This calendar of saints is drawn from several denominations, sects, and traditions. Although it will no longer be updated daily, the index on the right will guide visitors to a saint celebrated on any day they choose. Additional saints will be added as they present themselves to Major.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

February 7 -- Feast of Saint Moses (the other one)

Today is a day to consider diplomacy, institutional interests, and of course a saint or two. 

Before the iconic red border
Today's Moses is not the prophet described in Exodus.  This guy was a fourth century hermit in the Syrian desert who got permission from the Arab nomads to evangelize as long as he was granted the title of bishop.  If you're getting the Word of God from some long-bearded lunatic crying in the wilderness, you're nobody.  Give Old Fleabites a mitre and a crozier and now you've got respect. 

The consecration of Moses as a bishop was problematic, as the area was already under the direction of the Alexandrian archbishop, an adherent to the Arian beliefs about the nature of the Trinity.  Moses of course believed that Arianism was heresy, and he wasn't quiet about letting folks know that. 

In spite of this lack of tact, Moses distinguished his career by negotiating a peace treaty between the Roman Empire and the Syro-Arabian desert nomads.  It was no doubt a relief for the Romans to have one region reasonably secure as the northern border began to crumble under pressure from Huns, Goths, and Vandals. 

He made the cover thrice
February 7 is also the feast of Pope Pius XI, though I am unclear how he gets a feast: I can't find any mention of veneration, beatification, or canonization.  Before his papacy, Pius (then called Achille Ratti) was a mountain-climbing ecclesiastical librarian.  Apparently several mountaintops bear his name because he was the first to scale them.  There's also a glacier in Chile named for him.  As a man of both vigor and intellect, he was useful to his predecessor, Pope Benedict XV, as a diplomat.  The Pope sent Ratti to the newly re-established Poland, still in flux from having been reclaimed from land occupied by Germany and Russia.  Because the Russians, under Bolshevik rule, were openly hostile to the churches, Ratti sought open engagement with their government.  His boss forbade him from traveling to the USSR for the very reason Ratti wanted to go: the clear probability of martyrdom. Eventually, Ratti wore out his welcome in Poland during the Silesian crisis.  He had tried to be a moderating influence between the Germans and Poles in Silesia (disputed territory subject to a plebiscite).  Each side believed he was too sympathetic to the other, so it was back to the Italian libraries with him. 

The tomb of Pius XI
Eventually, as World War Two loomed and he ascended to the Papacy, he found much to criticize all around.  The Socialists all seemed to be ardent atheists while the capitalists all seemed to be exploitive pseudo-Christians.  He was not gentle in criticizing capitalism, but scathing in his condemnation of fascism and anti-Semitism.  But rather than over-simplify his views, I should probably post this quote from his famous message about the Conspiracy of Silence (his criticism of governments that said nothing while the fascist regimes dialed up the persecution). 

"Mark well that in the Catholic Mass, Abraham is our Patriarch and forefather. Anti-Semitism is incompatible with the lofty thought which that fact expresses. It is a movement with which we Christians can have nothing to do. No, no, I say to you it is impossible for a Christian to take part in anti-Semitism. It is inadmissible. Through Christ and in Christ we are the spiritual progeny of Abraham. Spiritually, we [Christians] are all Semites"

Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called the children of God.  

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