This blog is based on references in the Bible to fear. God wills that we “BE NOT AFRAID”. Many theologians state that the eighth deadly sin is fear. It is fear and its natural animal reaction to fight or flight that is the root cause of our failings to create a Kingdom of God on earth. By “the power of the Holy Spirit” we can be witnesses and “communicators” of a new and redeemed humanity “even to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:7 8). This blog is dedicated to Mary the Mother of God.
Tuesday, December 5, 2017
Saint Nicolas Eve
11, Verse 2-4
2The spirit of the LORD shall
rest upon him: a spirit of wisdom and of understanding, a spirit of counsel and
of strength, a spirit of knowledge and of fear
of the LORD, 3and his delight shall be the fear of the LORD. Not by appearance shall he judge, nor by hearsay
shall he decide, 4But he shall judge the poor with justice, and decide fairly
for the land’s afflicted. He shall strike the ruthless with the rod of his
mouth, and with the breath of his lips he shall slay the wicked.
This is the source of the traditional names of the gifts of the Holy
Spirit. The Septuagint and the Vulgate read “piety” for “fear of the Lord” in
its first occurrence, thus listing seven gifts.
The Feast of Saint Nicholas is celebrated on December 6. Children leave
their shoes outside their bedroom door the night before and awaken that day to
find a surprise treat in their shoes. Saint Nicholas was a fourth century
bishop in Lycia, a province in Turkey. He became well known for his
generosity. He is also considered the patron saint of brides and children
and the precursor to Santa Claus.
The Eve of the Feast of Saint Nicholas is
celebrated throughout much of Europe with sweets and gifts to children. Legend
tells us that Nicholas was a man of action and used his abundance that the Lord
provided him to give special protection to children and unmarried young women.
Let us find some way today to practice both the spiritual and temporal works of
mercy. Today would be a good day to do something that helps children or young
unmarried women from the abundance that God has provided us. For those who
cannot share it is suggested to fast twice this week as was the practice of
Saint Nicholas and give the cost of the food you would normally spend to help
those in need. From the store house of your spiritual abundance your prayers
can make a difference: pray especially for women who are enslaved in addictions
and/or the sex slave trade. Thousands
of men from over 80 countries consistently pray for women lead by an online
organization called “e5 men”.
Perhaps the Lord is calling you to this.
Nicholas, Santa Claus, and the Angels
As is well-known, "Santa Claus" comes from the Dutch
rendering of Saint Nicholas, a fourth-century bishop famous for giving gifts anonymously
to children and the needy. However, as Father Francis Weiser argues in his Handbook
of Christian Customs (p. 113), the various legends surrounding Santa Claus
actually come from the god of Norse and Germanic mythology, Thor (after whom
Thursday is named). Thor was portrayed as a large, jovial old man with a long
white beard whose symbolic color was red (owing to his association with fire).
Thunder was said to have been caused by the rolling of his chariot (drawn by
two white goats) across the clouds, and his home was said to have been
"Northland," somewhere among the icebergs. The fireplace was also
considered sacred to Thor because it was through it that he came into his
element, the fire. We owe this odd metamorphosis of a Christian saint into a
pagan god to New York City. When the Dutch founded the city in the seventeenth
century, they observed the Catholic custom of "Saint Nicholas' visit"
on the saint's feast day (December 5). This the Dutch did even though they were
Protestant. When English Protestants later commandeered the city, they were
offended by the practice, but their children very much liked it. The compromise
that was eventually made was to transfer the giving of gifts from the 5th of
December to the 25th and to add so many pagan elements to the story that the
figure of the saintly Catholic bishop (who, incidentally, was notoriously
intolerant of heretics) would no longer be recognizable. The older Christian
custom is that on the night of December 5 (the vigil of Saint Nicholas Day),
children write notes addressed to the Child Jesus and put them on their window
sill, whence St. Nicholas carries them to heaven. A variation of this custom,
prevalent in South America, is to write notes sometime between December 16 to
24 and to put them in front of the crib, from which point Angels carry the
requests to heaven. Though the value of bringing children up on these stories
is open to debate, at least the older customs explicitly tie the reception of
gifts to the advent of Christ and portray the other figures (Nicholas or the
angels) as His assistants. There was also a charming custom of "St.
Nicholas" (a man dressed as a bishop) bringing gifts to children in person
on his feast day.
49 Godly Character Traits
As we begin the Advent season let us take up the nature of God by
reflecting on these traits that make us a model for our children and our
sisters and brothers in Christ. Today reflect on:
Creativity vs. Underachievement
Approaching a need, a task, an idea from a new perspective (Romans 12:2)
This "how" exceeds our
imagination and understanding; it is accessible only to faith. Yet our
participation in the Eucharist already gives us a foretaste of Christ's
transfiguration of our bodies:
Just as bread that comes from the
earth, after God's blessing has been invoked upon it, is no longer ordinary
bread, but Eucharist, formed of two things, the one earthly and the other
heavenly: so too our bodies, which partake of the Eucharist, are no longer
corruptible, but possess the hope of resurrection.
2708 meditation engages thought, imagination, emotion, and
desire. This mobilization of faculties is necessary in order to deepen our
convictions of faith, prompt the conversion of our heart, and strengthen our
will to follow Christ. Christian prayer tries above all to meditate on the
mysteries of Christ, as in lectio divina or the rosary. This form of prayerful reflection is of great value, but Christian
prayer should go further: to the knowledge of the love of the lord Jesus, to
union with him.