by Bishop Nikolai Velimirovich of Thrice-Blessed Memory

Translated by: Fr. Theodore Micka and Fr. Steven Scott

Printed with the blessing of His Eminence Metropolitan Iriney
Copirighted 1988 by The Free Serbian Orthodox Diocese of America and Canada
P.O. Box 371 Grayslake. Illinois 60030


We have long felt that Orthodoxy in America as a whole has suffered from a lack of awareness of Serbian spirituality. Even in our own Serbian churches here in America converts, spouses and many of our children do not understand Serbian well enough to grasp fully the contents of many of our most beautiful books explaining our holy faith. This is primarily due to the language barrier, which has prevented those not fortunate enough to know our Serbian language from discovering the vast spiritual treasures of Serbian Orthodoxy. Therefore, by the amazing grace of God we are initiating a series of Serbian spiritual classics translated into the English language for the first time. It is our prayer that every volume of this new series, to be called A Treasury of Serbian Orthodox Spirituality, will enrich the souls of our Serbian Orthodox faithful and help our brother Orthodox Christians to gain a more profound appreciation of the unique qualities of Serbian spiritual life. As for our own people, these are books that no Serbian Orthodox home should be without.
As the first volume in our new series, we have chosen a fascinating spiritual view of Serbian history by Bishop Nikolai (Velimirovich) of thrice-blessed memory. It is entitled The Serbian People as a Servant of God (Srpski Narod kao Teodul).
Bishop Nikolai (b.1880, d.1956) was one of the greatest luminaries and fathers of the Serbian Church in the twentieth century. He was extremely educated. He completed the highest theological training in Belgrade before World War I, and went on to earn a doctorate in theology at Berne, Switzerland, and a Ph.D. at Cambridge. Nevertheless, he never put on pompous airs, and always spoke and wrote with spiritual simplicity rather than academic prattling. He reached people's hearts as well as their minds.
He was the first to condemn the arrogance of "the so-called Serbian intelligentsia " (Cf. chapter 60) and to praise the virtues of "the free, brave, and wise Serbian peasant" (Cf. chapter 96). He decried the sterile, "unchristian and non-Serbian darkness" that clouded the spiritual vision of modern, twentieth century Yugoslav historians; and from the depths of his soul he exclaimed that "the history of the Serbian people cannot be written with polish alone, but with blood and tears from the heart" (chapter 44).
As a result, he felt inspired to write his own account of the 800 year journey of our Serbian people from Nemanja and St. Sava up to the time when he finished it - in the midst of the turmoil and tragedy of the Second World War. Shortly thereafter, he, together with the heroic Serbian Patriarch Gavrilo, was taken to the Nazi concentration camp at Dachau.
Yet, The Serbian People as a Servant of God is more than a mere history. It is not a dry and dusty compilation of names, dates, events, and geography. It was written to remind our Serbian people of their calling, their destiny, their meaning; for "the basic, continuous course of Serbian history for the last 800 years can be expressed in the words SERVICE TO CHRIST" (chapter 5).
It is no mere history, but a real, living drama brought to life in the vivid imagery of Bishop Nikolai: "The path of the Serbian people has led them along the edge of a sheer cliff above an abyss. Only a sleepwalker could travel this path without fear, for the horrors on that path are beyond number" (chapter 72).
As Bishop Nikolai so clearly hammers home again and again, the only thing that saved the Serbian people on that path was their faith in Christ and their service to Christ. Unless the Serbian people remain "a theodule - a servant of Christ God," they are doomed (Cf. chapter 96).
Therefore, whoever has ears to hear, let him hear . Whoever has eyes to read, let him read. Whoever dares to discover his own identity and find himself, let him do so - as "a servant of Christ our God. "

+ Metropolitan IRINEY

At Gracanica Monastery
of the Most Holy Mother ofGod

Grayslake, Illinois
November 1, 1988


In translating Srpski Narod kao Teodul (The Serbian People as a Servant of God) we encountered several difficulties, not the least of which were the poems which occur once every twenty chapters. In the original Serbian they rhyme and are in twelve-syllable lines.
As every experienced translator knows, to try to preserve the rhyme would inevitably result in some distortion of the actual meaning of the text. Therefore we have made no attempt to preserve the rhyme, lest the meaning of Bishop Nikolai's work be obscured in any way. Nevertheless we have kept the poetic chapters in twelve-syllable lines to preserve their poetic character .
In addition we have compiled an extensive commentary with footnotes to explain names, places, terms, and background information which may be unfamiliar to the reader .
Moreover we dedicate this translation to our brothers and sisters, the Christ-loving faithful of our Free Serbian Orthodox Diocese in North America, who have become dearer to us than our eyes.

Fr. Theodore Micka
Fr. Steven Scott


"Serb" is the only national name in Europe whose meaning has been lost. The meanings of the other nations and peoples of Europe are either completely clear or partially clear. The theory that the word Srb is derived from the word "Sorab, " remains a mere theory, and is hardly credible. Every mystery by definition is a mystery with a deep and profound meaning, very often ideological and not superficial. And the Serbian name is a mystery, hidden and deep, as is also the destiny of the Serbian people.
The peoples of the West say "Serbs" or "Servs" instead of Srbi because of their linguistic poverty. They do not have the letter "r" as a vowel, and have, therefore, been compelled to place an "e" before the "r" in order to pronounce the word. On the Eurasian continent only the people of India have the letter "r" as a vowel, and besides them, only the Serbs. Even the word "Sorab" in place of Srb must have been coined by other peoples who did not have the vowel "r" in their language. Hence, the original name was neither "Sorab" nor "Serb," but Srb.
From India the ancestors of the Serbs received numerous words of Old Hindi and Sanskritic origin. Yet far more important than this is the belief in destiny. The Hindus call it Karma, the Turks call it Kismet, the Serbs call it Sudba. Karma is older than both Kismet and Sudba. The Hindus teach that everything occurs for a man according to his Karma,. i.e., everything that happens to him, good or evil, happens to him in accordance with his former deeds, and, moreover, even after death things happen to him just as he merited in his preceding life.


The most basic belief of the Serbian people is their belief in sudba - not in blind fate, but in a providential, planned, and just destiny. This is the sort of destiny recorded in the Bible.
When all the male Hebrew children in Egypt were put to death at the command of Pharaoh, Moses was saved through God's providence. This is sudba. On account of King David's sin, his little son died. This, too, is sudba. On account of King David's merits, his son, Solomon, became great and glorious. This also is sudba. On account of his betrayal of King David, Achitophel, the king's chief counselor , hanged himself, just as did Judas, the betrayer of Christ. This is sudba also.
Christ said that not a single sparrow falls to the ground without the will of your heavenly Father [1]. And again He said that even the hairs on your head are numbered [2]. Even with regard to Himself, He said: Thus is it written and thus must it be that the Christ suffer and rise from the dead on the third day [3]. A Serbian proverb says: Nema smrti bez sudjena dana -"There is no death except on the destined day." This has made the Serbs brave and fearless, for the most basic belief of the Serbian people is their belief in destiny.


What is the historical destiny of a people, which many people mention without understanding or grasping it? It is the dramatic role of various peoples with respect to God's plan, but also with respect to the merits of each people.
The historical destiny of the Serbian people has only been clearly visible from the time of Nemanja to the present [4], and this means that only one-tenth of Serbian history is known to us, and nine-tenths unknown. That is, Serbian history is clearly visible to us only for the past 800 years. The time of the zhupans [5] before Nemanja represents a period of transition just as the Old Testament does for the New.


This very limited knowledge of our history also has a good side. The Jews, Hindus, Greeks, Romans, and Chinese know their past of several thousand years. This makes them proud, but it also confuses them and lulls them to sleep-especially the baptized peoples, the Greeks and Romans. They take as much pride in their pagan heroes and philosophers as they do in their Christian saints and martyrs. And this pulls them in two directions; it confuses and weakens them.
We Slavs only know our baptized history well. Our pagan, pre-Christian past is neither clear nor glorious. All our glory lies in the period of our baptized history. For the Serbs the last 800 years represent an unparalleled epic poem of the crystallization of an individual and national character, an epic poem of toil, struggle, suffering, and glory-all in the sign of the cross and freedom.


All in the sign of the cross and freedom. ..In the sign of the cross signifies dependence on God, in the sign of freedom signifies independence from men. Moreover, in the sign of the cross means to follow Christ and to struggle for Christ, and in the sign of freedom means to free oneself from fear and any moral corruption.
We do not simply say "cross and freedom," but the venerable cross and golden freedom; therefore, not just any crooked cross or any cross used to crucify a criminal, but the venerable cross, which exclusively signifies the cross of Christ, nor just any freedom, cheap, soiled, and immoral, but golden freedom, which is to say precious, pure, and radiant.
The banner of the cross is the banner of the Serbs. Beneath it they fell on the field of Kosovo, beneath it they gained freedom in the Uprising [6].


The basic, continuous course of Serbian history for the last 800 years can be expressed in the words SERVICE TO CHRIST. During this eight-century period the Serbian people have been a true Theodule, i.e., a servant of God, or Christodule, i.e. a servant of Christ, which is one and the same thing.


The majority of the Serbian people never strayed from this basic course, but from time to time a minority would. Either some of the leaders of the people would stray on account of their mental darkness or else one smaller part of the people would stray together with their leaders on account of moral corruption. As aresult, destiny has also horribly scourged the Serbs with torments and sufferings as hardly any other people in the human race except the Jews.


For four hundred and thirty years the Hebrews were enslaved in Egypt under the pharaohs. The Serbs were enslaved under the Turks just as long, until their liberation, and that partial, under prince Milosh [7]. The enslavements under Austria and Hungary were again like the enslavements of the Hebrews under the Canaanite peoples.


The mental darkness of the leaders of the Serbian people in former times and of the so-called Serbian intelligentsia in more recent times stems from a flagrant disregard of one of the great commandments of Christ. That commandment states: "It shall not be so among you (as among the pagans); but whoever would be greater among you must serve you, and whoever would be first among you must be your servant"(Matt. 20:26; Luke 22:36).
On another occasion, He again commanded His followers not to fight over the place of honor like the Pharisees, but to sit in the lowest place. "For ," He says, "everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted"(Luke 14: 11). Of all the Lord's commandments, the Serbs have most willfully and frequently broken this one. Fighting over first place has, however, dealt them disastrous defeats and blows. Even after 800 years of experience and trial, the Serbs have not even today learned this commandment of Christ, which alone can save them. Consequently, every decade or two they suffer some disastrous calamity.


For it is written in Holy Scripture that God chastens whomever He loves. And again it is written: He chastises every son whom He accepts. No one brings a dusty rug into a home, but first he beats it and shakes out the dust, and then brings it in.
It is not that God does not love all His created peoples, but just as it is said that Jesus loved John the Apostle in a special way, so does God manifest His love especially to those to whom He gives great tasks in life. Just as Christ assigned an especially great task to his beloved disciple, Saint John, so has He assigned a great task to the Serbian people, a great mission among neighboring and distant peoples.


All who love God and love their own people have been great sufferers in this life. The Bible confirms this quite clearly, citing the examples of Jacob, Joseph, Moses, Joshua the son of Nun, Samuel, David, Job, and of all the prophets and righteous ones of the Old Testament.
Both the whole New Testament and the whole history of the Church confirms this, not with ten or a hundred examples but with millions. What is the Christian calendar except a list of exemplary sufferers? We say exemplary, because every example of a sufferer on the calendar represents thousands of exemplary but unlisted sufferers for God, their soul, and their people over the last 2000 years.


Nemanja [8], the initiator and beginner of eight centuries of Serbian history, was also a great sufferer. If a great man is not a great sufferer, he is an opportunist, like Napoleon Bonaparte. Nemanja was a three-fold sufferer: for Christ his God, for his people, and for his soul.
Even before Nemanja, there were Serbian zhupans and saints who were sufferers. Caslav, Vojislav, and Bodin, and especially Saint John Vladimir, were all sufferers for their people [9]. Saint Prohor, Saint Joachim of Osogovo, and Saint John of Rila were all sufferers for their soul [10]. So also was the Serbian Saint Petka [11], and who knows how many sufferers there were in addition to these.
But Nemanja combined them all in himself. He was a three-fold sufferer, and a truly great sufferer. But as a result he also became a great victor and immortal.


One does not know who was greater: Nemanja the ruler or Simeon the monk, Simeon the monk or Simeon the myrrh-flowing, the man before death or the man after death [12]. He was several men in one man: a warrior and a statesman, a lover of his people and a lover of God, a wealthy aristocrat and a poor ascetic, a secular man and a saint.
Sava and Stevan, his sons and biographers, did not in the least exaggerate the rich and complex personality of their father. Deeds and facts justify any laudation of Nemanja, and do not permit words to surpass them. Only one word captures the whole Nemanja in all his aspects - Theodule - which means "servant of God".


Nemanja was a miraculous man: he had two baptisms, two names, two callings in this life, and after death two graves. First he was baptized a Catholic, and later after he grew up he renounced his Latin baptism and was baptized according to the Orthodox rite [13]. As a ruler he was called Nemanja after the Biblical name Nehemiah, and later as a monk he was called Simeon. He was a ruler and a sword-bearer, and in old age a monk and cross-bearer. His first grave was at Hilandar Monastery [14], the second at Studenica Monastery [15].
He was the root of the holy vine of the Nemanjic dynasty. He left behind not only blood in his descendents, but the sword and the cross as a program for serving the Lord. He was a Theodule - a servant of God - both as a sword-bearer and as a cross-bearer , as Nemanja the ruler and as Simeon the monk. And even after death, as a myrrh-flowing saint, he remained a servant of God and a helper of his people [16]. In him lies all the profound history of his dynasty as well as the ineffable destined history of the Serbian people up to the present day.


Nemanja was a lord; he was also a captive. He waged war against brothers and non-brothers. He fought with Orthodox and heretics. He had a traitor among his own natural brothers. Against the Orthodox Greeks he waged war in defense of his country and his national identity; i.e., in defense of the Serbian name, which the Greeks wanted to drown in Hellenism because of the sameness of faith. Against the Latin and Bogomil heresies [17] he fought in defense of the true and pure faith.


