Dear Beloved in Christ,
This month, we begin a new era at St. John, as we invite our new Director of Youth and Family Ministries into our parish community. Ioan Gheorghiu (“ee-oh-AHN”) will arrive on July 1.
Just look at the providence of God: Our beloved Saint John Maximovich of San Francisco has been our intercessor throughout this process of finding a new youth director. And now Ioan arrives on the eve of St. John’s feast day and he bears his name. His first service will be the Great Vespers on July 1, which will include hymns for St. John Maximovich. (Ioan’s patron saint is St. John Chrysostom; and the beginning of his journey to our parish—the day when I first called him on the phone—was on November 13, St. John Chrysostom’s feast day.)
July will be an intense immersion for Ioan: After a few days of setting up his office, he will join our Project Mexico team, July 11-17; then move into his new apartment on July 18; then travel to the metropolis summer camp with our campers, July 21-30—visiting St. John Maximovich in San Francisco along the way.
Over the past month, Mark Lindgren and crew have been constructing a new office for Ioan. (Thank you, Mark!!!) And the parish council has been working to put everything in place for Ioan’s arrival. Now it’s up to all of you!
In the coming months, as Ioan is getting to know our community, feel free to invite him out to lunch or into your home for dinner. (Our interim youth directors, Shannon Rush and Anya Seidel may be coordinating this, so that he doesn’t get inundated.)
Most importantly, we must pray for this transition, asking for God’s continued guidance and blessings in this new era at St. John—and we must give thanks to his beloved saint for his intercession, celebrating St. John Maximovich’s feast day this Sunday!
In honor of Ioan’s arrival, I am including a small excerpt from the blog that was created by Ioan and his father Grig, which posts translated quotes from Romanian elders and other holy people of the Orthodox Church: romelders.substack.com
PEDAGOGY OR PUNISHMENT?
Fr. Rafail Noica
God leads a person through pedagogy or “punishment” [In Romanian, “punishment,” pedeapsă, has a root “pedea” that is similar to “pedagogy”]. And punishment is not that God got angry and strikes us so that we no longer do something, but it is the result of my choice. Saint Ignatius Brianchaninov opened my eyes; he says somewhere—and now I am putting it in my own words—that if you throw a handful of rocks in the air, they should all fall on your head. … And maybe one of those rocks should have killed you. However by God’s providence it does not kill you, but it lets you taste the path that you chose so that you can understand it. It is not that God got angry—God is not wrathful. And when we say that God is slow to anger and quick to forgive, it is speaking in terms intelligible to us on every level. Yes, God is not wrathful. Yet God’s anger is toward all that is a lie, to all that is not true, but not toward sinners.
Thus, “punishment” is the result of what I do, from which God allows only the strict minimum that is necessary for me to wake up; if I do not wake up, to paraphrase St. Silouan, something worse may happen, a larger rock may fall on my head, and if not, then an even bigger one, etc., etc., and I may end up in a place from which I will not be able to return. Therefore, punishment is the result of our choices. God restricts how much falls on me to what is strictly necessary for my growth, because it is important. Thus either I have understood and through pedagogy He can lead me, or I have not understood and through punishment He can lead me, but it is all God’s love, the gentle and good eye of God that follows me wherever I may be, and which leads me to salvation.