of St Nicholas
Redeeming the Time Vol. 01.09 27th Sunday after Pentecost Dec 8/21 1997
Redeeming the Time
St. Nicholas Orthodox Church Dallas TX
See then that ye walk circumspectly,
not as fools, but as wise,
redeeming the time,
because the days are evil.
27th Sunday after Pentecost
Dec 8/ 21 1997
St Patapius of Thebes
Miracles Among Us *
The Miracle of the Candles *
A Copy of the Iveron Icon Streamed Myrrh *
Clarity of Vision *
Ten Questions about St Nicholas *
News and Announcements *
Please plan ahead for Nativity and Theophany *
Parish Work Days *
On the Way to Emmaus *
Luke 24: 12-25 *
28th Monday after Pentecost Dec 9/22 *
Luke 19:37-44 *
II Timothy 2:20-26 *
Answers to Ten Questions about St. Nicholas *
Gleanings from the Fathers *
Which is the virtue which requires the greatest effort? *
The Heart is ever changing *
The following is a letter sent to and Orthodox Mailing List. Read carefully.
Date sent: Sat, 20 Dec 1997 14:23:27 -0400
From: email@example.com (Matushka Deborah Johnson)
Subject: New Wonders: Brother Jose and the Iveron Icon
December 7/20, 1997 St. Ambrose
Dear Fathers, Brothers, and Sisters in Christ,
With Fr. Victor's blessing, I would like to share 3 of the many miracles which have occurred recently relating to the Myrrh-Streaming Iveron Icon of the Mother of God, and to Brother Jose Munoz-Cortes, the recently martyred guardian and keeper of that Icon. These accounts will also be posted on our website: http://www.stjohndc.org. I hope and pray that hearing of these wonders of God will be a consolation, as it has been for us at St. John's, and that it will give us all strength in carrying our crosses.
In Christ's love, Matushka Deborah Johnson
St. John the Baptist Russian Orthodox Cathedral
This miracle occurred at Jordanville Monastery, on Tuesday, December 9th (ns). A parishioner at our church, Reader Daniel Olson, had gone up to Jordanville to pray at the 40th day pannichida for Brother Jose. He arrived late Monday, and discovered that the 40th day pannichida had already been said. He had thought it would be on Tuesday because the one at our church was scheduled for Tuesday. There is some ambiguity as to the actual day that Jose was killed, whether it was October 30th or 31st (Halloween - Satan's high holy day.) Fr. Alexander Iwasewicz, who was with Jose very shortly before his death, believes that he was killed on October 31st.
Reader Daniel was disappointed that he had missed the pannichida. He asked Hieromonk Averky if he would say a pannichida for Brother Jose on Tuesday morning. Fr. Averky agreed. That night, Daniel met Matushka Maria (Potapov) and Maria (Shala) Rae, also from Washington. Matushka and Shala had come to Jordanville for Jose's pannichida; however, they had been there since Sunday and had not missed the Monday pannichida. Daniel told them about the pannichida scheduled for the next day.
On Tuesday, Matushka Maria, Shala, and Reader Daniel went with Fr. Averky to the gravesite. Snow was on the ground, and it was cold and windy. There were 5 candles, two large and three small ones, in the ground around the grave. These were candles which Matushka and Shala had tried to light on Sunday (2 days earlier), but had not been able to light, because of the constant wind blowing at the hillside gravesite. They had given up trying to light the candles, and put them in the snow on the grave. They had also tried, unsuccessfully, to light them at the pannichida on Monday. A candle would stay lit only for a second or two, then the wind would blow it out. They were told not to bother trying to light the candles, that they would never stay lit in such wind, on the hill.
On Tuesday, Daniel also tried to light the candles, even though there was no apparent hope that they would light, but everyone felt it would be good to at least try and perhaps they would stay lit for a few seconds. The candles would not stay lit for more than 1 or 2 seconds. Daniel couldn't even light the charcoal for the incense because of the wind, so Fr. Averky suggested that he go into the back of the car to light it, where it would be shielded from the wind.
