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 Holy Father Justin (Popovich) of Chelije Monastery, Serbia

THE YEAR 1952

    In 1952 there occurred a great miracle in the bakery of Chelije Monas­tery. In the monastery there were forty sisters, and Mother Nina was assigned to the kitchen. Having prepared bread for supper, she realized that there remained only one cup of flour. As she lamented this prob­lem to the other sisters during dinner, Fr. Justin said: “Pray to God-the Lord will take care of us!” Early the next morning, as Mother Nina entered the bakery, she found two large canisters of flour. Fr. Justin, Mother Sarah and all the other sisters witnessed this miracle, and all together gave thanks unto God.

THE YEAR 1953

    Stojka Jankovich from the village of Leskovac, in the vicinity of the city ofValjevo, had been ill for twelve years from demonic possession. She frequently saw demons, which beat, tortured and wounded her. When her family censed the house, she saw the demons fleeing from the incense. She went frequently to Fr. Justin for Holy Confession and Communion, and was eventually healed. Later she accepted the mo­nastic vocation, and is now Sister Tatijana.

THE YEAR 1959

    The daughter of one Nicholas, from Strmne Gore near Lelich, was ill. For three years she lay immobile in her bed. Once, they took her by car to the monastery and, using a blanket, carried her into church. Fr. Justin read a prayer service over her. After the prayer service she was able to sit up, and after three years she was able to walk. As she had the first time, she again came to the monastery by car and was carried into church. After the prayer service, she walked back to the car by herself. The engine, however, would not start. The men began to push the car, but all was in vain. But when she got out of the car, the motor did start; however, as soon as she entered the car again, the motor stopped. Then she said, “I’ll walk up the hill” (there are a number of hills around the monastery). She was accompanied by a small child. Taking the child by the hand, she proceeded to walk up the highest of the hills.

THE YEAR 1963

    On the Feast of the Transfiguration, Fr. Justin was serving the Di­vine Liturgy. The church was full and all partook of Holy Commu­nion. Present among the people was a Muslim who was in the employment of a construction company (“Zhegrap”) that was working on the railway from Belgrade to Bar (a coastal city in Montenegro). His name was Ismet, and until then Fr. Justin had never met him. When the people came forward for Holy Communion, he went for­ward with them. When he came before the Holy Chalice, Fr. Justin looked at him and said, “You cannot commune, since you’re not baptized.”

  

   Radisha Miljokovich, a six-year-old boy from the village ofTrlicha, in the vicinity of the town of Ub, suffered from fainting spells. Fr. Justin held a prayer service for him, and he was healed.

   Slavko Molovich from the village of Pambukovice, in the vicinity ofUb, did not have children. He came to Fr. Justin for a prayer service. He was subsequently blessed with two sons.

   Milovan from the village of Stave, in the vicinity of Valjevo, a teacher by profession, was severely sick spiritually. One evening, his mother brought him to Chelije Monastery for Vespers, and they spent the night there. At four in the morning they arose for Matins. Walking to the church with Sister Anisija, at the entrance Milovan became ill and fell unconscious. His mother knew that when this state came upon him, calamity and dangers followed, so she shouted to the sister to flee. At that time, the chapel was being built in the monastery, and twenty workers were present. Every morning, at four a.m., they first went to the church for services and then proceeded to work. Milovan began to throw stones at his mother, forcing her to flee to the building where the workers were staying and preparing to go to church. In front of the building there was a lamp. Throwing stones, Milovan damaged all the doors and walls of the building. He threw stones at it without ceasing, so that it was impossible for anyone to exit. Besides the workers, Frs. Makarije and Mardarije from the Rezhvich Monastery, the construc­tion manager, and some other men were present in the building. The whole time he was throwing stones, Milovan was shrieking, “Black one, white one, yellow one, help! Strike! Rapid fire!”-and he contin­ued to heap stones before the door.

