Long Days of Summer

It’s not usual for me to go rummaging through old blog posts. But as I was looking for something or other a few days ago, that’s exactly what I ended up doing. In turn, that’s how I came across the photo above which, by the way, was posted the end of June last year, which is to say, a year ago today (here). (How time does fly indeed.)

I suppose I can update that summertide report of mine by first of all saying that Jovana is still little, though she no longer takes baths in the sink. She has outgrown that stage, I’m afraid. In fact, pretty soon she’ll be out of her crib. Her new bed came in yesterday and she’s already managed to crawl and climb her way to find a new sleeping spot. She’s getting tired of hi-chairs as well and fights to sit on a grown up chair. The photo below was taken last week, we took the kids to the Carnegie Science Center in Pittsburgh. On the way back we met up with some friends and had dinner.

The boys, Vasilije and Lazar, started playing tennis with me this summer. We play at the high school and go in the evenings mostly. They’re getting the hang of it. Vaso even managed to beat me last night in a very good game played by him. Nikolina, on the other hand, will be joining the boys the week after next in her first year of camp. She’s very excited. And Jelena, well, she’s far from being jealous. I think she’s looking forward to staying home and getting all the attention.

We’ll see what happens in the end for summer has only begun. God grant us all good health that it be a fun one and that we may see many, many more.

Vidovdan in Kosovo 2010

From today’s Serbian paper Politika, here:

IRINEJ: Both Serbs and Albanians have a right to exist in Kosovo

Serbian Patriarch Irinej said yesterday in Gracanica that the Albanian people have an indisputable right to exist in Kosovo and Metohija, but that this is the right of the Serbs as well, for whom Kosovo is a centuries-old homeland.

Patriarch Irinej, in his Vidovdan homily, expressed hope that a solution for the Kosovo situation which would satisfy both parties – the Serbian and Albanian. “The solution that would satisfy only one side is not a solution but reason for division, which we do not want nor those who want to have in Kosovo their land and country. This country belongs to us as the historical people of this region, but it belongs to those who are with us, and we hope a solution is reached which will satisfy both sides, “said Irinej.

According to him, those who tailor the fate of the world must have justice and truth as their standard when deciding on Kosovo and Metohija. “The people here who want their country have never been deprived of human rights, and they are fighting for their country and state, while the Serbs have always fought for survival in Kosovo,” said the head of the Serbian Orthodox Church.

“We recognize that the Albanian people have a right to exist here. But the Serbian people also have a right to exist and live here since it is their age-old homeland, “said the patriarch.

Irinej urged those who have left Kosovo to return and said that he prays “these who live there with us to restrain, not to make what is even unpleasant to God,” for “this land is great and blessed, and there is room for us and for them. ” “If we be people, as  Patriarch Pavle said, honorable and respectful, we will solve all problems both ours and theirs. This is both our and their future. To be human towards them, and they to us. And this should make us such that we can live together,” the patriarch said to the faithful in Gracanica monastery.

Liturgy in the monastery of Gracanica was attended by ministers Goran Bogdanovic and Bogoljub Šijaković, as well as Russian Ambassador in Belgrade Alexander Konuzin.

The central Vidovdan ceremony was held at Gazimestan, near Pristina, the place where in 1389 the Ottoman and Serbian army fought led by Prince Lazar.

At about 1pm the memorial service, Parastos, began for the fallen heroes of the Battle of Kosovo,  served by Patriarch Irinej, with con-celebrated by Metropolitan Amfilohije and Bishop Atanasije, and Teodosije. Over a thousand people gathered around the memorial in Gazimestan, carrying Serbian flags and clothing with the Serbian national symbols and patriotic messages.

Metropolitan of Montenegro and the Coastlands and administrator of the Diocese of Ras and Prizren in his homily he quoted the words of Prince Lazar that “it is better to end life gloriously than to live in shame.” “Since then this place has continued the struggle between good and evil, between hatred and love, between justice and injustice, between truth and lies, between violence and freedom,” said Amfilohije.

The Kosovo police and KFOR controlled the entrance to Gazimestan.


