the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
By now you might have already heard of St. Luke’s Serbian
Orthodox Mission. With this, our first publication of ‘The
Missionary’, we wish to inform you of our purpose and future plans.
St. Luke’s Mission is composed of Serbian Orthodox Christians
who are dedicated to the propagation of the faith, the promotion of
Orthodox Christian arts, and the expression of Christian love through
humanitarian efforts. In this respect, St. Luke is an exemplary model in
all three areas: as the evangelist who wrote the 3rd Gospel;
as the first iconographer; and as a physician. In his life, he showed a
truly holistic approach, combining healing of body, healing of soul, and
revealing the Divine in the created world through his artistry. We can
hope to be but weak mimics of his saintly efforts. Although it is the
obligation of every gathering of Orthodox Christians, from the family
unit to the parish and the diocese, to express these same goals, we felt
that an organization of lay church members should also dedicate itself
to this missionary work, in much the same way that this was done (and
continues to this day) by the lay organization known as ‘Bogomoljci’,
founded by the holy bishop, St. Nikolai of Zicha, in the 1930’s.
St. Luke’s Mission does not intend to compete with the work of
our parishes but rather to complement it. We can paraphrase St. Nikolai:
if you must compete, then compete
to do the greatest good. Indeed, our publication, The Missionary, is
dedicated to the memory of St. Nikolai, who in his life struggled to
evangelize everyone that he came in contact with. His words to this day
continue in their transfiguring strength in his many writings, whether
in theologic prayer, in sermons, in religious lyrics or in prose.
Evangelization is not an instant ‘conversion’ of a person. It
is more of a process, a growth in our knowledge of God, not in the sense
of knowing more facts about the faith, but in learning the mind of God,
and living His law – making His Kingdom our kingdom. Evangelization is
the gift of the Good News (lit. Gospel) which we give each other from
our strength and receive from each other in our weakness, and the force
which makes all this possible is love, which comes down from above and
is shared amongst all on earth. In this way we are all in the same boat,
on the same ocean, and seeking the same port. All are learners, all are
beginners, all are in a process of becoming. The saints serve as our
helmsmen, having already traveresed the treacherous waters of this world
with success. This process of change has specific names attached to it
in our faith, names which we all know. The two most expressive ones are metania
which means, literally, to change direction, and transfiguration
(metamorphosis in Greek) which
refers to a profound change in our very nature. This is a bidirectional
process. Our efforts to redirect the course of our lives toward God (metania)
lead to a change in our being (transfiguration) which is the gift of God
the Spirit. The process is not instantaneous but lifelong. Many lose
their way on this journey, as we can see all around us, both outside and
within our own families.
Missionary, with God’s blessing, will be published regularly four
current issue is dedicated to the Orthodox family. This family has
multiple manifestations in each of our lives. At its base is the
expression of faith within our own home, with our biologic family and
closest friends. This expands into the parish family with whom we meet
regularly in group prayer and communion, and ultimately into the family
of all Orthodox Christians to which our particular parish/diocese/partriarchate
belongs. This great Orthodox Christian family is bound together not by
corporations, constitutions and bylaws but by a common faith which we
express every minute of our lives through mutual love. One practical
expression of this love is the act of remembering. We have family events
because we remember our biologic relatives. We do the same in the
Church. We remember each other in our daily private and family prayers.
We remember our sick, travellers, those in distress, and our departed at
every service. We remember our bishops and patriarchs, and the
patriarchs remember each other at the Liturgy. The simple act of
remembrance, in which we recall each other by name is called
commemoration, and happens all the time, often without us noticing it.
The next time you pray, either alone or communally in church, pay
special attention to these commemorations, and remember those named in a
conscious effort. This is the only power which binds Orthodox
Christians. This is not surprising, since God created all things by the
power of His Word (Logos), and to Adam (mankind) He gave express power
over creation by having him name the creatures. Nothing distinguishes us
more than our name, and there is nothing that we would defend as
strongly as our name from those that would slander it. At its foundation
there is only One Name which gives life to all other names, and that is
the Name of God. Similarly, in God we see the prototype of the family.
Though we must never conceive of God in earthly terms, the very nature
of our language in calling God Trinity of Father, Son and Holy Spirit,
implies an understanding of community, as some have expressed it, a
Tri-unity of the Godhead.
this issue we present a series of articles in both Serbian and English
with thoughts about the different Orthodox
‘families’ we live in, realizing that they are in fact inseparable.
other feature of this first issue is a translation into Serbian, of
portions of T. Colliander’s book ‘The Way of the Ascetics’. This
devout Russian émigré paraphrases the Church fathers in a way that
brings to the average reader a practical approach to the spiritual life.
It is to be read as well as studied and applied.
already stated, St. Luke’s Mission is also interested in Orthodox
religious arts and humanitarian efforts. Our activities and interests in
these areas are also covered in this issue by various articles.
hope that you find The Missionary an aid in your spiritual growth, and
if so, that you pass it on to someone else to read. Your questions,
comments, and opinions are valued. You can contact us at:
St. Luke’s Mission
Fax (voice mail): +1 (501) 423 - 7348
Dr. Milutin Drobac