I owe you all an apology. Yesterday, in honor of St. Nicholas'(s) feast day, was unofficial “Punch a Heretic Day.”
Not familiar? Much to my delight, my eldest caught me laughing about it, and what follows is a loose transcription.
A: Why are you laughing, Papa?
Papa: Well, there’s a lot you have to learn about this, but let’s see. You know how we’re Catholic, right?
P: The Catholic Church has been around for 2,000 years, since Jesus started it. During all that time, the Church has always been talking about God and Jesus, and trying to explain what they’re like.
A: Yeah, like how Jesus is our Savior.
P: That’s right. So, sometimes, people will say things about Jesus that aren’t true, and it’s the Church’s job to correct them, and say what’s true.
A: Maybe some people just say those things, but they just didn’t understand, and they just needed to be told the right thing.
P: That’s very good. Now, when a person won’t change his mind, and he keeps saying the false thing, he’s a heretic. Ok, you know Santa Claus?
P: [Here I realized that she still believes in Santa Claus and, despite my ambivalence, I did not want to call that into question during this conversation]. You know how some people call him St. Nick? Well, there was a real St. Nicholas.
A: Who lived before Jesus?
P: No, he lived after Jesus. Well, he heard this man Arius talking about Jesus, but Arius was saying that Jesus wasn’t really God.
A: But he is God!
P: Right, exactly. And he wouldn’t change his mind. So one day, when the Church Fathers were talking about Jesus, Arius kept talking and saying that he wasn’t God. So St. Nick..well, he punched him in the face.
(We both laugh)
A: That’s not nice!
P: Oh, I know, he probably shouldn’t have done that. But Arius wouldn’t change his mind, and he wouldn’t stop talking. So St. Nick punched him in the face.
I can’t tell you how satisfying this conversation was. Nor how satisfying it was to segue-way to dinosaurs. (It totally made sense).
And here are some memes for good measure.