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Reflections: Priests & Voctns. Sctn. (Preaching)

St. John Vianney, the Curé D'Ars (patron saint of priests)

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Preachers / Preaching

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Preachers / Preaching

 

Category
Quotation

Preachers / Preaching 

"[Jesus said,] 'Then they will hand you over to persecution, and they will kill you. You will be hated by all nations because of my name. And then many will be led into sin; they will betray and hate one another. Many false prophets will arise and deceive many; and because of the increase of evildoing, the love of many will grow cold. But the one who perseveres to the end will be saved. And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached throughout the world as a witness to all nations, and then the end will come.'" (Mt. 24:9-14)

"[Jesus] told them, 'Let us go on to the nearby villages that I may preach there also. For this purpose have I come.'" (Mk. 1:38)

"[Jesus] appointed twelve (whom he also named apostles) that they might be with him and he might send them forth to preach and to have authority to drive out demons" (Mk. 3:14-15)

"[Jesus] said to them, 'Go into the whole world and proclaim the gospel to every creature. Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved; whoever does not believe will be condemned.'" (Mk. 16:15-16) [Note: It should be noted that belief may be considered the 'first step'. As Scripture makes clear, one must also obey, and not just believe.]

"And [Jesus] said to them, 'Thus it is written that the Messiah would suffer and rise from the dead on the third day and that repentance, for the forgiveness of sins, would be preached in his name to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things. And (behold) I am sending the promise of my Father upon you; but stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high." (Lk. 24:46-49)

"He commissioned us to preach to the people and testify that he is the one appointed by God as judge of the living and the dead." (Acts 10:42)

"How then shall they call on him, in whom they have not believed? Or how shall they believe him, of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear, without a preacher? And how shall they preach unless they be sent, as it is written: How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, of them that bring glad tidings of good things!" (Rom 10:14-15) [DR Trans.] 

"For Jews demand signs and Greeks look for wisdom, but we proclaim Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, but to those who are called, Jews and Greeks alike, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God." (1 Cor. 1:22-24)

"When I came to you, brothers, proclaiming the mystery of God, I did not come with sublimity of words or of wisdom. For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ, and him crucified. I came to you in weakness and fear and much trembling, and my message and my proclamation were not with persuasive (words of) wisdom, but with a demonstration of spirit and power, so that your faith might rest not on human wisdom but on the power of God." (1 Cor. 2:1-5)

"If I preach the gospel, this is no reason for me to boast, for an obligation has been imposed on me, and woe to me if I do not preach it!" (1 Cor. 9:16)

"Do you not know that the runners in the stadium all run in the race, but only one wins the prize? Run so as to win. Every athlete exercises discipline in every way. They do it to win a perishable crown, but we an imperishable one. Thus I do not run aimlessly; I do not fight as if I were shadowboxing. No, I drive my body and train it, for fear that, after having preached to others, I myself should be disqualified." (1 Cor. 9:24-27)

"Now I am reminding you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you indeed received and in which you also stand. Through it you are also being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you, unless you believed in vain." (1 Cor. 15:1-2)

"Therefore, since we have this ministry through the mercy shown us, we are not discouraged. Rather, we have renounced shameful, hidden things; not acting deceitfully or falsifying the word of God, but by the open declaration of the truth we commend ourselves to everyone's conscience in the sight of God. And even though our gospel is veiled, it is veiled for those who are perishing, in whose case the god of this age has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, so that they may not see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. For we do not preach ourselves but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your slaves for the sake of Jesus. For God who said, 'Let light shine out of darkness' has shone in our hearts to bring to light the knowledge of the glory of God on the face of (Jesus) Christ." (2 Cor. 4:1-6)

"But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach (to you) a gospel other than the one that we preached to you, let that one be accursed! As we have said before, and now I say again, if anyone preaches to you a gospel other than the one that you received, let that one be accursed! Am I now currying favor with human beings or God? Or am I seeking to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a slave of Christ. Now I want you to know, brothers, that the gospel preached by me is not of human origin. For I did not receive it from a human being, nor was I taught it, but it came through a revelation of Jesus Christ." (Gal. 1:18-12)

"Presbyters who preside well deserve double honor, especially those who toil in preaching and teaching." (1 Tm. 5:17)