Manastir Celije

   Above the monastery was a hill with a road on it. People who were traveling on the road heard what was happening. Their astonished voices could be heard in the monastery: “What’s happening in the monastery? This is something dangerous!”

   For two hours, Fr. Mardarije and Fr. Makarije were unable to sub­due Milovan. When at last they caught him, they bound him and took him into the church. In the church they bound his hands and feet and, during the Divine Liturgy, five men guarded him. Mter the Divine Lit­urgy, Fr. Justin performed the Holy Mystery of Unction over him. For the first half of the service he showed no sign of change. At the halfway point, he said: “Untie my hands, they’re hurting me.” By the end of the service, he had fully recovered. He had breakfast with the tradesmen and returned home with his mother, completely healthy and normal. A few days later, Fr. Justin went to Belgrade. When he returned, Milovan, now completely normal and healthy, approached him with thanks. Thereafter, he and his mother came frequently to the monastery.

   In the village of Stubo, in the vicinity of V alj evo, lived three sisters: Milenja, Obrenija and Krynija. All three suffered from neuroses. Milenja was the first to become ill and, after a few years, so did the other two. All three came to the monastery. Fr. Justin read prayers for them, confessed and communed them. All three recovered to full health, and Krynija became the nunParaskeva.

St. Justin Popovich (right) together with Elder Cleopa of Romania - Chelije Monastery, 1977

THE YEAR 1964

   A mother from the village of Velika Plane brought her daughter Slavka, who suffered from demonic possession, to the monastery. Slavka was twenty-six years old, and the demon spoke through her. Fr. Justin prayed much for her. On the eve of the Feast of the Holy Arch­angel Michael, the church was filled with people, and Fr. Justin was reading the Holy Gospel, when the demon spoke through the girl. Fr. Justin stopped and said: “It is not she who is speaking, but the demon in her!” To this the demon replied: “I would enter into you, but I can’t.”

   Slavka was in the monastery for a long time and Fr. Justin read prayers for her every day. Three times he performed the Holy Mystery of Unction over her. During this time she went to Holy Confession and  Holy Communion, but her condition did not improve. Fr. Justin said: “I am ceasing my prayers; there is some great unconfessed sin here.” He instructed the sisters that perhaps Slavka did not know what sin encom­passed, and that they should converse with her regarding this.

   In conversations with the sisters, Slavka confessed her sin: “My par­ents had myself and my brother. My brother became engaged to a girl named Dushica. She was an only child and worked as a telephone oper­ator, as did my brother. He asked my mother and me to come and see his future wife. The girl was fine and pretty, but she had a clubfoot; this was unacceptable to both of us, and we were against the engagement. My brother called her on the phone while she was at work and canceled the engagement. Later, her fellow workers said that although she had al­ways gone home the same way, on this day she had gone down a road that crossed the railway. From a distance a train was approaching and she began to run. At that moment, an elderly gentleman (who later told of all this) approached her, grabbed her by the hand, and said: “Where are you going, child?” She freed herself from his grasp and at the last moment threw herself in front of the train. In relating this to the sisters, Slavka did not realize that she had committed a sin.

   Afterwards, Slavka went to Confession, and sent an appeal to the bishop that a funeral service be held for Dushica. The funeral service was performed at Dushica’s grave, and Fr. Justin served forty Divine Liturgies for the departed. When all was completed, Slavka then de­parted for home completely healthy.

THE YEAR 1969

   One day, a student by the name of Milica arrived. She came to the monastery before Vespers. Fr. Justin was going toward the church, and they met in the church’s courtyard. This was the first time in her life that she had seen Fr. Justin, and he her. Nevertheless, Fr. Justin greeted her: “God’s help to you, sister Milica; have you arrived? Thanks be to God; rest yourself a little.” That Milica is now the nun Makarija.

   Milena, a seven-year-old girl from Ljubinica, could not speak. Her mother brought her to the monastery where she spent an entire month. During this time, Fr. Justin read prayers for her daily and she was healed.

