FEASTS AND SAINTS CELEBRATED TODAY:
Nicholas the Wonderworker, Archbishop of Myra
Nicholas the New Martyr of Asia Minor
Τοῦ ἐν Ἁγίοις Πατρός ἡμῶν Νικολάου, Ἀρχιεπισκόπου Μύρων τῆς Λυκίας τοῦ Θαυματουργοῦ.
READINGS FROM THE BIBLE:
The Reading is from John 10:1-9
The Lord said to the Jews who had come to him, "Truly, truly, I say to you, he who does not enter the sheepfold by the door but climbs in by another way, that man is a thief and a robber; but he who enters by the door is the shepherd of the sheep. To him the gatekeeper opens; the sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes before them, and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice. A stranger they will not follow, but they will flee from him, for they do not know the voice of strangers." This figure Jesus used with them, but they did not understand what he was saying to them. So Jesus again said to them, "Truly, truly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. All who came before me are thieves and robbers; but the sheep did not heed them. I am the door; if any one enters by me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture."
Κατὰ Ἰωάννην 10.1-9
Εἶπεν ὁ Κύριος πρὸς τοὺς ἐληλυθότας πρὸς αὐτὸν Ἰουδαίους· Ἀμὴν ἀμὴν λέγω ὑμῖν, ὁ μὴ εἰσερχόμενος διὰ τῆς θύρας εἰς τὴν αὐλὴν τῶν προβάτων, ἀλλὰ ἀναβαίνων ἀλλαχόθεν, ἐκεῖνος κλέπτης ἐστὶ καὶ λῃστής· ὁ δὲ εἰσερχόμενος διὰ τῆς θύρας ποιμήν ἐστι τῶν προβάτων. τούτῳ ὁ θυρωρὸς ἀνοίγει, καὶ τὰ πρόβατα τῆς φωνῆς αὐτοῦ ἀκούει, καὶ τὰ ἴδια πρόβατα καλεῖ κατ᾽ ὄνομα καὶ ἐξάγει αὐτά. καὶ ὅταν τὰ ἴδια πρόβατα ἐκβάλῃ, ἔμπροσθεν αὐτῶν πορεύεται, καὶ τὰ πρόβατα αὐτῷ ἀκολουθεῖ, ὅτι οἴδασι τὴν φωνὴν αὐτοῦ· ἀλλοτρίῳ δὲ οὐ μὴ ἀκολουθήσωσιν, ἀλλὰ φεύξονται ἀπ᾽ αὐτοῦ, ὅτι οὐκ οἴδασι τῶν ἀλλοτρίων τὴν φωνήν. Ταύτην τὴν παροιμίαν εἶπεν αὐτοῖς ὁ ᾿Ιησοῦς· ἐκεῖνοι δὲ οὐκ ἔγνωσαν τίνα ἦν ἃ ἐλάλει αὐτοῖς. Εἶπεν οὖν πάλιν αὐτοῖς ὁ ᾿Ιησοῦς· ἀμὴν ἀμὴν λέγω ὑμῖν ὅτι ἐγώ εἰμι ἡ θύρα τῶν προβάτων. πάντες ὅσοι ἦλθον πρὸ ἐμοῦ, κλέπται εἰσὶ καὶ λῃσταί· ἀλλ᾽ οὐκ ἤκουσαν αὐτῶν τὰ πρόβατα. ἐγώ εἰμι ἡ θύρα· δι᾽ ἐμοῦ ἐάν τις εἰσέλθῃ, σωθήσεται, καὶ εἰσελεύσεται καὶ ἐξελεύσεται, καὶ νομὴν εὑρήσει.
The Reading is from St. Paul's Letter to the Hebrews 13:17-21
Brethren, obey your leaders and submit to them; for they are keeping watch over your souls, as men who will have to give account. Let them do this joyfully, and not sadly, for that would be of no advantage to you. Pray for us, for we are sure that we have a clear conscience, desiring to act honorably in all things. I urge you the more earnestly to do this in order that I may be restored to you the sooner. Now may the God of peace who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great Shepherd of the sheep, by the blood of the eternal covenant, equip you with everything good that you may do His will, working in you that which is pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ; to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.
