Speech of His Grace Bishop Jovan (Puric) of Nis given today at the enthronement in Cathedral Church of Nis
Today we are introduced to the throne of the ancient diocese of Nis at this holy Gathering regarding the Name of God. To us entering into this throne is joining the efforts of many over the centuries, and this on the day of the Assumption of St. Anne. According to the words of holy Fathers Anne gave birth to one who place the Unplaceable – Theotokos the Foster Mother of our life, protector of episcopal rank. Through Anne's personality we perceive the beginning of the graceful gifts and salvation of man and the world. We are evangelists and preachers of that secret in the Church of the God-man Christ.
Today's Gospel that we heard at the Holy Service on the multiplication of loaves of bread, was preceded by the prayer of the Lord Jesus Christ alone. And when people were fed by Only Philanthropist, once again climbed the Mountain to pray alone. This context of events is very important for us: shows us the practice of personal prayer that precedes and follows every action and activity in the Church. About this event also testifies St. John the Theologian in his Gospel. Specifically, he talks about the Bread of life without Which there is no eternal life. That Bread of Life for us is the Lord Jesus Christ himself at the Holy Service, for whom one must strive for great responsibility before God.
We emphasize a great significance of a whole liturgical life, without which the restoration of a church life and the renewal of a mission of church is impossible in the modern world. In the liturgy is the source of inspiration and pastorship. If we are witnesses of joy and peace of the Holy Spirit, then also another human abilities: of prudence and reasoning, organization and planning will be truly salted. All plans and programs, all decisions and actions will be met if we are filled with Christ and His joy and peace. In this way our church testimony and our mission in the modern world will be authentic and fruitful. Our endeavor is not to show the modernity of Orthodoxy and its mission, but just that our life to be always correct, i.e. Orthodox in the eyes of God. Therefore with this position we are already opened for contemporary problems of man.
Today, above all, one should recognize a feat of a modern Christian, especially in the city. That feat should be free of moralistic or religious-penal mentality, and recognized in the diversity of forms of a virtue. The beautiful virtues of modesty and purity of our heart adorned the Predecessor at this department, which is why we desperately need these virtues. Only in that way we shall help ourselves and neighbours, with a prayer in the heart: " Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, neither let the mighty man glory in his might; let not the rich man glory in his riches; but one that wants to glory, then to glory that understand and know the Lord. "(I Kin. 2.10)
Indeed, a human effort and an effort to participate in the Holy Service is important, in the part of the priestly ministry. At the encouragement of God's grace man corresponds with all his being. To hear God, to open the door of one’s being, to fall at the feet of the Lord and be with the Lord, at the Table of the Lord are a great range of motion and all dimensions of liturgical and church life. Certainly that loyalty to Christ is being tested in all temptations, through which one gain experience. Each of us, including a bishop, carries own cross. To understand and to accept own cross means to understand oneself.
In this sense, the celebration of the signs of the Holly Cross of God, demonstrated and revealed to the emperor Constantine indicates a sign of our identity and existence. Being a man in the sign of the cross is the most difficult. To return to yourself and humanity in evangelical way, to share misery and poverty with its people is our modest contribution to the celebration of the jubilee in 2013, not only in years to come, but also all your life. That is why for us Lord Jesus Christ is the foundation upon which we will build ourselves and build up the Church in the Holy Spirit. Only in Him we are, exist, live and move.
Once again let us turn our attention to gospel reading, to the words of Ap. Paul, who preached in the first place, and less baptized. First he warned the Christians, upon hearing that there are contentions among the Corinthians, " that there be no divisions among you; but that you be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment." Therefore St. John Chrysostom, interpreting the words of Ap. Paul on preaching "not wise words, not to vitiate the cross of Christ," warns: "It is your responsibility to preach the Gospel. A priest preaches the by word and a personal example. Particularly, the example. If you would in your life fulfill the evangelical science, even if you would not say any word, your preaching will be more successful than, if you would talk beautifully and not live evangelically”.
At the end of this first address to our flock once again we emphasize that our acceptance of this obedience of the episcopal service to the Church is an entry into the rhythm of its own resurrected cross motion in God. We are integrating over this episcopal department in the centuries of spiritual life and the heritage of the river of spiritual people and their valuable experience. In this sense, we will need the advice and assistance, primarily from You Your Holiness, and all you brothers Bishops. Our thoughts go in the direction of accepting ourselves, as we are, "as one who sees oneself as one is, is greater than the one who resurrects the dead." The many fell because of pride and vanity, which is why we need humility and prayers of many.
Let us fall also we fathers priests, monks and nuns and my dear brothers and sisters of the Diocese of Nis, at the feet of Christ. At the foot of the Cross let us hear the voice of ap. Paul, who says:” Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God. But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men. And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient to death, even the death of the cross.” (Philip. 2, 6-8).
Ending this letter with the words of the Apostles, I invite You to cooperate in discovering our life’s cross, finding a life measure which God gave us. Let us get out of ourselves to meet God and neighbours, always keeping in mind the words of the Gospel: "So the Light of Christ shines in front of You, and to see your good deeds and glory our Father in heaven, always now and ever, and unto ages of ages.
Bishop Dr Jovan of Nis