On True Orthodox Patriotism

St. Justin Popovich 1894-1979

[R]eal Orthodox can never be chauvinists. I recall once, in a conversation with me in 1926, the blessedly reposed metropolitan [A. Khrapovitsky] related to me the following: “On Athos there is a custom that a monk who does not forgive offences is punished by being made to omit the words ‘and forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors,’ at the reading of the Lord’s Prayer, until such a time when he has forgiven the offence committed against him. And I myself have suggested,” added the great saint, “that the chauvinist-nationalists not read the ninth article of the Symbol of Faith.”

If we were to crystallize this principle of Vladyka, it would read as follows: the Russian, Serbian, and Bulgarian nations can be great only if the goal of their existence be the collective realization of the commandments of the Gospel. Otherwise, “Serbianism”, “Russianism”, and “Bulgarianism”, are reduced to senseless and pernicious chauvinism. If “Serbianism” flourishes not by the power of evangelical podvigs and not to Orthodox catholicity, then it will choke in its own egoistic chauvinism. What is profitable for Serbdom is profitable for other nationalities as well. Nations pass, the Gospel is eternal. Only in so far as a nation is filled with the eternal evangelical truth and righteousness, does it exist, and itself becomes and remains eternal. Only such patriotism can be justified from an evangelical point of view. This is the patriotism of the holy apostles, the holy martyrs, the holy fathers. When the emperor-tormentor asked the holy martyrs Acindynus, Pegasius, and Anempodistus where they were from, they answered: “Are you asking us, O Emperor, about our homeland? Our homeland and our life is the most holy, consubstantial and undivided Trinity: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, the one God.” (On Met. Anthony Khrapovitsky)

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