Today, on the Feast Day of St. Nicholas, we're delivering a message: you're being watched. But before any panic sets in, remember it's not a bad thing. Kerry Trotter explores the intercession of both saint and Santa, and how a little gnome on a mantle doesn't hold a candle to the blessed.
I love a good Christmas tradition. I really do. Secular and religious alike — trees, mangers, mistletoe, candy canes, carols, Santa — the works.
But there’s one thing that I can’t quite get behind.
Elf on a Shelf.
If you’re not a parent of young children, this new phenomenon may have eluded you. The Elf on a Shelf is a foot-long, androgynous, red-suited doll that sits on much more than shelves in the build-up to Christmas to spy on your kids. The accompanying book (it’s brilliantly marketed) explains that each elf, which kids get to name, zips off to the North Pole every night to debrief Santa on the behavioral ups and downs of its charges, then zips back to the home to appear in a new and surprising spot before the kiddies awaken.
Thanks, but I think I’ll pass.
Perhaps it’s because my daughter is still too young to grasp the whole naughty vs. nice thing, or perhaps it’s the doll’s creepy little face, or perhaps it’s due to the fact that a new tradition was fabricated out of thin air to do the dirty work of parental discipline all the while raking in major dough for retailers...
Today, in the rush of the season and the sometimes-exhausting pressures of traditions and holiday responsibilities, Ellyn von Huben takes a step back to align herself with the humble perspective of St. Therese of Lisieux.
Devotées of St Therese, the Little Flower, are certainly familiar with the story of her “Christmas Conversion.” Returning from Christmas Eve Mass at the age of fourteen, St. Therese overheard her father’s grumbling about his relief that this would be the last year of treats and surprises in shoes left out on Christmas Eve. Rather than succumb to the temptation to a tearful tantrum, she was filled with the grace to continue on in a state of merriment and to receive the surprises left in her shoe with smiles and gratitude.
I am not sure how others interpret this event, but I must admit that I always saw it from the perspective of the young saint. I could understand her dismay at the ending of youthful whimsy and her sadness at hearing her father’s grousing. Until this year...
On this feast of St. Nicholas, Father Steve highlights the saint as a defender of the Incarnation of God in Christ- a revelation that is commemorated in the Solemnity of Christmas and is the central truth of the Faith. (In addition, read Fr. Steve's post on "St. Nicholas and the war against Christmas" here.)
There is a memorable scene described in Evelyn Waugh’s novel “Brideshead Revisited” in which Rex Mottram, who is converting to the Catholic Faith so as to marry one of the story’s main characters, is being questioned by a priest as to how many natures there are in the person of Christ.
Mottram, responds: “Well, how many you would like Father is fine with me.” His answer is meant to demonstrate his indifference to one of the most important beliefs of the Catholic Faith- that God in Christ takes for himself a human nature and, in doing so, unites to his divine person both a divine and human nature. This dramatic revelation discloses that God in Christ enters into the fullness of human experience, but not only this, opens up for humanity the possibility of sharing his own divine life...