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Title: The Clergy And The Pulpit In Their Relations To The People.
Author: Mullois, M. L'Abbé Isidore
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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  [Transcriber's note: I dedicate this transcription to the Very
  Reverend Richard Trout of Corpus Christi Parish, Celebration,
  Florida. His gentle and moving homilies are perfect examples of
  the style and content recommended by this author. As the
  preface observes, the many references to nineteenth century
  France may not all apply to our times, but people and cultures
  are remarkably similar over time and distance.]


    The Clergy And The Pulpit
    In Their Relations To The People.

    By M. L'Abbé Isidore Mullois,

      Chaplain To The Emperor Napoleon III.,
      And Missionary Apostolic.

    Translated By

    George Percy Badger,

    Late Chaplain In The Diocese Of Bombay,
    Author Of "The Nestorians and Their Rituals," Etc.

    First American Edition.


    The Catholic Publication Society,
    Lawrence Kehoe, General Agent,
    126 Nassau Street.


    John A. Gray & Green, Printers,
    16 and 18 Jacob Street, New-York.


  Preface To The American Edition.

This excellent translation of the now celebrated work of the Abbé
Mullois is presented to the American public with every assurance
that it will meet with a most cordial welcome.

It is a live book; full of earnest words, fresh from the heart no
less than from the head of the devout and zealous author. It has
gained an unwonted popularity in France, where it has already
passed through many editions. No less than twenty thousand copies
are said to be in the hands of as many ecclesiastics.

We judge it to be one of the most timely books that could be
offered to our own clergy, who will find much in these pages to
encourage and stimulate them in their arduous pastoral duties.
The sceptical spirit which pervades a large mass of the French
people, hardly yet recovered from the fearful shock which their
faith received in the Revolution, is one which, happily, we in
America have not to contend with; and the suggestions of the
author in reference to this are, of course, of no practical
moment to us: but the principle that underlies every subject of
which the author treats is a universal one, applicable at all
times and to every nation: "To address men well, they must be
loved much." This is the title of the first chapter, and the key
to the whole work.

It is written in a pleasing, familiar style, with an unction that
endues every sentence with an irresistible power of conviction
and persuasion. Its perusal cannot fail of exerting a most
healthful influence upon the character and tone of the discourses
which the reader may be called upon by virtue of his office to
deliver for the instruction and edification of the people
committed to his spiritual care.



    Author's Preface.

It is surprising that whereas, during the last three centuries,
many books have been published on the mode of preaching to the
higher classes, scarcely any thing has been written on the same
subject with reference to the people, or lower orders. It seems
to have been thought that the latter ought to be satisfied with
the crumbs which might fall from the table provided for the
educated portion of society.

Nevertheless, nothing could be more opposed to the spirit of the
Gospel; which is specially addressed to the poor and humble--"He
hath anointed Me to preach to the poor." The Fathers of the early
Church did not consider it beneath their genius to write
treatises on the manner of communicating religious instruction to
the people. The people form nearly the whole of the population.
In France, they number twenty-three out of a total of twenty-five
millions; yet, strange to say, they are quite overlooked. The
educated two millions appear to have assumed that they constitute
France, and that France has so willed it. But if a few men were
to arise capable of laying hold of the instincts of the
multitude, were it only of one of the emotions which stir them,
they would soon undeceive those who fancy that the people are
under their guidance. We know something by experience on that

There is a prevailing conviction among the well-disposed that
nothing but religion can save us; that France must either once
more become Christian or perish. But in order that religion may
exercise a beneficial influence over the masses, it must be
brought into contact with them; and that can only be done by the
preaching of the Word, agreeably with the inspired
declaration:--"Faith cometh by hearing."


It is much more difficult than is imagined to preach to the
common people, because they are so little conversant with
spiritual things, and so much absorbed in what is material. It is
more difficult to address them than the wealthier classes; for,
in addressing the latter, one has only to fall in with the
current of their ideas; whereas in preaching to the former, we
have to bring high and sublime thoughts within the grasp of
feeble intelligences. Besides, there exists among the masses a
certain amount of knowledge more or less superficial, and none is
more difficult to direct than a half-taught man.

The foregoing considerations have led us to indite this little
treatise; wherein our object has been not to lay down any
specific rules, but simply to set forth the teachings of
experience. What we most need nowadays is a popular religious
literature to meet the temper and wants of the people. Such a
literature does not exist. It should be based entirely on the
national character and on the precepts of the Gospel. Invested
with those two qualities, it would become an irresistible agency
for good, and would act as powerfully on the educated few as on
the unlettered many.
It might inaugurate the regeneration of our literature by
restoring to it vitality, naturalness, and dignity. The time has
come for taking up the cause of the people in earnest. The
community generally is impressed with that conviction, and
manifests a praiseworthy desire to encourage every effort for
ameliorating their moral condition. Upward of one hundred
thousand volumes specially designed for them are sold every year.
Worldly-minded men, too, are anxious to foster the movement;
finding that those who show a disposition to benefit the masses
are sure to meet with countenance, sympathy, and even veneration.
Moreover, we are at present in the enjoyment of profound calm.
Heretofore, the apology for delay was:--"Let us wait to see the
upshot of passing events; for who knows what may become of us;
who knows but that we may be driven from our own homes?" The
evil-disposed have had their day; let us see what honest folk may
and can do.

Let us mutually co-operate, piously and charitably, to become
once more a united people and country--a France with one heart
and one soul. 'Twill be the beginning of blessedness.



Preface To The American Edition,                           5

Preface By The Author,                                     7

  Chapter I.                                              15

  To Address Men Well, They Must Be Loved Much.

  The Gospel enjoins universal Benevolence.
  The Men of the present Age have a special Claim to our Love.
  The success of Preaching depends upon our loving them.
  Wherein true Apostolical Eloquence consists.

  Chapter II.                                             40

  The People.

  The actual State of the People.
  Their good and bad Qualities.
  The People in large Cities.
  The People in small Towns.
  The People in rural Districts.
  How to benefit these Three Classes of the People.
  One powerful Means is to act upon the People through the upper
    Classes, and upon the latter through the former.

  Chapter III.                                           118

  The Order Of A Sermon.

  The Exordium.
  Are there many Unbelievers in France?
  Manner of refuting Objections.


  Chapter IV.                                            136

  The Sermon Should Be Popular.

  What constitutes true Popularity?
  Popularity in Words, in Thought, in Sentiment.
  One of the most popular Sentiments in France is Patriotism.
  Means to utilize that Sentiment.
  The Relationship between Popularity and Genius.
  Saint John Chrysostom.
  Daniel O'Connell.

  Chapter V.                                             160

  The Sermon Should Be Plain.

  An obscure Sermon is neither Christian nor French.
  Abuse of philosophical Terms.
  Philosophical Speculations not popular amongst us.
  The French mind is clear and logical.
  Plainness of Speech.
  Plainness of Thought.
  Starting from the Known to the Unknown.
  Père Lejeune.
  M. l'Abbé Ledreuil.

  Chapter VI.                                            183

  The Sermon Should Be Short.

  The Discourses of the Fathers were short.
  The French Mind is quick to apprehend.
  Sermons are generally too long.
  Sermons of Ten, Seven, and of Five Minutes.

  Chapter VII.                                           197

  Tact And Kindliness.

  We should assume that our Hearers are what we wish them to be.
  Reproaches to be avoided.
  How to address Unbelievers.
  Special Precautions to be taken in small Towns and Rural Districts.
  How to treat Men during times of public Commotion.
  Forbearance due to the Church for being obliged.
    to receive Money from the Faithful.


  Chapter VIII.                                          222

  Interest. Emotion, and Animation.

  We should endeavor to excite Interest by Thoughts, by Sallies or
    Epigrams, by Studies of Men and Manners.
  The Truth should be animated.
  The Père Ravignan.
  The Père Lacordaire.
  The Heart is too often absent.

  Chapter IX.                                            243

  The Power And Accent Of Conviction.

  The Divine Word has always been the first Power in the World.
  The Gospel still the first of Books.
  There can be no Christian Eloquence
    without the Accent of personal Conviction.

  Chapter X.                                             254


  Action should be:
    first, true and natural;
    secondly, concentrated;
    thirdly, edifying.
  It should be cultivated.
  How cultivated by the Society of Jesus Suggestions.

  Chapter XI.                                            275


  Study a Duty.
  The State of the World calls for
    Knowledge on the part of the Clergy.
  Knowledge has always been one of the Glories of Religion.
  All the eminent Men in the Church were Men of Study.
  Reasons adduced for not studying, answered:
    Want of Leisure,
    Natural Aptitude,
    The Plea of having already studied sufficiently;
    That one is fully equal to the Requirements
      of the People committed to his Charge.


  Chapter XII.                                           287


  The Excellency of Zeal.
  Love for the Body should be coupled with Love for the Soul.
  The Zeal of the Wicked.
  How Zeal should be exercised.
    of Apprentices,
    of Operatives,
    Conferences of Saint Vincent de Paul,
    of Domestics,
    of Clerks,
    of the Young.
  Circulation of good Books.
  Happy Results of the same.
  The Advantages and Difficulties of Opposition.
  Great Occasions.



    The Clergy And The Pulpit
    In Their Relations To The People.


  Chapter I.

  To Address Men Well, They Must Be Loved Much.

  The Gospel enjoins universal Benevolence.
  The Men of the present Age have a special Claim to our Love.
  The Success of Preaching depends upon our loving them.
  Wherein true Apostolical Eloquence consists.

Many rules of eloquence have been set forth, but, strange to say,
the first and most essential of all has been overlooked, namely,
Charity. ... To address men well, they must be loved much.
Whatever they may be, be they ever so guilty, or indifferent, or
ungrateful, or however deeply sunk in crime, before all and above
all, they must be loved. Love is the sap of the Gospel, the
secret of lively and effectual preaching, the magic power of
eloquence. ... The end of preaching is to reclaim the hearts of
men to God, and nothing but love can find out the mysterious
avenues which lead to the heart.
We are always eloquent when we wish to save one whom we love; we
are always listened to when we are loved. But when a hearer is
not moved by love, instead of listening to the truth, he ransacks
his mind for some thing wherewith to repel it: and in so doing
human depravity is seldom at fault.

If, then, you do not feel a fervent love and profound pity for
humanity--if in beholding its miseries and errors you do not
experience the throbbings, the holy thrillings of Charity--be
assured that the gift of Christian eloquence has been denied you.
You will not win souls, neither will you ever gain influence over
them, and you will never acquire that most excellent of earthly
sovereignties--sovereignty over the hearts of men.