Πρὸς Ἑβραίους 13:17-21
Ἀδελφοί, πείθεσθε τοῖς ἡγουμένοις ὑμῶν, καὶ ὑπείκετε· αὐτοὶ γὰρ ἀγρυπνοῦσιν ὑπὲρ τῶν ψυχῶν ὑμῶν, ὡς λόγον ἀποδώσοντες· ἵνα μετὰ χαρᾶς τοῦτο ποιῶσιν, καὶ μὴ στενάζοντες· ἀλυσιτελὲς γὰρ ὑμῖν τοῦτο. Προσεύχεσθε περὶ ἡμῶν· πεποίθαμεν γὰρ ὅτι καλὴν συνείδησιν ἔχομεν, ἐν πᾶσιν καλῶς θέλοντες ἀναστρέφεσθαι. Περισσοτέρως δὲ παρακαλῶ τοῦτο ποιῆσαι, ἵνα τάχιον ἀποκατασταθῶ ὑμῖν. Ὁ δὲ θεὸς τῆς εἰρήνης, ὁ ἀναγαγὼν ἐκ νεκρῶν τὸν ποιμένα τῶν προβάτων τὸν μέγαν ἐν αἵματι διαθήκης αἰωνίου, τὸν κύριον ἡμῶν Ἰησοῦν, καταρτίσαι ὑμᾶς ἐν παντὶ ἔργῳ ἀγαθῷ εἰς τὸ ποιῆσαι τὸ θέλημα αὐτοῦ, ποιῶν ἐν ὑμῖν τὸ εὐάρεστον ἐνώπιον αὐτοῦ, διὰ Ἰησοῦ χριστοῦ· ᾧ ἡ δόξα εἰς τοὺς αἰῶνας τῶν αἰώνων. Ἀμήν.
The Reading is from Luke 6:17-23
At that time, Jesus stood on a level place, with a great crowd of his disciples and a great multitude of people from all Judea and Jerusalem and the seacoast of Tyre and Sidon, who came to hear him and to be healed of their diseases; and those who were troubled with unclean spirits were cured. And all the crowd sought to touch him, for power came forth from him and healed them all. And he lifted up his eyes on His disciples, and said: "Blessed are you poor, for yours is the Kingdom of God. Blessed are you that hunger now, for you shall be satisfied. Blessed are you that weep now, for you shall laugh. Blessed are you when men hate you, and when they exclude you and revile you, and cast out your name as evil, on account of the Son of man! Rejoice in that day, and leap for joy, for behold, your reward is great in heaven."
Κατὰ Λουκᾶν 6.17-23
Τῷ καιρῷ ἐκείνῳ, ἔστη ὁ Ἰησοῦς ἐπὶ τόπου πεδινοῦ, καὶ ὄχλος μαθητῶν αὐτοῦ, καὶ πλῆθος πολὺ τοῦ λαοῦ ἀπὸ πάσης τῆς ᾿Ιουδαίας καὶ ῾Ιερουσαλὴμ καὶ τῆς παραλίου Τύρου καὶ Σιδῶνος, οἳ ἦλθον ἀκοῦσαι αὐτοῦ καὶ ἰαθῆναι ἀπὸ τῶν νόσων αὐτῶν,καὶ οἱ ὀχλούμενοι ἀπὸ πνευμάτων ἀκαθάρτων, καὶ ἐθεραπεύοντο·καὶ πᾶς ὁ ὄχλος ἐζήτει ἅπτεσθαι αὐτοῦ, ὅτι δύναμις παρ᾿ αὐτοῦ ἐξήρχετο καὶ ἰᾶτο πάντας. Καὶ αὐτὸς ἐπάρας τοὺς ὀφθαλμοὺς αὐτοῦ εἰς τοὺς μαθητὰς αὐτοῦ ἔλεγε· Mακάριοι οἱ πτωχοί, ὅτι ὑμετέρα ἐστὶν ἡ βασιλεία τοῦ Θεοῦ. μακάριοι οἱ πεινῶντες νῦν, ὅτι χορτασθήσεσθε. μακάριοι οἱ κλαίοντες νῦν, ὅτι γελάσετε. μακάριοί ἐστε ὅταν μισήσωσιν ὑμᾶς οἱ ἄνθρωποι, καὶ ὅταν ἀφορίσωσιν ὑμᾶς καὶ ὀνειδίσωσι καὶ ἐκβάλωσι τὸ ὄνομα ὑμῶν ὡς πονηρὸν ἕνεκα τοῦ υἱοῦ τοῦ ἀνθρώπου. χάρητε ἐν ἐκείνῃ τῇ ἡμέρᾳ καὶ σκιρτήσατε· ἰδοὺ γὰρ ὁ μισθὸς ὑμῶν πολὺς ἐν τῷ οὐρανῷ· κατὰ τὰ αὐτὰ γὰρ ἐποίουν τοῖς προφήταις οἱ πατέρες αὐτῶν.
READINGS FROM THE SYNAXARION:
Τῇ ς' τοῦ αὐτοῦ μηνός, Μνήμη τοῦ ἐν Ἁγίοις Πατρὸς ἡμῶν Νικολάου, Ἀρχιεπισκόπου Μύρων τῆς Λυκίας τοῦ θαυματουργοῦ.
Ὁ Νικόλαος, πρέσβυς ὢν ἐν γῇ μέγας,
Καὶ γῆς ἀποστὰς εἰς τὸ πρεσβεύειν ζέει.
Ἕκτῃ Νικόλεώ γε φάνη βιότοιο τελευτή.
Μνήμη τοῦ Ἁγίου Νεομάρτυρος Νικολάου τοῦ Καραμάνου τοῦ ἐν Σμύρνῃ μαρτυρήσαντος κατὰ τὸ 1657 ἔτος.
