The Holy Nektarios of Aegina was born on October 1, 1846, in Silyvria, Eastern Thrace and is considered one of the most widely known and beloved Greek Orthodox Saints. His parents Demosthenes and Vasiliki were poor, humble and pious Christians having been blessed with seven children. He was the third child and at Holy Baptism was named Anastasios. As a young child, he was very humble and obedient to his parents who brought him up in a God pleasing manner. His faith was also cultivated by his devout grandmother who played a significant role in his spiritual upbringing.
Beloved Children in the Lord,
Grace and peace be with you all in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, in whose name we invoke every paternal and patriarchal blessing upon this holy community here in Merrick that bears the name of Saint Demetrios the Great Martyr and Myrrh-Streamer. What a joy it is to be here with so many of the faithful, and to wish all of you “Chronia Polla” on this eve of the feast – your patronal feast – and especially to those who share the name of our great intercessor and wonderworking protector. Most especially do we extend these festal greetings to our beloved brother Archbishop Demetrios of America. Many years to you, Your Eminence!
Some seven hundred years ago, St. Gregory Palamas delivered a beautiful and inspiring homily regarding the Dormition of the Mother of God and Ever Virgin Mary. Below are some excerpts:
…There is also nothing dearer or more necessary for me than to expound with due honor in church the wonders of the ever-virgin Mother of God…If “precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints” (Ps. 116:15) and “the memory of the just is praised” (Prov. 10:7 LXX), how much more fitting is it for us to celebrate with highest honors the memory of the ever virgin Mother of God, the Holy of Holies, through whom the saints receive their hallowing?
Holy Transfiguration of Our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ – August 6
Have you ever noticed how we often use our ability to see as an image for our ability to understand? We say “as you can see” when we mean “as you can understand.” And we say that people are blind to the truth in order to express that they do not know the truth. There is a deep connection between seeing and knowing.
This Saint, who had Nicomedia as his homeland, was the son of Eustorgius and Eubula. His father was an idolater, but his mother was a Christian from her ancestors. It was through her that he was instructed in piety, and still later, he was catechized in the Faith of Christ by Saint Hermolaus (see July 26) and baptized by him. Being proficient in the physician’s vocation, he practiced it in a philanthropic manner, healing every illness more by the grace of Christ than by medicines. Thus, although his parents had named him Pantoleon (“in all things a lion”), because of the compassion he showed for the souls and bodies of all, he was worthily renamed Panteleimon, meaning “all-merciful.”
On one occasion, when he restored the sight of a certain blind man by calling on the Divine Name, he enlightened also the eyes of this man’s soul to the knowledge of the truth. This also became the cause for the martyrdom of him who had been blind, since when he was asked by whom and in what manner his eyes had been opened, in imitation of that blind man of the Gospel he confessed with boldness both who the physician was and the manner of his healing. For this he was put to death immediately. Panteleimon was arrested also, and having endured many wounds, he was finally beheaded in the year 305, during the reign of Maximian. Saint Panteleimon is one of the Holy Unmercenaries, and is held in special honour among them, even as Saint George is among the Martyrs.
“The glorious Elias, incarnate messenger of God, pillar of Prophets and forerunner of the second coming of Christ, sent grace from on high to Elisha that he might cure sickness and cleanse lepers. Overflowing with healing for all those who honor him.”
~Troparion to Prophet Elias~
Prophet Elias (Elijah) was a hero of faithfulness to God in Israel and a courageous prophet. Achab (Ahab), seventh King of Israel, (875-854 BC), influenced by his pagan wife Jezebel, had forgotten the true God and returned to pagan-ism. Elias reproached the king for his idolatry and killed the priests of Baal. He fled to the mountains because of Jezebel’s anger. God appeared to him there, and a crow brought him bread for food. At the time of Josaphat, King of Israel (874-85O BC), Elias was taken up in a chariot of fire in the presence of his disciple Eliseus (Elisha). The prophet Malachias had said: “Behold, I will send you Elias the Prophet, before the coming and dreadful day of the Lord. And he shall turn the hearts of the fathers to their children, and the heart of the children to their fathers.” (Mal. 4:5) The prophet refers to the second coming of the Lord, at the end of the world.
Two weeks ago we celebrated the great feast of Pentecost at which the Holy Spirit descended upon our Lord’s followers, making them members of His Body, the Church. A week ago we celebrated the Sunday of All Saints, remembering all those who have become living icons of our Lord’s salvation by the power of the Holy Spirit. Since then, we have begun the Apostles Fast, a period in which we embrace a fairly light discipline of self-restraint in our diets in order to gain the spiritual strength that we need to become more like the apostles who responded faithfully to Christ’s command “Follow Me.”