I may be mistaken, but it seems to me that the tradition of this
great evangelical charity has declined among us. I hasten to add,
however, that this is the fault of the age, of its injustices and
sarcasms. It has dealt so hardly with Christianity, and has been
so ungrateful toward it, that our souls have become embittered,
and our words have been sometimes cold and dry: like the mere
words of a man and nothing more. But that bitterness is passing


Religion in France, at the present day, is in the condition of a
mother who meets with indifference and abuse from her son. The
first outburst of her heart is one of pain and repugnance; but
soon the better part of her nature gains the ascendency, and she
says within herself: "After all, it is true that he is wicked; it
is also true that he fills me with grief, and is killing me with
anguish; nevertheless, he is still my child, and I am still his
mother. ... I cannot help loving him, so great is his power over
me. Let them say what they will, I still love him. ... Would to
God that he had a desire to return! Would that he might change!
How readily would I pardon every thing and forget all! ... How,
then, can I enjoy a moment's happiness whilst knowing that he is
wicked or wretched?" ... This is what Religion and those who
represent it have felt. We have been wounded; we have been made
to suffer cruelly. Yes, men have been unjust and ungrateful: but
these same are our brethren still, still our children. And can we
be happy while we see them wicked and miserable? Have they not
already suffered enough? .... The question is not to ascertain
what they are worth, but to save them such as they are. Our age
is a great prodigal son; let us help it to return to the paternal
home. Now is the time to recall the admirable words of
Fenelon:--"O ye pastors, put away from you all narrowness of
heart. Enlarge, enlarge your compassion. You know nothing if you
know merely how to command, to reprove, to correct, to expound
the letter of the law. Be fathers, ... yet that is not enough; be
as mothers."


This large love for men, alike for the good and the evil, is the
pervading spirit of the Gospel. It is the true spirit of
Christianity. Its power was felt by our fathers in the sacred
ministry, and it governed their lives.

Look at Saint Paul, that great missionary of the Catholic Church.
A stream of love flows from his apostolic soul. He did not suffer
himself to be disconcerted by the failings, the vices, or the
crimes of men. His heart uplifts him above such considerations,
and he overcomes human prejudices and errors by the power of his
charity. Let us hear him:--"O ye Corinthians, our mouth is open
unto you, our heart is enlarged. Ye are not straitened in us, but
ye are straitened in your own bowels. ... Be ye also enlarged.
For though ye have ten thousand instructors in Christ, yet have
ye not many fathers: for in Christ Jesus I have begotten you. I
seek not yours, but you, ... and I will very gladly spend and be
spent for you; though the more abundantly I love you, the less I
be loved." And, again:--"Would to God ye could bear with me a
little in my folly: and, indeed, bear with me. For I am jealous
over you with godly jealousy. Wherefore? because I love you not?
God knoweth." [Footnote 1]

    [Footnote 1: 2 Cor. vi. 13. I Cor. iv. 15.
    2 Cor. xii. 14, 15; xi. i, 2, 11.]


"I say the truth in Christ that I lie not," saith he to the
Romans; "I have great heaviness, and continual sorrow in my
heart. For I could wish that myself were accursed from Christ for
my brethren." [Footnote 2]

    [Footnote 2: Rom. ix. 2, 3.]

And addressing the Galatians, he says:--"Brethren, be as I am;
for I am as ye are. Ye know how through infirmity of the flesh I
preached the Gospel to you at first. And my temptation, which was
in my flesh, ye despised not, nor rejected. Where is, then, the
blessedness ye spake of? For I bear you record, that, if it had
been possible, ye would have plucked out your own eyes, and have
given them to me. Am I therefore become your enemy because I tell
you the truth? ... My little children, of whom I travail in birth
again until Christ be formed in you." [Footnote 3]

    [Footnote 3: Gal. iv. 12-16, 19.]

... And, again, writing to the Philippians:--"It is meet for me
to think this of you all, because I have you in my heart. For God
is my record, how greatly I long after you all in the bowels of
Jesus Christ. ... Yea, and if I be offered upon the sacrifice and
service of your faith, I joy, and rejoice with you all."
[Footnote 4]

    [Footnote 4: Philip, i. 7, 8; ii. 17.]

Alas! in this our day we see around us the same men, the same
frailties, the same passions. Let us aim at possessing the same
apostolical heart.


In like manner Saint Chrysostom. ... what love, what charity,
what devotedness dwelt in the heart of that Christian orator! And
as regards the people with whom he had to deal; what laxity, what
vices, what baseness had he not to contend against! Nevertheless,
his heart is inflamed with charity, his yearnings are kindled.
Exclamations of pain, the plaintive accents of pity escape from
him; and even when he grows angry, he entreats, he sues for

"I beseech you," said he to the faithful, "to receive me with
affection when I come here; for I have the purest love for you. I
feel that I love you with the tenderness of a father. If
occasionally I reprove you rather sharply, it arises from the
earnest desire which I have for your salvation. ... If you reject
my words, I shall not shake off the dust of my feet against you.
Not that herein I would disobey the Saviour, but because the love
which He has given me for you prevents my doing so. ... But, and
if you refuse to love us, at least love yourselves by renouncing
that sad listlessness which possesses you. It will suffice for
our consolation that we see you becoming better, and progressing
in the ways of God. Hereby, also, will my affection appear still
greater, that while having so much to youward, you shall have so
little toward me. ... We give you what we have received, and, in
giving it, ask nothing but your love in return. If we are
unworthy of it, love us notwithstanding, and perchance your
charity may render us deserving."


"You love me and I love you," said he, addressing the believers,
"and I would willingly give you my life, and not merely that
small service which I render by preaching the Gospel unto you."

In consequence of sickness he had been obliged to go into the
country. On his return he thus addressed his audience:--"You
thought of me, then, during my absence. For my part, it was
impossible for me to forget you. ... Even when sleep closed my
bodily eyes, the strength of your affection for me opened the
eyes of my mind insomuch that while sleeping I often fancied that
I was addressing you. ... I have preferred to return with the
remains of my ailment rather than by staying longer away to do
any injury to your charity; for while I was in the country you
were unremitting in the expression of your grief and condolence.
This was the subject of all your letters; and I am not less
grateful for your grief than for your praise, since one must be
capable of loving in order to grieve as you have done. ... Hence,
as I am no longer ill, let us satisfy one an other; if, indeed,
it be possible that we should be satisfied; for love is
insatiable, and the continual enjoyment of it by those whom it
endears only inflames it still more. This is what was felt by
Saint Paul, that foster-child of Charity, when he said: 'Owe no
man any thing but to love one another;' for that debt is always
being paid, yet is never discharged." [Footnote 5]

    [Footnote 5: Second Homily on Repentance.]


Also the following passage, which is quite to the purpose here:
"You are to me in the place of father, mother, brothers and
children. You are every thing to me, and no joy or sorrow can
affect me in comparison with that which concerns you. Even though
I may not have to answer for your souls, I should not be the less
inconsolable were you to perish; just as a father is not consoled
for the loss of his son, although he may have done all in his
power to save him. That I may some day be found guilty, or that I
may be justified before the awful tribunal, is not the most
pressing object of my solicitude and of my fear; but that you may
all, without exception, be saved, all made happy forever, that is
enough: that is also necessary to my personal happiness, even if
the divine justice should have to reprove me for not having
discharged my ministry as I ought; although, in that respect, my
conscience does not upbraid me. But what matters it by whom you
are saved, provided that you are saved? And if any one is
surprised to hear me speak in this manner, it is because he knows
not what it is to be a father." [Footnote 6]

    [Footnote 6: Homily iii. on the Acts.]


On the other hand, if men ever ought to be loved, if, above all,
the heart of the Christian priest ought to be touched, moved even
to tears with deep compassion for humanity, this is preëminently
the time. Doubtless, humanity is deserving of blame, but it is
also most worthy of pity. Who, indeed, can be bold enough to hate
it? Let us rather grieve for it: grieve for the men of the world
who are truly miserable. ... What truths can they lay hold of to
resist themselves, to fill the void in their souls, to control
themselves under the trials of life? All have been assailed,
shaken, denied, overturned. What are they to do in the midst of
this conflict of affirmations and negations? Hardly has a
powerful and divine truth been presented to them, than one of
those so-called talented men has come forward to sully it by his
gainsaying or scornful derision.

Above all, the rising generation calls for our pity, because it
has so long been famished. The half of its sustenance has been
withheld from it by the cruelty of the age.

But let us do it justice: youth appreciates sincerity and candor
above every thing. It is straightforward, and hates nothing so
much as duplicity and hypocrisy. Well, when a young man awakens
into life, what does he see around him? Contradiction and
inconsistency, a very Babel of tongues: a discordant, a hellish
concert. One bawls out to him, "Reason!" another "Faith!" here
some bid him "Suffer!" there others tell him to "Rejoice!" but
soon all join in the chorus, "Money, my son, money!" What, we
ask, is a youth of eighteen, with all his besetting passions, to
do in the midst of confusion like this?


It were well if even the domestic hearth afforded an asylum from
this turmoil; but, unhappily, it assumes there its most flagrant
form in father and mother. There we find one building up, and the
other destroying. The mother prays, the father is prayerless; the
mother is a communicant, the father is not; the mother confesses,
the father does not; the mother speaks well of religion, the
father derides it. ... What, we ask again, is a youth to do with
his affections under circumstances like these? Reason tells him
that if there is a truth, it must be the same for all; if there
is a rule of morals, it should apply to all; that if there is a
religion, it should be the religion of all. Next, he is tempted
to believe that he is being made sport of, and that the words
_vice_, _truth_, and _virtue_ are nothing but bare words after
all. Such is the aspect of things presented to the rising
generation; and were it not that there is something naturally
good and generous in the hearts of the young, how much would they
despise their predecessors in life! ...

They are told of the existence of duties, laws, and other
subjects of vast importance, and yet they see men who ought to be
serious spending their time in material pursuits, in hoarding
money, or in sensual gratifications.


Is there not in all this enough to distress a sensitive mind, and
to lead it to utter the complaint, "O God! wherefore hast Thou
placed me in the midst of such contradictions? What am I to do?
My father, the man whom I am bound to resemble most on earth, can
I condemn him? Can I any the more blame my mother, or charge her
with weakness--my mother, whose influence over me is so strong?
What, then, am I to do? What must I become? Is life a desert
wherein I am lost? Is there no one to guide me? Those who should
direct are the first to mislead me. My father says: Do as I do;
follow my example. My mother, with all the power of maternal
affection, says: 'No, no, my son; do not follow your father, for
if you do you will perish'." What shame should we take to
ourselves for a state of things like this, and how much should we
pity those who are its victims!

And then the lower classes--the people,--who do penance under our
eyes in toil and suffering, how can we help loving, how avoid
compassionating, them? Undoubtedly, they have their faults, their
frailties, and their vices; but are we not more blameworthy than
they? The people are always what they are made. Is it their fault
if the pernicious doctrines and scandals of the higher orders
have stained the lower classes of society? Moreover, they have
been treated without pity and without mercy.
They have been despoiled of all: even that last resource, hope,
has been taken from them. They have been forbidden to dream of
happiness. Heartless men have interposed between them and heaven,
and have said to them, "Listen; your toil, your trials, your
rags, your hunger, the hunger of your wives and children--such is
your lot. You have nothing else to hope for; except, perchance,
the pleasures of revelry." They have been deprived of every
thing: they had hopes of a better future, which have been taken
from them; they had God above, who has been robbed from them, and
they have been told that heaven consisted in the enjoyments of
earth. Meanwhile, they are miserable; and being miserable are, as
it were, doomed already: yet, what have they done to merit this?

