Gleanings from Orthodox Christian Authors and the Holy Fathers

nicholas

He (Nicholas) began to consider where he should go, either to his fatherland, the town of Patara, or to another place. Fleeing vainglory among his fellow citizens and fearing it, he thought of removing himself to another town where no one would know him. In this same Lycian land was the renowned city of Myra, which was the metropolis of all Lycia. To this city came St. Nicholas, led by divine providence. Here he was known to no one; and he remained in this city as a pauper, having nowhere to lay his head. Only in the house of the Lord did he find shelter, having his only refuge in God. At that lime the bishop of this city, John, the archbishop and foremost hierarch of the entire land of Lycia, died. Consequently all the bishops of Lycia gathered in Myra in order to choose a worthy one for the vacant throne. Many respected and prudent men were nominated as successors to John. Among those who were doing the choosing there was a great discord, and certain among them, led by Divine zeal, said: "The election of a bishop to this throne is not up to the decision of people, but is a matter of God's direction. It is proper for us to say prayers so that the Lord Himself will disclose who is worthy to receive such rank and be the shepherd of the whole land of Lycia."

This good counsel met with general approval and all devoted themselves to fervent prayer and fasting. The Lord Who fulfills the desires of those that fear Him, attending to the prayer of the bishops then revealed to the oldest of them His good will. When this bishop stood at prayer, before him appeared a man in an image of light and commanded him to go to the doors of the church during the night and observe who will enter before everyone else. "This," said He, "is My choice; receive him with honor and install him as archbishop; the name of this man is Nicholas."

The bishop informed the rest of the bishops about such a divine vision, and these, hearing this, increased their prayers. The bishop who had been considered worthy of the revelation stood in that place where it was ordered in the vision, and awaited the coming of the desired man. When the time came for the morning service, St. Nicholas, urged by the spirit, came to the church before all, for he was accustomed to rise at midnight for prayer and come earlier than the others for the morning service. As soon as he entered the narthex, the bishop who had been vouchsafed the revelation stopped him and asked him to tell his name. St. Nicholas remained silent. The bishop again asked him about his name. The saint meekly and softly answered him: "My name is Nicholas, I am the servant of thy holiness, Master." The pious bishop, hearing such a brief and humble speech, understood by the very name Nicholas foretold him in vision, as well as by the humble and meek answer, that before him was the very man whom God was pleased to have as foremost bishop of the church of Myra. For he knew from Holy Scripture that the Lord takes care of the meek, the silent, and those who tremble before the word of God. With great joy he rejoiced, as if he had received some secret treasure. Immediately taking St. Nicholas by the hand, he told him: "Follow me, child."

When with honor he led the saint to the bishops, they were filled with divine delight, and being relieved in spirit that they had found the man indicated by God Himself, they conducted him to the church. Rumor about this spread everywhere and innumerable multitudes of people flocked swifter than birds to the church. The bishop who had been deemed worthy of the vision addressed the people and exclaimed: "Brethren, receive your shepherd whom the Holy Spirit Himself anointed and to whom He entrusted the care of your souls. He was not appointed by an assembly of men, but by God Himself. Now we have the one that we desired, and have found and accepted the one we sought. Under his rule and instruction we will not lack the hope that we will stand before God in the day of His appearing and revelation."

All the people gave thanks to God and rejoiced with ineffable joy. Not being able to endure the praise of men, for a long time St. Nicholas refused to accept the sacred office; but yielding to the ardent requests of the council of bishops and all the people, he ascended the episcopal throne against his will. To this he was impelled by a Divine vision which he had yet before the death of Archbishop John. Concerning this vision St. Methodius, patriarch of Constantinople, relates. Once he said St. Nicholas saw at night that before him stood the Savior in all His glory and gave him a Gospel ornamented with gold and pearls. On the other side of himself St. Nicholas saw the most holy Theotokos who placed on his shoulders the episcopal omophorion. After this vision a few days passed, and Archbishop John of Myra died.

Recalling this vision and seeing in it the clear will of God, and not wishing to refuse the fervent entreaties of the council, St. Nicholas accepted the flock. The council of bishops with all the church clergy performed over him the ordination and joyously celebrated, made glad by the shepherd given of God, Nicholas, the hierarch of Christ. By this means the Church of God received a bright lamp which did not remain under a bushel, but was set on the episcopal and pastoral place proper to him. Having been honored with this great office, St. Nicholas rightly divided the word of truth and wisely guided his flock in the teaching of faith.

In the beginning of his pastorship the servant of God said to himself thus: "Nicholas! The rank received by you requires different habits, so that you live not for yourself but for others." St. Nicholas of Myra, commemorated 6 December







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St Nicholas Russian Orthodox Church, McKinney, Texas