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Τρίτη 27 Μαΐου 2014



Dear People,

            It never ceases to amaze me how the reality of Christ’s presence in the lives of His faithful servants continues to have a direct impact on the lives of millions of people today.  A case in point is Saint Nicholas Archbishop of Myra in Lycia, Asia Minor, born in March 15, 270 and reposed in the Lord on December 6, 343 A. D.  In spite of the fact that Saint Nicholas left this physical realm 1771 years ago, time and space do not separate us from the love of Jesus.  Saint Nicholas, a chosen vessel of Jesus Christ, continues to live an active, vibrant life in the Church that Jesus Christ established on the Cross at Golgotha.   Saint Nicholas constantly responds to the calls of help from people today that look to him to either heal them, save them from certain death or to lead them to salvation in Christ’s Kingdom. I have read many miracles that Saint Nicholas has performed over the centuries and I continue to marvel at just how much he cares for our salvation.  

            We have an icon of Saint Nicholas here in the United States that continues to emit abundant myrrh after eighteen years. I consider this myrrh a gift of Saint Nicholas from heaven that is being given to the world through the love of Jesus Christ.  This phenomenon started on the feast day of Saint Nicholas in 1996 and continues to this very day.  We use this myrrh to anoint our faithful who are sick in soul and body.  This is one more tangible example of the active presence of the saints in the lives of Orthodox Christians in the twenty-first century.  The miracles of Saint Nicholas that follow in this article simply continue the miraculous tradition of Saint Nicholas breaking through the barriers that separate us from the spiritual world.  I envision Saint Nicholas to be a man who was totally committed to Jesus Christ.  I say this because there is no way he could have received the abundant gifts of the Kingdom without being totally obedient to the will of Jesus Christ.  Having said this, I would like to quote for you what it means to be totally committed to Jesus Christ.  I have found this commitment in the Elder Paisios of Mount Athos who writes about it in his own words.  This is a poem he wrote to his mother on the back of a picture of himself after he was tonsured a monk.  “Greetings, dear mother—I am becoming a monk, leaving behind the vain world, fooling the deceiver.  I will spend my youth in the desert, in isolation: I sacrifice everything for the love of Christ.   Every worldly good I leave behind as straw and chaff, to fulfill the first commandment: to love God above all.  I walk in Jesus’ footsteps, carrying the Cross of Golgotha, and I pray that I’ll meet you in Jerusalem on high.  I leave your great, tender love, dearest mother; I beseech Jesus that we may be united unto the ages.  From childhood I have wanted to wear the monk’s black habit to dedicate myself to Christ, to be pleasing to God. And from now on I will have Panagia as a mother, to preserve me from the cunning of the enemy.  Dearest mother, in the desert, in solemnity, in stillness, I will always pray for you and for the whole country.

Monk Paisios of Philotheou, Mount Athos, May 3, 1957. Offered to my honored mother—Paisios.  This is quoted from the book “Elder Paisios of Mount Athos.”

+Fr. Constantine (Charles) J. Simones, May 24, 2014, Waterford, CT, USA


          This is the story that was related to us by Porphyrios D. Stafila ll.  “I heard this story from the priest-monk Theofilaktos.  He is a monk from the Monastery of the Caves of Pskov in Russia.  He told this story during the later part of the 1980’s.  This monk was told this story by a high-ranking military officer of the navy and because of this miracle, this officer returned to his Orthodox faith.  During the early years of his military service he was the captain of a torpedo boat in the Pacific Ocean.  One day the ship went off course.  The meteorological forecast was good and there was no indication that anything unusual would happen with the weather.  And then there suddenly appeared on the horizon menacing black clouds which were growing in size.  The wind picked up in speed and began to blow violently.  Suddenly a tempest had enveloped us.  Huge waves began to pound the ship.  The ship began to rock back and forth in the waves.  Water entered the engine room.  The ship was on the verge of losing power and the power to navigate through the water.  The fate of all of us was in great danger.

