Children, sailors, fishermen, merchants, the falsely accused, pawnbrokers, prostitutes, repentant thieves, many cities.
O blessed Saint, we honor you, On this great festal day.
Hail Nicholas the faithful say,
Apostle of the Way. As you helped those who round you came; May we your presence feel,
As our commitment is the same
Answering Love's appeal. The father poor, the three young girls, Young men to life restored.
Sailors can rest, the sea is blessed,
Your miracles record. In prison dark, your faith was strong;
Help those who suffer wrong,
We heed your words, the gospel call,
To hail Christ, Lord of all. As Bari's pilgrims make their way
To sing of your great name,
The wonder myrrh of Myra still
Proclaims your loving fame. Lead us dear saint, in joy and peace, Your prayers we now implore,
As we praise God, the Father, Son
And Spirit blest adored.
Today, December 6, we celebrate the feast day of Saint Nicholas, Bishop of Myra (died 346), the inspiration for many of our current secular Christmas traditions. This great saint is the most frequently depicted saint in art (only Our Blessed Mother surpasses him), and the veneration and honor he is given throughout the world are testimonials to his holiness and of the glory which he enjoys with God.
Little is known about the life of Saint Nicholas. That which is most reliable comes from a monk, Saint Methodius, Patriarch of Constantinople, who wrote a biography of Saint Nicholas approximately 500 years after his death. In his “life,” Saint Methodius tells us that that "Up to the present the life of this distinguished Shepard has been unknown to the majority of the faithful." He then describes the extraordinary events of the life of Saint Nicholas. The truth of many of these legends is unknown, but each speaks to a man of great faith.
From this and other works, we know with certainty that when the See of Myra lost it’s bishop, Nicholas was chosen to fill the vacancy. There, he was recognized for his extraordinary piety, apostolic zeal, and became famous for working astonishing miracles.
Nicholas was born at Patara in Lycia (Asia Minor), and demonstrated great piety and faith from an early age. For example, we are told that he fasted on Wednesdays and Fridays, taking only nourishment in the evenings. Per his biography, "He was exceedingly well brought up by his parents and trod piously in their footsteps. The child, watched over by the church enlightened his mind and encouraged his thirst for sincere and true religion".
Sadly, Nicholas’ parents died when he was still young, and taking his considerable inheritance, devoted himself to works of charity. One of his most “famous” charitable acts is thought to have inspired the giving of Christmas gifts: A citizen of Patara, where he lived, had lost all of his money. This honorable man had three daughters to support, and could not find suitable husbands because of their poverty. Upon hearing of this situation, Nicholas took a bag of gold, and in the night, threw the bag in the open window of the man’s house. (Some say that the gold—also sometimes referred to as gold balls, rather than bags, landed in the socks and shoes of the family, drying before the fire. This led to the tradition of hanging stockings to be filled.) The man, using the money as dowry, promptly found a suitable suitor for his eldest daughter, who was married. Nicholas repeated the act twice more, once for each remaining daughter. However, the man kept watch, and upon recognizing Nicholas, was overcome with gratitude and thanks. From this, we see Saint Nicholas as a holy man, charitable, and giving of himself to others.
Nicholas soon departed Patara, traveling to the city of Myra where his uncle was the Archbishop. There, he was ordained, and appointed the Superior of a monastery. Upon the death of his uncle, Nicholas was appointed the new bishop by the people, who were certain that he had been chosen by the Lord. Around that time, the Diocletian persecutions of Christians were beginning, and "As he was the chief priest of the Christians of this town and preached the truths of faith with a holy liberty, the divine Nicholas was seized by the magistrates, tortured, then chained and thrown into prison with many other Christians. But when the great and religious Constantine, chosen by God assumed the imperial diadem of the Romans, the prisoners were released from their bonds and with them the illustrious Nicholas, who when he was set at liberty returned to Myra."
Saint Nicholas protected his flock against the heresies common in that time. He was likely present at the Council of Nicaea, where some legend tells of him striking Arius (the originator of the Arian heresy) and being imprisoned, only to be freed by visions of Jesus and Mary. Saint Nicholas also fought valiantly against paganism, destroying pagan temples throughout the region with “evil spirits fleeing, howling before him.”