Yes, there has been no pity shown to the people; for has not the
present age regarded Christianity as a delusion? Christianity
ought to have been respected among the people, because it
benefited them, because it alleviated their wretchedness. But no,
a cruel age has had the fell courage to snatch it from them. A
tale is told of a prisoner who became deeply attached to a
spider, which served to while away the tedium of his captivity.
He fed it with his own food, and it was his delight to see it
scamper about his cell; but the jailer, noticing this innocent
gratification, crushed the insect. ...
The spider was undoubtedly an insignificant thing; but the
jailer's conduct was harsh, and all would denounce it as a
gratuitously brutal act. Well, then, if religion among the people
had been regarded merely as the spider of this poor prisoner, it
ought to have been respected, because it might have done them
good. On the contrary, the laborer has been denied the hope that
there will be a time of rest; the sufferer, that some day there
will be consolation; the wronged has not been allowed to
anticipate that hereafter justice will be meted out; the mother
who deplores the loss of her child has been denied the hope that
some day she shall behold him again. Every thing has been taken
from the people, and nothing has been left them but material
pleasures to be enjoyed at rare intervals.

What a field is here opened out for the exercise of love, of
compassion, and of pity! O ye poor people whom Christ loved! is
it that all your struggles and trials are merely a foretaste of
eternal misery? If you are to suffer here, and to suffer also
after death, then you must needs suffer forever! But that we
cannot allow, and after the example of Christ, we should say to
ourselves:--"I have pity upon the multitude, for if I send them
away fasting they will faint by the way."

Lastly, on this Charity depends the success of evangelical


To be co-workers with Christ in regenerating and saving mankind,
we must love it as He loved. He first did men good, then He
addressed them. Hence it was that the people, unmindful of their
most urgent wants, followed Him exclaiming: "Never man spake like
this man."

Let us never forget that the object of preaching is to turn men
from wrong-doing, and to lead them to that which is good. This is
the great aim of the Christian orator. But where is the seat of
good and evil, and where are both elaborated? According to the
divine word, "_out of the heart_ proceed evil thoughts, murders,
adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemy."

The heart, then, must be touched, moved, laid hold of. It is the
heart which receives or rejects the truth; which says to it:
"Come, I welcome you;" or, "Begone, you annoy me;" and it is love
alone that can reach the heart and change it. An Arab proverb
runs thus:--"The neck is bent by the sword; but heart is only
bent by heart." If you love, you yourself will be loved; the
truth from you will be loved; even self-sacrifice will be an act
of love. ... What we most want nowadays is not additional
knowledge, for nearly all of us know full well what we ought to
do. What we really want is the courage to act, the energy to do
what is right.
Truth has sadly diminished amongst us, and its characteristics
also. What we need, then, is a style of preaching which
enlightens and sustains, which threatens and encourages, which
humbles and exalts, and which throughout speaks to individuals,
saying, "I love thee."

It is not by essays of reasoning, any more than by the sword,
that the moral world is to be swayed. A little knowledge, much
sound sense, and much more heart--that is what is requisite to
raise the great mass, the people, and to cleanse and purify them.
To be able to reason is human, very human, and one who is a man
and nothing more may possess that ability as well as you, perhaps
in a higher degree. But to love, to devote one's self, to
sacrifice self, is something unearthly, divine, possessing a
magic power. Self-devotion, moreover, is the only argument
against which human malevolence can find no answer. ...

You may employ the most splendid reasonings, clothed in the
grandest phraseology, and yet the mind of man will readily find
wherewith to elude them. Who knows but that French wit, by one
malicious word, may not upset all at once your elaborate
structure of arguments? What is required in sacred eloquence is
something new, something unexpected. Ask you what it is? It is
love; for loving, you will surprise, captivate: you will be


For it is useless to disguise the fact that in France nowadays
there is scarcely any belief in disinterestedness. Even the
people are beginning to think that no one acts without a motive
of self-interest; and their thought is aptly expressed in the
frank and original reply of a poor devil who was brought before
the correctional police for having inscribed some Legitimist
sentences on a wall. The president, observing his tattered
garments, and his any thing but aristocratic appearance, asked
him if he was really a Legitimist. "By no means, Monsieur le
President," was the answer; "I merely do as others, as you do, as
all do nowadays--_I work for those who feed me_."

But when the people meet with real affection, a thorough
devotedness, then they are overcome at once and yield heartily.

You visit a poor family, or one of the working-classes in a large
town, where the people are generally frank, and hardly know how
to conceal their thoughts. Do not be surprised, then, if
something like the following dialogue should take place:

"Well, sir, but who pays you for visiting us?"


"What interest, then, have you in coming?"

"None whatever, beyond that of wishing to benefit you and your
little ones, whom I love."

"I can scarcely believe it. There must be something underhand in


But when such persons are convinced that you entertain a sincere
affection for them--that there is nothing _underhand_ in what you
do--you become all-powerful. The disclosure breaks in upon them
like a divine revelation, and they may be said to love the truth
even before knowing it. Then you may speak, entreat, or command;
you will be listened to, you will be believed, obeyed. What else,
indeed, could any do who love you, and also inspire love on your

It is quite right to reason and to appeal to the intellect, but
it is not enough. Human malice will never be at a loss for a
reply to your arguments. You may be acute, logical, endowed with
learning and talent, the right may be most clearly on your side,
and yet your efforts will be unproductive; nay, you will often be
defeated, insomuch that it may be affirmed that he who uses
reason only shall perish by reason. On the contrary, love causes
things to be regarded from a different point of view, removes
difficulties, and imparts light and courage simultaneously.

You say to a worldly woman:--"If you were to occupy yourself a
little in good works, such as visiting the poor." ... Forthwith
she starts a thousand objections against the suggestion:--"What,
I, in my position! ... I really have no leisure. I have my house,
my children, my servants, and so many other things to attend to.
Then, my health is so wretched, and my husband cares for nothing.
... Besides, it is a woman's first duty to look after her
domestic concerns."
In a word, she instantly bristles up with good reasons. You
encounter a pointed defence everywhere, and no gap to admit your
arguments. Beware, therefore, of reasoning with her. Go straight
to her heart, beget charity within her, make her to feel, to
love, and soon you will hardly recognize her as the same
individual, for the change will be almost instantaneous, and
every subsidiary stumbling-block will disappear. Then she will go
and come, suffer, be humble, self-denying, examplary.

Woman is called the feeble sex. True, when she does not love; but
when love takes possession of her soul, she becomes the strong,
the able, the devoted sex. She then looks difficulties in the
face which would make men tremble.

An orator of high intellectual powers occupies a pulpit, and
leaves scarcely any results behind him. He is succeeded by one of
ordinary attainments, who draws wondering crowds and converts
many. The local sceptics are amazed. "This man's logic and
style," say they, "are weak; how comes it that he is so
attractive?" It comes from this, that he has a heart; that he
loves and is loved in return. So when a venerable superior of
missionaries [Footnote 7] wished to learn what success a priest
had met with on his tour, he generally asked, "Did you really
love your congregations?" If the answer was in the affirmative,
the pious man remarked--"Then your mission has been a good one."

    [Footnote 7: This clearly refers to Home Missionaries. ED.]


Have a heart, then, in dealing with the people; have charity;
love, and cause others to love, to feel, to thrill, to weep, if
you wish to be listened to, and to escape the criticisms of the
learned as well as the ignorant. Then let them say what they
like, let them criticise and inveigh as they please, you will
possess an invincible power. What a grand mission, what a
glorious heritage is that of loving our fellow-men! Let others
seek to lord it over them, and to win their applause; for my
part, I prefer holding-out a hand to them, to bless and to pity
them, convinced by a secret instinct that it is the best way to
save them.

I have already remarked that our language has not always breathed
this broad and tender charity. The injustice and unreason which
we have had to encounter have made us somewhat querulous, and we
have become champions when we should have remained fathers and
pastors. We have followed the world too much into the arena of
discussion. We have fancied that it was enough to prove a truth
in order to secure its adoption into the habits of life. We have
forgotten that Saint François de Sales converted 70,000
Protestants by the sweetness of his charity, and not one by
Nevertheless, strange enough, much is urged on the young
clergyman as regards the necessity and mode of proving a truth
and of constructing a sermon, but scarcely any thing on the
necessity and manner of loving his audience.

Just look at the young priest on his entrance upon the sacred
ministry. He is armed cap-à-pie with arguments, he speaks only by
syllogisms. His discourse bristles with _now, therefore,
consequently_. He is dogmatic, peremptory. One might fancy him a
nephew of one of those old bearded doctors of the middle ages,
such as Petit Jean or Courte-Cuisse. He is disposed to transfix
by his words every opponent, and to give quarter to none. He
thrusts, cuts, overturns relentlessly. My friend, lay aside a
part of your heavy artillery. Take your young man's, your young
priest's heart, and place it in the van before your audience, and
after that you may resort to your batteries if they are needed.
Make yourself beloved,--be a father. Preach affectionately, and
your speech, instead of gliding over hearts hardened by pride,
will pierce _even to the dividing of the joints and marrow_; and
then that may come to be remarked of you which was said of
another priest by a man of genius who had recently been reclaimed
to a Christian life:--"I almost regret my restoration, so much
would it have gratified me to have been converted by so
affectionate a preacher."


I do not mean to say that the truth should not be set forth with
power and energy. God forbid! but it should be seasoned
throughout with abundant charity. It is only those, indeed, who
love much and are themselves beloved, who possess the prerogative
of delivering severe truths in an effectual manner. The people
pardon every thing in those to whom they are attached, and
receive home, without recoiling, the sternest truths and reproofs
addressed to them by a beloved preacher.

Let your preaching, then, be the effusion of a heart full of love
and truth. Skilfully disconnect vices and errors from
individuals. Place the latter apart, and then assail the former:
be merciless, close up all loop-holes, allow no scope for the
resistance of bad passions; tread the evil under foot. But raise
up the vicious and erring, stretch out a hand to them, pour
confidence and good-will into their souls, address them in
language such as will make them hail their own
defeat:--"Brethren, I speak to you as I love you, from the bottom
of my heart." "Permit us to declare unto you the whole truth;
suffer us to be apostles; suffer us to address you in words
enlivened by charity; suffer us to save you. ..."

Thus have we endeavored to describe the nature, the power, and
the triumphs of apostolical preaching; which should be the same
now as it was in olden time.


