From 15 September 1944 to 8 May 1945, the great Serbian Orthodox theologian and contemporary Church Father, Bishop Nicholas (Velimirovich) of Zhicha, was imprisoned by the Nazis in the notorious concentration camp of Dachau. There he kept a diary of seventy-six chapters, ‘Through a Prison Window’, in which he addressed himself to the Serbian people.
There was a man who had two daughters. The younger separated from her father and went off to distant lands, where she wasted all her substance in riotous living.
Christ the Saviour had two daughters – Asia and Europe. Asia was the elder, Europe the younger. Christ greatly loved the younger daughter and the younger daughter loved Him and lived in His presence, not separating from Him for a thousand years. But after a thousand years Europe began to hate Christ, Her Parent, and began to move away from Him, until she had altogether separated from Him, going away into a foreign land, a land that was not God’s, a pagan land, and returned to the rubbish tip, where Christ had once found her, found her, washed her and led her into the King’s palaces.
But without Christ Europe grew poor, falling into such poverty and squalor that no-one wanted to offer a helping hand, for fear that she would steal even that hand, for he who is without God is without honour, and he who is without God is without truth and mercy. As the prophet said: The Lord loves truth and mercy (Ps. 83, 12). And for those who lose the Lord it is impossible to keep mercy and truth. Thus, having separated from the Lord, Europe lost mercy and truth. The impenetrable darkness of paganism captivated her soul. And already she could no longer see anything, she was pitiable, hungry, beggarly, naked and blind. Europe became like this, having moved away from her spiritual Parent, Christ, against His will.
But even in her extreme poverty Europe was not humbled, because of her haughty pride. Scorned by all the continents, she continued to exalt herself over mankind and sing the praises of her wonders. The essence of her motto was this: Christ is not a Wonderworker, but I, Europe, I am a Wonderworker. I invented the compass, the microscope and the telescope, I have counted the stars, I have calculated the length and breadth of the Universe, I have discovered medicines, I have devised surgical instruments, I have made dynamite to destroy mountain-sides, I have created machines that fly, machines that go underwater, machines that float; I am the goddess of the invention of machines, steamships and railways, electrical instruments, radio and television. I, I, I and I! ‘I’ am the main wonderworker of this age. There is no longer a Wonderworking God, he is the comforting blanket of primitive, ancient times. There is only Europe the Wonderworker.
O, my brothers, can you hear the words of the prodigal daughter? Can you hear the boasting of this aristocrat, who has fallen into poverty, is ragged and hungry? She is already nothing, yet boasts as if she were everything. She is nothing, yet basks in vainglory, as if the whole world belonged to her. She exalts herself, so that she may be respected, but she is only despised. She paints and adorns herself, so as to look more beautiful. But they all scorn her and shun her, as the ugliest of monsters.
Christ’s elder daughter, Asia, cannot bear to look at Europe: she sees abomination, she hears disharmony; Europe gives off a revolting stench, she is covered in scabs and wounds. For Asia, Europe is unbearable.
This is what Christ’s Asia answers the anti-Christian Europe, who has fallen away: ‘What do you have of your own? What do you have to boast of? What are you proud of? Even if you have found something, whose soil have you found it on? Why do you boast of the compass, of electricity, of steamships and other inventions? Where did you find all this? Surely it was in the courts of the Lord, Who invited you there? If you do not remember your Master, you are a thief. Yes, indeed, you are a thief. And more than that, you rob, you plunder and you oppress. You have taken for yourself God’s wonders, those which you were the last to discover. Truly I say unto you: all your wonders are God’s wonders, they are not yours and never will be yours, even after a million years. You have only one thing – listen to it and memorize it – you have only one thing which is not from God, but from yourself: this is the misuse of His wonders. Wonders are from God, misuse is from you. For example, the flying-machine is a wonder, but yours is the destruction of humanity with the help of this machine. It is God’s to sail, yours to sink. It is God’s to heal, yours to poison. It is God’s to unite, yours to divide. Truth is God’s, yours is the lie. Mercy is God’s, yours is self-love. What do you have in common with Christ, Europe, with Christ, with the God of truth and mercy? Nothing. And you, Serbia? Why are you troubled and why do you blush? Because you have followed after Europe. You have made friends with the apostate. You have gone after the harlot. If you correct your ways, you will be blessed. And blessed is God Who awaits your correction’. Amen.