Paths of joy to Moračnik

Живот на острву да пожели свако,

чамац, језеро, мир и радост.

Са љубављу у срцу, све нам дође лако.

Врућина, корњаче, послови и старост.

Манастиру овом, Морачник је име,

језеро краси, земаљски то је рај.

Острво велико, један монах корача њиме,

један монах, риболовац Николај.

Рибу лови, литургију служи,

весела нарав и добро срце.

Описати не могу ни редови дужи,

ово мјесто, и насмијано његово лице.

Sunday, early morning, the liturgy in the Beška monastery strengthened us and prepared us for this joyful day. We had a big desire from abbess to give us a blessing to go to another island with father Nikolaj and visit Moračnik monastery.

Since abbess saw how much we wanted to go, she immediately prepared us and wished us luck on the way to the shrine. Fast boat driving and cheerful face of Father Nikolaj were those things we will hardly ever forget. At this very moment, while we are writing this, that beautiful memory brings us directly to the boat and the humorous stories of Father Nikolaj make us laugh again.


Father Nikolaj is always fishing and he also likes to play chess. He is a monk of cheerful nature and full of true humor. He was joking all the time and in every moment there was laughter. That’s exactly how all fishermen he knew were: “How much do you say there are hernias in this fish? Oh, transfer it slowly, our boat will sink!’’ – Father Nikolaj spoke through laughter about a fish that does not weigh even 2 kg. But the proud fisherman managed quickly to answer through joke as well: – “It has enough, depending on whose ship it is.’’ We were left breathless, and Father Nikolaj continued to tell us about this little man and why they call him “strong”. It was like that every moment, jokes, and some life lessons were learned.

He didn’t teach us much in words, but we learned a lot just by meeting him and watching him from the sidelines. His heart and nature amazed us all. Not even the highest paid birthday, wedding, or anything that money offers could bring so much joy in one day. Joy like this can only be given to us by shrine, our heart or Christ’s Resurrection. Joy is a characteristic of our faith, we are happy because we have come to know God and we have understood something very important. Dostoevsky writes it quite simply and beautifully: “Without Christ, everything suddenly becomes disgusting and sinful. Show me something better than Christ.”

  Those days, in monastery Moračnik there was also our brother in Christ called Risto. Seemingly average guy, on the first day we thought he was just some paid worker there. But, at a very young age Risto became novice and at the same time superintendent of one monastery which was far from city. He himself carried out the ordeal, doing asceticism and pleasing the Lord at the age of 17 or 18. He had an important need to return to the city for a few years, but he did not forget all that God had given him in the days of the ordeal. Now he is on the island of Tophani, by himself, restoring the sanctuary. He is doing it with so much love. You could notice it on his face when one day, while we were sitting in front of the church, he got the blessing by the consecrated metropolitan for it.

Expecting nothing more than the guy with worldly behavior, we were surprised. He was simple and unusually calm. On all our jokes he would answer with a gentle smile. He talked about shrines, fishing, about the experiences of his ordeal, which specially amazed us. Talking about it, he was talking about great love. Although not direct love we know, that kind of love one young guy feels for God and by it releases himself from everything worldly, such love is great, and it had something to tell us.

Describing nature and sanctuaries is the most important element of our stories. Also, the hardest part. But may God help us to do it as best we can, in order for readers to experience such nature and shrines as well as possible.

How many pages are necessary for the description of naturally formed Lake Skadar, islands on it, the sanctuaries on islands and all those mountains around it? Even the whole book hardly. But finally, let’s start with it.

The boat made waves that spread around and distracted our eyes. We greeted the fishermen, who enjoyed watching the expanse of blue color at which, at a distant point, the water and the sky merged. Moving away from Beška brother Risto showed us another island. Bird Island. It was very scary approaching it. It was only intended for fishing birds. They were big and there were many of them. When we passed that island, Father Nikolaj was waiting for the right moment to show us the church on mountain Rumija.

The church was touching the sky. That was the view from the boat towards it. Unfortunately, we failed to make that picture. And yet the images we make still cannot completely describe what was inside us as we went through it all. Let the latter be an undisguised call to experience these true values.

When we came to the island, we were thrilled with the turtles coming out in front of us from all sides. We have never seen them in this large number in one place. Turtle Island, that was our impression right away.

Moračnik Monastery. Big island, magnificent church. Everything was built of hewn stone that aged and was just becoming more and more beautiful. This monastery was firmly built, one part by Father Nikolaj. Interesting to know that the predecessor of this ascetic was also called Nikolaj.

What we will remember the most is the grace that this place carries. And it was especially that we felt at home – Boys, put something to eat. – that’s how Father Nikolaj was. He has been alone in Moračnik for seventeen years.

 Night was getting closer, the day was passing fast because there was no end to our delights. Brother Risto gave us instructions for the boat. Although we did not have much experience, we were very happy to agree to go alone. We were like that in our childhood. Cheerful and singing, we were going toward Beška. Slowly, to make our trip last as long as possible, with such enjoyment we both learned to steer the boat.

  We remember everything so well as if it is happening now. Especially, we remember the beautiful moment when the prayer is read after our sweet lunch. The Lord arranges everything when we are diligent and eager for His holiness. “He who wants to see Him, He gives him enough light, and he who does not want, He gives him enough darkness.” – said Blaise Pascal.

The Holy Gospel teaches us: “Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you.” Every step we make toward the sanctuaries is us knocking, and the grace we then feel are the responses of the Lord. The paths of joy, the paths we have set out on, feed us with living water. At every step we can find it’s sources. We walk the paths of joy, we gather this living water and we share it. And when we share it, we receive it even more. Inexhaustible in God are the sources of peace, joy and love. It is an inexhaustible source of the Holy Trinity, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.


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