Will a Lasting Christian Witness Remain
for the Living and the Dead?
April 7, 2017
Orthodox Christians around the world begin the morning Orthros prayers with this preface, followed by Psalm 3:
Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace, good will to all people (3x).
O Lord, open my lips and my mouth shall proclaim your praise (2x).
O Lord, why are they who afflict me multiplied? Many rise up against me. Many say to my soul, there is no salvation for him in his God. But you, O Lord, are my helper, my glory, and the lifter up of my head. I cried to the Lord with my voice, and he heard me from his holy mountain. I laid down and slept. I awoke, for the Lord has protected me. I will not be afraid of ten thousands of people who have set themselves against me round about. Arise, O Lord. Save me, my God. For you have struck all who without cause are my enemies. You have broken the teeth of sinners. Salvation belongs to the Lord, and your blessing is upon your people.
(Again) I have laid down and slept. I awoke, for the Lord has protected me.
When someone lives in a “difficult neighborhood” of the world, the words of this Psalm take on greater meaning. The believer senses its truth, both in the spiritual and physical realms.
Like Orthodox Christians everywhere, those in Kosovo unite their hearts with these prayers daily. They know affliction and oppression from malicious enemies that live in their “neighborhood.” They also recognize the great goodness of God, His protection and care. They can heartily affirm the declaration “God is with us!” from the Compline service prayers of Great Lent.
On-Going Desecration of Christian Cemeteries
Today a note came from Fr. Isaiah, a Decani Monastery monk, accompanied by photos of desecrations of Serbian Orthodox cemeteries in the local area.
Christian persecution even affects the faithful departed in Kosovo! Sadly, Serbian cemetery desecrations began back in 2001. Since then, 400 cemeteries have been desecrated/destroyed. Some date back to the 1400’s where the dead had laid in peace for centuries.
We know these acts of violence are aimed at the Living God, those who departed in Faith, and those who now persevere as Orthodox Christians in Kosovo. Relatives and friends of the departed are brokenhearted at this heartless display of blatant disrespect for the dead.
The Orthodox Church conducts special services during this season, remembering the souls of the faithful departed. We visit the graves, place flowers, light vigil lamps, and burn incense. We proclaim in deeds that we believe in the Resurrection of the Dead and the Life of the Age to Come.
As we enter the Passion Week, we remember our Lord’s Death in detail. On Holy Pascha we celebrate His triumphant Resurrection. We recall that death is an inevitable part of our earthly lives. We want to remember the dead honorably and rejoice in the hope God has promised them and each of us.
What Positive Action Can We Take?
I am wondering…would you help the Decani Monastery Relief Fund provide consolation to the Orthodox Christians of Kosovo this season? Let us help lift their hearts and spirits to find encouragement and ultimate joy in the coming days.
Let us help them prayerfully and materially. Let us help them tidy and repair their cemeteries so that during Holy Week & Bright Week they can light vigil lamps and place flowers on graves with peaceful hearts. Let us warm their homes with fuel and provide an ample roast for every festal table. Let us bring happiness to the children by helping local Bishop Teodosije purchase Paschal treats for them all.
Stewards of Manifold Blessings
We have so much materially and they have…so little. Precious monuments of heritage and faith, material goods, livelihoods--much has been taken from them and destroyed. God has allowed their present circumstance; none would have chosen it. As brethren, they both need and deserve our love. If you are reading this, you are among the ones God can use to bring rejoicing to Kosovo this Pascha.
So, while we can, let us deliver a blessing. Again, let us do for the brethren while we can. Has God promised you tomorrow? There is no such promise for anyone. We all desire the same destiny—eternal life with Christ. Our Faith has already knit us together. Please help us strengthen this existing bond by acting now.
Let us bless these brothers and sisters for the Paschal Feast this year. Then we will truly feel the reverberation in our hearts on Holy Pascha—Christ is Risen! Truly He is Risen! The souls of those laid to rest and those yet alive on the earth will proclaim it together!
What a joy! What a privilege! Will you join with us to prepare this blessing as we approach Holy Pascha & Bright Week?
Ways to Bless Both the Living and the Departed in Kosovo this Season
A Gift for the Faithful Departed
$50 will help effect CEMETERY REPAIRS
Gifts for the Faithful Living in Kosovo:
PORK ROAST for a family’s Paschal table. Note—most families only have meat twice a year (at Christmas & Pascha). Please help us provide this meal, if you can. We serve a minimum of 200 hard-pressed families yearly. We will serve more if God provides the means:
$100 will buy a pig large enough to feed a family for a week
$50 will buy a pig that will feed a family of 4 for two days
FIREWOOD (fuel for heating & cooking--for homes, schools, monasteries & churches)
$250 buys enough firewood to last 3 months
Undesignated gifts go to General Fund (distributed according to greatest needs). These include staple foods (for families & monasteries), farm animals (replacing stolen), farm equipment (replacing stolen or vandalized), soup kitchen supplies, medicine, funding for utility bills (extreme hardship), replacement appliances, home repairs (i.e., leaking roof).
The Decani Monastery Relief Fund accepts donations via Paypal. It is both quick and efficient to use this method. Please visit our web site http://www.thedecanifund.org/ and use the “donate” button near the top of the page.
Alternatively, you can donate by check. Write a check in any amount payable to: Decani Monastery Relief Fund. Write “Pascha 2017” in the memo. Mail to:
c/o Very Rev. Archimandrite Nektarios Serfes
DECANI MONASTERY RELIEF FUND
2618 West Bannock Street
Boise, Idaho 83702
The Decani Monastery Relief Fund is a 501c3 tax-exempt charity and issues receipts for donations made.
May the joy of Holy Pascha fill your loving heart!
Humbly in Christ our Lord,
+ Very Reverend Archimandrite Nektarios Serfes
Who prays for you and with you!
Christ is Risen! Truly He is Risen!
Христос васкрсе! Ваистину васкрсе!