FEAST OF ST. NICOLAS, BISHOP OF MYRA. Fourth Century.
THUS much and no more I find vouched for by my usual chief authority.
Legends, however, augment our scanty store of knowledge, and furnish St. Nicolas with a miraculous babyhood, pretty if uncertain. An ecstasy seized him in his first bath: and while still a suckling he voluntarily fasted on Wednesdays and Fridays.
At a more mature period of his life he saved three sister maidens from temptation and peril by casting three bags of gold, one at a time, through the window of their home, thereby providing their father with dowries for them.
Popularly he is supposed to have concurred in the Council of Nicaea, where among all the assembled Bishops "he shone . . . with so great clarity and opinion of sanctity, that he appeared like a sun among so many stars." Nevertheless carried away by zeal he smote Arius, and thereby incurred a heavy ecclesiastical penalty.
Each legend may teach us something, at any rate by suggestion.
Not to marvel at miraculous babies, but to nurse natural ones for God, is our at least as blessed privilege. And though grace "cometh not with observation" we may feel as certain that Divine Grace takes possession of them in the Baptismal Font, as we could possibly feel if we beheld them rapt in visible ecstasy.
We may study both matter and manner in the incident of the triple dower: the matter, liberality; the manner, delicacy.
While the Council sets before us how much may be lost in one hasty moment.
"Be not highminded, but fear."