Τῇ αὐτῇ ἡμέρᾳ, Μνήμη τῆς μετὰ φιλανθρωπίας ἐπενεχθείσης ἡμῖν φοβερᾶς ἀπειλῆς τοῦ σεισμοῦ.
Ταῖς αὐτῶν ἁγίαις πρεσβείαις, ὁ Θεός, ἐλέησον καὶ σῶσον ἡμᾶς. Ἀμήν.
This Saint lived during the reign of Saint Constantine the Great, and reposed in 330, As a young man, he desired to espouse the solitary life. He made a pilgrimage to the holy city Jerusalem, where he found a place to withdraw to devote himself to prayer. It was made known to him, however, that this was not the will of God for him, but that he should return to his homeland to be a cause of salvation for many. He returned to Myra, and was ordained bishop. He became known for his abundant mercy, providing for the poor and needy, and delivering those who had been unjustly accused. No less was he known for his zeal for the truth. He was present at the First Ecumenical Council of the 318 Fathers at Nicaea in 325; upon hearing the blasphemies that Arius brazenly uttered against the Son of God, Saint Nicholas struck him on the face. Since the canons of the Church forbid the clergy to strike any man at all, his fellow bishops were in perplexity what disciplinary action was to be taken against this hierarch whom all revered. In the night our Lord Jesus Christ and our Lady Theotokos appeared to certain of the bishops, informing them that no action was to be taken against him, since he had acted not out of passion, but extreme love and piety. The Dismissal Hymn for holy hierarchs, The truth of things hath revealed thee to thy flock ... was written originally for Saint Nicholas. He is the patron of all travellers, and of sea-farers in particular; he is one of the best known and best loved Saints of all time.
Apolytikion in the Fourth Tone
Κανόνα πίστεως καί εικόνα πραότητος, εγκρατείας Διδάσκαλον, ανέδειξέ σε τή ποίμνη σου, η τών πραγμάτων αλήθεια, διά τούτο εκτήσω τή ταπεινώσει τά υψηλά, τή πτωχεία τά πλούσια, Πάτερ Ιεράρχα Νικόλαε, πρέσβευε Χριστώ τώ Θεώ, σωθήναι τάς ψυχάς ημών.
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 in the Third Tone
Ἐν τοῖς Μύροις Ἅγιε, ἱερουργὸς ἀνεδείχθης, τοῦ Χριστοῦ γὰρ Ὅσιε, τὸ Εὐαγγέλιον πληρώσας, ἔθηκας τὴν ψυχήν σου ὑπὲρ λαοῦ σου, ἔσωσας τοὺς ἀθώους ἐκ τοῦ θανάτου, διὰ τοῦτο ἡγιάσθης, ὡς μέγας μύστης Θεοῦ τῆς χάριτος.
Saintly One, (St. Nicholas) in Myra you proved yourself a priest; for in fulfilling the Gospel of Christ, venerable One, you laid down your life for your people and saved the innocent from death. For this you were sanctified as One learned in divine grace.
Λίγοι κέρδισαν τόση συμπάθεια στις συνειδήσεις των ανθρώπων, όσο ο άγιος Νικόλαος, του οποίου η Εκκλησία σήμερα γιορτάζει την μνήμη. Στον άγιο Νικόλαο πραγμαροποιήθηκε κατά λέξη ο λόγος του Κυρίου: "Μακάριοι οι πραείς, ότι αυτοί κληρονομήσουσι την γην". Το όνομα του αγίου Νικολάου είναι γνωστό σ' όλο τον κόσμο και σχεδόν δεν υπάρχει χριστιανική οικογένεια που να μην το τιμά σ' ένα της πρόσωπο. Η Εκκλησία τον ονομάζει "μυροθύκην του Παναγίου Πνεύματος", "κανόνα πίστεως και εικόνα πραότητος". Γενικά η υμνολογία της εορτής του Αγίου είναι τόσο πλούσια σε πνευματικά άνθη, και ιερό ποιητικό λυρισμό, που φανερώνει ακριβώς την ευλάβεια της Εκκλησίας προς τον κατ' εξοχήν οικογενειακό Άγιο. "Μνήμη δικαίου μετ΄εγκωμίων" λέει η θεία Γραφή και πραγματικά η μνήμη του αγίου Επισκόπου των Μύρων με πολλά εγκώμια διατηρείται και σώζεται στο πέρασμα του χρόνου μέσα στις συνειδήσεις των χριστιανών.
Our Father among the Saints Nicholas the Wonderworker, Archbishop of Myra (345)
Our beloved holy Father Nicholas is, along with St George (and second to the All-holy Theotokos), probably the best-loved Saint of the Church. His numberless miracles through the ages, on behalf of the countless Christians who have called on him, cannot be told.
He was born in Lycia (in Asia Minor) around the end of the third century, to pious Christian parents. His love of virtue, and his zeal for observing the canons of the Church, were evident from his infancy, when he would abstain from his mother's breast every Wednesday and Friday until the evening. From early youth he was inclined to solitude and silence; in fact, not a single written or spoken word of the Saint has come down to us. Though ordained a priest by his uncle, Archbishop Nicholas, he attempted to withdraw to a hermit's life in the Holy Land; but he was told by revelation that he was to return home to serve the Church publicly and be the salvation of many souls.
