"Today, O Murat, you have won but I have also won."
(St. Prince Lazarus of Serbia to the Turkish Murat after his worldly loss on the Battle of Kosovo, June 15, 1389)
As worldly creatures, we think of victory as a material gain or defeat of a physical enemy, yet we often forget that victory for Christians is not always worldly but more often spiritual. In 1389, when the Serbian Prince Lazarus was defeated on the Battle of Kosovo by the Turkish Murat, he did not consider his defeat a loss, but rather understood it as a spiritual victory, having defended the Orthodox Christian Faith from the Moslem army of the Turks. He knew that the martyrdom of his Christ-fearing army would be a worldly loss, but a spiritual victory, as an addition to the heavenly ranks of Saints. St. Lazarus understood that the rejection of Christ for his people in order to save their earthly kingdom would lead to an eternal spiritual defeat.
Everyday we are faced with choices. We must decide whether we want to witness Christ to the world around us, not fearing ridicule from mainstream thought, or if we want to submit ourselves to the temptations around us, forgetting our morals in order to fit in or please those around us who have either already rejected the Truth or do not yet know of it. We must not fear this suffering, we must only fear the Lord: "The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge" (Proverbs 1:7), and true knowledge is to know the Lord God. We must prepare ourselves through prayer and good Christian habits on a daily basis so that we will truly become His. If we can do this, witnessing Christ to the world around us will be the fruits of our actions. Whether we are in school, at work or with friends, we must remember that our Faith and Church life are to be the center of our being, and that everything else must fit into it. Our Church life cannot only be a Sunday event, or even worse, an event that takes place once or twice a year.
Let us remember the sacrifice of the Great-martyr and Serbian Prince Lazarus and how his spiritual victory was the greatest of its kind. I beseech all of you to take this opportunity to pray for the suffering Serbian Orthodox people in Kosovo and Metohija who are suffering for their witnessing of the Orthodox Faith. May God help them and bless all of you.
His Grace Bishop LONGIN
New Gracanica and Midwestern American Diocese Serbian Orthodox Church
Editor's Note: Since 1992, IOCC has had a continuous presence in Kosovo supporting the work of the Serbian Orthodox Church to provide safe refuge for all people of Kosovo, as well as offering assistance in agriculture, education and small business development.
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