When did Nemanja manage, on top of all these wars and struggles, to build several magnificent churches? God truly granted him a long life, but he also made haste to use his peaceful days for the service of God, both for the glory of God and the saints of God.
He did not build the church called Djurdjevi Stubovi ("The Pillars of St. George") or Studenica Monastery just to adorn his country or to imitate the Greeks. Rather he built them all to fulfill oaths which he made during moments of crisis in his life. He erected
Djurdjevi Stubovi to fulfill the oath he had made to St. George, when he was cast into a pit by his brothers as once was the Biblical Joseph; and he built Studenica to fulfill an oath he had made to the Most Holy Mother of God when he faced a difficult war with the Greeks. Consequently, he built all the other churches and monasteries throughout Raska and around Kursumlija as a result of one of his oaths [18].


All of Nemanja's struggles and all his aims focused on his desire to unite the Serbian people and create a single Serbian state - but not a secular people, as modern historians explain, but a Christ-loving people, which would serve Christ, and a holy state, which would also serve Christ.
It was all to serve Christ just as he himself served until his last breath on his reed mat at Hilandar Monastery [19]. His patriotism was an Orthodox Christian patriotism, and his state was a state that served God.
He set a seal on this fundamental concept of his by putting his sword into its sheath and by his death beneath the cross of Christ. For the sword is nothing without the cross, and the cross is ultimately victorious even without the sword. Nemanja never went to war with a mere sword without a cross, as the churches built by him to fulfill oaths testify.


Nemanja led his people on general courses against two powerful forces-the pan-Hellenism of Constantinople and the pan-theocracy of Rome. He, perhaps unconsciously, spontaneously, and semi-consciously, only traced the path for the future of his people.
Sava, his youngest son, had to come in order to completely clear and level that path, to crystallize the general ideas of his father and to make them work in one perfect internal organization of the Serbian people. Where the eighty year old elder Nemanja left off, the young monk Sava carried on consistently and brilliantly to the point of genius.


Altogether positive, practical and constructive to the marrow of his bones, as only a spiritual man, a keeper of the Gospel can be, Sava considered how to overcome evil with good.
How then would he overcome the aspiration of pan-Hellenism? Through the help of an independent church for his people. And he achieved this. Pan-Hellenic chauvinism receded forever with the creation of an independent Serbian Church not subject to Constantinople [20].
And how would he overcome the international theocracy of the Pope of Rome? Through the creation of theodulia-service to God-concentrated in the persons of the rulers.


What is the difference between theocracy and theodulia? The difference between an imposed master and a voluntary servant? Theocracy can be of two kinds: clerical (priestly) or laical. Only clerical theocracy is known, and horribly despised in Europe [21]; while laical theocracy is known in the Moslem world where the Caliph, sheik, or shah carries divine authority.
(Being something temporary, we do not here mention the laical theocracy in Geneva, which Calvin established, but which also vanished with him [22]. A monastic theocracy of a greater sort has existed from ancient times, and still exists in Tibet [23]).


Theodulia - service to God - is the main charateristic of all the Serbian rulers of the vine of the Nemanjic dynasty. "The slave of Christ God " - this is how they used to call themselves and sign documents, beginning with Stevan Prvovencani [24] (Steven the First-crowned) all the way to Tsar Uros [25].
And not just the Nemanjic dynasty, but rulers, princes, despots, generals and lords of other family trees would, like the descendants of Nemanja, refer to themselves and sign documents in this way; for instance Knez Lazar [26], the despot Ugljesa [27], the despot Stevan Visoki [28] (Stephen the Tall), the despot George Brankovich [29], the sultan 's wife Mara [30], the venerable Mother Angelina [31], and others too numerous to mention.
They were all slaves of Christ and of God; they were all theodules, servants of God. Thus Sava set them all on their path, Nemanja gave them all an example, and the Spirit of God strengthened them on that path.


Who would be ashamed to call himself a servant
And serve his God with gladness, and not with sorrow?
When the Son of God Himself left his Father s wing,
The Lord of all creatures and heavenly powers,
And descended to earth in order to serve men,
To give an example - voluntary service.
Disguised in a body and in His poverty,
A servant without rest, a servant without ease,
He even washed the sweaty feet of fishermen.
He nourished, He healed, and He taught countless people.
Of course the King of Kings, but how do the sinners
Rise to power so quickly and so easily,
And boast of their power, and then puff themselves up
And stand with their foot on the necks of their neighbors -
This is both their design as well as their purpose;
They spend their whole life chasing after vanity.
O glorious Jesus, glorified by service,
Miraculously prompt all men into service.
Whoever serves Thee cannot be snared by evil,.
He is full of Thy might, full of Thy compassion.
For emperors, kings and everyone mortal
The highest calling - to be a slave of Christ God.


Saint Sava established and consolidated it in such a way that the Serbian archbishop would be the chief servant of Christ in the spiritual sphere, and the Serbian king would be the first servant of Christ in the civil sphere. And if the archbishop would be a servant of Christ, all the clergy would also be servants of Christ; and if the king would be a servant of Christ, then all the authorities, civil and military, would also be servants of Christ.
The whole spiritual hierarchy was supposed to serve Christ, and the whole military and civil hierarchy was supposed to serve Christ as well. Therefore, not only was the Church supposed to be enrolled in the service of Christ but the state as well; the state no less than the Church, and the king no less than the archbishop. Theodulia - service to God - was the path and the purpose of both the Church and the state together .


Sava made a crystal clear expression of this at the Zica Monastery on the occasion of his brother Stevan's coronation as king of Serbia [32]. In his sermons at that time he constantly emphasized in the presence of the king, the nobles, and the people, two indisputable realities: first that faith is the only blessed foundation for the life of an individual, for the life of a society, and for the organization of a state; and second, that the king, all the nobles, all the people as well as the clergy must serve the faith, or rather the Founder of the faith, the Lord Jesus Christ, the Only-Begotten Son of God, so that we might all be called sons of God and enter into the heavenly kingdom.
(Naturally, the sermon only pertains to the Orthodox faith, the pure and correct faith, the faith of the Apostles and Fathers, without any admixture of heretical philosophizing or clerical politicizing.)


Why did the wise Sava not speak at that time about putting the individual home and the royal palace in order, about organizing the state, fitting out the military, and assigning tasks and duties? Why not this, instead of speaking only about faith again and again? Because faith is truth, and truth is light, and without light we can see neither our path nor our goal, nor can we discern a true brother from a false brother, nor can we know whence we have come or where we are heading, nor why we live or why we die, nor whom we are serving, nor how and in what way we shall perform our service.
Truth is the primary and principle foundation, everything else will come of itself. But truth, that is the Gospel of Christ, is faith in Christ. In accordance with the words of Christ Himself: "I am the light of the world; he who follows me will not walk in darkness. "[33] From that time and forever onward the Serb has remained a lover of the truth and a lover of Christ, which is one and the same thing. What people in the world speaks the truth and loves the truth so openly and sincerely? From that time and forever onward the Serbian rulers have been called lovers of Christ, which is to say lovers of the truth - children and servants of the truth.


The greatest concern of Sava, the son of Nemanja, the ascetic and monk of the Holy Mountain of Athos, was to open the eyes of his people so that they would see the reality of the spiritual and immortal world, to which this carnal, temporal and mortal world must orient and conform itself.
That other world is the heavenly kingdom, to which he bound himself in his seventeenth year [34], and for which he strove for so many more years, so that he might come to know it with absolute certainty and experiential knowledge. Later, as the head of his church and a fervent lover of his people, he wished to convince and lead his whole people to that heavenly kingdom.
For this is the main and fundamental object, and everything else becomes insignificant and secondary to those who have come to know the heavenly kingdom and chosen it.
Two hundred years before Knez Lazar in Krusevac [35], Sava and Nemanja, representing the youth of Serbia and the elders of Serbia, chose the heavenly kingdom. This is the crucial turning point in the life of every Christian and of every Christian people, namely: whether they will choose the heavenly kingdom or the earthly kingdom. This was the crucial choice made during the time of Nemanja and Sava for the Serbian people and all its later history up to the present.


A faithful servant is a faithful household master [36]. He who is faithful in little is faithful also in much, and will be praised by his lord. This is the truth as found in the Gospel.
Saint Sava was a faithful servant on the Holy Mountain, and then also a faithful household master at Hilandar Monastery. He was a faithful servant of the Lord to Serbia, and then he was also a faithful household master to the Serbian people. He was the best Serbian servant and master that Serbian history has ever recorded.
With reference to a diligent but childless household master, the Serbs say: "He labors and toils as if he had ten sons." Sava the monk labored and toiled as if a million Serbs were his own natural children, his own sons and daughters.
There was no task, spiritual or physical, for individuals or for the people, for the Church or for the state, that did not concern him and in which he did not participate as a helper and adviser. While being the greatest labor-loving servant of Christ and his people, Sava was the most concerned household master among the Serbian people - a faithful follower and imitator of his Lord Jesus.


A perfect master should be like a perfect servant - this is Saint Sava's example and testament to the Serbian people. There is no mention of any lordliness in connection with him. In both word and deed, from the beginning to the end, he was a servant with the spirit of a household master .
He knew that man's lifespan is brief and that it is given not for the sake of lording it over others but for the sake of serving. The innumerable folk tales and legends about Saint Sava and how he managed to help everyone everywhere are not untrue. They portray the genuine character of this spiritual father of the Serbian people, as the greatest servant-master in Serbian history.


Through his service to God and his people, through his paternal spirit, Sava was the Serb nearest to Christ the Lord. A servant-master and a master-servant, he was a true Theodule - a true servant ofGod. Theodulia was his whole earthly life; theodulia - service to God -was his most lucid example and most eloquent legacy to his people.
He bequeathed this example and testament to all the Serbian people and their leaders, from the first to the last - and not in vain. Sava's example and legacy were like good seed cast on fertile soil and across all the centuries up to the present it has brought forth a rich harvest for the heavenly kingdom of God. And his example and legacy can be expressed in a single word: theodulia, service to God.


Serbian history never knew of any struggle between Church and state. There were no such struggles, but bloody wars have filled the history of Western nations. How does one explain the difference between the two cases? The one is explained by theodulia,. the other by theocracy.
Let us take two tame oxen as an example, how they are both harnessed to the same yoke, pull the same cart, and serve the same master. This is theodulia. Then let us take two oxen who are so enraged with each other that one moment the ox on the left pulls himself out from the yoke and gores the other one, goading him on to pull the cart alone, while the next moment the ox on the right does the same to his companion on the left.
This is theocracy: the war of the Church against the state and the war of the state against the Church; the war of the pope against kings and the war of kings against the pope. Neither ox wished to be yoked and serve the Master; each of them wanted to play the role of the Master and drive his companion under the yoke. Thus the Master's cart has remained stationary and his field uncultivated and eventually has become completely overgrown with weeds. This is what happened in the West.


Sava's concept was that both oxen should be harnessed to the yoke, and should serve the Master together - both the Church and the state. This is a Biblical concept, a direct commandment of God in both the Old and the New Testament.
The psalmist considers all the earth and all that is on the earth, and filled with wonder says to God: " All things serve Thee" (Ps. 119:19). What is man, that he should be the only exception? Are the butterflies and the birds, the winds and the thunder to serve the Creator their Master and man not to serve Him? This must have come from some darkened mind and from some disastrous error in the heart.
The officers in the palace of a prince proclaim with pride: "We are in the service of the prince!" But what is one mortal prince in comparison with the immortal and almighty King of heaven and earth, who is moreover their Creator and Father? Truly, only foolish men mocked by Satan can consider it an honor to serve a prince but a disgrace and abasement to serve the Lord God. How many of them will tomorrow lie dead, grave after grave, together with their prince; how many will lie decaying in corruption, while God will be living and reigning eternally!
But their nearsightedness in seeing this is worse than the nearsightedness of insects - truly astonishing.


Such men symbolize the success of Satan's evil. They also symbolize the defeat of God, the defeat of the One who created them.
Oh, what a wretched fate for a man, to symbolize the success of the devil and the defeat of God! Therefore the Creator justly crushes and annihilates them without mercy.
It is as though a father raised sons who became criminals and then, together with their ringleader Satan, they made a treacherous assault on their own father and his peaceful household.
Whoever does not serve God, inevitably serves the devil, the adversary of God. Is it then a disgrace to serve God? Truly it is a disgrace, but only for those who fall, not for those who are saved.


The Old Testament says that the Israelite people were chosen by God to serve God alone among all peoples; the others served demons and diabolical idols. For men cannot avoid service: they either serve God or the devil. Only God calls service to Himself service, but the deceitful devil calls service to himself lordship and pleasure.
And so the chosen Israelite people hobbled on both feet across a thousand years, serving God one minute and the devil the next. All the patriarchs, fathers, righteous and prophets summoned their people to the service of the one God, but the false prophets of the devil often gained control and led the people astray into the service of the devil.
Although the devil never speaks about service either to God or to himself, but about lordship and pleasure in this life, he thinks about nothing except yoking men to himself in bitter servitude. "For he is a liar and the father of lies. " [37]


The New Testament is for the most part the Constitution of service to God, holy, perfect and uncompromised. " And the Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve. " [38] And not only did He serve who is the Master of the world, the Lord Jesus Christ, but his Apostles and all his true followers also served, serving God until their last breath and sigh, from that time up until the present day.
And so if the Son of the living God was not ashamed of serving his heavenly Father, how can men be ashamed of this service and accept Satan's false promise of having lordly power and pleasure in this world?
After a long and lengthy vacillation between service to God or to the devil, the chosen Israelite people eventually completely chose service to the devil, betrayed God and crucified the Messiah, the Son of God. Rightly did Jesus say to them: "Your father is the devil and your will is to do your father's desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, and has nothing to do with the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks, he speaks lies of his own, for he is a liar and the father of lies" (John 8:44).
Thus was the mission of the chosen Israelite people brought to an end, by completely and consciously abandoning service to God and by placing themselves at Satan 's disposal, whom this people serves to this day [39]. For no man is able to avoid service, whether he serves God or the devil. The lifetime of man is a lifetime of service.