But Saint Nicholas did not limit himself to the spiritual affairs of his people. He served as protector and guardian, advocating for prisoners, and famously freeing three innocent men wrongly condemned to death by the governor, Eustathius. Upon freeing the men, Nicholas incessantly reproached the governor—in front of a large crowd—until he admitted his wrong-doing and became sincerely penitent. Saint Nicholas later miraculously freed three men from a distance, appearing to Emperor Constantine and demanding their release in a dream. The next morning, when the imprisoned men called upon the name of Saint Nicholas for intercession, the emperor freed them, sending them back to the great saint with a letter asking for no more threats, but for peace in the world. For this, Saint Nicholas is regarded as the patron of prisoners and captives.
Additional miracles reported at the intercession of Saint Nicholas include the raising to life three young boys who were killed and hidden in pickling barrels to avoid detection (For this, he is the patron and protector of children), and the calming of stormy seas by his word upon voyages to the Holy Land. It is this latter miracle—during which he appeared to frightened sailors off the coast of Lycea, that led his patronage of sailors. Sailors in the Aegean and Ionian seas, following a common Eastern custom, had their "star of Saint Nicholas" and wished one another a good voyage in the phrase "May Saint Nicholas hold the tiller.”
Under the rule of Emperor Diocletian, Nicholas was imprisoned for his faith, but refused to recant, and was eventually freed upon the death of the Emperor. He is recorded as makinga "glorious confession" of the faith to his jailors, converting many.
Saint Nicholas died at Myra, and is buried there in the basilica named for him. At Myra "the venerable body of the bishop, embalmed as it was in the good ointments of virtue exuded a sweet smelling myrrh, which kept it from corruption and proved a health giving remedy against sickness to the glory of him who had glorified Jesus Christ, our true God." During the Saracen occupation, the relics of Saint Nicholas were translated to Bari, Italy. The translation of the relics did not interrupt this phenomenon, and the "manna of St. Nicholas" is said to flow to this day. This “manna”-- a unique relic which forms in his grave, is a liquid substance said to have healing powers. It was one of the great attractions which draws pilgrims to his tomb from all parts of Europe.
An anonymous Greek wrote in the tenth century that, "the West as well as the East acclaims and glorifies him. Wherever there are people, in the country and the town, in the villages, in the isles, in the furthest parts of the earth, his name is revered and churches are built in his honor. Images of him are set up, panegyrics preached and festivals celebrated. All Christians, young and old, men and women, boys and girls, reverence his memory and call upon his protection. And his favors, which know no limit of time and continue from age to age, are poured out over all the earth; the Scythians know them, as do the Indians and the barbarians, the Africans as well as the Italians."
As a bishop, Saint Nicholas, was first and foremost a shepherd of the people, caring for their needs. His active pursuit of justice for his people was demonstrated when he secured grain in time of famine, saved the lives of three men wrongly condemned, and secured lower taxes for Myra. He taught the Gospel simply, so ordinary people understood, and he lived out his faith and devotion to God in helping the poor and all in need. Regardless of the accuracy of the legends and miracles reported in his name, the life and deeds of Saint Nicholas, and the attitude with which he praised the Lord, make him an inspiration to us today. As we move through Advent, toward Christmas, let us emulate Saint Nicholas in our care and concern for the welfare of others.
O God, Who didst adorn blessed Nicholas,
the bishop, with miracles unnumbered,
grant, we beseech Thee, that by his merits
and prayer we may be delivered from the
fire of hell. Through Christ our Lord. Amen. Text Shared from 365Rosaries Blog
ST. NICHOLAS BREAD Klauskerl (German St. Nicholas Doughman)
For the Feast of St. Nicholas
1 package active dry, or cake, yeast ½ cup lukewarm water 3 cups sifted all-purpose flour 2 eggs, divided 2 tablespoons sugar 1/8 teaspoon salt ½ cup soft butter 1 cup warm milk
ONE Dissolve yeast in water. Stir in ½ cup flour; mix thoroughly. Let rise in covered bowl.
TWO Sift 2 ½ cups flour into bowl; make "well" in center; put dough in it. Add 1 egg, sugar, salt, butter, milk. Knead until dough starts to blister. Dust dough with flour; cover; let rise to double thickness.
THREE Punch to ¼-inch thickness and cut pieces in shape of body, head, arms, legs. Assemble to form "St. Nicholas doughman;" cover; let rise.
Make face, using raisins, slivers of almond, currants, etc. Brush with milk, beaten egg.
Bake at 375º F. until golden brown. Yield, 1 St. Nicholas Doughman
From The Catholic Cook Book: Traditional Feast and Fast Day Recipes by William I. Kaufman. The Citadel Press, 1965.