   Sreten from Gornje Leskovice (in the vicinity of Valjevo), had an extreme case of mental illness. He slept in the forest, shrieked, chased people, and beat them with stones. He had even killed his own uncle. Once, during the Divine Services, he ran into the church, venerated all the icons and prayed aloud. Fr. Justin read prayers for him, and he be­came healthy.

   The granddaughter of a certain Radovan, Snezhana from Popuchka, in the vicinity of Valjevo, was six years old and could not walk. Her mother brought her to the monastery, and Fr. Justin read prayers for her. She began to walk normally, and often comes to the monastery.

 

‘Translated by Fr. Milorad Orlic from Banatski Vesnik: Banat Messenger: Journal of the Serbian Orthodox Diocese of Banat), vol. 51, no. 11, June 1991.”

Excerpts from:  “The Orthodox Word” No. 256, 2007, p. 226-230 @St Herman Press (Edition dedicated entirely to Archimandrite Justin Popovich)

  

 

    “Jesus answered and said unto her, Whosoever drinketh of this water shall thirst again: but whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him, shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him, shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting Life.” (John 4:13-14)

   Scripture calls the grace of the Spirit sometimes “Fire,” sometimes “Water,” showing that these names are not descriptive of its essence, but of its operation; for the Spirit, being Invisible and Simple, cannot be made up of different substances. Now the one John declares, speaking thus, “He shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with Fire” (Matt. 3:11): the other, Christ, “Out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water.” (John 7:38) “But this,” saith John, “spake He of the Spirit, which they should receive.” So also conversing with the woman, He calleth the Spirit water; for, “Whosoever shall drink of the water which I shall give him, shall never thirst.” So also He calleth the Spirit by the name of “fire,” alluding to the rousing and warming property of grace, and its power of destroying transgressions; but by that of “water,” to declare the cleansing wrought by it, and the great refreshment which it affordeth to those minds which receive it. And with good reason; for it makes the willing soul like some garden thick with all manner of trees fruitful and ever-flourishing, allowing it neither to feel despondency nor the plots of Satan, and quenches all the fiery darts of the wicked one.

    And observe, I pray you, the wisdom of Christ, how gently He leads on the woman; for He did not say at first, “If thou knewest who it is that saith to thee, Give Me to drink,” but when He had given her an occasion of calling Him “a Jew,” and brought her beneath the charge of having done so, repelling the accusation He saith, “If thou knewest who it is that saith to thee, Give Me to drink, thou wouldest have asked of Him”; and having compelled her by His great promises to make mention of the Patriarch, He thus alloweth the woman to look through, and then when she objects, “Art thou greater than our father Jacob?” He saith not, “Yea, I am greater,” (for He would have seemed but to boast, since the proof did not as yet appear,) but by what He saith He effecteth this. For He said not simply, “I will give thee water,” but having first set that given by Jacob aside, He exalteth that given by Himself, desiring to show from the nature of the things given, how great is the interval and difference between the persons of the givers, and His own superiority to the Patriarch. “If,” saith He, “thou admirest Jacob because he gave thee this water, what wilt thou say if I give thee Water far better than this? Thou hast thyself been first to confess that I am greater than Jacob, by arguing against Me, and asking, `Art thou greater than Jacob, that thou promisest to give me better water?’ If thou receivest that Water, certainly thou wilt confess that I am greater.” Seest thou the upright judgment of the woman, giving her decision from facts, both as to the Patriarch, and as to Christ? The Jews acted not thus; when they even saw Him casting out devils, they not only did not call Him greater than the Patriarch but even said that He had a devil. Not so the woman, she draws her opinion whence Christ would have her, from the demonstration afforded by His works. For by these He justifieth Himself, saying, “If I do not the works of My Father, believe Me not; but if I do, if ye believe not Me, believe the works.” (John 10:37-38) And thus the woman is brought over to the faith.

