Divna Ljubojevic- Достойно есть-Dostojno jest -Άξιον εστίν ( Manastir Ostrog )


Hieromonk Seraphim Kasic wrote in the archives of the Upper Monastery the story of a native of Bar, whose name and address he omitted (an exception in father Seraphim’s otherwise detailed and well-documented entries):

“On December 24th N.N. from Bar came to venerate the Relics of Saint Basil with his aging mother. After venerating the Saint N.N. asked me to say some prayers for his health. After the prayer N.N. told me this story:

“Father, I am a drunk – a great and notorious drunk. Anything I earn, any cash I happen to have on me, I spend on alcohol. To make a long story short, and I want to say this here before Saint Basil, I live a dirty life. Besides myself, those who suffer most are my family, my closest of kin. I have never heeded any advice until now. The day before yesterday I came home in the evening, drunk as usual, and fell into bed. That night (I may have been dreaming or I may have been awake, I cannot say), Saint Basil himself came to me and said, “Why are you doing this? Why do you waste your life drinking? Repent! Go to Ostrog and make a solemn promise before my Relics that you will not drink any more.” As he said these words, he disappeared.

After this vision I felt so afraid that I had no peace. It was as though someone had placed a tape recorder inside my head which played the same words over and over again: “Go and do as you were told! Go and do as you were told!”

I could not bear it any longer and I decided to go to Ostrog no matter what, even if it cost me my life, to pray to Saint Basil and to venerate His Relics. I wanted to make a vow before God and Saint Basil never to touch alcohol again. As soon as I had made this decision I felt such joy, Father, that I cannot describe it. This joy has led me to Ostrog today, to bow down before the Holy Basil, the Wonderworker of Ostrog. I have prayed to him to forgive me my great sin and to help me, as well as my family. And, Father, I wish to swear an oath right here and now before the Saint himself and before you, the keeper of his holy Relics (here N.N.’s eyes were flooded with tears): “I give my word that I will do as the Saint bade me!”

His mother and I were overjoyed at his words. I congratulated him on his decision and warned him to keep the promise he had given till the end of his earthly life. He thanked me profusely.

After the solemn vow he had made before the Relics of the Saint he felt spiritually reborn. He continued with his story:

“When I decided to go to Ostrog two days ago, I remember that I walked into the kitchen where my mother and my wife were working. I asked my mother to prepare for a trip to Ostrog. She was so taken aback at my words that she could only stare at me in surprise, for she knew how little I cared for the church, our faith and holy places. I then told them about my dream and how Saint Basil had told me to go to Ostrog. Their faces were illuminated with joy. My mother’s handkerchief was soon soaked with her tears as she knelt and crossed herself repeatedly, saying, “Thank you, O Holy Basil of Ostrog, for showing your mercy to my son!”

My wife, too, wept for joy by my mother’s side, while I sobbed and cried like a child. It is a feeling hard to describe.
We are going home now, Father. I will say this once more: I will keep the oath I gave before the Relics of Saint Basil. A new life has begun in me since the night Saint Basil came to me in a dream, glory to him (he turned towards the church and crossed himself). It is as though something deep inside me was consumed by fire and a new good seed was planted in my heart. I feel somehow invigorated and full of inexplicable joy.

And this, too, I say to you, Father: from this day on my family and I will honor God and His saints. We will pray to the best of our abilities and ask for God’s help and the intercession of His Saints in everything we do. We will pray for protection from all evils. God be with you, Father!”
To this I replied, “And with you, too. May you have a safe and happy journey home. May God and Saint Basil always help you and protect you!”


In 1970 the abbot of the Ostrog monastery, Father Seraphim (formerly Hieromonk Seraphim, monastery archivist) wrote down this narrative about the healing of Petar Koprivica, a craftsman from Banjani, who added his own comments at the end of the document written by Abbot Seraphim:

“Each year, on the eye of the Feast of St.Luke, an elderly man could be seen at Ostrog. He was tall and in an excellent physical shape and bore the burden of his eighty years well on his still powerful frame. This eighty-year old came to Ostrog whenever he could to pray to God, but he was always there on the day before the Feast of St.Luke and St.Petar of Cetinje. On that day he would approach the Reliquary of St.Basil with piety and prayer to give thanks to the Saint for having healed him and having brought him to the Faith. This man was Petar Koprivica, a well known and respected family man who in his youth had been severely crippled.
One year on the Eve of St.Luke’s Day Uncle Petar, as we called him, came to the office at the Lower Monastery and, after having greeted everyone, said that he had just been to the Upper Monastery. Then he sat down and said, “Today, Father Abbot, is exactly 50 years since I was brought as a cripple to the Reliquary of St.Basil.” I then asked Uncle Petar to tell us the details of his story, which I had already read somewhere in an abbreviated form. Granting our wish, uncle Petar told us the compete story of his miraculous healing:

