St. Nicholas Archbishop of Myra the Wonderworker
Commemorated 6 December
The festivals ought to influence our life, to vivify and kindle our faith in future blessings, and maintain in us a pious and gentle disposition. Yet they are mostly spent in sin and folly and met with unbelieving, cold hearts, often wholly unprepared to feel the great mercies which God has vouchsafed to us through the particular event or person whose festival is celebrated. In asking anything of the Lord, or of His Most-pure Mother, or of the Angels and Saints, it is needful to have such faith as the centurion of Capernaum had. He believed that in the same manner as his soldiers obeyed him and fulfilled his words, so much more, at the Almighty Word of the All-merciful God, his request would be fulfilled. If creatures with their limited powers fulfilled that which He asked them to do, then will not the Master Himself through His Almighty power fulfil the requests of His servants who turn to Him with faith and hope? Will not the Most-pure Mother of God, the Angels and Saints, His true servants mighty through grace and in intercession with God, also fulfil our requests offered with faith, hope, and love? They will indeed; and I believe, with the centurion, that if I pray as I ought, and for what I ought, to any Saint: Grant me this, he will grant it to me; Come to my help, he will come; Do this, and he will do it. This is the simple, firm faith that we must have! If you invoke any saint doubting that he is near you and hears you, and your heart is oppressed and contracted, conquer yourself, or, rather, overcome, with the help of the Lord Jesus Christ, the calumniator (the Devil) nestling in your heart; call upon the saint with the hearty assurance that he is near you in the Holy Spirit and hears your prayer, and you will at once feel relieved.
Saint Nicholas was, and still is, compassionate and merciful to men, by the grace of God. He always was, and still is, ready to hear those who call upon him sincerely, through the same merciful heart which he had during his lifetime, and which he still possesses, by the grace of God. Now, is not the Lord Himself compassionate and merciful, and much more compassionate and merciful? Infinitely more, as He Himself is infinitely greater than Saint Nicholas.
The Angels and the Saints are also near to us in their names, as their names and our faith in them are near to our hearts; for they are nothing else but the breath of God, and are “one spirit with the Lord.”[ Corinthians vi. 17].
What a close connection there is between the Church in heaven and the Church upon earth! What love the Church has! See: she unceasingly remembers, calls upon in prayer, and glorifies the Church in heaven for the great deeds accomplished on earth for God’s sake; she unceasingly prays for the Church upon earth, and intercedes for the departed, in the hope of the resurrection, of the life eternal, and of union with God and the Saints. Her love is immense, grand, divine! Let us enter into the spirit of this love of our Mother, the orthodox Church, and let us be penetrated with the spirit of this love. Let us look upon all our brethren as our own members, upon ourselves and them as members of the one body of the Church, and let us love them actively, as ourselves; then we ourselves shall be living members of the Church in heaven, and she will be our active and speedy helper and intercessor.
Excerpts compiled from: My Life in Christ or Moments of Spiritual Serenity and Contemplation, of Reverent Feeling, of Earnest Self-Amendment, and of Peace in God, St. John of Kronstadt.
Many years have passed since the marvellous miracle which occurred on the feast day of St. Nicholas in the holy monastery of Gregoriou. The well-known monk Hadjigiorgis the fasting One was at that time the novice Gabriel. The fathers were sad because due to bad weather, they ad not been able to fish for food to be offered for the festal dinner. But Gabriel did not despair. His trust and hope was St. Nicholas. He immersed himself in total prayer and supplication. Shortly thereafter, on the eve of the feast, strong waves washed many big, beautiful fish onto the monastery’s shore. As soon as the fathers saw them, they ran to gather hem up in preparation for dinner, glorifying and singing he praises both of Him Who supplies food and of their protector, St. Nicholas.
“What are you doing?” he asked. “Is this all the wheat you have? No more?”
The fathers replied that this was all they had indeed, and: that they were unable to buy any more because of the Occupation. It should be noted that 10,000 okas’ weight of J wheat were needed a year for the monastery’s survival, and they could not buy even one oka of it.
The unknown priest took a few wheat kernels in his hand, 1 blessed them and threw them on top of the rest of the wheat. I He blessed the four points of the horizon, the monastery, and the sea, and then was about to leave.
“Where do you come from?” the fathers asked him. “Stay J to have some bread and olives!”
“I come from very far away—from Lycia’s Myra,” he said and departed.
One of the brothers had in the meantime gone for some food to offer their visitor, but the elder who was the monastery’s actual protector had vanished. The remaining 150 okas of blessed wheat lasted to the end of the year, that is, from the month of December when St. Nicholas appeared to them, until the following July when the new crop came.
From “On the Wondrous Interventions of the Mighty Right Hand of Divine Providence,” An Athonite Geronikon: Sayings of the Holy Fathers of Mount Athos, compiled by Archimandrite Ioannikios Kotsonis, translated from the Greek by sisters of the Holy Monastery of St. Gregory Palamas, published 2003 by Holy Monastery of St. Gregory Palamas in Thessaloniki.
Apolytikion (Fourth Tone)
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.
At the Apostikha, these Stikhera, in Tone 5: To the melody, “Rejoice…”
Rejoice, O pure mind,
Undefiled dwelling place of the Trinity,
The pillar of the Church, the hope of the faithful, and the help of the distressed,
Star, whose rays of prayers disperse the darkness of temptation and sorrow,
Calm haven of those surrounded by the storms of life,
For, all who seek refuge in thee are saved.
Beseech Christ to grant our souls great mercy.
Rejoice, thou who with divine zeal
Didst deliver those who, through the slander of evil,
Were awaiting an unjust death.
O fountain of Myra overflowing bountifully with myrrh that fills our souls
Chasing away the foul stench of the passions!
O sword cutting down the weeds of error
And fan, blowing away the straw teachings of Arius.
Beseech Christ to send our souls great mercy.
Glory…, in Tone 6:
O come, all ye who love the feasts of the Church,
And with songs of praise let us ever glorify
The adornment of hierarchs and pride of the fathers,
The fountain of miracles, the great defender of the faithful,
And let us cry out [to him] with love:
Rejoice, O guardian of the people of Myra [in Lycia],
Rejoice, unshakeable pillar [of the Church] and most-honored elder,
Rejoice, O bright and luminous star,
Rejoice, for the light of thy miracles illumines the ends of the earth,
Rejoice, divine joy of those in sorrow and zealous champ’ion of the oppressed.
And now, O all blessèd Nicholas,
Cease not to intercede before Christ [our] God
For those who honor thy joyous and festive memory with faith and love.