But apostolical eloquence is no longer well understood. It is now
made to consist of I hardly know what: the utterance of truths
without any order, in a happy-go-lucky fashion, extravagant
self-excitement, bawling, and thumping on the pulpit. There is a
tendency in this respect to follow the injunctions of an old
divine of the sixteenth century to a young bachelor of
arts:--"_Percute cathedram fortiter; respice Crucifixum torvis
oculis; nil diu ad propositnm, et bene prcedicabis_."

It is evident that any thing so congenial to indolence cannot be
apostolical eloquence, which consists of an admixture of truth,
frankness, and charity. To be an apostle one must love, suffer,
and be devoted.

For, what is an apostle? To use the language of one who was
worthy to define the meaning of the word, and who exemplified the
definition in his own life: [Footnote 8] "An apostle is fervent
charity personified. ... The apostle is eager for work, eager to
endure. He yearns to wean his brethren from error, to enlighten,
console, sustain, and to make them partakers of the happiness of
Christianity. The apostle is a hero; he is a martyr; he is a
divine, a father; he, is indomitable, yet humble; austere, yet
pure; he is sympathizing, tender. ... The apostle is grand,
eloquent, sublime, holy. He entertains large views, and is
assiduous in carrying them out for the regeneration and salvation
of mankind."

    [Footnote 8: Père Ravignan.]


We must return, then, to this broad and tender benevolence. Let
our congregations feel it, read it; see it in our persons, in our
features, in our words, in our minutest actions. Let them
understand that the priest is, before all others, their best,
their most faithful friend. Nothing must disconcert our charity.
Our heart must be enlarged, and soar above the frail ties, the
prejudices, and the vices of humanity. Did not Saint Paul say: "I
could wish that myself were accursed from Christ," for the sake
of his erring brethren? And did not Moses elect to be blotted out
from the book of life rather than see his cowardly, ungrateful,
fickle countrymen stricken by the hand of the Almighty? The
weaker men are, the more need have they to be loved.

Such love does good to all. It cheers the heart of the preacher.
It also creates sympathy, and those electric currents which go
from the speaker to the hearts of the faithful, and from the
hearts of the faithful back to the speaker. It reveals what
should be said, and, above all, supplies the appropriate accent
wherein to express it. Saint Augustine writes: "Love first, and
then you may do what you choose." We may subjoin: "Love first,
and then you may say what you please;" for affectionate speech
fortifies the mind, removes obstacles, disposes to
self-sacrifice, makes the unwilling willing, and elevates the
character as well as the mind.


Charity is the great desideratum of the present time. It is
constantly being remarked that the age in which we live requires
this and that. What the age really wants is this:--It needs to be
loved. ... It needs to be drawn out of that egotism which frets
and consumes it. It needs a little esteem and kindly treatment to
make good all its deficiencies. How silly we are, then, to go so
far in search of the desired object, overlooking the fact that
_the kingdom of God is within us_--in our hearts.

Be it ours, therefore, to love the people. ... Is it not to that
end that we have no family ties? ... Let us prevent their hate,
which is so harmful to them. Let love be present with us always,
according to the saying of Saint Augustine:--"Let us love in
speaking, and speak in love. Let there be love in our
remonstrances ... love also in our reproofs. Let the mouth speak,
but let the heart love." Yes, let us learn to love, to endure, to
be devoted. What! do we not belong to the same family as those
excellent and self-denying men who leave country and home to seek
and to save souls beyond the ocean? Were we not brought up at the
same school? They love infidels, they love pagans and savages
sufficiently well to sacrifice every thing for them. ... Are not
our pagans in France worth as much as the pagans of Oceania? Are
not our French little ones as deserving of compassion as Chinese
True, their parents do not expose them on the highways; but they
abandon them to shame, to vice, to the education of the streets.
... It is right that we should commiserate the heathen, that
devotion should be manifested on their behalf; but let us have
compassion on our own children also, on our brothers in France,
that they be not suffered to perish before our eyes. ... Yes, I
invoke pity for this people; pity for their sufferings, their
miseries, their prejudices, their deplorable subjection to
popular opinion, their ignorance, their errors. Let us, at least,
try to do them good, to save them. Therein lies bur happiness; we
shall never have any other. All other sources are closed to us;
there is the well-spring of the most delectable joys. Apart from
charity, what remains? Vanity, unprofitableness, bitterness,
misery, nothingness.


  Chapter II.

  The People.

  The actual State of the People.
  Their good and bad Qualities.
  The People in large Cities.
  The People in small Towns.
  The People in rural Districts.
  How to benefit these Three Classes of People.
  One powerful Means is to act upon the People through.
    the upper Classes, and upon the latter through the former.

We shall now assume that you love the people. But, besides that,
in order to address them pertinently, you must understand them
well, know their good qualities, their failings, instincts,
passions, prejudices, and their way of looking at things; in a
word, you must know them by heart. To a profound acquaintance
with religion must be joined a profound knowledge of humanity as
it exists at the present day. But, to speak frankly, the people
are not known; not even by the most keen-sighted, not even by our
statesmen. They are only studied superficially, in books, in
romances, in the newspapers, or else they are not studied at all.
Judgment is mostly formed from appearances. One sees a man mad
with rage, who insults, blasphemes, or who staggers through the
streets, and he says: "There; behold the people!" Another sees
one who risks his own life to save a fellow-creature, or who
finds and restores a purse or a pocket-book to its owner, and he
exclaims exultingly, "Behold the people!" Both are mistaken, for
both substitute an exception for the rule.

In order to understand the people well, we must probe beyond the
surface, and take them as they are when they are most themselves.
They must be studied in the spirit, as it were, and not on the
outside; for they often appear worse than they actually are.
Still less should we arrest our researches, as is frequently
done, at a point where they clash against ourselves. On the other
hand, I feel bound to state that if we do not know the people,
they, in turn, do not know the classes of society above them; and
it is on that account that we do not love each other as we ought.

At first sight, the French people--the lower orders--are a real
mystery: an inconceivable medley of weakness and of courage, of
goodness and ill-will, of delicacy and rudeness, of generosity
and egotism, of seriousness and of frivolity. It may be said that
they possess two natures: one endowed with good sense, which is
generous, feeling, and contrite; the other unreflecting, which
raves and drinks, curses and swears. On one side they are
frivolous, vain, weak, scornful, sceptical, credulous,


In their frivolity they jeer at every thing; at what is frivolous
and what is serious, at what is profane and what is sacred. Their
weakness under temptation is lamentable: they have no restraint
over themselves. But, above all, their credulity is unbounded.
This is their weak, their bad side; the source of one portion of
our evils.

Alas! what may not this people be led to believe? There is no lie
so great, no absurdity so gross, the half of which they may not
be made to swallow when their passions dictate that any thing may
be gained thereby, or they conceive that their interests are
assailed. At certain seasons of blind infatuation they may be
made to believe any thing; even that which is incredible, even
what is impossible. Unfortunately this is to some extent the case
among the higher classes. The people surrender themselves to the
first comer who has a glib tongue and can lie adroitly.

Their credulity, as already stated, knows no bounds; especially
as respects the rich and the clergy, whom they regard as the
cause of all the ills which befall them. Accidents wholly
independent of human volition are placed to their account. Is
there a dearth? They create the scarcity of corn. Is there
stagnation in trade? They restrain the capitalists. Undoubtedly
they had some hand in the cholera; and it is not quite certain
but that there exists some damnable connivance between them and
the caterpillars and weevils. ... Poor people! yet how they are
deceived! Thereupon their good sense disappears, their heads
reel, reflection abandons them, and then they rise up in anger:
strike, pillage, kill. ... They become terrible.


But I hasten to say that if there is evil in the French people,
there is also good: much good. They are witty, frank, logical,
generous, amiable, and above all, _they have hearts_. This is
undeniable; and we should never despair of a man who has a heart,
for there is always something in him to fall back upon. When all
else is lost to this people, their heart survives, for it is the
last thing which dies within them.

It has been said that frivolity is the basis of the French
character; but that judgment is incorrect. More truly it should
be said that the French character is frivolous outwardly, but at
the bottom it is generous, combined with exquisite good sense.

Very few are aware how much generosity and sympathy toward all
suffering are hid under the jerkin and smock-frock. The people
possess an inexhaustible store of sentiment, of the spirit of
self-sacrifice and devotedness. Why, then, are they not better
understood? The mischievous, indeed, know them too well; for when
they would mislead or stir them up, they appeal to their sense of
justice, to their love of humanity. They point out to them
grievances which should be redressed, oppressions to be avenged.
Then are their passions lit up, and they are carried away ... we
need not tell the rest. The motive on their part was almost
always praiseworthy at the outset, in some measure at least; but
once led beyond themselves they hurried headlong into extremes.

The heart, then, is the better side of the French people; their
honorable and glorious side; their genius. Others may claim the
genius of extensive speculations in science and industry; to them
belongs the genius of heart, of love, of sympathy, of charity.
Endowed with so goodly a portion, what have they to complain of;
for is not dominion over mankind achieved thereby? Hence, when
Providence designs to spread an idea throughout the world, it
implants it in a Frenchman's breast. There it is quickly
elaborated; and then that heart so magnanimous and communicative,
so fascinating and attractive, gives it currency with electric

If noble aspirations spring from the heart, they nowhere find a
more fertile soil; and, strange to say, this excellent gift is
found in all classes, and under all conditions. A man may be
worse than a nonentity in a moral point of view, but he has a
heart still. Would you do him good? aim at that.

But you will say: "Look at those coarse fellows, those besotted
clowns sunk in materialism, those men stained with crime and
degraded by debauchery, where is their heart? They have none." I
say they have a heart still: go direct to the soul, pierce
through that rough and forbidding crust of vices and evil
passions, and you will find a treasure.


Proof in point is to be met with everywhere; even in the
theatres, where its manifestation has been noticed by observant
spectators. The galleries are generally occupied by persons of
all conditions; mechanics, profligates, vagabonds, loose women,
and even men, who, to use their own indulgent expression, _have
had a weakness_: that is, have spent some years in prison, or at
the treadmill. It is gratifying to witness the conduct of that
mass during the performance of some touching scene or generous
action. They are often moved even to tears--they applaud and
stamp with enthusiasm. On the contrary, when mean or heinous
actions are represented, they can not hoot or execrate enough:
they shake the fist at the scoundrel or traitor, hurl abuse at
him, and not unfrequently more substantial missiles.

It will be said that all this feeling is transitory. So it may
be; still it shows that there remain in such breasts, chords
which may be made to vibrate, hearts not yet dead, good
sentiments which are capable of cultivation.

Such are the French people taken in the mass; such their merits
and defects. The head is not their better part, and they might
almost be described as having a good heart but a bad head.
In order to lead them, they must be seized where they present the
best hold. To do this effectually requires sound sense and a
kindly heart, moderate reasoning, and very little metaphysics. An
opposite course, however, is too frequently pursued. Crotchets,
fancies, theories, vapid ideas--such is the stuff wherewith
attempts have been made to influence them. Is it surprising that
they have not always yielded to such guidance?

