Beloved brothers and sisters in Christ Our Only True God and Our Only True Savior,
CHRIST IS IN OUR MIDST! HE WAS, IS, AND EVER SHALL BE. Ο ΧΡΙΣΤΟΣ ΕΝ ΤΩ ΜΕΣΩ ΗΜΩΝ! ΚΑΙ ΗΝ ΚΑΙ ΕΣΤΙ ΚΑΙ ΕΣΤΑΙ.
A SOLEMN PRAYER TO OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST
O Christ our God, Who at all times and in every hour, in heaven and on earth, are worshiped and glorified; Who are long-suffering, merciful and compassionate; Who loves the just and shows mercy upon the sinner; Who calls all to salvation through the promise of blessings to come; O Lord, in this hour receive our supplications, and direct our lives according to Your Commandments. Sanctify our thoughts, cleanse our minds; deliver us from all tribulation, evil and distress. Encompass us with Your Holy Angels, that guided and guarded by them, we may attain to the unity of the faith and to the knowledge of Your unapproachable glory, for You are Blessed unto age of ages. Amen.
On November 9th Our Holy Orthodox Christian Church commemorates, honors and entreats the holy intercessions of the following Saints, Forefathers, Fathers, Patriarchs, Prophets, Preachers, Apostles, Evangelists, Martyrs, Confessors, Ascetics, Teachers and every righteous spirit made perfect in Our Holy Orthodox Christian faith: Saint Nektarios the Wonderworker of Pentapolis; Saint Onesiphoros and Porphyrios of Emphesus; Saint Matrona of Constantinople; Saint Theoctiste of Lesvo; Saint Symeon.
+By the holy intercessions of Your Saints, Holy Martyrs, Holy Fathers, Holy Hierarchs, Holy Mothers, O Christ Our God, have mercy on us and save us. Amen.
SAINT NEKTARIOS BISHOP OF PENTAPOLIS. When we think of Saints, we often think of holy people who lived centuries ago. Saint Nektarios, on the contrary, lived and died in the earlier part of the twentieth century. Saint Nektarios, earthly name was Anastasios, as he was called, was from a very poor family in 19th century Selybria, in Thrace. He attempted to board a ship to Constantinople to find work, but he had no money for a ticket. The engines of the ship roared, yet it would not move until young Anastasios was permitted aboard. En route, the sea once raged, but Anastasios dipped his cross, which contained a piece of the True Cross, into the water three times, praying "Silence! Be still." The waters became still, but he lost his cross. As the ship continued, a loud continuous knocking was heard from beneath the ship. When they arrived at their destination, the sailors found the cross stuck to the bottom of the ship, as if the Holy Cross of our Lord led the ship...When he was 29 years of age, he was tonsured a monk on the island of Chios. A year later he was ordained a Deacon. A pious man of means, John Horemas of Chios, had come to know Nektarios and offered to provide the financial aid necessary. Unfortunately, this benefactor passed away before Nektarios had the opportunity to complete his studies. All was not lost however because the Patriarch of Alexandria, Sofronios, who had knowledge of Nektarios, helped him complete his theological studies. The Patriarch sent him to study theology in Athens, and he was ordained Priest Nektarios (when you become a monk your name is changed). Upon graduation was ordained to the Priesthood in 1886 by Patriarch Sofronios.
For the next three years Saint Nektarios served in various capacities at the Patriarchate of Alexandria. He was elevated to the Episcopacy as Metropolitan of Pentapolis on January 15, 1889. It must be remembered that in those years Alexandria, Egypt, was a major center with a sizable and very prosperous population of Greek Orthodox. It was not long before Saint Nektarios' faith and character so endeared him to the people that they began to consider him a worthy successor to Patriarch Sofronios.
All his life Saint Nektarios had faced one trial after another, overcoming them in the steadfastness of his faith. But yet another trial looked before him in Alexandria.
Envy and jealousy prompted certain elements in Alexandria to falsely accuse Saint Nektarios of plotting to overthrow Patriarch Sofronios and take the Throne for himself. Saint Nektarios was forced to leave Alexandria. The years that followed were difficult indeed. Living in abject poverty and even scorn, he was once again being tested. He suffered as a pauper, but he persevered, and his integrity and his wisdom shone through. Finally he was given a position of Dean of the Rizarios School of Theology, a minor theological seminary in Athens. Here follows an example of Saint Nektarios' humility and compassion: it is said that when the janitor of the seminary became ill, Saint Nektarios secretly did the janitorial work at the school during the night. No one therefore became aware of the janitor's absence. Thus, the janitor continued to be paid during his recuperation, and therefore his family did not go hungry.
Saint Nektarios expressed his humility once again when, upon the death of Patriarch Sofronios, he was invited to become Patriarch of Alexandria. Where others might have seized the opportunity to vindicate themselves, he declined.
In 1910 he helped begin a women's monastery of the Holy Trinity and became a spiritual father with healing powers for many throughout Greece. Ten years later, he was taken from Aegina to a hospital ward in Athens for the poor and incurable. He was diagnosed with an illness of the bladder, cystitis. This illness, which he endured without complaint for almost two years, inflicts severe pain. Saint Nektarios suffered silently. He gave up his spirit there, and they prepared him for burial. His sweater was placed on the nearby bed of a paralytic, who suddenly regained his strength and walked. The room, which has since become a shrine, was filled with a beautiful fragrance for many days after his repose in the Lord our God. Healings are seen throughout the world to this day by the Saint's holy prayers. He is considered the patron Saint of those with cancer, heart, trouble, arthritis, for those who are seeking a job, and epilepsy.