"I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who will judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingly power: proclaim the word; be persistent whether it is convenient or inconvenient; convince, reprimand, encourage through all patience and teaching. For the time will come when people will not tolerate sound doctrine but, following their own desires and insatiable curiosity, will accumulate teachers and will stop listening to the truth and will be diverted to myths. But you, be self-possessed in all circumstances; put up with hardship; perform the work of an evangelist; fulfill your ministry." (2 Tm. 4:1-5)

"Whoever preaches, let it be with the words of God; whoever serves, let it be with the strength that God supplies, so that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen." (1 Pt. 4:11)

"Let the speech of the priest be ever seasoned with Scriptural reading." (St. Jerome, Doctor of the Church)

"Those who are zealous in the work of preaching must never cease the study of the written word of God." (Pope St. Gregory the Great, Doctor of the Church)

"He gathers abundant fruits from his preaching, who sows before the seeds of well-doing." (Pope St. Gregory I the Great, Doctor of the Church, 6th century A.D.)

"Vainly does the preacher utter the word of God exteriorly unless he listens to it interiorly." (St. Augustine, Doctor of the Church, 5th century A.D.)

"If the people leave the church praising the preacher, one can be certain that he did not do his duty well. Sighs, not praise, are the proof of effective oratory." (Bl. Dominic Barberi)

"But the seed of the word readily germinates, when the loving-kindness of the preacher waters it in the hearer's breast." (Pope St. Gregory the Great, Doctor of the Church)

"Do you know how I test the value of a preacher? If the listeners go away striking their breasts saying: Today I will do better; not by their saying: What wonderful sermon." (Camus)

"[T]he best preachers of all ages...have gratefully acknowledged that they owed their repute chiefly to the assiduous use of the Bible, and to devout meditation on its pages." (Pope Leo XIII, "Providentissimus Deus", 1893 A.D.)

"A preacher who does not try to ratify by his life's example the truth he preaches, only pulls down with one hand what he builds up with the other." (Pope Pius XI, "Ad Catholici Sacerdotii", 1935 A.D.)

"Can. 762 Sacred ministers, among whose principal duties is the proclamation of the gospel of God to all, are to hold the function of preaching in esteem since the people of God are first brought together by the word of the living God, which it is certainly right to require from the mouth of priests." (1983 Code of Canon Law)

"Can. 1342 § 1 The faculty of preaching should be made only to priests and deacons, but not to other clerics, except for reasonable cause, in the judgement of the Ordinary, and in individual cases. § 2 All laity are forbidden to preach in churches, even religions." (1917 Code of Canon Law)

"[I]t is obviously necessary that they who give utterance to words of holy preaching, should first be awake in the earnest practice of good works, lest, being themselves slack in performing them, they stir up others by words only." (Pope St. Gregory I the Great, Doctor of the Church, 6th century A.D.)

"Can. 1328 No one is permitted to exercise the ministry of preaching unless he has received this mission from the legitimate Superior by a faculty specifically given or by an office conferred in which inheres the responsibility of preaching according to the sacred canons." (1917 Code of Canon Law)

"[N]othing will have greater effect in subduing the passions and withdrawing souls from sin, than frequently to remind the sinner of the miseries and torments with which the reprobate will be visited, who on the last day will come forth unto the resurrection of judgment." (Catechism of the Council of Trent)

"Isaiah, who wishing to be sent, knew himself to be already cleansed by the live coal taken from the altar, shows us that no one should dare uncleansed to approach the sacred ministry. Since, then, it is very difficult for anyone to be able to know that he is cleansed, it is safer to decline the office of preacher." (Pope St. Gregory the Great, Doctor of the Church)

"For the preacher (of the Gospel) ought to have such trust in God, that although he has provided not for the expenses of this present life, he should still be most certainly convinced that these will not fail him; lest while his mind is engaged in his temporal things, he should be less careful for the spiritual things of others." (St. Gregory of Nazianzus, Doctor of the Church)

"Spiritual men ought not altogether to withhold spiritual doctrines from the carnal, seeing the Catholic faith ought to be preached to all; nor at the same time should they lower them in order to accommodate them to the understanding of persons who cannot receive them, and so make their own preaching contemptible, rather than the truth intelligible." (St. Augustine, Doctor of the Church)

"The word of the priest enters the soul and brings light and power; the voice of the priest rises calmly above the storms of passion, fearlessly to proclaim the truth, and exhort to the good; that truth which elucidates and solves the gravest problems of human life; that good which no misfortune can take from us, which death but secures and renders immortal." (Pope Pius XI, "Ad Catholici Sacerdotii", 1935 A.D.)

