Science

The Church’s Engagement With The World – Witnessing As The Church’s Method

~ By Jovan, Bishop of Nis

The complex, polymorphous and fluid problematics of the (“post-Christian”) present have presented the Church – the universal Body of Christ and us Christians, godlike personalities that are the reason-bearing limbs of that Body, with an unprecedented challenge[1] in the history of Christianity thus far, one that we cannot, even if we should wish to, ignore, overlook or suppress. As an answer to this dramatic challenge, we must offer a living and creative Christian answer – a personal-universal witnessing of the present Church generation, an answer articulated on the basis of the Church’s universal traditional experience and a personal experience of faith as our active inclusion in that universal experience, if we wish to fulfill Christ’s commandment – to be the salt of the earth and the light of the world (Mt 5:13, 14), to truly be Christians. Here we should immediately point out that the said word of Christ is not simply some spiritual or moral “suggestion” or “counsel” that may be situationally accepted or rejected by one’s own free will, but an explicit Divine commandment concerning an active witnessing of theandric salt and the light of Christ to all people and nations, and to all of creation, which God personally commands as a necessary precondition for us to be Christians at all, and to call ourselves Christian. The entire history of the Church, which is, in fact, nothing other than the history of its world – a world that she transformed, through Christ’s salt and light, into the Christian world, bears witness to the fact that there are no “Christians outside of the world,” nor is there a “world outside of the Church.” For, a theoretical concept and practice of Christianity by which, in abhorrance of the “sinful world,” Christians isolate themselves into some sort of self-satisfied and righteous “holy remnant” and “island of the saved,” is neither evangelical, nor ecclesiastical, nor Orthodox but, rather, “all too human,” “religious,” psychologizing, pietistic and utopian,[2] and, as such, foreign to the entire Living Tradition of Christ’s Orthodox Church. Precisely due to the fact that this Tradition, through the entire theology of the Fathers, has forever rejected any dualistic understanding of man and the world as being in opposition to the truth of the man of God and the world of God, along with any “religious” dualism, i.e., the introduction of dichotomous schisms and divisions[3] into God’s single creation (and, before all, divisions into “sacred and profane,” “spiritual and material,” “religious and secular,” with the first element of these dichotomous pairs being assigned to the sphere of “salvation,” and the second not only being forejudged as lost for being unclean and ephemeral, but also being consciously “left” to this fate).

Bishop Jovan Puric: The Orthodox Aesthetics in the Hagiography of St. Arsenius of Srem

Fresco painting depicting the burial service of St Arsenius
in The Patriarchate of Pec
An opening discussion for further research

At this historical moment of our struggle to keep Kosovo and Metohija within the boundaries of Serbia, and in the light of 1220th anniversary of 1st Ecumenical Council, it seems sensible to discuss the topic of burial services as presented on frescoes and icons in the Patriarchate of Pec. A new iconoclasm has been present in Kosovo and Metohija in the course of recent years. We have recently visited Pec, i.e. on the occasion of celebrating the Feast of Holy Protection of Тheotocos and once again experienced silent prayers of this sanctuary area, the See of Serbian Archbishops and Patriarchs; it is a sanctuary in wich holy relics of saints and icons speak a wordless language. The peace of the Sanctuary takes us into another dimension; it is witnessing of the one crying in the contemporary wilderness spreading the voice of the Truth.

Why Are Vigil Lamps Lit Before Icons by St. Nikolai of Ohrid and Zica

Living Water

First - because our faith is light. Christ said: I am the light of the world (John 8,12). The light of the vigil lamp reminds us of that light by which Christ illumines our souls.

Weekly Diocesan Bulletin - Sunday, September 17, 2017

FIFTEENTH SUNDAY AFTER PENTECOST: HOLY HIEROMARTYR BABYLAS; HOLY PROPHET MOSES;
HOLY HIEROMARTYR PETER OF DABAR-BOSNIA

RESURRECTIONAL TROPARION - TONE SIX:  The angelic powers were at Thy tomb; the guards became as dead men.  Mary stood by Thy grave, seeking Thy most pure Body.  Thou didst capture hell, not being tempted by it.  Thou didst come to the Virgin, granting life.  O Lord who rose from the dead: Glory to Thee!

The Beheading of the Holy Glorious Prophet, Forerunner, and Baptist John

The Beheading of the Prophet, Forerunner of the Lord, John the Baptist: The Evangelists Matthew (Mt.14:1-12) and Mark (Mark 6:14-29) provide accounts about the martyric end of John the Baptist in the year 32 after the Birth of Christ.

Following the Baptism of the Lord, Saint John the Baptist was locked up in prison by Herod Antipas, the Tetrarch (ruler of one fourth of the Holy Land) and governor of Galilee. (After the death of king Herod the Great, the Romans divided the territory of Palestine into four parts, and put a governor in charge of each part. Herod Antipas received Galilee from the emperor Augustus).

The prophet of God John openly denounced Herod for having left his lawful wife, the daughter of the Arabian king Aretas, and then instead cohabiting with Herodias, the wife of his brother Philip (Luke 3:19-20). On his birthday, Herod made a feast for dignitaries, the elders and a thousand chief citizens. Salome, the daughter of Herod, danced before the guests and charmed Herod. In gratitude to the girl, he swore to give her whatever she would ask, up to half his kingdom.

Dormition of the Theotokos

The feast of the Dormition or Falling-asleep of the Theotokos is celebrated on the fifteenth of August, preceded by a two-week fast. This feast, which is also sometimes called the Assumption, commemorates the death, resurrection and glorification of Christ’s mother. It proclaims that Mary has been “assumed” by God into the heavenly kingdom of Christ in the fullness of her spiritual and bodily existence.

As with the nativity of the Virgin and the feast of her entrance to the temple, there are no biblical or historical sources for this feast. The Tradition of the Church is that Mary died as all people die, not “voluntarily” as her Son, but by the necessity of her mortal human nature which is indivisibly bound up with the corruption of this world.