Faithful Step Up in Wake of Tornado Devastation

by Walter Johnson On April 25, the city of Ruston found itself reeling from an EF3 tornado that blew into the area in the early hours of Thursday morning. The vicious storm More »

Fr. Kevin Mues Ordination to the Priesthood

A Q& A with the Diocese of Shreveport’s Newest Ordained Priest During your time in seminary, what are some of the moments that have encouraged your vocation? The things that have been More »

Reflection on Minor Seminary

by Seminarian Kelby Tingle Four years ago I graduated from Loyola College Prep in Shreveport and, feeling a call to discern a vocation to the priesthood, I made the prayerful decision to More »

CCNLA and SVdP: Side by Side and Hand in Hand

by Tiffany Olah, Catholic Charities of North Louisiana At first glance, it may appear that there is a duplication of services in what the Society of St. Vincent de Paul (SVdP) does More »

Pro-Life Oratory Contest Winners Announced

T he Shreveport-Bossier Pro-Life Oratory Committee has announced the local winners of its high school oratory contest. Kaiden Odell, a senior at Word of God Academy in Shreveport, won first place with More »

Pope Exhorts Young People to Be Courageous; Encounter Christ on the 56th Annual World Day of Prayer for Vocations

from the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops The 56th annual World Day of Prayer for Vocations was celebrated by the Catholic Church on the Fourth Sunday of Easter, May 12, a More »

One Last Time: Rinaudo Bids Farewell After More Than a Decade as Connection Editor

by Jessica Rinaudo As I began to work on this, my final issue of The Catholic Connection, I looked back and counted the number of issues I’ve put together over the past More »

The Beauty of Parish Life

by Kim Long Recently I began to reflect on what God used to get my attention over 30 years ago when “becoming Catholic” began to go from a wild exotic notion to More »

On the Trail of History: France and the Priest-Martyrs of 1873

by Fr. Peter B. Mangum As many are aware, I have been working on a project over the last two years to explore and raise awareness of the lives of five remarkable More »

Cardinal Sees Solidarity, Compassion in Sandy Recovery

by Catholic News Service

Outreach Center set up in Staten Island. (CNS photo/Bob Roller)

NEW YORK (CNS) — Everywhere Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan said he has gone to visit people and communities in the hurricane-ravaged areas, he has heard stories “not just of the pain and destruction caused by Sandy, but the overwhelming goodness of people in helping those in need.” He made the comments in a statement to announce the success of a special collection to respond to individuals, parishes, Catholic institutions, charities and community organizations harmed by Sandy. Cardinal Dolan asked that all of the archdiocese’s nearly 375 parishes hold a special collection the weekends of Nov. 3-4 and Nov. 10-11. Pastors were already “reporting a generous response from the people to this special appeal for help,” the cardinal’s announcement said. The Alfred E. Smith Memorial Foundation and the Cardinal’s Annual Appeal will each contribute an additional $500,000 to the relief fund. Cardinal Dolan praised the response of individuals and agencies alike to the devastation and hardship caused by the super storm. “Catholic Charities and our parishes are doing a magnificent job in reaching out and providing help to people… as are so many other agencies and individuals,” he said. “This new fund will augment those efforts already under way in providing direct aid where it is needed most.” A board of pastors from those areas of the archdiocese most affected by the hurricane will oversee distribution of the funds to ensure they go to the people and institutions most in need of help with their recovery efforts. “We have an obligation — a sacred duty — to help those who are hurting,” Cardinal Dolan said. “The efforts of the Catholic Church, along with so many other organizations and individuals, are helping us to fulfill this responsibility to care for our brothers and sisters in need.”

Synod Members Propose Ways to Promote Evangelization

by Catholic News Service

(CNS photo/L'Osservatore Romano via Reuters)

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — The Synod of Bishops recommended the Vatican establish a commission to monitor religious freedom, develop guidelines for training evangelizers and ensure there is a church in every diocese where confession is always available. At the end of the three-week world Synod of Bishops on new evangelization, members of the gathering approved 58 propositions to give to the pope. The propositions were designed as recommendations for the pope to use in a post-synodal apostolic exhortation. Many of the propositions described current challenges the church faces in sharing the Gospel, strengthening the faith and reaching out to lapsed Catholics. Other propositions asked Pope Benedict or bishops to consider undertaking projects, including: establishing a Vatican commission to monitor religious freedom, denounce attacks on religious freedom and promote a broader understanding of its importance as a basic human right; developing a “pastoral plan of initial proclamation” that would outline steps to help ensure that once people hear the Gospel, they are led to conversion and faith and are educated in church teaching. It also should describe the “qualities and guidelines for the formation of Catholic evangelizers today”; and asking every diocese to establish a parish or shrine dedicated “in a permanent way” to the sacrament of penance, ensuring “priests are always present, allowing God’s mercy to be experienced by all the faithful.”

