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Eulogy in Memory of the Blessed Fr. Justin

by Hieromonk [now Metropolitan] Amfilohije (Radovic)

‘His repute as a universal Father and Teacher of the Church, who cleaved unremittingly to the Cross of his witness and who bore the marks of Christ, transcended the boundaries of Serbia and spread to the whole world’; ‘Fr. Justin did not speak as an individual, but as the mouth of the Church; he expressed the conscience of the Church, the Faith of the Church’; ‘The preaching of Fr. Justin is a continuation of the preaching of the Holy Fathers of our Church and especially of the last great Father, St. Gregory Palamas.’*

Recently writing an article, a famous contemporary writer and monk from Mt. Athos began with the following words:."A man was sent by God. His name was Justin." And here, that man who was sent by God, who was sent to this holy place, who was sent to our nation, who was sent to the Orthodox Church, that holy man now lies before us. He was born in 1894, on the Feast of the Annunciation. on a Friday at twelve o'clock—he told me that at midnight before his death. He died on the Feast of the Annunciation, two days ago, a little more than an hour after the hour of his birth. Like a prayer rope, the days of his life were told between the Archangel's greeting: "Rejoice, thou that art full of grace, the Lord is with thee!" And again, within that same Archangel's greeting "Rejoice, thou that art full of grace, the Lord is with thee!"

This holy man who lies before us in death spent eighty-five years on earth. All of those eighty-five years of his life he gave as a gift to the last; he really was a glad tiding, a glad tiding eternally new, which is heard and has lasted already for thousands of years. He was one of the numerous, true witnesses to the Annunciation. He bore witness in his word, in his life, and even in his birth; and he bore witness also in his death.

Father Justin was a descendant of a clerical family, the last offspring of a clerical root which has provided us with priests through the generations. Holy fruits sprout from a holy root. Blessed are the generations and the roots which end bearing such fruit as was Father Justin! He was born in Vranje, at the crossroads of nations and spiritual influences. From his childhood he was imbued with reverence and piety, thanks to his mother, Anastasija, and his father, Spiridon. By the recollection of his schoolmates, he also was deeply committed to religion and piety from his early childhood. That this really was so, is testified by the fact of his acceptance into the holy monastic ranks during the most difficult days of Serbian history. When the Serbian King was passing through Albania with his army and climbed Golgotha, when an entire nation climbed Golgotha, at that time, young Blagoje, as he was named, took his monastic vows somewhere around Skadar (Scutari). From there, Metropolitan Dimitrije of Serbia sent him with a group of gifted young men to study in Russia. The wise and far-sighted Dimitrije considered the future of the nation and Church. The young and gifted monk Justin was inspired in Russia by the great piety of the Russian people. Although he spent a short time in Russia, that sojourn left a deep imprint on his entire life. Dark clouds gathered over the vast Russian land at that time and the bloody Revolution began a demonic game over the body of the suffering Russian people. Therefore, he had to leave Russia and went to England, where he continued his studies. He completed his studies at the University of Athens, where he received a doctorate in theology on the subject of the Holy Fathers, authoring one of the best studies on St. Macarius of Egypt.

Father Justin, already teaching at the time at the Seminary of Karlovac, left a profound impression through his presence. And not only at the Seminary of Karlovac, but at every place where Father Justin appeared, lived and worked, he created waves; his straightforward stand and fiery nature stirred up the sea of bleak, everyday events. This happened in Karlovac, and the same happened when he was moved to Prizren, then to the Seminary of Bitolj, and when he was sent to Carpatho-Russia; this happened also when he became a professor at the School of Theology in Belgrade, and when, in 1945, he was forced to wander through Serbian monasteries. All of these stormy events of his life, which were filled with his exceptional accomplishments and untiring labors, were used by God for His purposes and the realization of His intentions, in spite of men's shortsighted malice and petty passions. Finally, Father Justin found rest in this holy family, Celije Monastery. He did so, intending not to leave it again.

