VIC News - Fr Arsenije in Melbourne

Father Arsenije's begins East-Australian lecture series in Melbourne

On Saturday December 20th after Vespers in the Holy Trinity parish in Brunswick a crowd of more than 100 people gathered to listen to the talk of Fr. Arsenije (Jovanovic), who is well-known for his book: “God and Rock ‘n’ Roll” and who is currently a part of the brotherhood in the Ostrog Monastery in Montenegro. His Grace Bishop Irinej, together with Head Priest Fr. Miroslav Popovic and Fr. Petar Damnjanovic and a large crowd of predominantly young churchgoers heard the first of Fr. Arsenije’s talks titled: “Orthodoxy in the modern world”.

Fr. Arsenije spoke about what it means to be Christian Orthodox and that it is not only dictated by the Holy Rites but also by the deeds that one does during his or her lifetime, about life in the West and how we could use our prayers to forgive and find hope & love and about the stress of today’s world, which serves as experience that strengthens and shapes us into who we are. He also spoke about the importance of passing on our knowledge of God to the younger generation from birth. If we do this successfully, then children will want to preserve their identity by learning their mother tongue, going to church and living by the commandments. His main point was that we need to practice both going to Holy Liturgy and developing a routine set of prayers at home so as to tap into God’s holy energy much in the same way that we recharge our electrical devices. At the end of the talk Fr. Arsenije was asked questions and donations collected for the Holy Ostrog Monastery , which amounted to 1,230AUD.

On Monday, December 22nd at the Greek Orthodox church of St Eustathios in front of 150 – 200 people His Grace Bishop Ezekiel, H.G. Bishop Irinej and Head Priest Fr. Chris were present as well as members of the Greek,  Antiochian, Serbian and Russian Orthodox communities as well as non-Orthodox. Fr. Arsenije talked about his personal experiences in his younger days; his temptations, his search for success in the hustle and bustle of New York City and a chance meeting that would lead him to God and his current monastic life in the Ostrog Monastery.

However, this talk was not simply a life story. These key points in his life were used as a crux for the way society is heading & the battles that everyone faces in today’s material world. His key points were that from the agricultural revolution, through to the industrial and digital age today, the increasing rate of suicide, mental illness and restlessness can directly be attributed to the decrease in communication between human beings. Society’s solution to this is that people visit psychiatrists and psycho-analysts who prescribe them psychoactive drugs, which sets in motion a vicious cycle which leads to dependence on these “legalized drugs”.

That said, Fr. Arsenije concluded that people have lost their ability to develop themselves spiritually and this is clear on a large scale around the world. In order to counteract this, prayers need to be said on a daily basis and going to Holy Liturgy is equally important to stay in communion with God, a communion which will never be broken.

At the end of the talk H.G. Bishop Ezekiel and H.G. Bishop Irinej expressed their heartfelt thanks to Fr. Arsenije for his sincere words from his personal experiences which touched everyone present. Indeed, it was an honor to listen to Fr. Arsenije speak and the silence during the two hour talk in the church was a testament to this.

On Tuesday, December 23rd, H.G. Bishop Irinej together with Fr. Arsenije and members of the Serbian Orthodox Youth Association (SOYA) visited the Hellenic Museum where exhibits from the illustrious Bennaki Museum in Athens were on display. They then met with members of the Greek media Ta Nea and Radio Hellas and familiarised themselves with their work. A short interview with H.G. Bishop Irinej concluded the meeting.

Fr. Arsenije’s visit in Melbourne generated so much interest that additional smaller, more open forums were organised where attendees could not only ask questions but also engage in discussions. The first of these was in Keysborough at the parish of St. Stefan the Archdeacon (23 Dec) and then at the parish of the Holy Trinity (24 Dec). Finally on December 25th, Fr. Arsenije travelled to the St. Sava monastery in Elaine to meet all the youngsters taking part in the annual summer children’s camp, where he told them about the history of St. Basil of Ostrog and the miracles that have happened and continue to happen there.

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