Tag Archives: St. Nicholas of Myra

A river of light poured in.

To be at St. Nicholas Church for their patronal feast day, or altar feast, was heavenly. I rode down with friends and it took quite a while to get through the early morning commuter traffic. We ended up coming in a little late, but as soon as I entered I could feel that I was in a temple full of joy, the fullness of Christ and His Church.

Many people were wearing red and green clothing for the celebration, and plenty of poinsettias and red vestments and altar cloths filled the space. I had only been to this church once before, and I loved looking around at their icons, thinking about the significance of the different groupings of holy ones. Through a southern window the sunlight beamed down in a wide swath, which must have made the position of the choir director critical. It was very dramatic.

After Liturgy we enjoyed a concert of bells, and a feast of earthly food. A raffle is traditional for this parish’s feast day, and today the funds raised were to go to the victims of the Camp Fire in northern California. They raised a record amount, about $1500, and everyone was thrilled about that.

One of my last images of the blessed day was of three little girls all in red and white dresses, shyly singing a song in honor of the saint. You will have to form your own picture of that, because I had used up my phone’s battery by then. Holy Father Nicholas, we rejoice with you!

He lived daily with the Lord.

St. Nicholas is one of the “favoritest” saints in the Orthodox Church. I have read about him many times and don’t usually remember much. I didn’t grow up hearing about him as the real historical not-Santa-Claus person that he is, or knowing that there was such a thing as St. Nicholas Day, and since I became Orthodox I haven’t succeeded in implanting him in my heart in any satisfying way.

But we both live by and in the love of Christ, so he must be in my heart in spite of my neglect. I will pass on to you (again) what blessed me some years ago, from The Winter Pascha:

The extraordinary thing about the image of St. Nicholas in the Church is that he is not known for anything extraordinary. He was not a theologian and never wrote a word, yet he is famous in the memory of believers as a zealot for orthodoxy, allegedly accosting the heretic Arius at the first ecumenical council in Nicaea for denying the divinity of God’s son.

He was not an ascetic and did no outstanding feats of fasting and vigils, yet he is praised for his possession of the “fruit of the Holy Spirit…love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control” (Gal. 5:22-23). He was not a mystic in our present meaning of the term but he lived daily with the Lord and was godly in all his words and deeds. He was not a prophet in the technical sense, yet he proclaimed the Word of God, exposed the sins of the wicked, defended the rights of the oppressed and afflicted, and battled against every form of injustice with supernatural compassion and mercy.

In a word, he was a good pastor, father, and bishop to his flock, known especially for his love and care for the poor. Most simply put, he was a divinely good person.

-Fr. Thomas Hopko

strange surprises and delights

Many things are strange about this Christmas, flowing from the fundamentally odd and GL IMG_1347new situation of my husband not being with us in the flesh. I keep remembering that he is with us in Christ, and in the Holy Spirit, and he would say, if he could speak from the grave, “Christ is born! Glorify Him! Rejoice evermore! And again I say, Rejoice!”

Mr. Glad loved Christmas. He loved buying presents for people, and wrapping them, with special notes and hints on the gift tags. He liked to dress up in his best clothes, to eat oyster stew, and to sing carols around the piano or while strumming his guitar. He would want us to carry on in that tradition; so we won’t be glum.GL IMG_1362

When I headed out to church yesterday, a block from my house a rainbow appeared and stayed with me all the way. I kept stopping (sometimes just in the middle of the street) to take its picture, and it was still there when I reached my destination and walked up to the doors. I could see the whole bow, but not encompass it with my camera. I felt God speaking from the image, “Good things are ahead for you.”

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I’ve been wrapping presents like mad, and not baking cookies. Maybe my cookie art, of which I have written many times on my blog at Christmastime, will be superseded by GL IMG_1369creative wrapping? I haven’t made any cookies at all this year! And I’ve had to wrap all the presents by myself, which has been fun, actually. I’m making just as much of a mess as I normally would in the kitchen.

But amazingly, I had time to go for a walk this morning, too (or did I?) and I saw this manger scene with very folksy and friendly animals who wanted me to take their picture.

GL IMG_1375 GL IMG_1379 When I got back I inspected the greens in the front yard…the smallage, chard, kale and collards are all doing famously. As I bent over to snap a picture, Whhoosh… a mighty breath exhaled nearby, and I thought, Did the neighbors just deflate their front-yard Santa? But when I looked up, it was a hot air balloon!

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One delight of this week was being able to attend the Christmas play that the church children put on, a story of the betrothal of Mary and Joseph, and the birth of Christ, written by one of our teens. After the children changed out of their darling costumes they had a visit from “St. Nicholas,” who told them stories about his life and gave out presents.

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Another strange and new thing has been shopping and cooking, cleaning and decorating, singing and eating, not alone, but with my housemate and friend Kit. Kit is a young woman who just moved to this area to be part of our parish. She had her own reasons for coming here, and I invited her to live at my house without a glimmer of foreknowledge, just because it was something I could do, while I was still somewhat paralyzed with grief.

But within a month, I came to believe that God brought her here just to be a comfort and joy to me. I thought I would want to live alone, even while I believed that it’s generally not good for people to live alone. This whole arrangement, with Kit and Susan living here (Susan is house-sitting elsewhere this week) has been a great surprise and gift.

Glory to God for all things! Christ is born! Glorify Him! And may your Christmas be merry.

St. Nicholas most simply put

The feast of St. Nicholas begins with a vigil service this evening and continues with liturgy in the morning. Happy Feast Day! I read the following in The Winter Pascha by Thomas Hopko:

The extraordinary thing about the image of St. Nicholas in the Church is that he is not known for anything extraordinary. He was not a theologian and never wrote a word, yet he is famous in the memory of believers as a zealot for orthodoxy, allegedly accosting the heretic Arius at the first ecumenical council in Nicaea for denying the divinity of God’s son. He was not an ascetic and did no outstanding feats of fasting and vigils, yet he is praised for his possession of the “fruit of the Holy Spirit…love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control” (Gal. 5:22-23). He was not a mystic in our present meaning of the term but he lived daily with the Lord and was godly in all his words and deeds. He was not a prophet in the technical sense, yet he proclaimed the Word of God, exposed the sins of the wicked, defended the rights of the oppressed and afflicted, and battled against every form of injustice with supernatural compassion and mercy. In a word, he was a good pastor, father, and bishop to his flock, known especially for his love and care for the poor. Most simply put, he was a divinely good person.