THE SERBIAN PEOPLE AS A SERVANT OF GOD
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
P.O. Box 371 Grayslake. Illinois 60030
Foreword by Metropolitan Iriney
Introduction by Bishop Nikolai
1, 2, 3, 4,
6, 7, 8,
10, 11, 12,
22, 23, 24,
42, 43, 44,
62, 63, 64,
82, 83, 84,
Commentaries and Footnotes
Front Cover - St. Sava and St. Simeon, the icon
Back Cover - About The Author, Bishop Nikolai
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
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
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
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
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 . And again He said
that even the hairs on your head are numbered .
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 .
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
The historical destiny of the Serbian people has only been clearly
visible from the time of Nemanja to the present ,
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 
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
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
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 .
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 , 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
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 . Saint Prohor,
Saint Joachim of Osogovo, and Saint John of Rila were all sufferers for
their soul . So also was the Serbian Saint Petka
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
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 . 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 . 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 ,
the second at Studenica Monastery .
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 . 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 
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 .
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 .
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 .
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 ; 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 .
A monastic theocracy of a greater sort has existed from ancient times,
and still exists in Tibet ).
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  (Steven the First-crowned)
all the way to Tsar Uros .
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
the despot Ugljesa , the despot Stevan Visoki
 (Stephen the Tall), the despot George Brankovich
, the sultan 's wife Mara ,
the venerable Mother Angelina , 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
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 .
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
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. "
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 , 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 ,
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 .
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
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. " 
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. "  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
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 .
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 . 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
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
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." 
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 .
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) .
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 , 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 ,
our peasant princes, and their descendants. The royal church at Oplenac
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
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
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
We do not know whether Vukan  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. 
Nevertheless, King Dragutin  repented for
his revolt against his brother, King Milutin ,
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
King Milutin also repented for his sin against his son Stevan ,
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
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
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  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 . 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 ,
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
He used to fast, keep his krsna slava  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
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
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
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
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 . 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
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. 
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  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
- 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
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
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
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, 
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.
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. 
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
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 .
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 , 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
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
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 , 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
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
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 .
They never stopped fighting anywhere at anytime, from Kosovo to Orasac,
from Lazar to Karageorge, or from Karageorge to Kumanovo .
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
The glorious general Bakic defended Vienna from the Turks, and in another
battle he led a German army against the Turks .
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 . 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
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
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 . 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. 
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 , the avengers of God,
Many "God-beseechers" , 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
Selfish people and peoples are like that servant who received one talent
and then buried it in the ground . 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
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 .
The first and foremost objects of veneration in Romania are the relics
of the Serbian Saint Petka (Paraskeva) at Jassy .
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
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
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" , 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."  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
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 . 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. " 
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
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 , 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 ") . They roamed and returned as confused
and hotly divided among themselves on this question as the nations of the
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
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. 
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. 
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 .
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
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
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
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, 
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
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 ,
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
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.
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
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.
COMMENTARY AND FOOTNOTES
 Matt. 10:29.
 Matt. 10:30.
 Cf. Luke 18:31-33.
 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.
 Zhupans were head of large Serbian clans who ruled more or less
independently until they were unified under Nemanja.
 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.
 Milosh Obrenovich, whose Uprising in 1815 led to a permanent liberation
of a small portion of Serbian territory.
 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.
 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.
 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 .
 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.
 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.
 At which time he received the name Stevan (or Stefan).
On the Holy Mountain of Athos in Greece.
 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.
 i.e., by curing the sick with miracles and praying to Christ for
 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.
 Raska is the name of the medieval Serbian heartland. Kursumlija
lies just south of it.
 St. Simeon (Steven Nemanja) died in 1200, surrounded by the monks
of the monastery which he and his son St. Sava had built together .
 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.
 Bishop Nikolai is referring to the excesses of the Roman Papacy
during such periods as the Spanish Inquisition.
 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.
 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.
 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
 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.
 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".
 Jovan Ugljesa Mrnjavcevich ruled as despot ( 1366-71) in Macedonia
and southern Serbia after the collapse of Tsar Dushan's empire.
 Stevan Visoki (Stephen the Tall), the son of Knez Lazar, ruled
as despot after his father's martyrdom in 1389 until 1427.
 George Brankovich, the son of Vuk Brankovich (the traitor of Kosovo),
ruled Serbia from 1427 until 1456.
 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."
 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.
 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.
 John 8:12.
 That is, when he ran away from home to the holy Mountain of Athos
to become a monk.
 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.
 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
 John 8:44.
 Matt. 20:28.
 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.
 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.
 Cf. Luke 11:35.
 Most of these titles were inherited from Byzantium and denoted
various degrees of prestige with respect to the Byzantine Empire.
 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.
 In 1389.
 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.
 Unfortunately this magnificent church was turned into a museum
by the Communists after the war.
 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.
 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.
 Dragutin ruled Serbia as king (1276-81) and was the grandson of
 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.
 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.
 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.
 Ruled Serbia as despot and a vassal of the Turks ( 1427-56).
 Mother Angelina was married to George Brankovich's son, Stevan.
She, her husband, and her sons Maxim and Jovan were all canonized saints.
 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.
 A monastery located near the Albanian border.
 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.
 Bessarabia is the border region between Romania and R ussia.
 See footnote 11.
 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.
 Where many Serbian nobles lived in exile after the Turks had gained
control over the Serbian lands.
 For the Bogomils see note 17 above.
 Milan Obrenovich ruled as prince in the restored Serbian state
from 1868 to 1882, and as king from 1882 to 1889.
 Cf. 2 Cor. 9:10.
 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.
 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.
 The Kolach is a special bread prepared for the Krsna slava celebration.
 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.
 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.
 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
 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.
 The defeat of the Turks at the gates of Vienna in 1683 marked
the turn of the tide against the Turks.
 Matt. 10:22 (Cf. Mk, 13:13 and Luke 21:17).
 Matt. 19:30.
 For Christ's parable about Lazarus and the rich man see Luke 16:19-31.
 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.
 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
 For Christ's parable about the talents, see Matt. 25:14-30.
 For St. John Vladimir see note 9 above.
 For St. Petka (Paraskeva) see note 11 above.
 Matt. 6:24.
 John 8:32.
 Cf. Exodus 3:15.
 Matt. 24:35.
 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.
 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,
 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 mystical vision of St. John the Theologian of the millenium,
the thousand peaceful years of Christ's reign on earth is described in
 In 1683.
 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.
 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.
 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.
 See note 87 above. No one could have known
that Serbian soil would have been under Communist control after the war.
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
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
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."