Bishop Teodosije with the People of Goraždevac: We Are in Our Own Land, Source: Radio Goraždevac, February 4, 2024
Following the liturgy in the returnee village of Osojane, Raška-Prizren Bishop Teodosije visited Goraždevac this afternoon, where he spoke with the gathered citizens. He expressed his desire to stand together with them as their spiritual leader and shepherd, to listen and offer words of empathy and support, as we are all in the same situation.
“I wanted to stop by here after Osojane where I served liturgy, to see each other, although we are constantly here. We are always side by side, sharing both joy and sorrow, when necessary. That is our great blessing and strength, to stick together. But after the recent events here, I intended to come and see you personally, to convey my feelings as much as I can,” Bishop Teodosije told the assembly.
He mentioned that he prefers to encourage the people through actions rather than words. “What we do speaks louder than what we currently say. And today, thank God, we are all together. We somehow go through everything together.”
“What I said in Osojane, I would repeat here. The whole world admires your endeavor, your faith, your determination, and perseverance. It has not been easy since at least 1999, that’s 25 years of survival. But as the Lord says, those who endure to the end will be saved. If someone runs a marathon and quits at the end, their effort counts for nothing. With faith in God, we need to complete our endeavor to the end. Like building a house without a roof, all prior work is in vain. Similarly, in the church, so our people simply see ourselves and our position in the current situation, and what has always been important to me, as a priest, is all of Kosovo and Metohija, especially where we have survived and persevered all these years,” Bishop Teodosije stated.
In his address, the bishop emphasized how unity and solidarity are crucial in such moments. “We fight to preserve every home, every house, to remain compact, in God’s love and in unity with one another. When you have one stick, it’s easy to break, but when bound together, one supports the other. Together, no one can break them,” said Bishop Teodosije.
“It’s the same with a family, a village, or more broadly, the church, our centuries-old experience teaches us that we need not only ourselves but God to persevere. The Lord says in the Gospel, ‘In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.’ Believe me, I have seen many times, especially in Kosovo and Metohija, that the Lord is with us. Where it’s hardest and help is most needed, there is the Lord. We might not feel it at the moment, but later we see that in everything that happens, the Lord and His help are present. Unfortunately, our time is not favorable in many respects. When I say not favorable, it’s not terrible, in the sense that we are still in our own land. Everyone has their home, their yard, their family; you are in your own place. It’s difficult to move someone from their threshold unless they decide to leave themselves.”
“The easiest thing is to defend your own threshold because then you are at peace with your conscience. You know who you are and what you defend. So, what’s happening these days, and before, seems like an attempt to intimidate,” says Bishop Teodosije.
“When I say intimidate, it’s like, ‘Arrest one, and ten will leave on their own. Do some damage, and the others will be scared. Or, let’s go to Gorazdevac and Osojane, and all the others will be scared. I think that those who have faith and are steadfast and persistent should not be so easily frightened and should not show fear to scare others. I’m telling you this from personal experience. We share everything together here. You know that churches were destroyed, and we were attacked; we shared all of it together. Now, we are in the same situation. They came here to scare you, tomorrow maybe they’ll try somewhere else with us, but everyone does their part. When we know we are persistent and in our own land, we should not fear anyone. What we should fear are our own mistakes because one can make a mistake once in a lifetime and regret it forever if a good decision isn’t made atthe right moment. That’s why it’s always necessary to seek advice and not make hasty decisions,” advised Bishop Teodosije to the Serbs gathered in Gorazdevac.
The bishop conveyed to the gathered people that they are seen as heroes, and if they were to leave, they would no longer be viewed in the same light. He expressed joy at seeing so many children present. “We just need to prevent sin from distancing us from God and the truth. What you have here are the Peć Patriarchate and Visoki Dečani. We survive because Saint King does not want to leave his Dečani. Can the monks leave Saint King?” he questioned.
“Then, faithful people, can you leave the monastic community, the clergy, and the churches and turn your back on them? It’s possible if someone is selfish and does not think of others, they will do just that. How many times have people told me, ‘You’ve been there long enough, you’ve done your part, now go somewhere else and let someone else be in Kosovo.’ Where should I go from Kosovo? There’s no such place, regardless of all hardships. Don’t think it’s easy for me because I wear a robe. When I was returning from a trip, they searched me at the crossing, a detailed check, then a scanner. Believe me, it was more uncomfortable for them than for me. If I am right and have God’s peace within me, I will not be scared. That’s my message not only here but everywhere, especially when times are hard we must be strong, united, and persistent,” said Bishop Teodosije.
Bishop Teodosije assured the faithful that everyone is watching them as heroes, and if they were to leave, they would no longer be seen with the same respect. He is glad to see so many children. “We just should not allow sin to distance us from God and truth. What you have here are the Peć Patriarchate and Visoki Dečani. We survive because the Saint King does not want to leave his Dečani. Can the monks leave the Saint King?”
“Then, faithful people, can you leave the monasticism, the clergy, and the churches, and turn your back on them? It’s possible if someone is selfish and does not think of others, they will do that. How many times have people told me, ‘You’ve been there long enough, you’ve done your part, now go somewhere else and let someone else be in Kosovo.’ Where should I go from Kosovo? There’s no such place, despite all the hardships. Don’t think it’s easy for me because I wear a robe. When returning from a trip, they searched me at the crossing, a detailed check, then a scanner. Believe me, it was more uncomfortable for them than for me. If I am upright and have God’s peace within me, I will not be scared. That’s my message not only here but everywhere, especially when times are hard, we must be strong, united, and persistent,” Bishop Teodosije concluded.