Nikolai Velimirovich: When the words of Holy Scripture are continually on our lips… Friday, May 8 2015 

Nikolai VelimirovichMay 8th is the feast of St Arsenios the Great

Glorious Arsenius, whom the world glorified,
Fleeing from glory, to himself he said:

“To men and to the world, consider yourself dead.
Neither wise nor foolish words, do not speak.
For a word, at times, I have repented;
For silence I have never repented.

If my heart, to God I do not bind,
To shake off the passionate life, I am not able.
If my thoughts glorify God only,
External passions will leave me.

Your time, fill with prayer and labor;
Sleep even less and labor all the more.
Arsenius the sinful, why do you stop?
Why to the wilderness did you come, I ask?

Not for the sake of idleness, but for the salvation of the soul;
Not for the sake of sleep, but for the sake of repentance.
Heal yourself quickly, and enliven the soul:
Lord have mercy! Forgive and have mercy!”

*     *     *     *     *     *     *

A monk complained to St. Arsenius that while reading Holy Scripture he felt neither the power of the words he read nor gentleness in his heart.

To that the great saint replied to him: “My child, just read! I heard that when snake-charmers cast a spell upon the serpents, these sorcerers utter words which they themselves do not understand, but the serpents, hearing the words spoken, sense their power and become tamed.

An so it is with us, when the words of Holy Scripture are continually on our lips, although we do not feel the power of the words, evil spirits tremble and flee for they are unable to endure the words of the Holy Spirit.”

My child, just read! The Holy Spirit, Who, through inspired men, wrote these divine words, will hear, will understand and will hasten to your assistance.

Likewise, the demons will hear and understand, and will flee from you.

That is: He to Whom you are calling for help will understand, and those whom you wish to drive away from yourself will understand. And both goals will be achieved.

Nikolai Velimirovich (1880-1956; Orthodox Church): Prologue from Ohrid, May 8th.

Nikolai Velimirovich: When the Holy Spirit of God Enters Into Us the Kingdom of God has Arrived Thursday, Jun 12 2014 

Nikolai Velimirovich“We have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God” (1 Corinthians 2:12).

Brethren, the spirit of this world is the spirit of pride and cruelty and the Spirit of God is the Spirit of meekness and gentleness.

The apostle of God asserts that the followers of Christ did not receive the spirit of this world rather the Spirit “which is of God,”

i.e., who proceeds from God the Father as a sweet-smelling fragrance as from flowers and as a good fragrance pours out on the soul of man making it mighty, bright, peaceful, thankful and pleasant.

Men by nature are meek and gentle. St. Tertulain writes: “the soul of man by nature is Christian.” But, by the spirit of this world, it is irritable and enraged.

The spirit of this world made wolves out of lambs, while the Spirit Who is from God makes lambs out of wolves.

The apostle still adds that we received the Spirit of God “that we may know the things that are freely given to us of God” (1 Corinthians 2:12).

Therefore, that we may know what is from God in us and what is not from God and that we may sense the sweetness of that which is from God and the bitterness from that which is not from God, rather from the spirit of this world.

As long as man is outside of his nature, beneath his nature, he considers bitterness as sweetness and sweetness as bitterness. But, when by the Spirit of God he returns to his true nature, then he considers sweet as sweetness and bitter as bitterness.

Who can return man to God? Who can heal man of poisonous sinful bitterness? Who can teach him by experience to distinguish true sweetness from bitterness? No one except the Spirit Who is from God.

Therefore brethren, let us pray that God grants us His Holy Spirit as He granted the Holy Spirit to His apostles and saints.

And when that Holy Spirit of God enters into us, the kingdom of God has arrived in which is all sweetness itself, only good, only light, only meekness and only gentleness.

O Holy Spirit, the Spirit of meekness and gentleness, come and abide in us.

Nikolai Velimirovich (1880-1956; Orthodox Church): Prologue from Ohrid, May 21st.

Nikolai Velimirovich: Thus Did The One Ascend To Heaven Who Held Heaven Within Himself Friday, May 30 2014 

Nikolai VelimirovichThus did the One ascend to Heaven Who held heaven within Himself.

He who carries hell within himself will end up in hell, but he who bears heaven within his soul will ascend to heaven.

And truly, no one can ascend to heaven other than those who have heaven within; and no one can end up in hell besides those who have hell within.

The familiar is drawn to what is familiar and unites with the familiar; but it rejects what is not familiar.

