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.
Radio Vaticana: In the life of a Christian, humility is an indispensable quality that is needed in order to allow the gifts of the Holy Spirit to grow. This was the reflection of Pope Francis in his homily at Mass, Tuesday morning, in the chapel of the Casa Santa Marta residence in the Vatican. Drawing inspiration from the Prophet Isaiah, the Pope said that every Christian is like "a small shoot on which the Spirit of the Lord rests, the spirit of wisdom and intelligence, the spirit of counsel and fortitude, the spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord ". "These,” the Pope said, “are the gifts of the Holy Spirit which grow from the smallness of the bud to the fullness of the Spirit. This is the promise, this is the Kingdom of God” and "the life of the Christian," he stressed.
The Pope said that the task of a Christian is to be aware that each of us is a “sprout of that root which must grow with the power of the Holy Spirit, to the fullness of the Holy Spirit in us.” And our task, he said is to safeguard this sprout, this growth which is the Spirit." The Holy Father said this is done by adopting a lifestyle of a Christian that resembles Christ, which is the path of humility.
The Holy Father said it takes faith and humility to believe that this bud, this small gift will grow to the fullness of the gifts of the Holy Spirit. He said, it takes humility to believe that the Father, Lord of Heaven and Earth, as the day’s Gospel says, has hidden these things from the wise and the learned and revealed them to the little ones. Humility means to be small, like the sprout that grows little by little to the fullness of life through the power of Holy Spirit.
The Pope further explained that being humble does not mean being polite, courteous or closing one’s eyes in prayer. Being humble means being able to accept humiliations. “Humility without humiliation,” he stressed, “ is not humility.” A humble man or a woman is one who is able to endure humiliations like Jesus whom the Pope described as “the great humiliated.”
Pope Francis recalled the example of many saints "who not only accepted humiliations but asked for them" in order to resemble Jesus. The Pope concluded his homily urging that the Lord “grant us this grace to safeguard this smallness towards the fullness of the Spirit without forgetting the root and by accepting humiliation.
Advent is a season in preparation for the Nativity of Jesus at Christmas. The term comes from the Latin word adventus, meaning "coming". This is a translation of the Greek word parousia, referring to the Second Coming of Christ.
Some of the most beautiful music has been composed for this season. The following are some of the most popular of all time...
1."O come, O come, Emmanuel" is a hymn for Advent. The original Latin is "Veni, Veni, Emmanuel." The hymn is a metrical paraphrase of the O Antiphons, a series of plainchant antiphons attached to the Magnificat at Vespers over the final days before Christmas. The verses, correspond to the seven standard O Antiphons, in the following order: "Veni, veni Emmanuel!" = "O Come, O Come, Emmanuel" "Veni, O Jesse Virgula" = "O Come, Thou Rod of Jesse" "Veni, veni, O Oriens" = "O come, Thou Dayspring, from on high" "Veni, clavis Davidica" = "O come, Thou Key of David, come" "Veni, veni, Adonai" = "O come, Adonai, Lord of might"
2. "Gabriel's Message" or "The angel Gabriel from heaven came" (Basque: Birjina gaztetto bat zegoen) is a Basque Christmas folk carol about the Annunciation to the Virgin Mary by the archangel Gabriel. It uses the biblical account of that event (Luke, Chapter 1, verses 26-38) and Mary's Magnificat (Luke 1.46-55) with the opening lines. It was collected by Charles Bordes and then paraphrased into English by Sabine Baring-Gould. 3. O COME, DIVINE MESSIAH! Words: Abbé Simon J. Pellegrin, 1663-1745 English Translation of French Carol Venez Divin Messie Translator: Sister Mary of St. Philip, SND 4. The Advent of our God: Music: 16th Century French Carol MIDI / Noteworthy Composer Meter: 78.76.888 Often played as a processional during Advent Words: Charles Coffin, Paris Breviary, 1736 (Instantis adventum Dei); translated from Latin to English by John Chandler, Hymns of the Primitive Church, 1837. Music: Doncaster Samuel Wesley, in Psalms and Hymns for the Service of the Church, 1837 . Alternate tunes: Franconia (König), Harmonischer Liederschatz, 1738 St. Thomas (Williams), Aaron Williams, 1770
5. Nun komm, der Heiden Heiland, BWV 62. Bible text Revelation 3:20 Chorale Nun komm, der (Now come, Savior of the heathens) is a church cantata by Johann Sebastian Bach. He composed it in Weimar for the first Sunday in Advent and first performed it on 2 December 1714.
6. "Wachet auf, ruft uns die Stimme" (Awake, the voice is calling) is a Lutheran hymn written in German by Philipp Nicolai, first published in 1599 together with "Wie schön leuchtet der Morgenstern". It appears in German hymnals and in several English hymnals in translations such as "Wake, Awake, for Night Is Flying".
Tuesday of the First Week of Advent Lectionary: 176
Reading 1IS 11:1-10
On that day, A shoot shall sprout from the stump of Jesse, and from his roots a bud shall blossom. The Spirit of the LORD shall rest upon him: a Spirit of wisdom and of understanding, A Spirit of counsel and of strength, a Spirit of knowledge and of fear of the LORD, and his delight shall be the fear of the LORD. Not by appearance shall he judge, nor by hearsay shall he decide, But he shall judge the poor with justice, and decide aright for the land's afflicted. He shall strike the ruthless with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips he shall slay the wicked. Justice shall be the band around his waist, and faithfulness a belt upon his hips.
Then the wolf shall be a guest of the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; The calf and the young lion shall browse together, with a little child to guide them. The cow and the bear shall be neighbors, together their young shall rest; the lion shall eat hay like the ox. The baby shall play by the cobra's den, and the child lay his hand on the adder's lair. There shall be no harm or ruin on all my holy mountain; for the earth shall be filled with knowledge of the LORD, as water covers the sea.
On that day, The root of Jesse, set up as a signal for the nations, The Gentiles shall seek out, for his dwelling shall be glorious.
Responsorial PsalmPS 72:1-2, 7-8, 12-13, 17
R. (see 7) Justice shall flourish in his time, and fullness of peace for ever. O God, with your judgment endow the king, and with your justice, the king's son; He shall govern your people with justice and your afflicted ones with judgment. R. Justice shall flourish in his time, and fullness of peace for ever. Justice shall flower in his days, and profound peace, till the moon be no more. May he rule from sea to sea, and from the River to the ends of the earth. R. Justice shall flourish in his time, and fullness of peace for ever. He shall rescue the poor when he cries out, and the afflicted when he has no one to help him. He shall have pity for the lowly and the poor; the lives of the poor he shall save. R. Justice shall flourish in his time, and fullness of peace for ever. May his name be blessed forever; as long as the sun his name shall remain. In him shall all the tribes of the earth be blessed; all the nations shall proclaim his happiness. R. Justice shall flourish in his time, and fullness of peace for ever.
R. Alleluia, alleluia. Behold, our Lord shall come with power; he will enlighten the eyes of his servants. R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Jesus rejoiced in the Holy Spirit and said, "I give you praise, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, for although you have hidden these things from the wise and the learned you have revealed them to the childlike. Yes, Father, such has been your gracious will. All things have been handed over to me by my Father. No one knows who the Son is except the Father, and who the Father is except the Son and anyone to whom the Son wishes to reveal him."
Turning to the disciples in private he said, "Blessed are the eyes that see what you see. For I say to you, many prophets and kings desired to see what you see, but did not see it, and to hear what you hear, but did not hear it."