A boy named Anastasios was once born in Greece to parents who loved each other, God, and their 7 children very much. Anastasios loved to obey his parents, to learn from his grandmother and his siblings, and to study in school. He especially liked learning to read. Why? Because he wanted to be able to read the Holy Scriptures, so that he could learn more about God!
When Anastasios was 14, his parents had to send him to another city to work and study. The work that he found did not pay very well, so he had ragged clothes and very little food. One day, he wrote a letter to Christ. In his letter, he explained that he did not have enough food or clothes. He asked his Lord, Jesus Christ, to send him what he needed. He sealed up the letter, marked it “To my Lord, Jesus Christ,” and went off to mail it. On the way, he began to talk with a kind man named Themistocles, who offered to deliver the letter for him. Anastasios gave the letter to him and went back to work.
Themistocles was curious about the letter, so he opened and read it. He knew that he could be the one that God used to answer the letter, so he then went out and bought the things that Anastasios needed, and sent them to Anastasios with a note saying these things were “for Anastasios, from the Lord Jesus Christ.” Anastasios was so grateful to God for answering his letter: he kept on thanking and thanking Him for providing what he needed.
Themistocles soon offered Anastasios work in his own shop, where Anastasios was better cared for and even had evenings free to read, pray, and study. Years passed, and Anastasios grew up. All that studying made him wise enough to teach, so he got a job as a teacher. He helped children to read and write, and also taught them more about God.
All this time, Anastasios spent as much time as he could in the church, participating and worshiping in the services. Finally the time came when Anastasios realized that he wanted to serve God as a monk. He was tonsured a monk, and given the name Nektarios.
Nektarios studied in Athens, and when he finished his studying, he was ordained a priest. He worked for a while in Egypt, doing the usual work of a priest like performing the services, as well as baptisms and marriages. He worked hard to help people stop arguing with each other, so he helped to bring God’s peace to his people. The people liked how Father Nektarios helped them, and they worked hard to obey him, because they knew that God was with him. Before too long, he was consecrated as a bishop.
Some unkind people didn’t like Bishop Nektarios. Because of that, they lied about him to the Patriarch, saying that Bishop Nektarios wanted to take away the Patriarch’s job. The Patriarch believed those people, and Bishop Nektarios was banished from Egypt and sent back to Greece. Bishop Nektarios was so sad to leave his friends, but he had to leave.
When Bishop Nectarios got to Greece, he was even more sad because of what he learned. The unkind people had sent the same lies to Greece ahead of him, so he was not able to serve in the Church or teach about God in Greece, either. But, instead of feeling sorry for himself or getting angry with God, or complaining, the Bishop prayed. He prayed that God would give him one place where he could preach.
God heard Bishop Nektarios’ prayers and provided an island, Evia, where he was allowed to preach. Bishop Nektarios was so happy that he went to the island and began to pray and preach there. At first, no one would listen because they had heard the lies, too, but the bishop kept praying and preaching. Soon the people of Evia got to know the bishop and they began to love Bishop Nektarios and attend the services with him.
After a while, Bishop Nektarios was asked to be the principal of a school for young men. He moved to Athens to do this job. He worked hard, teaching the young men about the True Faith. One day, the school’s janitor became sick. That man would lose his job if he did not get his work done. Bishop Nektarios, even though he was very important as the principal of the school, began to do the man’s work for him (such as sweeping, cleaning toilets, etc.) while the janitor was sick, because the bishop wanted to show his students that one must have faith but one must also do good deeds. He was a good teacher who knew how to teach not just with words, but also with his life.
While doing all of this, Bishop Nektarios helped every poor or sick person who came to him. People realized that he was kind and loving, so they came to him when they needed help. He always knew what to do to help the people who came to him; whether to give them things, tell them wise words from God, or to pray for them.
When Bishop Nektarios was old, he wanted to retire from being a principal. Years before, he had met some young ladies who had wanted to become nuns. He had told them to wait to be tonsured as nuns, to be sure it was God’s will. They had waited, so finally he gave his blessing for them to look for a place for a monastery. They found a deserted monastery on the island of Aegina, and the people of the island came to help restore it. Bishop Nektarios tonsured the young ladies as nuns, and then he built a cell outside the monastery for himself so that he could live nearby. (He also helped to build cells for the nuns, and also a church, even though he was old.)
Even though he was retired, Bishop Nektarios went on teaching. More young ladies came to be nuns at the monastery. So many of them came from poor families that they did not know how to read or write. Bishop Nektarios taught them how to do so, so that they could read and chant the services in the church. At the same time, other people on the island came to see Bishop Nektarios, to ask him for help, advice, and/or prayers.
Bishop Nektarios spent the last few years of his life in this way, on Aegina, working hard, and helping everyone that he could. After a few days in the hospital because of a disease he had for a long time, he departed this life on November 9, 1920. He had served God well for all of his life, and was ready to go to be with God. The nuns and the people of Aegina were sad to say goodbye to their bishop, but they also knew that now they had another person in heaven praying to God for them.