"How insistently [St.] Jerome urges on priests assiduous reading of the Bible if they would worthily teach and preach! Their words will have neither value nor weight nor any power to touch men's souls save in proportion as they are 'informed' by Holy Scripture: 'Let a priest's speech be seasoned with the Bible,' for 'the Scriptures are a trumpet that stirs us with a mighty voice and penetrates to the soul of them that believe,' and 'nothing so strikes home as an example taken from the Bible.'" (Pope Benedict XV, "Spiritus Paraclitus", 1920 A.D.)

"For he who undertakes the office of preacher ought not to bring evils upon others, but to endure them; who although at times an upright zeal demands that he should deal harshly with his subjects, should still inwardly in his heart love with a fatherly feeling those whom outwardly he visits with censure. And that ruler gives a good example of this, who never submits the neck of his soul to the yoke of earthly desire. Hence it is added, Carry neither purse nor scrip." (St. Gregory of Nazianzus, Doctor of the Church)

"Indeed, in no other way do these preachers cause greater harm and scandal to the less educated than when they preach on what should be left unspoken or when they introduce error by teaching what is false and useless. Since such things are known to be totally opposed to this holy and divinely instituted religion, as being novelties and foreign to it, it is surely just for them to be examined seriously and carefully, lest they cause scandal for the Christian people and ruin for the souls of their authors and of others." (Fifth Lateran Council)

"Because some indeed 'under the pretext of piety, denying his power' (according to what the Apostle says) [2 Tim. 3:5], assume to themselves the authority of preaching, when the same Apostle says: 'How...shall they preach, unless they are sent?' [Rom. 10:15], let all who, being prohibited or not sent, without having received authority from the Apostolic See, or from the Catholic bishop of the place, shall presume publicly or privately to usurp the duty of preaching be marked by the bond of excommunication; and unless they recover their senses, the sooner the better, let them be punished with another fitting penalty." (Lateran Council IV, 1215 A.D.)

"Can. 1347 § 1 In sacred sermons there shall be set forth first of all those things that the faithful must believe and that which they ought to do for salvation. § 2 Preachers of the divine word shall abstain from profane or abstruse arguments exceeding the common capacity of their listeners; they shall exercise evangelical ministry, not in the persuasive words of human wisdom or in the get-up and flattery of profane emptiness and ambitious eloquence, but in a spiritual and virtuous show, preaching not themselves, but Christ crucified. § 3 If, far be it from here, a preacher disseminates errors or scandal, the prescription of Canon 2317 shall be observed; if he is a heretic, other things come against him according to the norm of law." (1917 Code of Canon Law)

"Now, faith, as a virtue, is a great boon of divine grace and goodness; nevertheless, the objects themselves to which faith is to be applied are scarcely known in any other way than through the hearing. 'How shall they believe Him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher? Faith then cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ.' Since, then, faith is necessary for salvation, it follows that the word of Christ must be preached. The office, indeed, of preaching, that is, of teaching, lies by divine right in the province of the pastors, namely, of the bishops whom 'the Holy Spirit has placed to rule the Church of God.' It belongs, above all, to the Roman Pontiff, vicar of Jesus Christ, established as head of the universal Church, teacher of all that pertains to morals and faith." (Pope Leo XIII, "Sapientiae Christianae", 1890 A.D.)

"The purpose which sacred orators should keep before their mind in performing their duty may be understood from the fact that they may and ought to say of themselves, as did St. Paul 'For Christ therefore we are ambassadors.' (II Cor. v:20) If then they are ambassadors of Christ they ought to have the same purpose in discharging their office that Christ had in conferring it on them, nay, the very one that Christ Himself had while living upon earth. For neither the Apostles, nor the preachers who followed the Apostles had a different mission from Christ's: 'As the Father hath sent me, I also send you.' (John xx:21) Now we know why Christ descended from heaven, for He says expressly: 'For this came I into the world; that I should give testimony to the truth.' (John xviii:37) 'I am come that they may have life.' (John x:10)" (Pope Benedict XV, "Humani Generis Redemptionem", 1917 A.D.