            The captain was not a coward but the fear of death began to overwhelm him.  He realized that he had the responsibility for the whole crew of the ship.  What should he do: Suddenly he remembered the words of his mother who had told him some time ago: “Pray to God.  He saves people wherever they are in the world.” He also heard the words of his grandfather, an old man of the sea.” But he who had never traveled on the ocean had never prayed to God before.  The captain had not stepped foot in a Church since he was a child.  He had become a member of komosol (the communist party) and gave his service to the party.  He therefore did not even know how to pray.  But from the depths of his being he cried out with all of his strength: “Lord save me, Lord save me!”  Suddenly a miracle took place.  He saw an old man walking on the waves of the water on the right side of the ship.  He was vested as a priest.  The captain had the time clearly to see his face.  He had a close cropped beard and an electrifying look on his face.  The old man blessed the ship with both of his hands and immediately the winds died down, the ocean became calm and the tempest ceased. The captain could do nothing but hold his breath.

            When he returned to port he promised that without delay he would visit a Church to light a candle as an act of thanksgiving for the salvation of himself and his crew.  But in the Far East at that time all the Churches had been destroyed.  It was not long after this that he had the opportunity to visit a Church.  His navy detachment had been transferred to Leningrad (St. Petersburg).  While he was riding on a city tram he saw a Church with five domes.  He got off the tram at the next stop and went directly to the Church.  It turned out to be the Cathedral Church of Saint Nicholas.  He entered the darkened Church, took a candle and he looked to see where he could place the candle.  He then saw an icon of an old bishop and decided to place the lit candle in front of that icon.  The captain approached and looked at the icon carefully.  The appearance of the man’s face was exactly like that of the old man that calmed the tempest in the Pacific Ocean.  The captain asked a lady caretaker of the Church about the icon: “Who is the person in this icon?” She responded: “What are you trying to say, who the person in this icon is. He is Bishop Nicholas, the patron saint of sailors.”  This story was written by Fr. Theofilaktos in the book “This Happened in Our Time.” (Pravoslavie May 5, 2014.


            Saint Nicholas was referred to by the Russian Orthodox people as merciful because of the many miracles he performed through the grace of God. One of these miracles is described to us by Filaretus Vosnenski which happened some forty years ago.  This miracle is a contemporary miracle that took place in Harbin, China when Filaretus Vosneski was living there.  A large icon of Saint Nicholas the miracle-worker was displayed in the train station of Harbin and it was greatly revered by all the travelers who passed that way.  All travelers upon arriving and leaving the train station would hasten to light a candle before the icon of Saint Nicholas invoking his blessing for a safe trip.  Because of this special love for this icon there were always hundreds of candles lit before the icon. 

            One day during the start of spring season, the river ice was breaking up in the area Sungari.  Harbin is located in the Sungari district.  Travelers noticed one day that a local Chinaman, with wet clothes, was rushing to the train station in order to kneel before the icon of Saint Nicholas.  He hastened to do this because, as he told the people there, the saint had miraculously saved him from death.

            He told the people at the train station the following story. He attempted one day to cross the frozen river although he was taking a big risk.  While taking hurried strides over the ice, the ice broke up under him and he found himself trapped under the ice.  He was dying when he suddenly remembered the miracle-working icon of Saint Nicholas in the Harbin train station and he yelled out: “Old man from the railroad station, help me,” and then he passed out.  A short time later, in spite of the fact that he thought he was surely dying, he found himself alive but soaking wet on the river bank.  As soon as he was able to gather himself together he rushed off to the icon of the Saint at the railroad station.  He wanted to thank Saint Nicholas for his salvation.  Saint Nicholas is greatly honored in China. 

            Once a Russian hunter was lost in the steppes of Manchuria and he sought shelter in a Chinese farm house.  As soon as he entered the house and was offered shelter, he noticed an icon of Saint Nicholas.  He then thought to himself that when he left he would take the icon with him since the Chinese do not have any connection with the Orthodox Christian faith.  When he asked his hosts if he could take the icon they objected strenuously.  They were insulted by his request and they said to him: “Why do you want to take the Elder from us? He is so good and he helps us very much.  We will never abandon him.”

(A note from the translator)  When we think of China as a non-Christian country we should not forget the presence of thousands of Russian Orthodox Christians who fled to China to escape the communist revolution in 1917.  The communist attempt to take over China began in 1928 and ended in 1950. During this time period thousands of Russian Orthodox Christians fled Russia and settled in China. The Russians built schools, hospitals and Churches in flourishing Russian enclaves.  Saint John Maximovitch of San Francisco was the spiritual leader of the Russian Orthodox community in China before these Christians were forced out of the country by the communists.   

Translated from the Greek by:

+Fr. Constantine J. Simones, May 24, 2014, Waterford, CT, USA, 

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