December 6th! The feast of St. Nicholas! The story of St. Nicholas can never be repeated too often:
Today is the Feast of St. Nicholas, who died on December 6, ARSH 343. Saint Nicholas is well-known by his Dutch moniker, ”Santa Claus”. Don’t be fooled by the crass, commercialized image. Saint Nicholas was a stone-cold butt-kicker for Christ and His Church.
Early in the Fourth Century, there was a terrible heresy in the Church put forth by a very persuasive man named Arius. Arius contended that Christ was not fully divine, but a creature, created by the Father. It pivoted on one letter in one word: the letter “i”. The word homoousios means “same substance”, whereas the word homoiousios means “similar substance”. Arius contended that Our Lord was not of the same substance as the Father, but merely “similar”. The council of Nicea affirmed the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost are of the homoousious (same substance).
This heresy was threatening to schism the Church. (Back then everyone understood the truth that any heresy whatsoever was totally and completely evil and thus unacceptable – the Church is ONE. Christ has ONE Bride, not a harem. There is ONE Truth. Not multiple “”truths””. As soon as you start saying that there are ”multiple truths”, what you have done is denied Truth Itself, of which there is only ONE.)
So, the First Council of Nicea was called in ARSH 325 to hash this out and put the Arian heresy down once and for all. Arius was at the Council, of course, and was called upon to defend his position on the inferiority of Christ. Being a bishop, Nikolaos of Myra (in present-day Turkey) was naturally in attendance. Arius’ nonsensical, destructive and insulting lying contentions about Our Lord became too much for Bishop Nikolaos, who stood up and proceeded to haul off and go all Manny Pacquiao on Arius with a jab directly to Arius’ piehole. (See image above.)
Everyone was alarmed by Bishop Nikolaos’ righteous beatdown of Arius, and he was immediately summarily stripped of his episcopacy. In those days, the two things that designated a man a Christian bishop were a personal copy of the Gospels and a pallium, which is like a stole. Now you may taken aback by the “personal copy of the Gospels” thing. Well, of course! How could a bishop NOT have the Gospels? But you must remember that the printing press wasn’t invented until ARSH 1439. Before that, if you wanted a book, it had to be written out BY HAND. And what were you going to write on? Try vellum. Every piece of vellum had to be harvested from an animal and made. So you see, for a man to have a personal copy of any written text was a HUGE, and frankly EXPENSIVE, deal. So, poor Nikolaos was stripped of his Gospel and his pallium AND thrown in the hoosegow.
Now here is where it gets really good.
While Nikolaos was in the clink, he received a visit from both Our Lord and the Virgin Mary. Our Lord asked Nikolaos, “”Why are you here?”” And Nikolaos replied, “”Because I love You, my Lord and my God.”” At this, Jesus then presented Nikolaos with his copy of the Gospels, and Mary put his pallium back on him, thus restoring his rank as a bishop. When Nikolaos was discovered sitting calmly in his cell, still under guard, with his Gospel and his pallium, which the other bishops had locked away themselves far from Niklaos’ prison cell, Nikolaos was released, welcomed back by his brother bishops, and rejoined the Council. The heresy of Arianism was struck down once and for all, and the Nicene Creed (which we still recite at the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass today) was authored.
The anti-Arian part is this:
”. . . Et in unum Dominum Iesum Christum,
(And [I believe] in one Lord Jesus Christ)
Filium Dei Unigenitum,
(the only begotten Son of God)
Et ex Patre natum ante omnia saecula.
(And born of the Father, before all ages.)
Deum de Deo, lumen de lumine,
(God of God: Light of Light)
Deum verum de Deo vero,
(true God of true God)
Genitum, non factum, consubstantialem Patri
(Begotten, not made, consubstantial with the Father)
Per quem omnia facta sunt.”
(by Whom all things were made.)
I post this because it speaks directly to our question of love and defense of Truth and defense of those we love. Arius was attacking Christ and His Church with his heresy just as viciously as if he had been leading an army – and Nikolaos stepped into the breach to defend his Beloved. PHYSICALLY. The reason Nikolaos stepped in was because Arius was attacking CHRIST, and His Bride, the Church, which is made up of Nikolaos’ fellow human beings – whose immortal souls were being put at risk by Arius. We are in no way taught by Christ to stand by and watch as our loved ones are attacked, either their bodies or their souls. The miracle in Nikolaos’ cell is proof of this. Nikolaos did the right thing by going all Pacquiao on Arius and dropping him on his heretical keister before God and everyone.
“”Why are you here?””
“”Because I love You, my Lord and my God.””