"And so it is just as if the father of a poor cold-blooded child (already, more delicate than it ought to be), should, although it is so feeble, give it cake and cold (drink) and whatever only pleases the child, and take no account of what might do it good; and then, being reproved by the physicians, should excuse himself by saying, 'What can I do? I cannot bear to see the child crying.' Thou poor, wretched creature, thou betrayer! for I cannot, call such a one a father: how much better were it for thee, by paining him for a short time, to restore him to health forever, than to make this short-lived pleasure the foundation of a lasting sorrow? Just such is our case, when we idly busy ourselves about beautiful expressions, and the composition and harmony of our sentences, in order that we may please, not profit: (when) we make it our aim to be admired, not to instruct; to delight, not prick to the heart; to be applauded and depart with praise, not to correct men's manners!" (St. John Chrysostom, Doctor of the Church)

"And it is this peculiar and singular power of Holy Scripture, arising from the inspiration of the Holy Ghost, which gives authority to the sacred orator, fills him with apostolic liberty of speech, and communicates force and power to his eloquence. For those who infuse into their efforts the spirit and strength of the Word of God, speak 'not in word only but in power also, and in the Holy Ghost, and in much fullness.' Hence those preachers are foolish and improvident who, in speaking of religion and proclaiming the things of God, use no words but those of human science and human prudence, trusting to their own reasonings rather than to those of God. Their discourses may be brilliant and fine, but they must be feeble and they must be cold, for they are without the fire of the utterance of God and they must fall far short of that mighty power which the speech of God possesses: 'for the Word of God is living and effectual, and more piercing than any two-edged sword; and reaching unto the division of the soul and the spirit.'" (Pope Leo XIII, "Providentissimus Deus", 1893 A.D.)

"But if the wicked enemy of the human race, the better to frustrate your efforts, ever brings it about that a plague of epidemic proportions is hidden from the religious powers of the world, please do not be terrified but walk in God's house in harmony, with prayer, and in truth, the three arms of our service. Remember that when the people of Juda were defiled, the best means of purification was the public reading to all, from the least to the greatest, of the book of the law lately found by the priest Helcias in the Lord's temple; at once the whole people agreed to destroy the abominations and seal a covenant in the Lord's presence to follow after the Lord and observe His precepts, testimonies and ceremonies with their whole heart and soul. For the same reason Josaphat sent priests and Levites to bring the book of the law throughout the cities of Juda and to teach the people. The proclamation of the divine word has been entrusted to your faith by divine, not human, authority. So assemble your people and preach to them the gospel of Jesus Christ. From that divine source and heavenly teaching draw draughts of true philosophy for your flock." (Pope Pius VI, "Inscrutabile", 1775 A.D.) 

"Wherefore like St. Paul, every preacher devoted to the salvation of souls should be first of all so zealous for God's service as to feel no concern about who his hearers are to be, what success he will have, or what fruits he is to reap. He should have an eye not to his own advantage but to God's glory. But such zeal for God's service as that demands a soul so prepared for hardships that it will not avoid labor or trouble of any kind, and that is the second quality that was conspicuous in St. Paul. For when the Lord had said to him: 'I will show him how great things he must suffer for my name's sake,' [Acts ix, 16] he so eagerly embraced suffering that he could write: 'I exceedingly abound with joy in all our tribulations.' [II Cor. vii, 4] Indeed if this patient endurance of hardships is conspicuous in a preacher, it effaces whatever human weakness there is in him and wins from God the grace to produce fruit and gains for his apostolate, to a degree beyond belief, the favor of Christian people. On the other hand but little success in moving hearts is attained by those who, wherever they go, immoderately desire the comforts of life, and provided they deliver their sermons, put their hand to scarcely any other work of the sacred ministry, and the result is that they appear to be seeking their own ease rather than the good of souls." (Pope Benedict XV, "Humani Generis Redemptionem", 1917 A.D.)