On points of wit, argument, and right, the Frenchman is acute,
punctilious, headstrong. On points of generosity and devotedness
he is tractable, liberal, admirable. Demand any thing from him as
a right, and he will refuse it. Ask the same thing of him,
appealing to his heart, and he will often grant it with the best
possible grace. But, above all, if you wish to restore him to
equanimity and a right mind, get him to perform an act of

To prove that the heart rarely disappears, and that it always
retains a hold on the mind, I must be permitted to cite an
example combining the good and the bad qualities which are to be
met with in the lower grades of society. I shall frequently refer
to facts; for in morals, as in many other matters, they bring us
sooner to the point aimed at.


It was in one of the most wretched quarters of Paris that a
priest went to visit a rag-woman who was dangerously ill. She was
lying on straw so damp that it was fit only for the dung-hill.
The visitor had reached the landing-place, and was reflecting how
he might best minister to the poor woman's wants, when he heard
the cry of another female from the end of a dark corridor,
exclaiming: "Help! murder!"

He ran toward the spot, and pushing open a door saw two young
children crying. Extended on the floor lay the unfortunate woman,
while a tall man with a sinister countenance, and clad only in a
pair of pantaloons and a ragged shirt, stood over her, kicking
her. Her face was already black and blue from his violence.

The priest sprang towards the man and said: "Wretch! what are you
about? Will you not desist?" He did desist, but it was to attack
the speaker. He seized him suddenly by the breast, thrust two
fingers under his cassock, and then, without uttering a word,
lifted him as if he had been an infant, and carried him to an
open window. There he angrily told him that he would not have
priests intermeddling with his affairs, and _disturbing the peace
of his household_, and that he intended to pitch him out of the
window forthwith. In fact, he was preparing to put the threat
into execution; but, as if wishing to gloat over his victim, he
continued to glare at him with the eyes of a tiger, holding him
all the while as with an arm of steel.


The priest was alarmed, but God enabled him not to betray it. He
regarded his antagonist calmly, and said almost with a smile:
"Gently, my friend; you are much too hasty. Do you really mean to
throw me out of the window? Is that the most pressing business on
hand? You who are always talking about fraternity and charity; do
you know what was taking place while you were beating your wife?
Another woman was dying on a dung-heap in your house. I am sure
you would be horrified at such a thing. Now, let us both see what
we can do on her behalf; for you are by no means such a bad
fellow as you wish to appear. I will pay for some clean straw, if
you will go and fetch it." Terror, combined with the desire of
winning over his assailant, made the priest eloquent, and he had
hardly ended his appeal before the lion was tamed. The man's
countenance rapidly changed, and he relaxed his hold at once;
then taking off his shabby cap and placing it under his arm, he
assumed a respectful attitude, like that of a soldier in presence
of a superior officer, and replied:--"If you talk in that style,
sir, the case is different. I have always been humane, and will
readily help you to assist the poor woman. I will, in fact, do
any thing you please; for it won't do to let a fellow-creature
die in that plight." Thereupon the priest gave him the money, and
he went out to purchase two bundles of clean straw.


In the mean time the women of the neighborhood, attracted by the
altercation, had rushed to the spot, and on seeing the priest
expostulated with him in these terms:--"What are you about? Do
you know where you are? You are in the clutches of the worst man
in the quarter. He is so outrageous that even cut-throats are
afraid of him, and he has often said that nothing would give him
more pleasure than to break a man's neck, especially if that man
were a priest." These remonstrances were by no means encouraging;
but those who urged them little knew the power of charity.

The sturdy fellow soon returned with the bundles on his shoulder.
He was calm, and his countenance had become almost honest. On
entering the room where the poor woman lay, he took half a bundle
of straw and spread it on the floor. The most touching part of
the scene followed. He lifted the sufferer in his arms with the
tenderness of a mother, placed her on the clean straw, then made
her bed, and finally laid her upon it, just as a mother would her
child. A female wished to help him, but he pushed her aside,
remarking that he was well able to do a humane act unassisted.

The man was in tears, and the priest perceiving that he wished to
address him, retired toward the window. But his new acquaintance
could not utter a word; emotion choked him. The priest gave him
his hand, and the stalwart workman squeezed it as in a vice, in
token of his affection.
"Well done, my friend," said the priest, "well done; I quite
understand you. I knew full well that you were not as bad as you
wanted to make me believe. I knew you were capable of doing a
good action." "You have done it all," was the reply; "four men
could not master me, and yet you have overcome me with as many
words. _You must be a true pastor_."

The priest hastened to turn this favorable opportunity to profit,
by pleading the cause of the wife, and rejoined:--"But, my
friend, you have done something which is not becoming. You have
ill-used your wife; and a man does not marry a woman to beat her.
I have no doubt she has her failings, and you also have yours.
You should bear with one another. Come, promise me that you will
never strike her again." At these words, his face assumed
somewhat of its former sullenness, and dropping the priest's hand
he said frankly:--"I am very sorry that I cannot do as you wish.
I will not promise because I should not keep my word." ... The
priest returned to the charge, and among other remarks which made
some impression on the man, he was quite brought to bay by the
following:--"So you won't promise not to beat your wife? That is
simply because you don't reflect. Surely, you who have just done
an act of kindness to a strange woman, cannot, with any decency,
continue to beat your own wife."
After much hesitation, he pledged his word, backing it with a
tremendous oath. Since then, he has never been intoxicated,
neither has he once struck his wife. You should have seen with
what gratitude the woman welcomed her preserver on his next
visit. "What a blessing my acquaintance with you has proved,"
said she. "Since your last visit you have saved me from two
_floorers_. My husband does not drink now, but he still goes into
violent passions. He raises his fist, and I fear he is about to
strike me; but he forbears. He calms down at once, and says: 'Tis
well for you that that abbé came, otherwise I would have floored
you again."

Not long after, he was reclaimed to a Christian life; he
confessed and communicated, and it is now rare to find a man of
more exalted sentiments. He refused assistance from every one,
saying that he was able to earn his own livelihood, and to
provide for his family. To do this, he worked all day and part of
the night also. Peace and comfort were restored to his home,
which his wife now likens to a paradise.

To give an instance of his noble disposition, I may mention that
toward the end of last December he called on the priest, to whom
he had become greatly attached, and said to him with his
characteristic frankness:--"I am very sad to-day, Monsieur


"Why, my friend?"

"Because I am poor. In the course of my lifetime I have suffered
misery enough. I have cursed the rich, and that Providence which
gave them their wealth. Nevertheless, I don't believe I ever felt
the wretchedness of being poor as much as I do to-day; although
it is for a different reason."

"What is it, then, my good friend?"

"Well, it is this. Here we are close upon the beginning of a new
year, and I wished to make you a small present--for you have been
very kind to me and I have no money. However, be assured of this,
at least, that you have in me a devoted friend, and that I am
always at your service. Send me wherever you please; I would walk
barefoot and beat a steam-engine to serve you." Then, taking the
priest's hand, he added with unspeakable kindness and
energy:--"Monsieur l'Abbé, should there ever be another
revolution, and any assault be made on the clergy, come and take
refuge with me; come and hide in our quarter, and I vow that many
heads shall be broken before a hair of yours is touched."

Such are the people, taken as they are with the good and the bad
which is in them. I have again selected my illustrations from
among the least favorable specimens, and I may further add that
it rarely happens that a priest meets even with abuse from the
most depraved. The instance above adduced is exceptional, and
arose out of the anger of the moment.


Such, then, are the people generally; but their characteristics
are modified by circumstances of locality, intercourse, and
education. There are the people of the large cities, those of
small towns, and the people in rural districts. There are also
the people who work, and those who are always looking for work
and never find it; with whom the true people are often

    The People in large Cities.

The people in large cities possess, in a high degree, all the
merits and defects which we are about to notice.

They are fickle, vain, braggart, improvident, mad after
pleasures, and not very moral.

The ease with which they may be duped is astounding. They are
readily excited, they clamor, are carried away, strike for
nothing whatever, and then they reflect. They live from hand to
mouth. When work is plentiful, they squander; when it is scarce,
they fast and suffer.

They love money for the pleasures which it procures; and in their
estimation a debauch is one of the greatest enjoyments of life.


This latter tendency they have borrowed from the present age;
which is somewhat sensual, not to say gluttonous--that term would
not be parliamentary--as it would have been called in former
times. Nowadays a good dinner is not a matter of indifference to
others besides men of high standing. A person of exalted rank was
once told that his cook had the talent of adding considerably to
his own wages. "I know it," was the reply; "but I hold that we
cannot pay a man too handsomely for making us happy twice a day."
In fact, in these times, one who can thus serve you out two
rations of happiness _per diem_ is regarded as a treasure.

Despite the vices, however, which exist in large cities, there
are many virtues also to be found among the resident people. They
are sincere, generous, disinterested, amiable, and withal
extremely witty. In the midst of their hardships, or when exposed
to danger, they will often utter sparkling sallies, or laugh
good-naturedly at their miseries. They are not rich; but what
matters that? They are ever ready to help those who are poorer
than themselves. In case of an accident, they will run, work,
expose themselves to save others at the risk of their own lives.
They are ready to sacrifice themselves for whatever they deem
just and right. Unfortunately, in their opinion, the authorities
are always in the wrong, and they are never backward to take part
against the law.


The more I study the people, the more incomprehensible they
appear to me. They are at once sceptical and religious. Watch
them in a public-house there they curse and swear, and indulge
freely in ribald talk; but if a funeral happens to pass by, they
immediately doff their caps, and make the sign of the cross.
To-day they will thrash one of their comrades unmercifully; the
day after they will adopt an orphan. No class ever had so much
need of guidance; of benevolent sympathizing guidance. They drift
with the wind under the influence of good or evil counsels. They
may become sublime or atrocious, angels of heaven or demons.

The people themselves feel their own weakness and fickleness, and
are occasionally dismayed at it. Some time back, one of them,
while looking at the stains of blood which had been shed in a
church in the month of September, 1792, was seized with a sudden
horror, and, laying hold of the arm of the priest who accompanied
him, exclaimed with a shudder:--"I fear those times may return;
for, you see, we are unfortunate. We are ill-advised, and are as
ready to kill with one hand as we are to embrace with the other."

They require, then, to be under constant guidance They always
need to have some one near who will sustain and keep them in the
right way by appealing to the better dictates of their hearts.


In one respect, such guidance is easier here than elsewhere. You
tread on ground which is perfectly well-known. These people can
hide nothing. As the saying is, when an idea tickles them, they
must scratch it until it finds utterance. Their frankness is
occasionally foul-mouthed, and they do not hesitate to blurt it
out to your face. Nevertheless, such a style rather pleases me
than otherwise. You know, at least, with whom you have to deal;
and when such an one says that he is attached to you, he is
sincere. God grant that the feeling in every case may be abiding!

