Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Summer Break

After a rather tiring and trying spring, the school year is over and I'm (almost) officially on vacation. To celebrate, I'm taking a month long blogging hiatus starting today, so there will be no Patristic Roundups until the end of July or early August, when I plan a massive roundup. So, stay tuned.

In the meantime, enjoy the picture of a flax field in bloom (NOT a lake!). Also, please pray for my wife, son and I as we travel out West to Winnipeg to see family.


Sunday, June 24, 2007

Sulpicius Severus- Life of St. Martin 11

I'm behind on my installments of St. Martin, but here is the new one, dealing with a (false) martyr cult.


But I shall proceed with addressing his remaining virtues which he performed as bishop.

Not far from the town, there was a place near the monastery in which the false opinion of men dedicated as martyrs' tomb. (2) For it was believed that an altar had been set up by earlier bishops. Martin, not adhering rashly to faith in uncertain things, demanded the name of the martyr from the priests and clerics who were older and to be shown the time of his martyrdom. He was moved by a strong scruple because the constant memory of tradition handed down nothing certain about it. (3) When he had held himself back from that place, neither detracting from that cult because it was uncertain, nor adapting his own authority to the mob so that the superstition would flourish, on a certain day, with brothers accompanying, he hastened to the place. (4) Then, standing over the tomb, he prayed to the Lord that He might show Martin whose tomb it was and what merit he had. Then, turning to the left, he saw a foul and savage ghost standing nearby. He ordered him to say what name and what merit he had. The ghost gave his name and admitted his crime. He was a robber who had been struck down because of his crime, but celebrated because of the error of the mob. He had nothing in common with the martyrs, since glory preserved them, but his punishment preserved him. (5) In an astonishing way,k those who were present heard the voice speaking, but saw no person. Then, Martin explained what he had seen and ordered that the altar which was there be moved from that place and, thus, he released the people from the error of its superstition.


This is an interesting passage on several scores. First, it reveals the confusion and misunderstandings that grew up around the cults to the martyrs which becomes quite important in the course of the fourth century. We, with our fully developed saints' lists, forget how messy the process of discerning true saints and martyrs and linking them to their tombs/relics was. Usually, there were many years between the death of the martyrs in question and the rise of the cults, simply because outward signs of commemoration of these saints was tricky while Christianity remained illegal in the Roman Empire. With Christianity's legalization, there was literally an explosion of localized martyr cults, some of which had considerable evidence for a connection, but many of which, like this one, are only tenuously connected to a martyr or saint.

This, of course, has led many scholars, secular and Christian, to wonder what was happening here. Was this the appropriation of pagan sites by connection to a previously unknown (or even fictitious) saint? Was this site mentioned by Sulpicius an ancient pagan site or tomb which was connected earlier with a martyr to preserve the traditions attached to the site. Sulpicius doesn't make it clear what kind of commemorations were done on the site, so it is difficult to know whether this is what was going one, but there is evidence that many of these rural pagan shrines were appropriated by Christians for this or that saint. Even as late as the Reformation, we know of these rural shrines being very active; to the horror of the Reformers who, rightly, saw these as pagan survivals.

This leads to my second point. What St. Martin seems to be doing here is regulating this impulse by questioning a cult with a highly dubious martyrs cult. He was rightly suspicious of a martyr's cult where the name of the martyr and the time of the martyrdom was unknown. Yet, he is cautious about how to deal with it, recognizing that the cult was very popular. So, he hesitates before he abolishes it and, then, only on the authority of a vision from God. This, in many ways, demonstrates both St. Martin's savvy as a bishop, but also his authority as a holy man. Ultimately, it is his status as a holy man which validates his vision and allows him to tear down the altar after 'proving' it to be a false cult. In St. Martin, the holy man and bishop are found in the same person and, one wonders, whether Sulpicius is implying that this is the way it should be.

Thirdly, I think we have to also see this episode as part of St. Martin's attempt to Christianize the rural areas in his responsibility. As many scholars have pointed out, Christianity was, initially, an urban phenomenon and did not really start penetrating the largely pagan countryside until the end of the fifth century; Martin of Tours being one of the pioneers of this effort. Admittedly, this shrine was conveniently located close to St. Martin's monastery, but the decision of St. Martin to deal with the altar shows his interest in religion in the rural areas usually neglected by Christian leaders. We will see more of this as the story goes on.

