St Nicholas of Zhicha

The following is an extract from a speech made by the holy bishop to an Anglican audience towards the end of the First World War, when England and Serbia were allies. It breathes the optimism of St Nicholas' early years, when he thought that perhaps the barbarianism of the Great War would lead the European nations to repentance, rather than to yet another War, and its churches to turn in repentance to their roots, to holiness and to Orthodoxy. The value of this speech is therefore prophetic and in today's Europe, a Europe without prophets (Deuteronomy 34, 10), a Europe which concentrates only on economic success, its message is in fact all the more relevant.

Fr Andrew

23 June/6 July
St Audrey, Abbess of Ely

Europe has dwelt in darkness because its soul, that is its churches, have been darkened. Its churches have been plunged into darkness, because their main ideal has been muddied and grown unclear. The main ideal of the Church is holiness. This ideal has slid down into the darkness and the light of the sun has been lost in the abyss of the darkness. But it must make its way out of there and go out into the light of day once more and shine on both the churches and on Europe.

Europe has taken and tried out every path, except the path to the Church. The churches of Europe have walked along sorts of paths, except the path of Christ. Therefore it remains for Europe to try out the only road not yet taken - the road of holiness. The churches must set Europe an example. Europe has been materialistic, heroic, scientific, imperialistic, technological and secular. But in the end it must become holy. In whatever it has been so far, there has reigned misfortune and revolt, crudity and iniquity, injustice and violence. Military strongmen and money-grubbing businessmen, tyrants and thieves, popes and kings, those who filled their bellies and those who filled their lusts - these, and not the saints, are those who have held sway in Europe.

The duty of the churches is to nurture holy rulers for and give them to it. The churches have not succeeded in doing this because, like a refined and noble soul concealed inside an unwieldy and unattractive body, they have been enveloped by the darkness of Europe. Some thought only in terms of the flesh, others thought in terms of the soul, until, in the end, they all discovered that their thoughts were the same - fleshly. But now, with the bitter taste of experience, the soul must once more assert itself. Europe and the European churches no longer dare think apart. Their unique way of thought must be spiritual and not fleshly. The aim of the churches and of Europe must become God, Christ and holiness. If the churches and Europe attain this, then everything else will be added unto them. A Holy Church in a holy Europe!