During the time that Daniel was lighting the charcoal, Fr. Averky began to recount a miracle, which had happened to him relating to Brother Jose. Fr. Averky's back was in very bad shape, so bad that he was scheduled for surgery, and much to his sorrow, he couldn't attend the whole funeral. He was, however, able to go into the church and venerate Jose's body. Fr. Averky's cell is on the ground floor of the bell tower. As they took the casket out for the procession to the gravesite, Fr. Averky came out of his cell to watch at a distance. He then noticed a very strong wave of the fragrance of the myrrh, and felt it wash over him. Others who were there reported noticing this also. He later found upon visiting the doctor that for now, he doesn't need the surgery. Others also reported healings.
While Fr. Averky was recounting this miracle to Matushka and Shala, and right before their eyes, all 5 of the candles spontaneously lit up at once. They were amazed and awe-struck. At first they stopped talking, and then began to emotionally exclaim the wonder, which had just occurred in front of their eyes. Daniel came back from the car to see what the commotion was about. They told him that all 5 candles had lit at once. They remained lit. They remained lit for at least 15 minutes, when the 3 smaller ones blew out. The two larger ones remained lit throughout the ensuing pannichida. The wind would blow them out for a brief moment, and then they would re-light. Matushka said that every time the wind blew the flame out, she and Shala felt pain in their hearts, but then the candles would immediately re-light.
After the pannichida (which had begun around 11:00 A.M.,) Matushka and Shala went to lunch. Fr. Averky immediately went and told Archbishop Laurus and Archimandrite Luke about the miracle. Matushka and Shala returned to the gravesite around 1:00 P.M. The candles were still burning. They felt an overwhelming sense of grace, gratitude, and consolation in the presence of the miracle. They left again and came back around 2:00 P.M. The candles were still burning. They felt very happy - like little children. They took several pictures at each of these different times. It was time for them to leave, but on the way out they stopped and told Fr. Luke that the candles were still burning.
Archimandrite Luke went to the cemetery around 3:00 P.M., and the candles were still burning - 4 hours later. He left, and returned to the grave around 6:00 P.M. By then it was dark. The two candles were still burning. Fr. Luke said they were about 2 inches tall now, at the level of the snow. At Brother Jose's grave, the candles had now been burning for over 7 hours, on the cold windy hillside. When Fr. Luke returned 2 days later, the candles were gone.
This miracle began on Wednesday night, December 17th, at St. John the Baptist Russian Orthodox Cathedral (Washington, D.C.) The parish council had met in the parish hall, and the choir had finished rehearsing in the church. Fr. Victor had shared with the council the content of a letter he had just completed, concerning the events surrounding Brother Jose's martyric death, and the Myrrh-Streaming Icon of the Mother of God. As the meeting ended, he invited the council to join him in the church for a molieben to the Mother of God of Iveron, asking for her blessing upon the completion and mailing of this letter to Metropolitan Vitaly and the Synod of Bishops of the Russian Church Abroad. They planned to follow the molieben with a pannichida for Brother Jose.
They went into the church, and Fr. Victor went into the altar to retrieve a copy of the Iveron Icon. This copy is a large photograph mounted on wood in the usual way, approximately 8 by 10 inches. As Fr. Victor placed the Icon on the analogion, he noticed that it was glistening. At first he thought that maybe he had accidentally spilled holy water on the Icon. But then he touched the substance and found it was myrrh. There was a faint fragrance of flowers. There was a group of people standing nearby, and he called them over. They took the Icon to look at it under a light, and saw that several streams of myrrh had appeared on it. They immediately began a molieben and akathist to the Iveron Mother of God.
Fr. George called me as I had already gone home after the choir rehearsal. As soon as I walked in the house, the phone rang. It was Fr. George. He was in tears. He said the Icon was streaming myrrh. I turned around and drove back to the church, along with Christopher, our son, and Mary O'Brien, another parishioner at St. John's. On the way we picked up Sonia Potapov, Fr. Victor's daughter. When we arrived the akathist had begun. There were approximately 30 to 40 people there already.