"[W]hat end did St. Paul have in his preaching? Not to please men, but Christ. 'If I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ.' [Gal. i, 10] As his heart was on fire with the love of Christ, he sought for nothing save the glory of Christ. O that all are engaged in the ministry of the Word were true lovers of Jesus Christ. Would that all could repeat these words of St. Paul: 'For whom Jesus Christ I have suffered the loss of all things,' [Phil. iii, 8] and 'To me to live is Christ.' [Phil. i, 21] Only those who glow with love themselves know how to set on fire the hearts of others. Wherefore St. Bernard gave a preacher this counsel: 'If you are wise, be a reservoir, not a conduit, be full yourself of what you preach and do not think it enough to pour it out for others.' [In Cant. Serm. 18] The Doctor then adds: 'Today we have in the Church a profusion of conduits, but how few are the reservoirs!' We must strive with all our might and main, Venerable Brethren, to prevent such a state of things from occurring in the future. For it is your duty, by rejecting the unfit and by encouraging, training and guiding the fit, to bring it to pass that there should now be no lack of preachers who are men after God's own heart." (Pope Benedict XV, "Humani Generis Redemptionem", 1917 A.D.)

"Now, if we cannot expect to reap a harvest when no seed has been planted, how can we hope to have a people with sound morals if Christian doctrine has not been imparted to them in due time? It follows, too, that if faith languishes in our days, if among large numbers it has almost vanished, the reason is that the duty of catechetical teaching is either fulfilled very superficially or altogether neglected. It will not do to say, in excuse, that faith is a free gift of God bestowed upon each one at Baptism. True enough, when we are baptized in Christ, the habit of faith is given, but this most divine seed, if left entirely to itself, by its own power, so to speak, is not like the mustard seed which 'grows up...and puts out great branches.' Man has the faculty of understanding at his birth, but he also has need of his mother's word to awaken it, as it were, and to make it active. So too, the Christian, born again of water and the Holy Spirit, has faith within him, but he requires the word of the teaching Church to nourish and develop it and to make it bear fruit. Thus wrote the Apostle: 'Faith then depends on hearing, and hearing on the word of Christ'; and to show the necessity of instruction, he added, 'How are they to hear, if no one preaches?'" (Pope St. Pius X, "Acerbo Nimis", 1905 A.D.)

"But in the midst of these things we are brought back by the earnest desire of charity to what we have already said above; that every preacher should give forth a sound more by his deeds than by his words, and rather by good living imprint footsteps for men to follow than by speaking shew them the way to walk in. For that cock, too, whom the Lord in his manner of speech takes to represent a good preacher, when he is now preparing to crow, first shakes his wings, and by smiting himself makes himself more awake; since it is surely necessary that those who give utterance to words of holy preaching should first be well awake in earnestness of good living, lest they rouse others with their voice while themselves torpid in performance; that they should first shake themselves up by lofty deeds, and then make others solicitous for good living; that they should first smite themselves with the wings of their thoughts; that whatsoever in themselves is unprofitably torpid they should discover by anxious investigation, and correct by strict animadversion, and then at length set in order the life of others by speaking; that they should take heed to punish their own faults by bewailings, and then denounce what calls for punishment in others; and that, before they give voice to words of exhortation, they should proclaim in their deeds all that they are about to speak." (Pope St. Gregory the Great, Doctor of the Church) 

"It was the desire of Jesus Christ once He had wrought the Redemption of the human race by His death on the altar of the Cross, to lead men to obey His commands and thus win eternal life. To attain this end He used no other means than the voice of His heralds whose work it was to announce to all mankind what they had to believe and do in order to be saved. 'It pleased God, by the foolishness of our preaching, to save them that believed.' [I Cor. i, 21] He chose therefore His Apostles, and after infusing into their minds by the power of the Holy Ghost, the gifts in harmony with their high calling, 'Go ye into the world,' He told them, 'and preach the Gospel.' [Mark xvi, 15] Their preaching renewed the face of the earth. For if the religion of Christ has withdrawn the minds of men from errors of every kind to the truth, and won their hearts from the degradation of vice to the excellence and beauty of every virtue, assuredly it has done so by means of that very preaching. 'Faith then cometh by hearing; and hearing by the word of Christ.' [Rom. x, 17] Wherefore since by God's good pleasure, things are preserved through the same causes by which they were brought into being, it is evident that the preaching of the wisdom taught us by the Christian religion is the means Divinely employed to continue the work of eternal salvation, and that it must with just reason be looked upon as a matter of the greatest and most momentous concern." (Pope Benedict XV, "Humani Generis Redemptionem", 1917 A.D.)

