St. Martin of Tours

St. Martin of Tours11 November 2021​

St. Catherine of Alexandria our patroness in New Zealand, a fourth century eighteen year old virgin, impressed the Emperor Maximin with her wisdom and knowledge. He summoned his most learned men to lead her away from the Catholic Faith. Contrary to his expectations her reasoning and arguments converted many of them to the Faith and they suffered martyrdom.

Cardinal Pie (1815-1880) says of St. Martin of Tours (+397): “Martin was chiefly a thaumaturgus (miracle worker). For the conversion of the people the thaumaturgus is more powerful than the teacher... Nowadays there is much talk about the necessity of reasoning in order to persuade men as to the reality of divine things: but that is forgetting scripture and history; nay, more, it is degenerating. God has not deemed it consistent with his majesty to reason with us. He has spoken; He has what is and what is not; and as He exacts Faith in His word, He has sanctioned His word. But how has He sanctioned it? After the manner of God, not of man; by works, not by reasons: not by arguments of a humanly persuasive philosophy, but by displaying a power altogether divine. For this profound reason: That Faith might not rest upon the wisdom of man but on the power of God. But now men will have it so; they tell us that in Jesus Christ the theurgist wrongs the moralist; that miracles are a blemish to so sublime an ideal. But they cannot reverse this order; they cannot abolish the Gospel nor history. Begging the pardon of the learned men of our age and their obsequious followers: not only did Christ work miracles, but He established the Faith upon the foundation of miracles. And the same Christ—not to confirm His own miracles, which are the support of all others; but out of compassion for us, who are so prone to forgetfulness, and are more impressed by what we see than by what we hear—the same Jesus Christ has placed in His Church, and that for all time, the power of working miracles. Our age has seen some, and will see yet more. The fourth century witnessed in particular those of St. Martin.

“The working of wonders seemed mere play to him. ‘Alas!’ cried the saint one day ‘the very serpents listen to me and men refuse to hear me.’ Men, however, often did hear him. The whole of Gaul heard him. Who could resist words enforced by so many prodigies? In all these provinces he overthrew the idols one after another, reduced the statues to powder, burnt or demolished all the temples, destroyed the sacred groves and all the haunts of idolatry. Martin, eaten up with zeal for the house of the Lord was obeying none but the Spirit of God. And I must add that the against the fury of the pagan population Martin’s only arms were the miracles he wrought, the visible assistance of the angels sometimes granted him, and, above all, the prayers and tears he poured out before God, when the hard-heartedness of the people resisted the power of his words and of his wonders. With these means Martin changed the face of the country. Where he found scarcely a Christian on his arrival, he left scarcely an infidel at his departure.”

St. Paul the Apostle used reasoning; St. Catherine used reasoning; St. Martin used miracles. Cardinal Pie teaches that miracles are the way Christ spread the Gospel and converted thousands. St. Peter also spread the Gospel through the use of miracles.

One wound of Original Sin that every man suffers from is “Ignorance”. St. Thomas explains (I-II:85:3) “As a result of original justice, the reason had perfect hold over the lower parts of the soul, while reason itself was perfected by God, and was subject to Him. Now this same original justice was forfeited through the sin of our first parent, so that all the powers of the soul are left, as it were, destitute of their proper order, whereby they are naturally directed to virtue; which destitution is called a wounding of nature.

Again, there are four of the soul's powers that can be subject of virtue, viz., the reason, where prudence resides, the will, where justice is, the irascible, the subject of fortitude, and the concupiscible, the subject of temperance. Therefore in so far as the reason is deprived of its order to the true, there is the wound of ignorance;...

The wound of ignorance is therefore a deprivation of the reason’s order to the true. This deprivation causes the mind to adhere to error rather than to truth. This was the sin of Eve. The serpent deceived her and instead of believing God who had told them the truth she believed the lie of the serpent. Eve did this even though she had “Original Justice” and her reason was subjected to God. Her rejecting this subjection to God led to Adam committing Original Sin and his descendants suffering from this wound of ignorance.

Nature is not destroyed by Original Sin and the natural object of our mind remains “truth”. Truth more firmly lodges in the mind then error does. As Cardinal Pie said, supra, ‘we are more impressed by what we see than by what we hear.’ Television and the visual media controlled by the enemies of Our Lord Jesus Christ, the enemies of truth, have so spread the lie that for the last sixty years most men have been deceived and believed lies. Generations have gone to the grave deceived by one or more lies. Our generation, weaned on electronics and having television for a babysitter has great difficulty distinguishing truth from lies. This is exacerbated by the Kantian philosophy of our age which renders objective truth unknowable, and leaves each man to his own opinion. It is quite certain that if St. Catherine came up against fifty member of the modern “intelligentsia” her wisdom and reasoning would not convince them. In incomprehension they would change the channel.

Catholic apologists must fight against this wound of ignorance and strive to learn the faith and acquire the wisdom and knowledge of St. Catherine. This is necessary as a foundation for effective works to convert the infidel. But what is more important is works. Works will demonstrate the beauty and attractiveness of the Faith. These works however cannot be founded merely on faith and knowledge. They must especially have holiness as their underpinning. St. Martin because of his holiness was able to do the works that converted the Gauls. St. Catherine likewise supported her arguments with holiness and good works, and miracles.

The monasteries where the vows of poverty, chastity and obedience put men on the path to perfection converted Europe. Are there enough souls zealous for the truth to rebuild the monasteries? It seems not. Vocations are rare. Each of us is therefore called by his baptismal vows and confirmation character to separate himself from the modern world. The world that has embraced the Prince of Darkness and rejected Christ the Light of the world. We cannot walk in the light and serve darkness. The New World Order is the order of enslavement to lies and the devil. It is the Truth that will make us free. We must reject error and avoid the occasions of succumbing to error, e.g., avoid “watching the news”. We must embrace instead a life of prayer, sacrifice, meditation, study, and penance. This is necessary for those who want to remain in the true Faith and want to lead others to this Faith. The Wisdom and Knowledge of St. Catherine and the works and holiness of St. Martin are both required. There are few conversions because few of us are willing to embrace the Cross and follow Our Lord Jesus Christ. One fervent and zealous soul is worth a thousand mediocre Catholics. Each of us should strive to be that fervent zealous soul. We should instil this ideal in the children. Training them to practice temperance and modesty, and to be diligent in their studies and to have great devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary.

Fr. Edward F. MacDonald