When his parents died, he gave away all of his inheritance to the needy, and thereafter almsgiving was his greatest glory. He always took particular care that his charity be done in secret. Perhaps the most famous story of his open-handedness concerns a debt-ridden man who had no money to provide dowries for his daughters, or even to support them, and in despair had resolved to give them into prostitution. On three successive nights the Saint threw a bag of gold into the window of the man's house, saving him and his daughters from sin and hopelessness. The man searched relentlessly to find and thank his benefactor; when at last he discovered that it was Nicholas, the Saint made him promise not to reveal the good deed until after he had died. (This story may be the thin thread that connects the Saint with the modern-day Santa Claus).
God honored his faithfulness by granting him unparalleled gifts of healing and wonderworking. Several times he calmed storms by his prayers and saved the ship that he was sailing in. Through the centuries he has often done the same for sailors who call out to him, and is considered the patron of sailors and all who go to sea.
He was elected Bishop of Myra not long before the great persecutions under Diocletian and Maximian (c. 305), and was put in prison, from which he continued to encourage his flock in the Faith. When the Arian heresy wracked the Church not long after Constantine came to the throne, St Nicholas was one of the 318 Bishops who gathered in Nicea in 325. There he was so incensed at the blasphemies of Arius that he struck him on the face. This put the other bishops in a quandary, since the canons require that any hierarch who strikes anyone must be deposed. Sadly, they prepared to depose the holy Nicholas; but in the night the Lord Jesus and the most Holy Theotokos appeared to them, telling them that the Saint had acted solely out of love for Truth, not from hatred or passion, and that they should not act against him.
While still in the flesh, he sometimes miraculously appeared in distant places to save the lives of the faithful. He once saved the city of Myra from famine by appearing to the captain of a ship full of grain, telling him to take his cargo to the city. He appeared in a dream to Constantine to intercede for the lives of three Roman officers who had been falsely condemned; the three grateful soldiers later became monks.
The holy bishop reposed in peace around 345. His holy relics were placed in a church built in his honor in Myra, where they were venerated by throngs of pilgrims every year. In 1087, after Myra was conquered by the Saracens, the Saint's relics were translated to Bari in southern Italy, where they are venerated today. Every year, quantities of fragrant myrrh are gathered from the casket containing his holy relics.
New Martyr Nicolas Karamos of Smyrna (1657)
He was a Christian living in Smyrna under Ottoman rule. One day he lost his temper in an argument and exclaimed that he would "turn Turk" before he would give way in the dispute. Immediately, some Turks watching the argument seized Nicolas and brought him before the judge to honor his promise. Nicolas, who had come to his senses, declared 'If it please God, I will never deny my Lord Jesus Christ, the true God who will come to judge the living and the dead.' The judge had the humble confessor flogged and tortured through thirty-six days, but he remained firm in his confession of Christ, despite even the tears of his mother and his wife. Finally, the judge had him hanged on March 19 1657. His torments and faithfulness were seen by some Western visitors; so moved were they that they recovered his body from the sea (where it had been cast after hanging) and took it to Europe.
St Maximus, Metropolitan of Kiev & Vladimir (1305)
He was one of the bold Confessors who opposed the false Union of Lyons perpetrated by the Emperor Michael VIII in 1274. In 1283 he became Metropolitan of Kiev (and thus of the whole Russian Church). At that time the Principality of Kiev had been reduced to ruins by the Tatar invaders. Saint Maximus received a revelation from God that he should transfer the metropolitanate from Kiev to Vladimir. On the night following the move to Vladimir, the Most Holy Theotokos appeared to the Saint, saying 'You have done well, Maximus my servant, in coming to live in my city!' She then put a mantle on his shoulders which he found when he awoke.
Saint Maximus reposed in peace in 1305. His body, interred in the Cathedral of Vladimir, was found to be incorrupt in the nineteenth century.
Sainted Nicholas, Archbishop of Myra in Lycia, and Wonderworker is famed as a great saint pleasing unto God. He was born in the city of Patara in the Lycian region (on the south coast of the Asia Minor peninsula), and was the only son of pious parents Theophanes and Nonna, who had given a vow to dedicate him to God. As the fruition of longtime prayer of his childless parents, the infant Nicholas from the very day of his birth revealed to people the light of his future glory as a wonderworker. His mother, Nonna, after giving birth was immediately healed from illness. The newborn infant while still in the baptismal font stood on his feet three times, without support from anyone, indicating by this to honour the MostHoly Trinity. Saint Nicholas from his infancy began a life of fasting, and on Wednesdays and Fridays he accepted milk from his mother only but once, after the evening prayers of his parents.