    Wherefore also He, having heard, “Art thou greater than our father Jacob,” leaveth Jacob, and speaketh concerning the water, saying, “Whosoever shall drink of this water, shall thirst again”; and He maketh His comparison, not by depreciating one, but by showing the excellence of the other; for He saith not, that “this water is naught,” nor “that it is inferior and contemptible,” but what even nature testifies that He saith: “Whosoever shall drink of this water shall thirst again; but whosoever shall drink of the Water which I shall give him, shall never thirst.” The woman before this had heard of “living Water” (v. 10), but had not known its meaning. Since because that water is called “living” which is perennial and bubbles up unceasingly from uninterrupted springs, she thought that this was the water meant. Wherefore He points out this more clearly by speaking thus, and establishing by a comparison the superiority (of the water which He would give). What then saith He? “Whosoever shall drink of the Water that I shall give him, shall never thirst.” This and what was said next especially showed the superiority, for material water possesses none of these qualities. And what is it that follows? “It shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life.” For as one that hath a well within him could never be seized by thirst, so neither can he that hath this Water.

    The woman straightway believed, showing herself much wiser than Nicodemus, and not only wiser, but more manly. For he when he heard ten thousand such things neither invited any others to this hearing, nor himself spake forth openly; but she exhibited the actions of an Apostle, preaching the Gospel to all, and calling them to Jesus, and drawing a whole city forth to Him. Nicodemus when he had heard said, “How can these things be?” And when Christ set before him a clear illustration, that of “the wind,” he did not even so receive the Word. But the woman not so; at first she doubted, but afterwards receiving the Word not by any regular demonstration, but in the form of an assertion, she straightway hastened to embrace it. For when Christ said, “It shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting Life,” immediately the woman saith,

    “Give me this water, that I thirst not, neither come hither to draw.” (John 4:15).

    Seest thou how little by little she is led up to the highest doctrines? First she thought Him some Jew who was transgressing the Law; then when He had repelled that accusation, (for it was necessary that the person who was to teach her such things should not be suspected,) having heard of “living water,” she supposed that this was spoken of material water; afterwards, having learnt that the words were spiritual, she believed that the water could remove the necessity caused by thirst, but knew not yet what this could be; she still doubted, deeming it indeed to be above material things, but not being exactly informed. But here having gained a clearer insight, but not yet fully perceiving the whole, (for she saith, “Give me this water, that I thirst not, neither come hither to draw,”) she for the time preferreth Him to Jacob. “For” (saith she) “I need not this well if I receive from thee that water.” Seest thou how she setteth Him before the Patriarch? This is the act of a fairly-judging soul. She had shown how great an opinion she had of Jacob, she saw One better than he, and was not held back by her prepossession. Thus this woman was neither of an easy temper, (she did not carelessly receive what was said, how can she have done so when she enquired with so great exactness?) nor yet disobedient, nor disputatious, and this she showed by her petition. Yet to the Jews once He said, “Whosoever shall eat of My flesh shall never hunger, and he that believeth on Me shall never thirst” (John 6:35); but they not only did not believe, but were offended at Him. The woman had no such feeling, she remains and petitions. To the Jews He said, “He that believeth on Me shall never thirst”; not so to the woman, but more grossly, “He that drinketh of this Water shall never thirst.” For the promise referred to spiritual and unseen things. Wherefore having raised her mind by His promises, He still lingers among expressions relating to sense, because she could not as yet comprehend the exact expression of spiritual things. Since had He said, “If thou believest in Me thou shalt not thirst,” she would not have understood His saying, not knowing who it could be that spake to her, nor concerning what kind of thirst He spake. Wherefore then did He not this in the case of the Jews? Because they had seen many signs, while she had seen no sign, but heard these words first. For which reason He afterwards reveals His power by prophecy, and does not directly introduce His reproof, but what saith He?

