have experienced themselves and on their loved the force of his prayers, they will never forget Vladika - and will always carry in their soul a grateful memory of warmth and light, which he gave them. Bishop died, unceasing prayer ended, with which our great man of prayer was consumed, always praying "for all and for all." But the Church Abroad will not forget him. We hope that the Vladika John will find favor and confidence before the Dread Throne of the Lord of Glory, and there he will be praying for his flock as he prayed here on earth … And it is our duty, the duty of a grateful love - to answer him for prayer — with prayer. Let us pray for his blessed soul that the Lord would grant him rest with righteous … Amen.