On Friday and Saturday, April 19th & 20th of this year, Regular Annual Assembly of the Diocese of New Gracanica – Midwestern America was held at the New Gracanica Monastery, Third Lake, IL, USA. This significant session was preceded by a seminar of the priests of our Diocese.
Assembly was attended by priests, monks and laity from 46 parishes and monasteries. Aside from the regular issues concerning the spiritual, financial and material wellbeing of the Diocese, a considerable amount of time was spent on the topic of education and upbringing of the youth of our parochial Sunday schools. The Assembly opened with an inspired greeting of His Grace Bishop Longin, and it concluded with his meaningful message and invitation to all to keep working on spiritual development. The Assembly passed a Resolution in the form of a pastoral message.
From the Diocesan office
SERBIAN ORTHODOX DIOCESE OF NEW GRACANICA -
RESOLUTION OF THE ANNUAL ASSEMBLY
New Gracanica Monastery, April 19th & 20th, 2013
We, the priests, hieromonks and laity – representatives of all parishes and church-school congregations of our local Diocese, of New Gracanica – Midwestern America, gathered at the Annual Assembly at the Monastery of the Most Holy Mother of God – New Gracanica, at Third Lake IL, under the omoforion of our Hierarch, His Grace Bishop Longin, make this
R E S O L U T I O N
We send out greetings and expressions of our dedication, love and respect to His Holiness, Archbishop of Pech, Metropolitan of Beograd-Karlovci and Patriarch of Serbia Irinej and all the Bishops of the Serbian Orthodox Church in the fatherland and abroad.
On this occasion, we express our loyalty to the fullness and unity of our Mother Church, aware of the fact that each one of us contributes to the beauty of unity from the place where God has placed us, only if we are “rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation; continuing instant in prayer”. (Romans 12: 12)
With ever fervent feelings of love and responsibility, we send out brotherly and sisterly greetings to Orthodox Serbs of our diocese who are redeeming the time, not on our land but on foreign land, through their faith, hope and love. In the spirit of Great Lent which prepares us for the unwaning joy of the Resurrection, we wish to beseech all of our fellow countrymen to come to the Church, to experience the Church and to relate to the Church as the Body of Christ, and not as one of many godless worldly organizations. The Church does have her own laws and regulations, necessary for Her functioning in the world and among people, but the primary law of the Church always was and always will be the law of love. Only in the Church can that love shine on us – the love of Christ “which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God” (Eph. 3: 19). There is no better and more effective place for the multiplying of true love than the Church, or better way to experience that love than through Holy Communion. Through Communion we confirm our love for Christ the Lord who “for us and for our salvation” is the incarnate, crucified and resurrected Love, Love which has also sealed us with the seal of the gift of the Holy Spirit, who “proceeds from the Father” on the day when we were baptized and chrysmated. Therefore, for the sake of God and our own salvation, “Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching” (Heb. 10: 25). Brothers and sisters, let us not neglect the Lent, the mother of all virtues and the joy of the Saints, as the Triodion hymns it.
Let us hold on to prayer so that it may hold us on this sea of the increasingly stirring life. Let us not forsake the Holy Sacrament of repentance and confession, knowing full well that there is only one sin which God cannot forgive, and that is an unrepented sin. And according to the words of Simeon the Logotet, “there is no sin which overcomes Thy mercy o Lord.” But after prayer, and before Confession and Communion, let us forgive each other! Let us forgive and not bear a grudge! Let us forgive and not be wrathful! Let us forgive and not condemn! Let us forgive and help! Let us forgive one another, but also our mother, the Church, for whom we are all responsible, so that she may maintain her mission. Let us not expect the Church to that which she is not, by her nature, and which she never could be. The church is not a place for politics, or for an irresponsible feeling of ethnic belonging, and least of all, a place of entertainment! The Church is a place where people seek and find salvation through life and virtues. Everything else can be provided by this world. But salvation can only be removed from us by this world, if it attracts us too much through its deceptions. The world can never give us salvation because “Salvation is to our God which sitteth on the throne” (Rev. 7: 10).
With a deep feeling of Christian love, and no small admiration, we especially greet our Serbian brothers and sisters and all the Serbian children in Old Serbia – in Kosovo and Metohija, who by their rejection of human injustice, and by their reliance on God’s justice, persevere on their path which is that of daily Golgotha. This world knows, even when it can’t or refuses to admit, that Kosovo is Serbia even today, because according to the words of a poet, “if it’s theirs, why are they asking us to give it to them?” We are united in our support to the Serbian Patriarach in saying that Kosovo and Metohija “cannot and must not, never and under no condition, be voluntarily given away.”
Next year, Lord willing, our Serbian people will mark the one hundredth anniversary of the liberation of Old Serbia. Should we, at the dawn of that jubilee, be witnesses of a mute betrayal of that which is ours? Today, the life of every Serbian man, woman and child in Kosovo and Metohija is like a church candle which shines with the light of Christ, with the same light which laid the foundations, and shines on the domes of the Patriarchate in Pech, Gracanica, Decani, Devic and all the Serbian monasteries on the land which our ancestors received from heaven through their prayers and repentant tears. That light is also testified of by the struggles of our brave monks and nuns in our heartland of Kosovo and Metohija.
If we, Serbs in America, think and feel that we cannot do more for them, then let us at least not make the wound bigger by only singing about it. Of course, let us keep singing, but let us also go and meet these witnesses of the faith and of the Serbian name. Let us go into their embrace so that we can thank them on that land, God’s, theirs and ours, for keeping that which is not only “the most expensive Serbian word” but also “the live wound on the suffering body of the Savior Who remains crucified to this day”. Let us go on a pilgrimage to our roots of which we are so proud of. Nobody there is asking for anything that is ours, but they are asking for us. They want so badly that someone from over here comes and visits them, like the closest of kin. Let us at least bring them a sigh and a handshake, and they will treat us with the sunshine which shines in every tear of every Serbian child in Kosovo and Metohija; tears which are slowly transforming into diamonds to be added to the treasury of the people of Saint Sava and Czar Lazar. And only when we return thence, shall we have the right to say something about Kosovo and Metohija. Until then, let us pray. Let us pray that the Lord would cleanse the lost, gather the scattered, purify the confused, find the lost, enliven the half-dead – by His Word and Love, and through the prayers of all the Saints of our nation.
As residents of this American land, we pray to the All-merciful God that He comfort those who were afflicted with pain and wounds in the tragedy in Boston, as well as the one in West, Texas. We pray for the repose of the souls of all those who lost their lives in those big tragedies which befell this land in this outgoing week.
We are grateful to the Creator and the Ruler of all, for all the goods which He bestowed upon us in the past year of His Mercy, praying that He not forget us this year, and to grant us the strength to testify of Him on every step of the way, and that we never be ashamed of Him and His little ones in the midst of this world which overwhelms us more all the time, “because the wisdom of this world is foolishness before God” (1 Cor. 3: 19). It is up to us to strive, to believe and to hope, and thus live “with all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love; Endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (Eph. 4: 2-3).