from Benedictine Daily Prayer: A Short Breviary;
to be included in First or Second Vespers
ST. NICHOLAS, Bishop
From the Common of Holy Men and Women, page 1269.
READING II Intro. I, 3, 9-11
From the earliest Life of St. Nicholas by Michael the Archimandrite
Holy Card: Germany
St. Nicholas Center Collection
Appearing to us as the brightest dawn of piety and the epitome of the wondrous stars, Nicholas, the holy hierarch of Christ, trains everyone to give praise to God. As we annually commemorate him, he illuminates the way ahead of us like a light-filled beam of the sun of justice, casting the radiance of his virtues like gold-gleaming rays. Moreover, he stirs lovers of the poor, and indeed those who love Christ and those who pardon humanity, to celebrate his memory with psalmody and with hymns and, by the example he set, with mercy for those need and, through this, to purify themselves in anticipation of sojourning with us of the divine Word made flesh of the holy Virgin. . . .
Nicholas, the famous champion of those languishing in travails and prophetic high priest, by God's choice, of the metropolis Myra, was born in the city of Patara, one of the cities then illustrious in the province of Lycia, although now it is said to scarcely preserve the appearance of a village. His parents were thoroughly noble and well off, and surpassed many in their reverence toward Christ, on account of which they kept themselves free of worldly glory and were always eager to devote themselves to the works of justice. . . .
After his parents had gone to the Lord and left him much property and an abundance of money and possessions, he reckoned that he had God as his father. Gazing chastely on Him with the eye of his soul, he firmly begged the good God that he surrender his life and all his possessions, if that seemed good to Him. . . .
There was a certain man among those who were recently famous and wellborn, and he was a neighbor, his home being next to Nicholas'. Owing to the plotting and envy of Satan. . .this man was squeezed by great poverty and lack of resources. He had gone from being well off to extreme indigence. He had three daughters. . .and he was willing to station them in a brothel so that he might thereby acquire the necessities of life for himself and his household. For no man among the lordly or powerful deigned to marry them lawfully, and even among the lower-classes and those who owned the least bit of something there was no one well-minded enough to do this. And so the man looked away from his salvation and, as it were, fainted at the thought of prevailing upon God with persistence and prayer. By this logic he came to assent to situating his daughters in the abyss of such dishonor. . . . But the Lord who loves humankind, who never wishes his own creation to become hostage to sin, sent him a holy angel—I mean the god-like Nicholas—both to rescue him, along with his whole household, from poverty and destruction, and to restore readily his previous prosperity. For when he learned of the situation, the man. . .pondered in his mind this advice of Solomon's that is full of help: "God loves a person who is a cheerful giver" (Prov 22:8). . . . By the expenditure and very generous donation of his own money, Nicholas became a most ready resource for their defense, and he saved them, though they were already being led away to a death of profligacy.
God wrought swift miracles at his words and sustained him in the presence of kings. He gave him the commandments for his people, and revealed to him his glory.
The Lord chose his servant to shepherd Israel, his inheritance. And revealed to him his glory.
We plead for your mercy, Lord. Hear the prayers of Saint Nicholas, and watch over us in every danger so that the way of salvation may ever be open before us. This we ask of you.
Benedictus and Magnificat Antiphon
I am grateful to you, Christ Jesus, my good shepherd, for having entrusted to me this noble work. My petition is that the lambs you have confided to my care may ever share with me your blessings.
From Benedictine Daily Prayer: A Short Breviary, compiled and edited by Maxwell E. Johnson, Oblate of Saint John's Abbey, and the Monks of Saint John's Abbey, Liturgical Press, Collegeville, Minnesota, 2005, pp. 1623-1625. Used by permission
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