Saint Nicholas the Wonderworker Archbishop of Myra in Lycia

My beloved spiritual children 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.

ON DECEMBER SIXTH OUR HOLY ORTHODOX CHRISTIAN CHURCH COMMEMORATES THE FEAST-DAY OF SAINT NICHOLAS THE WONDERWORKER ARCHBISHOP OF MYRA IN LYCIA THE LIFE OF ST. NICHOLAS

Saint Nicholas, the Wonderworker, Archbishop of Myra in Lycia is famed as a great Saint pleasing unto God. He was born in the city of Patara in the region of Lycia (on the south coast of the Asia Minor peninsula), and was the only son of pious parents Theophanes and Nonna, who had vowed to dedicate him to God.

As the fruit of the 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 hours, without support from anyone, thereby honoring the Most Holy Trinity. Saint Nicholas from his infancy began a life of fasting, and on Wednesdays and Fridays he would not accept milk from his mother until after his parents had finished their evening prayers.

From 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, making himself a worthy dwelling place for the Holy Spirit. Bishop Nicholas of Patara rejoiced at the spiritual success and deep piety of his nephew. He ordained him a reader, and then elevated Nicholas to the Priesthood, making him his assistant and entrusting him to instruct 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, who aroused the wonder and deep respect of believers. Constantly at work and vivacious, in unceasing prayer, the priest Nicholas displayed great kind-heartedness towards the flock, and towards the afflicted who came to him for help, and he distributed all his inheritance to the poor.

There was a certain formerly rich inhabitant of Patara, whom Saint Nicholas saved from great sin. The man had three grown daughters, and in desperation he planned to sell their bodies so they would have money for food. The Saint, learning of the man's poverty and of his wicked intention, secretly visited him one night and threw a sack of gold through the window. With the money the man arranged an honorable marriage for his daughter. Saint Nicholas also provided gold for the other daughters, thereby saving the family from falling into spiritual destruction. In bestowing charity, Saint Nicholas always strove to do this secretly and to conceal his good deeds.

The Bishop of Patara decided to go on pilgrimage to the holy places at Jerusalem, and entrusted the guidance of his flock to Saint Nicholas, who fulfilled this obedience carefully and with love. When the bishop returned, Nicholas asked his blessing for a pilgrimage to the Holy Land. Along the way the Saint predicted a storm would arise and threaten the ship. Saint Nicholas saw the devil get on the ship, intending to sink it and kill all the passengers. At the entreaty of the despairing pilgrims, he calmed the waves of the sea by his prayers. Through his prayer a certain sailor of the ship, who has fallen from the mast and was mortally injured was also restored to health.

When he reached the ancient city of Jerusalem and came to Golgotha, Saint Nicholas gave thanks to the Savior. He went to all the holy places, worshiping at each one. One night on Mount Sion, the closed doors of the church opened by themselves for the great pilgrim. Going round the holy places connected with the earthly service of the Son of God, Saint Nicholas decided to withdraw into the desert, but he was stopped by a divine voice urging him to return to his native country. He returned to Lycia, and yearning for a life of quietitude, the Saint entered into the brotherhood of a monastery named Holy Sion, which had been founded by his uncle. But the Lord again indicated another path for him, "Nicholas, this is not the vineyard where you shall bear fruit for Me. Return to the world, and glorify My Name there." So he left Patara and went to Myra in Lycia.

Upon the death of Archbishop John, Nicholas was chosen as Bishop of Myra after one of the bishops of the Council said that a new archbishop should be revealed by God, not chosen by men. One of the elder bishops had a vision of a radiant Man, Who told him that the one who came to the church that night and was first to enter should be made Archbishop. He would be named Nicholas. The Bishop went to the church at night to await Nicholas. The Saint, always the first to arrive at church, was stopped by the Bishop. "What is your name, child?" he asked. God's chosen one replied, "My name is Nicholas, Master, and I am your servant."

After his consecration as Archbishop, Saint Nicholas remained a great ascetic, appearing to his flock as an image of gentleness, kindness and love for people. This was particularly precious for the Lycian Church during the persecution of Christians under the pagan Roman Emperor Diocletian (284-305 A.D.). Bishop Nicholas, locked up in prison together with other Christians for refusing to worship idols, sustained them and exhorted them to endure the fetters, punishment and torture. The Lord preserved him unharmed. Upon the accession of Saint Constantine (+May 21st) as Emperor, Saint Nicholas was restored to his flock, which joyfully received 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 A.D. Saint Nicholas was a participant in the First Ecumenical Council. This Council proclaimed the Nicean Symbol of Faith, and he stood up against the heretic Arius with the likes of Saints Sylvester the Bishop of Rome (+January 2nd), Alexander of Alexandria (+May 29th), Spyridon of Trimythountos (+December 12th) and other Holy Fathers of the Council (Synod).

