On the eve of the fourth Sunday of Pascha and the feast day of Venerable Theodore Trichinas, Venerable Joasaph of Serbia and St. Nicholai of Zicha, the bishop of the Western American Diocese, His Grace Maxim, together with his honored guests, the abbot of the Visoki Decani monastery, Fr. Sava, and Hieromonk Dimitrije participated in the Vespers service and visited St. George Serbian Orthodox Church in San Diego, California.
This was the first visit of the Decani monastery abbot to San Diego. On the invitation of His Grace Maxim, he visited several parishes in the West where he eloquently spoke in the Serbian and English languages outlining the life and struggles of the Serbian Orthodox Church and her remaining faithful flock in Kosovo and Metohija.
The following day, the fourth Sunday of Pascha of the Paralytic, Fr. Sava during the Hierarchical Liturgy, presided over by His Grace Maxim and concelebrated by Protopresbyters Bozidar Draskovic, Bratislav Krsic, Hieromonk Dimitrije, Deacons Zoran Aleksic and Paul Germain, gave a spiritually uplifting and insightful sermon drawn and deeply infused by the teachings of the Holy Fathers as well as his own experience of the Orthodox Faith in the midst of the Kosovo crisis. He spoke of uncertainties of life, surrounded by Albanian extremists who seek to destroy holy sights and expel the Serbian population from their homesteads. But even about the Albanians, who hate monks, nuns, and Serbs living in Kosovo and Metohija, during the his banquet address, Fr. Sava spoke with love and his strong faith in the Resurrected Lord, showing that only in Christ we can be victorious over death and sin.
Fr. Sava gave his homily immediately after reading of the Gospel as liturgically prescribed. Sin, he said, forces us to live in an unnatural way and creates a gap between God and us. In the Gospel read that day, the paralyzed man was looking for another man to help him. Forgetting God and his help, we too, in our own paralysis (mostly spiritual) can overlook God, his care and love for us, hoping only in help from men. Fr. Sava urged his listeners to open up their hearts and minds to receive God’s grace and His answers to our call for help, welcoming the Lord in their own lives and thereby confirm their faith with action – showing love for God and neighbors in a concrete and tangible way.
His Grace Bishop Maxim tonsured three readers prior to beginning of the Liturgy, Alexandar Bradic, Radovan Borovic, and Jeff Nicholas Schradt. Following the Hierarchical Liturgy, the Lytia around the church took place followed by the blessing and cutting of the Slava Kolach. The Feast day of St. George is actually celebrated on May 6th, but as in many of our parishes in North and South America, the church Slava is carried over to Sunday when the community can gather in greater numbers, giving an opportunity to those who celebrate their own slava (svecari/slavari) to gather with their friends and family at their own homes after the Liturgy.
The celebration of the church Slava was closed with a short program in the hall with participation of parish choir, Maja Markovic and Kaija Germain. The food for the Slava celebration was prepared by Maja Topalovic and the Kolo Sisters. Bishop Maxim greeted the faithful of St. George parish wishing them a blessed Feast day – Church Slava urging them to continue building up of their Eucharistic community for the glory of God. Fr. Sava then spoke about the life and struggles of the Serbian Orthodox Church in Kosovo and Metohija. The faithful and the parish of St. George gifted Visoko Decani monastery with a monetary gift.
As His Grace Bishop Maxim and Fr. Sava made their way out of the hall, the faithful were standing on either side of them taking blessings and bidding them farewell for the remainder of their journey to Washington D.C., New York and Serbia.