Lastly, I want to again highlight the role of the vision in this story. As the holy man, St. Martin is able, with God's help, to call out the demons and unclean spirits in the land, just as Jesus was able to do and as the Apostles became able to do. This connection is not coincidental, but, I think, has to be attributed to a tendency to want to equate St. Martin with the Apostles and show the degree to which St. Martin participates in the incarnational reality of Jesus. This is true imitation of Christ in the sense that St. Martin, in imitating the virtues of Christ, can, on occasion and through prayer, emulate Jesus' power over the supernatural world. Now, the Protestant in my twitches at that because I feel I have to add that this does not mean we should worship saints, but rather we need to remember that all this is done with God's power. Mind you, I'm sure St. Martin would agree.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Patristic Roundup-June 14-21st, 2007

Well, it seems that the coming of sumemr has begun to inspire people to dip into the Fathers again, so this week's roundup has been rather larger than normal with the return of several regulars to patristic postings. I'm sorry for being late with this batch, but I've been marking/doing report cards all week and this is the first I've had the chance to come up for air.

The Patristic Garden

Mike Aquilina on The Way of the Fathers features St. Gregory of Nyssa on the 'maze of life', lets us know about a Patristic Greek Reader to practice our Greek with, highlights a Gary Michuta’s new bookWhy Catholic Bibles Are Bigger: The Untold Story of the Lost Books of the Protestant Bible. , discusses St. Athanasius in light of Pope Benedict's catechetical lecture, then follows up with the Zenit translation of the lecture, quotes St. Hilary of Poitiers and remembers St. Paulinus of Nola.

Will Weedon on Weedon's blog features St.Ambrose , St. Basil the Great, St. John Chrysostom, St. Augustine, and St. John Chyrostom again in his Patristic Quote of the Day feature.

Danny Garland on the Irish-Catholic and Dangerous blog features a quote of St. Cyril of Alexandria on Scripture, asks the same Cyril about why John wrote his Gospel, Origen about what a Gospel is,

Peter Rival on the Utter Muttering blog features a very favourable review of Mike Aquilina's The Way of the Fathers

Eric Rasmusen on Eric Rasmusen's Weblog asks us why we have to assume that the early Church was more pure or better than us.

PJP on the Recapturing Our Catholic Patrimony blog features an article reflecting on the Patristics fever among young Catholics and discusses Athanasius contra mundum in the light of Pope Benedict's catechetical lecture on him.

James Swan on the Beggars All blog features Theodoret of Cyrrhus in his Ancient Voices series.

Kevin Edgecomb on biblicalia features some reflections on the canon.

Rick Brannon on the Pastoral Epistles blog resumes his series on the use of the Pastoral Epistles by the Apostolic Fathers with sections from St. Ignatius's letters (parts six, seven and eight).

Ben Smith on the Thoughts on Antiquity blog returns to his series on the canon with a discussion of St. Cyril of Jerusalem's canon.
The Apocryphal Corner

April DeConick on The Forbidden Gospels blog announces her new website, reflects on orality, comments on an article on the Gospel of Judas by Tim Finlay and announces the publication of the critical edition of the Gospel of Judas.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Chrysostom for Dads

Today is Father's Day; my first as a dad which has me thinking, oddly enough, about St. John Chrysostom. Now, that isn't as random a connection as it might seem, largely because my reaction to the impending birth of my son was to read the St. Vladimir Press collection of sermons On Marriage and Family LIfe by St. John Chrysostom. In particular, I'm thinking about Homily 21 which discusses the famous family passage, Ephesians 6:1-4 which reads:
Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. ‘Honour your father and mother’—this is the first commandment with a promise: ‘so that it may be well with you and you may live long on the earth.’ And, fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.

As a result of reflecting on this passage, John gives us worthwhile advice about family life and about being a Christian parent. He gives it in a context in which not enough attention is given to the art of Christian parenting; a context much like our own where the link between our Christian principles and our practice is not always manifested. In our modern world, we get so much advice about child-rearing, especially written in a psychological vein, that it is easy to just to follow that well-meant secular advice and not ask ourselves what God calls us to do as parents. Yet what does God call us to do as fathers?