They are not tenacious either of their errors, their prejudices,
or their passions. It is true that they are disposed to assume
airs, to repine, and to threaten. They declare that they will do
this and that; but it is by no means difficult to prevent them
from doing it at all. Ridicule their prejudices and their foibles
fairly, and with sound sense, and they will surrender them, and
you will overcome them all. Moreover, they will not be the last
to laugh at their own folly.

Some weeks after the revolution of February, when men's brains
were all in a whirl, and every one fancied himself called upon to
present us with a better world than that which Providence has
given us, Monseigneur D'Amata, Bishop of Oceania, happened to be
in Paris. One day he passed by a club in full session. The
attendance was numerous, and all ears were bent and all eyes
fixed on an orator who was dilating on the benefits of communism.
He wound up with the usual phrases: No more poor nor rich; no
more great nor small; no more palaces nor hovels; but perfect
equality and happiness for all. After which peroration there was
a tremendous outburst of applause.

The bishop then asked leave to speak, which being granted, he
mounted on a table which served for a rostrum, and spoke to the
following effect: "Citizens, you have just been hearing about
communism, and a great deal of good has been attributed to it. I
am entitled as much as any man to have my say on the subject. For
a long time past I have resided in a country where communism is
carried out into practice thoroughly." (Increased attention.)
"There every thing is common: the land, the forests, rivers,
fish, game, and women. But let me tell you how matters go on
there. Nobody works; the fields are untilled; and the inhabitants
live on fish and game. When these fail, as the people must eat,
they hunt one another. The stronger catches the weaker, roasts
him on a spit, and then eats him. Reflect, therefore, before
establishing communism, whether such a state of existence would
suit you. Should you persist, I would advise you to lay in a good
supply of spits, and to sharpen them well, for they will be the
most valuable stock under the reign of communism." Whereat there
followed an outcry of "Down with communism! Away with communism!"


  _The People in small Towns._

In small towns, the scene changes and assumes smaller
proportions. Little things play the part of great things. A small
town is the home, the real classical soil of petty ideas, petty
vanities, petty triumphs, and gross backbiting. They all know,
salute, and criticise each other. None is more slanderous than
the male resident in a small town, except it be his wife. The
chief authority of the place is neither the mayor, nor the
sub-prefect, nor even the prefect himself. It is public opinion,
flanked by its inseparable companion, routine.

The local virtue is not independence of character, but timidity.
Every one fears his friends as well as his enemies, neighbors as
well as strangers; he fears for his own _amour propre_, and he
fears to give others cause for talking about him.

All this has exercised a pernicious influence over the people in
such localities. They are extremely timid, niggardly, insincere,
rather hypocritical, and inordinately obsequious. They may be
well-disposed to discharge their religious duties; but should
there happen to be a free-thinker among them, one who takes the
lead in the finance or trade of the place, who might traduce or
turn such conduct into ridicule, or bespatter it with some of the
blasphemies picked up from among the off-scourings of the
eighteenth century, they do not dare to perform them; they
tremble at the idea, so abject is their state of dependence: they
have not even the courage to brave sarcasm.
This servile deference, which has been ignominiously expelled
from our great cities, has taken refuge in our small towns and
country districts, where it exercises a tyrannical sway.

On the other hand, the people in small towns are more moral, more
provident, less turbulent, and more faithful to family
obligations than those in large cities. They, above all others,
should not be judged by appearances: by that cold and lifeless
indifference which characterizes them. Hence it is that they are
so little understood, even by those who come into closest contact
with them.

In order to win them, you must attack them boldly. Promote
concurrence toward some benevolent object, by grouping your men
together, so that they may not feel isolated. Then they will take
courage, and will get to understand that it is no disgrace to
practise religious duties; or, at least, that in attending to
them, they are in fair and goodly company.

To that end, organize a society of St. Vincent de Paul; or,
should one exist already, develop it still further. It is no
longer allowable that a small town, or even a village, should be
without a branch of that institution. The attempt has succeeded
in many hamlets; and, surely, there is no inhabited locality so
unfortunate as not to possess at least three zealous Christians.
If so, they must be created forthwith; otherwise, what are we
good for? Have also a Society of Saint Francis Xavier, and an
Apprentices Association. Occupy yourself chiefly with the men;
leave the faithful flock in order to seek after the lost sheep;
and, above all, let it not be said of you as it is said of
certain small towns, that _religion there is engrossed with the

  _The People in Rural Districts._

The people in the country are the reverse of the people in large
cities. There, every thing moves slowly. Results are tardily
obtained, but they are more durable.

The peasant is bound to routine; he is diffident, dissembling,
susceptible, cunning, and somewhat avaricious.

Above all others, usage and custom are a law to him. He never
risks any thing novel, or trusts to new faces, but with reserve.
He possesses few ideas; but those he has he adheres to as
tenaciously as he does to his little bit of land.

He seldom comes straight to the point; he is incapable of saying
yes or no frankly, and he must be very acute who can penetrate
his thoughts. He will listen to you, and appear to approve all
you say; but in fact, he disagrees with you.
He has, moreover his grain of vanity; why should he not? Is he
not a child of Adam, like the rest of mankind? Has he not, like
them, preserved the tradition of his noble origin?

Hence he is prouder of being mayor of his _commune_, or an
officer in the National Guard, than either a prefect or a marshal
of France is of his dignity. And as regards deference, no man is
more exacting than a peasant who has risen to the rank mayor, or
become an enriched shopkeeper.

Lastly, the peasant does not possess much acquired knowledge; but
he makes up for the deficiency by consummate shrewdness. He must
be a sharp person indeed, who can overreach him where money is
concerned; unless he can manage to play upon his credulity or his
dread of spells and witchcraft.

Nothing can be more perverse, more astute, or more cunning than
an old peasant of Normandy or Lorraine. He will expend more craft
in disposing of an unsound horse than our diplomats would in
formulating one of those protocols destined to preserve the
balance of power in Europe. He will haggle for half-an-hour to
gain sixpence on a sheep which he wants to buy or to sell. In
other respects, the peasant is generally good-natured, laborious,
sober, full of good sense, and religious as well as moral, up to
a certain point; were it not for the public house. His life is
capable of easy adaptation to precepts of the Gospel.


In order to lead him, you must first secure his confidence, take
hold of him by his better side, or even by his weak side--which
is, his vanity. Ought we not to become little with the little,
that we may save all?

But the best way of gaining that confidence is to do him a good
turn. The peasant, undoubtedly, relishes kind words, but he likes
kindly actions still better; and therein I agree with him.

In other respects, he is by no means exacting. A little
forethought on his behalf, a little politeness, a salutation, a
manifestation of interest, or a trifling present to his child,
will be enough to open his heart, and to make him well-disposed.

When he is bent on doing a thing, never oppose him directly,
otherwise he will become restive and obstinate; and if you
attempt to lead him to the right, he will show a malicious
pleasure in going to the left. Beware still more of pushing him
to extremes; for he may become obstreperous, spiteful, pitiless,
and perchance atrocious. Take the peasant by the heart; for,
after all, it is the most healthy part of the community


  _On the Way of doing some little Good to these Three
  Classes of the People._

Such are the people, with whom we have to deal, and who need to
be restored to vital Christianity; seeing that they are,
unfortunately, sadly deficient in practical religion, and their
manner of life is often far removed from evangelical morality.
Still, let us beware of judging that the religious sentiment is
extinct among them. The people in France are naturally Christian.
There is more religion in the little finger of the people than in
the superb bodies of our _demi-savants_.

The people, I say, are still capable of comprehending and of
appreciating religion; and whenever their hearts are brought into
contact with the Gospel, they allow themselves to be penetrated,
ruled, elevated by its influence. Look at them in the presence of
a preacher who speaks to the souls of his hearers. Their
attention is suddenly riveted, their countenances become
animated, their eyes glisten. They listen with an attention and
good-will, which one often wishes to see in the most pious
audiences. They welcome without a frown the severest truths, and
even applaud those passages which bear most against themselves.

Those are, therefore, mistaken who think that religion has no
longer any influence over the masses. It is true that at first,
owing to the prejudices and sarcasms of a past age, the cassock
is a scarecrow to certain classes.
They begin by suspecting. But when the same persons come to know
the priest well, when they are once won over by his address,
there is no man in the world--neither tribune, nor popular
orator, nor demagogue--who ever acquires so powerful a hold over
them. It is on that very account that those who distrust the
clergy express their apprehensions, and say:--"Their influence is
excessive; their preaching should be interdicted; otherwise they
may proceed to abuse it, and then we shall all be upset."

This ascendency is often obtained over the most stubborn and
vicious. Condemned felons, despite their vices and their crimes,
have been amazed to find themselves amenable to its power. Those
who had been confided to the mission of Toulon, remarked:--"How
strange it is that we who require armed soldiers to make us obey,
nevertheless cheerfully do whatever the priests bid us!" And when
the mission referred to terminated, no less than 2800 of the
prisoners partook of the holy communion.

No, the people are not so much estranged from God and
Christianity as is thought. We were made to understand each
other; but evil passions have interposed between us and them.
They still possess good sense and an inward instinct which draws
them toward religion. They feel their need of it, because they
feel the need of hope. Religion belongs preeminently to them;
they are linked to it by their sympathies. Let us, moreover, do
them this justice: they, the people, did not give up religious
practices till long after the other classes.
They held out for more than a century. Errors and scandals
descended upon them from a sphere above them, yet they did not
succumb. The churches were closed to them, their priests were
driven away, even their God was hunted, yet they did not yield.
They were pursued even into their cottages, their huts, and their
workshops with licentious books and pamphlets, and they resisted

At length, religion was covered with ridicule, the mantle of
derision was thrown over it, as it was over Christ, and they were
bade in scorn to behold their religion! Then they gave way. ...
But the crash did not come till 1830, as the whole world can
testify. The people were assailed on their weak side, with taunts
and sneers which they were the least capable of withstanding.

But though deficient in evangelical morality, religious sentiment
has still clung to them. As a pious and illustrious prelate,
[Footnote 9] who knows the people well, who loves them, and is
beloved in return, remarked to the Emperor, on his way to
Moulins:--"I thank your Majesty for having understood that the
French nation, left to its natural tendencies, preserves the
character of the most Christian nation, and that, in spite of
many rude shocks, the faith of their fathers is the first want of
their hearts."

    [Footnote 9: Monseigneur de Dreux-Brézé, Bishop of Moulins.]


A dignitary of religion is always venerated by the people. They
run to see him and to solicit his benediction.

The visits of Monseigneur the late Archbishop of Paris to the
faubourgs, tenanted by a population regarded as the most
irreligious and immoral of the capital, may be adduced in
illustration of this statement. Crowds of men and women flocked
to him, bent under his paternal hand, and held up their squalid
and half naked children to receive his blessing. In like manner,
they brought him from all sides chaplets, images, and medals;
while those who did not possess such pious articles brought
halfpence, that he might bless them; and these they afterward
preserved as sacred relics.

