The Military Frontier


From a homily on Vidovdan in Zagred by Archimandrite Danile (Ljubotina) here:

We must say something from our nation’s history considering that on this day an idelible drama was played out among our people. The drama commemorates our entire future history to this day. Vidovdan witnesses to us, Christians of today, that we are obliged to preach and stand on the side of the Gospel whatever the case might be in our lives for that is our transifiguration and salvation for eternity in the Lord Jesus Christ.

For five centuries, up until the Balkan Wars, we were under those forces but we defended Christianity as the remainder of the baptized people from which was created the Military Frontier (Vojna Krajina), that corridor that constantly defended the unfortunate Europe, filled with an evil appetite and deceit.  Europe, that not only abondoned Christ but also expelled Him from her thoughts and does not consider Christ as the victor. But Christ will be victorious and will come in power and His will be the Resurrectional victory until the end.

What’s in a name

I found a tweet from Fr. Samuel Davis’ Twitter (@samualmark25) where he writes: “Evangelicals are afraid of persecution – but that is the seed of the Church. Their fear and unwillingness to be a minority and persecuted for their faith betrays their lip service that their allegiance is Christ when really it’s an Americanism to which they are allied”.

This is a good description not only of Protestantism but even contemporary Christianity and churches. Yesterday’s feast of Vidovdan is the commemoration of a battle from a time Christians stood up for what they believed, regardless of how outnumbered they were and, subsequently, what the outcome would most certainly be.

Bishop Irinej in his homily yesterday mentioned the name of the feast. The Serbian word “vid” means sight. Vidovdan, then, is a feast that gives us spiritual sight: our sight is not on the fact we’re outnumbered, our sight is not on how we’ll save our lives if we submit, our sight is not focused on anything that would hinder our salvation and entrance into God’s Kingdom.

The bishop says:

This time, as well, I will repeat as I have many times before, the name of feasts reveal their essence. Such is the case with today’s feast from the 14th century.  Before that the feast that was celebrated on this day was the Prophet Amos, the Krsna Slava of St. Prince Lazar and the feast of the Martyr Vitus who suffered for Christ in the 4th century. It is from him that we get the name of today’s feast (Vit-Vid). Many ask why we celebrated the defeat of St. Prince Lazar? The side that fights for their neighbor and their country is always the victorious side regardless if at first glance, on the surface, that victory looks like a defeat. The decision of Saint Prince Lazar could have been to not fight against the larger power, but that would have been the wrong position, the position of worshiping defeat and accepting evil as the supreme norm. This is spiritual necrophilia. The holy prince with his army and people choose the path of suffering for the Lord, battling for the eternal, impassable values of God’s Kingdom, the only things worth living for.



Injustices in soccer


Happy Feast of Vidovdan!

I saw this on Bosko’s Twitter (here) a few days ago after the Serbia vs. Switzerland game and meant to share it. It’ a loose translate and appropriate for Vidovdan.

Listen Up, Serbs!

It’s unbelievable that as a people we collectively react to the injustices in a soccer game, while all the other evils done to us we view as our inevitable fate, a role we accept joyously. Is our victory in the fact that defeat and loss are the only things that unite us?

The joy of the loser comes as a diagnosis. Our national being is not well and needs to find a way to return its immunity. Obviously I’m pecking at the minds of readers in vain, for they only hear the sounds of reality shows. In one night Serbs sent 16 million text messages and open support was given to debauchery and immorality. Almost 5 million Euros from the pockets of Serbian citizens went to the creators of the spectacle of the guinea pigs, the new role models of Serbian youth.

United in the injustices of soccer and the reality-show competitions, but divided over social justice, the defense over degradation of moral principles, Svetosavlje, Kosovo and Metohija….They are deaf to injustice except when it comes to soccer.  In that case, give us a soccer ball, a field, two goals and seven million of us on the field. Everyone in the jersey of their party, organization or movement and let’s play that final national game in which we will display our greatest ability – scoring against ourselves. For the most part, such a game is played every day though most of the players – unbeknownst to the players – nor do they know on what part of the field they are on, nor their role in the team and towards the end of the derby, when they see the score and the ones who scored against their own team, they cry out, complain …

And so, over and over again it goes. What are we to even do, how are we to awaken those who are convinced that they are sleeping, that everything is ugly but it’s a dream they have to dream and it’ll quickly pass in two or – at the most – three years? First of let’s deal with ourselves:  if we don’t love Serbia simply choose another country to live in, and the rest of us need to define the kind of country we want to live in.  As long as we ourselves support corruption we have no right to solve it on a national level. As long as we do not respect our ancestors, alphabet, faith, we have no right to complain how others are proudly asserting their own symbols.  As long as the injustices of soccer games more important than the destruction of education and health, we’ll have no resurrection. If we don’t become better, it’ll only get worse for us.

Bosko Kozarski
Founder of the Serbian-Russian Educational Center

Saint Lazar of Kosovo

kosovski-boj-“Saint Prince Lazar was holy even before Kosovo! He lived such a life that his martyred death for Christ was but a result of his holy life, and not a momentary need during the battle. Such was the life of the Serbian people, and so the Kosovo heroes don’t take communion before the Battle of Kosovo simply because they’re going to battle – rather, they lived the life of Orthodoxy!”

