In the heroic town of Krushevo, nestled within its historic embrace, lies the venerable sanctuary of today’s celebrated saint of God’s Church, the ever-loving Father among the Saints, Nicholas the Wonderworker, Archbishop of Myra in Lycia.
The occasion for today’s Eucharistic celebration in the snowy town upon the Busheva Mountain was the throne feast of the God-cherishing Krushevo and Demir Hisar Diocese, headed by its esteemed archpastor, His Eminence Metropolitan Mr. John. To our great honour, the Holy Krushevo and Demir Hisar desired to share the joy of his episcopal throne feast with our monastic community, led by our Elder, Bishop Mr. Parthenius. Due to last-minute objective reasons, our Elder was not able to physically attend the service, so he sent his representatives, part of our monastic fraternity and the sisterhood in Prechista, as well as the protopsaltes from the Byzantine choir “Metropolitan Kozma of Prechista.” Thus, the Divine Liturgy was presided over by His Eminence Mr. John, in concelebration with the respected Bishop of Dremvic, His Grace Mr. David, and together with Archimandrite Cyril from the Holy Bigorski Monastery, the venerable presbyters from Krushevo Krste Taseski, Toni Kuzmanoski, and Pavle Laposki, and our hierodeacon Siluan.
The sacred mystagogy revealed to us the fullness of the meaning and beauty of our life in the light of God’s love and mercy. And while the souls of the faithful were being lifted into the realms of spiritual contemplation of the Divine, Metropolitan Mr. John ordained the church elder, presbyter Toni Kuzmanoski, to the rank of protoiereus. In addition, during the Holy Liturgy, Bishop John blessed and consecrated the new diocesan antimins, intended for the services in the churches of his diocese.
After the reading of the Holy Gospel, with the blessing of Metropolitan Mr. John, Archimandrite Cyril read the sermon of His Grace, Bishop Mr. Parthenius, which he had prepared for today’s feast:
Your Eminence, esteemed archpastor of this heroic town of Krushevo and holy Bishop, Mr. John,
Your Grace, holy Bishop and our dear co-celebrant, Mr. David,
Most reverend and venerable Fathers,
Most reverend Abbesses and sister nuns,
Beloved brothers and sisters,
It is indeed a special honour for me, that by the kind invitation of our brother, the Holy Elder of Krushevo and Demir Hisar, I now stand with reverence and gratitude before this holy Eucharistic assembly, gathered in honour of the memory of the glorious and beloved Father among the Saints, Nicholas of Myra the Wonderworker.
In this present fellowship, I truly behold a wonderful continuation of the mystery of brotherly love with thy archpastor, His Eminence, Metropolitan Mr. John, whom I have been friends with for so many years, since our youth. I speak thus, because with His Eminence Mr. John we had the opportunity to grow together in faith, to visit the Garden of the Most Holy Theotokos, to exchange thoughts and prayers. And lo, by the grace of the Helmsman of the Church, our Saviour Lord Jesus Christ, through all trials, adversities, and tribulations, to stand side by side, as His archpriests, before His venerable Table. A truly great feast for my soul! And behold, our liturgical communion doth occurs precisely on the feast of Saint Nicholas the Wonderworker, that great Father and shepherd of the Church of Christ, who during his life, and even unto this day, hath laid great paternal care for the unity of the Church and the purity of the faith. Therefore, the sacred hymnographer called him “a rule of faith.” I still vividly remember when I went to the house blessing for the feast of Saint Nicholas in the pious home of Bishop Mr. John in Bitola, and now again I come unto him, in his spiritual home, in this all-honourable church, on the throne feast of his god-guarded diocese.
Therefore, while the cold December prepared us with fasting and abstinence for the spiritual warmth of the Nativity of Christ, we have gathered in this heroic city of Krushevo, to celebrate the all-honourable remembrance of the great God-pleaser, Saint Nicholas of Myra, the Wonderworker, that great beacon of Christ’s love and compassion. In the life of this wondrous God-pleaser, we see not only a significant historical figure from the early Church, but, above all, a living proof of the power of the Gospel in every age, including our own.