There are many, many stories of people who were healed through Bishop Nektarios’ prayers, both throughout his lifetime, and since he has departed this life. He is a good saint to ask to pray for you when you are ill. His prayers bring people peace just like his presence and his wise words did, when he was still alive on this earth.
“A man, with his mind in heaven were you, in the world still living,
O Nektarios, Hierarch of Christ. You led a devout and holy life,
and in everything you were truly impeccable, righteous, and inspired by God. “
~ from the Oikos
St. Nektarios, please intercede for our salvation!
This picture book is a great way to tell Sunday Church School students about the life of St. Nektarios: https://orthodoxchristianchildren.com/component/virtuemart/1071/9/children-s-books/the-story-of-the-holy-hierarch-nectarios-the-wonderworker-detail?Itemid=0
Here are a few ideas for you to use with your Sunday Church School students:
Before teaching your Sunday Church School children about the life of St. Nektarios, you may wish to study more about him. Find a summary of his life here: http://stnektariosfund.org/stnektarios. Read about his life and see actual photographs from it here: http://www.orthodoxphotos.com/Holy_Fathers/St._Nektarios_of_Aegina/.
“When he was still a young man, Anastasius (St. Nektarios’s name before he became a priest) made a pilgrimage to the Holy Land. During the voyage, the ship was in danger of sinking in a storm. Anastasius looked at the raging sea, and then at the captain. He went and stood beside the captain and took the helm, praying for God to save them. Then he took off the cross his grandmother had given him (containing a piece of the Cross of Christ) and tied it to his belt. Leaning over the side, he dipped the cross into the water three times and commanded the sea, “Silence! Be still.” At once, the wind died down and the sea became calm.
“Anastasius was saddened, however, because his cross had fallen into the sea and was lost. As the boat sailed on, sounds of knocking seemed to come from the hull below the water line. When the ship docked, the young man got off and started to walk away.
“Suddenly, the captain began shouting, ‘Kephalas, Kephalas, come back here.’ The captain had ordered some men into a small boat to examine the hull in order to discover the source of the knocking, and they discovered the cross stuck to the hull. Anastasius was elated to receive his ‘Treasure,’ and always wore it from that time forward.”
Tell your Sunday Church School students the story of this miracle. Then, show them the photograph of St. Nektarios wearing that cross, at: http://full-of-grace-and-truth.blogspot.com/2009/11/st-nektarios-wonderworker-bishop-of.html. (While you’re there, you can also read more stories of St. Nektarios’ life.)
“St. Nektarios is considered the Patron Saint for people who have cancer, heart trouble, arthritis, epilepsy and other sicknesses. Visitors to this shrine leave filled with the love and peace that St. Nektarios gave to all when he lived.
“St. Nektarios is a true icon of Christian love and patience. We are all called to love all people and to encourage them. As people of faith, we offer prayers as a means of help for all. St. Nektarios encouraged others by being with them at difficult times. He prayed to God to give them peace and courage to face their problems. We take him as our example. ” ~ from http://www.stnektarios.org/historyofsaint.php
With your Sunday Church School class, talk about how to love and encourage all people. How can we learn from St. Nektarios and continue God’s work on earth, acting as he did? Discuss who your class would be able to help, and make a plan for how to help, pray for, and encourage them.
Study and discuss the writings of St. Nektarios.
1. His “A Hymn to Our Lord Jesus Christ” begins as follows:
“CHRIST The Word! Thine Incarnation
Links my nature to Thine own;
By Thy sore Humiliation,
I am lifted to Thy throne;
By Thy suffering Thou hast fired me
With a zeal to sacrifice,
And to noble life inspired me,—
Hence my grateful songs arise.” ~ St. Nektarios the Wonderworker
Read the rest of this hymn here: https://gabrielsmessage.wordpress.com/tag/st-nektarios-of-aegina/
2. “Prayer is forgetting earthly things, an ascent to Heaven. Through prayer we flee to God.” ~ St. Nektarios the Wonderworker
Read more of his writings here: http://www.saintandrewgoc.org/blog/2013/11/12/writings-of-saint-nektarios-the-wonderworker-bishop-of-penta.html
St. Nektarios is called “The Wonderworker” for a good reason: God works many miracles through him, even to this day! Here is one story of a miracle of St. Nektarios that you can share with your Sunday Church School students. This miracle happened recently in Romania: http://www.orthodoxmom.com/2009/11/04/miracle-of-st-nektarios/
Send this iconogram of St. Nektarios to your Sunday Church School students: http://www.iconograms.org/sig.php?eid=283. Besides his icon, there is a brief summary of his life included. Encourage your students to ask St. Nektarios to pray for them.