Bishop Nikolai Velimirovich
The Prologue from Ohrid
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1. SAINT SAVA [SABAS], ARCHBISHOP OF THE SERBS
Sava was born in 1169 A.D. He was the son of Stephen [Stefan] Nemanja the Grand Zupan of the Serbs. As a young man, Sava yearned for the spiritual life for which he fled to the Holy Mountain [Mt. Athos] where he was tonsured a monk and with rare zeal lived according to the ascetical rule. Stefan Nemanja followed the example of his son and came to the Holy Mountain where he was tonsured a monk and died as Simeon, the monk. Sava obtained the independence of the Serbian Church from the [Byzantine] emperor and patriarch and became the first Archbishop of the Serbs. Together with his father, he built the Monastery Hilendar and, after that, many other monasteries, churches and schools throughout the Serbian lands. On two occasions, he made a pilgrimage to the sacred places in the Holy Land. He restored peace between his two brothers who were estranged because of a struggle for power. He restored peace between the Serbs and their neighbors. In establishing the Serbian Church, he was, through that, establishing the Serbian State and culture. He instilled peace between all the Balkan peoples and worked for the benefit of all for which he was loved and respected by all the Balkan peoples. To the Serbian people he gave a Christian soul which did not perish with the collapse of the Serbian State. Sava died in Trnovo, Bulgaria, during the reign of Emperor Asen, having become ill following the Divine Liturgy on the Feast of the Epiphany on January 12, 1236 A.D. King Vladislav translated his body to the Mileshevo Monastery from which Sinan Pasha removed it and burned it on Vracar in Belgrade, April 27, 1595 A.D.
2. VENERABLE MARTYRS: THE FATHERS OF SINAI AND RAITHU
These holy martyrs, were slain by the Saracens, those fathers of Sinai in the fourth century and those fathers of Raithu in the fifth century.
3. SAINT HILARY, BISHOP OF POITERS
Hilary was an ardent combatant against the heresy of Arius in the west. He suffered much because of his defense of Orthodoxy. Hilary wrote many papers; the most important thesis was about the Holy Trinity. He died in the Lord in the year 362 A.D.
4. SAINT NINA, THE ENLIGHTENER OF THE GEORGIANS
Nina was a relative of St. George the Great Martyr and Juvenal, the Patriarch of Jerusalem. Her parents belonged to the nobility in Cappadocia and since they both were tonsured in the monastic state, Nina was educated under the tutelage of Patriarch Juvenal. Hearing about the people of Georgia, the virgin Nina, from an early age, desired to go to Georgia and to baptize the Georgians. The All-Holy Mother of God appeared to Nina and promised to take her to this land. When our Lord opened the way, the young Nina, indeed, traveled to Georgia where, in a short period of time, she gained the love of the Georgian people. Nina succeeded in baptizing the Georgian Emperor Mirian, his wife Nana and their son Bakar, who, later on, zealously assisted in Nina's missionary work. During her lifetime, Nina traveled throughout Georgia, mainly to convert the entire nation to the Faith of Christ, exactly at the time of the terrible persecution of the Christians at the hands of Emperor Diocletian. Having rested from her many labors, Nina died in the Lord in the year 335 A.D. Her body is entombed in the Cathedral Church in Mtzkheta. She worked many miracles during her life and after her death.
HYMN OF PRAISE
Virgin most beautiful, Nina of noble birth,
By Divine Providence became the Apostle to the Georgians,
In defiance of the persecution by Diocletian, the Emperor,
With the Cross, she baptized Emperor Mirian
His wife Nana and his son Bakar,
Through them, all the people and the elite of the leaders,
With the Cross of the Son of God, baptized them all,
Saint Nina, Apostle to the Georgians.
From her youth, Nina prayed to God
That Djul (the Rose) - Georgia, she baptize.
For that which she prayed to God, the good God granted:
From Nina's hand, the Cross shown
To docile Georgia where it shines even now,
Where Nina's hand blesses even now.
There is Nina's grave, overwhich a church glistens,
Glorifying Saint Nina and the Lord Christ.
If, at times, the dogmas of the Faith seem to be like solid food, first endeavor to fulfill the moral dogmas of Christianity, then the understanding of the dogmas of the Faith will be revealed to you. Inquisitive questioning of higher things without effort regarding the improvement of your life does not bring any benefit. At one time, the monks of Egypt reflected about Melchisedek and not being able to come to a clear understanding about the mysterious personality of this ancient king and high priest, invited Abba Copres to their assembly and asked him about Melchisedek. Upon hearing this, Copres struck himself three times on the mouth and said, "Woe to you Copres! You left that which God commanded you to do and you question that which God does not require of you." Hearing him, the monks were ashamed and dispersed. St. John Chrysostom writes, "And, if we adhere to the true dogmas and are not concerned about our behavior, we will not have any kind of benefit; and in the same way, if we concern ourselves about our behavior and neglect true dogmas, we will receive no benefit for our salvation. If we want to be delivered from Gehenna and to gain the kingdom, we need to be adorned on both sides: correctness of dogmas and honorable living."
To contemplate the mercy of the Lord Jesus:
1. Toward sinners and toward those who are ill;
2. Toward the people who are confused as a flock without a shepherd;
3. Toward mankind in general for whom He allowed Himself to be crucified.
About the visions of the invisible world
"We look not to what is seen but to what is unseen"(2 Corinthians 4:18).
We see this material and transient world, but we look to that spiritual and immortal world.
We see earthly joy, often interrupted by tears and sighs and, in the end, always concluded in death; but we look to spiritual joy among the angels and saints of God in the heavens, to joy uninterrupted and eternal.
We see sufferings and failures of the righteous in this life; but we look at their glory and celebration in that world.
We see many successes, glory and honor of the unrighteous in this life, but we see their defeat, condemnation and indescribable torment in eternity.
We see the Church of God often humiliated and persecuted in this world, but we look to the final victory of the Church over all of her enemies and adversaries both visible and invisible.
Brethren, we often see tyrants and abductors as rulers and wealthy men in this age, and we see saints as poor, dejected and forgotten, but we look at the other kingdom, the Kingdom of God, eternal, sinless and immortal in which the saints will reign without one, no, not one tyrant or abductor.
O Lord, most patient and most merciful, open our spiritual vision that we may see that which awaits us after this short-lived life and that we endeavor to fulfill Your law.
To You be glory and thanks always. Amen.
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