Tag Archives: Arian heresy

St. Nicholas, model for Santa Claus

Did you know that the legend of Santa Claus actually is based on a saint?
Saint Nicholas (270-343) was a bishop of Myra in modern day Turkey, who had a reputation for secret gift-giving, such as putting coins in shoes, and thus became the model for Santa Claus.
In fact, Santa Claus is the modern name of the Dutch Sinterklaas, which is a corruption of the transliteration of “Saint Nikolaos”.
st-nicholas
On December 6, the Universal Church celebrates the Feast of St. Nicholas, from whom Santa Claus evolved. St. Nicholas is highly honored throughout the world, with many churches dedicated in memory to his holiness and his effective advocacy.
Nicholas was born at Patara in Lycia, a province of Asia Minor in modern-day Turkey. Nicholas’ parents were well off and they died when he was a young man, leaving him many assets. Nicholas, filled with generosity and goodness, with empathy for his fellow brothers and sisters, devoted himself to works of charity and the needy he found in his community. For example, a citizen of Patara, with three daughters, lost all of his money. Because of this circumstance of poverty, the three ladies could not find husbands, wherein they were destined to become prostitutes. Nicholas discovered their horrible upcoming fate. He then took a bag of gold and under cover in the dark, threw the money into the window of the man’s home. Therefore, the oldest daughter now had a dowry and she was soon married. Nicholas did the same act of charity for the other two daughters. The father recognized and thanked Nicholas as his benefactor.
At the beginning of the fourth century, Nicholas went to the city of Myra, the capital of Patara in Lycia. It so happened that the Catholic clergy in this episcopal see were electing a new bishop and the clergy chose Nicholas for his reputation had preceded him.
“As he was the chief priest of the Christians of this town and preached the truths of faith with a holy liberty, Nicholas was seized by the magistrates, tortured, then chained and thrown into prison with many other Christians.  But when the great and religious Constantine, chosen by God, assumed the imperial diadem of the Romans, the prisoners were released from their bonds and with them the illustrious Nicholas, who when he was set at liberty returned to Myra.”
Nicholas continued on with his works of charity, taking strong measures against paganism, setting free prisoners who had been falsely accused, and caring for his people in Myra. It is believed that he was present at the Council of Nicea which arose the Nicene Creed that we say today. Additionally, Nicholas condemned one of the heresies of his time, Arianism, which denied the divinity of Jesus and the Holy Trinity. St. Methodius states that “thanks to the teaching of St. Nicholas the metropolies of Myra alone was untouched by the filth of the Arian heresy.”
St. Nicholas died and was buried in Myra. He is honored as the patron saint of sailors and children. It is said that during his lifetime, Nicholas had appeared to storm-tossed mariners who asked for his assistance wherein they were brought safely to port. As the patron saint of children, Nicholas is particularly associated with the giving of gifts at Christmas time. With St. Andrew, he is patron of Russia, Greece, Apulia, Sicily and Lorraine.
Let us during this Christmas Season remember this dear saint, be generous to others, giving our love with joy and happiness, always remembering the true meaning of Christmas (Christ’s Mass), the birth of Our Dear Savior, Jesus Christ, coming into the world through the Blessed Virgin, God Incarnate, and being protected and cared for by the wonderful St. Joseph.  LOVE was born to the world.  Come Lord Jesus, Come!
Joan
Sources:

  • Wikipedia
  • Lives of the Saints, Edited by Michael Walsh.
  • One Hundred Saints, Fulfinch Press, AOL Time Warner Book Group.
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St. Meletius, Archbishop of Antioch (381 A.D.)

Antioch & Constantinople

St. Meletius was born in Meletene of a noble family in Lesser Armenia.  He was known for his good nature, kindness and cheerfulness.  Both Catholics and Arians (individuals who did not believe in the Divinity of Jesus Christ), admired him.  He was thus appointed to serve as the Bishop of Sebastea.  Nevertheless, he met with violent opposition from the Arians, finding it necessary to flee into the desert.  He eventually became the Bishop in Beroea in Syria..

By way of background, Arianism began in the third century started by Arius, a priest in Alexandria, who denied the Holy Trinity, three distinct and divine persons in one God.  In fact, Arius taught that there was only God the Father.  Arianism also maintained that Jesus was created, maintaining, “There was a time when he was not.”  Accordingly, Christ was a son of God, but only because of adoption and grace.  Logically, then, the Incarnation never happened.  If God did not become man, then we have not been redeemed and there is no salvation.  In 325, the early church fathers at the Council of Nicaea condemned Arianism, formulating and promulgating the Nicene Creed.  Remarkably, Arianism persisted in many areas of the world for over 100 years.  And various early church fathers, including St. Meletius and the great St. Athanasius of Alexandria, fought it.

The Arians oppressed the church in Antioch, with several bishops fostering the heresy of Arianism.  The last such bishop, Eudoxus, even though he was an Arian, was banished because he was accused of sedition; but thereafter, he usurped the see of Constantinople.  A number of Arians and Catholics agreed to raise Meletius to the chair of Antioch, with the emperor confirming this choice in 361, even though some Catholics refused to acknowledge him, because the Arians were involved in this said choice.