Matter submits to the spirit to the extent that the human soul is filled with the Divine Spirit; and the laws of nature are obedient to moral laws, which govern the world.

Because the Lord Jesus Christ is the fullness of the Holy Spirit and the perfection of moral law, to Him is subject all matter—the entire physical world, with all the laws of nature.

Any person, as a spirit, can be victorious in his life over a certain law of nature, with the help of another law of nature—that is, he can overcome it with his own spirit.

Christ, as the God-Man, could subject the laws of nature to Himself through the law of the Spirit, which is the supreme law of the created world.

However, this concept, just as any other spiritual concept, can be but partially explained by ordinary earthly conceptualizations and reasoning—and that only by examples and comparisons.

Spiritual things only become clear beyond a doubt when the spirit sees them and perceives them.

In order to see and feel the manifestations of the spiritual world, long and exhausting spiritual practice is needed, after which, by God’s grace, spiritual vision may be opened in a person; this vision allows him to see what seems unbelievable and impossible to ordinary mortals.

Nevertheless, a person must first believe those who have seen the unbelievable, and strengthen their faith from day to day, striving to see what is inaccessible to the common gaze.

Not in vain does the Lord say, Blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed (Jn. 20:29).

[…]  But the day will come—and that day is not far off—when all the righteous mean and women who firmly believed in Him throughout their lives will see Him.

And around Him in the heavens will gather all those who were baptized on earth in His name—not only with water, but also with the Spirit and Fire.

And they will enter into His joy, which the Heavenly Father has prepared for all His chosen, and will inherit a joy that they have never known before.

Nikolai Velimirovich (1880-1956; Orthodox Church): The Ascension of the Lord @ Pravoslavie.

Nikolai Velimirovich: Your Sins Are My Sins, My Sins Are Your Sins Friday, Mar 21 2014 

Nikolai VelimirovichLove the sinner as well! Do not fly away from the sinners, but go to them without fear.

After all—whoever you may be—you are not much better than they are. Try to love the sinners; you will see that it is easier to love those whom you despise than those whom you envy.

The old Zosim (from the “Brothers Karamazov”) said, “Brothers, don’t be afraid of the sins of a sinner; but love a sinner also—that is the record of love upon earth.”

I know you love St. Peter and St. John, but could you love the sinner Zacchæeus? You can love the good Samaritan but love, please, the prodigal son also!

You love Christ, I am sure; but what about Judas, the seller of Christ? He repented, poor human creature. Why don’t you love him?

Dostojevsky—like Tolstoi and Gogol—emphasised two things: first, there is no great man; secondly, there is no worthless man.

He described the blackest crimes and the deepest fall and showed that the authors of such crimes are men just as other men, with much good hidden under their sins.

Servants and vagabonds, idiots and drunkards, the dirty katorzniki from the Serbian prisons—all those people are God’s sons and daughters, with souls full of fears and hopes, of repentance and longings after good and justice.

Between saintliness and vice there is a bridge, not an abyss. The saintliest and the meanest men have still common ground for brotherhood. Your sins are my sins, my sins are your sins.

That is the starting-point for a practical and lucid Christianity. I cannot be clean as long as you are not clean. I cannot be happy as long as you are unhappy. I cannot enter Heaven as long as you are in Hell.

What does that mean? It means that you and I are blended together for eternity, and that your effort to separate yourselves from me is disastrous for you and for me.

As long as you look to the greatest sinner in the world and say: “God, I thank thee that I am not as that man,” you are far from Christ and the Kingdom of God. God wants not one good man only, He wants a Kingdom of good men.

If ninety-nine of us are good and saintly but one of our brothers is far from our solace and support, in sin and darkness, be sure God is not among us ninety-nine, but He has gone to find our brother whom we have lost and forgotten. Will you follow him or will you stand self-sufficient?

Nikolai Velimirovich (1880-1956; Orthodox Church): The Religious Spirit of the Slavs (1916).

Nikolai Velimirovich: Jesus is the Light of Truth, the Light of Righteousness and the Light of Life Saturday, Feb 1 2014 

Nikolai Velimirovich“I am the Light of the world” (St. John 8:12).

Since the beginning of the world and time, no one who was ever born dared to speak these words.

There were men and there are men who say: “I bring light!” But only one dared to say: “I am the Light!”

Only the Lord Jesus could have spoken those words boldly and convincingly.

His short life on earth and His long history, nearly two-thousand years, completely justified these words.

