vladika nikolaj

Jehovah upholding all the falling, and raising up all who are bowed down.

(Psalm 145,14)


Without death there is no resurrection,

Under a shroud of glory I see you,

And our nation’s honor resurrected

Away from the Serbs, you vile curse!

The Serbs have now fulfilled their vow.

(The Mountain Wreath)

…For whom are our victories surprises. Only to the one who is not familiar with the past and the soul of the Serbian people, and the prophecy which has for several centuries smoldered, and at times blazed, in that very soul.

What kind of prophecy! The prophecy is about the final triumph of the people’s justice; the prophecy about Resurrection—about freedom, and such greatness. Kosovo has inception of that prophecy—the inception and the justification! The one who will be writing the histories of the victories we have won today will not write anything intelligible, or understandable, if he does not take into consideration Kosovo and if he does not become engrossed in the people’s prophecy to whom Kosovo has given a task.

The Kosovo defeat for the Serbian people meant the termination of a stormy day, and the beginning of a dark and sorrow night. The people could not have survived such a long night, however, if they did not have just one ray of lightness. One ray of lightness is what they had—that was their faith in God, and hope for the future, which was the prophecy about the day in the midst of a dark night.

The dawn shall come one day, a day as big as St. Vitus’ day, but brighter than St. Vitus day.

… Who has first told this prophecy? You will overturn, in vain, all of history, and you will not find out. This is not a prophecy of one man, but of the whole people…From somewhere beyond this world…came the whisper to the people’s soul as breeze: “Persevere, you will not perish!”

Who gave the enslaved people this prophecy in the night? The same one who gave the rooster the ability to announce the day at a certain time. The same one who gave ability to the young swallow to prepare, unlearned, the nest for the not-yet hatched fledglings.

Who gave the slaves the prophecy—for whom did the slaves live?

The One who gives life.

In Kosovo, the Serbian army was broken, the czar thunderstruck, the dukes killed. Several servants came back with horses emptied of their masters. Those servants spread the story in whisper about two things they had seen: about the death, and about the unseen Serbian heroism. The land was in mourning, and the Serbian land was drenched with tears.

– Why are you crying, mother? the son asked.

– Cry, too, son, responded the mother to her son, kissing him. Cry and be happy; your father was killed, but killed as a hero.

He was killed as a hero – the prophecy was lying on these words. No people terminate their history with heroes. The most powerful people can fall and lose, rise up and gain. Falling and raising up, losing and gaining – it is the history of a people in this earthly playground. But, a powerful people show themselves as heroes when falling and when rising up. A powerful people can show more heroism in its fall, but a weak people at their rising up; a powerful one falls by himself and rises up by himself, and the weak falls by himself and rises up leaning on the other.

The people who at their fall show Obilićs and Jugovićs, is written in the living, although they seem dead. The fall of that people does not mean death. A dry tree breaks, but a raw one only bends.

          … However, the Kosovo heroism is framed in the nimbus of heavenly justice. Czar Lazar fell from his horse, and in a big clash his head was cut off. At night, when silence had already become real underneath the view of the stars, the czar’s head had begun to shine and lit up the whole field—and with its’ glow tightened the fateful field with God’s throne in the Heavens. It was Lazar’s justice that was shining.

– Why did the czar get killed, mother? the son asked.

– Don’t ask too much, son. He consented to the Kingdom of Heaven, the Kingdom of true justice. That is why the righteous czar got killed.

The consent to the Kingdom of Heaven – that is where the second prophecy was lying. Whoever had consented to the Kingdom of Heaven he, in his destruction, also carried victory. Whoever died for heavenly justice, his justice lived…and resurrected him. The heavens are more powerful than the earth. The earthly justice wins short and quick victories; long term and final victories belong to heavenly justice. The heavenly justice is slow but attainable. The heavenly justice requested the biggest sacrifice of czar Lazar and his people, and that sacrifice was made. For that sacrifice the heavenly justice predicted in the far future a reign of justice to the tormented people.

We are, brothers, witnesses of that reward for Lazar’s justice—the reward that has just now come. Look!, the day is as big as St. Vitus Day but brighter than that of  St. Vitus. This day has been prophesied for a long time, and persistently. Everything was lost, except the faith in this prophecy. All the treasures of the people had been taken over by the conqueror, and the people were left with only one wealth, with which they lived, and that wealth was neither silver nor gold, neither pickaxes nor maces, but the prophecy about a big day, big as St. Vitus day, but brighter than that one…

Nothing besides this prophecy and service to tyrants did the father have to leave to his son, nor a generation to the next generation, nor a century to a century. It was always the same: a dark night with one ray of light, which on one side illuminated Lazar and Miloš, and on the other went as far as the eye can see.

          In the dark night, son asked his father:

          – Why are we slaves for so long, father?

          – Because of sins, son – whispered the father.

          – Will our slavery be eternal, father?

          – No, son.

          – What is proof for that, father?

          – Lazar’s justice, son, and Miloš’s heroism.

