My beloved brothers and sisters in Christ God,
CHRIST IS IN OUR MIDST, HE WAS, IS, AND EVER SHALL BE.
THE LIFE OF OUR HOLY FATHER NEKTARIOS,
METROPOLITAN OF PENTAPOLIS
During his voyage from Constantinople to the village of Lythion on Chios, his ship encountered a storm at sea. The vessel was ready to sink when the captain shouted for the life-saving equipment to be readied. The young Anastasios wept and prayed to God. Looking heavenward, he implored God not to take his life, for he wished to preach on His behalf. He remembered that his grandmother told him that if the sea were even rough, to dip the precious relic of the Cross into the waves. He then removed his Cross and tied it to his belt. He then lowered it off the side of the ship and into the waves. After he had uttered three times those words which our Lord pronounced in the Gospel, "Be still! Be silent! (Mark 4:39), the wind abated, and there was a great calm. All onboard were joyous and relieved. Only the young Anastasios was sorrowing for the loss of his grandmother’s gift Cross, which had fallen into the deep. However, there was some concern by the captain and the crew at a rapping sound below the ship’s waterline. Even when they put into port the rapping sound in the ship’s hold was still audible. The captain gave a command to take a small craft and examine the ship’s hull. The crew then discovered Anastasios’ Cross adhering to the ship’s frame where the knocking occurred. One of the sailors laid hold of the Cross and reported the finding to the captain, who began shouting and waving at the departing Anastasios, "Kephals, Kephapas! Come back!" With his heart overflowing with jubilation and gratitude, Anastasios received his Cross. This was the same Cross which he wore later with his Monastic garb, even when he was consecrated bishop.
At Chios, he remained in that teaching position for seven years. Being an ardent zealot and supported of the monastic life, he often visited the sacred Monastery of the Holy Fathers, where they were discussing the mystical progression of the monastic life and spiritual philosophy according to Christ. At that time, the distinguished holy father and founder of the monastery, the Geronda (Elder) Pachomios, who guided many upon the spiritual path, would engage in these spiritual talks with Anastasios. At length, Anastasios entered the Monastery of New Moni. On the 7th of November 1876, he has tonsured a monk. He was renamed, Lazarus. Then, on the 15th of January, 1877, Father Lazarus was ordained to the diaconate by Metropolitan Gregory in the church of SAintns Menas, Victor, and Vikentios. It was then that the Metropolitan renamed him Nektarios.
One day, Metropolitan Gregory invited Father Nektarios to his office. When he entered, he was introduced to John Horemis, a leading citizen of Chios. Previous to this meeting, the Metropolitan has spoken highly of the holy man’s intense asceticism, prayer, and theological study. Horemis’ wished to meet this holy monk. Upon meeting Father Nektarios, Horemis asked him how he came to Chios. Father Nektarios told him of his roots in Thrace and he attempted to board a ship for the capital. He mentioned how the ship’s engines stalled. He then spoke of how the ticket taker came while the captain was indisposed, leaving him with no one to vouch for his presence on the ship. "One kind gentleman," he said, "took pity on me and paid my fare." Tears then began welling up in Horemis’ eyes. "So you were the child," said Horemis. "We have often thought of you and longed to see you again, that is, my nephew and I." Horemis disclosed that it was his nephew who helped him on the ship. Thank God we have found you. Now that you have been found, I shall ask his eminence for a blessing that you might leave for Athens and complete your high school education at my expense." Father Nektarios gave glory to God and prepared to leave for Athens.
Father Nektarios boarded a ship for Athens. Divine Providence was at work here, and the blessed Nektarios knew it. He was happy that his desire for theological training was beginning to take fulfillment. He bless the All-Holy Name of the Heavenly Father, and he also prayed for his sponsor and benefactor. Father Nektarios applied himself diligently day and night to his studies. He only knew two paths, the one leading to the school and the one going to church every Sunday and feast day. During his summer vacations, however, he did return to Chios.
At length, Father Nektarios received his diploma, to the great pleasure of his benefactor. Horemis then recommended that Father Nektarios meet and visit with his personal friend, the Patriarch Sophronios of Alexandria. Father Nektarios fell in with his plans and embarked on a steamship for Egypt Alexandria.
Patriarch Sophronios, nearly 80 years old, had previously been Patriarch of Constantinople for three years. The Patriarch took a liking to the affable Father Nektarios, even as most did, and took him under his protection; but he advised Father Nektarios to enroll at the University of Athens. "I shall give you a letter of recommendation to the Dean. I will stand by you and await your return." He left for Piraeus and then boarded another ship for Chios, that he might receive a leave of absence from his monastery and study in Athens. The hegumenos, Nikephoros, consented to the Patriarch’s plan for Father Nektarios and wrote a letter commending him to the University. Father Nektarios then left again for Athens but was saddened upon his arrival when he learned of the death of his benefactor, John Horemis. The moment he 2learned of his repose, he kept vigil throughout the night for the repose of Horemis’ soul. Father Nektarios hesitated to request financial assistance from the Patriarch, so he sat for the Dean’s examination, which won him a scholarship and a monthly stipend for his expenses. Father Nektarios registered for theological studies in 1882 and finished his studies in 1885, receiving the Licentiate in Theology.
He then left for Alexandria and was welcomed again by Patriarch Sophronios. On Sunday, the 23rd of March, 1886, he was ordained priest and confessor by the Patriarch, at the Patriarchal Church of Saint Savvas. Five months later he was given the title of Archimandrite at the Church of Saint Nicholas in Cairo, by the Metropolitan of Nubia. Shortly thereafter, he received the honor of being appointed preacher and secretary of the Patriarchate. Two months after receiving that post he was appointed a Patriarchal trustee. While at these posts, he came to know his fellow citizens well. He saw firsthand the misery, poverty, and illness to which he kept attempting to bring the light of Christ. During that time the Patriarchate was promoting fund-raising for decorating and adorning the Patriarchate. The holy Nektarios secured the services of the iconographer, contracting him for fifty-one gold sovereigns which he raised. Thus, the church was adorned with the four evangelists, the prophets, Christ enthroned, Christ preaching on the Mount, Christ’s entry into Jerusalem, and other subjects.
In January of 1889, Metropolitan Nilos reposed, leaving the See of Pentapolis widowed. Since this Seat was under the jurisdiction of the Alexandrian Patriarchate, on the 15th of January that year, Nektarios was consecrated a bishop. This elevation was completely unexpected by the holy man. With extreme humility, the holy Nektarios accepted the dignity of the episcopacy. His ardent heart was filled with compunction and reverence, as a grateful slave before the ill of the Lord; for he attributed all to Him. (Source: The Great Synaxaristes of the Orthodox Church)
(To be continued)
"Glory Be To GOD
– Saint John Chrysostomos
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With sincere agape in His Holy Diakonia (Ministry),
The sinner and unworthy servant of God
+ Father George