Beloved brothers and sisters in Our Risen Lord, God and Only True Savior Jesus Christ,
CHRIST IS RISEN! TRULY HE IS RISEN! ΧΡΙΣΤΟΣ ΑΝΕΣΤΗ! ΑΛΗΘΩΣ ΑΝΕΣΤΗ!
Save me, O God, by Your name, And vindicate me by Your strength. Hear my prayer, O God; Give ear to the words of my mouth, For strangers have risen up against me, For strangers have risen up against me, And oppressors have sought after my life; They have not set God before them. Behold, God is my helper; The Lord is with those Who uphold my life. He will repay my enemies for their evil. Cut them off in Your truth. I will freely sacrifice to You; I will praise Your Name, O Lord, for it is good. For He has delivered me out of all trouble; And my eye has seen its desire upon my enemies.
On May 22nd Our Holy Orthodox Christian Church commemorates, honors and entreats the holy intercessions of the following Saints, Forefathers, Fathers, Patriarchs, Prophets, Apostles, Preachers, Evangelists, Martyrs, Confessors, Ascetics and Teachers of Our Holy Orthodox Christian faith: Holy Martyr Vasiliskos, Bishop of Comana; St. Demetrius and Paul of Tripoli.
THE HOLY MARTYR BASILISKUS. A kinsman of St. Theodore the Tyro, he was martyred together with Eftropius and Cleonimus. When these two were crucified and gave up the spirit, St, Vasiliskos was taken back to prison. A change of governors occurring at this time, St. Vasiliskos remained a long time confined in prison. He besought God with tears that He would not deprive him of a martyr's death for His sake. After he had prayed at length, the Lord Jesus appeared to him and promised to fulfill his desire, sending him to his village to say farewell to his mother and brothers. Thereupon the new governor, Agrippa, arrived and set to have St. Vasiliskos brought from the village immediately. On the way to the city of Amasea, the Lord worked great wonders through His martyr, bringing many of the people to faith in Christ. Agrippa ordered the martyr to offer sacrifice to Apollyon. "Apollyon" means "Destroyer", said St. Vasiliskos, and, with fervent prayer, he knocked the idol to dust and burned the temple with fire from heaven. The terrified Agrippa attributed this all to magic, and ordered that Saint Vasiliskos be beheaded with the sword. Agrippa immediately became insane and, in his madness, went to the place of execution, found a little of the martyr's blood in the dust and smeared it on himself under his belt, being restored to health by it. Having come to his senses, he was baptized. Later, a certain Marinus, a citizen of Comana (the place of Vasiliscus's execution) built a church over the martyr's holy relics, and many of the sick found healing there.
+By the holy intercessions of Your Saints and Holy Martyrs, O Christ Our God, have mercy on us and save us. Amen.
TODAY'S SACRED SCRIPTURAL READINGS ARE THE FOLLOWING:
Holy Epistle Lesson: Acts 17:19-28
Holy Gospel Lesson: 12:19-36
FOR YOUR PERSONAL REFLECTION AND CONTEMPLATION
"If all men were unjust to me, it would be a blessing! I tell you sincerely, the sweetest spiritual joy I have felt has been through injustice." [Geronda Paisios of Mount Athos]
FROM THE LIFE OF SAINT NIKON
by Denis F. Sullivan
[source: The Life of Saint Nikon.]
And so the blessed one, if not through the power of his word, but through that of virtue, was a wise fisherman and skilled in hunting souls of men. And with divine words he directed all to immortality not by the teachings of human wisdom, but by the teachings of the Holy Spirit. And thereafter, then, the Cretans, believing he was an apostle sent from God, made known his deeds throughout the island. And they all then, flocked to him, as is reasonable, and considered his doing God-like, and all that was ordered by him was to them law...He organized them and told them how to live and for five years properly decided all that came to him on appeal, so as to allow no Cretan to be incomplete in goodness.
Saint Nikon Metanoeite ("The Preacher of Repentance") was born in Pontus Polemoniacus at the beginning of the10th century. Saint Nikon had a remarkable gift of preaching. When he spoke of virtue and spiritual matters, his listeners were filled with heartfelt compunction and love for God. His spiritual fruit in those who heard him that he was asked to travel through the eastern regions to preach. He visited Armenia, Crete, Evoia, Aegina, and the Peloponnesus, proclaiming the Gospel of Christ.
"Repent, for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand." This was the message of St. John the Baptist (St. Matthew 3:2), and of Christ Himself (St. Matthew 4:17). This was also the message of Saint Nikon. Wherever he went, he would begin his sermons with "Repent", hence he was called "St. Nikon Metanoieite," or "St. Nikon, the Preacher of Repentance."
At first, people paid little heed to his message. Then gradually he won their hearts through his preaching, his miracles, and his gentle, loving nature. He stressed the necessity for everyone to repent, warning that those who utter a few sighs and groans and think that they have achieved true repentance have deluded themselves. Saint Nikon told the people that true sorrow for one's sins is cultivated by prayer, self-denial, almsgiving, ascetical efforts, and by confession to one's spiritual father.
After sowing the seeds of piety, Saint Nikon began to see them bear fruit. People started to change their lives, but he urged them to strengthen their souls in virtue and good works so that they would not be overwhelmed by the cares of this world.
Eventually, St. Nikon settled in a cave outside Sparta, Greece. Soon he moved into the city, because so many people were coming to hear him. In the center of Sparta, he built a church dedicated to Christ the Savior. In time a monastery grew up around the church.
Saint Nikon never ceased to preach the Word of God, and to lead people back to the spiritual life of the Church. He also healed the sick, and performed many other miracles.
Saint Nikon fell asleep in the Lord in 998 A.D., and his memory was honored by the people around Sparta. During the Turkish occupation of Greece, however, he was all but forgotten, except in Sparta. After the Greek Revolution in 1821, a service to Saint Nikon was composed by Father Daniel Georgopoulos, and was based on the Saint's life, which had been written by Egoumenos Gregory of St. Nikon's Monastery in 1142.
Saint Nikon was recognized as the patron Saint of the diocese of Monemvasia and Lakedaimonia in 1893 when the cathedral church in Sparta was dedicated to Saint Nikon, the Preacher of Repentance.
Holy Father Nikon intercede for us. Amen.
With sincere agape in Our Risen Lord Jesus Christ,
The sinner and unworthy servant of God