When I joined CatholicMatch a few years ago, a curious thing happened. I’d expected to use the site like one would any dating site: peruse profiles, make contacts, meet up, date, and decide. End of story.
Instead, I made a few very treasured friends, had countless interesting discussions, and most importantly, came to understand many, many new and interesting aspects to our faith.
One of the fondest memories is of one particular night a few years ago. It was the feast night of St. Nicholas, who, much to my surprise, is the patron saint of brides. For that evening, the women of CatholicMatch decided to have a virtual prayer session in the Pink Room of the forums.
It seems that St. Nicholas was not the portly, jolly, German-looking man with a fluffy white beard and a plush red suit. Instead, he was a bishop in what is now Turkey. The son of wealthy merchants, he often used his inheritance to give aid to the poor. His regular acts of charity and mercy became well known throughout the Christian world at that time.
According to lore, one night St. Nicholas came upon a father of three unmarried women. This father was a merchant who’d lost work and, as such, could not provide a dowry for any of his daughters. The girls, without a dowry, would come dangerously close to spinsterhood or, worse, a less-than-savory profession.
St. Nicholas heard of their troubles and came to their aid. After they’d all gone to bed, he took three sacs of gold coins – a dowry for each daughter – and threw them down the chimney of their home. At the same time, a legend was born that lives to this day: jolly St. Nick delivering gifts down our chimneys.
However, St. Nicholas has nothing to do with Christmas Eve. After a lifetime of service to the poor, to children, to merchants and to criminals, persuading them to change their ways, the Church chose the date of his death as his feast day. He is honored to this day as a much-loved saint. Because he saved those three daughters from a life of poverty and ill-repute, he became known as a protector of chastity for unmarried girls.
On that night of Dec. 6, all the pinkies gathered in the women’s forum to celebrate St. Nicholas as the patron saint of brides. We all recited a prayer to this wonderful saint:
All-praised and all-honoured hierarch, great wonderworker, saint of Christ. Father Nicholas, man of God and faithful servant, man of love, chosen vessel, strong pillar of the Church, most-brilliant lamp, star that illuminest and enlightenest the whole world; thou art a righteous man that didst flourish like a palm tree planted in the courts of the Lord; dwelling in Myra thou hast diffused the fragrance of myrrh, and thou pourest out the ever-flowing myrrh of the grace of god. By thy presence most-holy Father, the sea was sanctified when they most-miraculous relics were carried to the city of Bari, from the East to the West to praise the name of the Lord.
O most-superb and most-marvellous wonderworker, speedy helper, fervent intercessor, good shepherd that saveth the rational flock from all dangers we glorify and magnify thee as the hope of all Christians, a fountain of miracles, a defender of the faithful, a most wise teacher, a feeder of the hungry, the gladness of those that mourn, clothing of the naked, healer of the sick, pilot of those that sail the sea, liberator of prisoners, nourisher and protector of widows and orphans, guardian of chastity, gently tutor of children, support of the aged, guide of fasters, rest of those that labour, abundant riches of the poor and needy.
Hearken unto us that pray unto thee and flee to thy protection, show thy mediation on our behalf with the Most High, and obtain through thy God-pleasing intercessions all that is useful for the salvation of our souls and bodies; keep this holy habitation (or this temple), every city and town, and every Christian country, and the people that dwell therein, from all oppression through thy help; for we know, we know that the prayer of a righteous man availeth much for good; and after the most-blessed Virgin Mary, we have thee as a righteous mediator with the All-Merciful God, and to thy fervent intercession and protection we humbly hasten.
Do thou, as a watchful and good shepherd, keep us from all enemies, pestilence, earthquake, hail, famine, flood, fire, the sword, the invasion of aliens, and in all our misfortunes and affliction do thou give us a helping hand and open the doors of God’s compassion; for we are unworthy to look upon the height of heaven because of the multitude of our unrighteousnesses; we are bound by the bonds of sin and have not done the will of our Creator nor kept His commandments.
Wherefore, we bow the knees of our broken and humble heart to our Maker, and we ask thy fatherly intercession with Him; lest we perish with our sins, deliver us from all evil, and from every adverse thing, direct our minds and strengthen our hearts in the Orthodox Faith, which, through thy mediation and intercession, neither wounds, nor threats, nor plague, nor the wrath of our Creator shall lessen; but vouchsafe that we may live a peaceful life here and see the good things in the land of the living, glorifying the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit, one God glorified and worshipped in Trinity, now and ever, and unto the ages of ages.
Reciting this prayer with the other single women of CatholicMatch is one of the fondest memories I hold dear. I am so blessed and grateful to be a part of this wonderful, faith-filled, reverent community.
This year, on this night, won’t you CM women join me in St. Ann’s room to recite it once again?
See you there!