The text is Serbian Orthodox Patriarch Pavle 1914-2009.
Monday, 16 November 2009
Patriarch Pavle Stojčević of Serbia (1914-2009)
An SMS message interrupted a conversation I was having with a girlfriend. I opened the message, happy to see the name of one of my best friends, a Serbian priest. “Our patriarch is now at rest”. For a few seconds, I could not comprehend what it all meant, and when it did, my joy abruptly gave way to shock, pain, and emptiness. Yes, we all prepared for this event; for it was clear that the passing of His Holiness was getting closer. However, can one ever get ready for something like this? I accessed the Internet portal of RTS (Serbian Radio and Television), what I saw on the homepage tore into my soul. It was Metropolitan Amfilohije Radović of Montenegro and Primorsky, who embodies courage and virility, unable to contain his sobs, as he told believers and clergy of the death of His Holiness Patriarch Pavle.
The news of the repose of the patriarch came to Metropolitan Amfilohije as he was laying the foundation stone of a church dedicated to St Avvakum the Deacon and Igumen St Paisija in the Altina neighbourhood of Zemun. (Editor’s note: Zemun is one of the municipalities of Greater Belgrade and Altina is one of the fastest-growing neighbourhoods in the Belgrade agglomeration.) “When we blessed the foundation stone for this holy church of the Lord, He took his soul in his arms, in the morning, after Father Mefody brought communion to His Holiness. May the Lord grant him the Kingdom of Heaven and eternal rest”, Metropolitan Amfilohije said.
The struggle to preserve the failing health of the eldest First Hierarch in world Orthodoxy started two years ago, when he entered the hospital of the Military Medical Academy. Jovan Janić, the biographer of the patriarch, published in the weekly magazine NIN an appeal from the Patriarch to his flock from the hospital: “We must pray for all people, especially for well-meaning people, but, for malicious ones, too! Their ill-will must be changed to good, for they need salvation too!”
The Holy Synod elected him as patriarch in 1990, and he became the 44th First Hierarch of the Serbian Orthodox Church. Patriarch Pavle was a humble bishop; many called him a “living saint” and said that he had “the soul of a dandelion”. My first meeting with His Holiness Patriarch Pavle took place in May 2000. It coincided with the celebration of the Slava of Belgrade, the feastday of the Ascension of our Lord (editor’s note: “Slava” literally means “glory” in most Slavic languages. A slava in its special Serbian usage is a ritual celebration, veneration, and observance of a family’s or town’s patron saint. The slava is held annually on the patron saint’s feastday).
People were anxiously waiting for the appearance of their beloved pastor, so, he went into the courtyard of the Ascension Church, the people carefully parted to give way to him, and they bowed before him for his blessing. It was so surprising… the lack of hustle as broad-shouldered guards kept the press of people from their archpastor, the simplicity, sincerity, and love of children to their father and of a father to his children, [Patriarch Pavle] took small steps, blessing everyone on the way to the entrance… After the liturgy, there was a solemn procession throughout the centre of the city, headed by the Patriarch. At that time, I could not stay in Belgrade for more than two days; I had to go to other places as well. I took a blessing for the rest of my trip, I only had a short conversation with him, but, he said many kind words on Russia, its Church, and its people, backed by a wish that we would become closer to each other.
Later, I remembered that I had translated the greetings of His Holiness Patriarch Pavle to the Russian people on Christmas 1998, “With all my heart, I greet the Russian people, one in faith with us, on the festival of the Nativity of the Son of God. I write to you the same greeting that the angels gave to the shepherds in Bethlehem, ‘Christ is born! Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will amongst men’…”
People along the route of Patriarch Pavle, waiting for his blessing.
The following year, I received an official invitation from the Bishop Joanikije Mićović of Budimlje-Nikšić (Editor’s note: in Eastern Montenegro) to be a guest of his diocese at the time of the visit of Holy Patriarch Pavle. It is hard to describe my feelings, caused by the invitation of my dear Vladyki. The visit coincided with the feastday of the Assumption of the Holy Virgin, as most of the monasteries in Montenegro are dedicated to the Virgin, mostly to Her Assumption, and some to Her Nativity or Entrance into the Temple. For three days, along with Metropolitan Amfilohije Radović of Montenegro and Primorsky, the “homeboy” Bishop Joanikije Mićović of Budimlje-Nikšić, and His Holiness Patriarch Pavle Stojčević, I had the opportunity to travel to holy sites such as the Ždrebaonik Convent, but, the main celebration took place amidst the stunning beauty and extraordinary history of the Piva Monastery of the Assumption.
The trip was intense, for there were many services and our travelling between the various places was difficult. His Holiness, despite his inevitable fatigue, found time and energy to bless people and to answer their questions. The discourse he held after the liturgy in the Piva Monastery, during the festive trapeza, was especially long and spirited, and the people gradually gathered around him. Those who had nowhere to sit, stood and assembled around His Holiness, there was a great press in the crowd, as they tried to catch every possible word of their Archpastor, as he answered questions on fasting, the dispute over the language of worship, and church chant. The First Hierarch answered some of the questions with his invariably gentle humour.
