Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Santa is Real: St. Nicholas of Myra

We all grew up hearing about Santa Claus.  He is said to visit homes on Christmas Eve and brings presents to children.  Did you know he was real? Well not in the "jolly elf" sense, but as in a Saint.  

St. Nicholas of Myra is the man that is represented by the caricature "Santa Claus."  Born around 270 or 342, St. Nicholas was the Bishop in Myra which is in modern-day Turkey.

He lived the Christian virtues of Faith, Hope, and Charity well.  He would secretly go to homes and leave bags of coins and food for the poor.  People would leave their shoes outside so he could drop a coin into them.  He was known as the "Wonder Worker" for the many miracles Our Lord granted through him.  The name "Santa Claus" comes from the Dutch, "Sinter Klaas."  

As a bishop, St. Nicholas defended the orthodoxy of the Catholic faith.During the Council of Nicea in AD 325 convened by Emperor Constantine, Arius who was a bishop spoke against the divinity of Christ claiming that Christ was inferior to the Father. He argued that Christ was not God and was more like a demigod. Arius attacked the divinity of Christ. This idea came to be known as Arianism and was condemned as heresy in the council. However, prior to this condemnation, St. Nicholas condemned the heresy in a more physical manner. As Arius spoke, St. Nicholas rushed towards him and punched him. St. Nicholas could not contain his anger upon hearing the heresy being spewed by Arius. Constantine and the other bishops present were shocked and they stripped Nicholas of his faculties as a bishop by removing his pallium and confiscating his book of Gospels. Legend has it that while he was imprisoned, the Blessed Virgin Mary and the Lord Jesus Christ visited him asking him why he was there. Nicholas replied that he was imprisoned because he loved Christ because Christ is His Lord and God.  Jesus then gave back his book of Gospels and the Blessed Virgin Mary placed his pallium back on. Upon hearing of this miracle, Constantine and the other bishops reinstated Nicholas' faculties as bishop.  The bishops at the council then sided with him and condemned Arius.  This is why in the Nicene Creed we recite of Christ that He is,
"God from God, Light from Light, True God from True God, begotten not made, consubstantial with the Father.” 
Clearly, Arius was on "Santa's" "Naughty list."  Recently, archeological discoveries have confirmed that St. Nicholas did exist and that his remains are still among us. These remains are said to release perfumed oil. Relics in possession of several parishes, including to a priest were confirmed to date to the 4th century.  The verdict is in St. Nicholas of Myra was a real person.

During Christmas, families should reflect on this great man's life and virtues.  We should imitate his faith, hope, and works of love by giving to those in need.  Moreover, we should imitate his adherence to the faith and never accept heretical views that contradict revelation.

Christmas is about the Birth of Christ but is also a reminder that Christ must be born daily in our hearts.  We must carry out His words to Love God above all things and love our neighbor as ourselves just as St. Nicholas did.

We should help others, especially those in need.  We should give to others not to get something in return, but out of complete generosity and love.

His feast day is on December 6 which is the date he died in the year 343.  He is the Patron Saint of Children, Pawnbrokers, and Bakers.   

God, Our Father, we pray that through the intercession of St. Nicholas You will protect our children. Keep them safe from harm and help them grow and become worthy in Your sight. Give them strength to keep their Faith in You; and to keep alive their joy in Your creation. Through Jesus Christ, Our Lord. Amen.


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