Wednesday, November 27, 2019

The Ann Arbor Saint - Our Spiritual Responsibility

December 12. This is a date to put on your calendars. Why? We have been given a HUGE privilege in that the Lord saw fit to allow St. Mardarije (Uskokovic) to repose in Ann Arbor. That is right - we have our own Ann Arbor saint! How many Orthodox Christians all over the world would LOVE to have their own saint! A saint that reposed in their city! And our response to this incredible gift that the the Lord gave us is: YAWN. Nothing. No response. No interest. Really? Have we become that cold to spiritual life that we look at the gift that the Lord gave us and our response is to be simply dead? Where are the newborn boys in our parish named Mardarije? Where are the molebens being served to OUR SAINT? Where is the personal veneration of the big and lovely icon we have in our parish church? Perhaps our issues stem from not knowing the life of this favorite of God.

Did you know that St. Mardarije was born in Serbia but received his higher education in Russia? Did you know that he was such a gifted speaker of Russian and preacher that he was appointed to be the diocesan preacher of one of the dioceses in Russia? Did you know that he was such a talented man that the Russian Church sent him to America in 1923 to organize the Serbian parishes here (remember - all Orthodox Christians in North America were part of the Russian Church at that time no matter their nationality)? And that he was consecrated the first Serbian bishop of North America in 1925? In only 10 years he went to his eternal reward, giving his soul into the hand of his Savior at the University of Michigan hospital when finally succumbing to Tuberculosis.

Nonetheless, in his short ministry here in a strange land he was able to establish many Serbian parishes and to attain favor in the Lord’s eyes as one of his saints. This is an important lesson for us: spiritual greatness is not measured in length of years, but in rising to meet the challenge the Lord gives you - no matter whether He calls you to Himself after a few or many years. We must work for the Lord on His terms - not on our own. And when the Lord sends us a ministry we must trust in His mercy and grace and do all we can to answer His call. This is important for us in our days - and St. Mardarije is an example for us to follow. The Lord did not give him many years, but He gave him what he needed to fulfill His call of service to those made in the Lord’s image. We are also called to serve, since we bear the name of Christ. The Lord said “...I came not to be ministered unto, but to minister...” and since we bear the name of Christ as Christians we are likewise called to this service. A few of us in ordained ministry but most of us to service outside of ordained ministry. Whether we are ordained or not we must serve...

It is time, dear brothers and sisters, for us to embrace our Ann Arbor saint! To emulate his selfless service to God and man, and to call upon him to pray for us before the throne of the Lord - the Lord that he served and that we also serve and the throne that he stands before. The saints are close to God, and of course our Ann Arbor saint is close to us. It is FOLLY to not take advantage of this relationship! May this be the year that we see St. Mardarije’s feast day as a day like our St. Vladimir Day! When we take the day off work and are in the parish church unless we are simply physically unable to be there! And, by the way, with the blessing of Patriarch Irenei of Serbia, Archbishop Peter, and Bishop Longin our present parish church will be fully remodeled and named in honor of St. Mardarije as soon as we are able to build our new church. How can there not be a church in honor of St. Mardarije in the very place where he blessedly reposed? The answer is - there cannot NOT be! And with St. Mardarije’s prayers and the Lord’s mercy we will do it! But we cannot be hypocritical - we must learn to ask St. Mardarije’s prayers before the Lord NOW if we expect to receive the fruit of those prayers later. Let us begin by being present at his annual commemoration at St. Vladimir’s: 12/11/19 at 6:00 p.m. and 12/12/19 at 8:00 a.m. Join us! Learn more about St. Mardarije HERE.

Fr. Gregory

No comments:

Post a Comment