In our family, the 6th of December is a magical day. Shoes set out in anticipation the night before are found laden with joy in the morning. St. Nicholas leaves chocolate coins, candles, books. All inscribed with his blessing hand.
The weather outside is cold and dark, but on the feast of St. Nicholas, everything turns cheerful. This year, our beloved feast day shifts focus a little though; because this year, we’ll be focusing less on jolly St. Nicholas, tossing bags of gold into windows to help a family in need. Instead, we’ll be invoking the aid of St. Nicholas, conqueror of heretics and defender of orthodoxy.
Who is Nicholas of Myra
Nicholas, named ‘the wonderworker’ for his miraculous works and generous aid in life and eternity, is well known for his willingness to be always shepherding his fellow Christians.
One story tells of Nicholas’s voyage to the Holy Land. The seas were stormy, and St. Nicholas saw a vision of the devil climbing out of the waves and into the ship. He warned the sailors of their peril and prayed for the salvation of all on board. The devil fled, the seas calmed, and the ship reached port in peace.
Later, after he was consecrated Bishop of Myra, holy Nicholas was caught up in the Diocletian persecutions and imprisoned for refusing to bow down to the idols of the emperor. Throughout his imprisonment, Nicholas’s words of exhortation to his fellow prisoners kept them strong in their faith and ready to endure with joy the slings and arrows of the world.
But Nicholas was not called into eternity yet. Diocletian fell and Constantine rose and Nicholas returned to his flock in Myra. As the peace of Constantine reigned, Nicholas traveled through his city, overthrowing pagan shrines and destroying idols.
He is not a saint for those who love on-going conversations and dialogue. Nicholas acted. He struck out in defense of God, and the people entrusted to him. His famous slap on the face of the heretic Arius reminds us that extreme behavior, done in love and piety is actually pleasing to God. When his fellow bishops disciplined him for hitting the heretical Arius, Christ and the Blessed Virgin appeared to them in visions, honoring Nicholas for his actions.
It is this aspect of the holy Nicholas we’ll be celebrating at my house this December 6th. As much as I love St. Nicholas’s generosity and tender miracles, it’s his demon-crushing, idol-smashing activities we’ll be invoking this year. Because this year, we need a direct, orthodox ally in the spiritual war taking place in and around the Church.
A Letter from the Exorcists
Recently, four exorcists have issued a joint statement, calling the faithful to offer a day of fasting and reparation “for the purpose of driving out any diabolic influence within the Church”.
The exorcists, who are retaining anonymity, emphasized the use of the Pachamama statues in the Amazonian Synod, asking that “all Catholics who recognize the evil of the events to join us in a day of prayer and penance on December 6th, for the purpose of driving out any diabolic influence within the Church that has been gained as a result of these events – along with any other events.”
It’s no secret that we’ve been experiences a spike in demonic activity recently. Even secular news sources are covering the increased call for trained exorcists around the world, but particularly in western countries like the US and Ireland.
It’s really not a surprise. In a society that sells Ouija boards and tarot cards at big box stores and devalues confession, prayer, and fasting. Even Catholics are staying away from the sacraments and indulging in dangerous practices. Too many of us have regulated the demonic to that safely out-of-reach Medieval world of knights, dragons, saints, and miracles.
The Materialist Magician
In fact, many of us have become that “perfect work” of wretchedness, “the Materialist-Magician.”
As CS Lewis writes in the voice of Screwtape, his senior demon “I have great hopes that we shall learn in due time how to emotionalize and mythologize their science.”The Materialist-Magician imagined in The Screwtape Letters will close his mind to God, while “veritably worshipping what he vaguely calls ‘Forces’ while denying the existence of spirits.”
Looking around, we can see aspects of the Materialist-Magician within the Church. Not merely the post-modern inclusion of Pachamama idols in ceremonies at the Vatican, but in our friends and family as well.
Many of us know practicing Catholics who will cheerfully play around with reiki and tarot; as well as Catholics who eagerly support scientific ‘advancements’ without looking at the trail of bodies these advancements leave in their wake.
Unlike St. Nicholas, who recognized the face of the devil in the pagan idols of his time, we’re uncomfortable confronting heresy. Fortunately, these exorcists aren’t asking us to step into the breach all at once. They’re aware of our weakness and uncertainty. So is Christ. Their request is simple and easy to fulfill, we can all do our part to pray and fast for the Church.
What Can I Do?
There are just three tasks on the To-Do List for December 6th, 2019.
- Pray the Rosary for the intention of “driving out the diabolic influence within the Church that has been gained” as a result of the recent Pachamama rituals at the Amazonian Synod, along with any other events.
- Take on some form of penance. The feast of St. Nicholas this year is on a Friday, so abstinence should be a given. Ideally, we’ll all be fasting as well. If you’re incapable of fasting from food, find another form of penance to take up.
- Offer up prayers to the Sacred Heart. The Act of Reparation to the Sacred Heart of Jesus and The Act of Consecration of the Human Race to the Sacred Heart of Jesus is specifically requested by the Exorcists in their letter.
Obviously, you can go all out on this day. Add in Mass and a Holy Hour if you’re able. Try to get to Confession before the St. Nicholas Fast so that you’re in a state of grace with all the merits of Confession wrapped around you as well.
Most importantly, don’t feel like you’re failing to reclaim this amazing feast day. Many of us, I know, have begun celebrating long-neglected (in the West) feast days like St. Nicholas. Skipping the celebrations in favor of fasting and penance sounds like a world of disappointment.
But, by setting aside the festival aspects of the feast to unite ourselves under the Sacred Heart of Jesus against the influence of Satan, we are reclaiming our faith in a deeper way. It’s a faith full of feast days and fast days, light and darkness.
Fast and Feast
We’ve grown soft in recent years. We forget that the world of Nicholas the Wonderworker was full of fasting feast days – praying for protection against marauding armies, heretics, pagan emperors, plagues, and the all to obvious works of the devil.
We’re trying to relearn that holy balance. So, this year, our family will be celebrating the Eve of St. Nicholas enthusiastically. We’ll have good food and plenty of cheerful games. We’ll set out our shoes after night-prayer and trust the good saint to fill them. But on the feast itself, we’ll set aside the indulgences he’s given us for just one day to join him in prayer for our Church.
Let’s learn from our beloved St. Nicholas, who recognized the devil as he climbed in among men and expelled him. From St. Nicholas, zealous in his rejection of idols and firm in his devotion to Christ.
O St. Nicholas, bountiful Father and patron:
You are a shepherd and teacher to all who invoke your protection,
and who, by devout prayer call upon you for aid.
Hasten and save the flock of Christ from ravenous wolves;
and by your holy prayers protect all Christians,
and save them from worldly disturbances,
earthquakes, attacks from abroad, from internal strife,
from famine, flood, fire, sword, and sudden death.
Save us from the just anger of God, and from eternal punishment.
Through your intercession and aid,
as well as through His own Mercy and Grace,
may Christ our God allow us to lead tranquil and sinless lives.