ST. NICHOLAS CHURCH, PRIŠTINA – ST. THEODORE SATURDAY:
Today on St. Theodore Saturday His Grace Bishop Atanasije, Administrator of the Diocese of Raška and Prizren, served in the newly restored church of St. Nicholas in Priština with the concelebration of a number of priests from the Diocese of Raška and Prizren and other Dioceses of the Serbian Orthodox Church, including the hegumen of Studenica Monastery, archimandrite Tihon; the hegumen of Tvrdoš Monastery, archimandrite Sava; deacon Radoš from the Diocese of Žiča and others. This is the first liturgy served in St. Nicholas Church since March 2004 when the church was torched.
About 250 faithful from Priština and other parts of the southern province attended the liturgy, most of them taking communion, including several Serbian children from Priština, who actively assisted during the Liturgy. Bishop Atanasije delivered a homily on the importance of the feast of St. Theodore, as well as on the celebration tomorrow of the feast of the Sunday of Orthodoxy. The celebration of this feast day will be held tomorrow in the Orthodox Cathedral of St.. George in Prizren with the concelebration of a number of bishops and priests.In his homily, Bishop Atanasije said, "We have gathered today to take communion in faith, peace and love, and above all in the Body and Blood of Theanthropos Jesus Christ. We need to take communion more often because we are sinful. The thief on the cross, with just one word spoken from the depths of the soul, said, "Remember me, o Lord, when you come into your Kingdom" and the Lord told him that on the same day he would be with Him in paradise, while another thief began to blaspheme Christ.As Father Justin of blessed memory used to say, it is our great joy that the thief entered heaven first. It means there is hope for us because God came into the world to save us and the world. God will not save us without our participation. We build heaven within ourselves with the help of God but unfortunately, God will not save us if we build a state of hell within ourselves. So do not be intimidated by people speaking of conspiracies, apocalypses, black and red internationales. You must adhere to God and His justice, and everything else will be added by God."After Holy Liturgy in St. Nicholas Church refreshments were served for all who attended. Bishop Atanasije told journalists who were present and filmed the Liturgy that he "would give a press statement only to the children" who gathered around him in the churchyard and he then told the children several stories. Liturgy was attended by the head of the Greek office in Priština, Mr. Demetrios Moishopoulos (the newly appointed Special EU advisor on matters of Serbian cultural heritage in Kosovo). Also present were representatives of the U.S. Office in Priština, which actively assisted the reconstruction of the church of St.. Nicholas, as well as representatives of the U.K. Office. The residents of Priština who were present asked the Bishop to appoint a parish priest in Priština.
After the liturgy in St. Nicholas Church, Bishop Atanasije, together with hegumen Sava of Tvrdoš Monastery and the other priests also visited the unfinished Christ the Savior Church in the center of Priština, where hymns in honor of Christ the Savior were sung.
GRAČANICA MONASTERY – ST. THEODORE SATURDAY:
Today in Gračanica Monastery His Grace Bishop Artemije served Holy Hierarchal Liturgy with the concelebration of Vicar Bishop Teodosije, seven parish priests, hieromonk Andrej (Sajc) and hierodeacon Damjan. The atmosphere was eucharistic and liturgical, Serbian and Orthodox.
During the Liturgy Bishop Artemije delivered a homily to the faithful on the meaning of the Great Fast and the importance of fasting in preparation for the holy mystery of Repentance and the Eucharist. During the Liturgy in the crowded church of Gračanica about 200 faithful took communion.In his address to the faithful Bishop Artemije said: "The Church has set aside seven weeks to prepare properly for our encounter with the Risen Lord, to cleanse our souls of every dirt and sin, to strive in that which is pleasing and loved by God and to avoid what is contrary to the law of God. The Holy Great Fast is compared in church hymns with the open sea and we pray that the Lord gives us the strength to sail across the open sea without becoming shipwrecked. On the open sea there are frequently tempests, storms and waves, and it is natural that we who are also on the open sea of the Great Fast have tempests, storms and trials. But with hope in the grace of God, with our effort and endeavor, we should strive to cross the open sea of the fast without shipwreck and to arrive in the peaceful harbor of the Resurrection of Christ."Thus today we have experienced double joy.
Bishops Artemije and Teodosije at the Holy Liturgy in Gracanica Monastery today