Monday, December 06, 2010

Santa Claus

Joseph CArdinal Ratzinger

From his most ancient biographer, a certian Archimandrite Michael, says that Nicholas received his dignity from Christ's own sublime nature just as the morning star receives it brilliance from the rising sun. Nicholas was a living imitation of Christ... Tradition has always equated Santa Claus with the Bishop Nicholas who participated in the Council of Nicaea [325] and, together with that first great assembly of bishops, helped to formulate the affirmation of the true divinity of Jesus Christ. What was at stake here was the core of Christianity, whether Christianity was to become just another sect or something really new, faith in the Incarnation of God himself. Was Jesus of Nazareth only a great religious man, or had God himslef actually become, in him, one of us? So, ultimately, the question was this: Is God so mighty that he can make himself small; is he so mighty that he can love us and really enter our lives? For if Glod is too far away from us to love us effectively, then human live too is only an empty promise. If God cannot love, how can man be expexcted to do so? In professing faith in God's Incarnation there, it was ultimately a case of affirming also man's capacity to live and die in a human manner. The figure of St. Nicholas, Santa Claus, illustrates and symoblizes ithis connection....

"Nicholas was a living imitation of Christ... another of the legends expresses it very beautifully in this way: Whereas all the other miracles could be performed by a magicians and demons, and thus were ambivalent, one miracle was absolutely transparent and could not involve any deception, namely, that of living out the faith in everyday life for an entire lifetime and maintaining charity. People in the fourth century experienced this miracle in the life of Nicholas, and all the miracle stories which accrued subsequently to the legend are only variations on this one, fundamental miracle, which Nicholas's contemporaries compared, with wonder and gratitude, to the morning star reflecting the radicance of the light of Christ. In this man they understood what faith in God's Incarnation means: in him the dogma of Nicaea had been translated into tangible terms.... This at the deepest level, is the message of all Santa Claus figures: from the light of Christ we are to light the flame of a new humanity, caring for the persecuated, the poor, the little ones - this is the core of the legend of St. Nicholas" - Seek That Which is Above Ignatius (1986) 22.

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