Wednesday, December 6, 2017



Prayer to Saint Nicholas 

Saint Nicholas, faithful disciple of Jesus Christ, pray for us.
Saint Nicholas, example of Christian love, pray for us.
Saint Nicholas, helper of the poor and needy, pray for us.
Saint Nicholas, champion of orphans and widows, pray for us.
Saint Nicholas, protector of those who sail at sea, pray for us.
Saint Nicholas, defender of the true faith, pray for us.
Saint Nicholas, patron of children around the world, pray for us.
Saint Nicholas, secret giver of gifts, pray for us.
Saint Nicholas, the great wonderworker, pray for us.
Saint Nicholas, our friend in Heaven, pray for us.


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Since today is the feast of Saint Nicholas, I have decided to re-run a column I wrote fourteen years ago about the slow “massacre” of this beloved saint over the years till our own day. Ever since St. Nicholas changed his name to Santa Claus, he has been going downhill fast.

Nicholas started off as a rich young man from Turkey who become a kindly bishop. Dressed in a bishop’s red cope, mitre and crosier, he was known for his love of children and his determination to use his inheritance doing anonymous works of charity.

Probably “too Catholic,” 17th century Dutch Protestants helped turn him into a married ex-priest living at the North Pole. Instead of being a bishop presiding over a diocese, he ended up presiding over a gang of workaholic elves. Obviously, he married without “laicization.” Why else would he have been banished to such a God-forsaken place as the North Pole?

It must have been a traumatic career-change. He ended up with a serious eating disorder and a possible drinking problem that turned him into a rotund bag of cholesterol with a bad case of  “rosacea.”

Just when you thought he could not sink any lower, he stared in an “adult” movie with an R rating called “Bad Santa.”  For those who think foul-mouthed drunks and vulgar rudeness are funny, this movie promised to be a huge hit. The reviews used words like, “demented, twisted, gloriously rude, rancid, vulgar and unreasonably funny.” 

So far, no one has raised any serious questions about his obsession with children, his enslaving of small animals to carry loads heavier than any UPS jet or his penchant for “breaking and entering” homes all over the world. Of course, there is always next year.

St. Nicholas is not the only one to lose at this time of year. Even Jesus is being nudged out by elves, reindeer, kittens in Christmas stockings and innocuous “happy holiday” cards.

Instead of Jesus’ birth being central, Christmas has become a frenzy of buying: buying things people don’t need, for people they don’t like, with money they don’t have. Every year, we hear about a mob of shoppers, rushing like a herd of charging elephants for a sale, trampling people and knocking them unconscious. No wonder so many are left disappointed and in debt and the suicide rate spikes right after Christmas. 

Before you dismiss me as a Grinch, let me assure you that I do love Christmas. My point is that it takes a lot of imagination and determination these days to “keep Christ in Christmas.”  Since I am single and my life is different from that of many others, I am reluctant to give practical suggestions, but here is one. Keep it simple. Do less, not more. Take a little of the time you saved to design your own one-hour retreat. Take a long walk by yourself and try to remember what Christmas is really all about.     


I still love this saint. In fact,
if I could have picked my own name, it would have been "Nicholas!" 

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