Another Visit from St. Nicholas

 Wow! Not one, but two visits from St. Nicholas this year! The good saint must be making extra rounds to cheer people up during this pandemic. 

One evening, as we were gathered at recreation, we heard sleigh bells down the hall! One of the sisters opened the door and in drove St. Nicholas on his motorized chair. (Too much walking, no doubt.) After regaling us with riddles and bad puns, St. Nick and his elfin helper distributed a stocking to each sister. Sorry we didn\’t get a picture this time!

 Among other useful gifts, each sister received a little stuffed toy–a toucan–and a hand-knitted washcloth. 

We had such a good time, groaning at the puns and sharing each other\’s company and opening our stockings. This is a good example of what Jesus meant when He said we should become like little children. Not childish, not naive, but women (and men) mature enough to enjoy the little surprises and joys of life with honest wonder and delight. If we have to remain bored sophisticates all our lives, how will we react to the wonders of Heaven? How will we react to the wonders God does in our fellow men and women every day, even in ourselves? Joy is not dependent on circumstance. It is a gift of the Holy Spirit that God gives to each one of us day by day. It\’s up to us to enter into it!

Jolly Old St. Nicholas

 Yesterday, on the memorial of St. Nicholas (December 6), the saint paid us an unexpected visit. We must have been good girls this year!

Note that St. Nicholas is observing medical protocol by wearing a mask!

St. Nicholas came to visit the children at one of our local parishes, and stopped by after Mass to give us his greetings, too–as well as gifts of booklets about his life and times and (chocolate) gold coins. He also left a special treat for breakfast–fresh doughnuts!

Our prioress, Sr. Mary Margaret, with St. Nicholas\’ presents

The story of how St. Nicholas helped three penniless sisters get married by dropping bags of gold coins down the chimney and into their stockings, hung by the fire to dry, is more or less well known. Interestingly, there is another popular story associated with St. Nicholas and his attendance at the Council of Nicaea. There\’s only one questionable account of this episode, but it\’s the kind of thing you almost wish was true because it\’s just so…well, read on!

According to the legend, St. Nicholas was attending the Council of Nicaea and got a little testy when he heard the heretic Arius expounding the idea that Jesus was not truly God and man, but only man–created by God, not one being with Him. As he put it, \”There was a time when the Son was not.\” Arius, who must have been a charismatic speaker and who definitely had an idea people liked (the Arian heresy was a big problem in the early church) seemed to be winning the day when:

\”After the king seated himself on the throne, one hundred and fifty nine fathers seated themselves at either side of him, both they and Arius arguing with much unease.  Saint Nicholas, noticing that Arius was about to quash all the archpriests and moved by divine zeal, rose up and gave him a slap that shook all his members.\”

This is recounted The Life of St. Nicholas composed by Damascenos the Monk in the 16th century. Since the Council of Nicaea took place in the 4th century (325 AD, to be exact) it\’s certainly possible that some things got exaggerated or even just made up. Still, it gives us some fun Catholic memes to celebrate the memorial, such as this one: 

See, you can combine sound theology with popular culture!