Monday, June 30


From the "Random Things the Orthodox Do So Much Better Than Us" File

They have a real knack for naming holy stuff. Witness St. John of Shanghai and San Francisco (known in life with the plain old name of John Maximovitch), John of Moscow the Fool-For-Christ, the Holy and Bodiless Powers (so much nicer than the plain-vanilla "angels"), the Astoria, Queens institution called the Sacred Patriarchal and Stavropegial Monastery of St. Irene Chrysovalantou, and my new favorite miracle of all time, the Miracle of the Moose, ascribed to the equally baroquely-named Venerable Macarius of the Yellow Water Lake and the Unzha*, the Miracle Worker. The long and short of it is apparently it is possible to catch a moose by prayer, and then enjoy a nice venison dinner afterwards. This is my kind of miracle. Practical and yummy.

The death of the Venerable Macarius of the Miraculous Moose post-dates the final 1439 schism by a few years, unfortunately, making him unsuitable for western veneration, but considering Russian Orthodoxy sort of drifted away from Rome rather than formally breaking with it (at least if you accept Solovyov's line of reasoning--though I understand when the news of the union of the Council of Florence reached Moscow in 1441-ish, people were not amused), maybe we can squeeze him in under the wire. I will see about endowing a chantry dedicated to the Invention of the Miraculous Moose in the Upper Basilica of the National Shrine of St. Flutius in Brooklyn. I think we have a spot between the broom closet and the fax machine. (It's a very small basilica.)

Even better (for this website), I discover that apparently the Honorable Head of St. Macarius was recently re-discovered and for a while used to go on tour. They sometimes take it on trips to nursing homes. This is right up there with the (Catholic) Sacred Chin of St. Anthony of Padua and its theft by mobsters and eventual return, though we really need a similar mobile reliquary program, and snappier vestments.

[NOTE TO HORRIFIED ORTHODOX READERS: These are supposed to be compliments. Well, pretty much. I would say exactly the same things if this were a western saint. If anything, the Russian aspect ups the P.O.D. factor in some indefinable way. Seriously, we're deficient in moose miracles here in the west; about the best we can do is the time St. Anthony of Egypt is alleged to have run into a centaur.]

In any case, I suggest that immediately in the interests of ecumenical dialogue, a Catholic-Orthodox United Sodality of the Moose-Hunters of St. Macarius be founded and celebrate inter-church unity every July 28 (the feast of SS. Peter and Paul, and the date of the miraculous moose-finding**) with an afternoon of hunting, lengthy hymns in obscure foreign languages (Latin, Old Church Slavonic) and lots of mooseburgers. What better way to breathe with both lungs? I am sure both Benedict and Patriarch Bartholomew would approve.

Failing that (especially given the possibility of such an activity degenerating into Father Vasily and Fabian Bruskewitz in a Mexican standoff over the date of Easter), I suggest we do what any good medieval hagiographer would do in this situation: simply steal. Surely someone can (AHEM) find some old rotoscopes of Padre Pio's legendary appearance on Captain Kangaroo where he reamed out Mr. Moose for his disorded interest in ping-pong balls? I mean, he's already found his way onto the cover of a Nancy Drew mystery novel and Episode IV of Star Wars. The guy's everywhere.

* It's a river, not a race of mechanoids from Doctor Who. Also, "of the Yellow Water Lake" sounds better in Russian: Желтоводский.

** Seriously, you can't make this stuff up.

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