Father Justin was and will remain an exceptional personality, and his uniqueness is evident in his entire life and work. He was a poet. One has only to read his essay, "The Doe in Paradise Lost," to feel that this work, as many other similar works, belong to the the best of Serbian literature. The manner and style in which he wrote his works on Dogmatic Theology, honoring his beloved John Chrysostom, St. Sava and St. Peter of Cetinje, the language of his many translations,—all of these attest and demonstrate that with his work he continued the marvelous and elevated, divinely inspired poetry; of the Orthodox Church initiated by Cosmas of Maiuma, St. John Damascene and completed by another great son of this place and region, the holy Bishop Nikolai (Velimirovich).

Father Justin was a philosopher in the true sense of the word. That is why he probably chose the name of Justin the Philosopher, a martyr, and strived all his life to emulate him, both in philosophy and martyrdom. He was one of the founders of the Serbian Philosophical Society (1938), together with Misa Djuric, Brana Petronijevic, Slankamenac and others of our contemporary and most eminent thinkers. However, his philosophy was not philosophy according to human understanding. That is what makes the peculiarity of Father Justin’s personality still more exceptional. .Nobody in the history of this people so deeply felt, sang and described the wondrous Divine Word of God, the God-man Christ, who was incarnate of the most holy Mother and Holy Spirit for the salvation of mankind. In all of his works, in all of his prayers, in all of his sighs, in a word—with his entire life, Father Justin strove to sing, to express, to describe with words the indescribable image of Christ, to express his own volcanic love for the God-man Christ. Every one of his thoughts began and ended with the God-man Christ. And not only words and thoughts, but for Father Justin every flower had the fragrance of the God-man Christ, and the eternal Word of God. Each heavenly star was a wondrous witness and some wondrous expression of that immemorial, eternal Word of God, Who became the Word by accepting a human body. Every ripple of a brook and whisper of a leaf were a testimony and some secret symbol of the wondrous presence of the Word of God in the world. From such feeling and divinely inspired knowledge was born his profound concept of the wisdom of all creation, a concept based on the teachings of the ancient apologists. Everything that exists is also a reflection, a wondrous icon of the Word of God. The entire creation did not sprout from illogic, it does not lead to illogic, it is not based on unintelligence and illogic. It sprouted forth from eternal logic and is based and proceeds towards eternal logic, eternal literacy, the eternal Word of God Who, when the fullness of time had come, received a human body from His most holy Mother Mary.

Somebody might say that Father Justin repeats himself when talking about Christ in his works. Yet, his repetition is the talk of a baby to its beloved mother; his repetition is the repetition of love: as much as we love someone, we repeat more often the words of our love, and it will never bore us to repeat at every moment and continuously the same words. Thus, for Father Justin it did not become boring to repeat the name of the Lord God and his and our salvation, to pour forth before Him his own sorrow and his joy, to offer his love as a fragrant sacrifice, and through it, his entire being.

Why did Father Justin emphasize so often the personality of the God-man Christ? Because more than anybody else in our time, except for his teacher Bishop Nikolai, he felt that all of European culture is rushing into a horrible blind alley; that it is returning to ancient polytheism and idolatry simply by overlooking, forgetting and banning from this universe and from the human heart, human culture and history, from the life of human society, the only true God and true man, the only true Lord and Savior, the only eternal Word of God. He felt and attested, as nobody before him among us, that the Word of God, through His creative act and His incarnation, united in Himself the divine and human; that He is the true God and true man; that He united within Himself all worlds; that He is the First and the Last; that everything leads and rushes toward Him, and that everything grows toward Him until it grows to the heights of Christ—until everything that exists reaches its fullness, until everything achieves its fullness in Christ the God-man. Sensing that frightening danger which overshadows all of European civilization because of the fight against Christ's Spirit, he continuously put forward and underscored the importance of Christ's image for the history of man, for the past, for the present, for the future.

