By the Mercy of God,
True Orthodox Bishop of Resava and Shumadia
To all the faithful children of St. Sava’s Serbian Church I send the most radiant and joyous ancient Christian salutation: Christ is Risen!
Every year, the Light of the Resurrection of Christ inspires us anew to persevere firmly and unwaveringly in the fight for our holy Orthodox Faith, and, at the same time, for our much suffering Serbian nation. The triumphant celebration of the feast of the Holy Resurrection, which is preceded by the most terrible and glorious week of the holy, saving sufferings of Christ, always reminds us that without suffering and Golgotha there is no Resurrection. Every one is called to follow the path of Golgotha. To take up one’s cross and follow Christ means to have true repentance, to bring forth the fruits of repentance, so that for the love of Christ, we have to bear every suffering which happens to us, looking to Christ Himself who suffered for us sinners. The history of our much-suffering people is Golgothic. The ideal of suffering for the sake of loyalty to Christ has always deeply permeated our people. While this blessed spirit was present in our people, we could hope for the resurrection of the earthly Church and state. Today we lack that living faith in the Cross and Resurrection which in every fateful moment gave our people hope and raised them up.
On the one hand, the times in which we are living do not differ in some ways from others through which our people has passed – times of war, crisis, and destitution. There are still Serbs living who experienced the horrors of the disintegration of the Yugoslavian Kingdom, the world and fraternal wars, regicide, the Communist coup, and the godless half-century of Communist governance. New generations, who grew up when the Communist star had already begun to fade, experienced new wars, and, in the place of godless Communism, godless western democracy. All the generations of our ancestors inevitably tasted the bitterness of suffering to a greater or lesser extent. That was allowed, or sent to us from God, because of our sins, and can always be turned to the good, to serve for our salvation; for it is a spiritual law that satisfaction and happiness tie man to this world, while bitterness and suffering impel man to seek true joy and happiness, which lie outside the bounds of this world. No one has ever drunk of a glass of honey, as Bishop Negosh said, without first swallowing a cup of bile.
On the other hand, there now new poisons which our forefathers never tasted, but which our generation partakes of. These are the deadly poisons of the apostate Sergianist betrayal of the Church to the god-haters, among the most fatal of which is the poison of the pan-heresy of ecumenism. This suffering does not affect the body: it is directed only at the soul of the Serbian people. Fear not those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul, says our Lord and Savior Christ; rather, fear those who can send both soul and body to hell. Yes, these words are true, and today the intent of the enemies of the human race is not only to separate the faithful from the way of salvation on which the Orthodox Church leads, but also, as Fr. Seraphim Rose pointed out, to create its own “Orthodox Church”; that is, to transform the very Body of Christ into one earthly, ecumenist organization, in order to prepare for the coming of its chosen Antichrist. The Belgrade Patriarchate has, owing to its firmly ecumenist course from the time of Tito’s Patriarch German, become the faithful image of this description. From membership in the body of the World Council of Churches, a heretical assembly which is made up of a few hundred various heresies, each one of which is spiritual death, to communal ecumenist prayers, to identification of the Mohammedan and Jewish god with the true Triune God, she has truly revealed her true character through her actions.
One of the last True Orthodox bishops of Serbia, St. Nicholas of Žiča, confessed faith in God as the Creator of all people, but this same God is the FATHER of only those people who believe in the Son of God and in His Divinity. “Whoever denies the Son, has not the Father; but he who confesses the Son, has the Father also” (First Epistle of St. John 2:23). All people are the creations of God and potential sons of God. But the true sons of God are those who receive the Son; it is to them that “…He gave power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe in His name: Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God” (John 1:12-13). This difference between Christians and non-Christians, that is, between those who are spiritually reborn by the will of God and those who are simply created by God, must especially be emphasized in the midst of our time’s vulgar propaganda that all faiths are the same, propaganda which levels mountains to plains, but cannot raise plains to the height of mountains. If the teaching of St. John the Theologian given above is the Orthodox confession of faith – and it is – then how is it possible that Orthodox Christians pray with Moslems and Jews to the same God?
The newly-chosen Belgrade Patriarch Irenaus took part in prayers at the lighting of the Talmudic Menorah. By contrast, that luminary of the world, St. John Chrysostom, thunders, “None of the Jews worship God. Who says so? The Son of God Himself: ‘You know neither Me nor My Father; for if you knew Me, you would know My Father’ (Jn. 8:19). What more reliable witness could one present?” Saint Chrysostom continues: “A synagogue is the refuge of demons, or, it is more correct to say, not just the synagogue, but the souls of the Jews. If one considers Judaism true, why then burden the Church with oneself?”