Gentlemen’s Closet

St. Catherine Community helps men in need dress for success

The “Gentlemen’s Closet” was featured on three local television stations; KSLA TV 12, KTAL NBC 6, and KMSS FOX 33.  From this television coverage we have received donated suits from Minden, Mansfield, Bossier City, Haughton and Shreveport.

The “Gentlemen’s Closet” has fitted men with suits for job fairs, interviews, church functions, court and funerals.

We have assisted individuals referred to us from various local agencies, including Volunteers of America, Goodwill Industries Job Training, the Veterans Administration, Louisiana Association for the Blind, Veterans Hospital, The Kennedy Center and local neighborhood churches.
One interesting fact of note is that many donations come from area widows who have found solace in the fact that their deceased loved ones’ suits are helping those without in positive pursuits and church participation.

The Gentlemen’s Closet wishes to thank all who have donated the many fine suits. You are helping men to look good and feel good for interviews and other positive pursuits.

The “Gentlemen’s Closet” is open to assist on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m at the St. Catherine Community Center. For more information, call 318-865-9817.

by William Livigne, Coordinator, St. Catherine Community Center

Catholic Charities Update

Since Catholic Charities of Shreveport opened two years ago, we have seen a tremendous need present in our diocese. As the economy struggles, the effects reach further throughout our society. Many working families managing tight budgets have had their work hours cut or have lost their jobs altogether. With little or no savings, they are at risk for having their utilities disconnected and being evicted within a matter of weeks. Many have never asked for assistance before. They often do not begin looking for help until they are desperate and have no other option. Every day we get calls from people who have had one or more of their basic utilities discontinued or who have received notice for eviction.

Making the situation even more difficult is that funding is being cut or eliminated at other agencies, and many people who used to be donors are no longer able to give. Every day we get calls from people who have been referred to us by agencies, organizations and churches that no longer have funding to help. Each month the number of requests has grown so that we have received more than 300 calls for assistance in each of the past six months.

Fortunately, Catholic Charities of Shreveport is becoming known as a beacon of hope during this difficult time and we are able to help many people in need. Unfortunately, however, we cannot help nearly as many as we would like. We help as we are able, using Emergency Assistance funds to help with rent or utilities, and then with targeted referrals for others.

We often are able to help with in-kind donations given by individuals and groups. Last Christmas, we were blessed with many needed items from the Cathedral of St. John Berchmans with their Advent Giving Tree, and a large number of canned goods collected by students at St. Joseph School. More recently, St. Pius X Church collected baby items during their 40 Day Baby Shower in conjunction with 40 Days for Life. Gifts such as these enable us to help our client families in many other ways, such as providing food for a hungry family as well as personal care items; blankets, socks, gloves and hats for those who have none; and diapers, formula, strollers and cribs so new parents can adequately care for their infants. Everyone who comes to us is given the opportunity to not only take our financial education classes, but also to receive individualized mentoring from a financial coach for a year as they progress towards financial stability and independence.
As with most Catholic Charities throughout the U.S., we depend on donations and volunteers to provide these services. Your gifts make a real difference in the lives of our clients.

by Anita Crafts,Catholic Charities of Shreveport

Seminarista Para Visitar Nicaragua

En la fiesta de Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe me iré de misión a visitar algunas de las personas más pobres de Nicaragua. Todo el año he estado esperando la oportunidad de regresar y de nuevo entrar a sus vidas difíciles y compartirles la Buena Nueva de Jesus. No salgo hasta el 12 de diciembre, pero en muchas maneras este viaje empezó hace varios meses atrás en la ciudad de México.

Durante una de mis varias peregrinaciones a la Basílica de Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe, me arrodillé debajo de la tilma de San Juan Diego, y vi la bellísima cara de nuestra Santísima Madre. Estaba decepcionado por mi progreso lento y difícil en aprender el español y entender la cultura Mexicana, y con fervor oré por su intercesión. ¿Cómo podía ser un misionero exitoso si no podía hablar el idioma, ni entender las vidas y necesidades de la gente? Me sorprendí cuando mi oración fue respondida de una manera simple y poderosa.

