NEWS AND EVENTS - Thursday, February 19, 2015
STS. SEBASTIAN AND MARADARIJE ORTHODOX INSTITUTE
Thursday, February 18, 2015 - DAY THREE
On Thursday morning, the third full day of the institute began with the celebration of the Divine Liturgy. The Liturgy was served by Bishop Atanasije and concelebrated by Bishop Daniel of Santa Rosa, along with the clergy brotherhood. Following the Liturgy, clergy and faithful were treated to an excellent breakfast before beginning the first session.
Session VII addressed the topic of Democracy and Human Rights in the Light of the Church as seen from within the Orthodox Faith. In the talk, Bishop Atanasije outlined what these terms do and do not mean from an Orthodox standpoint, while juxtaposing them with common misconceptions concerning these topics in the West. Session moderators were Fr. Seraphim Baltic, Fr. Aleksander Vlajkovic and Nenad Djordjevic. In session VIII, Bishop Atanasije spoke on the concept of Orthodox Ecumenism. Drawing from his vast experience over the last several decades serving as a bishop in the Serbian Orthodox Church, His Grace stated that we are all called to be ecumenist in the sense of meeting our neighbors and revealing Orthodoxy through genuine love. On the other hand, we must be care in formal theological dialogue, he explained, to not be controlled by pre-existing agendas. We must be a light on a hill without compromising the Faith which we have kept and must continue to keep. Session VIII was moderated by Fr. Predrag Bojovic, Fr. Ljubisa Brnjos.
Session IX, the last of the institute, focused on the Kosovo Covenant. The session, which was moderated by Fr. Dragomir Tuba, Fr. Blasko Paraklis and Fr. Milan Dragovic, dealt with the unique values which developed among the Serbian people. These values, which include freedom, responsibility, and love of neighbor, are the foundational principles which enabled the Serbian people to build the Christian culture of Kosovo. This heritage is silently witnessed to in the many Churches and monasteries which decorate the stunning landscape of Kosovo to this very day. Thursday evening vespers was held at St. Nicholas Serbian Orthodox Church, were the church’s magnificent frescos were highlighted by the beautiful chanting of the clergy brotherhood. A generous meal followed vespers during which Bishop Atanasije spoke on Orthodox Christianity in America. Once again, His Grace moved the audience by speaking into the lives of all of us who struggle to keep the Faith which can, at times, feel so apposed by the world around. And yet, the American people are a people of generous heart with an openness to the truth. By living as conscientious Orthodox Christians, our Lord will use us to illumine those around us and call even this country to the Faith ‘once and for all delivered to the saints.’
On Friday morning, Bishops and clergy brotherhood, departed for a small day-trip to St. Anthony’s Orthodox Monastery, just outside the Phoenix metro area. They were met at the entrance to the monastery by Geronda Paisius, abbot of St. Anthony’s, who personally escorted the group on a tour of the Prophet Elias Chapel. Lunch was served in the monastery trapeza, after which the group met and received the blessing of the Monastery’s beloved elder, Geronda Ephraim.