Tuesday, March 2, 2021

Funeral Oration for the Newly-Departed Priest Nicholas Planas (Delivered March 3, 1932)

The original grave of St. Nicholas Planas.    
 
The late Metropolitan Titus Matthaiakis of Paramythia, Filiates and Giromeri was among the first who wrote about Saint Nicholas Planas, and this is because he was one of his spiritual children and often served with him in the Holy Sanctuary during those solemn sacred Services in the Church of the Prophet Elisha in Monastiraki, together with his brother according to the flesh the late Metropolitan Timothy of Nea Ionia and Philadelphia. Saint Nicholas had foretold that the late Metropolitan Titus would one day become a Cleric and Metropolitan, and that his archbishopric would be a difficult one, which came true with his unjust and uncanonical removal from the Throne of the Holy Metropolis of Paramythia under Archbishop Hieronymos Kotsonis.

Therefore, from the book of Metropolitan Titus, 'Ο Ιερεύς Νικόλαος Πλανάς και το έργον αυτού (The Priest Nicholas Planas and his Works), I have translated the funeral oration delivered at the grave of the Saint at his burial by the then student of Theology Konstantinos Matthaiakis, who would later become Metropolitan Titus I of Paramythia, Filiates and Giromeri.

The Sunday of the Prodigal Son dawned, 28 February of the year 1932. This is the day he liturgized for the last time at the earthly sacrificial altar. After the Divine Liturgy, he lost consciousness.

While ill he stayed at the residence of his pious son John, at 39 Drakou Street in Gargaretta, where he delivered his holy soul on March 2, 1932, the day on which he had the anniversary of his ordination as a Presbyter.

He had made the sign of the Honorable Cross and said: "My path has ended. Glory to You O God! May divine grace bless you."

With these words he departed this world. In the morning they brought his sacred relic to the Church of Saint John on Vouliagmeni Street, where he was placed for public veneration for three days.

The popular events were unprecedented and the crowd of people innumerable. Thousands of people arrived from the basin of Attica to bid farewell to the modern Saint.

His funeral was attended by the Archbishop of Athens Chrysostomos Papadopoulos (+ 1938), who also gave the funeral sermon, along with his fellow priest Nikolaos Lambropoulos. At the grave, right next to the Holy Sanctuary of the church, the then student of Theology, Konstantinos Matthaiakis, the later Metropolitan of Paramythia, Filiates and Giromeri Titus (+ 1991), gave a funeral sermon on behalf of his spiritual children.


Metropolitan Titus of Paramythia

Funeral Oration for the Departed Priest Nicholas Planas

"But the righteous live forevermore; their reward also is with the Lord, and the care of them is with the Most High. Therefore shall they receive a glorious kingdom, and a beautiful crown from the Lord's hand: for with his right hand shall he cover them, and with his arm shall he protect them" (Wisdom of Solomon 5:15-16).

These divinely-inspired words from the Wisdom of Solomon find their full application in this righteous and pious Father of our Church, priest Nicholas Planas, whose revered body we place in this grave before us, next to the sacred altar of this temple, in which he faithfully and conscientiously worshiped God throughout his long priestly ministry.

Through his many virtues and his God-pleasing work in the vineyard of the Lord, his soul which was well-pleasing to Him has been placed justly before God's heavenly altar of the divine blessedness in His Kingdom and crowned with an incomparably beautiful diadem, for his good works which he worked in this world.

With deep pain, his spiritual children, his endearing parishioners, and pious and faithful disciples, who have been saved by him, have surrounded his venerable body.

The whole city of Athens and its surroundings mourn his separation, for he was known to all as a true Holy Father of our Church.

He honored the Church as few others have, he distinguished himself in it, so that he gained a good reputation, honored above all else as a holy man, through his virtuous conduct, his deep faith and dedication to God, and his good works which he did as a Good Shepherd of the vineyard of Christ.

In his mind he had Him as a model, following faithfully His orders, in no way deviating from His Divine commandments.

For as a Spiritual Father he saved thousands of souls, guiding them to the truth and the light of the Savior Christ. He was truly a model of piety and holiness, perfected in all the Christian virtues.

Harmless and meek, he astounded all with his extreme goodness. He was like a small child, gentle and gracious, with deep humility and boundless love and sympathy.

His goodness would show itself more towards sinners. With it he attracted those who were in serious sins towards repentance. He never spared labor in order to regenerate and save souls.

His non-love for money will remain monumental. His mercy, his great compassion towards those who suffered and those in poverty was very exemplary. Before he entered the ranks of the sacred Clergy he distributed the goods of his property to share with the poor.

He loved beyond compare the dwelling-places of the Lord, showing himself to be an excellent liturgist of the Church, an initiate of the Grace of God. He passed his life as if it was a long prayer.

Through it he was able to teach and save souls, to raise the morale and admonish, to inspire and release from material attachments believers, to bring people together in the true spiritual worship of God.

Day and night, he prayed, and he constantly practiced asceticism and watchfulness. Sometimes with his prolonged and solemn liturgies, and sometimes with sacred vigils, his soul liked to worship God.

All gathered to be in the presence of this benevolent Father, to remove the burden from their souls, and to ask through him for the mercy and help of God. Little children also sensed his great grace, and viewed him as an earthly Angel.

His prayers were heard, having great boldness before God. To those who labored and were heavy-laden in this present life he was a staff, to those fallen in sin he was a resuscitation, to the sick he was comforting and healing, to the needy he was an assistance, to the sad he was a comfort and encouragement, to those who prayed he was a true mediator of the Grace of God.

His entire presence, his biblical holy form, his modest appearance, his steps, his words, his manners, his frugality and his great temperance, his continuous asceticism and fasting, were always deeply imprinted on all, which manifested in every way towards a deeper respect, honor and reverence for him.

The wonderful work of the Grace of God, which he did for the glory of God, made him an illustrious Father in Christ's militant Church.

My much-respected Spiritual Father,

Behold, we your spiritual children place with great reverence your venerable body in the grave, while at the same time we beg you, cease not to entreat Holy God on behalf of all of us.

With a deep sense of our gratitude towards you, we promise to preserve in our innermost hearts all that your holy and pious soul taught us.

We will keep your wise paternal counsels, and above all the excellent example of your virtuous conduct, your extreme faith and piety, by which you were justified by God and your soul has been made blessed. Pray also for us, the humble servants of God, that we may be found worthy of the heavenly kingdom.

Your memory will remain eternal.

Source: Translated by John Sanidopoulos.
 
 
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