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Liberty 2159

Just a few words about “OCL”

By Nikola Maric

Way back then when I arrived to America I finally had a chance to meet my cousin Mile (he called himself Mike, naturally) from Arlington, Virginia. 

It was comforting to have some blood relative in this huge, new country of mine, and I appreciated the welcome I received. He was a first generation American, grown up and schooled here, worked for the Department of Navy as an electrical engineer, married to a Serbian girl also a first generation American.

Sounds familiar? You bet, substitute Mile’s name with another name of another so called ethnic name and you get how this great nation was created.

Mile loved America (he passed away some ten years ago, and so did his wife Sofija), but he also loved his Serbian Orthodox faith. Even though his Slava was same as mine (St. Nikola), Mile used to sit in his car and, together with Sofija, make a trek to my house in Cleveland, Ohio. Our house was filled to the rafters with guests, there was food, drinks, laughter and songs to your heart’s delight.

Both Mile and Sofija loved every minute of it, and he would stay the night or two and go back to Arlington, his batteries recharged, his faith reassured. On the way home he would listen to Serbian music from the tapes he recorded earlier.

And then some time later, say 1963, there was a split in our Serbian Orthodox Church. My cousin was lost. What was he supposed to do? Who was right, who was wrong, he wanted to know. Whom was he supposed to follow, late Bishop Dionisije, or the newly appointed bishops from Belgrade, Serbia?

Those were difficult years for our faithful here in America and Canada, and my cousin took an easy way out; He joined the American Orthodox Church. He still celebrated his Slava, he still listened to his Serbian music, he still came to our Slava here in Cleveland, but in my heart, he went astray.

Why am I mentioning all this now? Because, for some reason, we Serbs just cannot have any peace for a long period of time. As if we were destined to suffer, either physically, or spiritually. We just somehow healed our wounds suffered in the second half of the last century, there seem to be a new trouble on the horizon, something called OCL, Orthodox Christian Laity. No, that is not some new faith, just an attempt to take all Orthodox Christians in America and Canada and create a new entity, supposedly united and stronger than our individual Serbian, Greek, Ethiopian, Russian, and other Orthodox religions.

Our bishops are assuring us that this new body has nothing to do with our Church going somewhere astray. They tell us to be calm, particularly now during the Easter holidays.

Interestingly enough, there was some Resolution Relating to Assembly of Bishops Adopted by Orthodox Christian Laity, which took place on March 30th of this year, at Las Vegas, Nevada, of all places! And of course, they want your donations, as well as your membership.

If it is not Ecumenism, it is the OCL. What next? Enough already. Leave my beautiful Serbian Orthodox Church alone! Let it be, let it live, it does not bother anybody. Let us mind our own business, listen to our beautiful Liturgy, observe our Serbian holidays and honor our Serbian traditions.

Was it not bad enough that some of our bishops and clergy went to Vatican and kissed the Pope’s ring? Was it not bad enough that one of our bishops invited a Roman Catholic priest to concelebrate in our Serbian Orthodox Cathedral in Serbia? I am sure Vatican wants us to join the Roman Catholic Church, as if they did not have enough millions of followers already.

Just leave us alone, please. And do not change a thing. Serbian Orthodox Church survived five centuries of the Ottoman rule and persecution, two world wars, NATO aggression, I am sure it will outlive this so called OCL, whatever it is.

I must say that it puzzles me that our Greek Orthodox are spearheading this new movement in North and Central America. Why?

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