Today marks the feast of St. Nicholas, a saint remembered by most for his association with Santa Claus, some for his commendable charity, but a small number for his famous punch against a third-century heretic.
As the story goes, during the First Ecumenical Council of Nicea (AD 325) there was a big argument over the divinity of Christ. Arius, a heretical bishop, believed that Christ was not divine, but rather just a creature. The Council challenged him to defend his claims in front of his brother bishops, including jolly old St. Nicholas.
St. Nicholas tried to listen patiently but he considered Arius’ proposal so radical, so heretical, that he could no longer contain himself. In the middle of the speech, he rose with a scowl, charged toward Arius, and punched him right in the face.
The noted Punch is memorialized in many icons and works of art, including this piece:
Unfortunately, the Punch got St. Nichols into serious trouble. The Emperor Constantine was present at the Council, and he was so alarmed by St. Nicholas’ act of violence that he and the other bishops stripped Nicholas of his office and confiscated his two episcopal markers: his personal copy of the Gospels and his pallium, the vestment worn by all bishops in the East.
But the story didn't stop there. According to tradition:
"After Nicholas was deposed, the Lord Jesus Christ and the Blessed Virgin Mary visited Nicholas who was being held in a prison cell for his fist-fight with the heretic.
Our Lord Jesus Christ asked Saint Nicholas, “Why are you here?” Nicholas responded, “Because I love you, my Lord and my God.”
Christ then presented Nicholas with his copy of the Gospels. Next, the Blessed Virgin vested Nicholas with his episcopal pallium, thus restoring him to his rank as a bishop.
When the Emperor Constantine heard of this miracle, he immediately ordered that Nicholas be reinstated as a bishop in good standing for the Council of Nicea. Today we recite the Nicene Creed every Sunday so we know how the controversy played out. The bishops at Nicea sided with Saint Nicholas and Saint Athanasius and they condemned Arius as a heretic.
To this very day, we still recite in the Creed that Christ is “God from God, Light from Light, True God from True God, begotten not made, consubstantial with the Father.”"
St. Nicholas' redemption as a bishop is memorialized in the icon below. Notice Christ (left) holding out the book of the Gospels, Mary (right) holding out the episcopal pallium, and Nicholas (center) holding the Gospels and wearing the pallium:
In honor of this strange and colorful story, the satirical website Catholic Memes has whipped up some funny images. Enjoy!
"Find out how much God has given you and from it take what you need; the remainder is needed by others." - St. Augustine
Since I've built up a large collection of extra books and resources, every week I give some away absolutely free, no strings attached.
Each giveaway lasts seven days with a new one beginning every Friday. You can enter any time during the week. Check out my past giveaways here.
Thanks to Pauline Books and Media, today I'm giving away THREE copies of Monsignor Brian Bransfield's new book, Meeting Jesus Christ: Meditations on the World. Msgr. Bransfield is the Associate General Secretary of the USCCB and a Scripture expert. This book, full of insightful reflections on knowing Jesus Christ, also features a Foreword by Cardinal Francis George.
by Msgr. J. Brian Bransfield
Pauline Books and Media, 234 pages, paperback
Released on September 1, 2013
Step into meditations on mysteries from the life of Jesus. In this spiritual companion, you are invited to personally encounter Jesus Christ through twenty-one Scriptural meditations which unlock unique perspectives on the mysteries of his life. Revealing how the Word of God is a light for all of us, best-selling author Monsignor J. Brian Bransfield shows you how to develop a more meaningful relationship with Christ through prayer. Whether you are seeking to revive or deepen your prayer life, this book will bring you into fruitful conversation with Jesus.
Each chapter takes up a different Gospel account from pages of the New Testament and draws you into meditation. Highlighting the new in the familiar, this guide equips you with a refreshing way to deepen your prayer life through looking for the unexpected in Scripture. Extending beyond sentimental, self-styled meditations that only focus on the self, this book focuses on Jesus in a way that opens up the mystery and beauty to your everyday life.
"This is not a book to be read; it's to be experienced. Msgr. Bransfield opens up the Scriptures in a way that brings Jesus to life with a tender brilliance that makes it difficult to close the book and end such a profound encounter." - Susan Brinkmann, OCDS, author and staff journalist for Women of Grace.com
I'm using Rafflecopter to help with the giveaway, which is great because it gives you multiple entries for commenting, posting on Facebook, sharing on Twitter, etc. Click below to enter:
(If you're reading this through email or RSS and don't see the giveaway widget, click here.)
The winner(s) will be randomly selected next Friday and the books will be sent out, free of charge, shortly thereafter.
(Since I'm covering the shipping costs, only residents within the continental United States are eligible to win.)
I use Grammarly's grammar checker because I only recently learned that Subordinate Clauses are not relatives of Santa.
