Lessons of Kosovo
by Fr. Rodney Torbic
as appeared in the American Srbrobran - August 7, 2002
Lessons from Kosovo influence men, women and children willing to learn. St. Lazarus and the men who lost their lives in defense of the Faith used a very definite decision-making process.
The martyrs of Kosovo past and present chose the heavenly kingdom over the earthly benefits. They chose to be true to God, to the Church and to themselves. They saw the big picture. They had patience to take the long view.
The martyrs of Kosovo had Faith in God which was greater than any threat from their enemies. The martyrs of Kosovo had a strong internal peace which enabled them to go to battle with the conviction that fighting for the right was better than giving in to the wrong.
The internal peace of knowing that one is doing right is greater than any temporary moment of false security. The decisions made at Kosovo in 1389 have relevance for all time.
St. Lazarus and the men who followed him in battle set timeless examples for men and women facing threats in any century. Threats to Orthodox Christianity must be repelled. Defense of Orthodox Christianity is necessary at all times.
Being true to the Orthodox profession of Faith at every instant is absolutely necessary.
The identity we have as Serbian Orthodox Christians is taken from Jesus Christ and is linked to the saints and martyrs through the centuries. Everything we do must give honor to our Christian identity. Nothing we do should diminish or compromise the honor due to Jesus Christ and to the saints and martyrs who have lived and died for Christ.
The Serbian Orthodox Church and Orthodox Churches everywhere have been influenced by the decisions made at Kosovo. The martyrs of Kosovo are commemorated in the Holy Liturgy. Their witness and Faith stand to teach and inspire each subsequent generation.
The external threat posed in 1389 has not gone away. Kosovo is always a battleground. Orthodox believers true to Christ stand firm in the face of adversity. Orthodox believers draw strength from the Body and Blood of Christ just as did the men who entered the plain of Battle in Kosovo.
At each stage in our life, we must make choices which define us as human beings. The martyrs of Kosovo defined themselves as Serbian Orthodox believers. They would have it no other way.
Our participation in the Holy Sacraments defines us as Orthodox Christians. When we are Baptized, Chrismated, participate in Holy Confession and Communion, we express our belief in Jesus Christ. We express our confidence in the healing and saving power of Jesus Christ. We experience Jesus Christ in the Holy Sacraments. Our total person is affected by the Holy Sacraments.
At Baptism, we chose Jesus Christ and the life in Jesus Christ. At Chrismation, we were sealed with the gift of the Holy Spirit. At Confession and Communion, we are united and re-united with Christ.
Marriage in the Church makes our family a Christ-centered family. Holy Orders and Holy Unction take the believer to new dimensions in the life in Christ.
The decisions and the lessons emanating from the martyrs of Kosovo penetrate the centuries. Children growing up in each century face decisions. Should they go along with the crowd and participate in activities which might provide momentary relief, but long range peril. Saying “no” to the temptations of the moment will be consistent with the towering examples of the martyrs of Kosovo.
Doing good in school, at home, at work and in the community in the face of danger and temptations are consistent with the lessons coming from Kosovo.
When major decisions must be made in life, they should be based on the life and teachings of Jesus Christ. We should test out thoughts to make sure they are consistent with what Jesus Christ would have us do.
It is important to spend considerable time reading the Holy Scriptures and the lives of the saints to define and understand the Orthodox identity. As Serbian Orthodox believers, we must remember from where we came, who we are and to whom we are indebted through the centuries.
Standing with the Church at all times, in all situations, in the face of any type of danger is the only course of action to take. Being patient, resisting pressure, taking the long view and keeping cool in the face of adversity brings the important benefits.
Each Serbian Orthodox Christian, man, woman and child must be clear on who he or she is and clear on the heavy price paid for the identity of Serbian Orthodox Christian.
Standing for Jesus Christ as a Serbian Orthodox believer at all times, in all circumstances at all stages of life is the timeless lesson of Kosovo.