          And the son was encouraged and strengthened by these words, and with more glow in his eyes he bent his back under the burden of slavery.

The slaves, despised and persecuted, gathered in the night at all Nemanjićs’ memorials, and, depressed, asked their pastor:

– Tell us, father, will that daybreak come soon to us?

– The break of day will come, children—a day as big as St. Vitus day but, brighter that that of St. Vitus Day.

– Where is it written, father?

– In Kosovo polje (Field of blackbirds). Lazar and Miloš wrote it with their blood. Lazar consented to heavenly justice which always wins earthly justice. Miloš showed bravery, which is always stronger than tyranny. Our masters govern us with earthly justice and tyranny. That is why their rule cannot be long-lasting.

And the slaves went to service and suffering, encouraged and strengthened by the pastor’s words.

The century that was coming, asked the century that was going away:

– What are you leaving me in heritage?

– Slavery and hope, was the answer.

– What slavery? asked the new century.

– Slavery harder than hell, was the answer.

– What hope?

– Hope in the prophecy coming true about a day bigger than St. Vitus day, but brighter than that of St. Vitus Day.

Mother was singing her son to sleep in the cradle with a song about the prophecy, for which Lazar and Miloš are proof.

The folk poet exerted his lyrical soul to certify the old prophecy from the ancient books, of which Kosovo polje had been one—written in heroic blood, and punctuated with dukes’ heads.

Numerous monasteries of the Nemanićs, built at the most inaccessible places, served not only for refuge, but as prophecies of the future as well.

Folk poetry from the period of the slavery is nothing else but singing praises of folk prophecy…The song is a proof of hope and faith, a song in the evil is a prophecy…Our people sang in the most difficult slavery, because they were far from thinking that such slavery was the end of their history, and because they lived with faith that their slavery is a bridge between two big days. One day was St. Vitus Day. For the other they had to wait with hope…

All our best poets by their genius penetrated this folk prophecy and were inspired by it themselves. All our bad poets were alienated from Kosovo; they were afraid of gigantic creations of people’s spirit. They closed their soul to folk prophecy and with their flying horse went into rotten and autumn leaves…

Are, therefore, our present victories a miracle? No, they are only the fulfillment of an olden prophecy, with which all generations lived and died. Inspired by this prophecy our army went as whirlwind from victory to victory…

Our victory was based on justice and heroism. We are looking at today as a reality to what was a dream for five whole centuries. One of the biggest impossibilities from the list of impossibilities from our national program, which is embraced with ancient folk prophecy, will undoubtedly soon become a tangible reality. One more rug must rip, as one already had, in order for the Serbs to weave their national fabric. One empire has broken. One more will have to, in order for the Kosovo prophecy to become true.

Not one of those empires, ruled on the principles of freedom and justice will be broken, I assure you.

Only old and rotten fabrics rip.

Tyranny must in the end cut its own blood arteries, since it has been living on foreign blood.

Selfishness must eat itself, since it eats everything around it.

Injustice must dig the deepest grave for itself, since it created cemetery cemeteries around it.

Midgets playing dictatorship over bigger and better than themselves must, in the long run, pay expensively for their stupid joke…

The system of terror and espionage is a monster that has never had a longer life than that of a man. One man dies, but the people live.

Rule by frightening is a desperate and last kingdom in the hands of weak governors of a country…By frightening, rule the ones that are frightened themselves—as fearful and unreasonable sheep. There were times in our Serbian history as well – many of us remember it – when people unreasonable and fearful as sheep tried to rule this people by frightening. The ending of those frighteners, as you know, was equally horrible as their life had been preposterous…

The foreign world has never known us enough and will not know us for a long time. However, it is more important that we get to know ourselves truly.

Let us get to know our physical and moral power better than we knew it yesterday. We underestimated ourselves yesterday. Today we do not have to do it; today without overestimating ourselves we can hail to all the tyrants of our tribe who, as fearful sheep, bristle and stamp with their feet at our threshold:

– Tyrants, we are small in comparison to you in tormenting and humiliating people; in that, you are a big force.

– We are small in comparison to you in cunning and perfidiousness and Pharisee-like conduct; in that you are a big force.

– We are small in comparison to you in selfishness and greediness for foreign property; in that you are a big force.

– However, there is one field, in which you are of lesser force than we; that is the field of heroism.

Heroism in struggle for freedom.

Heroism in self-sacrifice.

Heroism in acknowledging and respecting human rights of each person.

Whatever you dare, tyrants, in that field only by thought and word, we will surpass you in act. The Kosovo prophecy that God has given us, and which God fulfills through us, gives us the strength you have from nowhere to draw. Our struggle has a religious character from the beginning while yours, on the other hand, is speculative. God is with us, but fear is with you. God helps us to create deeds which surpass our number and our power, and which leads you to admiration and fear. You think that we are lesser. You are mistaken: all the heroic spirits of our ancestors from Kosovo to Kumanovo, who are more numerous than your army, are with us. And once more: God is with us. Fear is with you. Amen.

Bishop Nikolaj (Velimirović) (1912)

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