Bishop Nikolai Velimirovich
The Prologue from Ohrid
To order your hard copy of Prologue please go here
1. THE HOLY MARTYR LUCILLIAN AND THOSE WITH HIM: CLAUDIUS, HYPATIUS, PAUL, DIONYSIUS AND THE VIRGIN PAULA
Lucillian grew old as a pagan priest and, as a graying elder, recognized the truth of Christianity and was baptized. His conversion to Christianity provoked great anxiety among the heathens in Nicomedia and he was brought to trial. Because he did not want to deny his new Faith Lucillian was violently beaten and, completely bruised, was thrown into prison. In prison he met four young men: Claudius, Hypatius, Paul and Dionysius who, because of their faith in Christ, were also imprisoned. The elder greatly rejoiced in the young men and they in him and together spent all their time in pious conversations, prayers and the chanting of psalms. When they were led out of prison they were tortured by various means and finally sent to Byzantium where the soldiers beheaded Claudius, Hypatius, Paul, Dionysius and Lucillian was crucified by the Jews. The nefarious Jews pierced Lucillian's entire body with nails. A virgin named Paula openly took the martyr's bodies and honorably buried them. For this, she was accused and, after having been tortured, was beheaded receiving two wreaths from the Lord: the wreath of virginity and the wreath of martyrdom. Their martyrdom occurred during the reign of Emperor Aurelian between the years 270-275 A.D.
2. THE PRIESTLY-MARTYR LUCIAN
Lucian was a Roman renowned for his noble birth, wealth and learning. For a period of time he was a disciple of the Apostle Peter. Later, Pope Clement sent him, together with Dionysius the Areopagite, to Gaul to preach the Gospel consecrating him bishop beforehand. With great zeal Lucian sowed the teachings of Christ at first in Gaul and, afterward, throughout Belgium. When the evil Emperor Domitian began his persecution of Christians, a cadre of men were sent by him from Rome to Gaul to seek out and to capture the Christian missionaries. They first captured St. Dionysius and, after that, they went in pursuit of Lucian. Finding Lucian in Belgium together with his assistants, the presbyter Maxianus and the deacon Julian, the soldier killed these two in one place and in another place, beheaded Lucian. After Lucian had been beheaded, his lifeless body rose up from the ground, took his head in his hands (similar to St. Dionysius and St. John Vladimir) and then walked to the place where he desired to be buried. There he fell and there he was buried. Later, a church was built over his relics.
3. THE HOLY MARTYR DIMITRI, CROWN-PRINCE OF RUSSIA
The ambitious Boris Godunov treacherously murdered Dimitri at the age of eight in the town of Uglich in the year 1591 A.D. After his death, Dimitri appeared to a monk and prophesied that a false Dimitri will appear and will cause the death of the murderer Boris Godunov which afterward actually happened. A countless number of miracles occurred at the grave of the slain Crown-Prince. After fifteen years his relics were discovered to be whole and incorrupt. They were translated solemnly to Moscow and interred in the church of the Holy Archangel Michael.
HYMN OF PRAISE
THE HOLY MARTYR DIMITRI, CROWN-PRINCE
Dimitri, a small child, a great saint became,
And bloody Godunov the great, forever remained cursed.
Craving for power, the ambitious one can never be satisfied,
In both worlds, that is fire; fire unquenchable.
From Boris' goblet, men are poisoned,
But, from the goblet, Boris drank and himself judged.
Down the river of blood, to the throne, Boris sails,
But into the sea of maggots, that river flows.
As from an earthquake, the crown on the criminal trembles,
Of everything frightened, of everything afraid, looks toward the heavens.
Whoever innocent blood sheds, his own let him prepare,
From this, may there not be an exception and there is none.
Craving for power winged horse, wings of wax
While to the height of authority it soars the wings melted!
Then, from the heights to the bottom falls: lower than a vagabond,
And Satan to his own speaks: Behold the hundredth madman!