The same soothing influence followed the devout prelate in the
streets, the workshops, and the public places. His words had a
magic effect everywhere among those hardened and redoubtable
denizens of the faubourgs.

It was in a quarter as poor in spiritual as in temporal things
that an immense crowd thronged to him, and like the Good
Shepherd--like the blessed Saviour--unwilling to send them away
fasting, that is, without a few affectionate words, he mounted
some steps, and stood on a landing, which served him for a
pulpit. Among the crowd was a group of those men who are at
perpetual war with society, keepers of smoking-dens, and worse
places too; blacklegs, and setters-up of barricades. They looked
at him without removing their caps, and with a sneer on their


No sooner had the prelate begun to speak than there was silence.
As he proceeded, one cap was doffed, then two or three more, and
soon all heads were bared, in accordance with the rules of French
politeness. When the sermon was ended, these men shouted louder
than the rest:--"Vive Monseigneur! Vive la Religion!"

It cannot be denied that the manners of the people are often
painful in the extreme; but, then, they have so little to fall
back upon, and are surrounded by so many temptations. Ignorance
frets them, debauchery degrades them, and, besides, having
constantly to struggle against the pinchings of want, it is not
surprising that they become, as it were, linked to a necessity
which weighs upon them so heavily.

Even we, with all our education, our science, the superior moral
atmosphere which we breathe,--are we always blameless? When the
people look above them, do they always find good examples in the
higher classes of society? What would you have them think when
they see men who ought to be patterns of virtue, when they see,
to use their own expression, _respectable scoundrels_, with money
in their hands and lying words on their lips, endeavoring to
seduce their wives or their daughters?


Nevertheless, they have not lost the courage of truthfulness: a
rare thing nowadays. They have still moral energy enough to
condemn themselves, to condemn their own mode of life, and to
admit that they are wrong-doers. A notorious reprobate, after
hearing a sermon, remarked to his companion: "All right;
religion, after all, is not such a humbug as it has been
represented." Scarcely any but the people retain such
ingenuousness. Elsewhere the truth is not relished, is not
recognized, is rather thrust aside as an intruder. Where, I
should like to know, among other classes, will you hear the
admission:--"I am misled; I am in the wrong?"

The people scarcely ever attempt to justify their failings by
reasoning, or to reduce their vices to a system; for there exists
in them a sense of justice and integrity which, when they are
calm, leads them to confess that they are unworthy to live.

A man [Footnote 10] who was in the habit of mixing with the least
moral class in Paris, relates that he one day had the following
conversation with the father of a family whose union had not been
blessed by religion.

    [Footnote 10: M. Gossin, _Manuel de la Société
    de Saint-François Régis_, p. 143.]


"I must apologize," he remarks, "for reproducing this colloquy in
all its original crudity; but I shall invent nothing; I shall
merely repeat what was actually said by both parties the first
time this _argmnentum ad hominem_ was employed.

"'I regret to find that we cannot understand each other. What!
you persist in maintaining that in seducing the woman at your
side eighteen years ago you did nothing wrong?'

"'Nothing at all. I am an honest man; I have never stolen nor
committed murder. I was rather gay when young; but there is no
harm in that. As to the woman, I did not compel her. Why did she
allow herself to be enticed?'

"'Let us speak on another subject. ... Are all these your

"No, sir; we have another at home, a young lass named Seraphine.'

"'I am sorry you have not produced her. I should have been very
glad to see her.'

"'It is very civil of you to say so, sir.'

"'Is she grown-up?'

"'Tolerably: she is twelve years old. She is getting on nicely
with the Sisters, which is very satisfactory. She sews well
already, and is a promising girl.'

"'Your boys here are comely and well-behaved, and do credit to
the mother's care.'


"'Yes, it cannot be denied that what she does for them she does
thoroughly. She keeps them well washed, and one hears nothing in
the morning but "let me comb you; let me wash you." You should
see how she souses and scrubs them.'

"'Is Seraphine as comely as her brothers?'

"'Do you hear that, missis? What a goose you are; won't you
answer? Well, I will decide for both. On my honor, Seraphine is
better looking than any in this house, though we have eighteen
lodgers, who have a jolly lot of damsels among them of all

"'(Then looking fixedly at the man)--'In two or three years,
Seraphine, who is still a child, will be a very attractive and
modest young woman, and she will be a comfort to you. ... But
what would you say if a working-man, doing as you did by her
mother, should seduce and dishonor the poor girl?'

"He sprang up almost beside himself, and said:--'What should I
say? I would say nothing; but I would murder the villain who
dared to inveigle my daughter.'

"'You would be wrong; for the man, according to what you yourself
have just said, would be, in your opinion, a perfect man; for he
would neither have killed, nor stolen, nor forced your daughter.
He could only be charged with having wished to amuse himself a
little; which you say is not a crime.

"Still beside himself with rage, he said:--'Nevertheless, I would
murder the wretch.'


"'But, my friend, recall to mind what you have done yourself, and
then judge.'

"With tears in his eyes, and pressing the hand of his
interlocutor, he said:--'Forgive me, sir; I lied to myself when I
said what I did. I was boasting just as many others of us do; but
I am better than my stupid speeches.'

"I may add, as a characteristic trait of the human heart, that
after this dialogue, the father's emotion at seeing his faults
placed naked before him was so strong, that he was seized with a
fever which lasted several days; that he subsequently thanked me
most warmly for having opened his eyes; and that I have now
reason to believe in his complete and sincere conversion."

Are we certain that we should find the same frankness and courage

The people, notwithstanding the bravado common to their class,
deplore their failings, and if intimate with them, you will often
hear them expressing their regret in some such style as
this:--"Pity me, for I am most wretched. Do you think it does not
make me uncomfortable to see my wife and children miserable, and
to know that I am the cause of their misery? I have made good
resolutions a thousand times over, and have broken them as often.
My passions and my habits have become so inveterate that I am
unable to resist them." ... They are right; for left to
themselves they will never be able to persevere in well-doing.
They need the aid of religion, which ought to be afforded them,
and which is by no means an impracticable task. Let us hear no
more of those incessant excuses that nothing can be done with
them on that score.

Away with all discouragement! Away with all despair! Those who
indulge in such feelings do us infinite mischief. They are a most
dangerous class in our midst; they will do nothing themselves,
and will not allow others to do any thing. They try to prevent
all good by ceaselessly repeating:--"It will never succeed. ...
There are so many obstacles to be encountered. ... It is
headstrong to attempt it."

This is one of the most hideous sores of the age. Such men accuse
others, and yet never seem to reflect that despair is the
greatest possible crime in the sight of God.

Nothing can be done with the French people! What, then, have we
come to? We admit that something can be done for felons in the
hulks, for the pagan Chinese, for American savages, for the
cannibals of Oceania. We believe it, for we send them help and
missionaries; and yet nothing can be done for our France, for the
nation beloved of God and His Church, which sheds its blood and
spends its gold for the conversion of the infidels, and where so
many heroic virtues still exist!
It is a calumny against France. In order to justify your own
neglect, you slander your brethren, you expose your ignorance of
your country, you ignore the power of the Gospel and the virtue
of the Cross. ... Know, then, that we may yet regenerate the
people. ... Yes, we can, and if we cannot we ought, for it is a
sacred duty; and he who does not discharge his own duty in that
respect, has no right to give an opinion about the duty of

But what are the means which should be employed to bring the
people nearer to the Gospel?

Religion must first be exhibited to them as it really
is--beautiful, good, and lovely; and then you may hold it up to
them as true, divine, and obligatory. You must first attract them
by the senses and the imagination, by sentiment, and by the
heart. The people like to be interested, touched, moved. They are
fond of sentiment, of festivals, and shows. After a week spent in
absorbing material drudgery their poor souls require the breath
of the Divine word to animate and cheer them. To them especially
religion should be "glad tidings"--should bring them mental
repose, refreshment, and peace. We should set out by making them
to feel, to love, and to bless; instead of which we begin with
reasoning, and end with the same. We have a mania, a rage for
reasoning; but make the people love first, then you may reason,
and will be understood.


I say that in order to make religion lovely in the eyes of the
people, you should exhibit it under its most attractive aspect.
Point out the good which it does on all sides, to orphans, to
children and their parents, to the forsaken, to the people
themselves, their wives, their daughters, and their fathers.
Appeal to their good sense and to their heart. Ask: "Is it not
true? I refer the decision to your own judgment." Say to the
people, but with overflowing affection:--"My dear friends, do
what you will, you will never find a better resource than
religion; religion will always be your best stay. ... When you
have spent your all, when the world will have nothing more to do
with you, when your bodies shall be worn out by old age and
sickness, when from dread of you men will flee from you as from a
contagion, you will still find by your bedside a priest or a
sister of charity to care for you and to bless you." [Footnote

    [Footnote 11: _Le Manuel de Charité_.]

But in order to make religion beloved, you must secure some love
for the priest also; for the people confound our cause with that
of God. In their estimation, religion is what the priest is; and
if they do not love the one, they will hardly entertain any love
for the other.


The priest, then, should appear to them surrounded with a halo of
charity. He must make himself known; he will always gain by being
known. He has been depicted in such dark colors that a true view
of him will effectually remove many prejudices, and give occasion
to the oft-recurring remark:--"Would that all priests were like
this one."

But if the people no longer come to us, we must go to them. We
don't mind going after the heathen of America and Asia; we cross
the seas to get at them; whereas there are in our midst--in our
workshops, our cottages, and throughout the country--tens of
thousands, perhaps millions, of practical pagans. We know this
well, we confess it, we deplore it, and yet we hesitate to cross
the distance which separates us from them! Poor French souls! Can
it, indeed, be that you are not of so much value as the souls of

To come to us the people must know the value, the necessity of
religion. But do they entertain any such idea? Surrounded as they
have been with so many passions and prejudices, is it surprising
that they are now insensible and mistrustful? Should we be better
than they if we had breathed the same pestiferous atmosphere? If
they are weak in the faith, it is our duty to pity them,
according to the apostolic injunction:--"We that are strong ought
to bear the infirmities of the weak, and not to please


But one replies:--"I cannot go to the people, for I don't know
what to say to them, how to address them." Well, I will tell you.
The best way of winning them, and others too, is to know how to
listen. That is one of the greatest talents in the direction of
human affairs. The man to whom you have listened attentively will
always go away satisfied with himself, and with you also.

