On the occasion of the Patron Saint-day of the church, on 22 February 2015, His Holiness Irinej, Serbian Patriarch, officiated the Holy Hierarchal Liturgy at the Patriarchal chapel of Saint Simeon the Myrrh-Gusher in Belgrade.
The Patriarch was concelebrated by protopresbyter-stavrophors Stojadin Pavlovic, Professor Dr. Dragan Protic and Miroslav Milenkovic; presbyters Panagiotis Karatasios, Jovan Petrovic, Vukasin Milicevic, Miroslav Colakovic, Mihajlo Rapajic and Borjan Antic, as well as deacons Vladimir Rumenic, Savo Topalovic and Aleksandar Sekulic. The First Belgrade Singing Society sang responses.
Saint Simeon the Myrrh-Gusher, King of Serbia Stephen Nemanya was the Great Zhupan of Serbia, and lived during the twelfth century. The saint toiled much for his fatherland: he united a large portion of the Serbian lands, and strove for the political independence of his country from the Byzantine Empire. In his zeal for the Orthodox Church, he defended his nation against heresy and false teaching.
At the age of eighty, Stephen went to Mt. Athos, where his son St Sava (January 12), was glorified by the holiness of his life. Together they restored the desolate Hilandar monastery, to which monks from various lands began to gather.
St Simeon was a great ascetic and wise guide for the monks. He died on February 13, 1200, and his relics began to exude myrrh. St Sava transported his father’s relics back to Serbia, and placed them in a church of the Most Holy Theotokos at the River Studenitsa. St Simeon had richly adorned this church while he was still ruler of Serbia.
THE INSTITUTE OF LENT
There are institutes and symbols adopted by nations, churches or groups of men which represent certain ideals accumulated in the past. These institutes, that is precepts recognized as authoritative, and symbols represent the thoughts and feelings of those who created or adopted them and put in them all the experience of the past, often through struggle and sacrifice. A few feet of ribbon for instance, red, blue and white in color, have little value as is. But if one puts them in a certain pattern of stripes and stars, they become the flag of the United States and represent the ideals and unity of the people of America. The flag reminds us of the people's struggle for liberty. It represents the national unity which attained for them their rights as a people. The same could be said for the institutes of a nation, army or any group of people. These institutes are created by the people and are used by them in certain ways for certain aims. Some of these institutes are the means for achieving certain values and ideals. In the life of the Church of Christ there are many institutes created and maintained to meet the needs of the people - the Ecclesia. Among these is the Great Lent which falls within the year-cycle of the life of the Church before Pascha-Easter. Lent is the period of time for self-examination by the believer; of putting on the spiritual armor of the Militant Church; of applying the riches of prayers and almsgiving; of adopting deeply the meaning of repentance; of atonement and reconciliation with God Almighty.
The feast day of the Meeting of the Lord and the Statehood Day of the Republic of Serbia also this 2015 was solemnly celebrated in the historical place of Orasac, from where more than two centuries ago the uprising of the Serbian people and the creation of the Serbian statehood began.
The celebration of this great feast day of the Church of Christ started with the Holy Hierarchal Liturgy celebrated by His Grace Bishop Jovan of Sumadia, with the concelebration of the local clergy.
His Grace Bishop Maxim of Western America and St. Sava Serbian Orthodox Church in Phoenix, Arizona are host to this year's St. Sebastian and St. Mardarije Ecclesial Orthodox Institute which is being held in cooperation with the Clergy Brotherhood of the Serbian Orthodox Church. It officially began on Monday with registration which was followed by Vespers. Afterward, an introduction and greeting was given by His Grace Bishop Longin of New Gracanica and Midwestern America. Tuesday was the first day filled with sessions. After Vespers His Grace Bishop Atanasije (Jevtic) of Hercegovina delivered the Keynote Address: "The Eschata in Our Daily Life".
The Special Inter-Orthodox Commission for preparation of a Pan-Orthodox Council started its second session at the Patriarchate of Constantinople’s Orthodox Center in Chambesy near Geneva on 16 February 2015.
The Serbian Orthodox Church is represented by His Eminence Metropolitan Dr. Amfilohije of Montenegro and the Littoral and His Grace Bishop Dr. Irinej of Backa. Archpriest Gajo Gajic is also the part of the delegation.The commission established by the Primates of Local Orthodox Churches at their meeting on March 6-9, 2014, in Istanbul, will continue the work to edit draft documents of the Holy and Great Council of the Orthodox Church. The commission started this work at its first session which took place on September 30 – October 3, 2014.