Saturday, October 18, 2008

Saint Antoninus of Florence, pray for us!

If you are wondering whose intercession to seek during this global financial crisis, I have a suggestion - Saint Antoninus of Florence.

Serving as bishop of Florence in the 15th century, he was known as a tireless reformer. Concerned about the worldliness of his priests, he would often pay them unexpected visits to make sure their breviary ribbons were on the correct date and, in some extreme cases, to even cut their hair and scrub the make-up off their faces (yikes!).

His passion for justice did not end with his priests. Florence at the time was a center of political and financial power, and Saint Antoninus was quick to point out the evils of usury, that is, of charging interest on a loan. The Church was still working through reconciling the Scriptural prohibition against charging interest with the economic realities of the emerging merchant class. In his very influential treatise on moral theology, Saint Antoninus provided helpful guidelines to determine when interest on a loan was appropriate and when it was unjust. Rather than just pointing fingers at the problem, he sought to work out a way forward that would both promote economic growth and protect the poor. We could certainly benefit from someone of his wisdom and insight today!

So, when we open up our 401(k) statement or fear for our job security in these days of tightening credit, instead of cursing we can now cry out - LITTLE ANTHONY OF FLORENCE, PRAY FOR US!

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