I am writing from South Bend, Indiana, where I am attending the fall conference of the de Nicola Center for Ethics and Culture at the University of Notre Dame. Everyone—students, faculty, avowedly football-neutral fellow conference-goers—has been incredibly gracious about my decision to wear my old Michigan snapback around campus. William and I are very heartened by the number of readers who have spoken encouragingly of our project over the last few days.
If you have not seen it yet, do have a look at this wonderful lecture on friendship given at this week’s conference by Alasdair MacIntyre.
Due to my travel, this week’s saints and commemorations will take a somewhat abbreviated form. On Sunday, November 10, the New Orleans Saints are going to lose to the Atlanta Fal—wait, sorry, we abjure in deference to the Holy Father: the Saints are going to blow Atlanta out of the water on the same day upon which we commemorate St. Milles and other Persian martyrs.
Like many holy men, St. Martin of Tours (Monday, November 11) was reluctant about becoming a member of the episcopate; it is said that upon hearing that he was to be consecrated bishop he went into hiding and was given away only by the honking of his pet goose.
The holy patron of beggars should not of course be confused with Pope St. Martin, who was exiled by the vile Constans II, and whose feast we traditionally celebrate the next day, on Tuesday, November 12.
It would be a merrier world if more businessmen nowadays took the attitude of St. Homobonus (Wednesday, November 13), who believed that profits were a second-order good that allowed him to support poor men and women. Unfortunately, American courts decided long ago that corporations exist primarily to generate wealth for shareholders.
It is somewhat confusing that on Thursday, November 14, we commemorate both St. Venerandus, a French missionary bishop, and St. Venera, a martyr of the second century. The latter is said, among other things, once to have killed a dragon; she also destroyed a pagan temple by uttering a prayer aloud. The Roman authorities cut off one of her breasts, and she was cruelly murdered.
Throughout the month of November we remember the suffering souls in Purgatory, for whom St. Gertrude the Great (whose feast has been variously celebrated on November 15, 16, and 17) always showed such tender solicitude. We commend to readers the following reflection on her life from Pope Benedict XVI.
Finally, on Saturday, November 16, we celebrate the feast of St. Edmund, the great ascetic archbishop of Canterbury.
We ask our readers to pray for all sick children, for all expectant mothers, for the elderly, and for all women religious.