The Holy Father St. Nicholas, born in the third century, remained etched in the collective memory of the Church not only for his mercy, not only for his generosity, but also for his steadfast, unshaken faith in times of great tribulations and persecutions. His life is practically a living icon of the Creator, reflecting Christ’s light in the darkness of a world filled with unrest and disputes. And this is the first lesson we take from his life: to be bearers of Christ’s light in our own, likewise turbulent times.
The veneration of this beloved all-Christian Saint is not merely a rich tradition filled with various beautiful customs. It is, in truth, a call to live a life with deep faith and boundless love, akin to that of the Saint. For, the life of this holy Archbishop of Christ was a ceaseless act of serving in love and mercy, a constant Holy Liturgy. It showed us that the Divine Eucharist for the Christian does not end with the priest’s dismissal in the temple, but continues beyond its walls. Our worship in the church finds its fulfilment in our deeds outside the church’s confines. Liturgy after Liturgy, in the everyday service at the altar of our neighbors, where we offer as gifts the heartfelt warmth, mercy, magnanimity, solidarity, love.
The celebration of the merciful shepherd of Christ’s flock calls us to commemorate the wondrous deeds of this “pattern of meekness”: the secret bestowal of dowries, to preserve the honour of young maidens and their father, protection of the innocent, deliverance of the unjustly condemned, and care for the poor. These acts of love, manifested in the life of Saint Nicholas, are not merely tales, but priceless examples for us this day. They challenge us to see Christ in every soul we meet, to serve Him in every act of kindness, and to spread His love in every corner of our life.
In all his evangelical labours, Saint Nicholas sought not recognition; he simply endeavoured at every moment of his life to embody the love of Christ. This humility is the cornerstone of our Christian journey. In a world that often values personal gain over selfless love, Saint Nicholas stands as a reminder that in giving, we receive, in serving, we are uplifted, and in love, we are healed and edified.
While celebrating the memory of Saint Nicholas, it is good to remember that each day is a God-given opportunity to walk in his footsteps. Whether at home, at work, within the family, amongst friends, or in society – let us bring the spirit of Saint Nicholas into every interaction, every deed, every moment of our daily life. Let us embrace the example of the Saint, not just this day, but every day. Let us be generous in love, steadfast in faith, and zealous in serving the good. For, by doing so, we not only honour the legacy of this great Saint but also draw near unto Christ Himself, who is the reason and the end of all our endeavours, all our dreams.
True veneration of Saint Nicholas consists not in some passive remembrance of a distant Saint, but in active participation in his holy life, which continues to delight and inspire us. His devotion to deification, to education in the truest sense of the word – that is, to acquiring the image and likeness of God – and to cultivating the mind and spirit, is a clear call to all of us, his contemporaries, a call that spurs us to practise our active faith in every aspect of our daily living.
Thus, the memory of the Wonderworker of Myra, the emulation of his sanctity, is essentially the fulfilment of the mystery of the transformative power of Christ’s Incarnation, manifested in all the Saints of God and accessible to us all. Saint Nicholas today, with the same fatherhood and the same vitality as seventeen centuries ago, invites us to view our lives as liturgical offerings, where our daily toils, struggles, joys, and sorrows are transformed into a living doxology to God.
On this feast, we find a mirror reflecting our own journey, a reminder that we are called to be vessels of wisdom and bearers of Christ’s light in a world yearning for truth, beauty, breadth, and mercy. Therefore, let us approach this feast with open hearts to the transformative power of grace, with minds attuned to the wisdom of the Saint, and with souls prepared for the continual journey towards the fullness of life in God.
May the blessings and prayers of our Holy Father Nicholas, the Wonderworker of Myra, be upon you all. A blessed Christmas to all!
In continuation, on behalf of his Elder, Father Cyril presented Metropolitan Mr. John with a worthy gift: an archbishop’s encolpion in the form of a star, with an enamelled representation of the Nativity of Christ. The holy Elder of Krushevo and Demir Hisar, in his warm and profound theological address, heartily thanked our Elder for the honour bestowed.
The festive celebration in Krushevo concluded with a feast of love, friendly conversations, and joyful disposition, in glory and gratitude to our Holy Father Nicholas, the Wonderworker of Myra.