Viendo a su imagen milagrosa, me acordé que María vino a este Nuevo Mundo con el Hijo de Dios en su vientre. Dentro de ella, el Sagrado Corazón de Jesus latía junto con el de ella. Ambos corazones ardían con el mismo amor apasionado por Dios y por todos Sus hijos. Cuando el sacerdote en el altar levantó la hostia consagrada, vi la imagen de la Madre de Dios, parada sobre la luna, eclipsando el sol, vestida en las estrellas del cielo, inclinada con humildad y oración, viendo a Jesus en la Eucaristía con mucho amor.

Fui a México a aprender como cambiar vidas.  Ese momento cambio la mía. Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe me mostró como Jesus quiere que todos nosotros lo llevemos a Él a las vidas de los que más lo necesitan, quienes sean, a pesar de nuestras inseguridades y pocas habilidades. Nuestro amor por Cristo es suficiente. Su fuerza es suficiente para nosotros. Estoy seguro que mi vida cambiará de nuevo en Nicaragua cuando, con amor ardiente en mi corazón, lleve a Cristo en la Eucaristía a algunos de Sus hijos más necesitados. En su manera, me traerán a Jesus a mí también. Celebraré el cumpleaños de mis cuarenta y cuatro años en sus casas este año, ¡y no podría pedir un regalo mejor!

por Jerry Daigle, Jr., Seminarian

Seminarian to Visit Nicaragua

On the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, I will go on a mission to some of the poorest people in Nicaragua. All year I have been longing for the chance to return to them, and, once again, enter their challenging lives to share the Good News of Jesus Christ. I will not leave until December 12, but, in many ways, this journey began several months ago in Mexico City.

During one of my many pilgrimages to the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe, I knelt beneath St. Juan Diego’s centuries-old tilma, and stared into the beautiful face of our Blessed Mother. I was disappointed by my slow and difficult progress in learning Spanish and in understanding the Mexican culture, and I fervently prayed for her intercession. How could I be a successful missionary if I could not speak the language, and did not understand the lives and needs of the people? I was surprised when my prayer was answered in a simple and powerful way.

Looking at her miraculous image, I remembered that Mary had come to this New World carrying the Son of God in her womb. Within her, the Sacred Heart of Jesus beat in unison with her own heart.  Both hearts burned with the same flames of passionate love for God and for all of His children. When the priest at the altar raised the consecrated host, I saw the image of the great Mother of God, standing on the moon, eclipsing the sun, clothed in the very stars of heaven, bowed with humility and prayer, lovingly looking at Jesus in the Eucharist.

I went to Mexico to learn how to change lives. That moment changed mine. Our Lady of Guadalupe showed me how Jesus wants us, all of us, to bring Him into the lives of those who need Him most, whoever they may be, regardless of our own insecurities and poor abilities. Our love for Christ is enough. His strength is enough for us.  I am certain that my life will change again in Nicaragua when, with burning love in my heart, I will bring Christ in the Eucharist to some of His neediest children.  In their own way, they will bring Christ to me too. I will celebrate my 44th birthday in their homes this year, and I could not ask for a greater gift!

by Jerry Daigle, Jr., Seminarian

Photo: (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

Immaculate Conception

Photo: This window of the Immaculate Conception is in the Basilica of the Immaculate Conception in Natchitoches, LA (photo by John Glover).

The foundation of the belief of the Divinity of Christ

by Fr. Matthew Long, Diocesan Director of Church Vocations

There are countless images of the Blessed Virgin Mary. No Catholic Church, hospital, school or home is complete without at least one. Her role in our redemption and salvation has always been recognized by the faithful.  One example of how important she is is the fact that in Jerusalem there are two Churches of the Dormition, and in Ephesus stands Mary’s house where, tradition holds Our Lady fell asleep. The Blessed Virgin Mary bears many titles, but the title of Immaculate Conception is the one that was bestowed upon her not by man, but by God.

The Immaculate Conception as a Dogma of the Church was not formally pronounced as an infallible teaching by the Pontiff until December 8, 1854. On this date the Apostolic Constitution Ineffabilis Deus was issued by Pope Pius IX. A reading of this encyclical indicates that although it was the first formal pronouncement supporting this dogma, the Church’s tradition has always held the Immaculate Conception to be a doctrine of the Church handed down by the Fathers and professed by the faithful in every generation.

