By Fr. Chris Lee OFR
As a Christian parent, and father of five children, one of the most curious of questions asked by each of my children (when they were small) was, “Is Santa Clause real?” LOL, that question should ring a bell with every Christian parent that has ever been asked the same question. So how do I handle the question about jolly old St. Nick? Well, I actually tell them the truth about the real St. Nicholas (Archbishop of Myra).
St. Nicholas was a fourth century Bishop of Myra. He was born in Asia Minor, to Godly parents who unfortunately died. He was then raised by his uncle who was the Bishop of Patara. His uncle mentored him until (in his adult life) he was ordained a Priest. While serving as a Priest, it was brought to his attention, that a local dad had lost all of his money and could no longer support his family. When Fr. Nicholas heard about this, he took a bag of gold and threw it into a window of the poor dad’s house. As word of his act of generosity and sacrificial giving spread, he became the legendary gift giver.
Later in his life he was ordained a Bishop, then an Archbishop, and is said to have been present at the Council of Nicaea in 325AD. St. Nicholas is celebrated as the patron saint of sailors, travelers, and of course children. This is probably why he is so closely connected to Christmas. The truth is, St. Nicholas was a kind, benevolent, Christ follower. His example of life and faith in Jesus Christ make him a true hero of our faith.
So as a Pastor, and a Father, I have never had to wrestle with the question, “Dad… is Santa clause real?” I have always smiled and said, “Come here little one, and let your papa tell you about a great Saint of God….. Jolly old St. Nicholas! He has continued to be an inspiration to me and to thousands of Christ followers for hundreds of years. So if your children ask you that most ominous question……. Don’t shrink back, let the Real St. Nicholas Stand Up!
- Have you decided how to answer your children when asked about Santa?
- In what ways does the story of St. Nicholas inspire you?
- What are some ways you can follow in St. Nicholas’ footsteps this Christmas?
Almighty God, who in your love gave to your servant Nicholas of Myra a perpetual name for deeds of kindness on land and sea: Grant, we pray, that your Church may never cease to work for the happiness of children, the safety of sailors, the relief of the poor, and the help of those tossed by tempests of doubt or grief; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.