December 6th! The feast of St. Nicholas! The story of St. Nicholas can never be repeated too often:
Today is the Feast of St. Nicholas, who died on December 6, ARSH 343. Saint Nicholas is well-known by his Dutch moniker, ”Santa Claus”. Don’t be fooled by the crass, commercialized image. Saint Nicholas was a stone-cold butt-kicker for Christ and His Church.
Early in the Fourth Century, there was a terrible heresy in the Church put forth by a very persuasive man named Arius. Arius contended that Christ was not fully divine, but a creature, created by the Father. This heresy was threatening to schism the Church. (Back then everyone understood the truth that any schism whatsoever was totally and completely evil and thus unacceptable – the Church is ONE. Christ has ONE Bride, not a harem. There is ONE Truth. Not multiple “”truths””. As soon as you start saying that there are ”multiple truths”, what you have done is denied Truth Itself, of which there is only ONE.) [Didact: Amen, Rev- uh, ma'am.]
So, the First Council of Nicea was called in ARSH 325 to hash this out and put the Arian heresy down once and for all. Arius was at the Council, of course, and was called upon to defend his position on the inferiority of Christ. Being a bishop, Nikolaos of Myra (in present-day Turkey) was naturally in attendance. Arius’ nonsensical, destructive and insulting lying contentions about Our Lord became too much for Bishop Nikolaos, who stood up and proceeded to haul off and go all Manny Pacquiao on Arius with a left jab directly to Arius’ piehole...
Everyone was alarmed by Bishop Nikolaos’ righteous beatdown of Arius, and he was immediately summarily stripped of his episcopacy. In those days, the two things that designated a man a Christian bishop were a personal copy of the Gospels and a pallium, which is like a stole. Now you may taken aback by the “personal copy of the Gospels” thing. Well, of course! How could a bishop NOT have the Gospels? But you must remember that the printing press wasn’t invented until ARSH 1439. Before that, if you wanted a book, it had to be written out BY HAND. And what were you going to write on? Try vellum. Every piece of vellum had to be harvested from an animal and made. So you see, for a man to have a personal copy of any written text was a HUGE, and frankly EXPENSIVE, deal. So, poor Nikolaos was stripped of his Gospel and his pallium AND thrown in the hoosegow.
The image that Ms. Barnhardt found for this is just as good:Now here is where it gets really good.While Nikolaos was in the clink, he received a visit from both Our Lord and the Virgin Mary. Our Lord asked Nikolaos, “”Why are you here?”” And Nikolaos replied, “”Because I love You, my Lord and my God.”” At this, Jesus then presented Nikolaos with his copy of the Gospels, and Mary put his pallium back on him, thus restoring his rank as a bishop. When Nikolaos was discovered sitting calmly in his cell, still under guard, with his Gospel and his pallium, which the other bishops had locked away themselves far from Niklaos’ prison cell, Nikolaos was released, welcomed back by his brother bishops, and rejoined the Council. The heresy of Arianism was struck down once and for all, and the Nicene Creed (which we still recite at the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass today) was authored.