Shameless Monday is back! Every couple months my blog becomes your platform. It's your chance to shamelessly promote your project, website, or favorite link.
"Post a link to whatever it is you’re all about with no shame or apologizing or feeling like you’re making a comment on a post you really don’t care about but are instead secretly trying to promote your own blog.
(I’ve done that myself many times. The best way to do it is to say, “That’s an interesting post. It reminds me of something I wrote recently on my blog …...”)"
Whatever it is, we want to hear about it:
What’s your blog?
What’s your cause?
What’s your project?
What's your book?
What’s your ministry?
What’s your product?
What’s the link you want people to see more than anything else?
Tell us in the comment box below and be sure to provide a link to whatever you're sharing.
NOTE: Despite my enthusiasm, I don't work for Logos nor do I receive anything for promoting them outside of testing software. I'm just a huge fan of their products.
I've written several times before about how the Logos Verbum software is the most powerful Catholic technology in Church history. I use it almost every day for research, writing, and speaking, and it's how I study the Bible each morning. I know of no better way to read Scripture in the heart of the Church. With Verbum, the Bible comes alive by interlinking with Church documents, writings from the saints, and insights from the greatest theologians.
But now the great software has gotten even better. Yesterday Logos announced their brand new Verbum Plus edition which introduces more libraries and features. Here's a short video explaining the new changes:
(If you can't see the video above, click here.)
The three more exciting improvements are the lectionary sidebar, the saints database, and—the one I'm most thrilled about—the Catholic Topical Index. Here's a little more info:
Improved Lectionary Sidebar
Verbum Plus allows you to study the daily readings straight from the Roman Missal and immediately dive into commentaries and associated resources. Imagine preparing for Mass by reading the Biblical passages on your phone, tablet, or computer and then jumping to Thomas Aquinas' commentary on that day's Gospel or St. Augustine's reflections on the Psalm. With Verbum, you can do that instantly.
Verbum Plus now includes a database of over 500 Catholic saints. Over half the entries feature high-resolution images and lengthy biographies. Thanks to its integration with the improved lectionary, you can now navigate the saints and their feast days right from your homepage. Learn about today's saint with ease!
Catholic Topical Index
I'm most excited about this feature. A team of Catholic scholars has poured through all the resources in Verbum and tagged them with over 500 topical references. This means you can now search or browse for a topic (e.g., baptism, faith, holiness, absolution) and receive a neatly organized list of all eccelsial references to that subject. You can see what the Church fathers or the Catechism have to say about the topic, where it's discussed in conciliar documents and papal encyclicals, and even what the saints thought about it. The larger your library, the more results you get. This feature alone is worth the price of the software. As a writer, teacher, and evangelist, the new Catholic Topical Index allows me to do in seconds what would otherwise takes weeks of scouring through different books.
Now, I'll admit that the Verbum Plus software may seem pricey at first glance. But three things may help:
First, in the spirit of Black Friday, Logos is offering a special introductory deal on a brand-new Verbum Plus library. Only during this weekend (11/29-12/1), use the coupon code VERBUMBLACKFRIDAY to take 15% off a brand new Verbum Plus library or 15% off any upgrade to a Verbum Plus library!
Second, Logos offers monthly payment plans. You can purchase the Verbum Plus Basic library for just $28 per month, over a year. That's the same as buying a couple paper books each month, which many of us do, but with Logos you get so much more value. In fact, if you bought print versions of all the books in the Basic library, you'd spend $3,000.
Third, it might help to change your perspective. If you see the Verbum Plus software as an investment in your faith and education, something akin to a graduate theology course, it suddenly becomes a huge bargain. Most graduate theology classes cost between $1,000-$2,000—and that's just for one course! Yet I think the incredible resources in the Verbum Plus software offer far more and longer lasting benefits than a single course (plus if you do end up taking graduate courses, the software will prove invaluable.)
Here are a couple frequently asked questions regarding the new Verbum Plus:
New version? Does this mean my current version of Verbum is obsolete?
Not in the least. The new Verbum libraries are additions to the resources you already own. The Verbum Plus libraries contain new features and books, which means that by upgrading to a Verbum Plus library, you only get more resources and features.
What if I’m just now buying a Verbum Plus library? Do I miss out on the old features?
Nope. All the features of the old versions are included in the Verbum Plus libraries. All the books you buy in Verbum are yours to keep forever. The only difference in the new version is additional functionality and books. Check out the video below to learn more about what’s new in the Verbum Plus libraries:
(If you can't see the video above, click here.)
So head over to Logos and check out their exciting new Verbum Plus libraries (and don't forget the coupon code VERBUMBLACKFRIDAY!). Then join me and many others in using the most powerful Catholic technology in the world.