He is the Light of Truth. He is the Light of Righteousness and He is the Light of Life.

He is the Light of Truth because He revealed in Himself the truth of the true nature of God and the true nature of man; and the relationship of man to man and the relationship of man toward God.

Heaven and earth shall pass away and His words will not pass away for heaven and earth both came into existence by His word and His word is from Him and with Him always and will not pass away (cf.  St. Matthew 24:35; St. Mark 13:31.)

He is the Light of Righteousness because He revealed the might of righteousness and the weakness of unrighteousness.

He revealed this in the brightest light – by that which He spoke, by that which He did, and by the way in which He experienced and overcame the unrighteous ones.

He revealed this through His Church in the course of twenty centuries – through His numerous righteous saints, and through those who became martyrs for the sake of righteousness.

Righteousness is from God, and in the long life of history it can never be defeated. Unrighteousness is from beings who are helpless.

Unrighteousness quickly rushes out to the rampart with its triumphant banner but, at the same time, it is quickly overthrown into the grave.

He is the Light of Life. His words illuminate life. His works illuminate life.

His victory illuminates life, especially His resurrection, as the most luminous sun by its bright light illuminates life and disperses death as a weak shadow.

O Lord Jesus, Light Most-Luminous, Sun of Truth, Sun of Righteousness and Sun of Life, illuminate us sinners and unworthy ones!

To You be glory and thanks always. Amen.

Nikolai Velimirovich (1880-1956; Orthodox Church): Prologue from Ohrid, January 20th.

Nikolai Velimirovich: Eternity Came into Contact with Time, Heaven with Earth, the Spiritual with the Physical Monday, Dec 30 2013 

Nikolai VelimirovichJust as a mother bends down and leans over a tearstained baby in a crib, so does the descent of the Creator of men into this temporal and visible world correspond to His miraculous existence in eternity.

[…] “When Mary asked, “How can this be, since I have no husband?” the archangel of God answered: “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore, the child to be born will be called holy, the Son of God.”

If anyone among you asks in amazement, how this is possible, God’s herald of glad tidings will answer him, just as he answered the Most Holy Virgin when he said: “For with God nothing will be impossible” (cf. Luke 1:28-37).

Instead of questioning and probing, silence and gladness are more fitting here – silence on account of the sublime mystery, and gladness on account of the almighty power of our God and Creator.

The Son of God and the Son of the Virgin – the One Begotten in heaven and Born on earth, existing in eternity and in time. This is your Messiah, O chosen people, and your Savior.

Begotten in eternity of the Father without a mother. Born in time of the Mother without a father. Whoever wishes to understand this completely, let him say whether he fully comprehends the grain of sand beneath his feet, or a leaf on a tree, or the stars in the firmament.

Has he understood the tiniest creature of God, which he tramples, or sees, or touches? […] This world is miraculous; the whole world breathes miracles. This world is mysterious; the whole world is censed with the incense of awesome and sublime mysteries.

How much more miraculous is the Creator of this world? At any point where eternity comes into contact with time, where heaven comes into contact with earth, a great light appears. And it is light which is incomprehensible to you, and not darkness.

The Holy Virgin in Nazareth was that blessed point, where eternity came into contact with time, where heaven came into contact with earth. And from that point a great light came forth, which began to shine over the entire world. It is light which is incomprehensible to you, blessed people, and not darkness.

[…] We know…that the Holy Spirit de­scended upon the Virgin Mary in Nazareth, and that the power of the Most High overshadowed her.

Thus eternity came into contact with time, heaven with earth, the spiritual with the physical, and the great Light appeared, which has illumined the world and you who are in the world.

Nikolai Velimirovich (1880-1956; Orthodox Church): The Faith of the Chosen People, 5.

Nikolai Velimirovich: The Light of the Lord’s Countenance is Etched in Our Hearts Wednesday, Oct 2 2013 

Nikolai VelimirovichThere be many who say, Who will show us any good? (Psalm 4:6).

My brethren, great is God’s goodness. What words can express that goodness? Great is the goodness of the Heavenly Kingdom with its fiery angels, wonderful saints, and the sweetness of Paradise.

Who can describe this goodness? Immortal life, close to God and the angels of God, in the company of the saints and the righteous, is a great good.

Another great good will be our meeting with our kinsmen and friends in the heavenly world; with our parents, our children, and our most beloved ones, who by their departure left us in sadness and grief.