Kirk Cameron, known for his role as Mike Seaver on the 80’s TV show“Growing Pains” and films. Is promoting his new film defending Christmas. In a video clip released last week “Do You Love Santa Claus” Cameron shows the history of Saint Nicolas. Santa Claus, was actually the Roman Catholic Bishop Nicholas of Myra, Turkey under Pope Sylvester I. St. Nicholas, as painted on the Kizhi monastery in Russia. “He was a devout Christian,” Cameron explains. "was left with a large sum of money when his parents died, and be became famous for his kindness toward the poor and his generous giving of gifts to children.”
“He was there at the Council of Nicaea in AD 325, one of the most important events in Church history,” he continues, referring to the first ecumenical conference under Constantine. “The Council of Nicaea ended up producing what is known today as the Nicene Creed, a profession of faith used by churches all around the world. The creed affirmed the deity of Christ and the three persons of the trinity.” According to the St. Nicholas Center, Roman Catholics believe that after Nicholas was put into prison for striking another man during the council, “Jesus with His mother Mary appeared to Nicholas: Jesus bringing the book of the Gospels, and Mary, the bishop’s stole which had been taken from him. In this way, Nicholas was reinstated.” During a recent speech before hundreds of students at Liberty University, Cameron also made defended St. Nicholas as being a Christian. “They even ‘sainted’ him—that’s why we call him St. Nicholas,” he said. “He became legendary in his time and beyond his time. He became larger than life and reached mythic proportions.” “So the guy that many of us think is distracting from the birth of the Christ child, is really the defender of the faith you and I want to be,” he explained. “So now that you know who the real Santa Claus is, you want to take a picture with him at the mall this Christmas? I do.” December 6th is the Roman Catholic “Feast of Saint Nicholas,”
The Bells of St. Mary's (1945) 126 min - Drama | Family - 21 February 1946 (Sweden) At a big city Catholic school, Father O'Malley and Sister Benedict indulge in friendly rivalry, and succeed in extending the school through the gift of a building. Director: Leo McCarey Writers: Dudley Nichols (screenplay), Leo McCarey (story) Stars: Bing Crosby, Ingrid Bergman, Henry Travers |
Pope Francis met Saturday with the Association of Catholic School Parents in the Vatican. - OSS_ROM
Pope Francis met Saturday with the Association of Catholic School Parents on the occasion of the fortieth anniversary of its foundation.
He encouraged participants to promote education focused on the fullness of humanity, on what it means to be human and an authentic humanism.
Listen to Alexander MacDonald's report:
In his prepared remarks Pope Francis reiterated a call he made recently to the World Congress of Educators. Catholic education must make room for everyone, he said, and must not select recipients in an elitist manner.
“There is no challenge more noble!” said the Holy Father, than when bridges are built between school and country, school and family and school and civil institutions. He encouraged parents to build union where division advances and to generate harmony in preference to exclusion.
Pope Francis also emphasized the role of parents as primary educators. “As parents,” he said, “you are custodians with the duty and primary and indispensable right to educate children.” Parents thus help in a positive and constant manner the work of the school. It is the duty of parents to ensure that schools live up to this task, especially when education is intended to be Catholic. “I pray to the Lord,” he said, “that a Catholic school does not take for granted the meaning of this adjective!”
Pope Francis also asked that parents and educators never sell off the human and Christian values which testify as to the value of the family, the school and society.
He concluded with a reference to the gospel of Luke, chapter 2 verse 52: “And Jesus increased in wisdom and in stature, and in favor with God and man.”
with sharp words on their lips—for “Who,” they think, “will hear us?”
But you laugh at them, O Lord; you hold all the nations in derision.
O my strength, I will watch for you; for you, O God, are my fortress.
My God in his steadfast love will meet me;
my God will let me look in triumph on my enemies…
Then it will be known to the ends of the earth that God rules over Jacob…
But I will sing of your might;
I will sing aloud of your steadfast love in the morning.
For you have been a fortress for me and a refuge in the day of my distress.
O my strength, I will sing praises to you, for you, O God, are my fortress
the God who shows me steadfast love.
Reflection – Well, another week, another terrorist attack dominating the news. As we have been moving through this difficult section of the book of Psalms—the ‘gloomy 50s’, I’ve been calling it—the world has itself moved through some gloomy times, the ‘bloodthirsty’ have indeed had their moment lately, ‘prowling about the city’.
I found it bizarre that the visceral response of at least some in the face of this recent attack was to lash out with anger and contempt at those who were praying for the dead and their families. Even as the bodies were still warm and surgeons were attending to the wounded, even as the survivors and their families were publicly asking for prayers, some in the media found it appropriate to sneer that ‘God can’t fix this’ (an actual full page headline from one New York tabloid) and to tell people of faith to shut up because ‘we are the problem’ (an actual quote from a respected senior journalist).