Bishop Mitrophan of Canada


Orthodox Ordinary Time


H/T: here

The Apostles Fast: Bridging the Paschal with the Ordinary

Nicole M. Roccas

Well, it’s finally here. We’re in the thick of the Apostles’ Fast–a fasting period that begins the day after the Sunday of All Saints (the Sunday immediately following Pentecost) and culminates in the feast of Sts Peter and Paul (June 29). The fast goes back at least to the fifth century, and probably a bit earlier (there are allusions to St Athanasius mentioning this fast during the fourth century, but I myself haven’t found the primary sources for this). It’s also likely that originally, the Apostles’ Fast was not tied to the memory of the apostles, but observed instead as a sort of post-Pentecost fast–an ascetical counterpoint to the long, generally festal period of Pascha.

It’s one of those short-but-sweet fasts of the liturgical year that is easy to overlook–it has even fallen out of practice in some Orthodox jurisdictions. Secretly, though, it’s possibly my favorite fast, mostly because it’s the most time-eternal of all the fasts. I’ll explain what I mean by that in a minute…

An Orthodox Ordinary Time?

In the Western Church, the long season between Pentecost and Advent is often called “ordinary time.”

The term “ordinary,” in this context at least, comes from the Latin ordinalis, which refers to a numbered (ord-ered) sequence. Ordinary time comprises a lengthy portion of the Western Church calendar, a long line of numbered weeks between two liturgical seasons. From a Catholic website, “Ordinary Time is the part of the year in which Christ, the Lamb of God, walks among us and transforms our lives.”

The Orthodox Church doesn’t have ordinary time as such. After Pascha, we do start numbering our weeks anew–but we do this according to each week’s proximity to Pentecost. Last Sunday, for example, was the Second Sunday after Pentecost, not the Second Sunday in Ordinary Time. Thus, our temporal reference point is always a salvific event–Pentecost, in this case, which is itself a moveable feast pointing back to Pascha.

Many people hear the term “ordinary” time and falsely assume it means that this chunk of the year is not as important or interesting as the Advent or Easter seasons. I’d like to think that in the Orthodox sphere, we are immune to this kind of reasoning. For one thing, we have a hefty dose major feasts that interrupt this so-called “Ordinary” duration: the Transfiguration (August 6), the Feast of the Dormition (August 15), the Birth of the Theotokos (September 8), to name a few.

But I’d reckon that despite these feasts, and despite the fact we don’t call this season “ordinary time,” this is the time of year when we will begin to feel time’s ordinariness.

After all, we still number these Sundays, and the numbers will go on and on–all the way until the Triodion season (in 2018 this will fall on Jan 21 or 28, depending on whether your jurisdiction observes the Sunday of Zacchaeus or not). Some years, this can last up to thirty-two weeks. That’s thirty-two weeks of counting, reckoning, trying to remember how long it’s actually been since we did that Pascha thing.

If you use a lectionary in your daily prayers or Scripture readings, now is the time of year you brace yourself for the long haul of Pentecost time. And if you’re like me, in one or two or three months you will start getting all the weeks mixed up. Is it the eighteenth week after Pentecost or the twentieth? Or the nineteenth? And you will keep having to pause partway through your prayers and look up the proper week on your smartphone, its glare consuming the candles that flicker against the creeping darkness of autumn and winter mornings. And it will all start to seem a bit contrived and inorganic. Arbitrary. Like the numbers on a clock.

Maybe on those mornings–those mornings when the thirtieth monday of Pentecost seems just as plausible as the twenty-fifth–time will seem ordinary. Not in the Latin or liturgical sense of the word, but in the boring sense. In the plain sense, the unadorned sense. In the sense of slow, barely moving mundanity.

Or maybe you don’t use a lectionary, but nonetheless face your own seasons of ordinariness. The times in life when you’re just marking the days, just trying to find some indication that you’re moving forward at all.

Dwelling in Time and Eternity

During the Apostles’ Fast, I like to soak up encouragement for those staggeringly ordinary times. This particular fast occupies a strange (and in my opinion purposeful) position in the Church calendar. As I’ve pointed out in my infographic on the Church calendar, the Apostles’ Fast begins on a moveable date but ends on a fixed one–it’s the only fast that spans the chasm between fixed and moveable liturgical cycles.

I see this as a bridge between Pascha and the ordinariness of post-Pentecost. The fast gives us pause to just be in this in-between space, holding paschal time in one hand and fixed, numbered time in the other. And then it tells us to go forth, to follow the example of the apostles as we proceed into this next temporality.

This is our gentle, liturgical nudge that there is work to do, and that sometimes the work will be long and mundane. We are turning our gaze that has been focused backward on Pascha and redirecting it to the present–be it the first, second, or thirty-second week of the present.

And in taking these first steps into the new, ordinary season that stretches before us, we find that we–like the Apostles’ Fast itself–are also a kind of bridge, called to join the Holy Resurrection with all that is ordinary in this world, to whisper eternity into mere chronology. We are called to stand on this endless shore of Christian witness, with one foot in fixed time and the other in the journey of Pascha, and to keep on standing that way for as long as God gives us breath to live. At no other time do we see this aspect of our being manifested more than during the Apostles’ Fast, which on all liturgical levels calls us to live in two times at once.

This is why I like to say that the Apostles’ Fast is the most time-eternal of all the fasts. This is why it’s my secret favorite of all the fasts. But let’s keep that between us, if you don’t mind. I wouldn’t want to hurt the feelings of Great and Holy Lent.