All this our wise father Sava knew. And he knew better than we that this period of life on earth is given to men for the sake of service and not for the sake of lording it over, recreation, and pleasure. Therefore, he submitted to the inevitable and the inescapable, i.e., to serving.
But he also knew that there can be two kinds of serving, either to God or to Satan. Therefore, he labored with all his might to start the mill wheel of the combined energy of his people and himself turning for serving God; and above all, to bring both the state and the Church into an active, untiring and voluntary service to God.
In this way he instilled in the Serbian people a complete and perfect theodulia - service to God - and evaded the Western anomaly, according to which apparently the Church alone, and not the state, is obligated to serve God; the pope but not a king; a priest but not a civil authority or a soldier .


Whenever the Church was separated from the state, either the Church or the state or both stood to suffer [40]. A separated Church and state implies service to two separate lords. And since there is only one sole true Lord whom one can conscientiously and honestly serve, i.e., the Lord God, it follows that one of the alienated and separated institutions, be it Church or state, must be serving God's adversary, the devil.
Discord, quarrelling and war between Church and state have brought shame on the history of the baptized nations of the West for the past thousand years. One moment the Church was in the service of God's adversary for the sake of its own theocracy; the next moment the state was in the service of God's adversary for the sake of its own autocracy; one moment the former for the sake of clericalism, i.e., a misguided service to God; the next the latter for the sake of laicism, i.e., a complete renunciation of service to God.
Not through reason but through the evil of the alienated parties. And evil darkens reason; therefore, it is also recorded in Holy Scripture: "Be careful lest evil darken your reason." [41]


From all these anomalies and horrors St. Sava saved his people by establishing theodulia as the path and goal of the Church and the state. He could not have achieved this so easily if his father had not become a monk and his natural brother had not become a king.
God Himself had so determined that at one of the turning points of Serbian history two brothers would find themselves leaders of their people, one as the spiritual head and the other as the secular, Archbishop Sava and King Stevan.
It was an extraordinary similarity to one of the crucial turning points of the Israelite people, when by God's commandment two brothers, Moses and Aaron, found themselves at the head of their people. For who could understand a man and help him better than his natural brother? As ruler, King Stevan competed with his priestly brother in service to God, and strove not to lag behind him in the confession of the faith.
And so by becoming a monk in his old age, the mighty Nemanja set a seal on his choice of the heavenly kingdom. He directed the spirit of his descendants towards heaven, and by his own example bequeathed a moral to his whole people: throughout this earthly life one must prepare himself for eternal life.


Let us not in the least be deceived by the lofty titles of the Serbian rulers, such as king, tsar, despot, avtokrator or sebastokrator [42]. All these high-sounding titles used to be written beneath the one which was first and essential - "the slave of Christ God."
And this was not just lifeless ink on parchment, nor a matter of form and custom. No, rather it was the very essence of their life. They used to defend the Orthodox faith, which meant the truth of God, ceaselessly and untiringly. In this they even surpassed the Byzantine emperors themselves. (Thus did King Milutin save the Greek people from shame and Greece from the Union with Rome during the reign of one of the Byzantine emperors of the Paleologi dynasty) [43].
They never used to amass treasure or squander it on their palaces, but would give it all towards the construction of magnificent churches to the glory of Christ God, for the benefit of their people and the salvation of their souls. How much these glorious ecclesiastical foundations have served for the benefit of the Serbian people, the people themselves have gratefully expressed in verse and all historians have recognized and acknowledged.


This sort of founding ecclesiastical memorials, i.e., building churches and monasteries, was never neglected by the later Serbian rulers of any dynasty up to our own times. Even under the Turkish yoke after the Battle of Kosovo [44], the vassal princes and princesses, despots and their wives, vojvode (military governors) and their wives built ecclesiastical foundations throughout the Serbian lands.
This tradition was carried on by Karageorge and Milosh [45], our peasant princes, and their descendants. The royal church at Oplenac [46] testifies that even in the twentieth century Serbian rulers did not discontinue their service to God through founding ecclesiastical memorials, a service initiated by our first baptized zhupans and set in motion by the Nemanjic dynasty.


This noble passion among the Serbs for founding ecclesiastical memorials cannot be found to such an extent in any other people. It was not enough that they should adorn and sanctify their own land with innumerable beautiful ecclesiastical foundations, but with the same zeal and love they constructed many beautiful ecclesiastical foundations throughout neighboring and distant lands: throughout Albania and Greece, Croatia and Hungary, Bulgaria and Romania, on the Holy Mountain of Athos and in Palestine. In some of these lands Serbian ecclesiastical foundations to this day remain the most important and beautiful shrines.


We mentioned the defense of the true faith and the building of ecclesiastical foundations by Serbian rulers as their service to God, as their theodulia. And if all these endeavors were great and significant, they were not the only way for the Serbian rulers and aristocracy to serve God. There were other ways also.
Most important were acts of compassion towards the poor and destitute, and the just defense of all those suffering injustice. At his ecclesiastical foundations at Thesalonica, Constantinople and Jerusalem, King Milutin opened shelters for the old and the poor, halls for feeding the hungry and hospices for the sick and infirm. This is well-known from the history of this great ruler. So much the more must he have built such institutions at his foundations in Serbia itself. And the rest of the great founders were just like him.


Oh, Thou wondrous Creator of countless wonders,
Whom the angelic heavens serve so faithfully,
Thrones and powers, dominions and authorities,
Which powerfully reign over every domain,
The awesome seraphim, aflame with white blazes,
The mighty cherubim, as swift as an arrow,
The sun and the moon and the constellations of stars,
And all the living creatures that take food and drink
From Thy table, and breathe air provided by Thee,
Tell us, why do men exalt thmselves against Thee?
Why is it that they blame Thee for their own evil,
Thee, who didst create them and didst bring them to life,
But to Thee be praise, Creator, eternal praise,
For Thou didst draw our fathers unto Thine own self;
And they served Thee, without ever sparing themselves,
And constructed for Thee numerous foundations.
Defenders of the faith, sustainers of the poor,
Our glorious fathers were slaves of Thee alone.
They were rich before the world, but poor before Thee,
Merciful towards others, strict towards themselves.
They were not conceited, nor did they walk blindly,
They regarded their crowns and their gold as ashes,
So that they might give faithful service just to Thee,
And so that after death they might be near Thee,
In life everlasting, in light everlasting,
Where there is no death, nor suffering nor sorrow.


Historians write how some members of the Nemanjic dynasty were great sinners, how brother betrayed brother, and brother fought against brother, how father assaulted son, and son father. This is not untrue, but it is untrue that this and this alone was the whole story of their life, that this is their entire biography.
These historians relate the account up to a certain point but not to the end. It is as though Saint Luke, the historian of the Acts of the Apostles, had related how Saul fiercely persecuted the Christians, and then stopped and ended his account, without relating the rest of the story, i.e, how Saul turned into Paul, the persecutor into the apostle, the sinner into the penitent, the enemy of Christ into the saint.


Truly some members of the Nemanjic dynasty, being human, did sin through human weakness, but they repented for their sins and ended their lives as penitents.
We do not know whether Vukan [47] ever repented, and thus he has remained off the church calendar bereft of glory, for he rose up against his two saintly brothers, Sava and Stevan, and joined the Roman Church. Consequently, he has been characterized as a traitor , and as the prototype of all Serbian traitors, and always with the same name: Vukan, Vuk, Vukasin, Vujica. [48]
Nevertheless, King Dragutin [49] repented for his revolt against his brother, King Milutin [50], and became a monk, and as a monk with the name Teoktist, wrapped himself in chains as penance to repent. He also constructed several marvelous churches to the glory of God, such as: Ozren, Tavna, Raca, Loznica, and the church at Arilje. He even became a saint.
Why do modern Serbian historians not relate the account to its conclusion? As the Serbian people say: "Kraj delo krasi" - the conclusion adorns the work.


King Milutin also repented for his sin against his son Stevan [51], and bitterly wept for his sin before the abbot of the Pantokrator Monastery, where the blinded Stevan had been confined. Milutin also became a saint, not as a sinner but as a penitent, and not as a penitent in word alone but also in deed, serving Christ his Lord to the end of his long life.
None of the modern Serbian historians discuss what is most momentous and most important in regard to the personality of this glorious king, namely, that he became a saint and that the Bulgarian capital of Sofia preserves his body as its greatest relic.
These modern historians fail to see this because unchristian and non-Serbian darkness has clouded their spiritual vision. They do not forgive the sin of one whom God has forgiven and made a saint as well. The history of the Serbian people cannot be written with polish alone, but with blood and tears from the heart.


Tsar Dushan also repented for his sin against his father, Stefan Decanski [52]. But the sin of a son against his father is more grievous than the sin of a brother against a brother, or of a father against a son.
Dushan has remained great and glorious, but he did not become a saint; i.e., he attained the highest glory on earth, but did not attain the highest glory in heaven. But even though he did not become a saint, we believe that God forgave his sin because of his enormous and untiring service to God.
For he was penitent, and he built many ecclesiastical foundations, performed countless works of mercy, safeguarded monasteries and all justice through his strict laws. He made the monasteries of the Holy Mountain of Athos strong and secure, defended the whole Christian Balkans from the infidels, and perished in the Crusade for Christianity in the Balkans.
Truly, even if during his youth he did commit a great sin against his father, he was a radiant and faithful servant of Christ to the end of his life in deed and in suffering, always signing his name as "a slave of Christ God" and sacrificing himself for the venerable cross and the golden freedom of all the Christian peoples in the Balkans.


George Brankovich [53] also repented for the sin of his father, Vuk, the traitor of Kosovo. But it is difficult to accept his repentance in behalf of this sinner, whom the people, as the living Church of God, have never forgiven.
Nevertheless, the despot George was justified in the sight of God and his people on account of his deeds and sufferings. True, he did not become a saint, but his deeds in the Service of Christ our God were great.
He built churches, kept the Orthodox faith strictly, rejected a papal overture to convert to the Roman Church, lavishly endowed the monasteries in Serbia and on the Holy Mountain of Athos, wisely and carefully protected his people to the extent that he could as a Turkish vassal, and as a parent he endured terrible sufferings on account of the misfortune of his children. For his two sons were blinded by the Turks and his daughter was compelled to marry the blood-thirsty Sultan.
Yet even though George did not become a saint, several of his descendents through Mother Angelina did [54]. And George was a slave of Christ God in deed and in suffering, and remained so until the end of his life.


Prince Milosh Obrenovich also repented for his sin against Karageorge [55], because he was indirectly involved in the death of the great Leader, who was moreover his kum. The monastery church called "Pokajnica" ("Repentance"), which Milosh had built at Radovanje, testifies to his penitence.
But there was more to Milosh than his repentance for this sin. He considered himself a servant of God and his people. He fought for the venerable cross and suffered much from others as well as his own kindred. He renovated nearly all the ruined monasteries, not only in the liberated portion of Serbia but in unliberated Serbia as well, all the way to Jovan Bigorski [56].
He used to fast, keep his krsna slava [57] and pray to God often, just as the great Karageorge did - like all the Serbian rulers of old and the entire Serbian people. They were men of the people both in their blood and their soul.


Yet who ever served Christ God with such holiness and righteousness as that amazing Lazar of Kosovo? Not only was he canonized a saint, but his wife, the Tsaritsa Militsa, and his son Stevan Visoki (Stephen the Tall) were canonized as well - a vine sprung from a holy root.
He performed all the works pleasing to God like the members of the Nemanjic dynasty, and ruled, or more accurately, served in times more difficult than the times of the Nemanjic dynasty.
He built many ecclesiastical foundations, of which Ravanica, Lazarica, and Gornjak are still in use today. He renovated the monastery of St. Roman from its ruins. He was a great benefactor of the holy places on the Holy Mountain of Athos. He made a pilgrimage to the Holy Sepulchre, Christ's tomb. He was a father to orphans and a protector of the destitute.
And above all, he laid down his life on the field of Kosovo for the venerable cross and golden freedom. For this the Serbian people have cherished him and praised him in verse, and God has glorified him by making him a saint and crowning him with a double crown, as His servant and as His martyr .


We have cited here only a few examples of Serbian rulers and nobles, describing how they walked in the path of Nemanja and Sava, considering themselves the first servants of Christ our God before their people. But we have not even come close to listing them all.
There were hundreds and hundreds, perhaps even thousands more minor princes, leaders, military governors and nobles who trod this same path, and prepared themselves during this life for the life to come like servants of Christ. Through their service, founding churches, making various sacrifices and suffering many hardships on earth, they looked with hope to the eternal and immortal heavenly kingdom.
Who will list them all? No one has ever listed them. Every region, not only of the Serbian land but of the whole of the Balkans, from Bessarabia [58] to Constantinople, from one sea to the other, preserves a stone memorial to them, i.e., their names engraved in the walls or their faces preserved in the frescoes of their ecclesiastical foundations.


Where are the ecclesiastical foundations of neighboring peoples on Serbian soil? Pose this question to yourself three times, Serbian brother, and ponder it. The answer-there is not one anywhere.
There is not one Romanian ecclesiastical foundation in the border region (the Bukovo Monastery in the vicinity of Negotin is not a foundation of Romanian nobles but of that glorious Serbian King Milutin). There is no Bulgarian foundation in Macedonia, and no Greek foundation anywhere.
Even though the Patriarchate of Constantinople had jurisdiction over the Serbian people for a long period up to the time of Saint Sava and for a long period during the time of the Turks, there is no Greek ecclesiastical foundation anywhere-not one by Greek rulers or bishops or nobles. Truly unbelievable, but true. And although the Bulgarians lay claim to Macedonia and Thrace, nowhere in these lands do we see any ecclesiastical foundations of Bulgarian rulers. Nevertheless, Greek Thessaly and all the environs of the Bulgarian capital are adorned with holy churches built by Serbian founders.


By this we do not mean to reproach or belittle our neighbors. Such is their upbringing. They had no Nemanja or Saint Sava and were not brought up as Serbs in one straight direction - in theodulia, in service to God as the supreme aim of human life on earth - along with their unprecedented maxim: "for the venerable cross and golden freedom."
Therefore, even though the leaders of those peoples were no less wealthy than the Serbian rulers, they remained indifferent with respect to serving God, and did not spend their treasure on ecclesiastical foundations. They regarded earth and not heaven; they were concerned with the earthly kingdom and not the heavenly. Therefore, they very often lost both.
Only some of the Romanian military governors were ecclesiastical founders, but even this was due to the influence of their Serbian wives, their Serbian sons-in-law, or members of the Serbian aristocracy who were refugees in Romania.