From this place where I am standing, Father Justin, like a new prophet Jeremiah, for thirty years sent messages to his people, and not to his people only. Perhaps what he told them and what he preached here was not always sufficiently clear to the nuns who lived here. This is no wonder. For while Father Justin was speaking to them, he was speaking to the entire nation, all of Europe, and the entire contemporary world. His word was never an empty word, nor was his idea a consumptive one. This is also one of the great gifts which he has bequeathed to our theological thought, animating it again; this is the gift with which he endowed the School of Theology, in whose name I am bidding him farewell at this moment. Father Justin was not an ice-cold man, neither in word, or thought, or life. Everything in him was fiery. This is why he named the Dogmatics "The Orthodox Philosophy of Truth." Truth was for him the same as life; this is why, when he started a periodical (and he published one of the best which existed among us before the war), he named it Christian Life.

Thus, Father Justin directed his fiery and God-inspired word from this place to the nation to which he belonged and to the world in which he lived. And I am asking you who here are gathered to pay your last respects to this holy deceased man, and you who are listening to me: have we heard his word and shall we hear and obey his message? Haven't we remained deaf to his message and won't we remain deaf and non-receptive toward his glad tidings? Will it perhaps befall us to be likened unto those who killed the prophets and then erected monuments to them? Will that which happened to the Lord, whom he announced during his entire life, be repeated in turn on him; that which happened to the Lord's disciples and martyrs; that which happened to St. John Chrysostom, whom Father Justin did not love by accident?

Have we heard his word and shall we obey his message and emulate his holy example? If we do not want to hear and understand it, he will forgive us with the great love which adorned him; but history and the future will not forgive us. If we do not open our ears and hearts on time to the message of this holy man, of this holy messenger of glad tidings of the eternal truth of Christ the God-man, then not only shall we not be worthy of Father Justin, but also not worthy of the greatest bearers and creators of the history of the people we belong to.

Dear Father Justin, we are sending you today to eternal rest. here on this earth, it seems you were that "Doe in Paradise Lost," the doe which you said was the sense of the sorrow of the universe. We are bidding you farewell and we remain poorer for the loss of a saint. But you are leaving and enriching Serbia in Heaven, you are going where your Lord is, Whom you served faithfully, where His apostles and all of the holy scions of our people are, and where all the saints are. Seeing you off to Heaven, in our sorrow for you and for us, we beg of you: Greet the elder Simeon the Myrrh-Streamer, and beg of him to forgive us for not guarding the holy borders of the Serbian lands, their spiritual borders and spiritual foundations. Greet St. Sava, his son, the creator of our nation and culture, and tell him that we are not enlightening ourselves with his enlightenment and that we have not kept the garment of his Church from being torn. The Roman soldiers threw dice in order not to tear the seamless garment of the Lord, while we, it seems, are worse than the Roman soldiers. Give greeting also to the great martyr of Kosovo, Lazar, and tell him that the lamp of the faith is going out on his Kosovo. Give greetings to St. Vasilije, the wonderworker of Ostrog, whom you visited and in front of whom and with whom you wept over your people. Together with him, give greetings also to St. Peter, the martyr of Cetinje. Tell them what they already know: that their people, for whom they sacrificed themselves, are extinguishing the lamp of faith in their Crna Gora [Montenegro]. Tell them also,holy Father, that there are churches which they built and for which they gave their lives that are converted into barns for livestock; that there are even profaned churches! Tell them that there are also tombs of those who fell for the precious Cross and golden freedom, which are desecrated and for which there is no one to light a candle. Tell Holy Serbia in Heaven also that which is most horrible, over which you grieved and suffered deeply, watering this holy ground with you holy tears: tell them that the holy faith is fading in Serbian children! God is being killed in our schools! St. Sava, their creator [of schools] is being cast out of our schools! Greet them all, Father Justin, and together with them ask the Lord to forgive us, for we know not what we do! You have fought the good fight and finished your, course! If any of those who passed and lived on this earth may utter these words of the Apostle, surely you are the one: "I have fought the good fight and finished the course!"

