6th of December – THE FEAST OF OUR FATHER AMONG THE SAINTS NICHOLAS THE WONDER=WORKER, ARCHBISHOP OF MYRA IN LYCIA [Part I)

My beloved brothers and sisters in Christ God,

CHRIST IS IN OUR MIDST! HE WAS, IS, AND EVER SHALL BE.

The Sixth Day
of the Month of December
Our Holy Orthodox Church commemorates our
Father Among the Saints
NICHOLAS THE WONDER-WORKER
Archbishop of Myra in Lycia

Apolytikion (Dismissal) Hymn. Fourth Tone

The truth of things hath revealed thee to thy flock as a rule of faith,
an icon of meekness, and a teacher of temperance; for this cause,
thou hast achieved the heights by humility, riches by poverty.
O Father and Hierarch Nicholas, intercede with Christ God that our
souls be saved.

Kontakion Hymn. Third Tone

Thou, O righteous Nicholas, in Myra truly wast shown forth as a
sacred minister fulfilling Christ’s holy Gospel; for thou didst lay
down thy life for thy flock and people and, O Saint, didst save the
innocent from unjust death. Wherefore, thou wast sanctified as a
great initiate of the Divine grace of God.

The great wonder-worker, swift helper of those in need, and fervent intercessor before God, Christ’s holy hierarch Nicholas, was born in Patara, a city in the Province of Lycia. His parents were honorable, well-born, wealthy folk and were Orthodox. Nicholas’ father was named Theophanes and his mother was Nonna. Dwelling together in lawful wedlock, they were adorned with every virtue. Because of their God-pleasing way of life, numerous good deeds, and especially their unstinting almsgiving, they, as holy roots, were deemed worthy to put forth a holy shoot, their blessed child. When their son was born, they gave him the name Nicholas, which means “victor of the nations,” and truly, with God’s help, he proved victorious over evil and became a benefactor of the whole world. He was sanctified by divine grace while still in his mother’s womb, and his piety was made manifest as soon as he appeared in the world.

As the child grew, his understanding increased, and he was instructed in the rules of good conduct by his parents. The time soon came for him to begin the study of the Divine Scripture, and due to his natural intelligence and the guidance of the Holy Spirit, he quickly achieved a profound understanding of their contents. He also proved himself perfect in the life of virtue, distancing himself from vain acquaintances and conversations. He frequently spent the whole day and night in church, reading sacred books and engaging in mental prayer to God, exercising himself in reflection upon edifying themes, and profiting from the descent of the grace of the Holy Spirit, for Whom he had made of himself a worthy place.

The blessed one had an uncle who was also named Nicholas and was Bishop of Patara. It was for him that the younger Nicholas was named. Seeing his nephew advancing in the life of virtue and distancing himself from everything worldly, the uncle advised Nicholas’ parents to dedicate the young man to God’s service. They obeyed him, presenting their son to the Lord Who entrusted him to them. The Bishop took the young elder, who was adorned with the gray hairs of wisdom and the unspotted life of old age and elevated him to the sacred rank of Presbyter.

As a priest Saint Nicholas added to his labors, always fasting and keeping vigil, praying without ceasing, and striving to emulate the life of the bodiless powers although he was clothed in flesh. His soul shone brighter with virtue every day. At the time his uncle, Bishop Nicholas, wished to visit Palestine and he entrusted the entire administration of the Church of Patara to his nephew. While Saint Nicholas was administering the Diocese, his parents departed this fleeting existence for life eternal. They left their possessions to their son, who distributed them among those who begged for alms of him.

There was a man living in Patara who was once wealthy and renowned, but his fortune waned. He fell into poverty and was scorned by those who before had regarded him highly. This man had three beautiful daughters, and when the necessities of lilfe began to fail him, he decided to make his hour a brothel and sell their bodies. The man had already devised his unseemly plan and was making preparations to fulfill it when God, Who loves us and does not wish to see us perish, send down grace into the heart of His favorite, the holy Priest Nicholas, mystically inspiring him to assist the wretch and turn him away from sin. Hearing of the father’s poverty and learning by Divine revelation of his foul scheme, Nicholas felt deep pity for him and resolved to snatch him and his daughters from penury and sin by giving them generous alms. However, the Saint did not want to help the man openly for two reasons. Firstly, obedient to the words of the Gospel, “Take heed that you do not your alms before men” (Matthew, ch. 6), he sought to avoid the empty praise of men. Secondly, since the man was once rich and had only recently fallen on bad times, Nicholas did not wish to humiliate him. So great was Nicholas’ desire to avoid praise that he attempted to hide himself even from those whom he assisted! He went at midnight to the man’s house, threw a large bag of gold into the house through an open window, and fled. The next morning, when he rose, the man found the bag and untied it. Seeing the gold, he became frightened, thinking it was an illusion since he knew of no one like to aid him so generously. Only, when he touched it, did he become convinced that what he saw was real and wept with happiness. Ascribing his good fortune to Providence, he thanked God glorifying the Lord Who cares for all men. Without delay he married off his eldest daughter, using the gold to provide her dowry. Learning what the man had done, the wondrous Saint Nicholas was very pleased and prepared to assist the second daughter. He made ready another bag of gold, of the same man’s house through the same window. When the father rose the next morning and found the second bag, he was even more amazed than before, and falling to the floor, wept and cried, ‘I beseech Thee to reveal to me who it was that accomplished Thy will. Behold, Lord, because Thy favourite hath assisted me so generously, I am now able to find a husband for my second daughter.

Thanking the Lord for His kindness, the man celebrated the wedding of his second daughter. He trusted that God would provide a lawful husband fo rhis third daughter. It was not long before Christ’s favorite came a third time, walking very quietly, and again cast a bag of gold through the window. The father heard it striking the floor and ran as fast as he could in pursuit of the Saint. When he caught up with him, he recognized Saint Nicholas, who was known to all because of his virtuous life and noble ancestry. He fell at the holy Priest’s feet and kissed them, calling the Saint his helper and deliverer and the rescuer of souls. Saint Nicholas succeded in raising hm to his feet and compelling him to swear that he would tell no one what had occurred as long as his benefactor remained alive. After speaking to the man at length about things profitable to the soul, the Saint permitted him to return home. (Source: The Great Collection of The Lives of the Saints)

(To be continued)

________________

“Glory Be To GOD
For
All Things!”

– Saint John Chrysostomos

+ + +



With sincere agape in His Holy Diakonia (Ministry),
The sinner and unworthy servant of God

+ Father George

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