Who will show us all that good? Many asked this in King David’s time, and many ask even today. Who will show it to us, so that we may believe and hope?

That good is shown to us Christians, and we wait for nothing higher, for no one but the Lord Christ – the true Witness to all this good, the true Witness and Lord, brethren, of all this good.

The compassionate Lord showed this good to His chosen prophets even before His coming to earth. That is why David says to God: Lord, lift up the light of Thy countenance upon us (Psalms 4:6).

This is the reply to those who ask: Who will show us any good? God Himself showed us that good. The light of the Lord’s countenance is marked upon us, inscribed and etched in our hearts, and in that light we recognize that good which only heaven can give.

Brethren, is there a cure for those who have heard about the coming of Christ on earth, but nevertheless asked: Who will show us any good?

If Christ had not shown and revealed all that is good by His glorious birth, His glorious miracles, His glorious Resurrection, and His Holy Church, the dark earth would not show it, for it cannot; men would not show it, for they do not know.

However, there is a cure for everyone – even for the most incorrigible unbelievers-up to the moment of death. This cure is in repentance of one’s evil, in the cleansing of one’s heart, and in the fulfilling of Christ’s commandments.

The healthy can see the light of the countenance of the Lord; but not the sick in soul, the impure in heart or the wrong-minded.

O our Lord God, light of angels and men; help us that we not darken the light that Thou hast given us – and by which we see the heavenly good – by the darkness of our sin. Do not deprive us of these good things,

O Most-merciful One. To Thee be glory and praise forever. Amen.

Nikolai Velimirovich (1880-1956; Orthodox Church): Prologue from Ohrid, October 5th.

Nikolai Velimirovich: The Changing of Water into Wine is the Fundamental Miracle of Christ Friday, Sep 6 2013 

Nikolai VelimirovichThis beginning of miracles did Jesus in Cana of Galilee (John 2:11).

Our God is Almighty; and His power has no limit and is beyond description. He created all that was created by His Word: By the Word of the Lord the heavens were made (Psalm 33:6).

By His Word, He created the body of man. By the Word of God, lifeless earth is transformed into the bodies of men, animals and plants.

By the Word of God, flowing water is changed into vapor, and vapor into ice and snow. By this same Word, the water in a vine is changed into wine, wine that maketh glad the heart of man (Psalm 104:15).

Therefore, how difficult a miracle was it for the Word of God Incarnate – Christ our Lord – to change water into wine in Cana?

For us men, darkened by sin, this is a great miracle; for our nature, weakened by sin, it is an unattainable miracle. Yet, isn’t the working of miracles the usual occupation of the Creator?

When the servants filled the six large vessels with water, the Lord Christ said to them: Draw out now, and bear unto the governor of the feast (John 2:8).

He did not even say, “Let the water become wine,” he merely thought it. For God’s thoughts have the same power as His words.

Why is it said that this was the “beginning of miracles,” when it appears that, long before this miracle, the Lord worked other miracles?

Because, brethren, the changing of water into wine is the fundamental miracle of Christ, and is the essence of all His miracles.

Human nature was diluted with its own tears, and it was necessary to change it into wine. The divine spark in man was extinguished, and it was necessary to rekindle it.

Infirmity is like water, health is like wine; the impurities of the evil spirits are like water, purity is like wine; death is like water, life is like wine; ignorance is like water, truth is like wine.

Hence, whenever the Lord made the sick whole, the impure pure, the dead alive, and prodigals enlightened, He essentially turned water into wine.

O Lord our God, Thou miraculous Transformer of water into wine: bring Thy divine flame to our extinguished hearth.

Transform the water of our being into divine wine, that we may be like unto Thee-and that we may thus abide with Thee in Thine Immortal Kingdom, with Thy radiant angels. To Thee be glory and praise forever. Amen.

Nikolai Velimirovich (1880-1956; Orthodox Church): Prologue from Ohrid, September 4th.

Nikolai Velimirovich: Christ has Done Ninety-Nine Percent of All that is Needed for Your Salvation Friday, Jul 5 2013 

Nikolai Velimirovich“O that I had wings like a dove; for then would I flee away and be at rest” (Psalm 54 [55]:6), the Psalmist cried in distress before Christʼs coming….

“My heart is disquieted within me, and the fear of death is fallen upon me. Fearfulness and trembling are come upon me, and an horrible dread hath overwhelmed me”(vv. 4–5).

