|Sketch for Icon of Hieromartyr Barnabas|
As the bishop of the Resava-Shumadia eparchy of the Serbian TOC, I call upon the believing people of St. Sava’s Church and all Orthodox Christians to bring forth from the shadows the radiant and holy memory of the Serbian Patriarch-Martyr Barnabas (Rosich).
Patriarch Barnabas’ confessing life and work, already during his life, and following his martyric death, were deservedly put on a saint’s pedestal of a great fighter on behalf of Orthodoxy, Orthodox monarchy, and Slavophilism, due to his great merit and tireless battle not only for the Serbian Church and Svetosavlje, i.e. Serbian Orthodoxy, but also for the confessing Russian emigration.
After the Second World War, however, and the fall of the Serbian Church into Communist and later Ecumenist slavery, his luminous memory was quietly extinguished.
His struggles – from his heartfelt patronage in the creation of the Karlovci Synod of the confessing Russian Church Abroad, as well asthe non-recognition of the canonicity of the authority of the Sergianist MP, to his firm stance in rejecting a concordat with the Vatican, from which arose a sharp conflict in the Church and State which culminated in the brutal persecution of the priesthood and faithful, and the violent death of the Patriarch himself – already for decades have not been pleasing to certain people.
Hieromartyr Barnabas paid for his unwavering stand in the defense of Orthodoxy with his life. Patriarch Barnabas’ martyric death represents, it could be said, a kind of ritual killing: “I will smite the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock shall be scattered.” (Mat. 26:31) This great blow was designed to defeat the Orthodox Serbian spirit, to break the will of the people, and to plunge the Serbian nation into desperate sadness. And thus it was. With the removal of the confessing Patriarch Barnabas, and before him, the Orthodox monarch, the martyrically-killed King Alexander Karageorgevich I, dark powers in Serbia (then the Kingdom of Yugoslavia) began a new chapter of the mystery of iniquity, with which the doors of the great apostasy of the last times (Col. 2:2) were opened wide.
The Churchhas always dealt with the preservation of the memory and veneration of the saints carefully, with fear and respect. The glorification of the saints is considered a very weighty and important event. Furthermore, the veneration of the saints is an obligation for all of us. When the remembrance of a God-pleaser slips into forgetfulness, the Lord Himself shows men in dreams or in miraculous visions their heavenly intercessor whom they have forgotten. People wholived a spiritual life truly sorrowed when a God-pleaser was forgotten. They gave everything from themselves for the memory of a righteous one to be reestablished and kept, for the sake of their prayerful intersession on Heaven for the Church on earth. Thus St. John of Shanghai worked for the reestablishment of the veneration of the Western saints who had been undeservedly forgotten. His relationship with the saints should inspire us as well to a careful and pious regard for the struggles and merits of our intercessor before the throne of God, Patriarch-Martyr Barnabas.
Martyric sacrifice is immediately apparent. The violent death of an Orthodox bishop for the sake of confession and defense of the Orthodox Faith has always been considered a sufficient basis for his veneration as a hieromartyr. The veneration ofhieromartyrs often began immediately after their martyric deaths. Pious Christians prayed at their graves and addressed them as saints. Unlike Roman Catholics, for whom canonization is the work of the church jurisdiction,forforhe Orthodox Church the source of a saint’s glorification is the Holy Spirit, Who moves the hearts of God’s people to supplicate a God-pleaser, for he served Him in thought, word and deed. A saint does not become such with an administrative decision: an episcopal council only “numbers among the saints” someone who has already long been seen by the people as a God-pleaser. The Hieromartyr Patriarch Barnabas of Serbia was greatly respected already during his life both bythe Serbs and by the Russian ChurchAbroad, and after his martyric end many started to consider him a holy sufferer for the Orthodox Faith. As a sign of their remembrance of their benefactor and martyr for the faith, the Russian Church Abroad placed an icon of the Apostle Barnabas, the Patriarch’s heavenly intercessor, on the left side of the iconostas in the Russian Holy Trinity Church in Belgrade.
The essential importance of respecting our holy father Hieromartyr Barnabas consists in the following: It moves us to follow in his footsteps, lifting us to the heights of his unwavering battle for Holy Orthodoxy, and it summons us to follow him on the way of his confession, especially in today’s confusing times of pan-apostasy. Along with this, he teaches us repentance, reminding us of zeal for the faith and the past glory of the Serbian Church which we lost due to national carelessness and indifference towards questions of the faith. The return of Hieromartyr Barnabas as a hero of the faith, a fighter against the God-fighting communists and the political powers in general who are not interested in the benefit of the Serbian Church, and a renewal of prayerful veneration of him among St. Sava’s people – this is the lofty and mysterious vocation of the Church directed to our souls darkened by sin.
Serbia today is no longer the pious land it once was, which gave birth to holy people. For a long time already, a ruthless war has been waged, which is taking away the last remnants of light in the Serbian soulthat have been preserved through many decades of oppression. And the light of the Serbian soul, the light of every Christian soul, is holiness. The veneration of the saints and their glorification is a call to holiness. If every one of us began to weep for his sins – which certainly contribute to an even greater destruction of our fatherland and ancestral church by the apostasy of Sergianism and the pan-heresy of Ecumenism – from that weeping would be born a prayerful veneration of our fatherland’s saints and new martyrs, at the head of whom is holy Patriarch Barnabas, and with this, a true love for our once-glorious and Orthodox fatherland.
No one can love his fatherland if he does not strive to cleanse his sinful soul, because the one who sows the passions and reaps spiritual death, could pour the last decisive drop into God’s cup of wrath, which, overflowing, would sweep away His longsuffering. There is no greater love for one’s fatherland than the wish to save her soul through one’s own sacrifice, and there is no more terrible hatred for fatherland than to kill her soul. And our dearest and much-suffering fatherland – that is my and your soul, the soul of our children and parents, the soul of our ancestors and those who are yet to be born. The true love for that soul is the day-and-night work for her salvation. Every one of our personal sins shames and humiliates our fatherland. Every one of us individually bears the responsibility for her destiny.
The Serbian saints are the light of our people’s soul – the light which shines in the darkness of contemporary pan-apostasy. They are the hope in our desperation. The prayerful veneration of Hieromartyr Barnabas, one of the last great lights of our people, and his glorification, would give us a firm foundation on the immovable rock of right faith and right life. This would be a visible sign that “…God is not unrighteous to forget your work and labor of love, which ye have showed toward His name, in that ye have ministered to the saints, and do minister” (Heb. 6:10). May our sacrifice of thanks, that is, the fruit of lips which confess the name of God Who dwells in the saints, move our holy Patriarch Barnabas to more powerful prayer before the throne of the Highest for his much-suffering Serbian people.
O Hieromartyr, Our Father Barnabas, pray to God for us!
Great Lent 2012
The editors of the blog here offer one possible version of a Troparion to the Saint:
Troparion to St. Barnabas
The praise of Serbian Patriarchs, pillar of Orthodoxy, benefactor of the Russian diaspora, thou wast killed defending the patristic right faith and the flock entrusted to thee – the Serbian people. O Hieromartyr Barnabas, pray to the First Pastor Christ, to deem us who worthily venerate thy memory to stand at his right hand.