St. Nektarios on Purgatory

Saint_Nektarios_of_Aegina_at_RizarioSt. Nektarios of Aegina 1846-1920

The Orthodox Church strongly rejects the purgatorial fire, the idea of a fire that cleanses souls… According to the Orthodox Church, there exists no intermediary order after death between those who proceed to Heaven and those who descend to Hades. There is no special intermediary place where the souls are found of those who have repented before death and have not brought forth the fruits of repentance… All these souls proceed to Hades, whence they cannot depart except through the prayers of the Church. (Study Concerning the Immortality of the Soul [Athens, 1901], pp. 168-169)

On Papal Infallibility

Pope Benedict XVI greets the youth in front of a huge Jesus Christ portrait in Krakow May 27, 2006. (Photo: REUTERS / Wolfgang Rattay)

St. Nektarios of Aegina 1846-1920

His Beatitude the Pope sinned greatly when he proclaimed himself infallible and sinless… Infallibility abrogates Synods, takes away from them significance, importance, and authority, and proclaims them incompetent, disturbing the confidence of the faithful in them. The proclamation of the infallibility of the Pope disturbed the foundations of the Western Church; because it provided ground for suspicion about the authority of Synods, and secondly it made her depend on the intellectual and spiritual development of a single person, the Pope… Since every Pope judges concerning what is right as it seems to him, and interprets Scripture as he wills, and lays down the law as he considers right, in what respect is he different from the multifarious dogmatists of the Protestant Church? …Perhaps in the case of the Protestants each individual constitutes a Church, while in the Western Church one individual constitutes the entire Church, not always the same individual but ever a different one. (The Seven Ecumenical Synods, [Athens], pp. 22-23, 27. excerpted from Cavarnos, The Question of Union, p. 20)

On Satisfying Divine Righteousness

St. Nektarios of Pentapolis 1846-1920

[B]oth the Holy Synods as well as the Holy Fathers — St. Athanasios the Great and Peter Patriarchs of Alexandria, St. Dionysios, St. Gregory Thaumaturgos, St. Basil, the divine Chrysostom, and others — precisely designate the satisfaction required of sinners according to the quantity and degree of sin; because the person who does not obey [these canons] will be sent to the future courthouses to give an account of the improprieties that he has committed, as having rejected the laws of the Church. Therefore, the satisfaction of the insulted Divine Justice is an unavoidable requirement. So then, an urgent need obligates us to hasten towards propitiation of God, especially since we do not know what tomorrow will bring. We should hasten with tears. We should appear before the sympathetic judge and therapist, the affectionate spiritual father, with contrition of heart and compunction. We should pour out our heart wile confessing our sins, so that we may be acquitted from the condemnation of the future tribunal — where everyone who did not give an account of the deeds they committed to the earthly courthouses will be sent — so that we may reconcile with God and become communicants of eternal life. (Repentance and Confession, Part 2: Confession, 4. The Person who has Sinned is Obligated to Satisfy the Divine Righteousness, pp. 48-49)

Note by the translators: They who reject the idea of the necessity of satisfying/compensating Divine Righteousness as a denial of the satisfaction made by our Savior Christ to God the Father, these people neglect that this is in reference to sinful Christians and not to unbelievers. Yes, reconciliation has already been made through Jesus Christ. St. Nicodemos says that “the satisfaction and payment made by our Lord on behalf of our sins was so bountiful and rich that this satisfaction resembles a boundless ocean, while all the sins of humanity — past, present, and future — represent a drop of water.” (Unseen Warfare, p. 207) However, having sinned after baptism, we have “saddened” the Savior Himself, and it is Him Who we are seeking to please through repentance, confession and good works. This is what St. Nektarios is calling “satisfaction of Divine Righteousness”. This is what all the saints have spoken about in their own manner. St. Mark the Ascetic says: “A sinner cannot escape retribution except through repentance appropriate to his offense.” (Philokalia, Vol. 1, p. 130) St. Maximos the Confessor says: “No sinner can escape future judgment without experiencing in this life either voluntary hardships or afflictions he has not chosen.” (Philokalia, Vol. 2, p. 76) (ibid., p. 44) 