“In my youth I had very “progressive” ideas. I did not believe in anything, let alone God and His Saints and the Wonderworkers. As the Communist Party was illegal in those days, I was a secret sympathizer. I ridiculed the name of God and anything holy. I had no fear of God in anything I did or said in secret, or in public. However, the Almighty God did not permit me to remain in this terrible godless state.

In January 1920 I became seriously ill. My illness was unbearable, not only for me but for my whole family as well. Instead of turning to God in my suffering I swore and blasphemed even more. In vain did my parents and my brothers and sisters warn me against uttering these terrible obscenities. My illness went from bad to worse until I became a useless cripple. I could not even sit or stand up straight let alone walk. In vain were all my efforts to find a doctor or an herbalist who could help me. There was no help. My illness was incurable. I was close to despair. My family had lost all hope that I would ever be cured, but they never ceased to implore me to seek help at the Ostrog monastery. While I was still able to bear my pain I rejected their advice, for I did not believe such things. But as the pain got worse and I was completely bed-ridden, I finally agreed to go. With great difficulty my brother Luka brought me to Ostrog on this very day fifty years ago.

I wnet into the church and venerated the Relics. Afterwards they took me outside. A young hieromonk, Father Boris (Kazhanegra), who later was abbot of the Praskavica monastery and at that time was keeper of the Relics, consoled me by saying that God and St.Basil would give me the gift of health if my prayers were sincere and my faith strong. Then he read prayers for my health and served vespers. I spent the night in the church and, to my joy, I felt much better that very night. The following day I went down to the Lower Monastery, where Father Jovan Damjanovic and Hieromonk Teofilo (Popovic) from the Piperi monastery performed the service of Uniction.

Upon my return home to Niksic my pain was considerably less. Everything went well for a few days, until one day I went into the workshop and saw that my younger brother Djordje had made a mistake at work. Still adhering to my former habits, I scolded my brother and shouted obscenities at him, insulting the name of God and His Saints.

At that very moment I was seized by pain more severe than before I had gone on my pilgrimage to Ostrog. I wept bitterly and beat my breast because I blasphemed against God and His Saints and against His mercy. I had finally understood that God does exist, a God who both chastises and rewards us. But now my tears were not enough any more to wash away my great sin. My condition worsened from day to day and again I was thrown into despair. Four long months passed. My nerves seemed to be on fire. I had a feeling that something deep inside me was on fire, too. The inflammation of the nerves crippled me to the extent that my head was touching my knees.

It was spring and I felt irresistible desire to go to Ostrog again. My family also wanted me to go. As soon as warmer weather set in my younger brother Filip put me on a horse and on the evening on the First Saturday of Great Lent, the Saturday of St.Theodore, we arrived at the Upper Monastery. And again the hieromonk Boris read prayers for me and served vespers. The following day was the First Sunday of the Lenten Fast, so my brother took me down to the Lower monastery for Holy Liturgy, which was served by Abbot Leontije (Mitrovic) who gave me Holy Communion. After this, thanks be to God for His abundant mercy, the pain died down. I started walking a little. This fuelled my desire and gave me strength to visit the Zhdrebaonik monastery in order to venerate the Relics of St.Arsenije, Serbian Archibishop and Wonderworker and ask also for his prayers. God was good and I was able to fulfil my wish, through the prayers of the Very Rev. Father Srdjan Popovic, who welcomed us and offered us his warm hospitality at the monastery.

After my visit to the Zhdrebaonik monastery I went home. The pain did not vanish completely but now it was quite bearable. Moreover, I guarded my tongue carefully lest I again insult the name of God or anger Him in any other way. I never again doubted the mercy and the wrath of God. I tried to live by the Law of God. I kept all the fasts, I went to church regularly and I asked the priests for their prayers and advice. As my life became more God-orientated so did my health improve, but I still could not stand up straight.

