Serbian Orthodox Church
St. Nectarios and Cancer
November 28/December 11, 2003 Adult Education Class
by Fr. Rodney Torbic
Cancer is a devasting illness. The mere mention of the diagnosis of cancer in a family
member or friend is cause for the greatest of concern. The diagnosis of cancer is unsettling
even for the most composed individuals.
Orthodox Christians rely upon their faith in God when fighting cancer or other serious
illnesses. God is the creator of life. God is the source of strength in life. God helps
believers to find reasons to continue when confronted with the threat of cancer.
Knowledgeable Christians often turn to St. Nectarios in their battle with cancer.
According to Father George Poulos' book Orthodox Saints, St. Nectarios is known as the
patron saint of people stricken with cancer.
Being recognized as a saint in the Orthodox Church is an extensive process. Those who
are formally recognized as saints by the Church have been subject to careful thinking and
examination. Believers turn to the saints with confidence.
Saint Nectarios has his place on the Orthodox Calendar. Saint Nectarios is
commemorated on November 9/22. Orthodox Churches around the world celebrate his
life and works liturgically on this day.
Historically, we know that St. Nectarios was born in Selybria, Thrace, now a part of
Turkey in 1846. He reposed in the Lord on November 9/22, 1920 and was proclaimed a saint
Individuals, churches, liturgical services, icons and books are named in honor
of St. Nectarios. They become focal points of interest for individuals turning to
St. Nectarios in hope and for help in addressing the tenacious disease of cancer.
Individuals afflicted with cancer and their family members will feel helpless
and overwhelmed during the course of the illness. St. Nectarios is someone to whom
they can turn with certainty. He has an established history. He has the official
recognition of the Church.
Holy Bishop NIKOLAI (Velimirovic) says in The Prologue to Ochrid "There are two paths
and both are correct: from Christ to the saints and from the saints to Christ."
Turning to the saints is an accepted practice in the Orthodox Church. It is a proven
practice with centuries of precedence.
Healings are legitimate expectations of believers. There are different degrees and
kinds of healings. There are physical healings and there are spiritual healings. Anyone
familiar with the healings performed by our Lord Jesus Christ and with the Holy Orthodox
Church knows that healings are possible and continue to the present time.
Each believer is an individual. Each person is affected differently by cancer.
Each person comes to God in prayer in his or her own way. Each battle plan againt
cancer is an individualized plan.
Medical treatment is only one part of the attack in fighting cancer. Believers
know the importance of good medical care. At the same time, believers know the value
of centering their faith in God as they proceed in the decision-making process.
Attitude and outlook will influence the degree of effort the believer puts forth in
the fight against cancer. Christ on the Cross and the lives of martyrs and sufferers for
the faith through the centuries help believers maintain resolve in the midst of great pain.
The healings atttibuted to St. Nectarios, the liturgical services celebrated in honor
of St. Nectarios and the prayers to St. Nectarios galvanize believers and their families
in the fight against cancer. The healings, services and prayers give believers and family
members direction for their efforts.
Directing prayers to St. Nectarios before his icon, reading books and articles about
the life and miracles attributed to St. Nectarios and attending services commemorating
St. Nectarios have proven beneficial to believers with cancer.
Anecdotal accounts exist of individuals stricken with cancer who credit St. Nectarios
with being of help. Researchers will find various sources of testimony all with the common
theme of giving credit to St. Nectarios.
Support from the Church is beneficial when a person is faced with cancer. Attending
a vigil to St. Nectarios or an Akathist to St. Nectarios with other believers provides
When a person is stricken with cancer, the impact is far-reaching. All who know and
love the person are affected. St. Nectarios provides inspiration and strength in this
battle for life. St. Nectarios helps the believer give definition to the life in Christ.
When a believer is diagnosed with cancer, he or she never knows the ultimate toll
of the illness. Believers do know they find their lives in Christ. They live their
lives in Christ.
In the face of illness, during the course of an illness, a believer can find the
richness of the life in Christ in ways heretofore unknown. St. Nectarios can be of
great assistance to believers who seek the incomparable richness of the life in Christ.
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