Today is the Feast of St. Nicholas, and the children at St. Patrick's school received a very special treat, but it was not in their shoes left out by the fireplace! St. Nick himself visited them at their school to tell them all about who he is, and why we honor him! Here is that special presentation, written by Sharon Nelsen:
St. Nicholas (Fourth Century) (Feast Day December 6)
Saints for School Masses, Tuesday, December 6, 2011
Written by Sharon Nelsen
In the Fourth Century, I was appointed Bishop of Myra, the capital city in Lycia, which is a province of Asia Minor. I loved my people and they loved me which might be why so many legends have arisen about me. This does not mean that the stories about me are untrue, just that they became more exaggerated as they were told and retold through the centuries.
What is important to me and to you is that we share with others from what God has bestowed upon us. When my parents died, they left me a fortune. I was determined to share that fortune with others and very soon an opportunity arose, which has become the story about me that has inspired gift-giving at Christmastime throughout the world. The story is about how I helped a poor man in our city of Patara:
This man had lost all of his money and he had three daughters of marriageable age. In our times it was up to the father to find a husband for his daughter, and to give not only his daughter to that husband, but to give a “dowry” of money with her. This may sound odd to you, but in my day, when one more person was added to the household (and the daughter always went to live with her new husband’s family) someone had to pay for her food and clothing—which is why the father provided a dowry.
If the father of the bride had no money or goods to give, no dowry, his daughter had little chance of marriage and most probably would end up on the streets when her father died.
Little did I realize that when I threw the first bag of gold through the window of that poor father’s house, I was beginning a tradition! I had managed to leave the first two bags of gold secretly, but when I crept by one night and left that third bag of gold, the poor man saw me and overwhelmed me with gratitude.
The word spread and probably because my Feast Day is so close to Christmas Day, giving gifts became associated with the Birth of Jesus. Today in many countries, gifts are given on St. Nicholas Day, or in January on the Feast of the Epiphany, celebrating the gifts the Magi brought to the newly born Savior of the world.
Gifts can be things, but they can also be the giving of our time to be with someone, to help someone or simply to make someone’s life better because we let them know we care about them.
One of the gifts I gave the church was my presence at the Council of Nicaea in the year 325. I helped the council declare what we believe about God and His Church, so now, as you recite the Nicene Creed together at Sunday Mass, you are proclaiming the truth. And truth is the best gift of all.
Today, my prayer for each of you is that you will share always from the truth of your time, your talent, and your treasure with those the Lord sends to you throughout your life.
St. Nicholas, pray for us;
St. Patrick, our parish patron, pray for us;
All holy men and women, pray for us.
Copyright 2011, Sharon Nelsen