"Leo, bishop, servant of the servants of God, with the approval of the sacred council, for an everlasting record. Under the protection of the supreme majesty by whose ineffable providence things in heaven and on earth are guided, as we carry out the office of watchman over the Lord's flock committed to us, insofar as this is granted to our weakness, we reflect within ourselves in great depth that, among many other important matters, the office of preaching is also our concern. Preaching is of the first importance, very necessary and of great effect and utility in the Church, so long as it is being exercised rightly, from genuine charity towards God and our neighbor, and according to the precepts and examples of the holy fathers, who contributed a great deal to the Church by publicly professing such things at the time of the establishment and propagation of the Faith. For, our Redeemer first did and taught, and by his command and example, the college of twelve apostles - the heavens alike proclaiming the glory of the true God through all the earth - led back from darkness the whole human race, which was held by the old bondage under the yoke of sin, and guided it to the light of eternal salvation. The apostles and then their successors propagated far and wide and rooted deeply the word itself through all the earth and unto the ends of the world. Therefore those who are now carrying this burden ought to remember and frequently reflect that they in turn, with respect to this office of preaching, are entering into and maintaining that succession of the author and founder of this office, Jesus Christ our most holy Redeemer, of Peter and Paul, and of the other apostles and disciples of the Lord." (Fifth Lateran Council)

"[I]f we ask on what subjects [St. Paul] was wont to discourse when he preached, he condenses them all in these words: 'For I judged not myself to know anything among you but Jesus Christ and Him crucified.' [I Cor. ii, 2] To make men know Jesus Christ better and better, and to make that knowledge have a bearing, moreover, not only on their faith, but on their lives as well, was the object of that apostolic man's every endeavor. This was the object of every throb of his apostolic heart. Therefore all Christ's doctrines and commands, even the sterner ones, were so proclaimed by St. Paul that he did not restrict, gloss over or tone down what Christ taught regarding humility, self-denial, chastity, contempt of the world, obedience, forgiveness of enemies, and the like, nor was he afraid to tell his hearers that they had to make a choice between the service of God and the service of Belial, for they could not serve both, that when they leave this world, a dread judgment awaits them; that they cannot bargain with God; they may hope for life everlasting if they keep His entire law, but if they neglect their duty and indulge their passions, they will have nothing to expect but eternal fire. For our 'Preacher of truth' never imagined that he should avoid such subjects, because, owing to the corruption of the age, they appeared too stern to his hearers. Therefore it is clear how unworthy of commendation are those preachers who are afraid to touch upon certain points of Christian doctrine lest they should give their hearers offense. Does a physician prescribe useless remedies to his patient, merely because the sick man rejects effective ones? The test of the orator's power and skill is his success in making his hearers accept the stern truth he is preaching." (Pope Benedict XV, "Humani Generis Redemptionem", 1917 A.D.)

