Today we celebrated the feast of the amazing saint of our times, St Nectarios of Pentapolis. He has been a great healer and wonderworker in our own lives but I want to share with you the short ‘vita’ given in our parish newsletter today, as it sums up both his life and the lessons we can learn from him so succinctly.
“Today we keep the feast of St Nectarios of Pentapolis. St Nectarios was born to a large poor family in Sylevria in eastern Thrace in 1846 to a humble background. He was a good pupil and always very religious. he became a monk, was ordained and subsequently went to Egypt where he was appointed Metropolitan of Pentapolis by the Patriarch of Alexandria. Here however he became the object of the jealousy of several fellow clerics in the Patriarchate. They made lying accusations against him which resulted in his being deposed and he had to return to Greece in disgrace. These accusations stayed with him for the rest of his life. After a very difficult period he was eventually appointed as a peripatetic preacher and then as the principal of the Rhization seminary in Athens. Here his humility and holiness were an inspiration for the students and many stories are told about him at this time. Two stick in my mind. The first was when some students misbehaved and brought the seminary into disrepute. St Nectarios said nothing to them but imposed a very strict fast on himself! The students were so embarrassed that they never misbehaved again. The other was when one of the cleaners became ill and was unable to do his job. So that he would not be sacked St Nectarios got up even earlier in the morning and did all the cleaning – especially of the lavatories – before everyone else got up. As a result the cleaner recovered and did not lose his job.
Eventually St Nectarios retired to the island of Aegina and here he successfully refounded a monastery for nuns often in the teeth of opposition. After his death on November 8th 1920 everyone saw that he had been a very holy man indeed: he was canonised in 1961. The monastery on Aegina now has the most beautiful, and largest, church in the whole of Greece, to cope with the vast number of pilgrims who come to venerate his relics. He is remembered as a wonder worker and is commemorated by the Church at every proskomide: a unique accomplishment for such a modern saint. He is also revered because many people are healed through his prayers, many hear him knock when they listen at his tomb (He does. I heard him!).
However, there is another reason why I think we should remember him in our age: how he dealt with adversity. St Nectarios had a very difficult life indeed. Often he must have thought that all his effort and hard work was useless and that he was achieving nothing. Yet he persevered. He did not hate or fight those who wronged him. He submitted to the will of others however unfair they were and continued to honour and love God above all things.
We all have difficult times in our lives. In those times let us remember St Nectarios and continue with the tasks that we have in hand and try to do them as well as we can for the glory of God, without complaint or grumbling. The Saviour’s Resurrection did not happen without suffering: neither will our Salvation.
But he who endures to the end will be saved (Mark 13:13)
Holy Nectarios, pray to God for us!”
(Archdiocese of Thyateira and Great Britain Newsletter, 9th November 2014, 7th Sunday of Luke, 5th tone).