From the time of his childhood Nicholas thrived on the study of Divine Scripture; by day he would not leave church, and by night he prayed and read books -- fashioning in himself a worthy dwelling-place of the Holy Spirit. His uncle, Bishop Nicholas of Patara, rejoiced at the spiritual success and deep piety of his kinsman. He ordained him a reader, and then elevated Nicholas to the dignity of presbyter, making him his assistant and entrusting him to speak instructing the flock. In serving the Lord the youth was fervent of spirit, and in his proficiency with questions of faith he was like an elder / starets, which aroused the wonder and deep respect of believers. Constantly at work and vivacious, being in unceasing prayer, presbyter Nicholas displayed great kind-heartedness towards the flock, and towards those afflicted coming to him for help, and he distributed all his inheritance to the poor. Having learned about the bitter need and poverty of a certain formerly rich inhabitant of his city, Saint Nicholas saved him from great sin. Having three grown daughters, the despairing father considered to give them over to profligacy so as to save them from hunger. The saint, grieving lest the man perish a sinner, by night secretly brought him through the window three sacks with gold and by this saved the family from falling into spiritual destruction. In bestowing charity, Saint Nicholas always strove to do this secretly and conceal his good deeds.
In setting off on pilgrimage to the holy places at Jerusalem, the bishop of Patara entrusted the guidance of the flock to Saint Nicholas, who fulfilled this obedience carefully and with love. When the bishop returned, he in turn asked blessing for a pilgrimage to the Holy Land. Along the way the saint predicted the onset of a storm threatening the ship with inundation, since he saw the devil itself having got on ship. At the entreaty of the despairing pilgrims, he calmed by his prayers the waves of the sea. Through his prayer also was restored to health a certain sailor of the ship, who had fallen from the mast and was mortally injured.
Having reached the ancient city of Jerusalem and having come to Golgotha, Saint Nicholas offered up thanksgiving to the Saviour of the race of mankind and he made the rounds of all the holy places, doing poklons and making prayers. By night on Mount Sion the closed doors of the church opened by themselves in front of the arriving great pilgrim. Going round the holy places connected with the earthly service of the Son of God, Saint Nicholas decided to withdraw into the wilderness, but he was stopped by a Divine voice, urging him to return to his native country. Having returned to Lycia and yearning for a life of quietude, the saint entered into the brotherhood of a monastery, named Holy Sion. But the Lord again announced another pathway, awaiting him: "Nicholas, this is not the field, on which thou ought to await Mine harvest, but rather turn round and go into the world, and there My Name shalt be glorified in thee". In the vision the Lord gave him a Gospel of exquisite workmanship, and the MostHoly Mother of God -- an omophor.
And actually, upon the death of archbishop John, he was chosen bishop of Lycian Myra -- after one of the bishops of the Council gave a decisive reply on the question of choice of a new archbishop -- the choice of God as directed him in a vision -- Saint Nicholas. Summoned to the flock of the Church in the dignity of archbishop, Sainted Nicholas remained a great ascetic, appearing to his flock as an image of gentleness, kindness and love towards people. This was particularly precious for the Lycian Church during the time of persecution of Christians under the emperor Diocletian (284-305). Bishop Nicholas, locked up in prison together with other Christians, sustained them and exhorted them to bravely endure the fetters, punishment and torture. He himself the lord preserved unharmed. Upon the accession to rule of the holy equal-to-the-apostles Constantine, Saint Nicholas was restored to his flock, which joyfully received back their guide and intercessor.
Despite his great gentleness of spirit and purity of heart, Saint Nicholas was a zealous and ardent warrior of the Church of Christ. Fighting evil spirits, the saint made the rounds of the pagan temples and shrines in the city of Myra and its surroundings, shattering the idols and turning the temples to dust.
In the year 325 Saint Nicholas was a participant in the I OEcumenical Council (Sobor). This Council proclaimed the Nicean Symbol of faith, and he stood up with the likes of saints Sylvester the pope of Rome, Alexander of Alexandria, Spyridon of Trimiphuntum and others of the 318 fathers of the Council against the heretic Arius.
Saint Nicholas, in the heat of denunciation and fired up with zeal for the Lord, even gave the false-teacher a good drubbing on the ears, for which he was deprived of his bishop's omophor and put under guard. But several of the holy fathers shared a vision revealing that the Lord Himself and the Mother of God had made the saint to be bishop, bestowing upon him the Gospel and omophorion. The fathers of the Council, having concurred, that the audacity of the saint was pleasing to god, gave glory to the Lord and restored His holy saint to the dignity of bishop.
Having returned to his own diocese, the saint brought it peace and blessings, sowing the word of Truth, nipping in the bud defective and spurious claims of wisdom, uprooting heresy and healing the fallen and those led astray through ignorance. He was indeed a light in the world and the salt of the earth, wherein his life did shine and his word was mixed with the salt of wisdom.