Such a terrible sense of deathly fear and of the horror of existence in the wastes of this life must, like a heavy nightmare, have weighed on the whole rational, honest world before Christ.

[…] But whither will you fly, O sinful human soul? … Lo, sin has clipped your wings…and has forced you firmly down to the ground.

Someone is needed, first to free you from the weight of sin, to wash you and make you stand erect.

And then someone is needed to implant and nourish new wings in you, so that you can fly.

Then you need someone, someone very strong, for whom the Cherubim with flaming swords will stand aside, to let you through to your glorious homeland.

Lastly, you need someone who will find mercy for you from your grieved Creator, so that He will receive you once more into the lands of His immortal country.

This “someone”…revealed Himself as our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, the Son of the living God.

From love for you, He bowed down from Heaven to earth and came down on earth, clothed Himself in flesh, became a prisoner for the sake of you prisoners, suffered sweat and frost, endured hunger and thirst, gave His face to spitting and His body to be nailed to the Cross, lay in the tomb as a corpse, went down to Hades to destroy a prison worse than this life, that was intended for you after your parting from the body

—and all this in order to save you from the mire of sin, and set you on your feet.

He then rose from the dead, by this means to give you wings for flight to Heaven, and finally ascended into Heaven to open the way to you and bring you into the Angelsʼ abode.

You do not now have to sigh in fear, trembling and horror as King David did, nor to desire wings like a dove, for the Eagle has appeared, and has shown and cloven a road through.

You have only to nurture the spiritual wings that you were given at your Baptism in His name, and to desire with all your strength to climb up there where He ascended.

He has done ninety-nine percent of all that is needed for your salvation. Will you not strive to do that one remaining percentage point…?

Nikolai Velimirovich (1880-1956; Orthodox Church): from Homily 27: The Ascension of the Lord in Homilies (Birmingham: Lazarica Press, 1996, Vol. I, pp. 296-299; full text @ Kandylaki.

Nikolai Velimirovich: The Son Abides in a Ceaseless Communion of Mutual Love, Obedience and Joy with the Holy Spirit and with the Father (2) Tuesday, Jun 25 2013 

Nikolai VelimirovichFollowing from here... (on Acts 2:1–11; Jn.7:37–52; 8:12).

The salvific rule that the Apostle Paul commands all the faithful to keep: Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another (Rm. 12:10)—is perfectly performed between the Hypostases of the Holy Trinity.

Each one of the Hypostases strives to prefer one another in honor; so also does each wish to decrease Himself before the Other Two.

And if each Hypostasis did not have that most sweet and holy striving to render His honor to the Other Two and decrease Himself in obedience, then in that endless love, which Each of them has for Each Other, the Trinitarian nature of the Divinity would drown in a kind of indifference of Hypostasis.

Thus, according to the boundless love of God the Spirit for God the Son, the Holy Spirit with boundless obedience hastened to fulfill the Son’s will and descended at the predetermined time upon the apostles.

God the Son firmly knew that God the Spirit would obey Him, and therefore He so firmly promised Its descent upon the apostles. But tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem, until ye be endued with power from on high (Lk. 24:49), our Lord Jesus Christ commanded His apostles.

Do not ask how the Lord knew beforehand that this power from on high, or the Holy Spirit, would descend upon His disciples…. Even before the Lord spoke of the descent of the Holy Spirit, He already had a zealous and voluntary agreement with the Spirit about this.

More correctly, the Holy Spirit was also speaking through Him about Its descent. For was it not said in the Gospels: Jesus being full of the Holy Ghost (Lk. 4:1)?

And did not our Lord Jesus Christ Himself admit in Nazareth that the prophecy of Isaiah was fulfilled in Him: The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor (Lk. 4:18)?

Clearly the Son thus abides in ceaseless communion with the Holy Spirit as also with the Father—in a communion of mutual love, obedience and joy. The anointing by the Spirit testifies to the living and true habitation of the Spirit in a specific person.

Then how could the Anointed One say anything about that very Spirit that the Spirit did not already know? Or promise any kind of co-working with that very Spirit if the Spirit had not already agreed to it?

And that the Holy Spirit abided in our Lord Jesus Christ and agreed with His every word, deed, and promise, is witnessed in today’s Gospel reading.

Nikolai Velimirovich (1880-1956; Orthodox Church): The Day of the Holy Trinity. Pentecost: The Gospel of the Descent of the Holy Spirit @ Pravoslavie.

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