Being very keen about worship, he told a story about how, during the liturgy, he heard that one of the seminarians, probably from excessive zeal, sang louder than the other ones. After the end of the service, His Holiness gently drew the seminarian’s attention to an error he made in chanting, “My boy, do be careful when you’re chanting on the kliros. I think you didn’t quite get it right”. At that, the young man, with some bitterness, replied, “You know, Your Holiness, every bird has its voice!” With a bright smile, the patriarch beamed and said, “Yes, my bucko… in the forest! I’m talking about church!” Thus, with love, with a lively sense of humour, he pointed out the errors and infirmities of his flock.
During this trip, despite my closeness to His Holiness, I could not bring myself to trouble him with questions or idle chitchat. Indeed, how could I ask him anything? He seemed to answer every question in the blink of an eye, despite his humble and gentle appearance. Sometimes he asked me about life in Russia, which he loved very much. We talked of the love of Serbian people for everything Russian, how many Serbs suffered because of this love, and of the problematic histories of Serbia and Russia.
Back in Moscow, I soon received a letter from the Holy Synod of the Serbian Orthodox Church, signed by the Patriarch. It informed me that I was included in a group to prepare for the demonstration “Together with Serbia”… a solemn rally of solidarity of the Serbian and Montenegrin peoples under the motto “Together with Serbia!” On 15 November 2004, in the conference centre of the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour in Moscow, we held a drive to raise funds to complete construction of the largest Orthodox church in Europe outside of Russia, dedicated to St John the Baptist and to St Savva, the most beloved saint amongst the Serbian people. Again… I felt joy, excitement, and gratitude to His Holiness the Patriarch and Metropolitan Amfilohije for the trust they gave to me, and for the honour to be part of the cause of our association, of building a great church in Belgrade of one of our most beloved saints.
In September of this year, I was at the hospital of the Military Medical Academy accompanied by some priests. I did not dare to ask for a blessing to visit His Holiness. Vladyki Joanikije, who was passing through Belgrade, described his visit with the Patriarch. Of course, it was difficult for him to receive visitors; often he was as if he were half-asleep and not fully alert. However, he was able to speak coherently and answer questions. Whilst he was confined to his sickbed, Hieromonk Mefody was his inseparable companion. He deserves to have his story told, because this man, in every possible way, embodies a true Christian. During his stay in hospital, the patriarch relied very much on Hieromonk Mefody. When you see these spiritual children of this wondrous Archpastor, you become calm and hopeful. The Serbian Church, despite all her recent troubles, is safe. The life and the example of His Holiness yielded worthy and good fruit. In this sense, like the Apostle Paul, many can call him their “father in Christ”. At present, we do not know all their names, but, they include bishops, clergy, and monastics.
Translator of Serbian spiritual literature
16 November 2009
Patriarch Pavle Stojčević of Serbia (1914-2009)
A delegation headed by Metropolitan Philaret Vakhromeyev of Minsk and Slutsk, the Patriarchal Exarch for All Belarus, shall represent the MP at the funeral of Patriarch Paul of Serbia on 19 November in Belgrade, Hieromonk Filipp Ryabykh, the deputy chairman of the Department for External Church Relations told RIA-Novosti on Monday. “His Holiness Patriarch Kirill blessed a delegation headed by Metropolitan of Minsk and Slutsk to go to Serbia [to attend the funeral of Patriarch Pavle]. Amongst its members are two clergymen of the Belarusian Exarchate, Archpriest Nikolai, the secretary of the Exarchate, and Hierodeacon Antony, who shall assist the bishops. Fr Igor Yakimchuk, acting Secretary-General for Inter-Orthodox relations will represent the MP Department of External Church Relations”, Fr Filipp said. He went on to say that the MP delegation would concelebrate with clergy of the Serbian Church [at the funeral].
“Relations between the MP and the Serbian Church are very warm; they have been friendly for many centuries. The late Patriarch Pavle made a great contribution to their development”, Fr Filipp said. He pointed up that the 44th First Hierarch of the Serbian Church repeatedly visited Russia. “Russian Orthodox believers believe that he was a good pastor, a man of genuine prayer, and a friend of the Russian Church and Russia as a whole”, Fr Filipp concluded.
Patriarch Pavle headed the Serbian Orthodox Church since 1990. Upon the death of Patriarch Pavle, the Holy Synod of the Serbian Church formally elected Metropolitan Amfilohije Radović of Montenegro and Primorsky Locum Tenens of the Serbian patriarchal throne. Over the past year-and-a-half, as the patriarch was seriously ill, Metropolitan Amfilohije actually led the Serbian Orthodox Church and was effectual chairman of the Holy Synod. As reported on Monday by the MP Press Service, referring to the official website of the Serbian Orthodox Church, the Holy Synod of the Serbian Church elected Metropolitan Amfilohije at an emergency meeting on Sunday night, less than 24 hours after the death of His Holiness Pavle. A Local Council of the Serbian Church shall hold an election of a new patriarch, and 40 days must pass after the death of His Holiness Patriarch Pavle before the Church can hold it.
16 November 2009
A very well-done vid on Patriarch Pavle from Romania.