Even during his life the saint worked many miracles. Of them the one accorded the greatest fame was the deliverance from death by the saint of three men, unjustly condemned by a greedy city-commander. The saint boldly went up to the executioner and took hold of his sword, already suspended over the heads of the condemned. The city-commander, denounced by Saint Nicholas in wrong-doing, repented himself and begged for forgiveness. During this time there were present three military officers, dispatched by the emperor Constantine to Phrygia. They did not suspect that they soon likewise would be compelled to seek the intercession of Saint Nicholas: it so happened that they had been vilely slandered before the emperor and were come under a sentence of death. Appearing in sleep to the holy equal-to-the-apostles Constantine, Saint Nicholas called on him to dismiss the wrongful death-sentence of the military officers who, now in prison, prayerfully called out for help to the saint. He worked many other miracles, and asceticised many long years at his labour. Through the prayers of the saint, the city of Myra was rescued from a terrible famine. Having appeared in sleep to a certain Italian merchant and having left him as a pledge of payment three gold money-pieces, which the merchant found in his hand upon wakening in the morning, he requested him to sail to Myra and furnish grain there. More than once did the saint save those drowning in the sea, and provide release from captivity and imprisonment.
Having reached old age, Saint Nicholas expired peacefully to the Lord (+ 345-351). His venerable relics were preserved undecayed in the local cathedral church and flowed with curative myrh, from which many received healing. In the year 1087 his relics were transferred to the Italian city of Bari, where they rest even now (about the Transfer of Relics see under 9 May).
The name of the great saint of God, the hierarch and wonderworker Nicholas, a speedy helper and suppliant for all hastening to him, is famed in all the ends of the earth, in many lands and among many peoples. In Russia there are a multitude of cathedrals, monasteries and churches consecrated in his name. There is not, probably, a single city without a Nikol'sk temple.
In the name of Sainted Nicholas the Wonderworker -- the first Russian Christian prince Askol'd (+ 882) was baptised in 866 by Patriarch Photios. Over the grave of Askol'd, the holy equal-to-the-apostles Ol'ga (Comm. 11 July) erected the first temple of Sainted Nicholas in the Russian Church at Kiev. Primary cathedrals were dedicated to Saint Nicholas at Izborsk, Ostrov, Mozhaisk, and Zaraisk. At Novgorod the Great one of the main churches of the city -- the Nikolo-Dvorischensk church, later became a cathedral. Famed and venerable Nikol'sk churches and monasteries are at Kiev, Smolensk, Pskov, Toropetsa, Galich, Archangelsk, Great Ustiug, Tobol'sk. Moscow was famed by several tens of churches consecrated to the saint, and three Nikol'sk monasteries were situated in the Moscow diocese: the Nikolo-Greek (Staryi) -- in the Chinese-quarter, the Nikolo-Perervinsk and the Nikolo-Ugreshsk. One of the chief towers of the Kremlin was named the Nikol'sk. Part of all the churches devoted to the saint were those established at market-squares by Russian merchants, sea-farers and land-goers, venerating the wonderworker Nicholas as a protector of all those journeying on dry land and sea. They sometimes received the name among the people of "Nicholas soaked". Many village churches in Russia were dedicated to the wonderworker Nicholas, reverently venerated by peasants as a merciful intercessor before the Lord for all the people in their work. And in the Russian land Saint Nicholas did not leave off with his intercession. Ancient Kiev preserves the memory about the miraculous rescue of a drowning infant by the saint. The great wonderworker, hearing the grief-filled prayers of the parents in the loss of their only child, by night snatched up the infant from the waters, revived him and placed him in the choir-loft of Saint Sophia church in front of his wonderworking image. And here in the morning the infant was found safe by his thrilled parents, praising with a multitude of the people
Saint Nicholas the Wonderworker.
Many wonderworking icons of Saint Nicholas appeared in Russia and came also from other lands. There is the ancient byzantine embordered image of the saint (XII), brought to Moscow from Novgorod, and the large icon written in the XIII Century by a Novgorod master. Two depictions of the wonderworker are especially distributed in the Russian Church: Sainted Nicholas of Zaraisk -- in full-length, with blessing right hand and with Gospel (this image was brought to Ryazan in 1225 by the byzantine princess Eupraxia, future spouse of Ryazan prince Theodore, and perishing in 1237 with her husband and infant-son during the incursion of Batu); and Sainted Nicholas of Mozhaisk -- also in full stature, with a sword in his right hand and a city in his left -- in memory of the miraculous rescue, through the prayers of the saint, of the city of Mozhaisk from an invasion of enemies. It is impossible to list all the graced icons of Saint Nicholas. Every Russian city and every church was blessed by suchlike icons through the prayers of the saint.
Sainted Maksim, successor of the Kievan Metropolitan Kirill III (1243-1280), was by birth a Greek, and he arrived in Rus', which then suffered under the Mongol (Tatar) Yoke, in the year 1283 in the dignity of Metropolitan. The saint decided to remain at Kiev, but the city was completely devastated by the plundering incursions of the Tatars. Metropolitan Maksim withdrew to Bryansk, and from there to Suzdal'. During the time of his visit from Southern Rus' to Volynia the saint met with the hegumen of the Ratsk monastery, Sainted Peter (Comm. 21 December), who would succeed him in future as metropolitan.
In 1295 the saint deposed Jakov from the bishop's cathedra at Vladimir and put there Simon. During these terrible times the Great-princely throne was situated first at Vladimir, then at Pereslavl', then at Tver'.