Dimitri, the young crown-prince innocently suffered,
He, a crown-prince was then and a crown-prince now.
O, if only we could enter into the mystery of God's Providence in the lives of men! We would be filled with fear and trembling before every evil deed and before every sin of men. "I understood Your works O Lord and I am amazed." In certain great events, the mystery of God's Providence is obvious even to men of lesser spirituality, for example in the fate of the Crown-Prince Dimitri and the bloodthirsty and power-loving Boris Godunov. In order to arrive at the first place among the noblemen in the court of Tsar Theodore, Godunov poisoned many of the nobles. When he reached the position of being first to the Tsar, he even planned to poison the brother of the Tsar, the eight-year old Dimitri. On several occasions, through hired mercenaries, he administered the most bitter poison to the young Crown-Prince but the poison had no affect. Providence permitted that the criminal murder his victim, not secretly and quietly, but openly. Godunov dispatched the murderers who, openly in the middle of the day, murdered the Crown-Prince. Thus did Dimitri become an open martyr and Godunov became an open criminal for all of Russia. After that, Dimitri surfaced and proclaimed that he was the Crown Prince (as though he was the rightful Crown-prince Dimitri and that someone else was murdered) and set out with an army against Godunov. He defeated Godunov and drove him to such dispair that Boris prepared poison and took the poison himself. He, who poisoned others, poisoned himself! He who murdered the innocent Dimitri was himself defeated by a man with the name of Dimitri! He, who has spiritual eyes to see, let him see the mystery of God's Providence.
To contemplate the miraculous calming of the tempest on the lake: "And, behold, there arose a great tempest in the sea, insomuch that the ship was covered with waves: but He was asleep" (St. Matthew 8:24):
1. How the disciples cried out: "Lord, save us: we perish!" (St. Matthew 8:25) and how the Lord, with one word, calmed the tempest and there was a great calm;
2. How the Lord awaits that I cry out to Him in fear to calm the tempest of passions, of men and of demons on the sea of my life.
About the peace of the simple and the prosperity of the fools
"For the turning away of the simple shall slay them and the prosperity of fools shall destroy them" (Proverbs 1:32).
Does peace kill? Yes, godless peace kills. Does prosperity destroy? Yes, prosperity without God and contrary to the laws of God can destroy. Simple are they who seek such a peace and they who run after such prosperity are fools. For, in essence, they do not seek peace but rather the sword and are not running after prosperity but rather after destruction. What is the peace of the simple and what is the prosperity of fools? The peace of the simple is physical peace and the prosperity of fools is physical feasting. King Herod wanted such a peace and he was consumed by worms. Jezebel wanted such a prosperity and dogs consumed her.
By what name would we call a man who, in deciding to build a house, thinks that he will place the roof in the air first and afterward erect walls and then lay the foundation of the house? We would call him a simpleton and a fool. Much the same are all those who are attempting to establish peace in the world without interior peace and to establish exterior prosperity for men without interior prosperity. The Christian Faith is the only one which builds from the foundation and the foundation is Christ, a firm and indestructible rock. Thus, the Christian Faith for the peace and prosperity of men builds on Christ. An internal, blessed and joyful peace is built on Christ the Lord and on this peace, external peace is built. So also is true and lasting prosperity. It is still better to say that true peace and true prosperity is like a well-built house and external peace and prosperity are like the external adornments of the house. However, if the adornments fall, the house will stand but if the house is destroyed, will the adornments then hang in the air?
O my brethren, the Christian teaching is the only reasonable teaching about peace and prosperity. All else is madness and foolishness. For, how could the servants build a mansion on the estate of the Master without permission of the Master and without His help?
O Lord, the source of eternal true peace and true prosperity, save us from the peace of the simple and the prosperity of fools.
To You be glory and thanks always. Amen.
Introduction | Home | Contact Us|
© Copyright, Serbian Orthodox Church Diocese of Western America