Serbian patriotism is universally Christian, never narrow and crass chauvinism. Thus could one define the Serbian patriotism of Saint Sava: to put his own household in order and with the rest of his strength and resources to help every people to put its house in order - or: to serve Christ his God in his own land and in the land of his fathers, and insofar as he was able with the remainder to serve Christ his God in other lands also, both near and far, all the way to Russia and Mount Sinai, and even to the ends of the inhabited world.
Christian patriotism in universality, and universality in Christian patriotism. The Serbs alone are bearers of this ideal, even to this day realized in large part, and along with the Serbs only the Russians among the members of the Orthodox family of peoples on earth. Is there anything more salutary for the whole world?


We feel that for now we have sufficiently discussed how the leaders of the Serbian people - be they kings or tsars, or despots or commanders or military governors - served Christ their God from their thrones and seats of power; as founders of churches and monasteries, as defenders of the Orthodox faith, as helpers in defense of neighboring peoples, as protectors of the poor, and as cross-bearing warriors against the infidels.
Let us now move on to monasticism, as the ultimate and supreme degree of service to Christ our God, as the final examination for all those who have prepared themselves with years of training in that very service in various ways.


Monasticism among the Serbs is a tremendous historical reality, which played a greater role in Serbian history than church-founding; because a founder gives what is his, but a monk gives himself to the service of God.
In this sense monasticism is greater than church-founding. The example of the old Nemanja and the example of the young Rastko had a contagious effect, and even today influences old and young Serbs to abandon everything, choose the heavenly kingdom, and set out on the narrow and thorny path, the path of monastic struggle.


Actually, in Serbian history the monk occupies a position higher than any other calling or title, not because of any external authority, but because of his moral significance. In the lectionary of the Orthodox Church one hears about someone who had a vision in which he saw monks above the emperor Constantine in the heavenly world.
From time immemorial members of the Serbian aristocracy would withdraw from the world into monasteries and the wilderness as much as the common people. The Serbian Saint Petka (the Venerable Mother Paraskeva) was of noble birth [59]. That trinity of glorious spiritual fathers, St. Prohor (Prochorus) of Pcinja, St. Gavril (Gabriel) of Lesnovo, and St. John of Rila, were also of aristocratic and distinguished birth [60]. They lived long before Nemanja and Sava, and served the Lord. But service to the Lord by this monastic path, in majestic style with great zeal, began with those two extraordinary men, who ushered in all that is great in the history of the Serbian people.


The mighty Nemanja became a monk, and so did his son Prince Rastko, and then King Stevan the First-Crowned, King Vladislav, King Urosh, Prince Predislav (later called Sava II), King Dragutin, and so did the half-brothers of Tsar Dushan, and Anna (Nemanja's wife) became a nun, as did Queen Helen (Jelena) of Gradac, Helen the sister of King Stevan Decanski, Tsaritsa Helen and the wife of Tsar Dushan, Tsaritsa Militsa and Despotitsa Euphemia (Jefimija), and Mother Angelina; and Maxim her son embraced the monastic life along with many more members of the house of Brankovich, at Srem, Erdelj, and in Romania. [61]
After the battle of Kosovo many Serbian nobles withdrew to the Holy Mountain of Athos and ended their lives there as monks. Just as many of them filled the Serbian and Greek monasteries in Palestine. Even the monastery on Mount Sinai in Egypt had Serbian monks.
These members of the Serbian aristocracy did not withdraw from the world into the monastery to save their earthly life from death - who of those born ever succeeded in that? Rather they did so to attain eternal life by serving Christ their God.
Nor did they go off to the monasteries to be fed and supported. By no means, on the contrary, they brought with them into the monasteries their wealth intact, and everywhere they were fondly remembered for building and renovating monasteries, painting icons and copying books.
Everywhere they labored with the renowned spirit of a Serbian household master. Nowhere on the Holy Mountain of Athos or in the East did a Serbian monk eat the bread of others idly or die without merit or a good reputation. Even to the present day, Serbian monks are remembered in the monasteries of Jerusalem for their goodness, and in some places the work of their hands is still to be seen. They served God and not themselves, and God blessed their memory even in distant foreign lands.


Through monasticism and martyrdom for the faith, the Serbian aristocracy sealed their sincere service and their complete choice of the heavenly kingdom, the unchangeable and eternal reality.
What is monasticism except a voluntary martyrdom of the self for the sake of the highest aim of life as the Savior proclaimed it? The Serbian nobles used to make their decision in favor of this martyrdom of self easily, since they had the example of Nemanja and Sava before them. The elderly followed the example of the old Nemanja, and the youth the example of Sava. It is certain that no other Orthodox people has had so many rulers voluntarily descend the throne and withdraw to monasteries to serve Christ as simple monks through monastic struggle. Truly, in this the Serbs hold first place before the whole of Christendom.


Thus was the design of the Zica Monastery, the design of Sava, carried out over the centuries equally by the leaders of the church and the leaders of the state. Both the former and the latter used to consider themselves servants of God. Both used to regard service to God as their holy duty and only duty; and by serving God to their last breath both hoped to obtain the heavenly kingdom.
The ox on the right and the ox on the left peacefully bore their yoke and served their Master. Church and state were a single, unified and indivisible organism of the people.


The conflict between Church and state has always produced heretics and atheists. After the Bogomils [62] died out, there was never any heresy among the Serbian people. And not a single atheist was to be found from the time of Nemanja to the time of Milan Obrenovich [63] - until the most recent times when we, as a free people, turned our face to the streets of Western Europe, and looked into the face of this hemisphere boding ill for the world, of this hemisphere deformed by heresy and atheism.


From that time on we began to bode ill for ourselves. The new Serbian aristocracy, the so-called intelligentsia, became charmed with Europe as the supreme good.
The intellectuals became foreigners, and with their whole soul they set themselves apart from their people and the direct course of their people's history, although they used to pharisaically babble about the people and the people's rights; and by word and pen and deed they turned the people away from the heavenly kingdom and riveted its soul to the earthly treasure and motley ashes of this passing world.
Every member of the intelligentsia was ready to boast of his service in the palace, or the government, or the university, but not one was ready to boast of his service to Christ our God. This was the beginning of the most recent and fearful tragedy of the Serbian people. The old Serbian aristocracy (if one can speak of the Serbian aristocracy in general) used to sin, even though it was an aristocracy that served God. But whenever they did sin, they could always turn to God and say the well-known prayerful words: "Lord, even though I have sinned, I have not departed from Thee." Sometimes they did yield to sin, but they never let go of the lifeline of salvation. They repented, made voluntary amends for their sins and were saved.
The more recent Serbian aristocracy, the members of the so-called intelligentsia, are drowning men who have departed from Christ our God, and thus they continue to drown because they have let go of the lifeline of salvation from their hands.


O Meek Jesus, Son of God before the ages,
Thou didst descend from heaven and from Thine own throne,
Into the fearful wilderness of this black world,
Where even the sun could be extinguished by fear,
As a monk and a hermit to cultivate fields,
And to fill a dry, dead sea with living water.
Rulers looked upon the Lord, and came to know Him,
They considered this life as fleeting as water,
And so they gave up their thrones and did so with joy.
After Thine example they set out as a flock,
To plow themselves in the peace of the wilderness,
And to grow the seed that they had borrowed from Thee, [64]
So that by prayer and fasting and nightly vigils,
They might make themselves like unto mighty angels,
Who daily and nightly, with neither fear nor grief,
Gaze attentively upon their own Creator,
The marvel of marvels, source of all mysteries,
The Three in One, most radiant in countenance,
And our fathers made their decision and thus chose,
To serve their Maker as monks in monasteries,
To behold the miraculous and breathe glory,
The only true, eternal, unfading glory,
Glory more pleasant than all the pleasures in the world,
And sweeter by far than all vanities that fade.


Whatever we have said about the Serbian state and civil leaders, about their Saint Savian concept of life as service to Christ our God, and about the various ways in which they performed this service, applies even more fully to the leaders of the Church of the Serbian people, to its archbishops, patriarchs, monks and priests.
Both to those in authority and the common people they were interpreters of the Gospel as service to God both by word and example. Many of them were founders and benefactors, and all were defenders of the true faith from heresy, protectors of the people and nourishers of the poor, chroniclers of Serbian history, and inspirers of minstrels and bards (guslari).


The Holy Mountain of Athos was their first spiritual hearth; Jerusalem was their second. Both on the Holy Mountain and in the Holy Land they were instructed in theodulia-service to God-so that after they received instruction through practice and training (and not through mere words), they might convey it to their people. Or else they remained there to serve God in domestic and foreign monasteries as members of those brotherhoods, and reposed in the Lord as servants of the Lord, on Mount Carmel, on Mount Tabor, by the River Jordan, in Jerusalem or its environs, or on Mount Sinai. [65]
During the period of Turkish rule they founded their own monasteries and built ecclesiastical foundations allover Pannonia, across Hungary all the way to the Carpathian Mountains, all over Romania, and throughout Southern Russia. This especially took place while Brankovich ruled as despot and the patriarch was transferring his see from Pec to Austro-Hungary. [66]


And so these Serbian patriarchs as well as the bishops of Montenegro were martyr-servants of Christ our God. Through necessity and force of circumstance they bore on their backs a concern for the people and the people's affairs without wielding any worldly authority over the people like Roman clericalists.
As a consequence, one will not find in the histories of the Serbian people any mention of theocracy during that bitter period when the patriarchs of Pec and the bishops of Montenegro stood at the head of their people. For there was no theocracy of any sort, but only fervent theodulia - service to God.
A free state no longer existed; there remained only the Church. The secular leaders were gone; there remained only the spiritual leaders. One ox had been slain, and the other was left to bear the yoke alone and pull the whole cart.


From time immemorial nations have looked to their leaders and emulated them. The Serbian people looked to their rulers and leaders, to their bishops and spiritual fathers, and received an example from them.
What sort of example did this people receive from their secular and spiritual leaders? The example of theodulia, service to God, as the meaning of life and the path to the heavenly kingdom. By taking note of the example and actions of their double leaders, the Serbian people oriented themselves towards this knowledge in every aspect of their home life and society.


When the Serbian seljak (peasant) sat and pondered at the edge of his hearth, whether in freedom or in bondage, he had to ask himself: "If our kings and tsars served Christ our God, could I possibly find a better master to serve? If one must serve someone, then it is best to serve the Best. If Nemanja, old and feeble, became a monk, why do I wait and why do I not become a monk before inevitable death? And if Sava trampled over his youth like a cheap linen rag and went off to the monastery, why should I prize my youth which will wilt like a flower and wither like grass? And if our kings fasted and slept on straw mats like monks for the salvation of their soul, why should I seek lordship and pleasure, when death stands outside the door? And if our tsaritsas and princesses withered and grew thin through their voluntary fasting in convents, shall I break the fast and stuff myself with rich foods?
And if all the Serbian lords and rulers built churches and monasteries, why should I not light candles in these memorials that they founded? Why should I not contribute something and offer my own services in helping to build a church? And if all our great leaders of the state and the Church conducted prayers to God in their homes, why should I not pray in my own home with my own children?"


On the basis of his own experience and the example set before his eyes, the Serbian household master in the mountainous countryside created something extraordinary with the help of God. He turned his home into a house of prayer, a church, a monastery, a Holy Mountain, and Jerusalem.
He placed the cross of Christ on his home and sanctified everything with the cross and dedicated it to the most glorious and incomprehensible Holy Trinity. He took one of the glorified servants of God, a saint, as his patron and intercessor and held services in his honor on the feast day (krsna slava). He introduced an abbreviated monastic typicon into his home; a typicon of prayer and fasting. The Serbian home became a true monastery, with the one addition of a sanctified matrimonial bond for the sake of multiplying the people of God and an abbreviated rule of prayer out of necessity. But harder work made up for this. Faith, honesty, obedience, and suffering, this in brief was the typicon of every Serbian home.
What is the Holy Mountain of Athos except service to Christ our God? "I cannot journey to the Holy Mountain," the Serb would say, "therefore let my home become a Holy Mountain. What is the earthly Jerusalem in comparison with the heavenly Jerusalem?
I would like to set out on a pilgrimage to the earthly Jerusalem, where the footsteps of my Savior are, but I cannot! Therefore I shall elevate myself to the Jerusalem on high, the greater Jerusalem, where not only His footsteps are, but even He Himself, the resurrected and ascended vanquisher of death, my Lord and my God."


Although every Serb was not in a position to make the journey to worship on the Holy Mountain or at Jerusalem, each was able to hike to the monasteries of his own land, the ecclesiastical foundations of his glorious tsars, and every Serb did so.
The Serbian peasant used to walk often and for long periods of time to visit these monasteries. He would make his confession, receive Holy Communion, elevate and unite his spirit with God. He used to struggle together with the monks and just like the monks. He used to come to the monastery to see a son or a grandson, who would be studying at the monastery, and would also receive instruction himself.
And he had much to learn there indeed. Monasteries were the best schools for the people that have ever existed among the Serbian people. The general tenets of Christianity and Serbian folk traditions were preserved there in all their fullness - both in the spirit of service to Christ our God.
The Serb used to come to monasteries to see the most traditional and highly trained servants of God, and to be instructed by them to serve God and the saints of God. He would also come to hear how the saints of God (many of whom were his own Serbian ancestors) served God on earth, through labor, prayer, continence, founding churches and monasteries, through sufferings of every kind.
Then he would return home, to pass on the instruction he had received to his own kindred and apply it to his own home as to a little monastery.


Orthodoxy is inconceivable without monasteries. Even the house of Saint John the Theologian on Zion, where the Mother ofGod dwelled, was in reality, if not formally, a monastery. Here the apostles and the other faithful used to gather for the sake of prayer and instruction. In that monastery the Mother of God was naturally the central figure, who radiated her wisdom, faith, and exemplary life to all.
It is especially impossible to conceive of Serbian Orthodoxy without monasteries. In them the Serbian people were from time immemorial instructed in the rule of faith and the honor of humility as well as their own great history. Every monastery used to remind the Serb of the ecclesiastical foundations of some Serbian ruler or noble; and the people began to realize how their great men had served God and their people, how they expended themselves and labored for their soul, for the heavenly kingdom. Thus it was through the monasteries that the Serbian ancestors bequeathed to their descendants theodulia - service to God.