The importance of the dogma of the Immaculate Conception can never be underestimated. The dogma is important because it is the foundation upon which our belief in the Divinity of Christ rests.  Christ is God and He was with the Father from the beginning.  As the Creed states he is consubstantial with the Father, which means that He is of the same substance as the Father. Our belief about God is that sin or anything unholy cannot be in His presence. What that means is that God cannot be contained in a sinful place.  Therefore, in order for Mary to be the Ark of the New Covenant, the Tabernacle of the Bread of Life and the Bearer of the Christ it was necessary that she not be tainted by any sin. Since, all of humanity bore the taint of Original Sin passed down to us by our first parents, Adam and Eve, “before time began, the eternal Father chose and prepared for his only-begotten Son a mother in whom the Son of God would become incarnate and from whom, in the blessed fullness of time, he would be born into this world.” (ID). So, at her conception in the womb of St. Anne, God endowed “her with the abundance of all heavenly gifts poured from the treasury of His divinity that this mother, ever absolutely free of all stain of sin, all fair and perfect, would possess that fullness of holy innocence and sanctity.” (ID). This free gift of grace and privilege granted by God was only possible because of the merits of Jesus Christ.

When I was appointed to begin my work as Vocations Director by Bishop Duca, I was filled with many ideas. Some of my ideas were innovative and others had been tried before, but as with any new ministry one must be willing to try, whether it ends in success or failure. As I prayed for guidance and grace one word kept echoing in my mind, “Immaculata.”  I at first ignored this call and then tried to discern what it meant. I finally came to the conclusion that God was encouraging me to place my work under patronage of His beloved Mother under the title of the Immaculate Conception. Once I had reached this conclusion I began to think how fitting a patronage this was. Under the title of Immaculate Conception, Mary our mother is the patroness of our country and of our diocese. It was about that time I visited the Basilica of the Immaculate Conception in Natchitoches, the proto-cathedral of North Louisiana. Within the Basilica lie the remains of the first Bishop of Natchitoches, Augustus Marie Martin.  Upon the marble slab marking his tomb is his Episcopal Coat of Arms. At the center of his shield is the symbol of the Immaculate Conception. As I began to read about the Immaculate Conception I discovered that this same symbol was on the back of the Miraculous Medal.  I then obtained some Miraculous Medals for each of our seminarians and the bishop blessed them. I sent them to each of our seminarians and asked them to pray each morning with me, “O, Mary conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee.” Therefore all of us are united in our prayer to our Patroness to foster a culture of vocations and to be faithful sons of the Church. I encourage all of you to place your own lives under the Immaculate Conception’s patronage and join the seminarians and me in this prayer for the Church in the Diocese of Shreveport and our nation as all of us work together to re-evangelize our world.

Shoes on St. Nicholas Day

Saint Nicholas Day, December 6, is celebrated by children around the world in connection with the saint and his reputation as a bringer of gifts. While celebrations vary from country to country, one of the most well known traditions is the act of placing shoes in front of a chimney or outside bedroom doors the evening of December 5 for Saint Nicholas to fill with sweets and small toys. This tradition originates from stories of St. Nicholas’ secret gift giving to help those in need. It is said that people would leave their shoes out for him in hopes Nicholas would fill them with coins. The modern day custom of leaving shoes out is practiced in Belgium, the Netherlands and Germany, and has migrated to other countries as well.

Consider doing this with your children or grandchildren, leaving small gifts that can be used to talk to children about Catholic traditions. Candy canes can represent a bishop’s crosier, chocolate coins a symbol of giving to the Church and those in need. Above all, children can learn the real story of Nicholas the Bishop and his important place in history.

by Jessica Rinaudo, Editor

Boots of St. Nicholas Bread

by Kim Long

Years ago I decided to revisit the piano lessons I had as a child. I was so thrilled when I could navigate the simplest arrangements of popular Christmas songs, chief among them “Jolly Old St. Nicholas.” I wanted to learn that particular song because my youngest son Nicholas’ first grade class was singing it in the school Christmas program. He stood beside the piano and sang with my hesitant melody. I play that song now with a bit more confidence, but still an elementary arrangement. The truth is I have a soft spot for St. Nicholas. I have collected his likenesses for a long time but my search ended when I found the “perfect” statue. It’s the Bishop of Myra alright, but four sons later his bishop’s crosier is missing and one hand has been glued on more times than I can count and the music box in the base of the statue has long ceased to work. Still out he comes every Christmas.

