On 9 October 2023, His Holiness Serbian Patriarch kyr Porfirije served the Holy Hierarchical Liturgy on the occasion of the Patron Saint’s Day of the chapel of Saint John the Theologian at the Faculty of Orthodox Theology in Belgrade, with the concelebration of the clergy and the prayerful participation of professors, current and former students.
After the Divine Liturgy, the Patriarch extended congratulations to the Dean, professors, assistants, staff, and, of course, the students on the occasion of the Patron Saint’s Day – Saint John the Theologian, patron and protector of this eminent educational institution. In his instructive sermon addressed to the gathered, His Holiness explained in a vivid way the importance and role of Saint John the Theologian, the apostle and evangelist, as the spiritual patron of this higher education institution:
– He is our patron because we turn to him in prayer, beseeching him to be along us when we study the scriptures and words of the Holy Fathers. But at the same time, he is an incentive and a role model for everyone who wants to be an apostle, to be an evangelist in the broadest sense of the word, that is, someone who wants to testify to the Word of God to the world.
The Patriarch explained that if they want to be true theologians, they must genuinely pray and genuinely strive because theology is not just a sentimental and psychological experience but encompasses the whole person and the entire endeavor:
– If we want what you read, what you study, what you teach here at the faculty, and what the students listen to… if we want it to make sense and bear true spiritual fruit, it must be rooted in prayer, in effort, and therefore it is not by chance, and of course, it is a great blessing, that we begin this school year with the Holy Liturgy. Our every thought, word, deed, everything we are, from beginning to end, should have its root in the Holy Liturgy.
We are called to bear witness to the faith in Christ even after the Holy Liturgy, i.e., we are duty-bound as the Church, according to the words of the Apostle Paul, to pass on what we have received – His Holiness concluded, and explained that the theology has the task of interpreting and translating eternal truth into a language that every heart, every man, regardless of where and when they live, can understand.
With wise of paternal instruction, the Patriarch advised the students of the Faculty of Orthodox Theology that everything they do, the entire effort they put into learning, should be imbued with the grace of the Holy Spirit, to serve the building of the Church, rather than self-affirmation and self-validation before people.
His Holiness Serbian Patriarch kyr Porfirije wished a successful new school year to the Dean of the Faculty of Orthodox Theology, the vice-deans, professors, and students; and then called them to bear witness to the Crucified and Risen Christ in accordance with their roles and positions, and to build a community in Christ, free from any selfishness.
The Patriarch requested the teaching staff, in line with the well-known saying, “Give blood, and you will receive the spirit,” not to spare effort in bringing students closer to Christ and bearing witness to Him; while he also implored the students to use the pearls they receive from their experienced and wise professors for the building of the Body of Christ – the Church, as this is the only correct path through which they will ultimately build themselves.
Considering that students of theology represent the future of our Holy Church, the Patriarch kindly asked them never to lose awareness of the community in their future service, which, with God’s help, will be entrusted to them.
– Let us trust the Church, let the people trust the Assembly, and let the Assembly trust the people! You who will become future priests should not allow yourselves to think that you individually are an authority which is above the Church. That is a defeat! Instead, let us nurture community so that we may be one in Christ!