St John Maximovitch and That Most Awkward Halloween
St John (Maximovitch) Archbishop of Shanghai and San Francisco is best remembered for his gentleness, but when a certain incident aroused his sternness, he was up for the challenge.
“At the end of October, the Roman Catholic Church celebrates the feast of All Saints. There is a tradition that during the preceding night the dark spirits celebrated their own festival of disorder. In America, this “celebration” called Halloween has become an occasion on which children make mischief dressed in costumes of witches, devils, ghosts as if calling on the dark powers — a diabolic mockery of Christianity. A group of Russians organized on this night a Halloween Ball. In the San Francisco Cathedral at this time was the All-night Vigil celebrated, and a number of people were absent, to the great sorrow of Vladika*. After the service, Vladika went to the place where the ball was still in progress. He climbed the steps and entered the hall, to the absolute astonishment of the participants. The music stopped and Vladika, in complete silence, glared at the dumbfounded people, slowly and deliberately making the round of the entire hall, staff in hand. He spoke not a word, and none was necessary; the mere sight of Vladika stung the conscience of all, as was evident from the general consternation. Vladika left in silence. The next day in church he thundered his holy indignation and his flaming zeal calling all to the devout Christian life.”
*Vladika: A title and address for bishops in the Russian language
Missionary Leaflet # EA10, Holy Trinity Orthodox Mission