I again felt a strong desire to visit Ostrog. This time my sister Kosa accompanied me. Again prayers were read for me before the Reliquary of st.Basil. After this I felt much better. This was on St.Vitus’ Day in 1922. I thanked God and St.Basil from the heart for my miraculous healing. This time I walked all the way home to Banjani as though reborn, both in body and in spirit. The illness never came back. I have worked as a craftsman ever since, both at home in Banjani and in Gacko and Nevesinje. I have lived a pious life and have had many problems because of that. I am very grateful to God and St.Basil, and I will never cease to thank Him for having brought me to repentance through my illness.”

What about that iron gate in the Upper Monastery? We have heard that it was your gift to the monastic community, I asked Uncle Petar. “Yes. When the old monastery burned down the third day after Pentecost I was in Gacko, building a house for Obren Vukovic and when I heard about the fire I was overcome with sadness and grief. I hid and cried like a little child for its mother and could find no peace. I could not wait to see the remains of the burned down monastery and to venerate the Relics. When I arrived I found ten workmen who were clearing up the rubble and preparing the foundation for rebuilding the monastery. It was then that the desire to build something with my own hands came upon me. I wished to make a gift to the monastery as a token of thanks for my healing.

I begged the abbot of the monastery, Father Leontije, to allow me to build something for the Upper Monastery with my own hands. At last he gave me his blessing and on St.Vitus’ Day my younger brother Djordje and I brought our tools and building materials and we built that iron gate that you can see…My brother also helped me with some stonecutting work and carpentry that I did for the monastery in 1926. in October of 1926 my brother went home, for he was getting married, and I stayed on in this House of God and performed all kinds of building and repair jobs. During my stay at this Holy Place I witnessed many miracles. I have told some of them to the monastery archivist,” said Uncle Petar, finishing his story.


Written in the Monastery of St.John the Forerunner (Jovanye, Serbia)

This world, begotten by a miracle and sustained by a miracle, shall see its end as a miracle. This is the inevitable conclusion that every seriously thinking person arrives at once he frees himself from the noise and bustle of the world and begins pondering on the essence of things. However, the most reliable and unerring testimony about this is given to us through Divine Scripture, verified and complemented by Holy Tradition.

Divine Scripture is truly like a conductor of the Divine economy, the Divine creation and Divine disposition of the world. Thus, according to the testimony of Divine Scripture, the Word of God created the world, the Spirit of God maintains it and the Judgement of God will mark its end. All three mean one thing only: a miracle, a miracle and a miracle.

Is it not a great miracle that this world, of such immense mass and weight, built out of stone, iron and lead, came into being by the command of an intelligent power which had neither mass nor weight – the Word of God?

Is it not a great miracle that this massive and dense planet is kept in existence and in motion not by any force of its own but by spirit – the unseen Spirit of God?

Is it not another great miracle that the world, moving and pulsing in an unchanging rhythm for thousands of years (so unchanging that the Buddhists believe it to be a perpetual and infinite cycle established by the gods), will one day, in one brief instant, at the Word of God, be consumed in fire and a new earth?

There are two testimonies from Divine Scripture which have a special significance for the understanding of miracles: first, that God created and blessed a certain order of things in the world, and second, that God as the Creator and Host of this world has absolute freedom to move and act in it without restraint or obligation, beyond and above the established order of things, always fittingly, always with Divine logic and always to the profit of mankind. For the end purpose of the world is man, and the end purpose of miracles is the salvation of man.

Let us take a garden as an example. The owner or master of the household works his garden according to his plan and taste. Where it pleases him he plants vegetables. He crosses the garden with wide and narrow pathways as he deems best. He surrounds his garden with a tall fence to keep trespassers out. He puts up signs along the pathways that say, “Do not wander outside the paved paths,” or, “Do not pick the flowers,” or, “Do not enter the watermelon patch,” or, “Do not walk on the grass.” These signs are for the visitors to the garden; they do not apply to the owner of the garden.

The owner of even the most beautifully landscaped garden has absolute freedom to climb over the fence and into the garden anywhere he wishes, to walk outside the paths designated for walking, to pick as many flowers as he pleases and to walk on the grass if he so desires. None of the restrictions apply to him. He has absolute freedom in everything he does, for in his garden he is the master and creator of the landscape. Thus God is the only being whose freedom knows no boundaries. This is the truth upon all of the logic of miracles is based.

