Namesday present and sisterly support
September 25th/ Oct. 8th , when we celebrate the memory of Our Venerable Mother Efrosinia of Alexandria, the namesaint of our dear Mother Abbess Efrosinia, is a very special day for our sisterhood. It is special not just because of the holiness of this great saint, nor for our love of our dear Mother Abbess; crowning these two joyous things is the memory that on this day our sisterhood made their confessional stand against the ecumenist Serbian Patriarchate and suffered persecution and exile from their first home, the historical and holy monastery Stjenik on Jelica mountain.
On that very day, in 2003, we will never forget how we were physically expelled from our dear 14th century monastery, which we had with our own hard labors brought back from near ruins to an excellent state of renewal. We will never forget how we eight women were surrounded by a group of 200 hostile men, violent, cursing and screaming at us, who pushed us out of our home and into the field in unseasonably cold weather. We had given up everything, it seemed, but we felt full of the power and grace of God, which made all of the fear and loss so very trivial, even sweet. We celebrated Mati’s namesday that night in the forest, breaking her namesday bread with freezing fingers under snow which had unexpectedly begun to fall in the deepening twilight.
Thus Venerable Mother Efrosinia gave us courage, weak though we are, and blessed us to follow the path of right confession in the steps of our stalwart mother abbess, cutting ourselves off from the false shepherds of the ecumenist church.
Then, when we were left in the cold field, but entering the embrace of the True Church and warmed by the love of Christ, we did not know what would happen, but we deeply believed that the Lord would not abandon us.
Namesday koliva and bread in honor of St. Efrosinia
Our hope was not in vain – far from it. Glory to God, of course He has preserved us through countless temptations and privations all these fourteen years. This year we celebrated Mati’s namesday surrounded by many believers and friends of the monastery with a Holy Hierarchical Liturgy conducted by His Grace Bishop Nektarije of Shumadia, accompanied by several priests and servers. As our sisterhood has become a pillar of the Serbian True Orthodox Church, for several years now we have celebrated this great day at the metochion of our monastery, Uteshiteljevo, outside of Belgrade, so that it is easier for believers from near and far to share in the celebration.
Holy Hierarchical Liturgy
The loftiness and grace of this beautiful service was reflected in the moved and prayerful faces of all present. Near the end of the service, His Grace Bishop Nektarije blessed the namesday koliva and bread in honor of St. Efrosinia.
Troparion and stichiera in honor of St. Efrosinia
The festive meal
We shared our festive banquet, which Mati herself participated in making, with our dear friends in our new house under construction, which, despite meager funds and the ill-willed efforts of our enemies to prevent us from making, is slowly growing, becoming a real little monastic and Christian haven! We managed overnight to somehow transform the construction site to a warm space, very welcoming and appropriate as much as we could make it for the celebrations. Everyone felt very comfortable.
The large number of our brothers and sisters in Christ in attendance truly touched, comforted and encouraged us. Bishop Nektarije gave the welcoming speech in which he emphasized how important Mati Efrosinia is for our entire church community for both practical and spiritual matters, a true shepherdess in Christ’s flock, protector and comforter of poor and suffering souls. All from the clergy offered their own words of congratulations and praise, along with Popadija (presvytera/matushka) Marija, who offered her own very sincere and touching speech thanking Mati for all of her love and self-sacrifice.
Popadija Maria's salutation
Warm conversation and socializing filled the rest of the beautiful day, a fitting celebration of all that this day means to us and all of our community.