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Saint Nicholas or Santa Claus刊登日期: 2011.12.04
作者: Fr. Thomas Au 區耀邦神父
Do you still believe in Santa Claus（聖誕老人）? It is for kids only, you know. There is no Saint Nick living in North Pole riding around the world in a sleigh pulled by reindeer. Well, part of that is true. St. Nick does not live in North Pole, etc. But we, as Catholics, do believe in Santa Claus. It is just another way of saying Saint Nicholas or Nikolaos. In other European countries it was simply shortened to Santa Claus. Saint Nicholas（聖尼古拉斯）lived in the 3rd century in Myra, a city in present day Turkey. He was a wonderful bishop. He took care of his people, particularly the poor. The story went that there was a farmer with three daughters. He was too poor for her daughters to be married because, back in those days, they needed to have a dowry（嫁妝）. Bishop Nicholas secretly put money in their home and the daughters were married. After he died many of his generous deeds became known and people remembered him by imitating him and giving gifts to the poor, especially around his feast day on December 6. Children, too, would get toys or candies and was told the story of Santa Claus. So, when people ask you whether you still believe in Santa Claus, you can say, with enthusiasm, a loud “YES !” Then, where does this other Santa Claus come from ? I have to admit, now that I am American, it came from the United States. Back in 1881, cartoonist Thomas Nast published the first Santa cartoon in the magazine Harper’s Weekly. Later in 1926, another magazine, Saturday Evening Post printed the painting by Norman Rockwell. Neither Nast nor Rockwell was Catholic. Nast was probably anti-Catholic to the extent that he disliked the Catholic Church’s devotion to saints. That led Nast to “Americanize” Saint Nicholas, to strip the popular custom to one that is not-so-religious. From then on, Santa Claus became the white bearded old man from North Pole and the original saint is forgotten. Nowadays, believing in Santa Claus is reserved only for children or childish ignorance. But not for us Catholics ! Saint Nicholas was such a wonderful bishop because of his faith in Jesus. Jesus came to us to fill us with riches this world cannot give. We are the poor who cannot afford a dowry to take us to the wedding in Heaven. Ironically, Jesus, the King of kings, was born in a cave. No one knew that the King of the Universe（普世君王）had been born except for Mary, Joseph, the shepherds and the wise men following a star. Saint Nicholas followed the example of Jesus to enrich his people not only by the sacraments but also things of this world. He took care of the needy not only at Christmas time, but all year round. This coming week, on December 6, celebrate the feast of Saint Nicholas. You may want to cut out the picture and pin it on your wall. Prepare for Christmas by getting some gifts for the poor. Ask Saint Nicholas to help you to love Jesus as he loved Jesus. Ask Mary and Joseph to help you make room in your heart for their Son. Saint Nicholas, pray for us. Saints Mary and Joseph, pray for us.
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