First liturgy after enthronment: Patriarch Porfirije offers the publican’s humility as a model of spiritual health

Serbian Patriarch Porfirije celebrated his first official Patriarchal Liturgy this Sunday at Saint Sava Cathedral in Belgrade. In his homily, he said that man’s natural state is illustrated by the publican’s humility. Only by following his model can we function healthily: “To be Christian means to be authentically human,” he said.

“What seems great, powerful and strong to the people of this world seems weak in God’s eyes. What the world considers to be wise, deep and smart, for God is madness and a ringing bell, and that clang is nothing but an echo of emptiness. But the Lord is revealed in our faith and humility,” explained His Beatitude.

“The eye of God values man differently. He values him by his heart. It is important that we obey the laws, forgive and ask for forgiveness. Without that, we are not only Christians, but it can be said that we are not humans either. To be Christian means to be authentically human,” he added.

“Everything that the publican did, and more than that, we should do, because that is how we function healthily.”

Patriarch Porfirije warned that, if we do not gain peace and joy through humility, we shall be inhabited by passions:

“We will be filled with anger and hysteria, the feat will be difficult for us – it will be pride and vanity. That burden, if not expelled from the heart, leads to a demonized state. It may be too strong a word, but it really is so. The greater the pride and vanity, the more closed we are, the more lonely we are, the poorer we are.”

His Beatitude called upon the faithful to obey their Church and also to adhere to the prescribed sanitary protection measures during the pandemic.

He also asked them to pray for him, mentioning he was still in shock and his hands were still shaking after hearing the news of his election. “I know deeply what kind of position is the one in which the Lord appointed me with love and grace,” he said.

After the Divine Liturgy, the patriarch officiated a memorial service at the tomb of  Patriarch Iriney, his predecessor on the patriarchal throne of Serbia.

Patriarch Porfirije, 59, is the youngest Serbian patriarch after 1937. He is fluent in Greek, English and German. He teaches Pastoral Psychology at the Faculty of  Orthodox Theology in Belgrade. He was elected patriarch on Thursday, February 18, and enthroned the next day.

Last week, he was congratulated by the heads of the autonomous and autocephalous churches: Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, Patriarch Theodore of Alexandria, Patriarch John of Antioch, Patriarch Kirill of Moscow, Patriarch Daniel of Romania, Patriarch Neophyte of Bulgaria, Archbishop Chrysostomos of Cyprus, Archbishop Ieronymos of Athens, Archbishop Anastasios of Albania, Metropolitan Sawa of Warsaw, Metropolitan Rastislav of the Czech Lands and Slovakia, Metropolitan Onufry of Kyiv, Metropolitan Tikhon of America, Metropolitan Hilarion of ROCOR, Archbishop Leo of Finland.

Photo courtesy of the Serbian Patriarchate

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