    “Go, call thy husband, and come thither. The woman answered and said I have no husband. Jesus saith unto her, Thou hast well said, I have no husband: for thou hast had five husbands, and he whom thou now hast is not thy husband: in that saidst thou truly. The woman saith unto Him, Sir, I perceive that Thou art a Prophet.” (John 4:16-19).

    O how great the wisdom of the woman! how meekly doth she receive the reproof! “How should she not,” saith some one? Tell me, why should she? Did He not often reprove the Jews also, and with greater reproofs than these? (for it is not the same to bring forward the hidden thoughts of the heart, as to make manifest a thing that was done in secret; the first are known to God alone, and none other knoweth them but he who hath them in his heart; the second, all who were sharers in it know;) but still when reproved did not bear it patiently. When He said, “Why seek ye to kill me?” (John 7:19), they not only did not admire as the woman did but even mocked at and insulted Him; yet they had a demonstration from other miracles, she had only heard this speech. Still they not only did not admire, but even insulted Him, saying, “Thou hast a demon, who seeketh to kill thee?” While she not only doth not insult but admires, and is astonished at Him, and supposes Him to be a Prophet. Yet truly this rebuke touched the woman more than the other touched them; for her fault was hers alone, theirs was a general one; and we are not so much stung by what is general as by what is particular. Besides they thought they should be gaining a great object if they could slay Christ, but that which the woman had done was allowed by all to be wicked; yet was she not indignant, but was astonished and wondered. And Christ did this very same thing in the case of Nathanael. He did not at first introduce the prophecy, nor say, “I saw thee under the fig-tree,” but when Nathanael said, “Whence knowest thou me?” then He introduced this. For He desired to take the beginnings of His signs and prophecies from the very persons who came near to Him, so that they might be more attached by what was done, and He might escape the suspicion of vainglory. Now this He doth here also; for to have charged her first of all that, “Thou hast no husband,” would have seemed burdensome and superfluous, but to take the reason (for speaking) from herself, and then to set right all these points, was very consistent, and softened the disposition of the hearer.

    “And what kind of connection,” saith some one, “is there in the saying, `Go, call thy husband’?” The discourse was concerning a gift and grace surpassing mortal nature: the woman was urgent in seeking to receive it. Christ saith, “Call thy husband,” showing that he also must share in these things; but she, eager to receive (the gift), and concealing the shamefulness of the circumstances, and supposing that she was conversing with a man, said, “I have no husband.” Christ having heard this, now seasonably introduces His reproof, mentioning accurately both points; for He enumerated all her former husbands, and reproved her for him whom she now would hide. What then did the woman? she was not annoyed, nor did she leave Him and fly, nor deem the thing an insult, but rather admired Him, and persevered the more. “I perceive,” saith she, “that Thou art a Prophet.” Observe her prudence; she did not straightway run to Him, but still considers Him, and marvels at Him. For, “I perceive,” means, “Thou appearest to me to be a Prophet.” Then when she suspected this, she asks Him nothing concerning this life, not concerning bodily health, or possessions, or wealth, but at once concerning doctrines. For what saith she?

    “Our fathers worshiped in this mountain,” (meaning Abraham and his family, for thither they say that he led up his son,) “and how say ye that in Jerusalem is the place where men ought to worship?” (John 4:20).

    Seest thou how much more elevated in mind she has become? She who was anxious that she might not be troubled for thirst, now questions concerning doctrines. What then doth Christ? He doth not resolve the question, (for to answer simply to men’s words was not His care, for it was needless) but leads the woman on to the greater height, and doth not converse with her on these matters, until she has confessed that He was a Prophet, so that afterwards she might hear His Word with abundant belief; for having been persuaded of this, she could no longer doubt concerning what should be said to her.

