NEWS AND EVENTS - Sunday, January 1, 2017
BOOK REVIEW: SELECTED HOMILIES OF METROPOLITAN CHRISTOPHER
In anticipation of the Christmas holidays, the book „Selected Homilies“ of Metropolitan Christopher (Kovacevic) of blessed repose brings us much joy.
With the blessing of His Holiness Serbian Patriarch Irinej, and with the assistance of the Office of cooperation with churches and religious communities of the Government of Republic of Serbia, the Publishing foundation of the Archdiocese of Belgrade-Karlovci offered the public a true spiritual jewel.
Years needed to pass before the the Christ-bearing homilies of Metropolitan Christopher would receive their material attire. And so we have before us a grandiose work which has a mulititude of values. On the one hand, bearing in mind the biography of Metropolitan Christopher and his lively sermons, the book has historical value, inasmuch as it follows the spiritual development of Serbs on the North American continent. Then again, the book has more homiletic significance as it contains various different styles of homiletics.
As Patriarch Irinej of Serbia points out in the foreword – the sermons on the Sunday gospels abound in Biblical-exegetical consideration, while his homilies were delivered with much pastoral love and concern in preserving the Serbian identity in that mult-national and multi-religious society. The sermons of Metropolitan Christopher are also described by Protopresbyter Dr. Milos Vesin in his refined and poetic style, who not only praises his oratorical gift and zeal in spreading the homiletic gift, but the might of faith and spiritual clairvoyence that one remain on Christ's cross-resurrectional path during difficult times.
Of course, Protodeacon Dr. Damjan Bozic deserves the most credit for the book „Selected Homilies“ of Metropolitan Christopher (Kovacevic) which has gladden our hearts, who, with the zeal of a busy bee, the meticulousness of a historian, and all in the style of a certified scientific worker, has not only collected the homilies but has offered an extensive biography, enriched with photographs which evoke all the more the person and work of the late Metropolitan Christopher.
The book „Selected Homilies“, apart from the biography on the first 30 pages, is in three parts. The first part, which is the most extensive, contains homilies on the Sunday gospel readings. Following this are sermons delivered on major feast days of the Church, while the third part contains sermons delivered at various occasions. It is exactly this division that highlights the homiletic variety of the late Metropolitan Christopher (Kovacevic), as we also have homilies, then heortologically inspired sermons and in the end the pastoral concern in the various sermons delivered is highlighted.
Considering the style, the homilies – in many ways - remind us of the homilies of St. Nikolaj of Zica. That foundation on Holy Scripture radiates from all his sermons. The immersion in every event, every healing, a description of the circumstances, all prove that Metropolitan Christopher was under the strong influence of Bishop Nikolaj. This is not surprising since he was not only a student (Bishop Nikolaj taught New Testament and Homiletics), but also the personal driver and editor of St. Nikolaj of Zica. There is no doubt that the rich erudition, lightness of style, scientific consistency and the holy, suffering life of Bishop Nikolaj greatly influenced the personality of the then young student Velimir Kovacevic.
In the second part we find also а homiletical knowledge of the basic principles. Although there is a temptation to preachers on heortological topics to focus their attention soley on historical facts and a reminder of what occurred on that holiday or retelling of the lives of the saints, Metropolitan Christopher goes beyond this practice and never misses a chance to point out the radiant examples of the saints, showing them as models that should be aspired to.
The homilies on various occasions are filled with the warmth of concern and sincerity. When there is a sad event in question (bearing in mind the message on Vidovdan in which the past and present sufferings of the Serbian people are joined together), the unwavering faith empowers the auditorium. When other events are in question, the elevated and dignified style brings joy to all in attendance.
In order to evoke the spirit and style of the sermons of Metropolitan Christopher (Kovacevic) all the more, we will cite an excerpt dedicated to St. Sava, which was written in the style of St. Bishop Nikolaj:
“Saint, Father Sava, pray to God for us!
Now, now more than ever,
intercede for your suffering people,
and pray to the Almighty Lord:
That the Lord through His mercy
He forgive, be merciful and save us;
to deify, unite and multiply all of your people!”
Having all of this in mind, I once more express my great gratitude to Protodeacon Dr. Damjan Bozic for the effort invested. Our Church is always lacking collections of sermons which would enrich our Homiletics. For this reason are the “Selected Homilies” of the late Metropolitan Christopher (Kovacevic) not only an elevated, spiritual reading, but also a significant contribution to the study of Homiletics.
Protodeacon Dr. Sava Milin