St. Nicholas, is the beloved saint who ushers in our Christmas season. The remarkable generosity and simplicity of this fourth century bishop has never ceased to bring joy and warmth to everyone’s heart year after year, yet during his life, St. Nicholas never sought renown; he spread goodness and charity anonymously, unexpectedly. He was as humble as he was altruistic. What a happy reminder for us: this is the holiness to which we are called.
“ ‘Saint’ does not mean merely dedication, or selflessness, or generosity, though it subsumes all those. Nor does it mean the apogee of religious devotion, though it can subsume that too—sometimes. There are many pious people who believe themselves to be saints who are not, and many people who believe themselves to be impious who are.
A saint is a person who practices the keystone human virtue of humility. Humility in the face of wealth and plenty, humility in the face of hatred and violence, humility in the face of another’s humility, humility in the face of love and beauty, humility in the face of pain and death. Saints are driven to humbling themselves before all the splendor and horror of the world because they perceive there to be something divine in it, something pulsing and alive beneath the hard dead surface of material things, something inconceivably greater and purer than they.
This man is one of those rare, rare creatures. Gentleness and goodness come off him like aftershave. . . a great stillness surrounds him in which he will fold you without your knowing it, numbing the pain of your most jagged obsessions, soothing away the mad priorities of your world with the balm of his peace.”
Hendra, Tony, Father Joe: The man who saved my soul.