Belgrade, August 31, 2023
His Holiness Patriarch Porfirije of the Serbian Orthodox Church published a message of encouragement for the new school year this week, reminding children that “love is the most precious gift that God gave to man.”
It is important to study well and learn new things, but more important is to acquire virtue and cultivate friendship and love, the Serbian primate exhorts.
His message reads in full:
Dear children, dear schoolchildren, may the Lord bless you, your fathers and mothers, brothers and sisters, relatives, teachers, your friends whom you play with, all people and all children.
May God also bless the schools where you studы and learn different things. However, we should all know, both teachers and parents, but also you, students, that more important than knowledge is to acquire virtue, that is, to become good people, and a good person is one who feels love first for his family and friends, but also towards all people, towards all nature, towards the whole world. This means love is the most important thing.
Love is the most precious gift that God gave to man. The only condition for someone to be happy, whether he is a child like you, whether he is a grown man or maybe an old man, like your grandparents, is to have love in his heart. Everything else, if he has a nice house, the fastest car, the best phone, a lot of money, the best grades and prizes in competitions, if he sings or draws the best in the art school, if he is the strongest and scores the most goals—all this is nothing if he has no love for his friends, for people, for children, for nature. That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t compete to see who will do better in school, who will get a better grade, but it means that we shouldn’t envy someone who’s better, but rather rejoice in his success, and try harder ourselves.
We also help each other learn better, because we all need each other, we all depend on each other. That’s why we should cultivate friendship and togetherness. We should pray to God for each other. We should pray that our God, Jesus Christ, will give us love, that we will be closer to Him, our God, and that we will be closer to each other, to our parents, brothers and sisters, friends…
I pray for you, children, that God will protect you, that He might give everyone health and joy, and since I know that children’s prayers are most beloved to God, I ask you to pray for me, to pray for the whole world, for all people, so that there might be harmony, peace, and love. Cheers, dear children! May God bless you!
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