'Yes, Virginia, There Is a Santa Claus'

I was sitting with two women who worked at St. Michael's Church in Olympia, Washington, talking about an upcoming faith formation program. One of the ladies was lamenting the tendency of Catholics to attend CCD until Confirmation, and then to disappear, sometimes never to be heard from again.

"Why do they stop believing?" she wondered.

Almost without thinking, I said, "I blame Santa."

They both laughed, but I was serious.

People are raised on a myth in the West, solemnly assured by parents, grandparents, and advertisers alike that Santa Claus is real, the elves are working hard at the North Pole, and that reindeer really know how to fly. Eventually, you grow up and discover the myth - a well-meaning sort of story, designed to help ensure good behavior and add to the season.

And you eventually learn the truth about the Easter Bunny as well. And the Tooth Fairy.

By the time you're in your teens, many of the stories that required faith in the unseen and the testimony of others have been discarded as childish fantasies, including two that are central to the way America celebrates the two greatest Christian feasts. Why would we assume that Jesus would escape the same fate in far too many minds?

Eventually, many are blessed to recover their faith in Jesus, whether their return comes through answered prayers, personal encounters with God and His holy ones, or through discovering that Christian faith makes sense of the world. Some of those stories are told in Felix Carroll's Loved, Lost, Found and Fr. Donald Calloway, MIC's No Turning Back.

But not nearly enough people have recovered the truth about Santa Claus, or St. Nicholas of Myra, whose feast we celebrate on Dec. 6.

Yes, Catholics, there is a Santa Claus, with a real life, many real miracles, and a real ability to give gifts of great price through his loving intercession from heaven. And he is not alone in heaven, at the top of the world, but rather one of many members of the great family of God almighty, all of whom are interceding year round so that we all might receive gifts, the grace of God. They pray constantly so that Jesus Christ might be born into our hearts, into this world of ours, so much in need of Divine Mercy.

So when your children grow up, tell them the truth: Santa Claus is here. He's real. And he's powerful, because he is a faithful servant of the Lord of lords, the King of kings, of Jesus Christ.

Let's ask the intercession of St. Nicholas for all our own needs this Advent season, as well as the needs of our family, friends, and enemies. Let us make our lists for Santa, including requests for health, happiness, and every grace and virtue, so that we may be faithful heralds of the Good News of Christ the King and loving children of the Blessed Virgin Mary, our Queen.

CASF

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