Wednesday, December 06, 2006

St. Nicholas

There is almost no saint as beloved as St. Nicholas. Parton of many things...but first and foremost children, the innocent and the poor.

St. Nicholas was a wealthy man. But money did not move his heart, it was moved by our Lord. The St. Nicholas center writes of his life:

The true story of Santa Claus begins with Nicholas, who was born during the third century in the village of Patara. At the time the area was Greek and is now on the southern coast of Turkey. His wealthy parents, who raised him to be a devout Christian, died in an epidemic while Nicholas was still young. Obeying Jesus' words to "sell what you own and give the money to the poor," Nicholas used his whole inheritance to assist the needy, the sick, and the suffering. He dedicated his life to serving God and was made Bishop of Myra while still a young man. Bishop Nicholas became known throughout the land for his generosity to the those in need, his love for children, and his concern for sailors and ships.

Nicholas was legendary in his giving to others. The story is told:

In those days a young woman's father had to offer prospective husbands something of value—a dowry. The larger the dowry, the better the chance that a young woman would find a good husband. Without a dowry, a woman was unlikely to marry. This poor man's daughters, without dowries, were therefore destined to be sold into slavery. Mysteriously, on three different occasions, a bag of gold appeared in their home-providing the needed dowries. The bags of gold, tossed through an open window, are said to have landed in stockings or shoes left before the fire to dry. This led to the custom of children hanging stockings or putting out shoes, eagerly awaiting gifts from Saint Nicholas. Sometimes the story is told with gold balls instead of bags of gold. That is why three gold balls, sometimes represented as oranges, are one of the symbols for St. Nicholas. And so St. Nicholas is a gift-giver.

The dignity of others was always important to Nicholas, who had the heart of a child and a deep faith. And he exercised these in a legendary, but simple way. His care and love for others is basically that. Simple.

In a way he is one of the best examples of exercising effortless love with supreme effort, as Christ taught us. In the end, is that not the call of a Christian: effortless love with supreme effort.

Pray for us, St. Nicholas and lead us to a better understanding of Christ.

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