He was a “good man,” who strove for integrity in his business and gave much of his profits to the poor.
However, the saints show us that it is possible to be holy and run a successful business.
St. Homobonus is a prime example, born in the 12th century to a wealthy merchant family in Italy. Throughout his whole life Homobonus would never make a business decision that would endanger his soul. He would have rather lost his entire fortune than betray the Gospel.
At the end of a long day at work, he would stop at a nearby church and pray the Liturgy of the Hours with the monks. He also frequently prayed in the midst of his work, stopping what he was doing to give praise to the Creator.
Along with a devout prayer life, he also freely gave much of his profit to the poor and suffering, personally visiting them and handing them exactly what they needed. In the book, The Lives of the Fathers, Martyrs, and Other Principal Saints, Alan Butler details one example of his charity.
Not content with giving his tenths to the distressed members of Christ, after the death of his father (of whom he inherited a considerable stock in trade, besides a house in the town, and a small villa in the country) he seemed to set no bounds to his alms: he sought out the poor in their cottages, and whilst he cheerfully relieved their corporal necessities, he tenderly exhorted them to repentance and holy life. His wife sometimes complained that by his excessive alms he would soon reduce his family to beggary; but he mildly answered her, that giving to the poor is putting out money to the best interest, for a hundred fold, for payment whereof Christ himself has given us his bond.
What might be surprising to some is that he was a successful merchant. He was both a holy man and a good businessman, able to successfully integrate his faith into his daily endeavors.
Homobonus is a perfect intercessor for any business owner or worker in retail. His example shows that with great discipline, one does not need to sell your soul in order to sell merchandise in the modern world.
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