December 4, 2011
6 + 8 = 25
Looking at St. Nicholas and at Our Lady allows us a true sense of the approaching Solemnity of the Nativity of the Lord.
6 + 8 = 25
In our day…what “Christmas” has become: vacation; feasting; parties; traveling; shopping; giving gifts; receiving gifts; returning gifts; visiting families; watching football; going to see the latest movies; celebrating the holidays.
Now, in moderation, everything in this simple description of “Christmas” can be good and healthy and wholesome. But…these fine and fun activities representative of the holidays really shouldn’t be seen as “Christmas”… unless…there is a line drawn from the activity to the reason for the season…the Nativity of the Lord…Christ’s Mass.
What we might do to recover the truth of this Solemnity? Become Scrooge-like, reject “Santa” and the secular holidays, and reject every “happy holidays” we hear at the malls? Some have gone that way. But the better way in recovering the Solemnity is to learn this faith-filled “new math”: 6 + 8 = 25.
What about the truth of this Solemnity? In the 4th century, there was a good and holy Bishop in the southern portion of present day Turkey. Bishop Nicholas was a beloved Bishop who was known for his generosity, especially when he encountered poor families in the region. During this time of year, as the Nativity of the Lord was approaching, he was known to go about and leave coins and small gifts for the children, especially those from poor families. He did this as an act of reverence for the Savior, born in simplicity and poverty.
From this great Bishop, this saint of God, a legend developed. Soon, “marketing” took over and Santa Claus became a magical gift giver from the North Pole, with parents as his “helpers” and the shops and stores, the beneficiaries. As a Southern Baptist boy growing up in the 1950’s, I never knew there was a Saint Nicholas; and after I was of a certain age, I lost faith in Santa Claus. But I had missed the significance of the saint and his imitation of the Lord.
The feast day of Saint Nicholas is on the 6th of December. He was a Bishop of Christ’s Church, a man dedicated to the Lord Jesus. He gave gifts to the poor, out of love for Christ. He loved the poor, out of obedience to Christ. Even if you can’t attend Mass on the 6th, remember Saint Nicholas, a Bishop that gave small gifts out of love and in imitation of the Lord…the great Gift-Giver.
The Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary. On the 8th of December, we will celebrate the Immaculate Conception of the mother of Jesus (a Holy Day of Obligation). This solemnity teaches us that according to the divine plan of God, Mary was conceived without the mark of original sin, as the first fruits of the Savior’s redemptive mission…to bring a broken humanity God’s saving grace. We have an extraordinary array of groups and ministries here at Saint Brigid that dedicate themselves to the Lord Jesus through a love for His mother. These ministry leaders (BettyAnn Amoroso, Mary Murphy, Nancy Jaeger, Kathy Chunco, and Mary Anne Kester)…know the reason for the season…because they know this “new math” of our Catholic faith.
Celebrate the 6th and the 8th. Add the wisdom of the two feasts and find yourself ready for the 25th and the Nativity of our Lord and Savior.
In the 16 October bulletin, I mentioned the parish’s intention to purchase a piece of property on Brumbelow Road, the property that is between the Rectory and the Bank of America. We are moving toward a final set of meetings with Johns Creek about our desire to rezone that property for parish use. I’ll offer more information as the process moves ahead.
6 + 8 = 25