Saturday, December 6, 2008

Saint Nicholas, Holy Bishop & Confessor

Today, of course, is the feast of Saint Nicholas. I thank God that my pastor is so committed to the tradition of the Church that he is willing to say Mass on feasts such as this, feasts which the modern Lutheran Church in our country has largely forgotten.

(Today's feast is better known in the secular culture than in the Church. The new service book, Lutheran Service Book, thankfully includes it in its list of saints' days, though, in keeping with modern Roman Catholic liturgical norms, doesn't even call it a feast, but merely a "commemoration"-Rome calls it an "optional memorial"-the effect is the same; perhaps there are propers in one of the LSB companion volumes, but for some reason LSB doesn't even give the color of the day for these "commemorations.")

I haven't the time this year to compose a meditation for the occasion. Nor will I even pull out one of my scribblings from years past. The reader deserves better. Suffice at this point to say that in Saint Nicholas I see a bishop who is a beautiful image of Christ and the grace He showers on His children with the sacramental treasures of the Church. I will, however, share something from the Divine Office. What follows is the traditional liturgical summary of the Saint's life:

"Nicholas was born in the famous city of Patara in Lycia. From his childhood he fasted every Wednesday and Friday, and maintained this custom throughout his life. Deprived of his parents in early youth, he distributed his possessions to the poor. One example of his marvellous charity was this: he came to the aid of three girls whose virtue was endangered, by providing a sum of money sufficient for their dowries. While on a pilgrimage to Palestine he went at God's command to Myra, the metropolitan see of Lycia, where the Bishop had died. Here, contrary to all expectations, he was elected to the see by a marvellous consensus of all the assembled bishops of the province. In the work of his episcopate, he stood out as an example of all virtues. But when he defied the edict of Diocletian and Maximian by continuing to preach the truth of the Christian faith, he was thrown into prison, where he remained until Constantine became emperor. He took part in the Council of Nicea, at which the Arian heresy was condemned. Returning to his own country, he died a very holy death in Myra. His body was transferred to Bari in Apulia, and is there venerated as a most famous relic."


Fr. Stephens said...

It's my understanding that the LSB "commemorations" are not meant to have masses celebrated, and as such, there are no colors or propers given in any of the LSB companion volumes. You can always use the propers from the Liber for such feasts, which is, I suspect, what those who keep them do...I know I would.

Fr. Stephens

Latif Haki Gaba, SSP said...

I suspected as much, since the colors are not given in the pew edition for the commemorations, while they are given for the "feasts." You're right, Father Stephens, the Liber is a good source. So is any good pre-concilliar missal, etc. At St. Stephen's, Milwaukee, we had a low Mass for the feast of St. Nicholas, despite the LSB's intentions. It is still an open question as to just what the Missouri Synod does want us to do in the way of these "commemorations." Thanks for checking in, Father. We'll be in touch.