Apprehensive lest he insult the South Russian princes by his removal to the north, the saint turned in heated prayers to the Mother of God and was granted inspiration by the MostHoly Mother of God, Who pointed to Vladimir as the place of his residence. In the year 1299 Metropolitan Maksim resettled at Vladimir, and in the following year at Novgorod he established as bishop Sainted Theoktist (Comm. 23 December). In 1301 Metropolitan Maksim arrived at Constantinople for a Patriarchal Council, where at the urging of the bishop of Saraisk Sainted Theognost he set forth for resolution questions about the needs of the Russian Church. Concerned about rebuilding the strength of subjugated Rus', the saint urged the Moscow prince Yuri Danilovich to make peace with the Tver' prince Mikhail Yaroslavich, and he advised Yuri journeying to the Horde for receiving the Great-princely throne. In 1304 the saint installed upon the Great-princely throne at Vladimir the holy Nobleborn Prince of Tver', Mikhail Yaroslavich (Comm. 22 November). Giving everyone example of intense spiritual life, Metropolitan Maksim was constantly concerned about the spiritual growth of his proverbial flock. Thus, the saint established rules about fasting, besides Great Lent specifying it for the Apostles', Dormition and Nativity lenten periods, and he defined when the fast on Wednesdays and Fridays is allowed (until the XIV Century in Russia they did not observe fast on the Mid-Feast and Leave-taking of Pascha). The holy metropolitan was particularly concerned with an affirmation of lawful marriage: "I write therefore about all this, so that ye my children, born in baptismal font and newly-sanctified, will take for your wife from the Holy, Catholic (Soborni) and Apostolic Church, -- for the woman is unto the salvation of the man. If ye cleave to them in profligacy without marriage: what doth it benefit thee? No, but rather beseech ye and implore them whether young or old to be married in the Church". The saint reposed on 6 December 1305, and his body was buried in the Vladimir Uspenie cathedral. Over the place of the saint's grave was built a gilded covering, on which was written in gold lettering: "Maksim the Greek ordained in the year 6791 in the existence of the world and having come to Kiev in the year 1283 after the Birth of Christ, because of his sharing in the Tatar onslaught he resettled from Kiev to the Great-Russian city of Vladimir; Maksim shepherded the Church of Christ for 23 years, and he reposed in the year 6813". On the wall over the grave of the saint was put the Maksimovsk Icon of the Mother of God, written in the year 1299 in a vision to Metropolitan Maksim. An inscription about this vision was embellished on the left side of the crypt.
THE PROLOGUE FROM ORCHID:
1. Saint Nicholas the Wonderworker, Archbishop of Myra in Lycia
This glorious saint, celebrated even today throughout the entire world, was the only son of his eminent and wealthy parents, Theophanes and Nona, citizens of the city of Patara in Lycia. Since he was the only son bestowed on them by God, the parents returned the gift to God by dedicating their son to Him. St. Nicholas learned of the spiritual life from his uncle Nicholas, Bishop of Patara, and was tonsured a monk in the Monastery of New Zion founded by his uncle. Following the death of his parents, Nicholas distributed all his inherited goods to the poor, not keeping anything for himself. As a priest in Patara, he was known for his charity, even though he carefully concealed his charitable works, fulfilling the words of the Lord: Let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth (Matthew 6:3). When he gave himself over to solitude and silence, thinking to live that way until his death, a voice from on high came to him: ``Nicholas, for your ascetic labor, work among the people, if thou desirest to be crowned by Me.'' Immediately after that, by God's wondrous providence, he was chosen archbishop of the city of Myra in Lycia. Merciful, wise and fearless, Nicholas was a true shepherd to his flock. During the persecution of Christians under Diocletian and Maximian, he was cast into prison, but even there he instructed the people in the Law of God. He was present at the First Ecumenical Council of Nicaea  and, out of great zeal for the truth, struck the heretic Arius with his hand. For this act he was removed from the Council and from his archiepiscopal duties, until the Lord Christ Himself and the Most-holy Theotokos appeared to several of the chief hierarchs and revealed their approval of Nicholas. A defender of God's truth, this wonderful saint was ever bold as a defender of justice among the people. On two occasions, he saved three men from an undeserved sentence of death. Merciful, truthful, and a lover of justice, he walked among the people as an angel of God. Even during his lifetime, the people considered him a saint and invoked his aid in difficulties and in distress. He appeared both in dreams and in person to those who called upon him, and he helped them easily and speedily, whether close at hand or far away. A light shone from his face as it did from the face of Moses, and he, by his presence alone, brought comfort, peace and good will among men. In old age he became ill for a short time and entered into the rest of the Lord, after a life full of labor and very fruitful toil, to rejoice eternally in the Kingdom of Heaven, continuing to help the faithful on earth by his miracles and to glorify his God. He entered into rest on December 6, 343.
2. Saint Nicholas, Bishop of Patara
Nicholas was the uncle of the great St. Nicholas, and it was he who guided him to the spiritual life and ordained him a priest.
