“Do you want to see an angel?”

St. Nektarios and his instructions

November 9/22 we remember St. Nektarios of Aegina, a modern ascetic and wonderworker. His life is amazing: the Lord manifested in a visible and tangible way His care for those who please Him.

    

St. Nektarios (Anastasios Kefalas in the world) was born into a large, poor family in the Thracian village of Silivri, not far from Constantinople. He survived many afflictions in his life; he was faced with jealousy, hatred, and slander, in order to understand that truly everywhere and at all times “those desiring to live piously in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.”

The saint acquired the gifts of the Holy Spirit: unceasing prayer and spiritual discernment, healing, clairvoyance, and prophecy. When he served the Divine Liturgy, in a prayerful state, his face radiated light which was visible to others.

St. Nektarios of Aegina was a man of exceptional kindness, giving away everything he had. When he had no money for giving alms he would give his clothes and shoes to those in need. Once, while serving the Liturgy in an Athenian church, some poor priest entered into the altar. His riassa was shabby and full of patches. The saint gave him his only riassa.

Every time that the saint gave away everything he had, and his wallet was emptied, he went to church and stretched out his hand before the icon of the Savior of the Mother of God and said: “You see, Christ God, I have no money… But You know…” And the Lord would send him His blessing.   

During St. Nektarios’ tenure as director of the theological school in the center of Athens the janitor suddenly became seriously ill. He was very afraid of losing his job. Not yet fully recovered from his illness, the janitor went to the school to find it in perfect order. Figuring that they had already replaced him, the poor man became terribly upset. His wife, also quite upset, advised him to go to work early in the morning to try to speak with the new janitor. He arrived at the school at five in the morning and saw his “replacement,” which turned out to be the saint himself. He had swept the restroom, saying to himself: “Sweep, Nektarios—it’s the only thing you’re worthy of doing.” The saint told the patient: “Don’t worry, I’m not taking your spot—on the contrary, I’m doing this to save it for you until you’re fully recovered… But be careful: as long as I’m living in this world, no one should know about what you have seen.” St. Nektarios was engaged in physical labor, sometimes very heavy, in the monastery he founded on Aegina. He dug the beds and looked after the garden himself, carried water for irrigation, and moved huge rocks to build the cells and even made and repaired shoes.

Fr. Philothoes (Zervakos), abbot from the island of Paros, recalled:

In August 1910 I sailed to Aegina to receive the saint’s blessing. By noon I had reached the monastery. The sun was blazing mercilessly. Outside the monastery walls I saw an elderly white-bearded man, head covered by a straw hat, bottom half of his cassock pulled up and tucked behind his belt. He was shoveling dirt and rocks into a wheelbarrow and pushed it for sixty meters. Not realizing it was Vladyka Nektarios, my spiritual advisor, I took him for a worker, wearing a cassock so as not to soil his clothes, or a novice. I went up to him, greeted him, and asked: “Is Vladyka Nektarios here?” “Yes,” he answered. “He’s here. What do you want from him?” “Go tell him that a deacon, one of his spiritual children, wants to see him.” “Right away. May it be pleasing to God,” he said… In a few minutes he returned in a klobuk and a riassa with wide sleeves. Then I realized, that the man I had taken for a worker was the saint. I never would have thought that the metropolitan could do such work at an hour when everyone was taking their afternoon naps.”

Even on Aegina, in that blessed place, many trials and temptations, with which his greatly sorrowful life was filled, awaited the saint. There was a widow named Lazara living there who sold candles. She had a very beautiful and pure daughter Maria, who, nevertheless, she constantly yelled at and accused of licentiousness. The girl found shelter in the monastery, and in the person of the saint a patron and spiritual father. Then Lazara went to the court in Piraeus and falsely accused the saint of promiscuity. The very next day, the enraged judge, accompanied by two policemen, went to Aegina, and, in a rage, harshly accused the saint, flippantly insulted him and even threatened to tear out the holy elder’s beard. The saint did not answer the ridiculous accusations and insults, but only silently prayed. The nuns were crying in horror and called out: “Lord, have mercy!” The poor girl was summoned to the court and sent for a humiliating examination by a gynecologist who established her chastity. The judge became seriously ill and immediately understood that he was being punished for his actions against a holy man. He fervently repented of his behavior and asked to be taken to Aegina to beg forgiveness from the saint. St. Nektarios forgave him and prayed for him, and the judge recovered.

