St. Michael's
A Resource for Orthodox Elementary Education
Santa Rosa, CA
Letter to an Educator

The following is a letter written by St. Nikolai Velimirovich.  It was taken from a book, Missionary Letters of Saint Nikolai Velimirovich, Part 4, published in 2008 by New Gracanica Monastery.  Although part of the letter seems to indicate that St. Nikolai does not see the need of Orthodox schools, the letter as a whole shows he would love to see schools which fill children with the joy of Christ rather than with "skepticim and pessimism."


Letter to an Educator



You write how you love children because of their beautiful gratefulness which is pretty dull among adults. You quotes examples. I will quote one, too. Isidor, the Metropolitan of Petrovgrad, used to tell a story how as a child he had to walk barefoot. Some man, named Peter, was moved with compassion and bought him slippers made of birch bark for 5 kopeiki (pennies). This small act of charity was carved so deeply into Isidor’s memory that he was commemorating his benefactor, Peter, fifty years later at the services.

You also write that you feel sorry for children, exactly because you love them. A hard time has come for children, for their souls and their characters. There are scandals everywhere. Uncertainties and contradictions whip children like cold winds, at home, at school, on the street. And not only do children hear, in the space of two hours, two completely opposite theories about life, behavior, family, motherland, but they are confused by opposite examples. So you would like to have some sort of special education system which would protect them from the contemporary sickness and scandals. However, He said, “unless you return and become like children, you will not enter the Kingdom of Heaven.” So, Christ points out a greater need for the education of adults than of children. He shows a method by which adults should be educated. Simply - by following the example of children. But He also said how children ought to be educated. Again, very simple - “Let the children come to me and forbid them not.” Just let the children come to Christ and everything else is His work. The only task that parents have is not forbidding children to come to Christ.

So, let the children approach Christ and let the adults approach children. In the presence of Christ, their greatest Friend, children will not only learn, but also strengthen. Christ does not only teach but He also gives the grace-filled force of life so that children can fulfill what they learn. Christ is the eternal Youth. That eternal Youth calls children, so it can give them strength, so that they do not grow old in spirit, but that they always remain young, energetic and joyful. In one word - the wisdom of Christ’s education of children is in children always remaining children and not turning into old people. In opposition to that wisdom stands the scholastic model of education which strives by all its might to make old people out of children as quickly as possible - to present old people as their example, to pour elderly thoughts into their minds, to wring their hearts with the skepticism and pessimism of the elderly. Instead of the elderly becoming like children, the turn children into the elderly. And thus, they neither enter into the kingdom of Christ themselves, nor do they allow the children to enter. Hence the complaints from all over Europe that the youth are desperate.

May Christ bless and rejuvenate the youth of Europe.