3. The Holy Martyr Nicholas Karamos
Nicholas was cruelly tortured for the Christian Faith by the Turks and was hanged in Smyrna in the year 1657.
4. Saint Theophilus, Bishop of Antioch
A man well educated in Hellenic philosophy, Theophilus, after reading the Holy Scriptures, was baptized and became a great defender of the Christian Faith. His work ``On the Faith'' is preserved even today. He governed the Church of Antioch for thirteen years and entered into rest in the year 181.
HYMN OF PRAISE
Saint Nicholas the Wonderworker, Archbishop of Myra in Lycia
Holy Father Nicholas,
The four corners of the world glorify you
As a knight of the powerful Faith,
The Faith of God, the true Faith.
From the cradle he was devoted to God,
From the cradle until the end;
And God glorified him-
His faithful Nicholas.
Famous was he throughout his life,
And even more renowned after death;
Mighty on earth was he,
And even more mighty is he in heaven.
Glowing spirit, pure heart,
He was a temple of the Living God;
For this the people glorify him
As a wondrous saint.
Nicholas, rich in glory,
Loves those who honor him as their ``Krsna Slava'';
Before the throne of the eternal God,
He prays for their good.
O Nicholas, bless us,
Bless your people
Who, before God and before you,
Humbly stand in prayer.
In icons of St. Nicholas, the Lord Savior is usually depicted on one side with a Gospel in His hands, and the Most-holy Virgin Theotokos is depicted on the other side with an episcopal omophorion in her hands. This has a twofold historical significance: first, it signifies the calling of Nicholas to the hierarchical office, and second, it signifies his exoneration from the condemnation that followed his confrontation with Arius. St. Methodius, Patriarch of Constantinople, writes: ``One night St. Nicholas saw our Savior in glory, standing by him and extending to him the Gospel, adorned with gold and pearls. On his other side, he saw the Theotokos, who was placing the episcopal pallium on his shoulders.'' Shortly after this vision, John the Archbishop of Myra died and St. Nicholas was appointed archbishop of that city. That was the first incident. The second incident occurred at the time of the First Ecumenical Council in Nicaea. Unable to stop Arius through reason from espousing the irrational blasphemy against the Son of God and His Most-holy Mother, St. Nicholas struck Arius on the face with his hand. The Holy Fathers at the Council, protesting such an action, banned Nicholas from the Council and deprived him of all emblems of the episcopal rank. That same night, several of the Holy Fathers saw an identical vision: how the Lord Savior and the Most-holy Theotokos were standing around St. Nicholas-on one side the Lord Savior with the Gospel, and on the other side the Most-holy Theotokos with a pallium, presenting the saint with the episcopal emblems that had been removed from him. Seeing this, the fathers were awestruck and quickly returned to Nicholas that which had been removed. They began to respect him as a great chosen one of God, and they interpreted his actions against Arius not as an act of unreasonable anger, but rather an expression of great zeal for God's truth.
Contemplate the sinful fall of Adam and Eve (Genesis 3):
1. How God cursed the serpent;
2. How He imposed upon Eve the pain of child-bearing and on Adam the burden of toil;
3. How He cursed the ground in the works of man;
4. How He did not curse ground as ground but rather in thy works, i.e., in the works of man.
on the absence of sin in the works of God
And God saw that it was good (Genesis 1).
Brethren, everything that was created, and the means by which the pure and sinless God created it, is pure and sinless. Every creature of God is pure and sinless as long as it is turned toward God, as long as it is neither separated from God nor hostile to God. Every creature of itself praises and glorifies God as long as it is pure and sinless. That is why the Psalmist sings: Let everything that hath breath praise the Lord. Alleluia! (Psalm 150:6). Every intelligent creature of God feels that its natural and primary purpose is to praise the Lord. Thus, brethren, people ask: ``If this is so, from whence comes evil into the world?'' It comes from sin, and only from sin. Sin changed a bright angel into a devil. The devil willingly made himself a vessel of sin and then hurried to make other creatures of God similar vessels. By their own free choice, other angels consented to sin with the devil, and afterward the first people, Eve and Adam, consented. From this proceeded the mixture of good and evil in the world. However, even today, that which is of God in creation is good, as it was in the first days of creation. Poison came from sin, for sin is indeed poison, the most bitter poison that exists. Sin was the cause of the curse. It brought about the darkening of minds and caused created things to become hostile toward their Creator. It distanced man from God, and man from man, and man from nature, and nature from man. O my brethren, all that comes from God is good, and all that comes from sin is evil. No evil exists that is bound to God, and there exists no kind of evil that is not bound to sin. Many philosophers have examined the essence of evil, and because of their crude minds they have asserted that evil is in matter and that matter is evil. However, only we Christians know that sin is the essence of evil and that evil has no essence other than sin. It is obvious from this that if we desire to protect ourselves from evil, we must protect ourselves from sin.
O sinless God, help us to protect ourselves from sin and the corruption of sin.
To Thee be glory and praise forever. Amen.