According to John, there are three strands we need to look at:

First, we have to remember that our authority as fathers is not based in any kind of authoritarian power (in John's day, enforced by Roman law about the pater familias), but rather must be based on our (hopefully) common faith. That is, we are not commanded to do something contrary to God's will because our parents have told us to, but we obey our parents because we are told to do so because of the Lord's commands. In that sense, our faith should shine out in our treatment of our children and that faith and our love which comes from it will make it so that children will ultimately learn how to be obedient. Of course, the actual working out of this is hardly easy or clean, but family life is one of those areas where one learns the Christian virtues through trial and error on the part of both parents and children.

Second, John emphasizes the importance of bringing spirituality into the very life of the family. He particular emphasizes the reading of Scripture to children, confronting as he does a prejudice in his own society that it isn't necessary because 'we aren't raising monks', but people who have to get by in the world. This sense that knowing Scripture or focusing on spiritual things will make one no good for a worldly life was a common one at the time of John (judging by how often he criticizes it) and it is equally common now. Yet John argues that early Bible reading will serve to build the Christian character and virtues of a child so that, whatever he should decide to do, he has a solid foundation of faith to build upon and can avoid the obvious temptations and vices which he WILL find in the world.

I think this last point is an important one. One of the most important of our functions as parents is to teach our children about right and wrong. If we fail in that task, we are giving our children endless opportunities to go very wrong and have to work out for themselves, without the tools to do so, how to fix their lives. No parent is pefect, of course, and clearly, we need God to help us and to watch over our children. Still, we can prepare the ground by encouraging faith in our chidlren, by reading them the stories which we Christians value and trying to understand what they mean for us now. Christianity as a lived reality is, in many ways, recognizing ourselves as part of the story of Israel and the Gentile graft onto Israel in the name of Jesus Christ. If our children feel a part of that story, they will, hopefully, live their lives accordingly.

Third, John defines the ultimate goal of the Christian parent:
When we teach our children to be good, to be gentle, to be forgiving (all of thse are attributes of God), to be generous, to love their fellow men, to regard this present age as nothing, we instill virtues in their souls, and reveal the image of God within them. This, then, is our task: to educate both ourselves and our children in godliness

The list of virtues, I admit, is hardly new or original. They don't have to be. What is striking with this passage is that our role as Christian parent is not focused solely on our children. We have to foster virtue in our children, don't get me wrong, but also have to learn virtues and godliness. This is not a one-way street in which we feed our children information about how to be good people, but rather that we are learning how to be Christians and to be virtuous and godly as we live together as a family. This only confirms a realization I made early in my marriage that living in a Christian familiy is an askesis (a spiritual discipline) in the sense that we confront our weaknesses and faults in rubbing up against our spouses and children. By trying to overcome them, we set ourselves (and, hopefully, the rest of our family by our example) on the road to godliness and virtue; a road which we will not complete in this life, but which gives us hope for life to come.

I think this is ultimately what John is trying to say to us. We cannot act as fathers as some kind of authoritarian, you'll-do-it-because-I-tell-you-to kind of father, but rather that we set the example of living our familial askesis in a faithful way by following and imitating Christ's own example. As an aside, this is the biggest reason why I think that the current men's movement, which insists on reviving the the hidden image of the man as warrior, has the wrong end of the stick. Our example and our standard is Jesus Christ, not some distantly remembered and romanticized concept of the warrior. Frankly, learning to live faithfully and virtuously as a Christian is challenge enough.

So, I'm going to give St. John the last word on the subject by quoting the last words of this homily:
Therefore, let us be greatly concerned for our wives and children, and for ourselves as well, and as we educate both ourselves and them let us beg God to help us in our taslk. If He sees we care about this, He will help us; but if we are unconcerned, He will not give us his hand. God helps those who work, not those who are idle. No one helps an inactive person, but one who joins in the labour. The good God Himself will bring this work to perfection, so that all of us may be counted worthy of the blessing He has promised, through the grace and love for mankind of His Son Jesus Christ our Lord, with whom, together with the Holy Spirit, be glory, honour and power to the Father, now and ever, and unto ages of ages. Amen


Thursday, June 14, 2007

Patristic Roundup, June 7-14th, 2007

Mike Aquilina on The Way of the Fathers offers us Fathers for Father's Day, features a discussion of Eusebius of Caesarea by Pope Benedict , recommends a new book by John Salza on the biblical basis of the papacy and directs us to the full Zenit account of Pope Benedict' discussion of Eusebius on Wednesday.