Saint Nektarios lived from 1846 until 19209. On November 9th (1920) Saint Nektarios reposed in the Lord and was buried in a special chapel which he had built. Orthodox Christians continued to flock to the Monastery of the Holy Trinity, to pay their respect and veneration at the Shrine of Saint Nektarios. Miracles continue to take place at his grave site year after year. The Patriarchate of Constantinople proclaimed Nektarios a Saint in 1961.
Saint Nektarios is a true icon of Christian love and patience. We are all called to love all people and to encourage them. As people of faith, we offer prayers as a means of help for all. Saint Nektarios encourage others by being with them at difficult times. He prayed to God to give them peace and courage to face their problems.
Agni Parthene (Gr. Αγνή Παρθένε) is a non-liturgical hymn composed in Greek by Saint Nektarios of Aegina in the 19th century during his tenure as director of the Rizarios Theological School of Athens. Saint Nektarios liked to compose hymns in honor of the Mother of God (Theotokos) to deepen his personal prayer and relationship with her. The tradition passed down at the monastery of the Holy Trinity, in Aegina, Greece, is that the Lady herself appeared before him and requested that he record on paper a particular hymn the Angelic Choirs were about the sing. This hymn was the "Agni Parthene". The original script can still be viewed on his prayer table in his bedroom at this monastery.
The original melody to this hymn was composed by an Athonite hymnographer who is said to also have had a vision of the Ever-Virgin Mary prior to composing the work. The recording of this melody by the Monks of Simonopetra at Mount Athos has contributed significantly to the popularization of the hymn.
The hymn of the Pure Virgin is part of A Small Theotokarion (Athens,1905) a book of Hymns to the Theotokos written by Saint Nektarios.
Apolytikion (Dismissal) Hymn. First Tone.
O faithful, let us honor Nektarios, divine servant of Christ, offspring of Silivria and guardian of Aegina, who is these latter years was manifested as the true friend of virtue. All manner of healing wells forth for those who in piety cry out, "Glory to Christ Who glorified you; glory to Him Who, through you, wrought wonders; glory to Him Who, through you, works healing for all.
WRITINGS OF SAINT NEKTARIOS OF AEGINA
"Christian religion is not a certain philosophic system, about which learned men, trained in metaphysical studies, argue and then either espouse or reject, according to the opinion each one has formed. It is faith, established in the souls of men, which ought to be spread to the many and be maintained in their consciousnesses. There are truths in Christianity that are above our intellectual comprehension, incapable of being grasped by the finite mind of man. Our intellect takes cognizance of them, becomes convinced of their reality, and testifies about their supernatural existence. Christianity is a religion of revelation. The Divine reveals its glory only to those who have been perfected through virtue. Christianity teaches perfection through virtue and demands that its followers become holy and perfect."
"Seek God daily. But seek Him in your heart, not outside it. And when you find Him, stand with fear and trembling, like the Cherubim and the Seraphim, for your heart has become a throne of God. But in order to find God, become humble as dust before the Lord, for the Lord abhors the proud, whereas He visits those that are humble in heart, wherefore He says: "To whom will I look, but to him that is meek and humble in heart?"
"The Divine Light illumines the pure heart and the pure intellect, because these are susceptible to receiving light; whereas impure hearts and intellects, not being susceptible to receiving illumination, have an aversion to the light of knowledge, the light of truth; they like darkness...God loves those who have a pure heart, listens to their prayers, grants them their requests that lead to salvation, reveals Himself to them and teaches the mysteries of the Divine nature."
"The term church, according to the strict Orthodox view, has two meanings, one of them expressing its doctrinal and religious character, that is, its inner, peculiarly spiritual essence, and the other expressing its external character. Thus, according to the Orthodox confession, the Church is defined in a twofold manner: as a religious institution, and as a religious community (koinonia).
The definition of the Church as a religious institution may be formulated thus: The Church is a divine religious institution of the New Testament, built by our Savior Jesus Christ through His Incarnate Dispensation, established upon faith on the day of Holy Pentecost by the descent of the All-Holy Spirit upon the Holy Disciples and Apostles of the Savior Christ, Whom He rendered instruments of Divine grace for the perpetuation of His work of redemption. In this institution is entrusted the totality of revealed truths; in it operates Divine grace through the Mysteries (Sacraments); in it are regenerated those, who with faith, approach Christ the Savior; in it has been preserved both the written and the unwritten Apostolic teaching and tradition."
"Sacred Tradition is the very Church; without the Sacred Tradition the Church does not exist. Those who deny the Sacred Tradition deny the Church and the preaching of the Apostles. Before the writing of the Holy Scriptures, that is, of the sacred texts of the Gospels, the Acts and the Epistles of the Apostles, and before they were spread to the churches of the world, the Church was based on Sacred Tradition...The holy texts are in relation to Sacred Tradition what the part is to the whole.
The Church Fathers regard Sacred Tradition as the safe guide in the interpretation of Holy Scripture and absolutely necessary for understanding the truths contained in the Holy Scripture. The Church received many traditions from the Apostles...The constitution of the church services, especially of the Divine Liturgy, the Holy Mysteria (Sacraments) themselves and the manner of performing them, certain prayers and other institutions of the Church go back to the Sacred Tradition of the Holy Apostles.
In their conferences, the Holy Synods draw not only from Holy Scriptures, but also from Sacred Tradition as from a pure fountain. Thus, the Seventh Ecumenical Council says in the 8th Decree: "If one violates any part of the Church Tradition, either written or unwritten, let him be anathema."
Personal note: Please know that Saint Nektarios has written volumes on every aspect of our Orthodox Christian faith that I will reveal to all of you slowly so that you may be inspired and blessed by them and our beloved Saint Nektarios.
With sincere agape in His Holy Diakonia,
The sinner and unworthy servant of God