St Justin Popovich, in his essay ‘Humanistic Ecumenism’ (Orthodox Faith and Life in Christ), quotes several complete meditations which St Nikolai Velimirovich, the Apostle to the West of these latter days, wrote while he was imprisoned in the Nazis’
concentration camp. For a bit longer introduction to these writings, please see Part I: Dachau
What follows is St Nikolai’s burning answer to the question ‘What is Europe?’, a question just as pertinent to Southerners, Australians, and all the other nations borne of Western Europe as it is to the European nations themselves.
St Justin begins, followed by St Nikolai’s meditation:
The apostolic sorrow of the holy Bishop then asks: What is
It is the desire and the longing for power and pleasure and knowledge. All of which is human: firstly human desire and longing, and secondly human knowledge. And the two are personified by the Pope and Luther. What then is
Europe? Europe is the Pope and Luther, human desire to the extreme and human knowledge to the extreme. The European Pope is the human desire for authority. The European Luther is the obstinate decision of man that everything must be explained by the mind, the Pope as the ruler of the world and the scientist as the sovereign of the world. This is Europe in a nutshell, ontologically and historically. The one means the surrender of mankind into the fire and the other means surrender of mankind into the water. And both mean: the separation of man from God because the one means the rejection of faith and the other the rejection of the . For the spirit of evil has been working in this way on the body of Church of Christ Europe for a few centuries now. And who can expel this evil spirit from Europe? No one except the One Whose name has been marked in red in the history of the human race as the only One Who expels demons from people. You already know Who I mean. I mean the Lord Jesus Christ, the Messiah, and Savior of the world, who was born of the Virgin, killed by the Jews, resurrected by God, witnessed by the centuries, justified by heaven, glorified by the Angels, confessed by the Saints, and accepted by our forefathers.
As long as Europe followed Christ as “the sun of righteousness,” and His Apostles, Martyrs, Saints, and the countless righteous people and others who pleased Him,
Europe was like a square that was illuminated by hundreds and thousands of candles, large and small, burning brightly. When human desire, however, and human wisdom struck as two strong winds, the candles were blown out and a darkness descended like the darkness of the subterranean passages in which moles live.
According to human desire, every nation and every person seeks power, pleasure, and glory, imitating the Pope of Rome. According to human wisdom, every nation and every person finds that he or she is wiser than everyone else and that he or she deserves all earthly things. How then can there not be wars between people and nations? How then can there not be foolishness and wildness in people? How then can there not be sicknesses and terrible diseases, drought and floods, insurrections and wars? For just as pus has to seep out of a pus-filled wound, and a stench has to come out of a place filled with filth, this has to happen.
Papism uses politics because this is the only way it can get power. Lutheranism uses philosophy and science because it believes that this is the only way to obtain wisdom. And so desire declared war against knowledge and knowledge against desire. This is the new
Tower of Babel, this is Europe. But in our time, however, there came a new generation of European, a generation that married desire to knowledge through atheism and rejected both the Pope and Luther. Now neither desire is hidden nor wisdom praised. Human desire and human wisdom are joined in our times and thus a marriage has taken place which is neither Roman Catholic nor Lutheran, but obviously and publicly satanic. Today’s Europe is neither Papist nor Lutheran. It is above and outside of them both. It is totally earthly, without even the desire to ascend to heaven, either with the passport of the infallibility of the Pope or by the ladder of Protestant wisdom. It totally denies the journey from this world. It wants to stay here. It wants the grave as its cradle. It does not know about the other world. It doesn’t smell the heavenly fragrance. It does not see the Angels and the Saints in its dreams. It does not want to hear about the Theotokos. Debauchery makes it hate virginity. The whole square which is Europe is sunk now in darkness. All of the candles are out. Oh! the awful darkness! Brother plunges the sword into his brother’s breast, thinking that he is the enemy. Fathers reject their sons, sons their fathers. And the wolf is a far more loyal friend to man than man is.
Oh my brothers! Do you not see all this? Have you not felt the darkness and the wrongdoing of un-Christian
Europe on your bodies? Do you prefer Europe to Christ, death to life? Moses offered these two choices to his people. And we also put these two choices before you. You have to know that Europe is death, Christ is life. Choose life and live forever (pgs. 182-4).
May our Most Merciful and Ever-Loving Lord grant us to find our way back to the Ancient Faith, to the Orthodox Church, before war engulfs the whole world once again.
Popovich, St Justin. ‘Humanistic Ecumenism’. Orthodox Faith and Life in Christ. 3rd ed. Gerostergios, Asterious, et al., trans. Belmont, Ma.: Institute for Byzantine and Modern Greek Studies, 2005.