The Serbian clan was based on theodulia, on service to God. If theodulia weakened, the clan was undermined. The Serbian clan did not rest so much on blood (for blood mingles) as it did on theodulia, i.e., on the acknowledgment that one must serve God with faith, honesty, suffering, and obedience.
In the clan everyone had his own honor and his own duty . The master of the household assumed the role of both ruler and clergyman. He was the primary and true theodule - servant of God. As master of the house he was, like Christ the Savior, the servant of all. He offered incense before the family icons, led the family in prayer, sprinkled all with holy water, cut the kolach on his slava and raised it to the glory of God [67]. Yes, in his own home he was Moses and Aaron simultaneously, Sava and Stevan at the same time, a servant of the Lord in every aspect, all in his closely knit family domain. He loved all the members of his household, took care of them all, prayed to God for them all, helped them all and was the first to put his life on the line or lay it down for them all, just as some abbots of monasteries did. This is something truly rare in the history of Christianity.
If Pajsije and Hadzi-Djera Ruvim suffered death as abbots of their monasteries [68], so did thousands and thousands of Serbian household masters suffer the same for their domestic households, their household monasteries, as servants of Christ. And all joined the assembly of their fathers in the great Heavenly Serbia in the heavenly kingdom.


By hard trials and frequent catastrophies the Serb learned to remain silent and reflect deeply. This made his belief in destiny - sudba - even stronger. Each time the Serb reflected upon the past he reached the conclusion: "It had to be that way." The righteous Lazar had to perish on the field of Kosovo because he chose the destiny of Christ and the kingdom of Christ. He had to die for the truth in order to be resurrected in glory. And he became glorified with unprecedented glory. He became a saint. Both as a servant and as a martyr of Christ, he became the central heroic figure in the history of the Christian Balkans, from the emperor Constantine to the present day.
The despot George Brankovich had to suffer bitterly, and see his sons blinded and his daughter wedded to a Moslem. This was the consequence of the sin ofhis father, Vuk. The despot Stevan Visoki (Stephen the Tall) had to become a saint because he was the righteous son of the righteous Saint Lazar of Kosovo.
There exists a course of justice and a course of injustice. Evil cannot produce good, nor can good be overcome by evil. For whatever is good has two homelands, earth and heaven; deprived of the first, it moves to the second. And it has two homes - on earth and in heaven; if its earthly home burns down it moves into its heavenly home. Loss on earth is gain in heaven. Derision on earth is Glory in heaven. Suffering on earth is exultation in heaven.
Evil engenders swift retribution. Allow good to go downstream, and you will find it if you go upstream. This is the just destiny that governs the world. The Serb arrived at this belief in destiny as a result of lengthy suffering, lengthy silence, lengthy reflection, lengthy trial and prayer .


The highest form of drama is tragedy. The history of the Serbs is all tragic. The path of the Serbian people has led them along the edge of a sheer cliff above an abyss. Only a sleepwalker could travel this path without fear, for the horrors on that path are beyond number .
Had the Serbs gazed down into the chasm over which they were walking, they would have become terrified and would have slipped and fallen. But they looked upwards, toward heaven, to God who ordains destiny. Keeping their faith in Him, they kept up their pace unconsciously or barely semiconsciously. Consequently,.they succeeded in passing over the path along such a cliff as no Caucasian people has ever traversed to this day.
Sometimes the Serbian people would lose their footing and begin to slide down, but they managed to climb back up onto the narrow trail on the precipitous ledge. The Serbian people knew that there was only one correct path, the path of their destiny and salvation.
Some Serbs lost their footing, began to slide, and did not make it back up to the trail. They plunged to their deaths. But the majority of the Serbian people always managed to make it back to their path - the tragic path of suffering and resurrection, the path of Christ, with whom the Serbs had made a covenant of service.


On this narrow path above the abyss, the Serbs had no theoretician or pragmatist to help them, no philosopher to speculate or surmise, and least of all a scientist, who knows everything afterwards but nothing beforehand.
On this narrow path above the abyss they were helped only by the one who had already passed over that path and could be a true and trustworthy guide. On the terrifying path along which the Serbian people journeyed over the last 800 years, their guide was Jesus Christ, the One who had come from the city towards which mankind was journeying, to point out the way, or more correctly, to be both the way and the guide on the way.
From Adam to the ends of time and the limits of the universe, no one except He has come from there, from the unknown city, to point out the way and guide wayfarers to their destination - the heavenly city. The Serbian people, all wounded and bloody on this sleepwalker's precipice, understood this. Therefore, they scorned all theorists, brushed aside all the philosophies and clinical sciences of the West, like the righteous Drasko brushed aside worm-eaten Venice [69], and clinged to the hem of the robe of Christ the Lord, as their only faithful guide.


Both non-Christians and Christians suffer in this world. The question then arises: If pagans and atheists suffer, why do Christians suffer? Truly a great question, which torments the souls of many of Christ's insecure followers. Nevertheless, even though the suffering of unbelievers and believers appears to be equal, the purpose and aim of the suffering is incomparably different.
Consider a high forested mountain, rugged and steep, and on the peak of the mountain sits a radiant city. Around the mountain in a circle lies a road, wide and sparkling, which leads nowhere, for it goes in a circle. Now up the mountain on the edge of a cliff a narrow trail leads to the city on the mountain top.
Some wayfarers travel this broad circular road around the mountain, without knowing why they are going or where they are going, without any hope of any better life at the end of the road or of any sort of reward for their journey. The other wayfarers climb that steep trail up the mountain, knowing why they are toiling and where they are heading.
The first wayfarers are the pagans and atheists, sons of darkness and the earthly kingdom; and the second are the Christians, the children of light and the heavenly kingdom. And so they toil, but endure all their hardships with joy, for they know that they are journeying homeward, to their eternal homeland, to the city of the Most High King, under the protective wing of their heavenly Father. And they know moreover that the hand of the Lord is helping them, and that their guardian angels are with them.
This clear visionary knowledge encouraged the Serbian people throughout all the centuries of their torment and suffering.


The Serbs did not learn the truth about life simply by listening to the Gospel. They did not learn from books alone. Rather they learned it through living experience as well.
Many people have gone into a coma and have come out of it again, and returned to life. Their souls left their bodies and, escorted by angels of God, journeyed through that world of souls and spirits.
Here and there such cases would occur in villages and cities; and the testimony of these witnesses always concurred. That world exists, a world of spirits of light as well as a world of spirits of darkness. The righteous are in the world of radiant light and ineffable joy, while the winners and impenitent unrighteous are in darkness and torment, where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth.
And then, too, there were many apparitions from that world, especially during periods of national suffering. There were visions, both in dreams and in wakefulness, salvific visions, which confirmed all the truths of Christ's teaching. To people of simple and pure hearts Christ Himself appeared, and so did the Mother of God, angels of God, saints, and souls of deceased ancestors.
Furthermore, news of the incidents which bore witness to the fact that God smites those who do evil and embraces those who do good travelled from village to village through the Serbian tradition of moba, i.e., whenever the peasants would gather to help each other bring in the harvest or work in the fields.
All this enormous oral tradition, in which the Serbs, as a suffering and visionary people, are especially rich, could never have started up if a confirmation of Christ's teaching had not been so deeply engraved in every Serb's heart so universally. How terribly impoverished the Protestants are, who have no tradition!


The destiny of all Orthodox peoples are generally similar to the destiny of Christ, but none to such a degree as the Serbian people. The great Russian people suffered, but not even a third as much as the Serbs. The Greeks also suffered, but much less so because they protected themselves through deception and making concessions. The cross of the Romanians and Bulgarians was incomparably lighter than that of the Serbs.
In the Turkish empire the Serb-Milet was the most despised; likewise in Austro-Hungary. Why? Because the Serbs stood steadfastly for Christ and fought for the venerable cross; because they gave their masters no peace either alive or dead. For even the blood of dead Serbs used to cry out to God and torment the conscience of their oppressors. Oh, how often the dead are more terrifying to an enemy than the living!


The Serbs did not end their struggle against the Turks on the field of Kosovo, nor even at the seiges of Smederevo or Belgrade [70]. They never stopped fighting anywhere at anytime, from Kosovo to Orasac, from Lazar to Karageorge, or from Karageorge to Kumanovo [71]. Even after the fall of Smederevo and Belgrade, the struggle went on, dreadfully and persistently, over the centuries-from Montenegro and Dalmatia, from Udbina, from Hungary, Romania, and Russia. Everywhere the cross-bearing Serb was the chief champion in the struggle against the crescent to the bitter end.
The glorious general Bakic defended Vienna from the Turks, and in another battle he led a German army against the Turks [72]. The Jaksic clan amazed the Hungarians by their heroism in the struggle against the Turks, to the degree that the Hungarian King Matthias called them "the pillars of Christendom. " Likewise, the Brankovich clan and others fought on in Romania and Bulgaria, the Smiljanic and Jankovic clans in Dalmatia, not even to mention Montenegro, the eternal and impregnable bastion of Christendom against Islam.


"And all men will hate you for my name's sake," said the Savior to His apostles [73]. And thus it naturally happened to the apostles. But it literally happened to the Serbs also, as the main bearers of the cross of Christ in the Balkans and in Austria.
The infidel Turks and heretical Austrians hated the Serbs more than all the other peoples within their borders. And for the Serbs conditions grew worse and worse. And had they not looked upon the destiny of Christ as their own, they would never have survived.
But they saw in the suffering of Christ their own suffering, in the death of Christ their own death, in the Resurrection of Christ their own resurrection, and vice versa. They believed that Christ Himself was repeating His destiny through the Serbian people. This vision made their eternal suffering more bearable and their perpetual slaughter easier to endure.


For the Serbs, Christ was the very meaning of life and struggle, of suffering and dying, and freedom and restoration and work. He was the meaning of the Church, the meaning of the state, the meaning of the family, the meaning of man.
No people ever adorned the feast days of Christ with special touching customs as carefully and delicately as the Serbian people. Consider how they celebrate Christmas and Epiphany, Great Friday and Easter , Ascension and Pentecost, Transfiguration and Holy Cross Day. Everything is adorned with beautiful customs like a lovely and finely woven carpet.
And the feast days of the Mother of God are adorned in like fashion. To no one in the heavenly world have the Serbs dedicated more churches than to the Ever-Virgin Mary. The Serbs learned moreover to love and venerate the saints of God, especially the patron saints of their krsna slavas, truly as no one else in the world.
To the soul of the Serb the heavenly world was from time immemorial nearer and more present than the earthly world. He always saw many more relatives in the heavenly world than in the earthly. Therefore, he always took great care to remember the dead, to light candles and have their priests hold memorial services (pomens) for the repose of their souls.
And he prepared himself with service to Christ so that he himself might cross over to that higher world with faith, virtue and honor, and join his kindred before the face of Christ. There, only there lies the great Heavenly Serbia.


Ah, that Great Heavenly Serbia! It symbolizes that Great Serbia already realized long ago. We believe that there are well over a hundred million baptized Serbs there, who during their earthly life served Christ or suffered for Christ over the centuries, for ages of ages. And more of them are there in the light of paradise from periods of struggle, bondage, and suffering than from periods of freedom and easy living.
Those who are more like Christ are closer to Christ in the heavenly world. We believe in accordance with the Gospel, that some peoples, far greater than the Serbian people on earth, will be lesser in the heavenly kingdom. Even the Lord Himself said that the first shall be last, and the last shall be first [74]. And the suffering Lazarus shall shine among the first in heaven, while the rich man shall sink among the last into the darkness of hell. [75]


The Heavenly Serbia lies in paradise,
As fragrant and beautiful as a rose in May.
Here reside our holy fathers and forefathers,
Who attained their goal through the venerable cross.
Here reside the Serbian zhupans, kings, and tsars,
And the knights of the cross both recent and ancient.
Here the mothers of heroes and their sisters too,
Refined by suffering, shine as brightly as gold.
Here the ranks of those who keep the fasts and meek saints,
Live with a vast number of our dear relatives.
Here venerable monks and nuns, pale through fasting,
Cheerfully behold the eternal light of God.
Here live those who celebrate saints and found churches,
Strugglers and sufferers, both younger and older,
Sweet virgin maidens and tiny little children,
Who suffered as members of the flock of Christ,
Cut down by the sword, burned to death in tongues of fire,
Snapped off and blown down by the wind like tender twigs.
Here are the household masters, who in their own home,
Lit the vigil lights to the Pre-Eternal God.
Glorious master craftsmen, all skilled in their craft,
All of them are there, among the heavenly flock.
Prisoners from dungeons, patients from hospitals,
The suffering, the poor, the downtrodden on earth,
Are rejoicing in heaven around Saint Sava,
As sons of the King in the glory of the King.
The glorious Chetniks [76], the avengers of God,
Many "God-beseechers" [77], many benefactors,
Widows in mourning, and mothers without children,
All have found their place in heaven among God's saints.
The peasant princes, and those who rose up with them,
And all of our other glorious ancestors,
Who lived in the most bitter and harshest of times,
Yet considered the impossible possible .
Many generations of the very best stock,
A people beyond number, the people of God
This is that eternal Heavenly Serbia,
Which shines for God like a constellation of stars.


God has given every man two fields of activity - for his household and for his neighbors. To every people there have likewise been given two spheres of activity and concern, for itself and for others. More is expected of one to whom more has been given; i.e., more concern for himself and for others.
Selfish people and peoples are like that servant who received one talent and then buried it in the ground [78]. God endowed the Serbian people with many talents, and for that reason he has also expected much from them. Destiny always expected two things from them: to put their own household in the best possible order and to help neighbors who had received fewer talents to put their household in order .
The Serb fully accomplished both these tasks. He put his own household into a Christian, homelike order , and then helped each and every neighbor put his household in order. As Saint Paul the Apostle says: "For if a man does not know how to care for his own household, how can he care for God's Church?"( I Tim. 3:15).