Well, we won’t shut up, because God indeed can fix this. Yes, we cannot only pray or, worse yet, mouth empty platitudes about prayer while not even doing that. But we have to be very clear. There is a spirit of violence and death at loose in the world right now. Now the media does hype things up, and statistically we are still more at risk of dying in a car accident than a terrorist attack… but nonetheless this is real, this is happening, and it will continue to happen, a great evil of our time.
And the greater evil yet is the fear and anger these things stir up in people. Only a miniscule percentage of the population will ever be killed or injured, or even have a close family member killed or injured, by a terrorist. But there are shock waves—spiritual and emotional—that rocket forth from these things, and let loose upon the land all sorts of things we have to guard against. Anger, hatred, fear, anxiety, vengefulness. And in that, vulnerability to politicians playing on those emotions who may possibly not have our best interests at heart (not to mention any names, but it rhymes with Funnelled Rump).
And this is what God ‘can fix’, not to mention His consoling love for the grieving and His mercy in welcoming the fallen into His kingdom (I don’t expect journalists to understand much about those matters). We have to know that our security is not in electing some idiot with bad hair who promises us he’ll take care of the whole thing with his ‘best people’. Our security is in the Lord and the Lord alone. Yes, there are things we have to do about ISIS, and they are not nice things, not pleasant things. Nobody should welcome those things.
But we do not have to give in to fear, anger, panic, unreasoned hatred, vengeful bitterness. Why? Because our safety, our security, the sure hope of our life and the assurance of the victory of good over evil, light over darkness, truth over falsehood, is in the Lord and not in flesh and blood. In the final ascendancy of heaven over hell, love over hate.
Oh, God ‘fixes’ us, all right. He affixes us on the path of freedom and truth, the path of Gospel love and merciful care for our brothers and sisters, out of which we can make the right choices about our difficult world situation. To pray, and in that praying, renew our commitment to Christ and to His Gospel, is not an empty exercise, but is the heart of the matter, that which alone provides a path of light and peace in our troubled war-torn world. So let’s keep praying, and thinking, and loving, and serving, according to what Our Lord has given us and what His Spirit prompts us to do.
Saturday of the First Week of Advent Lectionary: 180
Reading 1IS 30:19-21, 23-26
Thus says the Lord GOD, the Holy One of Israel: O people of Zion, who dwell in Jerusalem, no more will you weep; He will be gracious to you when you cry out, as soon as he hears he will answer you. The Lord will give you the bread you need and the water for which you thirst. No longer will your Teacher hide himself, but with your own eyes you shall see your Teacher, While from behind, a voice shall sound in your ears: “This is the way; walk in it,” when you would turn to the right or to the left.
He will give rain for the seed that you sow in the ground, And the wheat that the soil produces will be rich and abundant. On that day your flock will be given pasture and the lamb will graze in spacious meadows; The oxen and the asses that till the ground will eat silage tossed to them with shovel and pitchfork. Upon every high mountain and lofty hill there will be streams of running water. On the day of the great slaughter, when the towers fall, The light of the moon will be like that of the sun and the light of the sun will be seven times greater like the light of seven days. On the day the LORD binds up the wounds of his people, he will heal the bruises left by his blows.
Responsorial PsalmPS 147:1-2, 3-4, 5-6
R. (see Isaiah 30:18d) Blessed are all who wait for the Lord. Praise the LORD, for he is good; sing praise to our God, for he is gracious; it is fitting to praise him. The LORD rebuilds Jerusalem; the dispersed of Israel he gathers. R. Blessed are all who wait for the Lord. He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds. He tells the number of the stars; he calls each by name. R. Blessed are all who wait for the Lord. Great is our LORD and mighty in power: to his wisdom there is no limit. The LORD sustains the lowly; the wicked he casts to the ground. R. Blessed are all who wait for the Lord.
Alleluia IS 33:22
R. Alleluia, alleluia. The LORD is our Judge, our Lawgiver, our King; he it is who will save us. R. Alleluia, alleluia.
GospelMT 9:35–10:1, 5A, 6-8
Jesus went around to all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the Gospel of the Kingdom, and curing every disease and illness. At the sight of the crowds, his heart was moved with pity for them because they were troubled and abandoned, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is abundant but the laborers are few; so ask the master of the harvest to send out laborers for his harvest.”
