In our western experience of Christmas, a particular 4th Century Bishop has become associated with December 25th, even though his feast has traditionally been observed on December 8th. Yes, I'm speaking of Nicholas, Bishop of Myra. To the curmudgeons, super saints and scrooges who want to see Saint Nicholas, St. Nick, Santa Claus, et al banished from the Christian expression of the Nativity of the Christ, I say Bollocks!! Those voices in American Evangelicalism who loudly proclaim that "Ol' St. Nick" draws attention away from the Christ of Christmas, know nothing of the man. History speaks of a man who was a mighty apologist for that "babe in the manger"... The incarnate Son of God.
This saint, famed throughout the entire world today, was the only son of his eminent and wealthy parents, Theophanes and Nona, citizens of Patara in Lycia. They dedicated to God the only son He gave them. St. Nicholas was instructed in the spiritual life by his uncle Nicholas, Bishop of Patara (see below), and became a monk at `New Sion', a monastery founded by his uncle. On the dealth of his parents, Nicholas distributed all the property he inherited to the poor and kept nothing back for himself. As a priest in Patara, he was known for his charitable works, fulfilling the Lord's words: `Let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth' (Matt. 6:3). When he embraced a life of solitude and silence, thinking to live in that way until his death, a voice from on high came to him: `Nicholas, set about your work among the people if you desire to receive a crown from Me.' Immediately after that, by God's wondrous providence, he was chosen as archbishop of the city of Myra in Lycia. Merciful, wise and fearless, Nicholas was a true shepherd to his flock. He was cast into prison during the persecutions of Diocletian and Maximian, but even there continued to instruct the people in the Law of God. He was present at the First Ecumenical Council in Nicaea in 325, and, in his zeal, struck Arius with his hand. For this act, he was removed from the Council and from his episcopal duties, until some of the chief hierarchs had a vision of our Lord Christ and His most holy Mother showing their sympathy with Nicholas.
Nicholas contributed to the Creed of Nicea, the genesis for the document which would become the Nicene Creed. This document stridently defended the eternal deity of Christ Jesus. A translation of that Creed reads:
We believe in one God, the Father, Almighty, Maker of all things visible and invisible; and in the one Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, begotten of the Father, only-begotten, that is, from the substance of the Father; God from God, Light from Light, Very God from Very God, begotten not made, of one substance with the Father, through whom all things were made, both in heaven and in earth; who for us men and for our salvation came down and was incarnate, was made man, suffered, and rose again on the third day, ascended into heaven, and is coming to judge the living and the dead; And in the Holy Spirit. And those who say: "There was a time when he was not", and: "Before he was begotten he was not", and: "He came into being from nothing", or those who pretend that the Son of God is "of another substance" [than the Father] or "created" or "alterable" or "mutable", the catholic and apostolic church places under a curse."
Hardly the words of one trying to obfuscate the "Christ of Christmas". Now, once more for effect... Merry Christmas!!