Saint Nicholas is an Advent saint. His feast day ( December 6 ) always occurs in the beginning of the Advent Season. The Saint morphed into the Santa of the USA through advertisement campaigns, politicians, and World War Two. The Saints day had its own traditions that were firmly rooted in Christianity. The bishop Nicholas was not a secular phenomenon. A great place to learn about the true Saint Nicholas is the Saint Nicholas Center . Click the link to learn about some of the Advent and Christian traditions that have been lost to secular consumerism.
(wise men of the bible, they follow a star and discover the Christ)
What about those wise men, what can they tell us? What lessons can be learned from them? Who are they? Start with the basics. First, they travelled from another land. Second they followed a star. Third they were on a quest. Fourth they carried gifts. The wise men are called magi and many believed they travelled through Zoroastrian Persia. They are often believed to be from three different kingdoms throughout the middle-east. The gospel passages gives them neither name nor number and much of that information has been gleaned from other texts. It is important that they did travel from other countries, and other cultures. Those wise men did cross geographic, cultural, and religious borders. Various regions around the globe give them different names. Caspar, Melchior, and Balthasar in the West. Hor, Karsudan, and Basanater in the East and Ethiopia. Kagbha, Badadakharida, and Badadilma in Armenia. Larvandad, Gushnasaph, and Hormisdas in Syria. They travel from many distant places.
They are also often referred to as Wise Men. To some Zoroastrian astrologers, but another translation considers them to be simply wise and old men. They are scholars, philosophers, and people who have witnessed many things. They travel with purpose and they seek answers. Their arrival on a manger is not accidental or coincidental. It is deliberate. It is revealed to them, by a star. Stars of course are heavenly bodies, and we all know what inhabits the heavens. In that day stars were the home of the gods. Those wise men did not follow a map, they were guided by the wisdom and revelation of the star. They both had an epiphany and sought the same. They both sought and recognized the Christ as LORD and savior. They sought and were guided by GOD’S wisdom. They sought and discovered that in a manger. The Christ Child.
They did not passively wander, but they charted a course. They were wise men who sought the LORD. In discovering that Child in a manger, they passed over many other earthly kings. They disregarded they royalty of their and other lands just as they disregarded Herod. They passed by palaces, and emperors, and kings, queens and their descendants. They rode past prophets and sages and courts. They rode past everything their world held valuable so that they might honor a child in a feeding trough. To look at where those wise men arrived, one should also look at what at what they passed along the way.
They were wise and old, they had experienced many things, yet a child brought them to their knees. That Child could not be found within their own borders, or by the formulas from the cultures of the day. They were wise men, they sought and were guided by wisdom. They did not bind the LORDS wisdom by human constraints. They were guided and obedient to a star. Those wise men carried gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. Gold of an earthly kingdom and frankincense of a heavenly one. Myrrh is the scent of suffering and death. Those gifts also can be looked at as either prophetic or symbolic. Prophesy tells of what is to come, or could they be symbols of what they sought?
They came to give a king homage, but that king was their revelation and not the worlds. The vision of a star. They were wise old men guided by the wisdom of the LORD. When they arrived at that destination, they knew they found what they sought. Seek and ye shall find. Knock and the door will be opened to you. Guided by the wisdom of a star across all barriers of age, culture, country, and religion. Oddly those barriers those wise men crossed seem insurmountable today. Look at the barriers of the world today. East versus West. Christian versus Muslim versus Jew. The barriers of skin and class and country. Wise men guided by a star, not aimlessly wandering throughout the land. I wonder what their journey would be like across that or any land today?
The Epiphany of the Lord
Today celebrates two great Saints, Basil and Gregory. Why are they important, and why are they important during this Christmas season? Both were acquaintances and colleagues of the fourth century and both earned the title Doctor of the Church. They are important to the development of Christian monasticism, especially in the East. Both saints came from prominent Catholic lineage. Theirs were families of bishops, priests, and saints. They were active in the Church,both in pastoral and scholarly roles. They helped teach the Christ we know today in both doctrine and practice.
One of their great theological battles was arguing against the Arian heresy. Arianism was a vision of Jesus preached by Egyptian presbyter Arian, it was prominent at the time of Basil and Gregory. Arianism states that Jesus Christ was created by the father, distinct from the father, and subordinate to the father.
The Christ that Basil and Gregory preached was “one Lord, Jesus Christ, the only Son of God, eternally begotten of the Father, God from God, Light from Light, true God from true God, begotten, not made, of one Being with the Father.” Basil and Gregory’s Jesus of the Nativity is remarkably different from the one preached by Arian. Basil and Gregory’s God was the one of the Trinity. Those blessed saints used their scholarship to illuminate that Child for us. They helped us recognize the Son of God in a manger, the word made flesh. They helped through both scholarship and lifestyle. Doctors and monks of a continuing Christmas season.
Mary, mother of God. The start of a new year.
Mary, mother of God. Salvation is born from her, she listened to the angel’s announcement.
She held it close to her.
Mary, mother of God listens to the message of an angel delivered by shepherds; and holds it in her heart.
Mary, mother of God; salvation is born from her. A new testament begins.
Always open to those angelic voices, and attentive to the voice of the LORD.
Through her, the word becomes flesh. She, the perfect disciple of her son.
Immaculate Mary, free from sin. She intercedes on our behalf, the bearer of the LORD.
Hail Mary, full of grace. God’s Grace. Blessed are thou amongst women, blessed by the LORD. Blessed is the fruit of thy womb, our salvation.
Mary at the annunciation, and the nativity, and at the foot of the Cross.
Mother of God, and always by her Son. Something to remember as one stumbles on a walk or a trek or a journey.
Her intercession can make that journey safe, Mary the Mother of God.
Mary at the Assumption crowned in heaven, never far from her son.
Mary mother of God, pray for us.
That you’re Son might guide us through a new year.