Saint Sava's Epistle of Bishop Irinej of the Metropolitanate of Australia and New Zealand
by the Grace of God
Bishop of the Metropolitanate of
Australia and New Zealand
The Serbian Orthodox Church
A joyous and blessed all Serbian Feast Day!
That all Serbian hearts
May be united with you,
That the Sun of peace, love –
May shine upon us all...
(Hymn to Saint Sava)
Our much beloved Clergy and Monastics, Sons and Daughters, Our dear Children of Saint Sava,
The Way of Saint Sava for us, beloved, constitutes that unique dimension of Orthodoxy amongst the Serbian people, wherein we follow the path of Saint Sava. Walking in his footsteps, he presents us with the possibility of both preserving our own identity and accepting new circumstances in life, as he unites us together in Christ and for Christ, and through Christ for the life of the world. This path is the Christlike way, the only real, true path, the path of true freedom, as we sing in the troparion of St. Sava, "the path that leads to life"!
Walking on this life giving path, that is following the way of our Serbian Saint Sava, as he followed and follows Christ Himself, singing the well known and very popular Hymn of Saint Sava, which fiery opening statement, "Let us loving extol Saint Sava", warms the heart of every genuine follower of Saint Sava and fills every Saint Sava celebration with love and light, like a ray of sunshine rising in the brilliance of the Incarnate Christ – the “Sun of Righteousness."
Today, we in the Serbian Diaspora, as well as the new generations in our Serbian homeland, standing united as one among our own, in the pure confession of authentic Christianity expressed in our local Serbian Orthodox Church, through its saint and enlightener, archpastor and a peacemaker, our holy father Sava Nemanjic, celebrate together and enrich each other as a living and continuous expression of the incarnation of Orthodox Christianity in our unique Serbian Church.
The rich heritage of Saint Sava himself and, through him, the Way of Saint Sava can be seen precisely in that it is void of everything that could make it a constricted and narrow concept. The principles of that breadth are found in the fact that this wise Serbian Child left us a legacy that allows us to determine our place under the sun, and in seamless continuation with our glorious past, to look not only at the present but also toward a brighter future, enriched by the liberating principles of the Way of Saint Sava. This is our common and actual living inheritance garnered from the Way of Saint Sava, never sealed off and isolated by lifeless schismatic vows, from the darkness of which only the seeds of truthlessness, hatred and strife are sown, leading to the destruction and death of the souls of men. The antithesis of life itself!
For this reason, We paternal recommend to that self-isolated small minority in Australia which is beyond the pale of the Saint Sava Community, to heed the advice and plea of His Holiness Serbian Patriarch Irinej, successor to the Throne of Saint Sava, recently addressed to the monk Artemije, which applies equally to them: "Again and again We remind you of the great patristic and evangelical truth which you yourself once pointed out: "schism is a great wound on the body of the Church, a great sin before God, a sin that even the blood of martyrdom cannot cleanse'."
At the same time adding, "instead of ... untruths, it would behoove you to remember that which you yourself claimed and that which is clear to everyone in the Church – the "liturgy" that schismatics serve is not Liturgy. Accordingly, your "communion" is not Communion, your "sacraments" are not the Holy Sacraments of the Church of God, and everything that you do only serves to your spiritual ruin and to those who follow you and who participate in such gatherings. Claiming that you offer service to God, under the guise of the defense of Orthodoxy, you are destroying the unity of the Christ’s Church, separating it from its living and salvific Community and depriving yourself and others of eternal salvation" (ABM No. 10 of 13 January of 2014).
On the occasion of his visit to Australia in 2004, the words of our Holy Patriarch Pavle have also been recorded, who questioned aloud: "Will these schismatics see God's holy face, and Saint Sava? They do not think of God and Saint Sava, they are only interested in might. And therefore they never accepted unity." And to every true and honest Serbian man, woman and child it is perfectly clear that only unity, within Christ's Holy Church, can save us – and that is, beloved, the Way of Saint Sava!
Invoking upon all the blessings of God, through the prayers of our holy first archpastor Saint Sava, We reiterate – time and again – the invitation of our local Church in Australia and New Zealand, to all who have found themselves outside the warm embrace of their Mother Church to hasten to her in love, peace and harmony and joining hand in hand, with united hearts, to heal her newly inflicted wounds! May the Son of God rejoice looking upon His children of Saint Sava as they gather together in "One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church" – and, God willing, as soon as possible at both of our monasteries of Saint Sava – enlightened by the same and the true sun of freedom!
THAT WE MAY ALL ABIDE IN UNITY – SAINT SAVA HELP US!
Given in Sydney, at the Feast of Saint Sava in the Year 2014.
Your earnest intercessor before the greatest Serbian Son,
Bishop of the Metropolitanate Australia and New Zealand