On the Catholic Priesthood

Thursday September 05, 2019

The Preacher who likes applause.

What is the end of a preacher? Is it to please? To gain applause? To obtain promotion? Or is it to give men life; to make them " Sorrowful unto penance"?

I am of opinion, writes St. Francis of Sales, that a preacher ought not to aim at the gratification of the ear, which is the result of artifice, of worldly elegance, of merely ornamental oratory. He who desires to please his audience says only "pleasant things". The craving for applause blinds him to the truth. He relies almost exclusively on the persuasive words of human wisdom, he makes little or no account of the Word of God, which ought to be the chief source of sacred eloquence, and he speaks in a style more suited to the platform than to the pulpit, more profane than sacred.

 Hence there arises amongst the people and even amongst the clergy, a vitiated taste in respect to the Word of God, which gives scandal to the pious and no profit to the incredulous; for these latter, although they sometimes come to the church, especially if attracted by such high-sounding words as Progress, Fatherland, Modern Science, and loudly applaud the preacher, go forth from it no better than they entered.

Source: The Priest of Today, Rev. Thomas O'Donnell


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