Yes, truly, the pan-heresy of ecumenism is the greatest evil that has ever happened to the Orthodox Christian Serbian people. The eyes of the spiritual leaders of the people are darkened, and they are leading them to eternal destruction. That is why it is essential to tread the infallible and life-giving way of our holy father and equal to the apostles Sava, the path of the patristic, true faith. “For the devil has invented many heresies at different times and periods” – as St. Sava warns us in his sermons on the true faith – “for many tares of falsehood have been sown by his servants in the world to ruin and confuse the true faith, which we curse, and along with the falsehoods themselves we also curse those who invent these evil dogmas, and we abhor every impure heresy.” We pluck out our eye if it offends us, not bodily, but spiritually: if, namely, the Serbian patriarch or bishops, who are the fathers of the Church, maintain such destructive teachings and betray the faith to the scandal of the people, one should separate from them. Let us remember, the basis of Orthodox ecclesiology is the fact that believers cannot be saved separately from their true-believing bishop, just as the body cannot live separately from the head. The responsibility of a bishop and people for the preservation of the Orthodox faith is from both sides: the bishop is obliged to answer for the Orthodoxy of his flock, and the flock for the Orthodoxy of their bishop. When a bishop becomes a heretic, he automatically ceases to be a bishop, that is, the protector of the true faith. He apostatizes from the catholic orthodox episcopacy and the unity of the Church. Furthermore, if the faithful continue to consider him a bishop, that is, to attend his “services,” to receive the “mysteries” from him, to take his “blessing,” etc, they apostatize from the church with him.
This is the immense tragedy of these most unhappy times in which we live. All of us, children of the Serbian Christian people of St Sava, endure this tragedy with great sorrow. From the Second World War until now defeat has followed defeat. Although the number of those who remain truly faithful to the vows of our fathers, who stand firmly on the line of defense with the motto “With faith in God, for the King and Fatherland,” has dwindled nearly to nonexistence, in all the darkness of this universal apostasy, in faith as well as nationality, in the darkness of the disappearance of Christian piety, manliness, chivalry, and morals of each Serbian individual, with a few exceptions, there still exists a small bud which could, even before the end of time, blossom into a powerful, many-branched tree. There exists one – and only one – shining ember which can be transformed into a flaming brand, terrible to enemies, which could light the coals of zeal for the glory of God, the same flame which God came to cast on the earth. That bud and that ember are True Orthodoxy, the true faith of St. Sava, the true anti-ecumenist Orthodoxy, the faith of our fathers.
We True Orthodox are few in number, very few. But our ideal is that of the old Serbian Church of St. Sava, which was the people’s church, which preserved and cultivated the people’s spirit, customs and traditions, putting them under the eternal, divine, Christian Truth. The Church of St. Sava always had before its eyes only its Divine vocation in the Serbian people and peacefully but decisively fulfilled it, never paying attention to whether the times for it were convenient or not, that is, to whether we would be scorned by the world or even persecuted for adhering to the ideals of St. Sava. Yesterday, today, and tomorrow she will always defend her rights, the spirit of St. Sava’s people, St. Sava’s national culture, and all the rest of his testament. That is indeed the way of the Cross and Resurrection of our holy forefathers, which we dare not abandon at any price.
The twentieth century was the decisive age of “sifting” for all the Orthodox peoples along with ours. It divided people into two groups: First, there are those who perceive what is happening now and who, despite the inevitable problems of the narrow, thorny path of Golgotha, take all precautions not to be carried away by the powerful waves of the current apostasy. Second, there are those who indifferently close their eyes to all that is happening. These people close their eyes to the truth of the terrible apostasy for the one reason that they do not wish to go on the way of Cross and Resurrection, of Golgotha. They have accepted the spirit of secularization, which involves the renunciation of the spirit of Christ, the spirit of St. Sava, and the acceptance of fusion with this world which lies in evil. The so-called “world” or “ecumenist orthodox” church institutional structures, which are deeply infused with the destructive heresy of ecumenism, modernism and Sergianism, have separated from the Orthodox Church. Due to all of this, we must be aware that True Orthodoxy today is the only way of the Cross that leads to the Resurrection, personal as well as national.
In his commentary on the Revelation of St. John the Theologian, Archbishop Averky of Jordanville (+1976) writes the following regarding the church of Philadelphia: “The Philadelphian church is the image of the penultimate period of the life of Christ’s Church, of which epoch we are the contemporaries, the epoch in which the Church has little strength among the human race, the epoch in which will begin new persecutions and in which long-suffering will be necessary.” In this context, we must also consider the future of the Serbian people and the Serbian Church. We should not live in illusions that the resurrection of Orthodoxy and Orthodox states will come, with a Tsarist Russia at their head. These prophecies exist, but their fulfillment lies in the domain of miracles and depends strictly on national repentance. In opposition to the institutional, dazzling state church which is having its full exterior bloom, the True Serbian Church of St. Sava lives and will live in small, illegal (catacomb) communities, unrecognized by the state, in the outskirts of towns, on mountains and in the forests, led by a small number of bishops, priests and monks, completely hidden from public attention.
Today that Church which is scorned by the world celebrates its most beloved feast of the holy and all-lauded Resurrection of Christ, with the realization that without real faith there no Resurrection, either personal or national. Whoever wishes to be saved, said St. Athanasius the Great, must above all keep the catholic faith; if he does not keep it fully in integrity, he will surely perish forever. With that very conviction, I congratulate you on the feast of feasts, the radiant Resurrection of Christ. To those who have not yet gathered the strength to leave the “official” church and join the True Church, I say, may the Resurrected Christ give you fortitude for this holy act. To those who have accomplished this holy act, either long ago or recently, I say, may the Resurrected Lord strengthen you! Let us embrace one another, forgive those who hate us, and joyously cry out, “Christ is risen from the dead, trampling down death by death, and upon those in the tombs bestowing life!” Christ is Risen!