Near the monastery there was a well and the nuns would draw water from it for working on the restoration of the monastery. They needed a lot of water and the level declined sharply, so the owner of the well forbade the nuns to use it. St. Nektarios prayed and just as he was praying there rang out the sound of mighty water—a flood of pure, fresh water filled the well to the brim. Then the owner, filled with the fear of God and gratitude, gave the well to the monastery.

St. Nektarios with the faithful after Liturgy, Evia, 1893 St. Nektarios with the faithful after Liturgy, Evia, 1893
    

Abbess Nektaria of the Chrysoleontissa Monastery, a spiritual child of St. Nektarios, told about how a group of pilgrims came to him once at the monastery. The sisters’ table was already set in the trapeza, the foot was already out on plates, and the pans were empty. Bewildered, the nuns turned to their spiritual father. The saint told them to put the food back in the pots and pans, and then blessed it. When the same food was put out on the table again there turned out to be enough for the sisters and for the monastery’s guests, with three full plates remaining.

Mother Nektaria also recalled about how the spiritual world was open to him: “One day I was walking with my spiritual father, when he suddenly asked: ‘Nektaria, would you like to see your angel?’ ‘Oh, yes,’ I answered. ‘I want to see him.’ ‘Look,’ he said, ‘your angel is in front of you.’” And she truly saw her angel, but his appearance was so brilliant that she was afraid.

The residents of Aegina witnessed numerous miracles accomplished through the prayers of St. Nektarios. Once there was a severe drought and the people and animals were threatened with famine. One night one of the peasants knocked on the gate of the monastery and asked St. Nektarios to pray for rain. The saint said: “Let’s pray to God, and may He hear the prayer of the peasant and act according to his faith.” Then he raised his hands to heaven and began to pray. An hour later a terrible storm broke out over the island, lasting all night. The threat of drought was averted.

Thanks to St. Nektarios’ prayers, robbing and pillaging ceased on the island, and even the climate changed, becoming more favorable for agriculture.

During the war, soldiers from Aegina would go to the saint for a blessing before departing for the front. The sisters of the monastery recorded their names. The list would then be placed on the altar, and the saint prayed for them. Everyone who received the blessing of the holy elder returned from war wholly unscathed, without a single exception.

After the war, the former German commander of Athens admitted that military pilots flying out to bomb Crete, flying past the island of Aegina simply could not see the island, despite good visibility and the lack of cloud cover.

Once, when St. Nektarios was praying in contrition, an amazing peace descended upon his heart. The Most Holy Theotokos herself appeared to him accompanied by a host of angels, singing in a special melody:

O pure and virgin Lady, O spotless Theotokos

Rejoice, O unwedded Bride!

O Virgin Queen and Mother, O dewy fleece most sacred

Rejoice, O unwedded Bride!

O height transcending heaven above, O beam of light most radiant

Rejoice, O unwedded Bride!

O joy of chaste and virgin maids, surpassing all the angels        

Rejoice, O unwedded Bride!

O brilliant light of heaven above, most clear and most radiant

Rejoice, O unwedded Bride!

Commanding chief of heaven above, O holiest of holies

Rejoice, O unwedded Bride!

O ever-virgin Mary, O Mistress of creation

Rejoice, O unwedded Bride!

O Bride all-pure and spotless, O Lady all-holy

Rejoice, O unwedded Bride!

O holy Mary, Bride and Queen, O cause of our rejoicing

Rejoice, O unwedded Bride!

O Maiden Queen most hon'rable, O Mother most holy

Rejoice, O unwedded Bride!

More precious than the cherubim, more glorious than the seraphim

Rejoice, O unwedded Bride!

Surpassing principalities, dominions, thrones and powers

Rejoice, O unwedded Bride!

Rejoice, song of the cherubim, Rejoice, hymn of the angels

Rejoice, O unwedded Bride!

Rejoice, ode of the seraphim, and joy of the archangels

Rejoice, O unwedded Bride!

Rejoice, o peace; Rejoice, o joy, and haven of salvation

Rejoice, O unwedded Bride!

O bridal chamber of the Word, unfading, fragrant blossom

Rejoice, O unwedded Bride!

Rejoice, delight of paradise, Rejoice, life everlasting

Rejoice, O unwedded Bride!

Rejoice, o holy tree of life, and fount of immortality

Rejoice, O unwedded Bride!

Rejoice, O unwedded Bride!

Afterwards this prayer became the famous hymn “Agni Parthene.” It can be heard at services in America and in Russia and in Greece it would be hard to find anyone who would not sing it.

The blessed repose of St. Nektarios followed on Sunday, November 8/21, on the day of the Synaxis of Archangel Michael and the Other Bodiless Powers. Having communed of the Holy Mysteries of Christ, St. Nektarios of Aegina peacefully departed to the Lord. He had just turned seventy-four.