See more photos here

A Holy Rebel

Joan of Arc confuses me a bit. I watched the movie The Messenger: The Story of Joan of Arc (see trailer here). Though I can’t rightfully say whether the movie did a good job or not in portraying her, I confess I’m a little confused as to the “message” of Joan of Arc. I understand she is a symbol of patriotism. In fact, I discovered that prior to her canonization in 1920 she was considered “as a symbol of patriotism in the US”:

“When the United States entered the war, Americans swiftly disregarded Joan’s national origins and began to claim her as a universal patriot. A song called “Joan of Arc — They Are Calling You” was penned by Alfred Bryan and Willie Weston. Set to music by Jack Wells, it became extremely popular with the American public and was often sung by U.S. doughboys.

Books about Joan flooded the market, including a sentimental tale titled The Broken Soldier and the Maid of France, in which a brave young Joan appears to a French deserter and inspires him to return to his unit. Children’s books such as Joan of Arc: The Warrior Maid brought Joan’s story to the juvenile set. Mark Twain’s book about Joan was reissued with lavish illustrations by artist Howard Pyle.

A film called “Joan the Woman” was released on Christmas Day, 1916. Starring Geraldine Farrar as Joan, this 180-minute Cecil B. DeMille epic received glowing reviews and achieved box office success.

A New York monument to Joan was commissioned in 1915. It was designed by sculptor Anna Vaughn Hyatt, who consulted with experts at the Metropolitan Museum of Art to ensure that Joan’s armor and sword were depicted in a historically accurate manner.


After the Great War finally ended, U.S. relations with France soured over disputes concerning war loans. Joan was quickly and quietly dropped as a symbol of American patriotism. After she was elevated to sainthood, Joan “belonged to” the Roman Catholics and was no longer extremely popular with the nation as a whole.”

(From here)

But in addition to patriotism it would seem to me that she could inspire a bit of rebellion as well. Or, maybe that’s just how some could view her.  For instance, there are the voices she heard which she said were from God but the church at the time didn’t believe; she rode into battle dressed as a man; she cut her hair.  It seems that just as she can be praised for being a patriot she can also be exalted as being a holy rebel, a patron saint for pretty much anything and anyone the Church disagrees with. Like I said, I don’t know how accurate the movie was and I’m sure there were a number of discrepancies but for a good part of  the film she seemed to be a little nuts. It was the Church who was against her. Then, some twenty years later they pardoned her only to wait another 500 years before canonizing her. One wonders if this can in any way inspire those whom are shunned today to think in time the Church will finally see where it went wrong.

On the other hand, tomorrow we celebrate in our Church another warrior saint. Tomorrow is Vidovdan, the feast day of St. Lazar the Great Martyr of Kosovo, when we remember in our prayers all the heroes of Kosovo field. Yet this day we celebrate a different kind of patriotism, dying not for the earthly kingdom “which lasts only for a brief time. But the Heavenly Kingdom which is always and forever.”  I suppose connections can be made between Joan of Arc and St. Lazar, but I’m afraid they aren’t very strong.

But if nothing else they are both known for their victories. After the victory over the English and their siege of Orleans Joan became known as the Maid of Orleans. St. Lazar, on the other hand, after his victory on Kosovo field, which cost him his head, became known as St. Lazar of Kosovo. For it was there that he found his victory and, as the poet says, “all was holy and honorable and acceptable to gracious God.”

O Canada!


Canadian Prime Minister Vetoes Srebrenica Resolution

The Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper made a right decision when he vetoed the parliaments’ initiative to mark July 11 as a “day of remembrance of the victims of Srebrenica genocide”, the president of the non-governmental organization “Historic Project Srebrenica” Stefan Karganovic stated.

“The Prime Minister Harper showed the courage to resist the political pressures, which is rarely seen in the today’s world. Besides his personal integrity, his decision also shows the West is becoming tired of the requests to follow the agenda of the one aggressive and well organized interest group in Bosnia and Herzegovina.”

The group in question uses human tragedy in Srebrenica during the Bosnian war from 1992 to 1995 presenting its losses in a false way, and undermine the suffering and losses of others, Karganovic said.

The Canadian Prime Minister has put veto on the resolution on Srebrenica in the Canadian parliament. The Congress of North American Bosniaks said yesterday Harper replaced the word “Bosniaks” with “the Bosnian people who were allegedly the subject of genocide”, lowered the number of victims, and replaced the term “genocide” with “the mass killing”.

The resolution on Srebrenica was initiated by the Congress of North American Bosniaks, and sponsored by the NDP MP Brian Masse.