The Icon spent the night on the altar. No more myrrh had appeared by Thursday morning. Thursday night, during the Vigil for St. Nicolas, the Icon again began to stream. Friday morning (yesterday) after the Liturgy, we said another molieben/akathist to the Theotokos. There were several places on the Icon where myrrh had appeared. The Icon remains in the altar.
This miracle occurred at Brother Jose's grave on Monday, December 15th (ns). A man named Peter Nelson, who lives near and works at the monastery, and whose eyesight was so bad that he was legally blind without his eyeglasses, was praying during a pannichida for Jose. Half way through the pannichida, he realized that he didn't have his glasses on - he had forgotten them. He had been following the service - not realizing that he was reading it without his glasses. The words became as clear as day, and he felt uplifted. This clarity of vision lasted almost 2 days. During that time, he could read the very smallest print.
What does the name "Nicholas" mean?
St Nicholas was born in Patara, and became bishop of what place? Where is this?
What was the extraordinary event that took place at the saint's baptism?
St Nicholas fasted even as a baby. Describe how.
St Nicholas was very zealous for the faith, so zealous that he put an arch heretic to shame, with words and deeds. Describe the event.
How was St Nicholas chosen to be a bishop?
St Nicholas is especially venerated by a particular category of workmen. Which? What other types of help is he known for?
St Nicholas is known as a protector of captives. This stems from his numerous appearances and intercessions for prisoners and those condemned to death. To which king did he appear in a dream? Tell the circumstances.
St Nicholas is remembered by the church regularly on a weekly basis. How?
Where are St Nicholas' relics?
(Answers near the back)
The Nativity of the Savior, which we all know is December 25th, is on January 7th (civil calendar). This is a WEEKDAY (Wednesday). Everyone must take care to make arrangements at work. Work a little extra, or take a vacation day. Fr Seraphim will take two vacation days (Tuesday and Wednesday). There will be very important services the two days before Nativity. The Pre-festival service (on Dec 24th) is especially important.
Holy Theophany occurs on a Monday this year (January 19, civil calendar). Make sure to make arrangements for this service as well. Fr Seraphim will bless houses that day, and we will have a festive meal as well.
The Reader Paul Sanchez was tonsured by Bishop Gabriel at our sister parish, St Vladimir's in Houston, last weekend. We now have a whole phalanx of pious readers, who are called upon not only to chant the services, help serve in the altar, and know the typicon, but also to provide a pious example for the rest of the church. They are:
We will have a parish Jan 1st (civil date). Please make plans to help. This is our best opportunity to prepare the church for the Nativity of the Savior.
Please continue to pray for Tim Clader, who is recovering from a serious fall, which shattered one of his ankles. Also, please remember the always suffering handmaiden of God, Mother Seraphima.
The daily scripture readings for the 28th week after Pentecost, 1997 (the coming week AFTER the publication date of this journal) are from 2 Timothy, Titus, and Luke. Almost all scripture readings are on the St. Nicholas Calendar. All Orthodox Christians must have a scripture reading discipline, if they are serious about saving their souls. As your pastor, I beg of you that you at least read the daily readings.
Matinal Gospel 5
Matinal Gospel five was read in this Sunday's matins.
I want to tell you something about this Gospel. This matinal Gospel is not only a recounting of sacred history; it is also a type or a template for the Christian life. It is an example of how we should live, and what we should expect! For spiritual edification, we can look at this story in an allegorical way and glean much benefit from it.
This story shows very clearly the path of the Christian life. The two apostles of the 70, on the way to Emmaus, were very disheartened, they were frightened, they were beat down, but they were not without faith. They did not understand (they did not believe that Christ was risen you know), but in some way they still had faith and the desire to know our Savior and serve Him.
So, our Lord meets them on the way. Imagine this picture! Two disheartened, frightened men are walking in the heat of the day, to a city that is a full day's journey away, no knowing really what tomorrow would bring, but certainly suspecting that it would bring the point of a sword. Our Lord comes to them, and speaks to them on the way, and they donít see Him and don't know Him. Their eyes were holden that they could not see Him.