The Arians had hoped that Meletius would become an Arian, but this did not occur.  When he arrived in Antioch, the Emperor Constantius ordered Meletius to expound upon the text in the Book of Proverbs concerning the wisdom of God:  “The Lord hath created me in the beginning of His ways.”  Meletius interpreted and expounded it in the Catholic manner, connecting it with the Incarnation.  This angered the Arians, and Eudoxus persuaded the emperor to banish Meletius to Lesser Armenia.  Meletius was replaced by Euzoius, an Arian.

The Arian persecution ended in 378, and St. Meletius was reinstated.

In 381, the second ecumenical council assembled at Constantinople, and St. Meletius presided.  Sadly, this long-suffering bishop died during the council.  The Emperor Theodosius and the early fathers of the Church grieved his passing, since they were so thankful to have him re-instated and presiding at the council.  His funeral was held in Constantinople, which was attended by the fathers of the council and the faithful of the city.  Indeed and in fact, the great St. Gregory of Nyssa delivered his funeral address.

This man refused to bow or concede to the Arian heresy, which literally eliminated the divinity of Jesus Christ from the doctrine of the church.  He stood up to this heresy consistently, suffering exile and banishment.  But justice was done and this great man was given back his position.  Let us remember him as an example to us to always stand for what is true and right in this world, accepting any and all consequences, for if we do this, then we truly love Our Lord and His people.

St. Meletius, pray for us!

Sources:  Vatican website; Butler’s Lives of the Saints, edited by Michael Walsh

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St. Hilary of Poitiers, Father of the Church of the West, Doctor of the Church

St. Hilary of Poitiers
Today the universal Church celebrates a most illustrious and wonderful Father and Doctor of the Church, St. Hilary of Poitiers, a fierce and determined defender of the Holy Trinity.
According to ancient sources, Hilary was born in or about 310 A.D. in Poitiers (Gaul, now known as France) to a wealthy family, wherein he received an excellent classical education.  He tells us in his writings of his quest for truth which lead him to Christianity.  He was baptized in or around 345 and was elected the Bishop of Poitiers in or about 353-354.  Hilary wrote his first work, a Commentary on St. Matthew’s Gospel, which is known as the oldest extant commentary in Latin on this particular Gospel.
In or about 356, Hilary attended the Synod of Beziers in the South of France, which he called the Synod of False Apostles, since this congregation consisted mainly of Philo-Arian Bishops who denied the divinity of Jesus Christ Our Lord.  These Arians taught that Jesus was a magnificent human being,  but was not the Son of God.  Hilary defended Jesus’ divinity and the Holy Trinity, wherein angering these false apostles, they asked the Emperor Constantius to have Hilary exiled.  Accordingly, in the summer of 356, Hilary was forced to leave Gaul and was exiled to Phyrgia, which is present-day Turkey.
Hilary found in this jurisdiction that same allegiance to Arianism.  As a Pastor, he worked diligently and passionately to fight this heresy and to defend the Faith as defined by the Council of Nicea.  In that defense, he wrote his famous work, On the Trinity, or De Trinitate.  Hilary showed to these Arians and the populace that both in the Old and the New Testaments, Christ’s mystery appeared, and that the Scriptures set forth the divinity of the Son and the mystical Body of Christ.  Indeed and in fact, to the Arians he insisted on the truth of the names of the Father and Son, and developed the entire Trinitarian theology based upon the formula of the Sacrament of Baptism given to us by Jesus Himself, “In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,” indicating that the Father and the Son are the same nature. Jesus is both fully human, and fully divine, the hypostatic union.
In De Trinitate, Hilary writes:
Jesus has commanded us to baptize in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit (cf. Mt 28:19), that is, in the confession of the Author, of the Only-Begotten One and of the Gift.  The Author of all things is one alone, for one alone is God the Father, from whom all things proceed.  And one alone is Our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom all things exist (cf. I Cor 8:6), and one alone is the Spirit (cf. Eph 4:4), a gift in all. . .In nothing can be found to be lacking so great a fullness, in which the immensity in the Eternal One, the revelation in the Image,  joy in the Gift, converge in the Father, in the Son and in the Holy Spirit.  God the Father, being wholly love, is able to communicate his divinity to his Son in its fullness. . .God knows not how to be anything other than love, He knows not how to be anyone other than the Father.  Those who love are not envious and the one who is the Father is so in His totality.  This name admits no compromise, as if God were Father in some aspects and not in others.  Accordingly, because of this logic and reasoning, the Son is fully God without any diminishment.  The One who comes from the perfect is perfect because He has all, He has given all. . . He has become the flesh of us all. . .He took on himself the nature of all flesh and through it became true life; He has in Himself the root of every vine shoot. . .Through the relationship with His flesh, access to Christ is open to all, on condition that they divest themselves of their former self (cf. Eph. 4:22), nailing it to the Cross.
He wrote another work while exiled in Turkey called, The Book of Synods, for his brother Bishops of Gaul, reproducing confessions of faith and his commentaries upon them, as well writing about other documents of synods which met in the East in or about the middle of the fourth century.
In or about 360 or 361, Hilary returned home to Poitiers and resumed his pastoral duties there, wherein the influence of his magisterium went far and wide.  In 360 or 361, a Synod was held in Paris, and the language therefrom was like that of the Council of Nicea.  Some ancient authors believed that this happened because of the strength and determination of Bishop Hilary.
During his last years, he composed the Treatises on the Psalms, a commentary on the 58 Psalms.  St. Hilary stated:
There is no doubt that all the things that are said in the Psalms should be understood in accordance with Gospel proclamation, so that, whatever the voice with which the prophetic spirit has spoken, all may be referred nevertheless to the knowledge of the coming of Our Lord Jesus Christ, the Incarnation, Passion and Kingdom, and to the power and glory of our resurrection. 
Hilary died in 367 and his Memorial is celebrated today, January 13th.  In 1851, Blessed Pius IX proclaimed him a Doctor of the universal Church.
St. Hilary demanded fidelity to God and wrote this beautiful prayer:
Obtain O Lord, that I may keep ever faithful to which I have professed in the symbol of my regeneration, when I was baptized in the Father, in the Son and in the Holy Spirit.  That I may worship you, our Father, and with you, your Son, that I may deserve your Holy Spirit, who proceeds from you through your Only Begotten Son.  Amen. (De Trinitate)
Respectfully,
Joan
Source: Vatican website

