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.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

July 1 -- Feast of Saint Simeon Salus

In "The Seven Deadly Virtues" from the musical Camelot, Mordred sings:

I find humility / means to be hurt / It's not the earth the meek inherit / It's the dirt.  

Heel, Canis!  Roll over.  Play dead.  Good boy.
 The example of Saint Simeon Salus raises the question of whether humility can be reinforced as a virtue by deceiving people into humiliating him.  In order to be a "fool for Christ," he pretended insanity (thus the cognomen Salus).  After having lived in the Syrian desert as a hermit for a couple of decades, he walked into Edessa (present-day Homs) dragging a dead dog on a leash.  Children ran behind him, shouting that he was a crazy abba.  On the first Sunday in town, he extinguished the altar candles  and then threw nuts at the women in the congregation.  For this and many other madcap antics he was roundly and uncharitably abused by the locals.  Just as their patience with him wore thinnest, he would heal some stubborn ailment or cure the grievously ill.  Once, when he sought to heal someone whose vision was failing, he applied a mustard plaster to the man's eyes, fully blinding the man in a most painful way.  After the poor blind wretch had thoroughly cursed Simeon out, the holy fool called the man to repent and gave him the steps toward restoring eyesight.

Perhaps humility is a virtue, but does humiliation reinforce humility?  Is it true modesty if it is a ruse?  And what of the anger he engendered in the Edessans?  Wrath, after all, is one of the seven deadly sins.  If his deception triggered their anger simply so that he could call them to repent, is that really holy work?  I am unpersuaded that Simeon's work was an honest way to serve the Lord; there must be some better way that he could have testified without feigning mental illness and taxing his neighbors' patience.

By the way, if you didn't play the video in the song link above, give it a try.  It is a My Little Pony compilation called Canterlot.  You won't do better than that.

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