Wednesday, December 5, 2012

In this corner, St. Nicholas!

St. Nicholas' Day is tomorrow. Aside from the legends about the 4th century bishop of Myra which gave rise to the various iterations of Santa Claus, there is one other essential story of St. Nicholas that every Catholic ought to know.

He was a hammer of heretics. Literally. Gave 'em the old one-two. Or at least, the old one.

At the Council of Nicea, where the Church's doctrine on the nature of Jesus Christ was formulated,
Nicholas defended the orthodox concept of Christ being of the same substance as God the Father. The heretical  Arius propounded his own theory that Jesus was not fully divine, but just a really, really good man who became sort of god-like.

Always one to put his faith into action, Nicholas, becoming incensed by Arius' claptrap, got up and smacked him. Like this:

When the kids were little, we read them stories of St. Nicholas each year, and had them put their shoes out on the doorstep on the eve of his feast. (In our house Santa Claus was a different person altogether.) We taught them to sing an old Dutch song about St. Nicholas coming on his white horse during the night to fill the shoes of good children with gifts. Prominent among these were chocolate coins, in memory of his secretly providing marriage dowries for some poor girls.

My kids made out like bandits during the holidays, receiving presents from St. Nicholas on the 6th, Santa Claus and the Christ Child on the 25th, and from the 3 Kings on the Epiphany. I'm not sure I would do it this way again if I had to do it over, but the kids certainly enjoyed it.

The Office of Readings for St. Nicholas is from St. Augustine on the necessity of self-sacrificing love for their flock on the part of bishops. Of which St. Nicholas was a true role model. With or without the  decking of Arius. Hey, now there's a holiday ditty for you:

Deck the floor with heretical clerics
fa la la la la, la la, la, la. 
Pay no heed to their hysterics
fa la la la la, la la, la, la.
Christ's Divinity is the reason
fa la la, la la la, la, la la
For this holy advent season
fa la la la la, la la, la, la.

Sorry, I could not resist.

Now, any questions about the Liturgy of the Hours, breviaries, etc.?


  1. Daria,

    This is hilarious!. I like the fact that you even found a picture of St. Nicholas decking Arius!

    In our house Santa Clause and St. Nicholas were the same. My children all get a little something on St. Nick's day.

  2. The daytime prayers and antiphons do align with the season of Advent (and others), don't they?

    1. Well, yes. For daytime prayer you're still using the four week psalter, but you get advent antiphons. There is only one antiphon for all three psalms of each daytime hour, so the idea is to say it once at the beginning and again at the end of the third psalms. (Do say the Glory Be after every psalm.) Today I noticed that the podcasts repeat the advent advent antiphon before and after all three psalms. I don't think that's right. (not that it's wrong if one wants to say the same antiphon again and again, but it's not necessary.)
      The reading, responsory and final prayer are also advent specific.

    2. Thanks and I agree with you on saying the daytime antiphon only before and after the three psalms (even though they show an antiphon for each psalm in Christian Prayer in Ordinary Time). It's confusing to me.

  3. I have a question regarding he Mundelein Psalter. I recently got it and have begun chanting, using the website for help. Is this a practice that I have to keep with untill I find a rhythm? Because at first I find it challenging because I do not sing! I enjoy this and I believe the Lord enjoys me finding new ways to express my love to Him but its kind of challenging... also... I am confused...
    In the beginning there is the Ordinary Morning and Evenings without the Psalmody with a reading, Intercessions, prayer, Our father, etc. And then in the middle to back there is the Psalter which has the psalmodies but then also has their own intercessions, prayer, responsories etc. Am I to pick one of these two tracks or are they both linked together? I have been doing both but it seems awfully redundant... to the point where I am not getting something right. Could you help me!! :)

  4. Noah, you're right, breviaries are confusing.
    When I first started learning the chants in the Mundelein psalter, I did NOT try to use a different chant tone for each of the three psalms. I used the first one for all of them until I knew it by heart. Only then did I add a second one, and then a third. Just listen to the audio file of Antiphon I for week one over and over until you know it by heart, and then try to sing all the psalms and canticles to this melody. When you know it well enough that you don't need to listen to the audio file on the website any more, then it is time to start learning a new one.

    That part in the beginning called Ordinary is not meant to be prayed as a separate section. The ordinary is just a reference for beginners who do not already know these parts of the liturgy. What you should do is start with the psalter. You would only turn back to the Ordinary if, or example, you did not know the Benedictus or the Magnificat by heart, or if you wanted to pray the Our Father in Latin. The Ordinary also has some extra things that are only used when the liturgy is prayed in a group with a priest leading it.
    Now, during Advent, you only use the psalter as far as the last psalm. AFter that you go to the Proper of Seasons, which is in front of the book right after the Ordnary. Today, or example, after the psalms of Morning Prayer, you would turn to page 69 in the Mudelein psalter and continue with the reading and thru the prayer on page 70. This makes it special for Advent.

    I agree that it is difficult to figure out how breviaries work!

  5. The outline of all the parts of an Office is given in order on p. 44.

    Opening Verse: p. 47
    Hymn: given in the Four-Week Psalter section (this morning, p. 657) unless there's a proper one for a day. Today is St. Ambrose (memorial), so if you wish you can sing the him for his day on p. 1144 instead of the Friday Week I hymn on p. 657.
    Psalmody: p. 658 for today.
    Reading: It's Advent, so p. 69 today.
    Responsory: Also p. 69.
    Antiphon on Canticle of Zechariah: p. 69 as well.
    The Canticle itself is on p. 48.
    Repeat the antiphon on p. 69.
    Intercessions: still on p. 69.
    Our Father on p. 50.
    Prayer on p. 70 or for St. Ambrose on 1145. Or you could pray both!
    Then the closing on p. 53.

    The material for Advent (today pp. 69-70) takes the place of the same items in the psalter. If it were still Ordinary Time, you'd pray these items from pp. 660-661, but it's Advent, so you need to use the special Advent reading, responsory, antiphon, intercessions and prayer.

    Hope some part of that is helpful! :)

    1. yes this cleared it up perfectly for me. thank you so much!

  6. out of curiosity... for you or anyone who has both the LOTH and the Mundelein Psalter... how do you use both? Chant one office a day while using the LOTH for the other offices? I am just curious what has worked for everyone. Thanks for all the help also. You definitely answered my question!