    Let us now after this be ashamed, and blush. A woman who had had five husbands, and who was of Samaria, was so eager concerning doctrines, that neither the time of day, nor her having come for another purpose, nor anything else, led her away from enquiring on such matters; but we not only do not enquire concerning doctrines, but towards them all our dispositions are careless and indifferent. Therefore everything is neglected. For which of you when in his house takes some Christian book in hand and goes over its contents, and searches the Scriptures? None can say that he does so, but with most we shall find draughts and dice, but books nowhere, except among a few. And even these few have the same dispositions as the many; for they tie up their books, and keep them always put away in cases, and all their care is for the fineness of the parchments, and the beauty of the letters, not for reading them. For they have not bought them to obtain advantage and benefit from them, but take pains about such matters to show their wealth and pride. Such is the excess of vainglory. I do not hear any one glory that he knows the contents, but that he hath a book written in letters of gold. And what gain, tell me, is this? The Scriptures were not given us for this only, that we might have them in books, but that we might engrave them on our hearts. For this kind of possession, the keeping the commandments merely in letter, belongs to Jewish ambition; but to us the Law was not so given at all, but in the fleshy tables of our hearts. And this I say, not to prevent you from procuring Bibles, on the contrary, I exhort and earnestly pray that you do this, but I desire that from those books you convey the letters and sense into your understanding, that so it may be purified when it receiveth the meaning of the writing. For if the devil will not dare to approach a house where a Gospel is lying, much less will any evil spirit, or any sinful nature, ever touch or enter a soul which bears about with it such sentiments as it contains. Sanctify then thy soul, sanctify thy body, by having these ever in thy heart, and on thy tongue. For if foul speech defiles and invites devils, it is clear that spiritual reading sanctifies and draws down the grace of the Spirit. The Scriptures are divine charms, let us then apply to ourselves and to the passions of our souls the remedies to be derived from them. For if we understand what it is that is read, we shall hear it with much readiness. I am always saying this, and will not cease to say it. Is it not strange that those who sit by the market can tell the names, and families, and cities of charioteers, and dancers, and the kinds of power possessed by each, and can give exact account of the good or bad qualities of the very horses, but that those who come hither should know nothing of what is done here, but should be ignorant of the number even of the sacred Books? If thou pursuest those worldly things for pleasure, I will show thee that here is greater pleasure. Which is sweeter, tell me, which more marvelous, to see a man wrestling with a man, or a man buffering with a devil, a body closing with an incorporeal power, and him who is of thy race victorious? These wrestlings let us look on, these, which also it is seemly and profitable to imitate, and which imitating, we may be crowned; but not those in which emulation brings shame to him who imitates them. If thou beholdest the one kind of contest, thou beholdest it with devils; the other, with Angels and Archangels, and the Lord of Archangels. Say now, if thou wert allowed to sit with governors and kings, and to see and enjoy the spectacle, wouldest thou not deem it to be a very great honor? And here when thou art a spectator in company with the King of Angels, when thou seest the devil grasped by the middle of the back, striving much to have the better, but powerless, dost thou not run and pursue after such a sight as this? “And how can this be?” saith some one. If thou keep the Bible in thy hands; for in it thou shalt see the lists, and the long races, and his grasps, and the skill of the righteous one. For by beholding these things thou shalt learn also how to wrestle so thyself, and shalt escape clear of devils; the performances of the heathen are assemblies of devils, not theaters of men. Wherefore I exhort you to abstain from these Satanic assemblies; for if it is not lawful to enter into an idol’s house, much less to Satan’s festival. I shall not cease to say these things and weary you, until I see some change; for to say these things, as saith Paul, “to me indeed is not grievous, but for you it is safe.” (Phil. 3:1) Be not then offended at my exhortation. If any one ought to be offended, it is I who often speak and am not heard, not you who are always hearing and always disobeying.

    God grant that you be not always liable to this charge, but that freed from this shame you be deemed worthy to enjoy the spiritual spectacle, and the glory which is to come, through the grace and lovingkindness of our Lord Jesus Christ, with whom to the Father and the Holy Ghost be glory for ever and ever. Amen.

(Excerpt from: St. Chrysostom’s Homilies on the Gospel of St. John, available through the Christian Classics Ethereal Library).

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