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Thursday, 6 December 2012

Feast of St. Nicholas

This feast is a major one on both sides of my family. Being from ancestors who are both Moravian, Bohemian, and Luxembourgians, my family and I celebrated this in grand style.

It was so wonderful. As we all sat down for dinner on December 6th, there would be a knock at the front door. Mom and Dad and all the children were with us, so who could it be but St. Nicholas.

We would rush to the door and there, on the front porch, in the snow, usually, were sacks of fruit, chocolates, other candies, and some toys. Of course, we always received gold coins, the symbol of St. Nicholas, who provided dowries for three poor girls.

No footprints, no disturbance in the snow.

It was not until years late that my mom told me that the Lutheran gentleman next door would wear his snowshoes, which barely leave a mark in snow. and deliver what mom had given him earlier in the day.

I think that counts as ecumenism.

It is a family name. My day has that name as his Confirmation name and I have cousins and second cousins and third cousins who are Nick, Nicky and Nicholas. Really, but we do not cook lamb in the front yard. But, we do have Panettone on St. Nicholas Day.

I love St. Nicholas and the two main readings in the EF struck me particularly this year.

From the Epistle to the Hebrews 13: 7-17 is this section verses 13 and 14:

Let us go forth therefore to him without the camp, bearing his reproach. For we have not here a lasting city, but we seek one that is to come 

Two important points: one, we are on the outside and we should be. We should be a mark of distinction in the world, not conforming to it, but changing it by our example; and two, this is not our permanent home. 

If the world hates us, that most likely means we are living out our baptismal vows.

St. Nicholas is our example.

The other reading which impressed me today is the Gospel, Matthew 25: 14-23. The talents are not necessarily our gifts, as some of the great writers of mediation state, but graces.

We may be given only two graces; use them. We may be given only four graces; use those.

We cannot measure grace, of course, but use the grace of the sacraments daily. Do not squander the gifts. And a selection from my favourite musical tribute to St. Nicholas. 

Benjamin Britten, "Saint Nicholas": Nicholas comes to Myra and is chosen as Bishop. .Please listen to it, as even as a selection from the entire Cantata, it is sublime.

Thank you, dear St. Nicholas, for being my family's patron. Intercede for us in these hard times to be as courageous as we possibly can be. Thank you, St. Nicholas, for your example and grace.