субота, 27. мај 2017.

The Light of Charity

     “Just as the sun covers the darkness with its rays, so charity with its purity covers all the passions of the soul.”  

What is charity? In the words of Our Venerable Father among the Saints Isaac the Syrian,  charity is sadness incurred by mercy for the suffering. "Even if someone deserves to be treated roughly, still, the merciful one does not return evil for evil. Meanwhile, he showers with plenty those who deserve reward.”   This understanding of charity reveals that its essence lies in a co-suffering and compassionate heart towards all of God’s sentient creatures, while its loftiness consists of sacrificing oneself for others.

Over the past few days, completely unexpectedly, as so often happens, but certainly by the Providence of God, our monastery was honored by the visit of one charitable gentleman whose good works put us to shame.  He made all of us wonder: do we still have the kind of hearts that the Lord asks of us, or only the semblance, which unfortunately in reality  lack the feelings that are their essence?  It is a sad fact that we must say the latter is true for us, for our meeting this man completely exposed the leprous state of our souls which have no sympathy and love for our near ones.  This man is Mr. Miloš Šupica, someone who carefully preserves his gift of God’s grace through the fulfillment of the Lord’s commandment of love for one’s neighbor.

Remarkably quiet and modest in appearance, unobtrusive, he told us of his humanitarian work abroad through his organization called “Save Serbian Children.” Its name is enough to make its purpose clear, but in no way indicates the extent of its role in helping the Serbian people survive.

 Miloš Šupica emigrated to the US, where he lives to this day, all the way back in 1957. He founded the “Save Serbian Children” organization twenty years ago, but along with his wife Barbara he has been involved in humanitarian work for much longer than that.  Along with truckloads of help in the form of clothing, shoes, food, and medicine, and all kinds of essentials, he provided hospitals and all kinds of public institutions with the necessary materials for their work. The charity of the “Save Serbian Children” organization is worth millions of dollars, which is no trifle.

 Nonetheless, the greatness of Mr. Miloš Šupica is not measured by these millions of dollars which he collected for the Serbian people.  It cannot be measured in the truckloads of aid, nor the modernly-equipped hospitals which without him could not treat the sick. His greatness is revealed in his suffering and empathy for his people which he shows through his deeds. The greatest example of this empathy is that during the war in the 90s in ex-Yugoslavia, he was able to provide free treatment in the US for wounded Serbian soldiers. Over a period of seven years, 27 wounded soldiers found peace in his own warm home. Below is an extract from a newspaper on the subject:

Šupica Convinced Clinton 

“Wounded soldiers from Bosnia, with the help of IOM (International Organization for Migration) were coming to the USA for free treatment. For the most part they were Moslems and Croats. On the lists of those arriving from Europe, there were no wounded Serbs. Miloš Šupica began to lobby in California and got a confirmation from 27 doctors and three hospitals that they would treat wounded Serbian soldiers and sick Serbian children who would be brought to them. The Serbs, however, were considered the enemies of the US and at that time were forbidden from coming to the US for medical treatment.

When Clinton gave a speech at a military base in Sacramento, Milos decided to beg him to change that law.  After about a month, he received an announcement from the White House that that law had been changed as he had asked. The first group, consisting of 8 wounded Serbian soldiers, arrived in the USA in August of 1994.

The piece later reads:

Personal help for the wounded

“By now Milos had succeeded in providing free treatment for 130 wounded Serbs, 27 of whom had stayed under his own roof.  As soon as the treatment of one group finished, they would plan the arrival of another four, or however many they could take in.  Milos’ wife Barbara cooked for them, did their laundry, helped them use their wheelchairs (the wounded were often without one or both legs), bought them clothes and other essentials, all from their family budget. Not one cent for this was taken from the money they had raised through their foundation. Rather, a part of the money raised by the foundation was saved and given to the wounded when they went home.”

Our Mother Abbess and Brother Miloš

We must admit that this kind of charity, in our times, when we are all obsessed by our own comfort (not to mention our personal tranquility which God forbid that someone disturb), is truly a rarity.  Anyone can give charity out of their excess, anyone can share with the poor that which he has, but few are those who are ready to sacrifice their own personal lives for others.  To be ready to cut off one’s own desires for others, to be always at someone else’s disposal, night and day, is a great ascetic labor. For we cannot forget that it was not just for a day or two, not just a week, not just a month, but for an entire seven years the home of Mr. Miloš and his wife Barbara was a home for the sick and weak. Husband and wife suffered with the invalids in their care. They were their legs and hands that they did not have, their eyes which cried for them, their sad hearts, because in the war they had lost everything they had loved. They were not just their physical help, but their spiritual and moral support, for in their home it was not just the body which found comfort, but the soul.

Strange are the ways of the Lord to us foolish ones, and wondrous are the paths upon which the Lord brings us together. By meeting Mr. Miloš, we met the charity which the Lord asks of us. What is more, through him, the Lord poured out His mercy on us unworthy ones. He came to our monastery because he wanted to help our community. We never could have dreamed, however, that that help would materialize in the form of solar panels for our house, and very quickly at that. Before we knew it, there were already light bulbs shining merrily in our kitchen and dining room. 

The first discussion about the installation of solar panels  -  Miloš Šupica and the expert team from the R.D. Solar company (Kragujevac)

Immediately after the initial discussion, the date was set to begin the work. The weather slowed things down a bit, as rain was forecast for the entire coming week, but in the end it did not come. Finally we decided to begin on Thursday, May 19, come what may.

       The monastery jeep successfully towed the panels and all necessary materials


Beginning the work

Very quickly, one after the other, the panels began to sprout on our roof  like mushrooms after rain in the warm sun. The leader of the work, named Rade, was not satisfied with our house’s position, as one gets the most sunlight on the southern side of the house, while our roof’s longer sides are facing east-west. In the end they decided for the eastern face, but for the panels to be lifted at a 30 degree angle from the house facing south and far away from each other so they would not cast shadows on each other. 

At around 4:30 PM sunlight is still falling on the panels

A boost -  two south-facing panels

The batteries which store the solar energy, with an inverter (whatever that means), which shows the state of the batteries and how the entire system is working, for example, are they being charged while there is sunlight, how much they have been charged, and if something is not right there is a warning sound… a very clever system.

Every battery weighs over a hundred pounds.  First we thought of putting them in the attic, but because of their weight we thought the better of it and put them on the ground floor. It was also a good choice because it is bad for them to be in a cold place during the winter, as the cold wears them out. 

The efficient team from Kragujevac, from the RD Solar company, made a maximum effort over the course of one day to finish the work.  I have to admit that we were skeptical of their claims that we would have light by the first nightfall, but it indeed shone that evening, to our mutual delight. All the materials were brought in from Germany.  Soon we should be getting solar-powered boilers as well. 

Thus over the course of just one day our life changed quite a bit. With Mr. Miloš Šupica’s coming, electricity came to our house, which we had always thought to be impossible, as that was a far too expensive project for our means.

Our acquaintance with Mr. Šupica left a very strong impression, above all, of our own hedonism and serving our ego. His love which he selflessly bestows on everyone is something truly extraordinary for modern men who usually have no time for others. We can say quite frankly that Mr. Miloš lives for others, and through whose selfless sacrifices which he makes everyday, God multiplies the grace in him and comforts him in ways only he knows. Our community is immeasurably grateful for the help and love which he has shown us.  For the sake of the many good deeds he has done for his Serbian people, may the Lord grant him the Heavenly Kingdom and eternal blessedness, for the Lord Himself said,

Blessed are the merciful,
For they shall obtain mercy

Amen, God Grant!
To God be the Glory

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