Tuesday, December 9, 2008

The real St Nicholas and the secular counterfeit

St Nicholas was a priest, an abbot, and a Catholic bishop of Myra in the 4th century. He once helped a poor man who had three daughters that could not afford a proper dowry for marriage. This meant that they would remain unmarried and probably, in absence of any other possible employment would have to become prostitutes. Hearing of the poor man's plight, Nicholas decided to help him but being too modest to help the man in public, (or to save the man the humiliation of accepting charity), he went to his house under the cover of night and threw three purses (one for each daughter) filled with gold coins through the window opening into the man's house and landing in a stocking hung up to dry. This is how the story of Santa Claus was born. He was known for his holiness, zeal, and astonishing miracles–even raising people from the dead. He was cast into prison during the persecution of Diocletian but he was released after the accession of Constantine, and was present at the Council of Nicaea in 325 ad. He died on December 6 in 345 ad. His feast day is thus on December 6. He is the patron saint for mariners, merchants, bakers, travelers, and children.
Although the spirit of charity that St Nicholas role models is good, the secular culture has turned him into something contrary to the faith. The current St Nicholas (Santa Claus) is now someone with magical powers which is condemned in Deuteronomy 18:10. He is immortal (Hebrews 9:27 man is appointed to die once then the Judgment). He knows the lives of everyone and in a sense judges the heart of the individual for being good or bad (huh I thought God was the only one who could do that). He flies around with reign deer so fast that he reaches to be reasonable 3 billion houses in 24 hrs. That is 34722 houses per second. Not even superman could do that.  Now if anyone can explain to me why lying to you children that this fictional person is real, and this is a good thing, I would love to hear an explanation.
The best counter to this argument I’ve heard consists of this: “Jesus told stories that were not true. They are called parables.” This is how I respond: A parable is a story that pertains to real life so that the hearers can relate to them. Those stories could have actually happened or if they were a fantastic story the hearers knew it was fantastic. In the Santa story the hearer is led to believe the fantastic is real and is thus deceiving them. Having a fantasy story is fine but keep it a fantasy. This is how the Catechism defines lying:

2482 "A lie consists in speaking a falsehood with the intention of deceiving."[280] The Lord
denounces lying as the work of the devil: "You are of your father the devil, . . . there is no truth in
him. When he lies, he speaks according to his own nature, for he is a liar and the father of
2483 Lying is the most direct offense against the truth. To lie is to speak or act against the truth inorder to lead someone into error. By injuring man's relation to truth and to his neighbor, a lie
offends against the fundamental relation of man and of his word to the Lord.
2484 The gravity of a lie is measured against the nature of the truth it deforms, the circumstances,
the intentions of the one who lies, and the harm suffered by its victims. If a lie in itself only
constitutes a venial sin, it becomes mortal when it does grave injury to the virtues of justice and
2485 By its very nature, lying is to be condemned. It is a profanation of speech, whereas the
purpose of speech is to communicate known truth to others. The deliberate intention of leading a
neighbor into error by saying things contrary to the truth constitutes a failure in justice and charity.
The culpability is greater when the intention of deceiving entails the risk of deadly consequences
for those who are led astray.
2486 Since it violates the virtue of truthfulness, a lie does real violence to another. It affects his
ability to know, which is a condition of every judgment and decision. It contains the seed of discord
and all consequent evils. Lying is destructive of society; it undermines trust among men and tears
apart the fabric of social relationships.

Imitate the example of St Nicholas and remember the saint but don’t get caught up with the secular counterfeit.

The Church does not have an official teaching on Santa Claus so this reflects my opinion.

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