Happy Feast of St. Nicholas!
This amazing saint has been honored since 343 AD, when a unique relic called manna, formed in his grave. This liquid substance was known to have healing powers, effecting miracles of all kinds. Thus, December 6 – the day of his death – quickly became known as St. Nicholas Day.
Since then, devotion to St. Nicholas has spread throughout the world, with many different customs developing in the various countries. Although they differ in specifics, they all celebrate St. Nicholas as a gift giver with a special love for children.
Over time, many stories and legends have been told about the saint’s life and deeds. The one most commonly relayed is that the of the Three Innocents.
As the legend goes, a poor man had three daughters. In those days, it was customary for a father to offer a dowry for each daughter. A dowry was property or payment that the young woman would bring into the marriage. The larger the dowry, the better the husband. Without a dowry, the women were destined to be sold into slavery. Such was the fate of the three daughters of this poor man, since he had no dowries for them.
St. Nicholas – then Bishop of Myra – heard of this family’s plight. On three separate occasions, he tossed a bag of gold (some say it was balls made of gold) through an open window in the middle of the night. It’s said that the gold landed in shoes or stockings that had been laid out to dry overnight. Thus began the custom of children setting out their shoes or hanging stockings for St. Nicholas to fill on the night of December 5.
Another legend is said to have taken place many years after St. Nicholas’ death. A young boy from Myra, Basilios, was taken captive and held as a slave by a band of pirates from Crete. His grief-stricken mother prayed ceaselessly for his return. On the next Feast of St. Nicholas, Basilios was suddenly whisked away from his captivity by the saint, taken home, and place safely before his awe-struck parents.
I’m a strong believer that there are no coincidences. Everything works according to God’s plan. And so, it’s no coincidence that I was asked to be a guest this morning on EWTN’s Morning Glory with hosts Brian Patrick, Gloria Purvis, and Fr. Thomas Petri OP. The topic was my new book, Forgiving Mother.
At one point in the conversation, Gloria mentioned that it deeply grieves her to hear about children who have been, or are being, mistreated. She asked me how I’ve handled the mistreatment from my mom.
Here is what I told her, in summary.
There is always a reckoning. God knows all and sees all. He knows exactly what the abusive person has done, is doing, and will do. He is not blind to our suffering, and when the abuser’s life draws to a close, he or she will have to answer for their actions. That’s something private, between that individual and God alone.
There will be a reckoning for me as well. God knows all and see all. He knows exactly what I have, am, and will experience and he knows exactly how I respond. My only concern is to trust him, cling to him, and follow his commandments no matter what.
Well, it’s not. Remember too, that the God with whom we must reckon is a loving Father who wants what is best for us and desires to spend Eternity with us.
Back to St. Nicholas…
Gloria’s admission to grief when a child is mistreated made me think about the saint whose feast we celebrate today. St. Nicholas is the patron saint of children. Regardless of whether the stories and legends are all true, it’s a fact that he has performed miracles through his intercession and he has a loving devotion to children. St. Nicholas loves to protect the innocent ones!
And so, my radio appearance this morning has given me what I hope is a great idea that will spread.
On this Feast of St. Nicholas, pray for children everywhere who suffer the wounds of mistreatment. Ask his intercession in their protection and healing. It can be a simply one-liner, or a long, profound prayer. Doesn’t matter how you pray; just pray.
Below is a prayer to St. Nicholas for children that I found on St.NicholasCenter.org. I like it very much and certainly will be praying it today myself.
A PRAYER FOR CHILDREN
God, we pray that through the
intercessions of St. Nicholas
you will guide and protect our children.
Keep them safe from all harm
and help them grow to become
loving disciples of Jesus in your sight.
Give them strength to always mature
into deeper faith in you,
and to keep alive joy in your creation.
Through Jesus Christ Our Lord. Amen.
—by Father David R. Engbarth, St. Nicholas Church, Aurora, Illinois
Please help me to spread this idea by sharing this post with others. The children need us. Let’s pray for them!