This past Sunday, October 16th, His Holiness Irinej, the Patriarch of Serbia was in the city of Jagodina in central Serbia (see photos of his warm welcome here). The patriarch is constantly visiting churches, monasteries, attending events, etc. I saw the news posted on the patriarchate site and didn’t think much of it. Then, just recently I see that there was a whole discussion leading up to his visit with the topic of whether children should come out and greet the patriarch.
As I understood it, the visit was to take place on Sunday and school teachers were ordered to organize the children to greet him, to treat the day (which was Sunday) as a regular work/school day. This is the version the Liberal Democratic Party gave. A school official, however, cleared the case and said that teachers weren’t actually “ordered” to do anything but were told that “if they desired” to organize the children and treat it as a regular work day they could.
I saw the news on the Serbian television website. The comments are always interesting. One caught my eye in particular. The commenter made the point that no one, and I mean no one!, has the authority to deprive anyone the legal rights of not working on Sunday. As another commenter noted, it’s strange how when the Pope comes to town everyone rushes to see him and yet we have a problem sending our children to go meet the patriarch which, by the way was on a Sunday which, by the way is when they should be in church anyway.
Oh, and wasn’t it in the 4th century that St. Constantine the Great, in the legal reforms he made for his new Christian empire, declared Sunday to be the official day of rest? It’s funny, sad really, how one defends their legal rights. I suppose some don’t realize the true rest the soul receives from that one day of church.