This is the way that it is for us so many times, brothers and sisters. We walk, on a long journey on the way, and many times we do not see. We only know by faith, we only know by our sure convictions, and something that is in our heart that warms us, and we know that we are following the true path. And, even if we cannot conquer a sin, or don't know the purpose of this or that, or the reason why something is happening to us or to a loved one, we still walk on the way. This is the way that Christ walks. We must walk with Christ! We must be in the way in which He walks, just like the apostles, just like the blind men. This is a long way, and the day is indeed far spent before God fully reveals Himself to us. This will be at the end of the age, but a foretaste of this revealing, a true "piece" of it, as it were, is in the breaking of bread. Our Lord enlightened His two disciples in the breaking of bread, and they saw Who He was.
What happened? The day was far spent, the sun was setting, and they were tired. It would be a long and dangerous trip back, and there are robbers on the road, and what did they do? They made haste to go back, taking hours and hours, arriving in the wee hours of the morning, way past midnight, and the other apostles were up. They said He has appeared unto Simon; He is risen. And they corroborated this with their own testimony.
The two disciples were Luke, who wrote this gospel, and Cleophas, who was the brother of St. Joseph the Betrothed. He wrote with conviction, just like St. John wrote, who said "what I say is true." He wrote this way because he saw, and he believed, and he experienced and he believed. This seeing and experiencing can only be accomplished when we may a great effort to walk in the heat of the day, struggling against our hot passions.
This gospel is a deep mine. We can extract many golden nuggets from it, and they will make us rich, because they will show us how to live. Even in the midst of what is wrong with us, it shows us how to live. It shows us what will happen if we follow on that road and on that journey. It contains historical fact, but more importantly, it contains spiritual fact. It is what God will do to a man. He will enlighten him, and make him able to see, over the course of time. God help us to be on this road until the end of our life, so that we would see, in the end completely and clearly, not in a glass darkly, but face to face, crying "Abba, Father", and being called "friend". God bless you.
Thou knewest not the time of thy visitation. (Luke 19:44)
Christ said this of Jerusalem, which, on the whole, rejected Him. He passed through their streets, taught at their synagogues, raised the dead, and healed the sick. All realized that "Never man spake like this man" (John 7:46). They still missed who He was. Now, on the day when he enters Jerusalem on the foal of an ass, He weeps over them, his recalcitrant children, of whom in another place he said: "O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not!" (Mat 23:37)
The careful soul will take note of why they missed the time of their visitation, and its consequences, and will then examine himself to see if there are any failings which will cause him to miss his time of visitation. When are these times? One cannot truly count them. The grace of the Holy Mysteries, consolation in prayer, the strong theology sung to sweet melody in the vigil, strengthening to be righteous, the endurance of evil for the sake of Christ - all of these are God's visitations to the soul.
Why did most of those in Jerusalem miss their visitation? The Lord told them: "If thou hadst known, even thou, at least in this thy day, the things which belong unto thy peace! But now they are hid from thine eyes." (Luke 19:42) Holy things are hidden from those who do not value them. As the Lord proceeded into Jerusalem, "And as he went, they spread their clothes in the way." (Luke 19:36). The Fathers explain that this indicates the shedding of the old man, and the subjection of it to Christ, who walks upon it and sanctifies it. Those who complained to Christ, and judged him did not spread any garments. They did not subject themselves to Him. Is not this the key? If we do not, by an act of our will, attempt to shed our garments and strew them in the way, that is, conform our entire life to Christ, we will be just like the Pharisees who missed the time of their visitation. This time is ongoing; it is our life in the church.
