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BY Simcha Fisher
One of the nice things about having a half-brother who works as a custodian in the office of the papal Advocatus Diaboli is that you hear all kinds of interesting tidbits. I don’t mind passing this along because I know y’all are a fairly friendly audience (except for the person or persons who keep mailing me dead fish), and won’t share this story with anyone who wouldn’t understand.
Here’s the scoop: recent excavations in the caves of New Jersey have unearthed some mind-blowing new artifacts dating from the second century AD. No, they’re not Algonquin, but are remnants from a short-lived protomonastic movement of seafaring ascetics who, frustrated with the inescapable comforts of life in 2nd century Rome, set out to sea in a beautiful pea-green boat. It was the only one they could find; they practiced custody of the eyes whenever they went on deck, so they wouldn’t enjoy the color.
They drifted for many months, surviving on a nauseating diet of floating kelp and albatross filets. Some of the monks were distressed at the idea of such protein-rich fare, so they only ate the feet and eyes of the albatross, tossing the rest overboard. These primitives did not realize what every modern second-grader could tell you: albatross eyes are rich in furosemide, a natural diuretic.
Maybe it was the harsh Atlantic sun, or maybe it was the sleep deprivation they suffered from all that getting up in the middle of the night that led to the monks’ eventual derangement. At any rate, it is hard to account for what happened next, except for the working of a miracle. The scribe of the band, who is responsible for what little knowledge we have of this unlikely set of travelers, says that, six months into their meandering journey, they had a vision. Bands of angels appeared in the night sky, shouting joyful strains of “Lex de clavatore designato abroganda est!” All of the monks described being taken into a sort of ecstasy, with a nearly unbearable feeling of fullness.
Then, with an overwhelming sensation of sudden release, they were subsumed into a giant whirlpool that appeared before their ship, and the world around them became dark. They could hear nothing but the roaring of the rushing water. And when they came to, they were washed up on the banks of the Loosahatchie River.
The leader of their band, one Commodius Anhydrousius, awoke with a clear notion of what their mission was to be: in order to atone for the excesses of their former countrymen, especially the drunks, they would take upon themselves a new form of self-mortification. They would give up going to the bathroom entirely. Some of the older brothers murmured at this, and a few wept, saying, “Vir de cane mini consulendus est!” But Commodius was adamant: ““Di magni, non vademus!” became the cry of their band. And so they held their peace, and their bladders.
Ten days later, they were all dead. The last to go was the scribe, who scratched an account of this strange episode in salvation history on the wall of the cave into which he had crept. He says that their beloved leader Commodius performed his first miracle only days after he died. They had buried his frail, dessicated body with a simple ritual on the top of a hill, far from the river bank, in order to preserve his desire to avoid the excesses he saw in the rushing river.
But only hours after they laid him in the ground, a wondrous sight appeared: a little fountain, sparkling and pure, rose up from the ground where Commodius lay, and did not cease for a full hour. Some say this spring eventually formed the Delaware River itself, which contributed to the growth of the city of Trenton, NJ. Which explains a thing or two about Trenton.
Today, the early promoters of the cause for beatification of Commodius are petitioning Rome on behalf of this holy man. Many more miracles have been attributed to him. The most astonishing of these is reported by one Vandella Wetter, a convert to Catholicism, who had promised she would attend RCIA if her four-year-old son could be cured of relieving himself in the neighbor’s pool. After a novena to Commodius, the little boy was healed of his obsession overnight, and the entire family soon converted.
The Wetters are spearheading a campaign to reserve April 1 as Commodius’ feast day, should he achieve canonization. They say it’s appropriate because April is the only month with “P” in it.
Commodius is considered the patron saint of plumbers, mothers of four-year-old boys, and people who have to clean out the ball pit at McDonald’s.