“St. Nicholas,” by Jaroslav Cermák (Public Domain)
“St. Nicholas,” by Jaroslav Cermák (Public Domain)
In his newest book, “Rediscover the Saints,” author Matthew Kelly looks at St. Nicholas of Myrna in terms of holding Christmas in your heart year-round. 
 
Mark Larson, aka Santa Mark, knows about that. While the Christmas season is his busiest as a Santa (including the honor of lighting the Portland Christmas tree in Pioneer Square), he’s never far from St. Nick. “We Santas are keepers of a secret,” he says. “We’re working to keep the spirit of Christmas alive all year. It resides in the heart of every person, it just needs to be let out.”
 
Larson’s thinking is deeply Catholic. Santa’s real name is St. Nicholas of Myra. He was bishop of Myra (in what is now Turkey). St. Nicholas was uncommonly generous, giving gold coins to the poor in times of famine and always caring about the physical, human needs of his people. That, in turn, was based on Jesus’ example, for Jesus rarely preached before attending to human needs — healing, feeding and protecting. And Jesus, in turn, followed the law of his Jewish faith: “If one of your kindred is in need in any community in the land which the Lord, your God, is giving you, you shall not harden your heart nor close your hand against your kin who is in need. Instead, you shall freely open your hand and generously lend what suffices to meet that need.” (Dt 15:10-11)
 
Christmas gives us a taste of that giving. May we keep the spirit alive throughout the year.