Flee also youthful lusts: but follow righteousness, faith, charity, peace, with them that call on the Lord out of a pure heart. (2 Timothy 2:22)
In our day, youthful lusts seem to be pursued even unto old age. Do not make the mistake of thinking that Saint Paul is only talking about fornication. No, rather, Holy Chrysostom tells us: "Not only the lust of fornication, but every inordinate desire is a youthful lust. Let the aged learn that they ought not to do the deeds of the youthful. If one be given to insolence, or a lover of power, of riches, of bodily pleasures, it is a youthful lust, and foolish." (Homilies on 2 Timothy)
The world tells us to indulge, and enjoy, and tries to make us believe that our thoughts, and even our actions, as long as they are not overtly hurtful to someone, are our own business. If one notices the juxtaposition of words in this passage, perhaps he will have a key which will help him withstand lust. In the fleeing from lust, is given the ability to pursue righteousness. Without an act of the will, and great efforts, a man cannot become righteous. He must decide to flee that which is unclean, because his lust will tether him like an anchor in the depths of a sea of darkness, and he will not attain the sweetness of righteousness. It is really an either/or situation. If a man does not will to flee from lust, (and we do not comment of his success, only his effort!), he will not attain righteousness.
"Nicholas" is interpreted "Conqueror of nations". For this reason, he is most worthily extolled as "A namesake of Victory" in the second sticheron for Lord I have cried.
St Nicholas became Bishop of the city of Myra in Lycia. This is in Asia Minor.
When St Nicholas was baptized, he stood in the font for three hours, even though he was only an infant. This was certainly a harbinger of things to come, as he was a great ascetic to the end of his days.
The Saint was a great faster, and had a great love for God even as a baby. On Wednesdays and Fridays, he only nursed once, after the ninth hour (3:00 PM), after his parents completed their customary prayers. At anytime he nursed, he only drew near to his mother's right breast.
In the first ecumenical council, the brutal Arius was trying to sow the thorns of his impious opinions among the fathers gathered. He was quite erudite, although not wise, because he likened our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ to a mere creature, saying that he was created by the Father before time. The holy Nicholas heard his vain babbling, and was repulsed by it. Perhaps Arius was beginning to win the day because of his erudition, or perhaps the holy Nicholas could not bear to hear his savior blasphemed anymore. He slapped Arius, who, at the point was still a distinguished Protopresbyter, although rotten within. The fathers were shocked at this action, and immediately deposed Nicholas.
In the evening, several of the holy fathers had a vision. The Saint appeared between the Mother of God, and Jesus Christ. The Lord held the gospel book, and His mother held the omophorion, and each gave to Nicholas these emblems of his rank. In the morning, this vision was reported, and the fathers reinstated the Holy Nicholas with fear and joy, and the impious Arius was put to eternal shame.
"With what songs of hymnody shall we praise the holy hierarch, / the opponent of impiety and champion of piety, / the leader, great ally and teacher, / who putteth to shame all the infamous, / the destroyer of Arius and his minions? / For his sake hath Christ, Who hath great mercy, // cast down the arrogance of the enemy." (Sticheron of Lord I have cried, from the service to St Nicholas)
The Holy Nicholas was elected a bishop because of two divine visions. He was living the life of an anchorite, but this light was not allowed to remain under a bushel for long. He received a vision when a voice from on high told him to go back into the world, for the good of the flock. He decided to go to the town of Myra, in Lycia, because he feared vainglory if he made his abode in Patara, where everyone knew him.
The blessed one went to Myra, in the region of Lycia, and lived as a pauper, with hope in God. At that time, the Bishop of Myra, who was of great authority in the entire region of Lycia, reposed, and all the bishops of the region gathered to choose a worthy successor. No matter who was nominated, the bishops could not agree and there was even great discord and strife. One of the bishops suggested that the bishops all devote themselves to prayer and fasting, with the ardent expectation that God would make known his will. This they did, and after some time, the eldest bishop among them received a vision as he stood in prayer. He was told by an angel to go to the church at night, and observe who entered the portal before anyone else for the morning service. The angel told him that such a man was Nicholas, and he was the only one worthy of the episcopacy for Myra.
The bishop told all the other fathers of this vision, and they gathered at the church, to await the arrival of Nicholas, as the angel has prophesied. When Nicholas arrived, the eldest bishop came to him, and asked him his name. The blessed Nicholas remained silent. Upon being pressed, the blessed one meekly answered, "My name is Nicholas, I am the servant of they holiness, Master". The bishop then led Nicholas before the entire council of bishops, where he was acclaimed as worthy of the sacred office. Holy Nicholas resisted for some time, but in the end, acceded to the request of the people, and the will of God, as was installed as the Bishop of Myra.
