Ebenezer Scrooge
Image via IMDB

Saint who?

by Father Anthony Scannell

If you were asked who the “Christmas Saint” is, you would probably say, “Saint Nicholas.” After all he was the prototype for Santa Claus. But I want to nominate another. I nominate Ebenezer Scrooge.

Saint Ebenezer? “C’mon Man!”

Well, when you recall the story of Charles’ Dickens A Christmas Carol, look how fitting a symbol of the real meaning of this Season old Ebb Scrooge is: recall what a conversion Scrooge went through!

He had grown to cut love out of his life, because he was so hurt by not being loved as a young person. Remember that after his mother died when he was very young, his father didn’t seem to care at all about him, and even left him alone at school for the Christmas holidays, all by himself when the other children went to their parents and homes and families. Ebenezer lost the two people in his life who really loved him: his mother, and his lovely sister who died giving birth to a son, Scrooge’s nephew.

After those experiences, Scrooge chose not to get hurt again. As a young man, even though in love with a wonderful woman, he chose to follow his career of greed rather than accept her love and marriage. And he kept spurning the caring gestures of his nephew, especially invitations for Christmas. He treated his accountant Bob Cratchet like a slave, and ended up a crotchety old curmudgeon, unloved, unloving, and very much alone. His response to Christmas was, “Bah! Humbug!”

Then, Scrooge had a series of visions and visitations, about Christmas Past, Christmas Present and Christmas Future. Gradually, as he reviewed his lost opportunities and miserable choices, he went through a wonderful conversion, had the chance to come back from the dead in a sense, and has now become a symbol of the very meaning of Christmas itself.

Unfortunately, most people remember his greediness rather than his repentance. When we call someone “an old Scrooge,” it is not a compliment; yet it was the “old Scrooge” who became the “new Scrooge,” a model of what Christmas is all about.

And not by accident. Charles Dickens once told a friend, “When I exercise my art, one of my most constant endeavors… is to exhibit the teachings of our great Master.” Like he did with St. Ebenezer. Think of that the next time you watch A Christmas Carol. Move over, Saint Nick!

Father Anthony Scannell

About Father Anthony Scannell

The ministry of Anthony Scannell, a Capuchin Franciscan priest, has been almost entirely in communications media. After teaching communication arts at a seminary in his native Wisconsin, he became President of Franciscan Communications in Los Angeles, producing short films for schools and spots for radio and television. He has been President of the national and international organization for Catholic broadcasting, and co-founded the annual Catholics In Media Awards and Advent and Lent Soup and Cinema. After retiring as Executive Publisher of the LA Archdiocese newspapers, he now assists at parishes in Pasadena and South Pasadena.

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