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St Nicholas of Bari
(in southern Italy) Bishop of Myra (entered heaven in the fourth century)
You really are a chip off the old block. First MVP and captain of your high school football team, and now MVP and captain of your college football team. Just like your dad, God bless his soul. I have always thought it more than coincidental that both you and your namesake (happy saint’s day, by the way) lost your parents while still young men. I think St Nicholas received a larger inheritance than you did, however – your dad always thought it more important to invest his income in the Church rather than in specious speculation, and I am sure he is reaping the rewards for it now. Of course, you remember how St Nicholas spent that inheritance, don’t you? He secretly supplied an unfortunate father with three large dowries for his daughters, in order to keep him from selling them into prostitution.
Soon after, his holiness and continued service to the poor and destitute won him a reputation among the people of the great sea city of Myra (in modern-day Turkey), who insisted on his being named bishop. So he spent the rest of his life defending the true faith against the incipient Arian heresy (Arianism denied Christ’s divinity), upholding justice and mercy against his corrupt secular counterparts, and enthusiastically spreading the “sweet aroma of Christ.” (Cf. 2 Corinthians 2:15) Ever since he died, the miracles attributed to his intercession have not ceased flowing, both before and after the Italians stole his remains from Myra (after it fell to the Muslims) and interred them in Bari (in southern Italy, near the heel of the “boot”), such that pilgrims have come to him in a steady stream for the past 1000 years, and he has been claimed as Patron by five nations and hundreds (if not thousands) of churches.
It’s funny how a man who suffered the tragic loss of both his parents while still a youth became such a dependable father and mother to countless Christians. I know people who abandoned God in the wake of lesser tragedies, claiming that if God existed, he wouldn’t allow such things to happen. It shows how precious our faith really is – when we take care of it, cultivate it, make it grow, it allows us to find God’s presence always and everywhere, and draw from it an amazing, indescribable vitality.
Congratulations again, my beloved nephew. Count on my continued prayers.
Your affectionate uncle, Eddy