The body of the saint remained in the hospital ward for eleven hours, and from the very first minutes exuded a sweet fragrance. A local paralytic was lying in his bed there. When they changed St. Nektarios’ clothes, they laid them on the paralytic’s bed, and he got up and walked, giving praise to God and the holy elder. Thus the Lord glorified the saint with his first miracle.

Farewell to St. Nektarios. Fresco Farewell to St. Nektarios. Fresco
    

Many miraculous healings occurred by the prayers of St. Nektarios after his blessed repose. He died from a severe and excruciating cancer, and, after his burial he intercedes for those who have no one and no hope on earth—those hopeless cases doomed to a quick death.

In 1961 St. Nektarios of Aegina was numbered among the saints of the Greek Orthodox Church.

Instructions of St. Nektarios

On Sorrows

Any sorrow, patiently endured, becomes a step towards perfection.

Happiness is found within ourselves

How mistaken are those people who search for happiness outside of themselves: in foreign countries and travels, in riches and glory, in great possessions and enjoyments, in pleasures and excess, and in empty things, which in the end are bitterness!

To build a tower of happiness outside our own heart is like building a house on a spot that continually suffers earthquakes.

Happiness is found within ourselves, and blessed is he who has realized this.

He who has a pure heart is a beloved child of God

A good conscience is the greatest of all the blessings. It is the price of a peaceful soul and tranquil heart.

Whoever has a pure heart, who does not experience accusations from his own heart, who does good and that which is pleasing and perfect in the eyes of God, who carefully observes the commandments of God, the same has boldness to stand before God. Everything that he asks he receives from God.

He who has a pure heart is a beloved child of God. The Spirit of the Son lives in his heart, and he receives everything he asks for, finds all that he seeks, and doors are opened to him when he knocks.

Not a goal, but a means

Fasting, vigil, and prayer by themselves do not bring the desired fruit, because they are not the purpose of our life, but constitute the means for achieving our goal.

Be attentive to your minor falls

Be attentive to your minor falls. If some sin befalls you from inattentiveness, don’t despair, but pull yourself together and kneel before God Who has the power to raise you up.

Within ourselves we have deeply rooted weaknesses, passions and flaws, many of which are hereditary. All of this cannot be broken with one sharp movement, or a worrisome and difficult experience, but by patience and perseverance.

Don’t lose heart and don’t be afraid

Remember that after temptation follows spiritual joy and that the Lord watches over those who endure temptations and sufferings for the sake of His love. So, don’t lose heart and don’t be afraid.

Entrust all your cares to the Lord: He will take care of you.

Entreat God and don’t lose courage. Don’t think that because your desire is holy, you have the right to complain when your prayers go unheard. God will fulfill your desires in some way you don’t know about. So, calm down and invoke God.

Ask God for love every day

Ask God for love every day. Along with love comes all the many blessings and virtues.

Sanctification abandons the confused and angry heart

Sanctification abandons the confused and angry heart, darkened by hatred for one’s neighbor. Make peace with your brother more quickly, to not deprive yourself of the grace of God, which sanctifies our hearts.

He who is at peace with himself and at peace with his neighbor is at peace with God. Such a person is filled with holiness, because God Himself abides in him.

Don’t impose upon yourself more than you can bear

Don’t impose upon yourself more than you can bear. Remember that God does not bestow His gifts under duress, but when He Himself wants to. Everything He gives you, you receive undeservedly, according to His mercy.

Grace is sent as a gift to those who have been cleansed from the passions

Those who seek Divine gifts and insights, while being immersed in passion, dwell in stupid and proud delusion. Above all it is necessary to work upon cleansing ourselves.

Grace is sent as a gift to those who have been cleansed from the passions. And they receive it quietly and in an hour they don’t know.

Through the prayers of our holy fathers, O Lord Jesus Christ, our God, have mercy upon us!

Olga Rozhneva
Translated by Jesse Dominick

Pravoslavie.ru

11/22/2016

Comments
ChiRho12/1/2016 5:14 pm
Thank you for the excellent article on St. Nektarios. It is always beneficial to hear stories from his life. Pray to God for us Holy One of God!
Jesse Dominick11/23/2016 3:23 pm
Anthony, that is what the article says: November 9/22 means November 9 on the new calendar, and November 22 on the old calendar.
Anthony11/22/2016 10:58 pm
Correction: Pater Nektarie's feast day is celebrated on the 22/11 (or 09/11 if you're a new calendarist)
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