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St. Gregory of Nyssa, Theologian

St. Gregory
Today, January 10th, the universal Church celebrates St. Gregory of Nyssa, a fourth century thinker, philosopher and theologian (330-95).  He was raised by his older brother, the wonderful St. Basil the Great, and his sister, Macrina, in what is now called Turkey.
He became a professor of rhetoric, but decided to devote his learning and talents to the Church.  He was ordained a priest and appointed the Bishop of Nyssa (lower Armenia) in 372, defending the Council of Nicea, from which came the  Nicene Creed, from the heresies of his time, including the Arian heresy which denied the divinity of Christ.  He produced numerous sermons and letters on the Scriptures, was an original thinker and theologian, being especially familiar with Platonism.
In our Catholic Study Group, we studied one of St. Gregory’s ascetical writings, On What It Means to Call Oneself a Christian (De Professione Christiana), which is absolutely thought-provoking and brilliant.  The purpose of this work is to set forth the foundation for the attainment of holiness by following in the footsteps of Our Lord Jesus Christ.  As Father John A. Hardon, S.J. set out in his commentary, “Since He is the Incarnate Son of God in human form, the virtues He practiced on earth were the attributes of God lived out in recordable history. . . Gregory shows how important is sound doctrine in the faith, especially faith in Christ as true God and true man, as the precondition for achieving holiness.”
In the De Professione Christiana, in discussing what is meant by the term, Christian, St. Gregory states in part, the following:
If, therefore, someone puts on the name of Christ, but does not exhibit in his life what is indicated by the term, such a person belies the name and puts on a lifeless mask. . .For it is not possible for Christ not to be justice and purity and truth and estrangement from all evil, nor is it possible to be a Christian, that is, truly a Christian, without displaying in oneself a participation in these virtues.  If one can give a definition of Christianity, we shall define it as follows:  Christianity is an imitation of the divine nature. . .
. . .Therefore, the One who orders us to imitate our Father orders us to separate ourselves from earthly passions, and this is a separation which does not come about through a change of place, but is achieved only through choice. . .
. . .For just as we are, in accordance with our nature, accomplish little in making our deposit because we are what we are, so, also, it is likely that the one who is rich in every way will give to the depositor a return which reflects His nature.  So let no one be discouraged when he brings into the divine treasury, what is in keeping with his own power, assuming that he will go off with what corresponds to the amount he has given, but let him anticipate, according to the Gospel which says he will receive in exchange large for small, the heavenly for the earthly, the eternal for the temporal, such things as are not able to be grasped by thought or explained by word, concerning which: “Eye has not seen, ear has not heard, nor has it entered into the heart of man, what things God has prepared for those who love him.”
St. Gregory is known as the defender of orthodoxy, and was sent on missions to counter other heresies and held a position of importance during the Council of Constantinople.  Indeed and in fact, “St. Gregory contributes to the mystical tradition in Christian spirituality. . .”
St. Gregory, please help us on our journey, to be real Christians, to examine ourselves daily, to convert ourselves daily with the guidance and assistance of the Church, and to love and trust God completely; our upcoming eternal lives depend on our choices. . .
Respectfully,
Joan
Sources:
The Treasury of Catholic Wisdom, Edited and with an Introduction by John A. Hardon, S.J., 1995 Ignatius Press;
americancatholic.org

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