When you are baptized into the Orthodox Church, you receive a patron saint after whom you are re-named. This patron saint prays on your behalf to Christ, much like a father prays for his children.
I was torn on choosing a saint. On the one hand, I was already named after King David, who is a saint of the church. For my whole life as a Protestant, I had tried to emulate my namesake. It has always been my heart’s desire to live a life as David did, with his whole heart towards God. Whenever I sought comfort from the scriptures, I turned to the Psalms. Whenever I thought of following Christ, I thought of David following God into the battle with Goliath.
Once again, I approached Father Phil with my concerns.
“Father, I have tried to emulate my life after King David, can I continue to use him and ask that he be my patron saint?”
“King David is a great example, but I would encourage you to look at other saints and learn about their lives before you make a decision.”
I picked up a book of saints and began to read through them. After reading about a third of the book, I began to get discouraged as I wasn’t locating any saints that I felt a “connection” with. I started trying to search Google and Orthodox Wiki’s looking for anything that might spark a reaction within me.
Then something reminded me of the joy I found in reading through the summary of the Philokalia by Anthony Coniaris
. Who was the guy that put that together again? I did a quick search to find out more about the Philokalia.
Who was Nicodemus the Hagiorite?
Nicodemus of the Holy Mountain was a great theologian and teacher of the Orthodox Church, reviver of hesychasm, canonist, hagiologist, and writer of liturgical poetry. His life and works helped provide (among other things) an experiential Orthodox response to contemporary Western Enlightenment culture.
Nicodemus is also known as Nikodemos the Hagiorite and Nicodemos the Athonite. He lived from 1749 to 1809 A.D. He was tonsured a monk, and became a hesychist, (the practice of inner stillness, and repetition of the Jesus Prayer). In 1777, Saint Markarius of Corinth asked him to revise three texts, which would eventually become the Philokalia.
Nicodemus was a writer and a poet. My whole life I have enjoyed reading, and I have sought to become a writer myself. But the main thing that drew me to Nicodemus was the Philokalia. I found new depths to spirituality that I did not know existed before reading these texts. I have since purchased these volumes so that I can read them in full, and not just the summarized version from Coniaris.
I approached Father Phil with my findings, and I think that he knew that King David would not be my patron saint. Not because King David was lacking in anything, but because there was another saint out there who would be a better match for me.
Saint Nicodemus has been a huge blessing in my life, and I know he prays for me daily, and I benefit not only from those prayers, but from the example he set forth, and the works he put to paper, especially the Philokalia.
Pray unto God for me, O Holy Saint Nicodemus, well-pleasing to God: for I turn unto thee, who art the speedy helper and intercessor for my soul.