Like a responsible household master, the Serb would paternally take care of his household, his people, and would likewise take care of his neighboring peoples, both near and far. Neither time nor distance prevented his service to Christ.
On account of his bounteous and paternal spirit, Saint Sava was beloved like an angel of God among the Hungarians and Bulgarians, and among the Greeks and Arabs. King Milutin repulsed the Mongol invasions not just from Serbia but from the entire Balkans.
Tsar Dushan waged war and suffered death in battle far from his own land for the sake of defending the Orthodox Greeks and Bulgarians as much as for the sake of defending the Serbs. Prince Lazar perished on the field of Kosovo for the venerable cross and the freedom of all Christendom, which all Europe sensed and recognized at that time. Karageorge rose up in rebellion with the ultimate aim of liberating all the Balkans and creating a Christian brotherhood of all the Orthodox peoples on the Balkan peninsula.


The greatest founders of churches and monasteries in Romania and Hungary were Serbian men and women. The most famous grand viziers in Istanbul were Serbs. The greatest Hungarian poet was a Serb.
Some of the highest generals in Russia were Serbs. Some of the most successful Russian statesmen and diplomats were also Serbs. Some famous Russian spiritual figures and saints were Serbs.
Many Serbs are found on the list of great men in the Austro-Hungarian monarchy. The primary and principal holy place in Albania is the monastery at Elbasan, containing the relics of Saint John Vladimir the King [79]. The first and foremost objects of veneration in Romania are the relics of the Serbian Saint Petka (Paraskeva) at Jassy [80]. The palace church with the mausoleum where the Romanian rulers are buried is the Serbian ecclesiastical foundation at Curtea-de-Arges.
The primary and principal objects of veneration at the Bulgarian capital are the relics of Saint Milutin the King. In the immediate vicinity of the Holy Sepulchre, the tomb of the Lord, in Jerusalem, stands another of Milutin's glorious foundations, the Monastery of the Holy Archangels, well preserved to this day.
In Greek Thessaly the monasteries at Meteora are very well preserved, which the Serbs built and which contain relics of Serbian saints and founders. Not to mention the Holy Mountain of Athos, which was restored by Serbs and to this day remains extremely grateful for Serbian concern and assistance, both spiritual and material.
Finally, even in our own days, in the New World, in America, ingenious Serbian scholars have taken their places right in the first row. Across America and the entire world the names of a pair of Serbs have become famous - Nikola Tesla and Michael Pupin.


And vice versa. While setting house for others in distant lands, in accordance with the destiny of God, famous Serbs never forgot their own native land. They strove to do as much good for their people as they possibly could. Thus Sava Tekelija founded the Tekelijanum, the greatest charitable institution for the Serbian people in Austro-Hungary. Velimir Teodorovich bequeathed all his property to the Serbian people, a bequest which was named after him and called the Velimirijanum.
Professor Michael Pupin of New York, in addition to his great legacy to Columbia University, left a tremendously large legacy to the Serbian people in Serbia. Thus Vasa Cukovich also, a Serb from America, bequeathed his great legacy to the Serbs of Boka, the place of his birth. And many others, both known and unknown, did likewise.


The history of the Serbian people testifies loudly and clearly that whoever is a servant of Christ is the best household master, the bravest soldier, the kindest neighbor, the most faithful friend, the most obedient son, the most honest citizen - in a word, the person with the kindest soul and the noblest heart. Serving Christ ennobled the Serbian people and made them the most soulful and humane people in the world.
This does not mean that there were no bad people among the Serbs. Even the most perfect language has its irregular verbs. Even one of the twelve apostles betrayed God. The Serbs had their share of hardened criminals, kidnappers, open and secret swindlers and thieves, traitors and sinner of every sort, and in more recent times, atheists and rejecters of God.
But this should not surprise anyone, for the historical path of the Serbian people, as we said, has led along a ledge of a sheer cliff above a terrifying abyss. Whoever lost his footing and fell, truly tumbled into the abyss.
But no matter how repulsive such examples of Serbs may be, they represent only tragic incidents on the regular path of the Serbian people as a whole.


Serving Christ - this is the eternal regular path of the Serbian people. Theodulia, therefore, and not theocracy, autocracy, or even western democracy; theodulia - service to Christ - this is the path and way of life of the Serbian people.
This path has glorified them on earth and in heaven. This path, the path of serving Christ, has filled a large part of heaven with Serbs. Travelling this path from generation to generation, many millions of Serbs have entered the heavenly kingdom for which they longed; and they have created a great Heavenly Serbia-not just great, but magnificent and splendid.
In this way the aim of the earthly existence of one people has in large measure been achieved, is still being achieved, and will continue to be achieved, we hope, until the end of time. And it will be achieved largely through prayer to God that it might be so, and that the Heavenly Serbia might continue to expand throughout the future to the end of time.
And thus shall it surely be, so long as the Serbs do not lose their minds and go insane, and in their insanity extinguish the vision of the heavenly kingdom and sink into the illusory earthly kingdom, so long as they do not turn to foreign systems and ways of life; i.e., so long as they do not cease serving Christ and give themselves over to serving Satan.
For in this earthly life it is obvious that one must serve, and if one does not serve Christ, he serves the antichrist. "One cannot serve two masters" [81], and Christ demands absolute and unconditional service from his followers.


What have the Serbian people achieved through their theodulia, through their service to Christ God? They have achieved everything, and will achieve everything to the end of the world, that a people can achieve.
They achieved this - that for 800 years they have had no religious or economic wars, nor did they have a foreigner as their ruler during the period of freedom. Just these three things are quite miraculous when one considers the history of the peoples of the Balkans and the whole of Europe. But this was not the most important thing achieved.
The Serbian people achieved this - they created a great and refined culture of life and work, all imbued with a holy and home-like spirit. But this was not the most important thing achieved.
They achieved this - they brought whatever is termed private and communal into harmonious balance, lest it swing in either direction; i.e., the Serbian people conducted their life together without any individual being discriminated against. But even this was not their greatest achievement.
They also achieved humaneness and soulfulness, so that the Serbian people used to regard servants as members of their own households and used to seat the most destitute beggars at their slava table on the feast of their patron saint, and they would serve that beggar as they would a prince - which was a great achievement, but not the most important.
For they also achieved this - they displayed a homelike concern for neighboring peoples and for all mankind with fervent love; and they used to pray to God with the all-embracing prayer: "Help them all, O God, and us also." But this was not their greatest achievement either .
F or they achieved this also - the Serbian people had proportionally more glorious men and women, more saints and heroes, more battlegrounds that were decisive for the Balkans and for Europe than any neighboring people. But even this was not their most important achievement.
For the Serbian people also achieved this - that through Christ they became aware of the meaning, path and purpose of the life of man on earth; their eyes were opened to a clear and verified vision of the heavenly kingdom. This was their most important achievement of all, and all the rest issued from that source.


Arriving at the knowledge of the truth is the most important achievement of all. When one knows the truth, he knows his path and understands life. Justice, mercy, and oneness of spirit comes from knowing the truth. "You shall know the truth, " said the Savior , "and the truth shall set you free." [82] Whoever knows the truth, is enlightened by the truth on the path of life as by an earthly torch, and it illuminates everything around him so that he is freed from any danger of losing his way or of taking a wrong turn. Only in the light of truth can one distinguish between justice and injustice, between good and evil.
And truth is not to be found in the arbitrary opinions of men or in the theories of scientists, nor in the philosophies of philosophers; but the whole truth is to be found in the living God - which is why truth cannot be discovered or found until God reveals it, and God has revealed the truth through His Only-Begotten Son, Jesus Christ.
Consequently, Jesus Christ is the living and incarnate truth of God. And, therefore, journeying on the path of Christ is journeying in light, and straying from Christ is turning one's face in the other direction and wandering off through darkness-inevitable wandering through the darkness of falsehood, violence, and everything senseless.
And truth is attained only by faith in Jesus Christ. To believe in Him and to have faith in Him - means to know the truth and to walk in the light of the truth.


The truth encompasses everything within itself: justice, mercy, goodness, light, reason, and love. Truth is always the same. The Serbs have an amazing word for truth - istina: whatever is always isto ("the same"), is always istina ("the truth "). And this is God. He alone is eternally the same and unchanging.
Whatever changes is deceptive, passing, and illusory. God is always the same. "I am who I am ... My name is 'I am' ", said the Lord through the prophets [83]. The Lord Christ is also always the same, without deception or illusion. He said: "Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away. " [84] The Serbian people arrived at this knowledge and began to sense it with deep intuition, and they began to love Christ as the truth and committed themselves to Him with their whole soul and followed Him; and they placed their Church, their state, their culture, their army, and their whole life at His service alone. When they chose Christ, the Serbian people chose the heavenly kingdom.
From 1918 to 1941, however, the Serbian people suffered a worse catastrophe than they suffered on the field of Kosovo. For on Kosovo the army fell, but not the ideology of the people; the earthly kingdom collapsed, but not the heavenly; servants of Christ fell, but not Christ himself; cross-bearers were broken, but not the cross itself. In this most recent period of our history we gained an earthly kingdom, but we rashly began to lose the heavenly kingdom.
The state became unharnessed from the yoke of serving Christ, and left everything else under the yoke to serve itself: the Church, the schools, the army, and all the institutions.
The earthly kingdom became not only an ideal but an idol. The expansion of the Heavenly Serbia slowed down as never before. The culmination of all the intellectual and moral disintegration that had begun after the death of Prince Michael [85], was accomplished.


The disintegration began, both began and ended, with factionalism - factionalism in four ways: intellectual, moral, political, and economic.
The sons of the Serbian peasants turned to the West to seek the sun, where it sets but does not rise, to seek the truth first of all, the truth which the West lost long ago and which it has itself been seeking for centuries with dim candles of philosophical wisdom, and has failed to find, but has split into various intellectual factions in their views of the truth.
The sons of the Serbian peasants went off to the West, to ask what is right and what is wrong, what is honorable and what is dishonorable, and they came back stunned and splintered into several camps over the question. For they were unable to find the truth there, any more than they were able to find justice or honor, but only factional quarreling and squabbling on the subject.
The sons of the Serbian peasants made a pilgrimage to the West to find out how they were supposed to organize their state and society, and they returned confused and splintered into parties;just as the peoples of the West, without theodulia (service to God), are confused and divided.
The sons of the Serbian people roamed through the darkness of the West to learn how they should resolve the questions of property in the land; i.e., that which their grandfathers and forefathers had solved long ago in ancient times better than anyone by the srednji sistem ("the middle course ") [86]. They roamed and returned as confused and hotly divided among themselves on this question as the nations of the West.
Out of a Serbia dearly paid for, this fourfold factionalism created a coliseum and a carnival in which Christ and the folk-wisdom of the Serbian people had very little value. All four of these festering wounds broke open during the period of the state of Yugoslavia, and spread its pus all over the people.
For the Serbian people Yugoslavia represented the greatest blunder, the harshest bitterness, and the most shameful abasement that they had ever suffered or endured in their past. No one is to blame for this except their own sons, factionists in four directions, and blasphemers of the holy in every aspect.


People acquire trivial knowledge by studying; they gain great knowledge through faith and sincerity. Karageorge, who was sincere and faithful to Christ, did not possess all the trivial and hair-splitting knowledge of modern Serbs, but he did possess all great knowledge.
According to this great knowledge of his, which God gives to those who are faithful and sincere even without schooling, Karageorge never intended to create the sort of Yugoslavia that his crowned descendants created, but rather a league, a federation, an association between the Orthodox peoples of the Balkans.
Karageorge suffered and was martyred for this idea and plan of his, and his idea was later abandoned, and so now the present state of things has evolved.
After all their troubles and wanderings, the Serbs eventually must return to the idea of their great Leader (Karageorge): an alliance between all the Orthodox peoples in the Balkans with the support of Orthodox Russia .
This would not be for the sake of the earthly kingdom, but for the heavenly; not for the sake of the glory and greatness of the state, but for the sake of serving Christ God. Theodulia of peoples of the one faith would be the purposel and design of this history.


Every great and salvific idea is realized slowly and laboriously, and usually in the martyrdom and blood of its authors. Christianity emerged from the catacombs and was legalized only after three hundred years. Karageorge's idea of a league between all the liberated Orthodox peoples in the Balkans was sealed with the Leader's blood at Radovanje, and has yet to be realized today 120 years later . But this concept is great and salvific and will be realIzed with the blessing of God, provided all those living in the Balkans accept it; and they will accept it, provided the Serbs accept it first, with their heart and mind and soul.
The Serbian people will not accept it, however, if the corrupt and anti-Christian spirit of their factional and trivial intelligentsia would have its way. But the Serbs will accept it, if they would set out to follow the spirit of their great and holy peasant genius, the spirit of Black George of Topola. We shall see. [87]


An empire of the Orthodox Balkan peoples together with the empire of holy Russia - not the present marxist, un-Russian Russia, but holy Orthodox Russia - can bring happiness to all mankind and realize that mystical millenial kingdom of peace on earth which appeared in a vision on the island of Patmos to that glorious apostle and visionary, Saint John the Evangelist. [88] For that Millenium has never yet been made a reality in the history of the world, and what has been destined by God, must become a reality.
Who will make it a reality if not those who up to the present day have been the most martyred and reviled, carved up and downtrodden, i.e., the Slavs and the other Orthodox peoples?
A Serbian proverb says: "The one who is hated inherits the house." And in Russian folk tales, it is always the reviled and "stupid" Ivanushka who finally ends up saving his brothers, who were supposed to be more intelligent than he. Thus the Orthodox Slavs together with the other Orthodox peoples will, like the despised and reviled Ivanushka, save both hemispheres of the world, East and West.
By what sort of method? By force, conquest, arrogance, selfishness, prostrate theocracy, worldly autocracy, or chaotic democracy? No, by nothing except theodulia, serving God, the everyday method of the Serbian people.


During Liturgy at the time of the cherubic hymn, the priest prays to God: "To serve Thee is a great and fearful thing even for the heavenly powers themselves." What do the flaming seraphim and cherubim, and the innumerable armies of bodiless spirits do, except serve their Creator "with fear and trembling?" Clearly there can be no greater honor on earth for people or peoples than to serve their Maker. Nor is there any greater glory or dignity for man than to serve his Creator .
The Serbian people understood this, from the tsar down to the beggar, and they consistently and persistently carried out their method of serving God from the time of Nemanja to the beginning of the 20th century. Then the Serbian advance faltered before the gates of the 20th century, just as the Sultan's did before the gates of Vienna [89]. The Serbian people understood that one cannot serve his people or mankind unless he serves God.
People who say they want to serve people but reject God are wretched and illogical; as though one could save the children of others and despise the parents of those children! One cannot regard man as his brother without regarding God as his Father .
The Serbian people must remain firmly on their historical path of serving God, and whenever they begin to go astray they must return to that path. Otherwise, they will be abandoned by God as the Jewish people were, and no sort of earthly kingdom will ever help them, whether it is Yugoslavia or a federation of Orthodox peoples in the Balkans.
In a federation of Orthodox peoples, the Serbian people should shine as the most consistent, most highly trained, and most celebrated servant of Christ God, and should serve as an example for the other peoples. We emphasize: the most consistent, most highly trained, and most celebrated servant of God.