Will Weedon on Weedon's blog features St. Augustine, St. Ambrose , St. Ambrose again and St. Ambrose once more in his Patristic Quote of the Day.

drooellis on the Droo's Clues blog features a discussion of Origen and the Trinity.

biblicalchristian on the One Truth blog features quotations on why we shouldn't forget the Church Fathers.

Orycteropus Afer on Aardvark Alley discusses the Council of Nicaea.

Jim Bonewald on the church geek blog publishes a sermon on the Apostle's Creed.

Lawrence of Arabia on the revolt in the desert blog discuss the visual arts and the 7th ecumenical council.

Ryan Martin on the Immoderate blog features a discussion of the Fathers and spiritual gifts including a catena on the subject.

The Dyspraxic Fundamentalist on The Patristic Page blog is back from Japan (at last!) and with a vengeance. He has posted translations of St. Ephrem of Syria Against Bardanes and Chromatius of Aquileia's Prologue to the Gospel of St. Matthew.

The God Fearin' Fiddler on the God Fearin' Forum features a quote from St. Papias on the Importance of Tradition.

PJP on the Recapturing our Catholic Patrimony blog reflects on Pope Benedict's catechetical lecture on Eusebius of Caesaria and history.

Danny Garland on the Irish-Catholic and Dangerousblog quotes a Patristics song to the tune of Supercalafragalisticexpialadocius. I saw this a few years ago, but it is a good one!

Paul Gregory Alms on incarnatus est quotes Cyril of Jerusalem on turning west to east.

The Apocryphal Corner

April DeConick on The Forbidden Gospel blog alerts us to Alastair Logan's book, The Gnostics: Identifying a Christian Cult

Sunday, June 10, 2007

St. Cyprian and Protestant Ecclesiology

This has been a week for St. Cyprian what with Pope Benedict using him as the basis of his catechetical reflection on last Wednesday. That has led to a small flurry of posts on Cyprian which I've watched smugly, realizing that I've already posted on Cyprian in previous post . Well, okay, I'm not really claiming Pope Benedict hopped on my bandwagon, but, I wonder....

Okay, in all seriousness, I was pleased to see the interest in St. Cyprian for pretty much the reason that I set out back in my earlier post. I really do think that St. Cyprian has an insight into ecclesiology and unity which we would do well to heed today. That Catholics appreciate this message, I think, goes without saying, even if I think that the quick identification of orthodoxy only with Rome is perhaps overstated. I don't want to open that particular can of worms today. Or, at least, I don't want to open it in quite the same way.

What I do want to talk about is how similar Cyprian's dilemma with Novatian is with the current multi-denominational universe. The dilemma for Cyprian in dealing with Novatian and his own confessors was that they were usually doctrinally orthodox, if, perhaps, a little too rigourous. The result was that it was not easy to accuse them of heresy on most of the normal grounds (gnosticism, docetism, trinitarian confusions etc). Rather they were schismatics which would seem to suggest a different order of problem.

We, moderns, want to separate schism and heresy, of course. We focus primarily on what constitutes orthodoxy, but what the term orthodox means today remains inherently slippery because the marks of orthodoxy shift and change according to the tradition, denomination and, yes, even the person involved. Given the fact that there is no one authoritative voice in Christianity (at least, undisputed; there are several claimants), it is difficult to know how one could find more precision in the term or in just what consitutes heresy or schism. All three of these terms are so fuzzy, I almost wonder that they continue to be used with any inherent meanings intact.

The reason for this fuzziness around thes terms may be that there remains no universally accepted Church, especially in the aftermath of the Reformation which fractured Western Christianity into a thousand pieces; many of which are busily splintering themselves into another thousand pieces. The result is a radical crisis of authority which afflicts all Christians even today. We all, Catholic, Orthodox and the whole variety of Protestants deal with the aftermath of this fragmentation every day and, contrary to the opinion of many, we are all responsible, not only for the initial divisions, but for their continuation. Not that there is any easy or neat solution.