Further reading, see Srebrenica Report here.

“The Speed of the Assembly Line”

“Historical fact: people stopped being human in 1913. That was the year Henry Ford put his cars on rollers and made his workers adopt the speed of the assembly line. At first, workers rebelled. They quit in droves, unable to accustom their bodies to the new pace of the age. Since then, however, the adaptation has been passed down: we’ve all inherited it to some degree, that we plug right into joysticks and remotes, to repetitive motions of a hundred kinds.”

From Jeffrey Eugenidies’ Middlesex.

“The Arrogant Papal Brow”

There has been much talk of unity in church circles. Besides the recent Episcopal Assembly in New York a possible unification between the Western and Eastern churches has been in the works for some time now. But more than this, we speak of unity at every liturgy when we pray “…for the good estate of the holy churches of God, and for the union of all men…”.   What is it then that disrupts this unity? According to Mr. Dimitrios Tselengidis it is “egoism, vainglory and pride.” Furthermore he states that it is these very things which are the driving force behind the Papal primacy. Not only is it behind the Papal primacy but as he states:

“Multiform egoism is the primary cause of any heterodox teaching, according to the testimony of Holy Scripture (see 1 Tim. 6:3-6)….This same primary cause also tore Lucifer and his like-minded angels away from the primordial Church of the Triune God with His holy angels, just as it did with the first created couple….

Christ Himself, during His historic presence on earth, explicitly spurned every vainglorious desire for superiority among the Apostles (see Matt. 20: 20-28 and 23: 8-11; Mark 10: 35-45), saying to two of His chosen disciples: “Ye know not what ye ask” (Matt. 20:22). Still, it is particularly important that the Apostles, after receiving the Holy Spirit at Pentecost and from then on having It in them experientially “in all judgement” and active to the greatest degree, asserted no primacy, nor administrative authority or service, as is attested to in the Acts of the Apostles. Thus, we see for example that in the Apostolic Council the preeminent Apostle Peter did not preside, but James the brother of our Lord. And the Apostle Peter’s position did not prevail, but that of the Apostle Paul (see Acts 15). There, for the first time it was proven in a real way that no institutional figure is infallible, but the whole Church, when it expresses itself institutionally through an Ecumenical Council.”

You know not what ye ask should perhaps be our own reaction to talks and rumors of unity between the two churches. I stumbled upon this talk via the Ad Orientem blog (see here for comments; here for the full talk) given by Mr. Tselengedis entitled The Function of the Unity of the Church and the Fallacious Theological Presuppositions of Papal Primacy. He makes the argument that due to Catholic theology, namely the Filioque and Papal primacy, there “cannot be – neither actual nor formal – union with them.” However –

“…the strange thing (dogmatically and ecclesiologically) is that the Statement of Ravenna, consistent with the previous Joint Statements of Munich, Bari, Valaam and Balamand, refers to a common apostolic faith, the common mysteries (sacraments) and the ecclesiastical character of the heterodox. Thus the false and blasphemous impression is given that with the joint Statement of Ravenna Christ is deceived, Who assured us that branches cut from the vine cannot bear fruit….”

Papal primacy and the Filioque, which the author points out are “dogmatic deviations [which] go together historically”  ultimately hinder any idea of true unity. If, in the end, unity is achieved it will only be so in appearance, while in reality it will prove to be nothing but an “imperfect union”.

It would have to be an imperfect union since the papal primacy will not be erased from Catholic teaching that easy since it’s a very long standing phenomena found already in the 4th century, says Tselengedis. He continues:

“Already in the Western Council of 371 it is supported that councils without the consent of the Pope are invalid. In the East, St. Basil the Great mentions the “arrogant papal brow,” while the records of the Ecumenical Councils inform us about the papal claims the papist representatives conveyed until the 8th Ecumenical Council (879/880) under Patriarch Photius. It is internationally confirmed by history that the Orthodox East never recognized the primacy of the bishop of Rome in administrative jurisdiction and authority, neither in theory nor in practice, but only in “position of honor”. This means that he was first among equals…. Finally, the Orthodox East’s refusal to submit to the claims of the West concerning a primacy of authority over the whole Church became the reason the papists broke away from the Church in 1054.”

With talks of unity coming along I would image that the question remains, Are we finally ready to submit?