Historical events confirm this. In the direct course of their historical consistency, the Serbs even surpassed the Russians, not to mention the other Orthodox peoples who proved to be opportunists at countless decisive moments.
The Russian intelligentsia, with a full stomach and a lazy spirit, was deceived by the Christ-fighting Darwin, Marx, Renan, and similar Satanists of the West, to a much greater extent than the Serbian intelligentsia. Not that the Serbian intelligentsia was any better than the Russian, but it had a greater fear of the free, brave, and wise Serbian peasant who supported it; and so the Serbian intelligentsia did not dare to go to the very end of its ruinous trail out of fear lest the people turn on them.
Nevertheless, freedom, like the sweltering heat of summer, made the Serbian peasantry lazy, and thus they permitted their intelligentsia to inject all the deadly poisons of the West into their spirit and soul.
Unless the Serbian people are cured, they will decay and perish, and will be like a corpse in the sight of God, the Heavenly Serbia, and the entire world. They will become like a man who lives all his youth in virtue and honor, becomes noted and famous, and then in old age becomes so corrupt and degenerate that no one can believe it is the same person - and both heaven and earth will disown him as a relative.
Unless the Serbian people are cured, it will mean the end of the history of the Serbs and the beginning of the history of a group of derelicts.


Serbian magnanimity has often led to weakness, even to a great and fatal weakness - servility. The Serbs displayed this weakness during the Turkish and Austrian period as refugees in Russia and Romania. For in the course of time and in several waves, as many of the Serbian people emigrated to Russia and Romania as remained on that dreadful Balkan battlefield during that period.
On this dreadful Balkan battlefield there are today eight million Serbs. There ought to be just as many in Southern Russia and Romania. But there are none in Russia, for they all flowed into the melting pot and were recast into something else. And in Romania which, like Croatia, is half Serbian by blood, only a handful of Serbs remain, like a rear guard of a defeated army.
A brother is a brother, and they are Orthodox and we are Orthodox, so let us go and call ourselves Russians and Romanians! If such a thought had not been conceived, there would have been a million Serbs in Southern Russia today and in Romania as well.
This unbelieveable weakness, this Achilles' heel, also manifested itself during the era of Catholic-Orthodox Yugoslavia. The Catholics are our brothers, we were told, religion does not matter, the main thing is blood and language (just like the main thing among oxen is blood and bellowing); and history, and the gallery of our glorious Christ-loving tsars and kings, and the field of Kosovo, and the Uprising, and Kumanovo and Kajmakcalan, [90] and the many millions of Serbs who fought for the venerable cross and golden freedom, and the Serbian banner-bearers - that all means nothing. We shall demolish and raze all these lofty heights and conform them so that we may all be identical. This is the language of the politicians and historians in Belgrade.
And thus we shall decorate our most bitter persecutors, the servants of the theocracy of Rome and the autocracy of Vienna with the Star of Karageorge, with swords and the Order of St. Sava Nemanjic. And, furthermore, we shall set the greatest betrayers of the Slavs and Orthodoxy and even Croatian-hood itself, the pretended kings Tomislav and Zvonimir [91], on an equal footing with Tsar Dushan, King Milutin, and Karageorge.
Two falsehoods will continue to be perpetuated in the history of Yugoslavia: false history and false politics. This has come about through Serbian magnanimity, transformed into a pitiful servility.
Unless the Serbs are healed of this desperate weakness, they will be "serfs" and not Serbs, whether in any federation or any combination of states in the Balkans. And surely the Serbian people will be cured in the aftermath of their experience in 1941, when they saw themselves betrayed not by one Vuk Brankovich, nor by ten of them, but by an entire people, an entire nation - if they can be called a nation - of a different faith [92]. Tsar Dushan called himself "Emperor of all the Serbs, Bulgarians, and Greeks, " and yet he was never betrayed in this manner by either the Bulgarians or the Greeks.


The nationalism of the Balkan peoples can be easily toned down by a greater Christian consciousness. The greater this Christian consciousness becomes - and this means becoming conscious of the truth of God - the more the rough edges of nationalism will be rounded off; not for the purpose of eradicating it altogether, but for the purpose of toning it down to patriotism and giving it dignity through faith in Christ and service to Christ.


From all our historical experience and all that we have discussed up to this point, we can deduce three guiding principles mapped out for the future of the Serbian people and of all Orthodox peoples.
The first principle: a rejection of and an emancipation from all non-Orthodox ideologies and external influence in the life of our people.
The second principle: an acceptance of service to Christ God, like all the generations of our past, and all our glorious ancestors, as our path and the purpose of the Church, state, schools and all our national institutions as well as of our personal and family life. [93]
The third principle: a clear vision of the heavenly kingdom of God as the highest goal of the earthly journey and existence of all servants of God, both as a people and as individuals.
Therefore, first emancipation, then theodulia (serving God), then the vision. In the light of these three principles, all other questions can easily be solved. And these three principles represent the essence of the history of the Serbian people from the great Nemanja up to the present day.
Holy, holy, holy, O our God thrice-holy,
No one is able to enlighten us save Thee.
Holy, holy, holy, O our God thrice-holy,
No one is able to forgive us except Thee.
Holy, holy, holy, O our God thrice-holy,
No one is able to glorify us save Thee.
Holy, holy, holy, O our God thrice-holy,
No one is able to reconcile us save Thee.
Holy, holy, holy, O our God thrice-holy,
No one is able to save us save Thee alone.
O have mercy upon us for our fathers 'sake,
Who were Thy faithful servants and Thy holy saints.
Enlighten, forgive, and glorify us, O God.
Without Thee we are nothing but dry, withered grass.
Reconcile us and save us, O Christ our Savior,
And bring us safely to Thine eternal Father,
To the heavenly kingdom, the highest of heights,
The finish line and goal of all earthly races.
We desire one thing only, to serve Thee alone,
To glorify Thee, our Messiah and Savior.
For whoever serves Thee, serves the best that there is,
And never complains of sufferings or hardships.
Without Thee men go blind, stumbling without eyesight,
Without a path, honor, or hope, and left shameless.
Thou art the basis of all, the meaning of all;
Whoever follows Thee has Thy spirit in him,
And an eternal blessing, and life without end,
Joy and singing in the heart of Thy Paradise.


[1] Matt. 10:29.

[2] Matt. 10:30.

[3] Cf. Luke 18:31-33.

[4] That is, from the latter half of the 12th century to the present. Stevan Namanja was the first Grand Zhupan of Serbia (ruling 1159-96) and the father of St. Sava. He died in 1200 after he had abdicated the throne, became a monk with the new name of Simeon, and joined his son at Hilandar Monastery on the Holy Mountain of Athos.

[5] Zhupans were head of large Serbian clans who ruled more or less independently until they were unified under Nemanja.

[6] The battle of Kosovo Polje, or "Blackbird Field," took place in 1389. Although the Turks defeated the Serbian army, the battle has acquired a mystical meaning for the Serbian people. For the Christian forces knew that they would be defeated, but nevertheless marched out to meet the infidels, and thus chose the heavenly kingdom. The leader of the Christian forces, the holy martyr Prince Lazar, was beheaded following the battle. This battle initiated the lengthy period of suffering which the Serbian people would have to endure under the Turkish yoke for nearly five centuries. The first successful Uprising against the Turks was led by Karageorge in 1804, the second by Milosh Obrenovich in 1815.

[7] Milosh Obrenovich, whose Uprising in 1815 led to a permanent liberation of a small portion of Serbian territory.

[8] Stevan Nemanja, the father of St. Sava, ruled as Grand Zhupan of Serbia from 1159 to 1196, and succeeded in uniting the Serbian clans into a single, unified people.

[9] All four of these zhupans paved the way for the independence of the Serbian people achieved under Nemanja. Caslav ruled in the tenth century. The zhupan Vojislav revolted against the Byzantine Empire and gained independence for his people in 1042. His successor, Michael Bodin, and his son Constantine Bodin enlarged the blossoming Serbian state, which included Dioclea (present-day Montenegro) and Raska (northern Serbia). Thus, these early zhupans provided the nucleus of the medieval Serbian kingdom. St. John Vladimir, who was a zupan of Dioclea, led a virtuous and Christ-like life and was martyred in 1016, sacrificing himself for his people.

[10] St. Prohor lived as a hermit in a grove of trees near the Pcinja River in the eleventh century; his myrrh-flowing remains miraculously healed many sick people over the centuries who asked him to pray for them. Saint Joachim lived in a cave as a hermit in the Osogovo mountains (in southern Serbia) in the same century at a place called Sarandapor. He, too, has performed many miracles for those who entreated his prayers over the centuries. St. John of Rila was born near Sofia (Bulgaria) and lived as an ascetic in the tenth century in the Rila Mountains (near the border region of Serbia and Bulgaria). The fame of his holy way of life attracted many disciples and even the Bulgarian Tsar Peter .

[11] St. Petka (Paraskeva) lived in the eleventh century and was of Serbian descent. When her parents died she wished to become a nun and went to Constantinople, and later to the desert around the River Jordan. There she remained in a convent until she reached old age. But an angel of God appeared to her and told her to return home in order to leave her body to her native land and release her soul to heaven. She obeyed the angel and returned home. Her relics have worked countless miracles over the centuries, and were transferred to Constantinople, to Trnovo (Bulgaria), again to Constantinople, to Belgrade, and finally to the city of Jassy in Romania.

[12] As ruler and Grand Zhupan of Serbia he was known as Stevan Nemanja, but when he abdicated the throne and was tonsured a monk in 1196, he received the name Simeon, because in the Orthodox Church a person receives a new name when becoming a monk or nun. As Simeon the monk he helped his son Sava build Hilandar Monastery on the Holy Mountain ofAthos in Greece. After he died in 1200, however, a fragrant myrrh began to flow from his coffin, which worked many miracles and cured the sick, bearing witness to the presence of Christ in him.

[13] At which time he received the name Stevan (or Stefan).

[14]On the Holy Mountain of Athos in Greece.

[15] In the heart of Serbia. His wonder-working relics were returned to Serbia by St. Sava himself. Both Hilandar and Studenica were monasteries founded by Nemanja.

[16] i.e., by curing the sick with miracles and praying to Christ for his people.

[17] By the "Latin" heresy Bishop Nikolai is referring to Roman Catholicism, which had separated from the true, Orthodox Church in 1054. The Bogomils were a dualistic. Manichaean sect who taught that all matter was evil, created by the devil. They rejected the doctrines of Orthodoxy, condemned marriage, and thus undermined the structure of family life. They considered all materials manisfestations of God's grace - the sacraments, churches, icons and relics - to belong to the devil. Their heresy spread throughout the Balkans, especially in Bosnia, and attracted many simple peasants who had only a superficial understanding of Christianity into their cult. When the Turks overran Serbia, the Bogomils became Moslems.

[18] Raska is the name of the medieval Serbian heartland. Kursumlija lies just south of it.

[19] St. Simeon (Steven Nemanja) died in 1200, surrounded by the monks of the monastery which he and his son St. Sava had built together .

[20] St. Sava was consecrated Archbishop of Serbia in 1219 by the Patriarch of Constantinople; he received autocephalous, that is "self-heading," status for the Serbian church in that same year.

[21] Bishop Nikolai is referring to the excesses of the Roman Papacy during such periods as the Spanish Inquisition.

[22] John Calvin (1509-64) was a French Protestant Reformer who established a sort of "model" community at Geneva, which he himself ruled with an iron fist. He is the originator of the heresy called Calvinism.

[23] This monastic theocracy in Tibet is of course Buddhist which, until the recent takeover by Red China, was ruled by the Dalai Lama, the traditional chief of state of that nation ruled by monks.

[24] Steven Prvovencani (Stephen the First-Crowned), reigned after the abdication of his father, Stevan Nemanja, in 1196 until 1228. He was crowned by his own brother, St. Sava, and towards the end of his life followed his father's example, descended the throne and became a monk, receiving the name Simon. He, like his father and brother, was later canonized a saint.

[25] Tsar Urosh was the son of Tsar Dushan and inherited the Serbian Empire at its height in 1355 while still a child, and ruled (under a regency) until 1371. He was the last of the Nemanjic dynasty to rule.

[26] St. Lazar, the martyr of Kosovo, ruled from 1371 to 1389. Although Serbian epic poems recited by guslari (bards) often refer to him as "Tsar" Lazar, historically he only held the title of Knez, or "Prince".

[27] Jovan Ugljesa Mrnjavcevich ruled as despot ( 1366-71) in Macedonia and southern Serbia after the collapse of Tsar Dushan's empire.

[28] Stevan Visoki (Stephen the Tall), the son of Knez Lazar, ruled as despot after his father's martyrdom in 1389 until 1427.

[29] George Brankovich, the son of Vuk Brankovich (the traitor of Kosovo), ruled Serbia from 1427 until 1456.

[30] The Sultanija Mara was the daughter of the Despot George Brankovich. When defeated by the Sultan he was forced to hand his daughter over to the Sultan in marriage. Nevertheless, she remained an Orthodox Christian and continued to sign official documents as a "slave of Christ God."

[31] Mother Angelina was the daughter of the Albanian prince, George Scanderbeg, and the wife of the Serbian despot, St.Stephen the Blind. When her husband died she became a nun and gave herself to prayer, good works, building and restoring churches. A faithful spouse, mother, and a perfect Christian, she truly merits the title "Mother Angelina ", as the Serbian people call her to this day. She reposed in the Lord at the beginning of the 16th century. Her wonder-working relics, together with those of her canonized husband, St. Stefan, and sons Sts. Maxim and Jovan, are in the Serbian monastery at Krusedol.

