What we know for certain about St. Nicholas is that he was a bishop in what is modern Turkey during the fourth century. Many legends exist about his charitable deeds. One of the most popular stories is of a poor man who had three daughters for whom he was unable to provide a dowry. In the night, St. Nicholas filled their stocking with bags of gold, giving them the necessary dowry to secure a suitable husband.
Today, dowries are no longer a requirement for marriage. However, financial need is often an obstacle to individuals pursuing their vocation in life. I know many couples who are postponing marriage solely because a modern wedding is so expensive. While I try to encourage them to pursue a more modest celebration, family and cultural expectations prevail.
Others are unable to pursue a religious vocation because they have debts that must be paid off first. The Mater Ecclesiae Fund has even been set up to assist young people wishing to pursue a vocation, but who are under financial obligation.
St. Nicholas is known as a gift giver. A vocation is an individual’s gift of self to God and others. If we support a vocation, we truly give a “gift that keeps on giving”!
Today we can pray for St. Nicholas to work more miracles in our world today – to remove the obstacles that are in the way of individuals pursuing their vocations in life.