My fascination with all things Catholica and indeed for St. Nicholas extends to the kitchen. This year for the first time I baked a St. Nicholas boot. There is a story about St. Nicholas tossing some coins through a window and saving the virtue of three young women, but let’s go further. The shoes (or in this case boots) of St. Nicholas carried him and his love for the gospel everywhere he went. Not a bad way to remember Jolly Old Saint Nicholas at all!

Nikolaussteifel “Boots of St. Nicholas” Bread

• 4 cups flour
• 1 tsp. dry yeast
• 1 tsp. sugar
• 3/4 cup milk, lukewarm
• 5 tbsp. butter
• 5 tbsp. sugar
• 1/2 tsp. vanilla
• 1 egg
• 1 pinch salt

Egg Wash:
•1 egg yolk
• 1 tbsp. water

•Almonds, powdered sugar, candies

Preheat the oven to 400. Mix yeast, 1 tsp. sugar and milk in a bowl until yeast is dissolved and let it stand for 15 minutes.

Add the flour to the bowl, melt the butter. Add 5 tbsp. sugar, vanilla, egg, salt, and melted butter to the flour. Work to a smooth dough first by stirring, then kneading. Put in a warm place until doubled in bulk.

Form dough in the shape of a boot, using some for the rim and boot heel, and place on greased baking sheet. Make the egg wash by mixing the egg yolk and milk. Brush the boot with the egg wash. Scatter the almonds over the boot.

Bake until golden brown, about 20 minutes. After the boot is cool have some fun and spill treats and jellied fruit from the top of the boot and use icing to define the details such as boot laces. This is a great treat as the dough is not overly sweet.

* Recipe originally from Christmas Baking: Traditional Recipes Made Easy by Christian Teubner Copyright 1983 Barron’s New York ,Large.

Saint Nicholas: The History, The Spirituality, The Celebration

by Kim Long

As I researched this article I prayed and asked St. Nicholas to give me a sense of what he would like to have conveyed, and one word came to me, “recovery.” We often talk about the need for “keeping Christ in Christmas.” With a careful study of St. Nicholas and what he stood for, I think we have another tool with which to begin “recovering” Christ for Christmas and indeed Christmas for ourselves and our families.

We Remember
Let us leave the North Pole and the popular images of Santa, our shopping lists and sale circulars behind for just a while and journey to Turkey in the days of the Apostle Paul’s missionary travels. Paul is reported to have traveled to Turkey and stopped in Patara in the ancient province of Lycia. Here he planted the seeds for a Christian community which, two centuries later, would give birth to the parents of Nicholas, Theophanes and Nona, descendants of those initial converts. History tells us they were a well to do couple, with only one thing blighting their happiness: the desire for a child. After many years of prayer Nicholas, (whose names means “people’s victor”) was born to these devout parents. The year was somewhere between 270 and 280 A.D., the place Patara, Lucia, Asia Minor.

There are stories surrounding Nicholas’ life from the beginning. It’s a difficult thing to imagine a saint’s life as it was before adulthood, to imagine them as a child who laughed running through the streets of Patara, a bustling trade town full of goods from all over the world. Nicholas’ education began at about age seven when he was put under the care of a trusted schoolmaster. There he learned grammar, arithmetic and writing.

One area which would not be entrusted to the schoolmaster was Nicholas’ faith. His parents had embraced a new and growing religion. They were Christians. The message of love that Jesus taught brought hope to all who embraced it. At services in the homes of other believers, Nicholas and his parents embraced the teaching “that when you have done it to the least of your brothers, you have done it to me also.” Nicholas’ parents, we are told, lived out this teaching in their behavior. This attitude was completely counter cultural in a time when the general mentality was something akin to “thine own self be true.”

Nicholas’ life was about to change drastically – a plague swept through Lycia and his parents were among the victims. Nicholas was sent to live with his uncle at a nearby monastery. There it was hoped he would recover from grief. In the days and weeks that followed, Nicholas grew from grief to resolve and made the decision to study for the priesthood. He gave away all his possessions, including the inheritance left him by his parents. Here began the amazing stories of a most generous servant of God.

A man with three daughters of marriageable age was in a bind. He had no dowry for the girls, and to make a marriage without one was impossible. As the situation grew direr with each passing day, the man began to see selling his daughters into servitude or slavery was his only option. Nicholas heard this and in secret put several gold coins into a small bag and dropped it through an open window. This produced much joy in the household and legend has it that he repeated this gesture for the remaining two daughters. Alas Nicholas was found out by the father and refused any thanks, directing the man to thank God instead. Nicholas never stopped helping people and his dedication led to a promotion as Bishop of Myra.

