His Holiness, Patriarch Pavle
Another glimpse into his remarkable life.
Nov 12/25 2009 25th Wednesday after Pentecost
Patriarch Pavle reposed recently and was buried last week. You can find video of his funeral on the Internet if you want, but I am more concerned with descriptions of the man, who was a rare man in our day, a bishop who was humble, and holy, and a pastor.
Here is another short description of his life (from a note circulated by Fr. Victor Potapov, emphasis not in original)
Dear Fr. Victor please bless!
With your blessing, I wanted to send out the following email to the parishioners as this is the third day of the repose of His Holiness Pavle of Serbia.
Dear Brothers and Sisters of Saint John’s,
Greetings from Cyprus! I am writing because today is the third day of the repose of His Holiness Patriarch (Archbishop of Pec) Pavle of Serbia and I would like to ask for your prayers for his soul. Most Serbs revered His Holiness as a living saint not only for his exceptional piety and gifts but because he stood as a living example of one who forgave his enemies and blessed those that cursed him.
His Holiness saw many of those dear to him (including many of his own family) murdered during the trials and conflicts of Kosovo–apart from witnessing the legions of shrines destroyed in Kosovo during his time as bishop there. Nonetheless, he evidently fought those who objected to him offering prayers during the Liturgy for both Serbs and their physical enemies–the Croats, the Albanians and even the Americans–stressing that only by forgiving and loving our enemies will these trials of the Serbs come to have any value before God.
Such an application of Christ’s Commandments, particularly in such extreme conditions, is hard for me to contemplate as an American or as a Westerner since I have never felt the threat of my people being extinguished merely because of what they believe. However, as an Orthodox, the threat that has faced (and still faces the Serbs) is clear since, if we remain strong in our beliefs, we too shall face it. Thus, His Holiness always taught that we should cling to our beliefs and to our cultural identity as though they are the only things that matter in this world–because they are.
There are scores of examples where His Holiness demonstrated that he was truly worthy of that title, not just as archbishop but as a person. He was so humble that he relocated the Liturgy he once served daily at the Patriarchate to the cafeteria across the street simply because others in the office complained. He then served coffee to the worshippers after conducting the Liturgy: during which he had used a curtain for a makeshift prothesis. In other examples, he healed, inspired and soothed simply by his prayers, homilies and mere presence.
In my own case, after praying to Sts. Savas and Vassileos (of Ostrog) for the opportunity, I was blessed to meet His Holiness just earlier this year while on a business trip to Belgrade. I sought his prayers for my two, sick children. Meeting him itself was remarkable: upon arriving to his hospital floor, the whole place smelled of myrrh. The priest who escorted me said, "I know, I know, that is just his smell"! After receiving his blessing, both my children have had remarkable and almost complete recoveries, despite initially more modest prognoses.
I am sure that in the days that follow many will come forward with remarkable stories about His Holiness Pavle. However, in focusing on this particular day–the third day of his repose–I wanted to share some of what I know of his life so that you might pray for him as you would for one of my friends or relatives, as that is how I see him. I know that he constantly prayed for all of us so this would seem to be the least that we could do.
Yours in Christ, Chrysostomos
Priest Seraphim Holland 2009. St Nicholas Russian Orthodox Church, McKinney, Texas
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