Then he summoned his Twelve disciples and gave them authority over unclean spirits to drive them out and to cure every disease and every illness.
Jesus sent out these Twelve after instructing them thus, “Go to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. As you go, make this proclamation: ‘The Kingdom of heaven is at hand.’ Cure the sick, raise the dead, cleanse lepers, drive out demons. Without cost you have received; without cost you are to give.”
Hermit, born at Mutalaska near Caesarea in Cappadocia, 439; died in his laura 5 December, 532. He entered a Basilian monastery aat the age of eight, came to Jerusalem in 456, lived five years in a cavern as a disciple of St. Euthymius, and, after spending some time in various monasteries, founded (483) the Laura Mar Sabe (restored in 1840) in the gorges of the Cedron, southeast of Jerusalem. Because some of his monks opposed his rule and demanded a priest as their abbot, Patriarch Salustius of Jerusalem ordained him in 491 and appointed archimandrite of all the monasteries in Palestine in 494. The opposition continued and he withdrew to the new laura which he had built near Thekoa. A strenuous opponent of the Monophysites and the Origenists he tried to influence the emperors against them by calling personally on Emperor Anastasius at Constantinople in 511 and on Justinian in 531. His authorship of "Typicon S. Sabæ" (Venice, 1545), a regulation for Divine worship throughout the year as well as his authorship of a monastic rule bearing the same title (Kurtz in "Byzant, Zeitschrift", III, Leipzig, 1894, 167-70), is doubtful. After him was named the Basilica of St. Sabas with its former monastery on the Aventine at Rome. His feast is on 5 December.
BREAKING: U.S. Senate votes to defund Planned Parenthood
Throughout the day, the mainstream media has been reporting that the Senate was expected to vote in favor of repealing ObamaCare and stripping Planned Parenthood of federal funding for one year. And now it’s been done.
Today, the U.S. Senate has succeeded in voting to defund Planned Parenthood of taxpayers’ hard-earned dollars, by a vote of 52 to 47.
While the pro-abortion White House had earlier promised to issue a veto, the Senate still voted to approve the bill. NBC reports:
Republicans drove legislation toward Senate approval Thursday that would demolish President Barack Obama’s signature health care law and block Planned Parenthood’s federal money, edging toward a veto fight the GOP knows it will lose but believes will delight conservative voters in next year’s elections.
This vote is the first time that the Senate has successfully voted to strip Planned Parenthood’s federal funding, sending it instead to more worthy health care centers that serve low-income women and their families. (Find a center here.) In fact, this bill increases funding to community and federally qualified health centers, proving that pro-life Americans do practically care about the health of women.
Senator James Lankford (R-OK), who voted in favor of defunding Planned Parenthood explained:
We understand we have a president that strongly supports Planned Parenthood and what they do. We get that. But we also don’t want this issue to go away. We want to continue to be able to raise it over and over again and say, “Is this what Americans really believe?”
Sign this petition to join more than 400,000 others who are urging our government to permanently defund Planned Parenthood.
One of the front-running presidential candidates, Senator Ted Cruz made his own statement after the vote:
Since before my first day in office, I pledged to do everything within my power to repeal Obamacare. And over the last three years, I’ve worked day and night to do exactly that, sometimes to the dismay of those in Washington. …
I am also encouraged that this bill prohibits taxpayer funds from going to abortion-providers. …
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell commented on ObamaCare, which the bill repeals in large part:
It’s defined by failure. It’s punctuated with hopelessness. And the scale of its many broken promises is matched only by the scale of its defenders’ rigid and unfeeling responses to them.
ObamaCare has been riddled with problems, not only for everyday Americans struggling to provide health care for their families, but also for pro-life organizations, companies, and individuals who reject the idea that the government can force them to fund abortion or abortifacient birth control.
ABC reports that “Senate Republicans have overwhelmed Democrats in a vote to end Planned Parenthood’s federal funding,” but this vote is a victory for all Americans. The majority of our elected national leaders have joined together to say that enough is enough.
Planned Parenthood has violated the trust of women, offended the sensibilities of a compassionate nation, and deceived the general public for far too long. This Senate vote demonstrates that women do not need the abortion giant; over 13,000 community health centers (as well as thousands of pregnancy resource centers and groups) stand ready to serve them without performing the abortions that take the lives of our nation’s youngest members.
Today, the Senate stood up for the people of our nation, taking action to prevent the mistreatment of women and the dehumanization of children that is committed by Planned Parenthood every day.
Today, we can be proud to be Americans. Release from LIVE ACTION NEWS