St. Nicholas, pray for us!
Having attended a Catholic elementary school named after Saint Nicholas, December 6 is always a special remembrance (it was also my +great aunt's birthday). This year it just so happened that our parish Sacred Arts and Music series was able to host a presentation of Frederick Olessi's "Francesco" with a Mass in Celebration of the Birth of Jesus.
The dramatic presentation which includes spoken word and song culminates in a live presepio (we even had a real "Baby Jesus" although the animals had to be the stuffed version since we have a new carpet in the church) and the finale with the entire gathering joining in singing "Joy to the World" with lit candles as the presepio scene processes out of the Church (symbolically going in the peace of Francis to take Christ to the world). Francis is credited with, at the direction of the Lord, putting together the first creche to honor the birth of Christ as a human.
The falling snow (although at first it was cause for worry in terms of audience turnout) was a blessed touch adding to the spirit of anticipation for the arrival of Christmas and the commemoration of Jesus' birth.
Father's homily was spot on, acknowledging the shape in the world currently is and recognizing the promise of hope that Jesus remains for us all. He amazingly wove together seamlessly the readings and liturgy of the second Sunday of Advent with "Francesco."
So, this year my feast of Saint Nicholas was spent in very Franciscan tradition, but somehow it all worked well. (Actually, earlier in the week I had the opportunity to partake in an anticipated celebration of the feast with some of the Sisters so St. Nicholas wasn't omitted.) After helping to de-construct the individual candles and clear up any remaining programs from the pews, I was tired but energized and very happy that I had participated in the event.
A happy feast day to our Sister Nicholas and to all the Nicoles (Nicole, FMI!), Nic(h)olas, Nikkis, and other namesakes of Saint Nicholas!
St. Nicholas, pray for us! And St. Francis, too!