"Both these purposes therefore must be carried out by the men who devote themselves to the sacred ministry of preaching. They must diffuse the light of truth made known by God, and in those who hear them they must quicken and nourish the supernatural life. In a word, by seeking the salvation of souls they are to promote the glory of God. As it would, therefore, be wrong to call anyone a doctor who does not practice medicine, or to style anyone a professor of some art who does not teach that art, he who in his preaching neglects to lead men to a fuller knowledge of God and on the way of eternal salvation may be called an idle declaimer, but not a preacher of the Gospel. And would there were no such declaimers! What motive is it that sways them mostly. Some are moved by the desire of vain-glory and to satisfy it: 'They ponder how they can express high rather than practical thoughts, causing weak minds to admire them, instead of working out the salvation of their hearers. They are ashamed of what is simple and plain, lest they be thought to know nothing else. They are ashamed to give milk to the little ones'... Whereas Jesus Christ proved by the lowliness of his hearers that He was the One whom men were awaiting: 'The poor have the Gospel preached to them.' [Matt. xi, 5] What efforts do such men make to acquire reputation by their sermons from the size and wealth of the cities and splendor of the great churches in which they preach? But since among the truths revealed by God there are some which frighten the weakness of our corrupt nature, and which therefore are not calculated to attract the multitude, they carefully avoid them, and treat themes, in which, the place accepted, there is nothing sacred. Not seldom it happens that in the very midst of a discourse upon the things of eternity, they turn to politics, particularly if any questions of this kind just then deeply engross the minds of their hearers. They seem to have only one aim, to please their hearers and curry favor with those whom St. Paul describes as 'having itching ears.' [II Tim. vi, 3] Hence that unrestrained and undignified gesture such as may be seen on the stage or on the hustings, that effeminate lowering of the voice or those tragic outbursts; that diction peculiar to journalism; those frequent allusions to profane and non-Catholic literature, but not to the Sacred Scriptures or the Holy Fathers; finally that volubility of utterance often affected by them, wherewith they strike the ears and gain their hearers' admiration, but give them no lesson to carry home. How sadly are those preachers deceived! Granted that they receive the applause of the uneducated, which they seek with such great favor, and not without sacrilege, is it really worthwhile when we consider that they are condemned by every prudent man, and, what is worse, have reason to fear the stern judgment of Christ?... Now since nothing except harm and discredit can be expected for the Church from such as these, Venerable Brethren, you must exercise the greatest care, so that, if you detect any one for his own glory or for gain, abusing the office of preaching, you should at once remove him from that function. For the man who does not scruple to defile so holy an office by such an unworthy perversion of its end, surely will not hesitate to descend to any indignity, and will bring the stain of ignominy not merely upon himself, but upon the sacred office also which he so unworthily administers." (Pope Benedict XV, "Humani Generis Redemptionem", 1917 A.D.)

"We have learnt from trustworthy sources that some preachers in our times (we record this with sorrow) do not attend to the fact that they are carrying out the office of those we have named, of the holy Doctors of the Church and of others professing sacred theology, who, ever standing by Christians and confronting false prophets striving to overturn the Faith, have shown that the Church Militant remains unimpaired by her very nature; and that they ought to adopt only what the people who flock to their sermons will find useful, by means of reflection and practical application, for rooting out vices, praising virtues and saving the souls of the faithful. Reliable report has it, rather, that they are preaching many and various things contrary to the teachings and examples which we have mentioned, sometimes with scandal to the people. This fact influences our attitude very deeply when we reflect within ourself that these preachers, unmindful of their duty, are striving in their sermons not for the benefit of the hearers but rather for their own self-display. They flatter the idle ears of some people who seem to have already reached a state that would make true the words of the Apostle writing to Timothy: For, a time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching but, having itching ears, they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own likings, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander into myths. These preachers make no attempt whatever to lead back the deceived and empty minds of such people to the path of right and truth. Indeed, they involve them in even greater errors. Without any reverence for the testimony of canon law, indeed contrary to canonical censures, twisting the sense of Scripture in many places, often giving it rash and false interpretations, they preach what is false; they threaten, describe and assert to be present, totally unsupported by legitimate proofs and merely following their own private interpretation, various terrors, menaces and many other evils, which they say are about to arrive and are already growing; they very often introduce to their congregations certain futile and worthless ideas and other matters of this nature; and, what is more appalling, they dare to claim that they possess this information from the light of eternity and by the guidance and grace of the Holy Spirit. When these preachers spread this medley of fraud and error, backed by the false testimony of alleged miracles, the congregations whom they ought to be carefully instructing in the Gospel message, and retaining and preserving in the true faith, are withdrawn by their sermons from the teaching and commands of the universal Church. When they turn aside from the official sacred teachings, which they ought particularly to follow, they separate and move far from salvation those who listen to them. For, as a result of these and similar activities, the less educated people, as being more exposed to deceit, are very easily led into manifold errors, as they wander from the path of salvation and from obedience to the Roman Church. Gregory, therefore, who was outstanding in this task, moved by the warmth of his charity, gave a strong exhortation and warning to preachers that, when about to speak, they approach the people with prudence and caution lest, caught up in the enthusiasm of their oratory, they entangle the hearts of their hearers with verbal errors as if with nooses, and while perhaps they wish to appear wise, in their delusion they foolishly tear asunder the sinews of the hoped-for virtue." (Fifth Lateran Council)

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