Tuesday, November 30, 2010

St. Nikolai of Zicha



H/T to Fr. Stephen Freeman.

Saint Nikolai (Velimirovic) of Zicha (also called Saint Nikolai of Ochrid) was a great twentieth century confessor of the Orthodox faith.

His life spanned both World Wars and included a time in America, part of which was spent as the Rector of St. Tikhon’s seminary in Pennsylvania. What was most striking about him was the recognition by others around him from a fairly early stage in his life, that this was no ordinary man. At numerous points in his life people who were no strangers to political power or wealth, described him as the most extraordinary man of their acquaintance. He was compared to the prophets of the Old Testament. In one case he was considered the equal of an army. Kings sought his advice, which was not noted for political brilliance but for goodness. His was the voice of God to many in his generation, including those who seemed to have the “power” of God in their ability to make life and death decisions.


In a famous prayer from his Prayers by the Lake, he wrote:

Bless my enemies, O Lord. Even I bless them and do not curse them.


Enemies have driven me into your embrace more than friends have.


Friends have bound me to earth, enemies have loosed me from earth and have demolished all my aspirations in the world.


Enemies have made me a stranger in worldly realms and an extraneous inhabitant of the world. Just as a hunted animal finds safer shelter than an unhunted animal does, so have I, persecuted by enemies, found the safest sanctuary, having ensconced myself beneath your tabernacle, where neither friends nor enemies can slay my soul.

Bless my enemies, O Lord. Even I bless them and do not curse them.


They, rather than I, have confessed my sins before the world.


They have punished me, whenever I have hesitated to punish myself.


They have tormented me, whenever I have tried to flee torments.


They have scolded me, whenever I have flattered myself.


They have spat upon me, whenever I have filled myself with arrogance.


Bless my enemies, O Lord, Even I bless them and do not curse them.


Whenever I have made myself wise, they have called me foolish.


Whenever I have made myself mighty, they have mocked me as though I were a dwarf.


Whenever I have wanted to lead people, they have shoved me into the background.


Whenever I have rushed to enrich myself, they have prevented me with an iron hand.


Whenever I thought that I would sleep peacefully, they have wakened me from sleep.


Whenever I have tried to build a home for a long and tranquil life, they have demolished it and driven me out.


Truly, enemies have cut me loose from the world and have stretched out my hands to the hem of your garment.


Bless my enemies, O Lord. Even I bless them and do not curse them.


Bless them and multiply them; multiply them and make them even more bitter against me:

so that my fleeing to You may have no return;

so that all hope in men may be scattered like cobwebs;

so that absolute serenity may begin to reign in my soul;

so that my heart may become the grave of my two evil twins, arrogance and anger;

so that I might amass all my treasure in heaven;

ah, so that I may for once be freed from self-deception, which has entangled me in the dreadful web of illusory life.


Enemies have taught me to know what hardly anyone knows, that a person has no enemies in the world except himself.


One hates his enemies only when he fails to realize that they are not enemies, but cruel friends.


It is truly difficult for me to say who has done me more good and who has done me more evil in the world: friends or enemies.


Therefore bless, O Lord, both my friends and enemies.


A slave curses enemies, for he does not understand. But a son blesses them, for he understands.


For a son knows that his enemies cannot touch his life.


Therefore he freely steps among them and prays to God for them.

St. Nikolai was imprisoned in Dachau by the Nazis and persecuted by the communists after their rise to power in post-war Serbia. Thus he finished his years in America, a saint who had not sought out our company, but was nonetheless a gift to us of a kind God.

4 comments:

Dennis Justison said...

Wow. I am going to cut and paste this and put it in my prayer book. I need to remind myself of these things. I need to remind myself that I excuse myself from living the Gospel far too often. Peace to all.

Jacob said...

Yep, me too. This prayer is just what I needed. I found this site through looking for the "Christ the Good Shephard" icon and I'm really glad I found it! Peace!

~olga said...

I, too, have needed this. Thank you so much for sharing.

ackica & maruskica said...

God bless Serbian people!