On the Root Cause of the Great Schism

Saint Nektarios of Aegina 1846-1920

The unity of the Church is not founded by, or based on, one only person out of all the Apostles, but in the sole person of our Saviour Jesus Christ… Of the Ecumenical Church, only the Roman Church has perceived the spirit of unity differently and has sought to attain it and has striven for it through other means. It was this different perception regarding the manner of unification that provoked the Schism, which, having made its start from the very first centuries grew with time and progressed according to the measures determined by the principles of the Roman Church, until it arrived at the complete schism, because of the demands of the Popes… In this lies the reason for the Schism, which is truly a most significant reason because it overturns the spirit of the Gospel, and is a most important dogmatic reason, because it is the denial of the principles of the Gospel. The remaining dogmatic reasons – albeit very important ones – can be regarded as secondary and as the outcome of the first reason. (A Historical Study Regarding the Causes of the Schism”, vol.1, Athens 1911, p. 69)

On the Visible and Invisible Church

St. Nektarios of Aegina 1846-1920

Those who are not reborn by the divine grace in the only One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church, do not belong to any church, either visible or invisible. (Two Studies, 1. On the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church 2. On Sacred Tradition [in Greek], Bookstore Nektarios Panagopoulos, Athens 1987, p. 28.)

On Pseudo-Confessors and Those Who Follow Them

St. Nektarios of Aegina 1846-1920

[C]onfession…demands the discovery of a proficient and experienced physician… Therefore, we must be careful to search for experienced physicians who are capable of healing the wounds of the heart that has been injured by sins. This is an urgent matter due to the sharp character of the wounds and the various passions. It is a pressing concern due to the impending danger. Just as the unskillful physician sends many people to the gates of Hades, similarly, the incompetent and imprudent spiritual father sends many souls to Hades. Oh, what a terrible evil it is for someone to find death while seeking treatment. Who can calculate the magnitude of this great misfortune? Who is capable of mourning this type of loss? It is necessary for one’s eyes to be transformed into faucets of tears in order to weep for this misfortune worthily. Woe! Woe to them who claim to be spiritual fathers and who assasinate the souls of those whom they confess. Woe unto them who demand money for the forgiveness of sins, instead of contrition, humility, and the propitiation of God through a true and virtuous lifestyle. Woe to them who seek to sell the forgiveness of evil deeds in return for recompense. Woe to the hypocrites who feign piety in order to decieve others and profit, they who preach piety in order to make money. Woe to them who promise prayers and suplications on behalf of those who sinned in order to receive silver. Woe to the soul merchants who sell the souls of Christians to the demons in return for a few coins! Woe to them who teach the lie! Their portion will be with their father the devil, the father of lies.

Have you sinned? Do you feel the burden of sin? Does your conscience reproach you? See to it that you extinguish the reproach of your conscience. The spiritual father is the only physician. Request the medication rather than prayers and supplications. But even if you ask for these, still, do not overlook the medication. Just as when we fall ill, as the Apostle James teaches, we ask for the prayers but we are also anointed with the oil (cf. Jas. 5:14). Similarly in this case, seek the medication, and if you are wealthy, then give to holy men to pray on your behalf, while also praying with them. The prayers of them who pray with you should be an expression of your fervent desire to propitiate God. However, the payment and the prayers of others will be of no benefit to you if you are negligent, because you have in no way improved yourself morally.

Beloved, we are speaking about ethical rebirth. We are speaking about Christian conduct. We are speaking about a virtuous and modest way of life. This is about intimacy with God. We are talking about perfection and holiness. Because having become such persons, we become participants of eternal life. Therefore, if we do not struggle, we have accomplished nothing. Then, the prayers of spiritual fathers are useless, the supplicatory canons of the salaried are useless, the forty-day Liturgies are also useless, when they are performed on behalf of an unrepentant person who has not propitiated God and who still lives in sin. We are saved through contrition of heart and true confession. (Repentance and Confession, pp. 31-33)