Saint Nicholas, fired with zeal for the Lord, assailed the heretic Arius with his words, and also struck him upon the face. For this reason, he was deprived of the emblems of his Episcopal rank and placed under guard. But several of the Holy Fathers had the vision, seeing the Lord Himself and the Mother of God returning to him the Gospel and Omophorion. The Holy Fathers of the Synod agreed that the audacity of the Saint was pleasing to God, and restored the Saint to the Office of Bishop.

Having returned to his own Diocese, the Saint brought it peace and blessings, sowing the word of Truth, uprooting heresy, nourishing his flock with sound doctrine, and also providing food for their bodies.

Even during his life the Saint worked many miracles. One of the greatest was the deliverance from death of three men unjustly condemned by the Governor, who had been bribed. The Saint body went up to the executioner and took his sword, already suspended over the heads of the condemned. The Governor, denounced by Saint Nicholas for his wrong doing, repented and begged for forgiveness.

Witnessing this remarkable event were three military officers, who were sent to Phrygia by the Emperor Constantine to put down a rebellion. They did not suspect that soon they would also be compelled to seek the intercession of Saint Nicholas. Evil men slandered them before the Emperor, and the officers were sentenced to death. Appearing to Saint Constantine in a dream, Saint Nicholas called on him to overturn the unjust sentence of the military officers.

He worked many other miracles, and struggled many long years at his labor. Through the prayers of the Saint, the city of Myra was rescued from a terrible famine. He appeared to a certain Italian merchant and left him three gold pieces as a pledge of payment. He requested him to sail to Myra and deliver grain there. More than once, the Saint saved those drowning in the sea, and provided release from captivity and imprisonment.

Having reached old age, Saint Nicholas peacefully fell asleep in the Lord. His venerable relics were preserved incorrupt in the local Cathedral Church and flowed with curative myrrh, from which many received healing. In the year 1087, his holy relics were transferred to the Italian city of Bari, where they rest even now (See May 9th).

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 every corner 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, perhaps, not a single city without a church dedicated to him.

The first Russian Christian prince Askold (+882) was baptized in 866 by Patriarch Photius (February 6th) with the name Nicholas. Over the grave of Askold, Saint Olga (July 11th) built the first temple of Saint 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...(Source: Orthodox Church In America)

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His All-Holiness Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia in his homily on the holy feast of Saint Nicholas the Wonderworker at the Iveron Cathedral, the former Nikolo-Perervinsky Monastery, Moscow, Russia, stated: "...Our memory of Saint Nicholas is so alive that we often turn to him every day, asking his help in our lives. We receive a reply from him: our prayers are answered. He appears to us through his presence in our lives, including through his miraculous and myrrh-streaming holy relics preserved in the city of Bari, which are profusely covered in fragrant myrrh. This myrrh is collected annually and pilgrims visiting Bari have the possibility of anointing themselves with it.

What is Saint Nicholas famous for? What was the basis of his marvelous life? We all know well the Saint's troparion: in it we all him a "rule of faith and model of meekness." It is impossible to put this any better--the entire meaning of the Saint's life was that he was a rule of faith and a model of meekness.

Meekness is a Christian virtue that modern man has a difficult time understanding. After all, one's worldview is largely shaped by one's stereotypes that are found within the public consciousness. But in modern society a conception of meekness is lacking, and the practical worldview generated by everyday life all but excludes it. Many today consider that the foundation of success--and many view success as the goal of life--is a constant fight. The world is constructed according to the laws of competition and competitiveness. If within this competitiveness everyone were to strive to show his best side, hurting no one, this would be justifiable, comprehensible, and perhaps even beneficial. More often than not, however, the competitiveness in which we are engaged is accompanied by conflict, a desire to weaken others, to defeat them, and to insure one's own victory on the basis of their defeat. What room is there here for meekness, given that meekness is nothing other than the manifestation of one's inner humility? It is expressed externally through one's lack of irritability, anger, and spite..."

"...In the end, human humility is a great force; with it, one can reach one's goals without harming others, without causing them any hurt or damage. Constructing such relationships gives joy and peace, rest and quiet to the heart. One's conscience is clean: one has hurt no one, tread on no one, cheated no one. How sweet is such a victory, how remarkable such achievements feel when they are realized without any harm to others! It indeed takes a great deal of strength to live one's life in this way. But if there is a worldview at the basis of our actions, then there is also a defined worldview at the basis of meekness, namely the Christian view of life formed by Christian faith. We say that Saint Nicholas is a "model of meekness" because he was a "rule of faith." If one's life is based on faith, then one's inner humility and meekness become a natural manifestation of this faith..." (Orthodox Christianity and the World, translated from Russian).

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DIVINE SERVICES ON DECEMBER 6TH:

Orthros (Matins) at 9:00 a.m.
Divine Liturgy at 10:00 a.m.

Followed by the service of Artoklasia (Blessing of the Five Loaves of Bread, wheat, wine and oil)

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MY BLESSING TO ALL OF YOU

The Grace of Our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God and Father, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all. Amen.

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"Glory Be To GOD For All Things!"--Saint John Chrysostom

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

+Father George