saint nicholas eve
Psalm 145, Verse 19
He fulfills the desire of those who fear him; he hears their cry and saves them.
In this psalm the singer invites all to praise God. The “works of God” make God present and invite human praise; they climax in a confession. God’s mighty acts show forth divine kingship, a major theme in the literature of early Judaism and in Christianity.
I would like to focus on the word desire from verse 19 above. I like to hike and pray. One day I was hiking in the Fay Canyon area of Sedona, Arizona and I was reflecting on the seven deadly sins and the opposing virtues of our Lord’s sermon on the mount. As I was hiking and musing over the words that are associated with the deadly sin of lust: such words as long for, hanker for, hunger for, yearn, crave, and desire. In my mind I repeated desire, desire, desire and I asked our Lord what do you want me to desire? As I asked that question, I looked up at the canyon and spied a rock formation in the shape of a chalice. Yes Lord, I exclaimed. I shall desire to receive you in the Holy Mass. Today would be a good day to rest in the Lord and go to Confession and Mass-receiving true health; His body and blood. As we receive realize that He has heard our cry’s and has saved us. Such is the love of our God!
1465 When he celebrates the sacrament of Penance, the priest is fulfilling the ministry of the Good Shepherd who seeks the lost sheep, of the Good Samaritan who binds up wounds, of the Father who awaits the prodigal son and welcomes him on his return, and of the just and impartial judge whose judgment is both just and merciful. The priest is the sign and the instrument of God's merciful love for the sinner.
Saint Nicolas Eve
Today traditionally is the Eve of the Feast of Saint Nicholas and 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.
Saint 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 windowsill, 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.
Tonight, candy for the kids and… for Mom & Dad?
Prohibition Repeal Day
Between January 5th, 1919 and December 5th, 1933, America was dry. And we don’t mean it didn’t get much rainfall – during these years, the consumption of alcohol was banned. This was supposed to end drunkenness and put a stop to crime – but if anything, it just made problems with lawbreaking even worse.
Simply enough, even though it had been banned, there was still a demand for alcohol – and some shady characters made it their business to help America get a swig of the sweet stuff. Soon enough, organized crime would become a key driver of the liquor trade.
Bootlegging, or rum running as it might also be known, became of especial favor with crime lords. Sneaking liquor around the country became a big business in 1920s USA, and despite the best effort of authorities, the big wigs of the underworld were soon reveling in the money it brought them.
Realizing perhaps keeping beer away from the people was causing more trouble than it was worth, a number of repeal organizations were born and eventually, after much consideration, the 18th Amendment was lifted. And so, on the back of all that, we celebrate repeal day.
How to celebrate Repeal Day
If you’re feeling sociable after a day at work, why not get the gang together and go down to your local pub for a few? And if you don’t drink alcohol, you can always get involved with alcohol-free beer, or some tasty virgin cocktails. Cheers!