St. Nektarios on Universalism

St. Nektarios of Aegina 1846-1920

After the end of the General Judgment, the Righteous Judge (God) will declare the decision both to the righteous and to the sinners. To the righteous He will say: “Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the Kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world;” while to the sinners He will say: “Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels.” And these will go away to enternal hades, while the righteous will go to enternal life. This retribution after the General Judgment will be complete, final, and definitive. It will complete, because it is not the soul alone, as the Partial Judgment of man after death, but the soul together with the body, that will receive what is deserved. It will be final, because it will be enduring and not temporary like that at Partial Judgment. And it will be definitive, because both for the righteous and for the sinners it will be unalterable and eternal. Source

St. Nectarios on the Terms of Catholic-Orthodox Union

St. Nectarios of Aegina 1846-1920

The terms of union are such that they render the sought-for union impossible, because they have no point of contact. Each seeks from the other nothing more nor less than the denial of itself and the basic principles upon which the whole structure of the church is founded. For on the one hand, the Papal church is based on the primacy of the Pope according to their understanding of this point; and on the other, the Eastern Church is founded upon the Ecumenical Councils. Because of this, the terms of union brought forward by either side are impossible of acceptance since they overturn the churches from their very foundations. Hence the ineffectiveness of any concessions either side can make. The primacy of honor which is given by the Eastern Church to the Pope is a useless concession because it lacks the power to hold the fabric of the Western Church together. The concessions given by the Pope to the Eastern Church—that is, her remaining in her own dogmas, customs and disciplines—are not in the least considered as “concessions” by her but as legitimate in themselves, since they are founded on the Canons of the Church, for which reason alone she abides in them. But she demands also that the Pope himself with all the Western Church return to her bosom, renouncing their former life, and come in repentance to her. Therefore the apparent concessions have no meaning whatever, since they are not actually concessions. For union to come about, it is necessary that the concessions remove the main causes of separation. The concessions will truly be such when the Pope gives up his own ways, and not when he simply tolerates those things that have been well-established in the Church. Since the main causes of the separation remain as such, the churches persist in their own ways, and union is impossible. For union to be established, it must be made secure upon the same principle. Otherwise every labor is vain.  (An Historical Study Concerning the Causes of the Schism… Concerning the Impossibility or Possibility of Union)


On Uncreated Sin

St. Nektarios of Aegina 1846-1920

Sin, being undesirable by nature, is uncreated; as uncreated, it is something non-existent. However, it receives hypostasis when it is created by unnatural human desire. But since the entire creation is full of the Lord’s works, while His Law has been poured upon the entire face of the earth, this unnatural human desire and creation that receives hypostasis also receives some type of place and displaces the good that has been created by God. If then God created everything very well, it follows that this new creation that entered into the world also disturbed and harmed the reigning good and plotted against the law of God. Therefore, sin is a great evil against God because it threatens to destroy the work of God. And since its creator is man, when man sins, he sins against God; this is why he is obligated to satisfy the Divine Righteousness, while destroying the evil he has created and working on behalf of the everlastingness of God’s Law. (Repentance and Confession, pg. 46)

On Sinful Habits

St. Nektarios of Aegina 1846-1920

Truly, it is frightening, but also just. It is just for him who abandons God to be abandoned by Him. It is just for him who pushes away the inviting grace of God to be pushed away. It is just for God to turn His face away from them who desert Him and who do not approach Him. St. Gregory of Nyssa notes: “In this manner God’s righteous judgment resembles our dispositions; whatever we have within us, such things justice remits to us from our own things.”

Our haste to return and repent quickly is also dictated by the danger of inability to return to God; an evil habit is capable of rendering us incapable of repentance — which should frighten us immensely. The habit resulting from the continual repitition of sin of a sin becomes a natural state within man and renders itself so powerful that man is no longer able to resist it: its power overcomes even the natural law. Consequently, when habit reigns over us, we submit to it and become its slave. Free will has lost its independance permanently. Man expels his free volition, his will power is proven weak and unable to fight against the habit, and every attempt to regain the lost freedom is in vain. The battle makes this weakness more apparent. The person who has been conquered by habit carries out, acys and executes as a servant, as a subordinate. Self-will has ceased; he carries out orders as instructed. The voice of the inner man is drowned within his sternum. The habit becomes very tortuous, because even though the strength of the passions has dissipated, the habit insists on being remedied by them. Such is habit, such is its power, such is its tyranny. When it rules over us once, then it controls our desires, it regulates our actions, and the reins with which it controls our disposition never part from its hands. Then, everything has been lost; every hope of salvation has vanished; not even one ray of light has remained. Has someone lived in sin? He will also die in sin. Therefore, it is necessary for us to hasten to repentance before sin becomes a habit for us; because then, it is impossible to be saved. (Repentance and Confession trans. by the Fathers of the Holy Monastery of St. Nektarios, NY pp. 11-14)

