Today, December 6th, is the feast day of Saint Nicholas. You probably know him better as “Santa Claus.”
He was born around the year 270 AD and died around 343 AD. When he was young, both of his parents died, and he used the wealth that his parents had left him to “secretly” help those in need. There are several stories of the wonderful acts of kindness that he did for those in need.
Saint Nicholas would later go on to become the Bishop of Myra (now known as Demre).
One of the main topics that The First Ecumenical Council of Nicea (325) addressed Arianism. This was a heretical teaching by a priest named Arius who wrongly taught that Jesus was not fully divine and was a mere creature like the rest of us. During Arius’ exposition of this belief, Jolly St. Nick had heard all he could of this nonsense, got up and punched Arius in the face.
Emperor Constantine was in attendance at the Council of Nicea and after witnessing St. Nick sucker punch Arius, he and the other Bishops had Nicholas stripped of his office as Bishop of Myra, and confiscated his personal copy of the Gospels (remember books weren’t easy to come by back in the 4th century) and his pallium.
St. Nick’s story doesn’t end there. According to tradition:
“…after Nicholas was deposed, the Lord Jesus Christ and the Blessed Virgin Mary visited Nicholas who was being held in a prison cell for his fist-fight with the heretic.
Our Lord Jesus Christ asked Saint Nicholas, “Why are you here?” Nicholas responded, “Because I love you, my Lord and my God.”
Christ then presented Nicholas with his copy of the Gospels. Next, the Blessed Virgin vested Nicholas with his episcopal pallium, thus restoring him to his rank as a bishop.
When the Emperor Constantine heard of this miracle, he immediately ordered that Nicholas be reinstated as a bishop in good standing for the Council of Nicea. Today we recite the Nicene Creed every Sunday so we know how the controversy played out. The bishops at Nicea sided with Saint Nicholas and Saint Athanasius and they condemned Arius as a heretic. To this very day, we still recite in the Creed that Christ is “God from God, Light from Light, True God from True God, begotten not made, consubstantial with the Father.””
And I thought I’d just add my favourite Saint Nicholas memes I’ve seen around the interwebs. Enjoy!
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This past Sunday was the start of the Advent season. What is Advent? It is the time of preparation for the coming of Christ into the world. It is a looking back to that day when he was born as a helpless child as well as looking forward to that day when he will return to the earth. We must remember that it is not the Christmas season yet. I like to think of Advent as that time of “nesting” that a family goes through before the arrival of their child. During this time we clean our house, prepare a bunch of freezer meals, finish putting together the baby’s new room, or whatever it is that needs to be done before the baby arrives. It is after the child is born that we truly celebrate this new life.
The Christmas season begins on December 25th, with the twelve days of Christmas beginning Christmas morning and concluding on January 6th, the day attributed to the arrival of the three wise men (also known as Three Kings Day and in some cultures this is the traditional day of giving presents). It isn’t until January 12th with the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord that the Christmas season finally draws to a close.
Today is the Solemnity of Saint Joseph, foster-father to Jesus. What exactly does that mean? It means that today we celebrate the life of Saint Joseph and everything he did to protect and raise Jesus. Not a single word spoken by Joseph is recorded in sacred scripture, and yet he was one of the most important people in history. Here is a very good place to start if you’d like to read up on what sacred scripture tells us about this man who God chose to be the foster-father to his son, Jesus.
“To err is human; to forgive divine.” –Alexander Pope
The hardest thing for people to do is to forgive. Everyone has a difficult time forgiving others. Sure, some things are easier than others, but we are called to reach out and forgive other for ALL things.
Almost two years ago on Divine Mercy Sunday, I heard a remarkable homily. It’s one of the few that have stuck with me. The key thing that really resonated with me was when Fr. Iweh said true forgiveness is when we are able to forgive as if the (whatever “it” is) never happened. For us humans forgiving is hard enough, but can we truly forgive someone without holding grudges?
Before I go any further let me say this. I’m not saying that if someone were to hurt another that we should put ourselves or others in a situation where they too could possibly be hurt. For example – if someone is abusing someone else verbally, physically, and/or sexually we are not obligated to keep those people n out lives. BUT we are obligated to forgive and not hold any grudges against them.
This is no easy task, nor is it something that will be possible instantly. In some cases it might be years before we are able to give true forgiveness.
The key thing I think that many people forget is that when we forgive someone it does more for us than the person we are forgiving. Once we decide to let go of our hurt feelings and stop holding that drudge can we truly begin the healing process.
I don’t know about you, but I don’t go out of my way to hurt others. Yet, I know that I have. I hope that everyone I have inadvertently hurt has been able to forgive me and aren’t bearing any grudges or ill feelings towards me. Not because I want them to have nothing but rosy thoughts about me but because I know that holding that grudge and hurt feelings keeps the wounds open, festering, and at times ay even feel as if someone is pouring salt on the wounds. Holding onto the pain and hurt eats at us and can steal the joy from our lives.
Perhaps you have experienced a hurt that has cut so deep that you don’t know how you could ever forgive the offender. My suggestion to you would be to take it to prayer. Talk to God, tell Him what is going on, that you are tired of hurting but you don’t think you are capable of forgiving the wrong doer. Then ask Him to give you the grace needed to be able to forgive them.
Bartolome Esteban Murillo
Today the Church celebrates the Feast of the Assumption. For those who have no idea what this means let me explain. At the moment of her death she was assumed body and soul into Heaven by the power of God. This is not to be confused with Christ’s ascension into Heaven. Christ ascended into Heaven by His own power, Mary was assumed into Heaven by God.
How do we know that this occurred when it isn’t found in scripture. Firstly, not everything that Jesus taught his Apostles nor the teaching of the Apostles is written in the Bible. For the first several years of the Church everything was passed on orally. Many of these teachings are now called Sacred Tradition (I’ll get into the debates of sola scripture and sola fide at a later time). Secondly, no relics nor tomb have ever been claimed to be that of our Blessed Mother. All of the other Apostles, Saints, and so forth have had someone lay claim to finding relics or tombs. There are only two people who this has never been claimed for: 1. Jesus – because we know that he ascended to Heaven by his own power. (Acts 1:9-11) and 2. Mary. Lastly, there were other people whom God assumed into Heaven: Enoch (Gen 5:24), Elijah (2 Kings 2:11), and some say Moses was also assumed (no one knows where his grave is – Dt 34:6, the archangel Michael argues with the Devil about his body – Jude 1:9, and he appears alongside Elijah at the transfiguration (Mat 17:1-9, Mark 9:2-8, Luke 9:28-36)
There are several excellent posts on this topic around the interwebs. I feel as if I would just be rehashing them. Allow me to present the links to a few of their posts:
Two posts from Brent Stubbs over at AlmostNotCatholic.com:
Mary’s Assumption Makes Sense in Light of Microchimerism An interesting take on the assumption by Elizabeth Scalia:
The Assumption by Brianna Heldt
The Feast of the Assumption is Our Feast Too written in 2010 by Msgr. Charles Pope