My beloved brothers and sisters in Christ God,
CHRIST IS IN OUR MIDST! HE WAS, IS, AND EVER SHALL BE.
OUR HOLY FATHER NEKTARIOS, METROPOLITAN OF
PENTAPOLIS (+ 9th November)
Saint Nektarios, Metropolitan of Pentapolis is the boast of godly Orthodox Christians, the sweetest nectar of the life of virtue, which gives joy and gladness, through its sanctifying grace, to reverent hearts, rendering them precious vessels of the Holy Spirit. Saint Nektarios is such a repository of grace, for he attained the heights of humility and the deep abysses of love. As he is a giant in virtue and one preeminent in working miracles, we ardently beg his protection and intercession before God.
The God-bearing hierarch Saint Nektarios was born in Selyvria of Thrace. He was born to the pious Demos and Maria Kephalas, on the 1st of October, 1846, being the fifth of six children. In Holy Baptism he was named Anastasios. His father worked hard to provide for his family, laboring at times as a farmer and other times at sea. At that time Orthodoxy was enslaved by the Ottomans. The Saint’s mother and grandmother exercised caution around the Turks, but always maintained hope for a better future. From his earliest youth, when his nails were still soft, he was manifesting how he would develop. He was prudent and wise and proved as an obedient son to his parents, who nurtured him in the instruction and admonition of the Lord (Ephesians 6:4), together with all things reverent according to Christ. From his childhood, he avoided hurtful and evil pastimes, games, and associations. His soul, like a sponge, soaked up the streams of his parents’ good advice and instructions. He especially hearkened to the words of his extremely pious mother and grandmother, and to whatever was good and profitable for the soul. Characteristic of his yearning and eager disposition was his learning to recite the 50 th Psalm of David, "Have mercy on me, O God…" When he came to the verse which read, "I shall teach transgressors Thy ways, and the ungodly shall turn back unto Thee" (v. 13). He would pronounce those words twice and even thrice. He aspired early on to acquire theological knowledge that he might one day have as his mission the preaching of the Gospel, so that through teaching the law and will of the Lord, as many people as possible might be diverted from the path of lawlessness leading to perdition and be placed on the path of piety, virtue, and salvation.
When he reached the age of seven, he bought some paper and took pleasure in making books. Wishing to know what he was about, his mother inquired, "What art thou doing with the papers, son?" He answered, "I wish, mother, to make a book, that I might write down the words of God." Now he was frequenting church and intently heeding the divine words spoken. When he returned to his home, he retained what he heard and could expound upon most of it, indeed, to the astonishment and wonder of those hearing the lad. His boyhood very much corresponed with that of hour holy father Athanasios the Great, insofar that, from an early age, they were both precocious and prodigious about learning our Holy Orthodox Faith.
His first lessons in generaral education were pursued in his hometown. When he reached the age of 14, it was agreed that he would be taken on as an employee by a relation who had a shop in Constantinople. Since Anastasios’ family was poor, he needed to have work in order to continue his education, so he accepted the position. Before his departure, his grandmother had given him a Cross to wear about his neck containing the holy relic of the precious Cross of Jesus. The Saint left for the ship, but had not the fare for the ticket. The captain observed the lad, and asked, "Where art thou bound, brave boy?" Anastasios replied, "To Constantinople, sir." The captain remarked, teasing, "Well, freeloaders are not welcome in the capital!" Anastasios answered nothing, but only shrank back in shame, since he was penniless. The captain then gave the orders to put out to sea. The ship’s engines, however, would not start, instead, they were emiting a strange sound. The crew was trying to ascertain the problems, while the captain was rady to break the wheel from his exasperation. Then, his eye caught the weeping Anastasios on the dock. The lad crie out, "Take me, captain, sir." The captain then motioned to him to get on board. The moment Anastasios’ feet touched the deck, the engines started and ths ship began to move. Later, before his arrival, when it came time for the passengers to show their tickets, Anastasios panicked. One of the passengers took pity on him and paid for his fare. The generous and wealthy young man who took pity on the young Anastasios was the nephew of the great Horemis, a millionaire from island of Chios, Greece.