St. Nektarios on the Priesthood

St. Nektarios of Aegina 1846-1920

What can we say concerning the priesthood, this exalted divine order and ministry? Through this mystery, one is chosen amongst men and elevated above them in relation to God. As a sacrament, ordination renders the priest an initiator of Divine Grace, a minister of the divine mysteries, a teacher of piety, and a welcome mediator between God and men; so that, as an angel of God, he may send up to God the prayers and supplicaton of the faithful and bring down from heaven the Divine Gifts. St. Dionysios the Areopagite calls the priesthood a holy ministry, a typology of the supernatural hierarchy, and a holy and sacred kingdom, for it takes place on the earth but lies within the order of the heavenly ranks. Our holy father Chrysostom also advises us concerning the effective power of the priesthood: “Take note how much power priests possess. Consider baptism, the forgiveness of sins, sonship the sacraments, and thousands of other good things that you receive through the invocation and laying of these priests’ hands. Through the priesthood God is worshipped, and things of the earth are adorned as if in heaven.” (Saint Nektarios the Wonderworker, Bishop of Pentapolis: Christology pg. 258)

On Happiness and Worldliness

St. Nektarios of Aegina 1846-1920

How mistaken are those people who seek happiness outside of themselves, in foreign lands and journeys, in riches and glory, in great possessions and pleasures, in diversions and vain things, which have a bitter end! In the same thing to construct the tower of happiness outside of ourselves as it is to build a house in a place that is consistently shaken by earthquakes. Happiness is found within ourselves, and blessed is the man who has understood this. Happiness is a pure heart, for such a heart becomes the throne of God. Thus says Christ of those who have pure hearts: “I will visit them, and will walk in them, and I will be a God to them, and they will be my people.” (II Cor. 6:16) What can be lacking to them? Nothing, nothing at all! For they have the greatest good in their hearts: God Himself! (St. Nektarios of Aegina, Path to Happiness, 1)

On Classical Christianity

St. Nectarios of Aegina 1846-1920

Christianity is a religion of revelation. The Divine reveals its glory only to those who have been perfected through virtue. Christianity teaches perfection through virtue and demands that its followers become holy and perfect. It disapproves of and opposes those who are under the influence of the imagination. He who is truly perfect in virtue becomes through Divine help outside the flesh and the world, and truly enters another, spiritual world; not, however, through the imagination, but through the effulgence of Divine grace. Without grace, without revelation, no man, even the most virtuous, can transcend the flesh and the world. (“Modern Orthodox Saints, St. Nectarios of Aegina”, by Dr. Constantine Cavarnos)


The Mystery of Mysteries

St. Nectarios of Aegina 1846-1920

The Mysterion of the Divine Eucharist that has been handed down by the Lord is the hightest of all the Mysteria; it is the most wondrous of all the miracles which the power of God has performed; it is the highest which the wisdom of God has conceived; it is the most precious of all the gifts which the love of God has bestowed upon men. For all the other miracles result through a transcendence of certain laws of Nature, but the Mysterion of the Divine Eucharist transcends all these laws. Hence it may justly be called, and be viewed as, the miracle of miracles and the Mysterion of Mysteria.  (“Modern Orthodox Saints, St. Nectarios of Aegina”, by Dr. Constantine Cavarnos)


St. Nectarios on Sacred Tradition

St. Nectarios of Aegina 1846-1920

Sacred Tradition is the very Church; without Sacred Tradition the Church does not exist. Those who deny the Sacred Tradition deny the Church and the preaching of the Apostles. (Constantine Cavarnos, St. Nectarios of Aegina)