Tuesday, December 06, 2005

My feast day

Today is my feast day.

Even after all these centuries, I’m still not used to saying that.

In the Catholic Church, we celebrate the day a believer enters eternal life, not the day he or she enters the world.

So today is the anniversary of my death.

But it is a day to celebrate. Without this day, I would not have experienced the eternal, and I would not now be Santa Claus.

I still remember when it happened.

I was old. Not old in the way I am now (more than 1700 years old!), but old in body.

I had a bad tooth that ached me for weeks. I had arthritis in both my knees and in my hands. I had a hard time walking first thing in the morning, and some days I could barely hold the cup at Mass.

Oh, none of this stopped me. I continued my duties right up until I became too ill to leave my bed.

That final illness lasted for weeks. I drifted in and out of consciousness.

When I was awake, I was often too tired to do more than a few simple things.

And I was never alone. People drifted in and out of my room. Sometimes I was very aware of them. Sometimes I was surprised.

Sometimes I was both moved byt their prayers and tears.

But, to be honest, sometimes I was annoyed. I just wanted silence. I wanted to rest.

Finally, On December 6, I felt at peace.

No more crying.

No more pain.

No more tiredness.

And I was suddenly full of energy. I rose from my bed.

I did not look back. Instead, I walked out the door into a garden.

There were children playing and laughing. I spotted a group of them gathered about a man sitting under a tree.

He was telling them a story. I approached, my heart racing.

He turned to me.

“I’m glad you could join us, Nicholas.”

“I am glad to be here.”

“I have been telling these children stories about you.”

“I hope they are the true ones.”

“Of course. But do you not know these little ones?”

I looked at the children. Some of them did look familiar.

“These are the young souls of some of the people you helped in your life,” Jesus said. They were hungry, and naked, and homeless, the abused and neglected of the world. And you touched them in so many ways.”

I began to cry.

“I am glad to see them here.”

“Oh, there are many more like these,” he said. “And there are so many more waiting to join them.”

“Of course, some of them might need some help. Help with keeping their hope, their joy, their sense of wonder alive. Such feelings are a taste of the eternal feast that awaits them.”

I said nothing.

“But sadly, in some that path to the eternal is closed by fear, and hurt, sorrow. You helped to reopen that path for many in your life.”

“I wish I could have done more.”

“You can.”

“How, Lord?”

“Some of the blessed spend time in the world. Angels, saints, holy ones.”

“Could I serve you in that way?”

He smiled.

“Of course. And because of your special connection to the young, you would be able to help them in so many ways.”

So it was. I was allowed to come back. And for some 1,700 years I have been serving the Lord in a special ministry to children. I help to keep the sense of heaven alive in them as long as possible.

I can go home any time I want. But this is where I belong for now. And every now and then, in prayer, in quiet moments, I go back to that garden full of laughing children and he who was the holy child that first Christmas.

What a gift!


At 8:51 PM, Blogger CafeCath said...

Happy Feast Day, Santa!

At 8:51 PM, Blogger CafeCath said...

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