The movement of strangers in a garden is restricted; they are not able to do the things that the owner does, for they may cause damage to his property. The more alienated these strangers are from the host, the stricter are the rules and restrictions applied to them. However, the friends and relatives of the garden owner are given more freedom. He even allows them to do some of the things he does in his garden and to walk where only he can walk.

“Where God wills it, the natural order of things changes.” God works miracles either on man outside of man, but in all cases because of man. He is Whose power it was to conceive man and fashion him out of clay, making him come alive with His life-giving Spirit, had no difficulty whatsoever in causing Sarah, a barren ninety-year old, to bring forth a son. This was because Abraham, the husband of Sarah, was no stranger to God but was His faithful servant, a friend of the Master of the immense garden that is the Universe. God performed a similar miracle on the barren Anna, the mother of the prophet Samuel, as well as on Elisabeth, the mother of the great Forerunner. For God there is a nothing impossible or even difficult. It is a simple and natural for God to work a miracle as it is for a bird to sing.

Great and terrible were the miracles that Moses worked, both in Egypt before Pharaoh, and in the desert. He divided the sea, struck a rock which brought forth water, caused manna to fall from heaven, conquered a mighty army, bid the earth to open and swallow up rebels and many other wondrous deeds, as is written in Divine Scripture. Now when we say that Moses worked these miracles, one may question the truthfulness of this; but when we assert that God is the Miracle worker in all these instances, then there is not the slightest doubt as to the truthfulness of this assertion: Nothing is impossible for God.

God considered Moses to be His servant: “My servant Moses…who is faithful in all mine house” (Num. 12:7). He ascribed the same designation to Moses’ successor, Joshuahe son of Nun: “Joshua, son of Nun, a man in whom is the Spirit…” (Num. 27:18). Like Moses, Joshua also worked many miracles, among which the greatest was stopping the course of the sun: “Sun, stand thou still upon Gibeon; and thou, moon, in the valley of Ajalon. And the sun stood still, and the moon stayed” (Joshua, 10:12b-13a). Who stopped the sun? The One who had caused it to come into being. The Lord of the garden, Who is above any rules and restrictions, is like a driver who stops his vehicle in order that the passengers may rest. For the vehicle exists because of man and not man because of the vehicle.

Many of the works of the Old Testament judges may truly be considered to be miraculous. One may read about Deborah, Gideon, Jephthah, Samson and Samuel. “And the Lord was with each of the judges.” Each one of them feared God as a servant fears his master. God made His power known through them as through servants, not as through sons, as He did in the New Testament.

Samuel could foretell future events, he conquered enemy armies by prayer and caused the rain to come down during the greatest of draughts. “And all the people greatly feared the Lord and Samuel” (I Sam.12:18b). They feared the blacksmith first and then his hammer, for the hammer can do nothing without the blacksmith’s head.

God helped David smite Goliath. From a lowly shepherd He made him a king. He inspired him to compose the Psalms and to describe clearly the future Messiah. The unusual life of David and all of his works, his visions and his prophecies are all part of a cycle of miracles, for “the Lord of hosts was with him.” And yet God does not call him by the name of “son”, but by that of His “servant”: “David, my servant.”

By the prayers of King Hezekiah and the prophet Isaiah God saved Jerusalem from the Assyrians. Sennacherib the Assyrian king had besieged Jerusalem with his powerful army and was blaspheming and mocking the Lord. Then Hezekiah and Isaiah prayed to God and God sent an angel slew a hundred and eighty five thousand Assyrians that same night. Sennacherib fled to his hometown of Nineveh but the sword of God found him there. He was slain by his own sons in a pagan temple, before idols. Thus God saved Jerusalem by a miracle. Prayer came from the king but the miracle was from God (II Kings 18).

The prophet Isaiah also worked a miracle similar to the one Joshua the son of Nun, performed on the sun, stopping its course. Isaiah made the sun retreat ten degrees as measured by the sundial of King Ahaz. How did Isaiah do this? “And Isaiah the prophet cried unto the Lord: and He brought the shadow ten degrees backward, by which it had gone down in the dial of Ahaz.” (II Kings 20:11). From the prophet came prayer and from God, a miracle.

One may ask: “Why did the Lord work this miracle through Isaiah and not through another?” The answer is that Isaiah was a chosen and faithful servant of God. “My servant Isaiah” (Isaiah 20:3) are the Divine words used to describe him. Therefore he was given more freedom in the garden of God than a stranger or a hired hand. God showed him an open heaven; he bestowed upon him the ability to prophesy about the birth of the Son of God from a Virgin and to perform many other remarkable deeds, all of which proceeded from the Master, through His faithful servant.