For Cyprian, however, the problem of schismatics and heretics was much easier to deal with for the very good reason that there was one central authority recognized within most of the Christian world: the undivided Church. That is, anyone outside the Church was, by definition, a heretic. Thus, it didn't matter that Novatian agreed with Cyprian on almost all doctrinal issues. His separation from the legitimately ordained Bishop of Rome made him a heretic; possibly because his ecclesiology which permitted him to break into schism was faulty or possibly because Novatian's unbending attitude to the lapsed suggests a disregard for the operation of God's forgiveness and grace.

Yet, today, I don't think we have the luxury of presuming an undivided Church. For that, we can blame the Reformation and its aftermath. But we can't shift the all blame for this solely on either the Protestants or the Catholics. By rights, the Catholic Church would have found within itself the ability to deal with the legitimate concerns of the early Reformers and conduct an internal reform along the lines the Cluniac reforms in the 11th century (yes, I know these were monastic reforms, but their impact was considerable on the mediaeval church). Of course, the Reformers were hardly patient enough to wait for the Church to hear their calls for reform nor were they wise in their choice of allies (German territorial princes, who were notorious for wanting to extending their own power at the expense of the Holy Roman Emperor).

This is, I think the reason why most mainline denominations including Roman Catholicism recognize that Christians of other denominations are recognizably Christian, even if our differences preclude full communion with them. After several hundreds years of sharp denomination differences, I think we are starting to recognize some of our common bonds again. The process is slow and painful, but, from time to time, we can see progress towards getting along with each other, even in our differences.

Where does that leave us? In pretty much the same place as we were when we started. The disunity of contemporary Christianity is an important reason why we are unable to convince people that the message we bear to the world is from God. In the past, Romans would look at Christians and say 'See how they love each other'. While we are getting better, I'm not sure we're causing people to think that, except in isolated pockets. I don't have a good solution, but the problem remains urgent if we take seriously our mission as Christ's people in this world.


Friday, June 08, 2007

Patristic Roundup-June 1-June 8, 2007

I think I've been a little spotty with my reporting this week, but, for what it is worth, here are my gleanings in the week that was patristics this week.

Patristic Garden

Mike Aquilina on The Way of the Fathers blog reminds us of his extensive discussion about St. Justin Martyr, announce his new edition of his Mass of the Early Christians, , give his take on Pope Benedict's words on St. Cyprian,

Will Weedon on ,Weedon's Blog features Patristic Quotes of the Day by St Gregory of Nyssa, , St. Cyril of Alexandria, St. Mark the Ascetic,

Roger Pierce on the Thoughts on Antiquity blog alerts us to the Oxford Patristics Conference in August. He also invites those with Greek and Latin to contribute to his open translation of Eusebius' Chronicle.

Benedict Seraphim on the This is Life! blog features a reflection on St. Gregory's Dialogue IV

Kenneth Samples on the Today's New Reason to Believe blog asks whether the doctrine of the Trinity is Biblical.

PJP on the Recapturing Our Catholic Patrimony blog discusses Pope Benedict's cathechetical discussions about St. Cyprian.

Father Z on the
What Does the Prayer Really Say? blog features a discussion of Pope Benedict's comments about St. Cyprian. . He also alerts us to a podcast on Augustine and loving the Trinity too late.

James Siemens on the East and West blog quotes Pelikan on the authority of tradition.

Apocryphal Corner
Tony Chartrand-Burke on the Apocryphicity blog alerts us to his critical translation of the Infancy Gospel of Thomas.

April DeConick on The Forbidden Gospels blog alerts us to the Lost Christianities DVD lectures, considers what it would mean to meet Valentinus and alerts us to a useful guide on how to read Critical Apparatus'.

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Sulpicius Severus, Life of St. Martin 10

Here is the new installment of the St. Martin saga. Here we learn about St. Martin's monastery and monastic vision.