The man he was to see for his employment had left for Edessa, leaving Anastasios unemployed and homeless. He finally secured backbreaking work with a tobacco processing plant, where he would prepare the tobacco bales and stack them into boxes and cases. He then conveyed them to a pushcart and made deliveries throughout the city. His pay consisted mostly of his room and board. Even though he was without parental supervision, he shunned everything detrimental and anything that might seduce him toward sinning.
It was also the young Anastasios’ great passion to attend Church services regularly and carefully follow them. As a result, divine love increased and took wing in his heart, so taht he wished to dedicate himself perfectly to pleasing the Lord. A burning desire was growing in him to embrace the monstic life, which he deemed the speedier path to perfection and union with God Who is the highest desire for those seeking perfection.
In the meantime, the young Anastasios’ garments and shoes were becoming worn and falling apart. When he asked his employer for assistance, he was told to write home to his parents. "But they are very poor, sir," Anastasios said. The employer had no time to listen to the youth’s dilemma and dismissed him in an off hand manner. Anastasios returned to his corner to sleep. He then thought he beheld the Lord Jesus Who was asking him why he was weeping. Anastasios attempted to speak to our Savior but was unable. When he arose, he decided to write to Jesus Christ. He took up his pencil and wrote:
"My dearest Jesus: The reason that I am weeping continuasly is that my clothes and shoes are inadequate for winter. My employer turned me awa. I cannot ask my poor family, to whom I have not been able to send even one coin. How shall I manage the deliveries in the bitter cold? I have mended my clothes many times, but they keep tearing. Forgive me for burdening Thee with this problem, but it is Thee Whom I worship and in Whom I have my hope. Thy faithful slave, Anastasios."
He addressed an envelope, writing: "To our Lord Jesus Christ in the Heavens." He then left early to post it. On the way, he was seen by the shop owner, Themistocles, whose sotre was opposite the tobacco establishment. "Where are you going so early, my Anastasios?" Themistocles asked. "To the post office, sir," Ansastasios told him. "No need," said the man; "I shall post it for you. I see you are shivering in this cold, so return to the shop." Anastasios thanked him. In the meantime, the shop owner went on his way. He happened to look at Anastasios’ envelope, and the name of the Addressee caught his immediate attention. Startled, he said, "O my! How can this be posted? In what desperate straits does that good lad find himself?" He then took it upon himself to pause and open the envelope. He was so touched at the lad’s words that he went an prepared a percel with warm clothing, shoes, underwear, and some spending money. He then posted it, addressing it to Anastasios Kephalas at the tobacco shop. A note was place inside, upon which was written the following message: "Christ to Anastasios." The parcel was delivered, to the boundless joy and gratitude of the child. His employer, however, suspected hm of theft. He began beating him and calling him a thief. Anastasios kept trying to explain, but his boss kept striking him. The shopkeeper, who had received Anastasios’ letter, happened to be passing by. He heard the commotion and came rushing to the boy’s aid. the employer then desisted, fearing to create a fuss, which would certainly attract the attention of the Turkish authorities. Soon afterward, Anastasios was offered work at another shop, that of Themistocles, which he accepted. He stayed at his new establishment for a considerable time, finding decent conditions and time to study.
When Anastasios Kephalas reached 20 years of age, he received a letter of recommendation fro the director of the school under the jurisdiction of the Holy Sepulcher which had employed him as a youth instructor. He also accepted an appointment, from Metropolitan Gregory, as a teacher in the village of Lythion on the island of Chios. His family had already moved to the island, so he prepared for his trip and new post. (Source: The Great Synaxaristes of the Orthodox Church)
(To be continued)
"Glory Be To GOD
– Saint John Chrysostomos
+ + +
With sincere agape in His Holy Diakonia (Ministry),
The sinner and unworthy servant of God
+ Father George