Terrible and great indeed was the prophet Elijah when he worked wonders. He sealed the heavens so that not a drop of rain fell for three years and six months. He sealed the heavens over a people that had fallen away from God. He burnt with fire the godless servants of a godless king. He cut down with his sword a multitude of the prophets of Baal. He cut down those who had cut themselves off from the true God, who were servants of demons – in a word, living corpses.

The prophet Elisha healed one man of leprosy and smote another with the same curse. He healed the foreigner of leprosy and yet made the same disease cleave to his own servant. The former came to him with pure faith and fear of God but the latter proved to be a lover of gold and a deceiver. Thus both miracles were just.

It sometimes happened that God worked miracles of Himself, without the participation of man. Thus, for instance, He turned Lot’s wife into a pillar of salt for having transgressed His commandment, when she turned with yearning to look upon the burning city of Sodom. He smote Moses’ sister with leprosy for having rebelled against her brother. He also smote Hosea the king for his self-will in taking a censer and censing as a priest. He saved the righteous Jacob from Laban by appearing to Laban in a dream of warning. Each miracle warns people of the righteousness of God and shows the way to the true path of salvation, always in an appropriate manner, never aimlessly, never resembling a magician’s trick.

God does not save or punish only individuals in a miraculous way but also entire nations, cities and lands. The first generation of the Hebrew people whom God delivered from a life of slavery in Egypt in a most miraculous manner, died out during the forty years in the desert because they complained and grumbled against God. The ancient Phoenicians were wiped off the face of the earth, and as were their cities of Tyre and Sidon, as were the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah and of Capernaum and Bethsaida. The same fate befell legendary Atlantis and Lemuria, which disappeared without a trace into the sea.

It is easy for God to either chastise or save. However, He is always quick to save and slow to chastise. When the Ethiopian ruler with an army of a million warriors and three hundred chariots attacked Judea, “Asa (the king of Judea) cried unto the Lord, his God, and said, Lord, it is nothing with Thee to help, whether with many, or with them that have no power: help us, Lord our God; for we rest on Thee, and in Thy name we go against this multitude…So the Lord smote the Ethiopians before Asa and before Judah; and the Ethiopians fled” (II Chron. 14:11-12). Strength is not expressed in numbers but in the Lord. Even a lone man who is with the Lord is always in the majority.

The righteous king Jehoshaphat prayed for help in confronting a powerful enemy with these words: “O our God, will Thou not judge them? We have no might against this great company that cometh against us; neither know we what to do: but our eyes are upon Thee” (II Chron. 20:12). Then the Lord spoke through the mouth of one Jahaziel and said, “Be not afraid nor dismayed by reason of this great multitude; for the battle is not yours, but God’s” (verse 5b) Thus instead of going into battle Jehoshaphat’s army sang praises unto the Lord. The enemies rose up in confusion and attacked each another, killing and destroying one another so that in the end no one was left alive. In war, God not only help those who believe in Him and praise Him with contrite prayer but also Himself battles in His own unexpected way.

Many people wonder how it is that Holy Scripture is so full of wars, as though it were some sort of war history. There is no cause for wonder here: even peace is a war between good and evil. In wartime many people return to God, their belief in Him rekindled, and thus they turn to repentance and prayer. If it were not for war, many are those who would have lose their souls. In war time the omnipotence of God and the nothingness of man are most clearly manifest. This is why in Holy Scripture God is always called “The Lord of hosts.” God’s miracles are more numerous and, for us men, more obvious in war time than in times of peace.

Make no mistake: God works miracles neither through the poor nor through the rich but through the righteous. He is with those who humble themselves in repentance. “They have humbled themselves; therefore I will not destroy them, but I will grant them deliverance,” said the Lord to the kings of Judah when Shishak the Pharaoh attacked them. God is against the proud, as they are against Him, whereas to those that humble themselves He gives of His grace (II Chron. 12:7).

According to the word of an unnamed man of God, the altar where idol-worshipers left sacrifices for the idols was reduced to ashes in Beth-El, whereupon king Jeroboam raised up his hand to punish the man of God. In that instant his hand dried up and remained raised in the air. According to the prayer of the same man of God the king’s hand was restored. This was a sign from God, a miracle which He worked through a chosen one, in order that people might know how great the wrath of God is against idol worshipers.

To be continued…

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