Therefore, help us with your holy prayers and with your intercession before the Lord s Throne, that we may repent, understand and fulfill your testament and your message, that we may emulate your life, that we may be messengers of your faith and your teachings, that we may return again to the paths of St. Sava and St. Simeon Nemanja, the holy martyr Lazar of Kosovo, St. Peter of Cetinje and Wonderworker Vasilje of Ostrog, and to the roads of all saints and men of God! Pray to the Lord for us! Pray to the Lord for the-entire world and for this nation: to find its road, as you found it; to find its soul again, as you found your soul; to rediscover the heart of its heart, the God-man Christ, as you discovered Him! That then, together with you, we may glorify the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, now and unto the ages of ages. Amen!

This originally appeared in Orthodox Life, vol. 31, no. 2 (March-April, 1981), pp. 26-30. The opening quote did not appear in this article but is taken "Ecumenism Marches On: The World Council of Churches: A Visible Expression of the Una Sancta?". 

Humanistic Ecumenism

Ecumenism is the generic name used for the pseudo-Christianities, the pseudo-churches, of Western Europe. Within it is found the heart of every form of European humanism, with Papism at its head. All of these pseudo-Christianities, all of the pseudo-churches, are nothing else but one heresy after another. The generic Evangelical term for them is panheresy. Why? Because in the course of history the various heresies denied or distorted certain attributes of the God-Man and Lord, Jesus; but these European heresies have wholly removed the God-Man and, in His place, have put the European man. There is here little essential difference between Papism, Protestantism, Ecumenism, and other heresies; their name is Legion.

The Orthodox dogma, indeed the pandogma, concerning the Church is rent asunder and replaced by the Latins with the pandogma of the primacy and infallibility of the Pope, that is, of a man. From this panheresy other heresies were continually conceived and produced: the filioque, the discarding of the Epiklesis [the invocation of the Holy Spirit at the Consecration of the Eucharist—Tr.], unleavened bread [in the Eucharist—Tr.], the notion of created grace, the purgatorial fire, plenary indulgences, mechanistic teachings about salvation and the mechanistic view of life that derives from it, caesaro-papism, the Sacred Inquisition, indulgences, the death of man through sin, Jesuitism, Scholasticism, casuistry, monarchism, social atomism of different kinds....

Protestantism? It is the wholly faithful child of Papism, which through its rationalism and scholasticism has through the ages fallen to one heresy after another and which has been continually beset by the various poisons of its heretical delusions. Moreover, Papist arrogance and the silliness of "infallibility" reigns despotically and ravages the souls of its faithful. In essence, every Protestant is a despotic pope in all matters of faith. This always leads them from one spiritual death to another, there being no end to this "dying," since the number of spiritual deaths to which a man may fall is countless.

Things being as they are, then, for Papo-Protestant Ecumenism, with its pseudo-church and its pseudo-Christianity, there is no way out of its deadlock save wholehearted repentance before Christ the God-Man and His Orthodox Catholic Church. Repentance is the medicine for every sin, a medicine given to man by the only Lover of Mankind.

Without repentance and reception into the True Church of Christ, it is unnatural and ignorant to speak of the union of "the churches," of a dialogue of love, of intercommunio (that is, joint communion). The most important thing of all is that we become "co-corporeal partakers" of the Theanthropic Body of the Church of Christ, and therein communicants of the Soul of the Church, of the Holy Spirit, and inheritors of all of the eternal good things of the God-Man.

From St. Justin's remarkable work, The Orthodox Church and Ecumenism (Thessaloniki: "Orthodoxos Kypsele" Publications, 1974 [in Greek]). It was translated into English and appeared in The Panheresy of Ecumenism (Etna, CA: Center for Traditionalist Orthodox Studies, 1995), pp. 30-31.

To read more about the Blessed Fr. Justin, I cannot recommend too highly the recent book edited and translated by Father Asterios Gerostergios entitled Father Justin Popovich: Orthodox Faith and Life in Christ (Belmont, MA: Institute for Byzantine and Modern Greek Studies, 1994). This book was hailed by Archbishop Chrysostomos as "one of the most important Orthodox books ever to appear in the English language" (Orthodox Tradition, Vol. XII, No. 2, p. 62).