[32] In 1217 Stevan Prvovencani (Stephen the First Crowned) was crowned by papal legate. But four years later, after his brother had gained administrative independence for the Serbian Church and had been consecrated its first archbishop, he returned to Serbia and recrowned his brother with a crown of Orthodoxy at the sabor held at Zica monastery in 1221.

[33] John 8:12.

[34] That is, when he ran away from home to the holy Mountain of Athos to become a monk.

[35] Knez Lazar, the martyr of Kosovo, received Holy communion in his royal foundation Lazarica at his palace in Krusevac together with the entire Serbian army before setting out for battle against the infidel Turks. Also the evening before, according to Serbian folk tradition, St. Lazar and the other Serbian nobles had a "last supper" where they decided to choose the heavenly kingdom by accepting the Turkish Sultan's challenge to battle.

[36] The Serbian word domacin is difficult to translate into English. Technically, it means "the master of the house," but with much wider significance. It implies responsibility, kindness, hospitality, and all that is associated with home life. In this translation, it is often translated as "household master. "

[37] John 8:44.

[38] Matt. 20:28.

[39] It would be a mistake for the reader to construe this passage as anti-Semitic, for Bishop Nikolai is simply saying that those who reject God the Son (Jesus Christ), also reject God the Father , as Christ himself declared. Thus, regardless of whom they may be-Jews, Moslems, pagans, or atheists - anyone who denies service to Christ, inevitably serves the devil.

[40] No doubt this statement will sound strange to citizens of America and some of the other secularized nations of the West, where we have been taught that separation of church and state is good and where the Orthodox represent less than 5% of the population. But in Orthodox nations, like medieval and 19th century Serbia, Tsarist Russia, pre-war Romania and Bulgaria, and modern Greece, where the population is 99% Orthodox, it is quite advantageous for both church and state to be mutually supportive.

[41] Cf. Luke 11:35.

[42] Most of these titles were inherited from Byzantium and denoted various degrees of prestige with respect to the Byzantine Empire.

[43] King Milutin ruled Serbia from 1282 to 1321 and founded innumerable monasteries. Following a church council held in Lyons, France, in 1274, the Byzantine emperor tried to force his subjects to enter into union with the Pope of Rome. Many monks on the Holy Mountain of Athos and elsewhere were cruelly martyred for their steadfast resistance to this betrayal of Orthodoxy. The Serbian King Milutin, who was later canonized a saint, waged war against the Byzantine Emperor Michael Palaeologus to defend the loyal Orthodox population in the Balkans. As a result, the Serbian Empire was greatly expanded in Macedonia and northern Greece.

[44] In 1389.

[45] Karageorge Petrovich led the first Uprising against the Turks in 1804, and was the "Leader" of a small independent region of Serbian territory until the Turks reestablished control in 1813. Milosh Obrenovich led a second U prising in 1815 and reigned as prince of an independent Serbian state until 1839.

[46] Unfortunately this magnificent church was turned into a museum by the Communists after the war.

[47] Vukan was the son of Stevan Namanja, and waged war against his brother Stevan Prvovencani, using the Roman Papacy as an ally. St. Sava, their brother, returned to Serbia with the miraculous myrrh-flowing relics of their father, and made peace between his brothers by having Vukan swear an oath of allegiance on them.

[48] Vuk means "wolf" in Serbian, hence Vukan (mentioned above); Vuk Brankovich, who betrayed his father-in-law, St. Lazar, and the other valiant Christian knights at Kosovo; Vukasin, the uncle and guardian of the young son of Tsar Dushan, Urosh Nejaki ("the weak"), the last member of the Nemanjic dynasty, treacherously murdered him in 1371 in order to seize the imperial throne for himself; Vujica was the murderer of Karageorge, the leader of the First Uprising against the Turks.

[49] Dragutin ruled Serbia as king (1276-81) and was the grandson of Stevan Prvovencani.

[50] During Dragutin's reign he had an accident when he was thrown off his horse and broke his leg. It was taken as a sign to abdicate by many. Therefore, at the Sabor of Dezevo he shared the title of king with his younger brother, Milutin (1282-1321), but continued to govern the Western provinces of the Serbian kingdom. Later, around 1312, he revolted against Milutin, because Milutin wanted to leave the throne to his own son Stevan.

[51] Milutin 's son rebelled against his father around 1313, and when his revolt was put down, Milutin had to have his son Stevan blinded in order to appease his supporters and prevent future revolts.

[52] Stefan Decanski (so named after his royal foundation, Decani Monastery) was deposed and assassinated in 1331 at the instigation of his son Dushan in a power coup.

[53] Ruled Serbia as despot and a vassal of the Turks ( 1427-56).

[54] Mother Angelina was married to George Brankovich's son, Stevan. She, her husband, and her sons Maxim and Jovan were all canonized saints.

[55] After the Turks put down the First Uprising in 1813, Karageorge fled to Austria for safety. After Milosh Obrenovich led the Second Uprising in 1815, which proved successful, Karageorge returned. In the ensuing power struggle Karageorge was murdered by Milosh's supporters. The Pokajnica monastery was built soon afterwards in 1818.

[56] A monastery located near the Albanian border.

[57] The Serbs, unlike other Orthodox Christians, celebrate a family patron saint day rather than an individual name day. There is a religious ceremony as well as a feast to show hospitality to relatives, kumovi (spiritual relatives), and guests.

[58] Bessarabia is the border region between Romania and R ussia.

[59] See footnote 11.

[60] For St. Prohor of Pcinja and St. John of Rila see note 10 above. St. Gavril of Lesnovo was a friend of both these hermits and lived as monk on the mountain of Lesnovo near Kratovo in the tenth century. He built a monastery dedicated to St. Michael the Archangel. He worked many miracles both during his lifetime and after his death.

[61] Where many Serbian nobles lived in exile after the Turks had gained control over the Serbian lands.

[62] For the Bogomils see note 17 above.

[63] Milan Obrenovich ruled as prince in the restored Serbian state from 1868 to 1882, and as king from 1882 to 1889.

[64] Cf. 2 Cor. 9:10.

[65] Mount Carmel is the spot where, according to tradition, the prophet Elijah called down fire from heaven; Mount Tabor , where our Lord's transfiguration took place; the River Jordan, where He was baptized by John the Baptist; Jerusalem, where He was crucified and resurrected and whence He ascended into heaven; Mt. Sinai, where God spoke to Moses from the burning bush and gave him the Ten Commandments.

[66] George Brankovich ruled as despot 1427-1456. The Serbian patriarch transferred his see from Pec to Austro-Hungary during the patriarchate ofArsenije III Crnojevich (1674-1706), when he led a migration of about 60,000 Serbs to Austro-Hungary in 1690 in order to protect them from Turkish reprisals after an unsuccessful uprising during a war between Austria and the Turks. Patriarch Arsenije led the migration only after he had received guarantees and privileges from the Austrian Emperor that they would not be forced to become Catholics and would be free to govern their own affairs freely. The guarantees were later abrogated by Austro-Hungarian Emperors.

[67] The Kolach is a special bread prepared for the Krsna slava celebration.

[68] St. Pajsije was abbot (iguman) of Trnava Monastery near Cacak. He, together with his companion and deacon, St. Avakum, was martyred by the Turks, who impaled them on December 17, 1814 (on the Old Calendar). The abbot Hadzi-Djera Ruvim was martyred during the same period.

[69] Vojvoda Drasko was one of the chief characters in the celebrated The Mountain Wreath (Gorski Vijenac), an epic poem written (as a play) by the "Shakespeare" of Serbian literary history, the Montenegrin Bishop Petar II Njegos (1813-1851). In the poem, Drasko returns to Montenegro and reports his impressions of Venice, at that time one of the great powers of Europe. They are not favorable. He relates the poverty of the common people, the deceitfulness of the Doge, the cruelty of their prisons, the injustice of their courts, the corruption of their society. His account appears in the poem from line 1399 to line 1692.

[70] Smederevo is the largest medieval fortification in Serbia, and lies at the confluence of the Danube and Jezava rivers. The Turks captured it in 1439, but returned it to George Brankovich in 1444. After two unsuccessful assaults, the Turks finally took it following the despot's death in 1459. The Turks tried to take Belgrade four times before they finally succeeded in 1521.

[71] The battle of Kosovo, mentioned earlier, was fought in 1389. Orasac was the place where three hundred Serbs gathered to elect Karageorge as their Leader in the Uprising of 1804. Kumanovo is a plain in Southern Serbia where the Serbs revenged themselves for their enslavement after Kosovo in 1389, over 500 years before. This battle, fought in 1912 during the First Balkan War, meant the final destruction of the Turkish Balkan Empire on Serbian soil.

[72] The defeat of the Turks at the gates of Vienna in 1683 marked the turn of the tide against the Turks.

[73] Matt. 10:22 (Cf. Mk, 13:13 and Luke 21:17).

[74] Matt. 19:30.

[75] For Christ's parable about Lazarus and the rich man see Luke 16:19-31.

[76] By "Chetniks", Bishop Nikolai is not just thinking of the courageous resistance fighters of World War II, but the underground fighters against the Turks during the five centuries of rule who bore the same name.

[77] The Bogomoljci or "God-beseechers" were devout Serbian Orthodox Christians whom Bishop Nikolai formed into spiritual chapters throughout pre-war Yugoslavia for the purpose of studying the Bible, spiritual retreats, and reviving monasticism. They took their religion seriously, kept the fasts, dressed simply, attended church every Sunday and Holy Day, and even more often.

[78] For Christ's parable about the talents, see Matt. 25:14-30.

[79] For St. John Vladimir see note 9 above.

[80] For St. Petka (Paraskeva) see note 11 above.

[81] Matt. 6:24.

[82] John 8:32.

[83] Cf. Exodus 3:15.

[84] Matt. 24:35.

[85] Prince Michael Obrenovich ruled from 1839 to 1842, and after an abdication that lasted 18 years, he returned to rule as prince a second time ( 1860-68). He was assassinated on June 10, 1868.

[86] By the srednji sistem, Bishop Nikolai means the traditional economic balance between private and communal property as it was maintained over the centuries in Serbian lands, where the peasants in the villages owned their own land while they shared certain properties, like forests and lakes, in common.

[87] The reader must bear in mind that Bishop Nikolai was writing this in the midst of the turmoil of World War II, when the shape of Europe and the world was being radically altered, and the outcome of the war was uncertain. No one even knew whether the Communist regime in Russia would exist after the war.

[88] The mystical vision of St. John the Theologian of the millenium, the thousand peaceful years of Christ's reign on earth is described in Rev. 20:1-6.

[89] In 1683.

[90] The battle of Kosovo ( 1389), where the Serbs laid down their lives for the venerable cross and golden freedom to defend the Balkans from the infidel Turks; the Uprising of 1804 under Karageorge and 1815 under Milosh; the battle of Kumanovo Plain ( 1912) in southern Serbia where the Serbs gained revenge for their defeat at Kosovo over five centuries earlier; Kajmakcalan was captured after great sacrifice by the Serbs on the Salonica Front in World War I, and paved the way for the debacle of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and the end of World War I.

[91] The reason why Bishop Nikolai considered Tomislav (910-928) and Zvonimir (1076-89) betrayers of the Slavs, Orthodoxy, and Croatianhood itself, is because Tomislav gave his allegiance to the Roman Papacy and attended the Synod of Spalato (modern day Split), where the Slavonic liturgy introduced by Ss.Cyril and Methodius was condemned. Zvonimir was crowned by the legate of Pope Gregory VII, and after his death Croatia fell under the control of Hungary, where it remained for eight centuries.

[92] Bishop Nikolai is referring to the independent Croatian state set up by the Nazis in World War II. The Croatian Fascists who governed the puppet state began a systematic genocide against Serbs, Jews, and Gypsies. It is estimated that 800,000 Serbs were liquidated by the Ustasi, or Croatian Fascists, within a few months.

[93] See note 87 above. No one could have known that Serbian soil would have been under Communist control after the war.

Front Cover


On the cover is a copy of a 15th century icon from Hilandar Monastery on the Holy Mountain of Athos. It portrays two of the greatest saints in the history of the Serbian Orthodox Church - St. Sava, the Enlightener and first Archbishop of the Serbian people, and St. Symeon his father, who, after having ruled Serbia for years as the great Stevan Nemanja, abdicated his throne (symbolized by the crowns at the feet) and embraced the monastic life with the name Symeon. Together they built Hilandar Monastery (center), long considered the hearth of Serbian spirituality. The book in St Sava's hand symbolizes his work in religious education and spiritual enlightenment. The scroll in Church Slavonic held in St Symeon's hand is his testament to his descendants and to future generations. It reads: "My beloved children, magnify the Lord together with me" - as true servants of God.

Printed with the blessing of His Eminence Metropolitan IRINEY

(1988 by The Free Serbian Orthodox Diocese of America and Canada 
P.O. Box 371 Grayslake, Illinois 60030)

Back Cover - About the Author

The erudition of Bishop Niklai Velimirovich (1880-1956), one of the most prolific writers in the history of the Serbian Orthodox Church, impresses anyone familiar with his writings. Nesides receiving the highest education available to a priest in Serbia before the First World War, he went on to earn dostorates throughout his life from universities all around the world - including those of Berne in Switzerland, Oxford in Britain, and Columbia in America.
Yet for all his scholarly learning, Bishop Nikolai never lost touch with the childlike simplicity of his Serbian soul; and it is this taht makes his works unique. They reach into the heart, mind, and soul of every human being who thirsts for God and hungers for what matters in the eyes of eternity.
Steeped in Christlike love and humility, but tempered by the tempestuous trials and tribulations endured by the Serbian people over centuries, the colossal spiritual figure od Bishop Nikolai has dominated the realm of Serbian Orthodox Spirituality in the twentieth century. As one of his fervent disciples, the great theologian and dogmatician Archimandrite Yustin Popovich, so succinctly wrote: 
"What did Bishop Nikolai give us, and what does it mean? He continued the ascetic struggle of the saintly descendants of Nemanja, of the saintly Serbian monks. He was an Apostle, an Evangelist, and the greatest Teacher of the Serbian people since St. Sava. He was also a martyr. Bishop Nikolai revived our monasticism. All our monks and nuns of today are the spiritual children of the Saintly Bishop Nikolai and Saint Sava."