From the editor: December 6, 2013
St. Nick & Gift-Giving
Today is the Commemoration of St. Nicholas of Myra, who died in 342, and is, of course, the ancient Christian bishop from Asia Minor behind the modern Santa Claus. In this painting, Saint Nicholas Saves Three Innocents from Death (by Ilya Repin, 1888), he is depicted not so much as jolly as fiercely concerned for justice, grasping the executioner's sword at the risk of his own life. It's one of the legends that have grown up around the bishop, who was known for his vibrant faith and witness. It may well be one that is true.
There are also many stories about Nicholas's secretive gift-giving, something not uncommon in the lives of other saints. People in need have often received anonymous gifts just when they needed them. You might surprise someone this Christmas; but many gifts are, well, expected. But sometimes, we don't realize what we need. I believe one thing Christians need is to reconnect with the historical of our Faith, lest we be tossed to and fro by every 21st-century wind that blows. In that vein, here are some ideas for gifts:
1) Of course, you can (please!) purchase gift subscriptions to Touchstone, Salvo, or The St. James Daily Devotional Guide, or purchase a small, medium, or large stack of our 2014 Calendars to give away.
2) Also consider a few BOOKS that provide windows into the ancient church and Christian tradition:
* A Year with the Church Fathers by Mike Aquilina ($44.95, premium binding, 388 pp, St Benedict Press); 365 daily readings from the Church Fathers. (Start anytime—they're numbered). Very attractive binding.
* Roman Pilgrimage: The Station Churches by George Weigel ($39.99, cloth, 409 pp, with color plates; Basic Books); a beautiful devotional guide tied to the ancient observance of the 4o days of Lent via daily pilgrimages to ancient churches in Rome. One church per day, with readings. Maps. Pictures. A (catholic) feast.
* The Holy Land: An Armchair Pilgrimage by Fr. Mitch Pacwa ($24.99 cloth, 244 pp, full color throughout; Servant Books); a front-row seat as Fr. Pacwa devoutly moves from Bethlehem to Jerusalem to Galilee following the Life of Jesus. You will be there.
* Bringing Jesus to the Desert: Ancient Context, Ancient Faith series, by Bradley Nassif ($14.99, 133 pp, full color throughout, Zondervan). Eastern Orthodox scholar Nassif winsomely introduces you to the people, places, and wisdom of ancient Middle-Eastern monasticism, connecting it all with our faith today. You will meet some new friends.
* Sister Wendy Beckett on the Art of Christmas ($14.99, 55 pp, full color, Franciscan Media). The BBC-series art expert presents 14 stories with art, from Annunciation to Presentation. Enjoy during this season.
3) Finally, stewardship and fiscal responsibility require that I suggest that you just might give a Gift to the Fellowship of St. James at this time to support our work. We need to raise $109,678 the rest of this month! I realize that without your help, I would not be able to write, edit, and publish for the Fellowship. So I thank all of our many friends.
Remember Nicholas of Myra, who preached and lived for Jesus. He stood his ground, the same ground we are called to occupy. One church, one ground, one faith, throughout all time.
—James M. Kushiner