My beloved brothers and sisters in Christ God,
CHRIST IS IN OUR MIDST! HE WAS, IS, AND EVER SHALL BE.
Our Venerable Father Nicholas decided to visit Palestine and venerate the Holy Places in the land where our Lord and God Jesus Christ once walked. While his ship was sailing off the coast of Egypt, Saint Nicholas foresaw that a violent tempest was about to arise although no one else suspected this. The godly one told the others what would occur explaining that he had seen the devil himself enter the ship, entering to sink it and drown the passengers. At once black clouds appeared in the sky and a violent storm arose, churning up the sea. All were seized with fear and entreated Saint Nicholas to rescue them. In despair, they cried, "Unless you pray God to save us, O favorite of the Lord, we shall certainly be swallowed by the deep!"
Advising passengers and crew to take courage and put their hope in God, the Saint sent up fervent supplication to the Lord. A great calm at once settled upon the waters, and the passengers’ terror turned to joy. They thanked God and His favorite, our holy Father Nicholas, marveling at how he had both foretold the storm and accomplished their deliverance. Then, however, one of the sailors, who had climbed to the top of the ship’s mast to attend to a sail, fell to the deck as he was descending and was killed. But Saint Nicholas, ever ready to help even before called upon, restored the man to life as though he had merely been asleep. A fair wind filled the sails, and the boat quickly made for the port of Alexandria where it docked. There God’s favorite healed many sick people and cast out demons, bringing consolation to the afflicted. Eventually, he resumed his journey to Palestine.
Upon the death of Archbishop John of the city, the bishops of the land assembled in Myra to elect a worthy successor. Several noble, respected men were nominated. Then some of the hierarchs, moved by divine zeal, declared that the Archbishop of the country ought not to be elected by men, by Divine Providence. If they turned to prayer, they maintained, the Lord Himself would reveal who was worthy to assume the rank of Archbishop and become the chief shepherd of Lycia. This good counsel met with general approval, and the bishops devoted themselves to fervent prayer and fasting.
The Lord, Who hearkens to the entreaty of those who fear Him, deigned to reveal His will in the following manner to one of the eldest bishops. While the bishop was praying, a radiant man appeared, commanding him to stand that night by the doors of the church and observe who entered the building first. "That man," said He, "is filled with My Spirit. Receive him with honor and make him Archbishop, his name is Nicholas."
The Bishop informed the other hierarchs of the Divine vision and told them what he had been commanded. Hearing this, they redoubled their prayers. Then the Bishop went to the church and stood by the doorway, awaiting Nicholas’ coming. When the time for Orthros (Matins) drew near, Saint Nicholas, who always rose at midnight to pray, went to the church, arriving as usual before the other worshippers. The Bishop stopped him as he entered the Narthex, and asked, "What is your name, child?" At first, the Saint did not reply, but since the Bishop repeated the question, he answered, "My name is Nicholas, Master, and I am Your Holiness’ servant."
Both from his name and the meek, humble, and calm manner in which the reply was made, the holy Bishop knew that the man who stood before him was the one chosen by God to be Archbishop of Lycia. The Bishop rejoiced exceedingly, as though he had found a great treasure. He took Nicholas by the hand and said, "Follow me, child."
Nicholas was presented to the bishops, who, filled with spiritual delight because God had revealed His choice, escorted the Saint back to the church. The Bishop who saw the vision addressed the congregation with these words: "Receive, brethren, your shepherd, whom the Holy Spirit has anointed and to whom He has entrusted the care of your souls. He was chosen not by an assembly of men but by God Himself. We have found him whom we sought and under His good guidance and instruction, we shall never lose hope of standing before the Lord on the day of His return."
The great assembly gave thanks to God, and the people’s joy knew no measure. Saint Nicholas, however, who hated the praise of men, at first refused the hierarchical rank. Nevertheless, he had seen a vision before the death of the last Archbishop in which he was commanded to accept CONSECRATION, so in the end, he submitted unwillingly to the persistent entreaties of clergy and laity. Concerning this vision Saint Methodios, the Patriarch of Constantinople, writes, "One night, Saint Nicholas saw our Savior standing before him, radiant with glory. The Lord gave him a Gospel adorned with gold and pearls. Beside him, the Saint beheld the Most Holy Theotokos, who placed upon his shoulders an Omophorion, the SYMBOL OF EPISCOPAL DIGNITY. A few days later John, the Archbishop of Myra, breathed his last, and Nicholas became his successor.
Remembering the vision and bowing to God’s will, the Saint accepted the faithful of Myra as his flock. The bishops, assisted by other clergy, performed the usual RITE OF CONSECRATION, and all the people celebrated the appointment at their DIVINELY APPOINTED SHEPHERD. Thus a brilliant luminary was given to God’s Church, not to be hidden beneath a basket, but to be set in a fitting place whence it could shine brightly. And indeed at all times this holy Hierarch of Christ rightly divided the word of Truth, instructing his flock IN THE TEACHINGS OF ORTHODOXY. (Source: The Great Collection of The Lives of the Saints)
(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