St Nicholas is known as a great protector of fishermen and sailors. He is also a great protector of travelers. There are numerous accounts of his intercession and physical intervention by faithful in all sorts of life threatening situations. He is also known as a helper of captives. He has helped the unjustly accused many times, to this present day.
"For those of us who find ourselves amid misfortunes / as we journey by land or sail the seas, / for those of us who are nearby or afar off, / thou art a great and fervent advocate, / an exceeding merciful and mighty intercessor, / O holy Nicholas, sacred preacher of Christ. / Wherefore, assembling, we cry: / Entreat the Lord, // that we may be delivered from every evil circumstance." (Sticheron of Lord I have cried, from the service to St Nicholas)
In Phyrgia, there arose a great revolt, which necessitated the dispatching of soldiers. Some of the soldiers took advantage of the situation, and oppressed the people unfairly, and stole from them. When St Nicholas heard of this problem, he traveled to the region, and with tact and hospitality, prevailed upon the commanders to discipline their disobedient troops.
In his absence from Myra, some men were unjustly condemned to death, the ruler having been bribed. When Nicholas heard of this, he rushed to Myra, and by the providence of God, found from some travelers when he arrived in Myra that the men were to be executed that very day. The Saint rushed to the place, and his meekness was transformed into righteous anger. The men were already bound, and the executioner was set to make his blow, when the Saint rushed upon him, and grabbed the sword out of his hands. He then set the men free, and no one dared to stop him; such was his authority.
Later, some commanders who had won great honors in their service were slandered before the Emperor Constantine, who condemned the men to death. These self-same men had seen the Blessed Nicholas deliver the aforementioned captives from death, and they tearfully sought the intercession of Nicholas while they were in prison, awaiting their execution. Saints are not bound by distance and time. The soldier's plight was revealed to the holy one, even though he was far away, and he appeared to the Emperor in a dream, and threatened him with dire consequences if he executed the innocent men. He likewise appeared to another ruler, Ablavius. Together, they called the condemned men, who told of their prayer to the Holy Nicholas. The astonished Emperor freed the men, and sent them with gifts, to Myra.
"In a dream thou didst appear to the Emperor Constantine / and to Ablavius, / and instilling fear in them, / thou didst speak to them thus: / "Quickly release those whom ye hold bound in prison, / for they are undeserving of a lawless execution. / But if thou wilt disobey me, I will petition the Lord and King // against thee when I pray!" (Sticheron of Lord I have cried, from the service to St Nicholas)
"O father Nicholas, the shrine of thy relics, like a phial, enricheth Myra with myrrh. And, appearing to the emperor in a vision during sleep, therein thou didst free from death, fetters and prison those unjustly held condemned. And now, as then, do thou ever appear in visions, praying for our souls." (Sticheron from the Liti for St Nicholas)
Every Thursday, both St Nicholas and the Holy Apostles are remembered, and their troparia are sung.
The brethren also asked Abba Agathon, "Amongst all good works, which is the virtue which requires the greatest effort?" He answered, "Forgive me, but I think there is no labor greater that that of prayer to God. For every time a man wants to pray, his enemies, the demons, want to prevent him, for they know that it is only by turning him from prayer that they can hinder his journey. Whatever good work a man undertakes, if he perseveres in it, he will attain rest. But prayer is warfare to the last breath."
From the Sayings of the Desert Fathers
The heart can change several times in one moment - to good or evil, to faith or unbelief, to simplicity or cunning, to love or hatred, to benevolence or envy, to generosity or avarice, to chastity or fornication. O, what inconstancy! O, how many dangers! O, how sober and watchful we must be!
St. John of Kronstadt, My Life in Christ.
All unsigned or unattributed portions Copyright 1997 Fr Seraphim Holland
Address: 2102 Summit, McKinney TX 75071
Phone: 972 529-2754
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