In the year 325, a council was called by Emperor Constantine. All the bishops of the Christian Church gathered in Nicaea. There were divisions that needed attention and clarification. The main issue came from the teachings of Arius who stated that Jesus was not as divine as God, causing bitter dispute. Tradition says Nicholas attended that council. Listening to Arius he grew angry and beyond reason and in an emotional, passionate moment slapped Arius right in the face! Needless to say this shocked and stunned the other bishops who stripped Nicholas of his clerical garments and put him under lock and key. Legend says the other bishops had a dream and were instructed to reinstate Nicholas. He served the people of Myra until his death on December 6, 343. His tomb was a site of pilgrimage. In 1087 his relics were moved for safe keeping to Bari, Italy. This “translation of the relics” is commemorated each year on May 9 with celebrations.

We Believe
As I began to gather material for this article, I had no idea I would sit down with two Orthodox priests right here in Shreveport; Fr. Brendan from St. George Greek Orthodox Church and Fr. Daniel from St. Nicholas of Myra Antiochan Orthodox Church. We met and talked about St. Nicholas and his importance in their respective traditions. Iconography is an important part of the Orthodox tradition. An Icon is a beautiful “portrait of the soul” or “sacred doorway” and icons of Nicholas abound. He is often shown wearing a red garment and holding a gospel book in one hand as his other hand forms the pose of blessing.

Nicholas is the patron saint of children, bakers, bankers, pharmacists, maidens, merchants, New York City and Russia among others. I came away from aforementioned meetings with pages of hymns, prayers and information about Nicholas. I took them with me to adoration one afternoon and read through them marking some of the passages which really stood out for me:

Kathismata / First Kathismata / First tone
“O wise Nicholas, the rays of your miracles shine upon the earth and you move every tongue to glorify and praise Him who glorified you on earth. Beseech Him, O select One of the Fathers, to deliver those who in faith and fervor honor your memory from all need.”

Second Tone
“O venerable Nicholas, you are the champion of the faithful, sheltering and protecting them, O blessed One; manifestly delivering them from all sorrow. You are the comely fame and glory of Heriarchs. Invincible guardian and ready intercession of those who trust in you deliver me from danger and do not forsake me. For you are the ready assistance of all.”

Akathist to Saint Nicholas / Kontakion 1
“O champion wonderworker and superb champion of Christ, thou who pourest out for all the world the most precious myrrh of mercy and an inexhaustible sea of miracles, I praise thee with love, O Saint Nicholas; and thou art one having boldness towards the Lord, from all dangers do thou deliver us, that we may cry to thee; Rejoice, O Nicholas, Great Wonderworker.”

We Celebrate
I love to celebrate the Christmas season. I have been known to decorate everything that didn’t move quickly, cook for days, pray novenas just for Advent and Christmas and give more gifts than my banker thinks is prudent. One thing this research had made me mindful of is the gift of presence. Nicholas was certainly all about that and what a wonderful lesson that holds for us today as we straddle the fence of “being in the world but not of the world.” Nicholas teaches that lesson from the beginning. So this year as we gather in our homes, at our tables, in our pews, let us take a moment to thank God for the gift of St. Nicholas and his embrace of the gospel. Incorporate some Nicholas traditions into the canon of your own family’s celebrations (examples: St. Nicholas Bread and shoes). Consider keeping December 6 as a special day for the children of the family. Gather them in, bake cookies to share, tell your children, grandchildren and godchildren the stories of St. Nicholas, a Christian who gave God the glory as he gave away all his possessions for others. This Christmas season as we hurry from sale to sale, let’s stop for a minute and breathe allowing the generous love of God to flow back into our veins! St. Nicholas pray for us.

This article provides a brief outline of the life of an incredible Christian. There isn’t enough space to really dive into the long and winding road from St. Nicholas to Santa Claus (though the timeline to the right will give you an idea). That was the road I thought we would travel together as I prepared to tell this story. God had other plans! Instead I ended up in a pew at St. Mary of the Pines Church, thanking God for his mercies and love and reading prayers in honor of this absolutely generous man of faith. After reading and rereading some of these prayers I thought anew of the celebrations in which I have participated. I prayed then as I do today that with the intercession of St. Nicholas, we will begin to recover the true meaning of Christmas. It is my Christmas prayer that we meet at the manger Christmas day and every day as we recover the true meaning of the season, guided there in part by the generous spirit and faith of St. Nicholas, Bishop of Myra. I believe he will be praying for us as we make the journey.