The real ‘Santa Claus’

StNick

Based on articles by Rev. H J Heagney. Litt D; Norman Griffin; Fr. Frances Weiser, SJ, Introduction and Compilation by Pauly Fongemie

Introduction and background

There are several Saint Nicholases, two of whom, found in many a Saints’ dictionary is actually the same Saint, that of St. Nicholas of Bari and Myra, because he was given the first name last, since his his relics are reposed there, and the second name comes from his Bishopric see in Asia Minor. he is our subject here. But before we present the true story of “Santa Claus” let us list some of the other Saint Nicholases: St. Nicholas of Flüe, Patron of Switzerland; St. Nicholas of Tolentino; and St. Nicholas I, Pope in the 9th century. St. Nicholas, of Myra or Bari is venerated in both the Latin and Greek calendar of Saints on December 6. He belongs to the fourth century, suffering under the persecution of Christians waged by the Roman emperor, Diocletian, and is believed to have worked a miracle in restoring three kidnapped children who had been dismembered when he was the Bishop of Myra. Thus is derived his patronage of children. The giving of gifts in honor of the Saint became a tradition through an act of generosity in another matter as you will read below. Read more

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Holly and ivy

Holly

The ilex or holly, and the ivy, both evergreen plants are traditional Christmas symbols: the holly for part of the same reason as the Glastonbury Rose is, because it represents the Crown of Thorns that the Savior will wear during His Passion. The holly has little sharp points all around its edges, much like a thorn and one can easily prick a finger by touching the leaf carelessly. The berries represent the drops of Blood He shed. Moreover, the holly is held by tradition to be of the same plant as the wood of the Cross was said to come from. During Advent and Christmas Christians acknowledge the need for a Savior and holly reminds them of this: the holly bough is one of St. John the Baptist’s symbols; the Saint heralded our Lord’s coming as Isaiah did in the Old Testament. Read more

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Christmas tree

ChristmasTree

The decorating of an evergreen tree at Christmas as we know it can be traced back to an old German custom, and more popularly known, Victorian England. Just as the evergreen wreath symbolizes eternity and fidelity, so the lush evergreen tree can be said to represent the same. Scripture is filled with the significance of trees, in both the Old and New Testaments, see the Psalm below. Generally the tree is not decorated until late Christmas Eve as Advent is still a season of penance, if not as filled with sorrow as Lent is. However, some families find the preparation for Mass the next day Christmas dinner to be of such importance that the Christmas Eve is taken up with these preparations, so on the Third Sunday of Advent, they choose to put up the family tree. Certainly the tree should not be up the day after Thanksgiving as is done in so many homes today. Customarily the tree should be adorned with little family treasures and religious symbols. Bright balls and lights are fine also and lend a festive touch especially for children of all ages, as do handmade garlands from natural items, such as popcorn or berries; little birds are very appropriate for the symbolism and dried plants and fruits. The idea of jolly Santas, elves, Christmas puppies in socks, etc., are of more recent development and not appropriate because we are celebrating Jesus’ birthday. Many families place the crèche under the tree and gifts, if exchanged, are not placed there until Christmas Day or after Midnight Mass.

Printed with permission from Catholic Tradition.

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National Vocations Awareness Week set for Nov. 5-11


NatWeekVocations

October 11, 2017

The Catholic Church in the United States will celebrate National Vocations Awareness Week, Nov. 5-11, 2017. This annual event is a special time for parishes in the US to actively foster and pray for a culture of vocations to the priesthood, diaconate, and consecrated life. Read more

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