Bishop Atanasije serves Holy Hierarchal Liturgy in the newly restored church in Belo Polje near Peć
His Grace Bishop Atanasije today served Holy Hierarchal Liturgy in the Nativity of the Most Holy Theotokos Church in the Serbian returnee village of Belo Polje near Peć with the concelebration of Vicar Bishop Teodosije and four other priests. Before Holy Liturgy, a Lesser Consecration of the church was conducted, since most of it has been rebuilt after the March 2004 Pogrom (what remains to be done is minor work on the interior and placement of a new iconostasis). Some 150 faithful from Belo Polje Goraždevac, Peć and surrounding Metohija villages took part in the Holy Liturgy and many of them also took communion. Also at the Holy Liturgy were sisters of the Peć Patriarchate and monks from Visoki Dečani Monastery, as well as the commander of the Italian KFOR troops in Metohija, Colonel Vincenzo Grasso.
After the reading of the Gospels, Bishop Atanasije addressed the faithful with a homily in which he said that every day is salvation bringing, and that salvation depends not only on God but on us, too. "God created man to take part in life, to be an associate of God and a collaborator in life, a co-resident of the Kingdom of Heaven, as he was in paradise in the beginning but he listened to the sly whisperer, the slanderer, the devil, who slandered God before him and who said: I will show you another way of how to become God… God created man to become God but in community with others, in love, not in greed and snatching. While the devil led him to snatching. God created this whole world without having to create it, and He created us to partake in the rich table of His Kingdom. But the devil, the slanderer, Satan, wanted to separate man from God and temporarily he has succeeded. But God did not abandon man when man turned his back on God and chose to follow the devil; instead, He sent His only begotten Son, the Eternal One, to go to man and call man to his salvation, to invoke eternal life, not by force but by awaking within him faith, love and hope, all that makes man a man… For it is not man's knowledge, his possessions, his status and his power that makes man a man nor anything else that the world serves us as a cunning deception," said the Bishop.
After Holy Liturgy with the faithful and the Italian commander of KFOR, Bishop Atanasije also emphasized the importance of the survival of the Serbs in Kosovo: "Thank God this people stayed and survived, as the Serb saying goes, one needs to be able to arrive but also at times to be able to run away. But most important of all to exist in a terrible place. Those of us in Kosovo and Metohija are in a terrible place, a distressing place. Here our predecessors survived for centuries and preserved our faith and our holy shrines and renewed our holy shrines. Only Dečani has not been completely destroyed, all the other shrines were destroyed and then renewed," said Bishop Atanasije.
After the consecration of the church and Holy Liturgy Bishops Atanasije and Teodosije distributed gifts to the children. Bishop Atanasije then visited the monastery of the Peć Patriarchate and the returnee village of Ljevoša, where there are plans to restore the old village church.
At the same time, Bishop Teodosije received a high delegation of the North Atlantic Council (NATO) in Visoki Dečani Monastery, which was led by the commander of German KFOR, General Markus Bentler, and the commanders of all the national contingents. They discussed the need for the presence of international peacekeeping forces because, as Bishop Teodosije said, the situation in Kosovo and Metohija is far from normal and it is necessary to ensure better security conditions for the return of the expelled Serbian population and its normal living.
Photos – Visit to Peć, Peć Patriarhcate Monastery and Ljevoša village