Thursday, 2 December 2010

St Nicholas the Wonderworker, Archbishop of Myra in Lycia

This Saint lived during the reign of Saint Constantine the Great, and reposed on December 6th 330 – the day on which the Orthodox Church commemorates him (as well as May 9th – the transfer of his relics – and July 29th – his nativity).
Born of well-to-do parents, Nicholas inherited his parents’ estate and became known for his generous gifts to those in need. This probably explains his basis for the Santa Claus legends. As a young man, he desired to espouse the solitary life. He made pilgrimages to Palestine and Egypt and 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 continued to be 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 reputedly 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. He is the patron saint of many countries – notably Greece and Russia - of all travellers, and of sea-farers in particular; he is one of the best known and best loved Saints of all time.

Apolytikion for St Nicholas (Tone 4)

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.

Words of Wisdom

In death the soul that has come to know God through the Holy Spirit experiences a measure of dread when the angels bring her before the Lord, since while living in the world she was guilty of sin. But when the soul beholds the Lord, she rejoices in His meek and merciful countenance, and the Lord in the abundance of His gentleness and love remembereth not her sins. One glance at the Lord, and love of Him will take up its abode in the soul, and from love of God and the sweetness of the Holy Spirit she will be completely transformed.