Bishop Teodosije: We are protecting our holy sites as the apple of our eye, but we also respect other faiths

FOTO: Vladika Teodosije, mitropolija crnogorsko-primorska
FOTO: Vladika Teodosije, mitropolija crnogorsko-primorska

„Let us show love, solidarity, and nobility toward each other. The Lord teaches us that the one who wants to be the first, should be a servant to all, that the greatest expression of strength is not the arrogance of power and authority, but service and sacrifice of love for one’s neighbour. Growing up in this secret, we simultaneously become, as people, more chivalrous toward each other. We learn to bear each other’s weaknesses, to sacrifice for each other,“ Bishop Teodosije of Raska and Prizren said on the eve of Easter.

„This is the time when we must show special compassion and solidarity with those who are suffering, with those who selflessly take care of them, but also to pray for those who left this world due to illness. When we pray for the deceased, we pray that they are in a place where there is no sorrow, no pain, no sighing,“ the bishop said in a holiday interview for Jedinstvo newspaper.

According to Bishop Teodosije, the coronavirus pandemic did not bring anything new, it just highlighted the „emptiness of life based on transient pleasures.“ He underlined that we must face the current situation with patience and gratitude.

„From time to time, God gives us certain temptations so that we can learn the deeper secrets of the spiritual life. In that peace of God, we discover the mystery of the Risen Christ who came to save the world, that is, to heal it and direct it to an authentic existence.“

The Bishop stressed that man on Earth is unsuccessfully searching for the cure for immortality, which will give him eternal biological life as an „elixir of youth“.

„This is not possible primarily because we are travelers here on earth, and because nature is in constant change and because we are transient as people – we are born, grow old and die,“ the bishop explained.

On the other hand, Christians learn through the gospel that „eternal life“ is something else, he added.

„That we should die so that we can be reborn in Christ Jesus. Christianity does not preach as some other faiths do about some ‘afterlife’, but eternal life in Christ, which is another way of human existence,“ the bishop pointed out.

Sicknesses, wars, suffering, always remind people of the transience of this world and life. At the same time, the Bishop underlined, people as „heavenly beings“ should look at such temptations in a broader perspective:

„At an eternal life that transcends the time and space in which we are currently in.“

The outbreak we are experiencing limits some possibilities and occupations that people could have practiced earlier, the bishop also recalled, noting that it is also encouraging us to make positive changes.

„Let’s talk to each other, so that family members spend more time with each other – instead of everyone living their own lives in their own world.“

The return to tradition does not mean the return of the past, but finding the meaning of life in Christ, in the present time and moment, the bishop said.

We will not give up on our shrines

In an interview for Jedinstvo, Bishop Teodosije also addressed the latest tensions and objections of Albanians due to the fact that Visoki Decani was recently included in the list of 7 most endangered monuments of cultural heritage in Europe in 2021.

The church has been resisting „attacks, slander, but also open outbursts of hatred“ for 22 years. It is trying not to retaliate in the same way – he emphasized.

„Our shrines are spiritual lighthouses not only for our Serb people, but also for all who live in this area. Let our Albanian neighbors realize and understand that once and for all,“ the bishop said.

He pointed out that the church will do everything it can, along with the Serbian authorities and international representatives, to help preserve the Serbian heritage as much as possible and for the Serb people and the church to live in peace and mutual respect with the Kosovo Albanians.

„But, in case our identity, rights and freedoms are denied, we will always be there to raise our voice calmly, but also decisively, and fight for the preservation of our holy sites and the survival of the faithful people in this area. Our shrines have kept us not only in Kosovo, but everywhere where Serbs live, and that is why, with the words – ‘We will not give up on our shrines,’ we defend everything that is ours and we are not grasping for what belongs to others,“ he emphasized.

„As Orthodox Christians, we guard our faith as the apple of our eye, but we also respect those who are not Orthodox Christians. God calls us to be witnesses of our faith through love and brotherly suffering, and Christians and Muslims share certain common values ​​that we should recognize and respect, while accepting the fact that we have different faith and understanding of the mystery of God. That is why it is important not to view faith in a political manner because then it becomes an ideology, and God does not teach us that. Unfortunately, a lot of evil has been done around the world on behalf of misunderstanding of religion.“

The Bishop wished a Happy Easter to all those who celebrate.

 

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