I am not able to set out how great a man he proved to be after he took up the bishopric. For he persevered very firmly in the way of life he followed before. (2) He had the same humility in his heart, the same thrift in his clothing. He was full of authority and grace and fulfilled the dignity of bishop. Yet, he, nevertheless, did not abandon the lifestyle and virtues of a monk. (3) Therefore, for a long time, he used the cell which was connected to the side of the church. Then, when he was unable to bear the disturbance of those crowding around him, he established a monastery for himself almost two miles outside the town. (4) The place was so secret and remote that he did not miss the solitude of a hermit. On one side, it was bounded by a precipitous cliff of a high mountain. The river Loire shut in the remaining plain in a gradual sweep of the bay. It could only be reached by a narrow road. He himself had a cell built of wood, many of the brothers built cells in this way: (5) The majority made shelters for themselves by hollowing out the rock from the overhanging mountains. There were nearly eighty followers who were instructed in the example of their blessed master. (6) Nobody had anything of their own. Everything was owned in common. It was not permitted for them to buy or to sell as is the habit of most monks. No art was practiced there except that of the scribe in which duty the younger members were assigned, while the elders were freed up for prayer. (7) Rarely did anyone leave their cell unless they were gathering at the place for sermons. They all received food after the hour of fasting. No one knew wine unless some illness forced him to. (8) Most were clothed in camel hide; softer clothing was considered a crime. This must be considered the more astonishing because there were many nobles among them, who had been brought up very differently, but whom he urged to this humility and patience. The majority of them we have seen became bishops. (9) What city or church which does not desire a priest from the monastery of Martin?

Now that Martin is bishop, Severus moves on to set out the establishment of the monastery of St. Martin. Of course, Martin has been setting up monasteries as he moved around in northern Italy, Illyricum and Gaul, but he keeps finding either that he is crowded out by eager spiritual seekers or he is driven out by resentful ecclesial authorities. This is not an unusual state of affairs for a monastic life (as this one is in some ways), since even St. Antony had to move his hermitage several times in his life time.

This monastery is, of course, the final one and, like the final hermitage of Antony, it is all but inaccessible. That is, of course, rather the point because Martin is trying to establish a community outside the constraints of urban life in the Late Empire. Solitude, as a result, is necessary.

The rule at St. Martin's monastery is quite strict, as one would expect from the subject of a saint's life. The description tells us quite a bit about the monasticism of St. Martin's day; that it was starting to become laxer than Martin or the great ascetic athletes would tolerate. What Severus provides here is a picture of classic monasticism as a kind of template of the ascetic life as an antidote to easier, softer ways. The fact that work is not really a part of this monastery (except for copyists) points in that direction because it took the Benedictines to combine work and prayers as nearly equal elements of the monastic movement.

The comment about nobles is striking in this context. The implication is that the lifestyle of this monastery is not so far removed from the poor, but the adherence of a noble to this lifestyle which is so different from the lifestyle which they had grown accustomed to makes their discipline so much more remarkable. Mind you, Edward Gibbon would have a few harsh things to say about nobles pulling themselves out of Roman civil/political life, but this passages establishes Martin as the educator of bishops. This points to Martin's major influence on the development of the Gallic Church in the later 300s AD.

I admit that I tend to baulk at this kind of hard-core monasticism, largely because, all too often, it was based on a neo-Platonic contempt for the body which I neither find wholly biblical (yes, there are passages, notably in Paul's letters which could support it) nor consistent with a theology of a body characteristic of Judaism and a major element of early Christianity which sees body and soul was inseparable. While this is, at least, a monastic community as opposed to hermits (who themselves display an almost freakish devotion to a kind of ascetic Olympics in which one hermit strives to outdo his brothers in the severity of their body-denying disciplines), I worry about this particular version of monasticism. Perhaps I'm rather too used to Benedictine monasticism to entirely feel comfortable with this, admittedly, commendable monastic vision.

Yet, I also cannot deny the devotion of these ascetic athletes in prayer and in trying to make themselves develop spiritually. There is, clearly, much wisdom in the monastic tradition, even for those of us involved in the world. That wisdom explains the appeal of monasticism over the ages, both as a calling and as a source for non-monastics to find wisdom. St. Martin is a little hardcore, but not crazy about it. No one was tying themselves onto pillars or indulging too much in self-flagellation, it seems in this community. Instead, what we have is a community of prayer which is rather the point of the monastic vision.

Of course, we can learn much from this vision. In our particularly consumerist society, the idea of holding property in common is just plain strange and subversive. The idea of not going out to buy and sell is positively freakish. I am, of course, just as enmeshed in the consumer society we find ourselves in today. One does have to buy things, especially when one has a family to support and take care of. Nor would I say that is bad in itself. Ideally, buying and selling is what is necessary to get what we need to have for ourselves and families and, if engaged upon with honestly and integrity, can be an honourable profession. What is problematic in our culture is the compulsion to buy which infects our mass media and individual desires. St. Martin speaks against that compulsion both to his own culture and our own.