Monday, February 28, 2005

Saint Businessman


Saint Businessman
:

Robert A. Sirico
Forbes
November 15,1999

"What do you think of when you picture a 'saint'? Someone like Francis of Assisi, perhaps, who gave up his worldly goods. Or a Mother Teresa, making her life's work the rescue of India's outcasts. One type that does not come to mind is an entrepreneur. But think about this for a moment: Is there any law that says a saint cannot hold a regular job, excel in marketable skills or build a business?

"We forget that the apostles in the New Testament were fishermen first, who learned about hard work and diligence in a market setting. We forget, too, that for many centuries, and even today, monks have had to market goods like wool and honey to the outside world to support their lives of prayer, reflection and contemplation.

[...]

"Toussaint became a wealthy benefactor to Catholic charities in New York. He and Juliette Noel, the woman he married when he was 45, took in homeless immigrants and other unfortunate people to live with them.

"Toussaint paid for the reconstruction of St. Peter's church after it burned and helped raise money for the construction of the old St. Patrick's Cathedral in lower Manhattan. None of this protected him from being turned away from the cathedral one day in 1836 by an usher who didn't like the color of his face. A scandalized trustee of the church heard about the insult, rebuked the usher and apologized to Toussaint. When Toussaint died on June 30, 1853, the New York press devoted numerous respectful obituaries to him."

Thanks to Anita Campbell's Small Business Trends blog by way of last week's Carnival of the Capitalists at The Raw Prawn.

Comment contributors at Small Business Trends make some excellent points too, particularly Chuck, who notes that "Self employment and the practice of a trade have historically been associated with freedom from servitude." Still are as far as I'm concerned.

(Never thought I'd be citing Forbes....)

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