St. George
Serbian Orthodox Church
Carmichaels, PA

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 in 1961.

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 incalcuable benefits.

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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