BISHOP JOVAN (PURIC)
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 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, 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 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).
St. King Stephen of Decani is one of the best known Saints of the
Serbian Orthodox Church. Through his holy and incorruptible relics God has performed numerous miracles.
Today, as the Serbian people suffer through another turbulent chapter in their history, they would do well to bring to mind the exemplary character of their martyred King Stephen Uros III (Decanski).
Twenty-third Sunday after Pentecost:
The Holy and All-praised Apostle Phillip;
Saint Gregory Palamas; Holy Emperor Justinian
RESURRECTIONAL TROPARION - TONE SIX: The angelic powers were at Thy tomb; and the guards became as dead men; and 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 didst rise from the dead: Glory to You!
God is He of Whom no questions would arise within us if we weren’t sinful, if we hadn’t fallen from Paradise, as chicks fall from their nest—all would be otherwise, and God would not be a problem. But now God is a problem and a question. Does God exist? And if He exists, where is He? And if He exists and where—then what is He like? What do I owe Him? What does He owe me? A thousand questions arise within us. But none of this would be if we didn’t sin, if sin didn’t blind our eyes. We should recognize that all difficult and tricky questions about God are difficult precisely because of our sinfulness and the darkening of our minds. The darkened human intellect, the weakened human will, the worn-out man—he is disoriented, today he thinks one thing, and tomorrow another, now he thinks one thing, and within half an hour something completely different. Within a single minute his heart can fluctuate from the right to the left, because, again, he is disoriented and clouded.
Saint Cyriacus was born at Corinth to the priest John and his wife Eudokia. Bishop Peter of Corinth, who was a relative, seeing that Cyriacus was growing up as a quiet and sensible child, made him a reader in church. Constant reading of the Holy Scriptures awakened in him a love for the Lord and of a yearning for a pure and saintly life.
Once, when the youth was not yet eighteen years old, he was deeply moved during a church service by the words of the Gospel: “If any man will come after Me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow Me” (Mt.16:24). He believed these words applied to him, so he went right to the harbor without stopping at home, got onto a ship and went to Jerusalem.
Commerated July 5/18; September 25/October 8
The lives of the saints as well as their writings are one of the ways that we learn about the spiritual life. In reading attentively the lives of saints, one of the first things we learn is that the saints are neither distinctively Russian or Greek (nor any other nationality); they are at all times Orthodox and Christ-loving. They breathe forth the same spiritual fragrance no matter when or where they lived.
One of the most beloved Orthodox saints of Russia is St. Sergius of Radonezh whose life for countless generations of pious Orthodox, both young and old, served as a source of spiritual nourishment. And so it can for us, if only we read it not so much with our minds, as with our hearts.