You do the people good by the bare fact of listening to them. Let
them, therefore, complain and talk nonsense to their hearts
content. Overlook their errors, prejudices, outbursts of passion,
and their profanities, too. Let them discharge all the gall which
is in their hearts, and then they will be far more tractable.
They will tell you that they have no time to practise religious
duties; that they have no need of religion; that it is enough to
be honest; that they don't believe in another life; that
Providence is unjust, bestowing all the comforts on one class,
and all the miseries on the other. You may also expect to meet
with opprobious personalities. They will tell you that priests
are just like other men; that they only work when they are paid,
and so forth. Overlook all such remarks; they are enemies which
are taking their departure, and you will have fewer to encounter.
Hear all, and be not disconcerted at any thing that you hear; on
the contrary, after such an explosion, redouble your kindness,
assail the heart where your attack is least expected, sympathize
cordially with them, give them a hearty shake of the hand, and on
leaving say with candor:--"Well, well, I perceive that there is
good in you. At all events, you are frank, and I like frankness.
You are not as bad as you think. I will call again to-morrow and
have another chat with you." In this way you may baffle the most
diabolical ill-will.


Then, when a friendly footing has been established, you may refer
to the most salient objections and errors, and your words will be
like so many gleams of light. Who knows but that the individuals
themselves will not be the first to say:--"I know what you are
referring to; but make yourself easy on that score, for _much
that I said the other day was in order to get rid of you_."

Occasionally you will have to deal with a blunt and surly
character. Ask such an one, in an affectionate manner, after he
has expended his curses and oaths:--"Is that all that you have to
urge against religion and society? It is all you know, perhaps;
but I could tell you a great deal more. You have forgotten this
and overlooked that," till at length he will be induced to
say:--"I perceive that you are bantering me;" and he will never
afterward repeat his objections or his imprecations.

But, good God! why are we so much startled and horrified when we
hear such profanities? It is the very way to increase the evil.
Are we ignorant of what a man is who is vicious, or ignorant, or
Does he always know the drift of his words? The man of the
present age has a special claim to the pardon which the Saviour
prayed for on the cross. Besides, the profane man is not always
so far from God as is thought; such an one is not the most
difficult of conversion. A very witty man, speaking of another
whose restoration to religion has since gladdened the Church,
remarked:--"I begin to have hope of him; for when one talks about
Christianity to him he is annoyed, and blasphemes." We have the
besetting foible of readily believing those who tell us that they
have no faith. They must, indeed, regard us as most credulous
simpletons when they see us approach them with a cart-load of
argument to prove to them what they already know as well as we
do, or what they would know if their poor hearts were a little
less diseased.

Here, again, we see that charity must initiate and direct our
efforts. As to subsequent measures, if you would win over the
people, if you would acquire an irresistible influence over them,
busy yourself in what concerns them, and be unremitting in your
care of their poor. I will even go so far as to say, make a
semblance of taking this interest in them, and you will gain a
great ascendency over them, your words will have a magic effect
upon them, and they will be ready to overlook every thing else in
you, even the fact of your being a priest. ... This is a subject
deserving the serious consideration of those who have a hearty
desire to labor for the salvation of souls.


A priest enters a workshop, say, of gunsmiths. On perceiving the
cassock, those blackened figures immediately become blacker
still. They purposely turn their backs, in order to give him no
inducement to address them, and should he do so, the reply is
generally a curt "Yes, sir," uttered in as dry and morose a tone
as possible. He walks through the establishment, and meets
everywhere with a similar reception. Meanwhile, one of the
workmen whispers something to the foreman, which the priest
fancies may be a suggestion for his immediate expulsion; but he
is speedily reassured. What passed is transmitted from one group
to another, and suddenly the countenances and hearts of all
undergo a change. Instead of turning their backs, the workmen now
move sideways, as if to invite a colloquy as the visitor moves
along, and before he utters a word, they all stand ready, with
cap in hand, to welcome his address. The men become at once
polite, amiable, charming--Frenchmen, in fact, in the best
meaning of the word. The whispered sentence was the sacramental
saying of the poor:--"This priest is kind to the unfortunate; he
loves the people; he is not a proud man." O wondrous power of
charity! how little art thou understood? and yet thou canst thus
tame even the most unruly! We hear much on all sides about the
best means of enlightening and reforming the people, and of
preventing them from harboring envy and hatred. What is really
required to that end is, as we have been endeavoring to show, the
exercise of charity.


But, further, would you acquire an unlimited sway over the
people? Would you exert a divine power over them? Become poor,
and live in an humble dwelling. Herein I no longer insist on
duties and obligations; I merely give the counsels of charity,
and the reader may, if he pleases, skip over the next few lines.
Yes, unfurnish your house for the poor; send your silver plate,
if you have any, to the money changer; send your fauteuils and
your couches to the fancy warehouse; give one of your mattresses
to him who has none; send your clock to the pawnbroker, and let
your watch go and exchange places with it occasionally. Contend
for your left-off clothes and linen with your old housekeeper,
who will threaten to be seriously vexed if you attempt _to rob_
her of her perquisites. Accustom yourself to privations. Have a
room like that of the Cardinal Cheverus: a small table and a
chair constituted the furniture, a truck bedstead covered with a
light mattress formed his couch, and the most miserable room in
his palace was that which he chose to occupy. [Footnote 12]

    [Footnote 12: _Vie du Cardinal_, p. 316.]


Do this, and then speak and act, and you will be listened to,
believed, blessed, worshipped. Your heart will overflow with joy,
so much so that you may be induced to say:--"I fear lest I am
receiving my reward here, and that none awaits me in heaven."

Such voluntary poverty not only impresses the people, it
exercises also a powerful influence on the highest intellects,
transforming and disposing them to acknowledge the truth.

A person who had taken a prominent part in public affairs made
the following remarks after an interview with an eminently pious
man:--"What most impressed me was not his language, which,
nevertheless, was powerful and keen; but it was his furniture,
his wretched pallet, his three rush chairs and rickety table--all
which formed a most appropriate frame, so to speak, to his
anchorite figure. I returned home saying:--'I have seen something
divine.'" These are the ways of doing good which cost little, and
are within the reach of every one.

But to return. As I was remarking, the priest must be known and
loved, in order that, through him, religion may be known and
loved. To attain this, let him first appear to the people as
_full of grace_, and afterward as _full of truth_. Let love
precede truth, and then the latter will enter into the heart as
into its own domain.
Argument must be avoided, lest we drive the man of the people to
the miserable vanity of setting himself up as an enemy to
Christianity. Above all, we must be on our guard against
humiliating any one; for it is very easy to reduce a man to
silence by a witticism, or to make him fall into inconsistency
when he is not a Christian. With the reason of God it is always
possible to nonplus the reasoning of men.

In a word, we should consult our hearts much, and our heads only
a little. Yes, let us love the poor people, who have been so
little loved during their lives. Are not the people the most
notable part of our family? I mean of the priest's family; for we
have no other to love. It is true that we do not find its members
very amiable at first; but we soon get attached to them: we even
become enthusiastic about them, and experience a sincere pleasure
in associating with those dear _mauvais sujets_. Especially must
we bear with the weak, with the smoking flax and the bruised
reed. We must have a kindly word for all: a smile for this one, a
salutation for that one, a picture for the little child of the
more depraved. That child will love us; the mother will like
nothing better than to do the same, and perchance the father may
follow. ... In a word, we must bring into play all the
assiduities and the holy wiles of charity.


I conceive that the blessed Saviour lived and acted in this way,
in the midst of that wicked nation which put him to death. He
began by doing good--_coepit facere_; and then He
taught--_docere_. He healed, He comforted, He pitied, He ate with
sinners, He took the part of the guilty woman, He deplored the
impending ruin of His country.

Seize every opportunity of mixing with the people and of showing
them kindness; even those who seem the least promising. Are not
all a source of good to those who love?

You are a priest, and in walking along hear some one imitating
the cry of a raven. Such an occurrence is less frequent now, but
it happens occasionally. You recognize a human voice, for you
hear the accompanying remark:--"It will be foul weather today,
and some misfortune will befall us, for the ravens are on the
wing." Take no notice of the ill-nature, and do not assume a
proud or disdainful demeanor. It is vulgar to do so, and by no
means Christian. The first chance comer could do no more. But,
with a gracious smile on your countenance, and fervent charity in
your heart, and, above all, avoiding anything like irony, accost
the man somewhat in this style:--"So, my friend, it seems to
amuse you to cry like a raven. I am glad of it. There is so
little enjoyment in the world that I am gratified to have given
you a moment's pleasure. Besides, you are quite right; our dress
is as black as the raven. Nevertheless, if you knew us well, you
would discover that we are not as bad as our dress is black.
But, what are you doing here?" This will lead to conversation,
explanations will follow, a good understanding and mutual esteem
will be the result, and you will take leave of each other with a
hearty shake of the hand. Thus, an embittered spirit may be
restored to calm and to a better judgment; you will have made a
friend yourself, and perhaps gained one over to God; for who can
tell to what a favorable issue such simple beginnings may lead?
God be praised! many souls have been reclaimed to religion and to
society by similar means.

I must forewarn you, however, that success will not always attend
your efforts. You will often encounter obstacles, and even
opprobrium; but what then? To a Christian, that will not be the
worst feature in the case. Thereby, in the first place, you will
learn to be more a man; for one who has never known strife and
conflict, victory and defeat, is not a man: he has not lived: he
does not know himself, he does not know others; he is ignorant of
the science of life. He is an imperfect man: a man who has come
short of manhood: because he has never fallen back upon himself
to discover the treasures which Providence has hidden there. He
will never be a man to initiate, or a man of action. It is only
obstacles and contests which form useful as well as great men.
There is, somehow, a most unreasonable tendency in us always to
be sure of success; and yet our blessed Lord expired in anguish,
He. . . .


As to jeers and sarcasms, you may fully reckon on them.
Occasionally, moreover, you will be made to act the part of a
dupe or ninny. So much the better; such experience will serve as
a useful counterpoise to our natural arrogance. Such things are
trifles compared with what our missionaries have to endure among
the infidels. They brave the sword, and we are afraid of needles'
points, and call our fear prudence. But why this dread of being
derided? Can it be that we are ignorant of the French people? Are
we not aware that they must banter or ridicule some one, even
though it be a benefactor? What else can we expect? It is their
nature; but they are sterling at bottom. Join, then, to all your
other benevolent actions, that of allowing them occasionally to
sneer at you. Should an opportunity offer, say to them, in the
words of St. Chrysostom:--"I give you leave to turn me into
ridicule; I will forgive all the evil which you may say of me, on
the express condition that you become less wicked and less
unhappy." Here, then, we have another means of touching the
heart; for even revilers will find it difficult to help loving
one who thus throws himself upon their mercy, and sacrifices self
for their welfare.


A priest who was in the habit of visiting prisons, acting like a
clever man, generally addressed the most obstinate of the
inmates, and made it a point to enter into conversation with the
groups which appeared to be the most vicious and ill-disposed,
knowing that if these were converted the rest would probably
follow. He was specially gracious to the more impious, so much so
that the remark was often made to him by one and another:--"Don't
you remember that it was I who abused you the other day?" "Of
course I do," he replied; "but do you imagine that I care for
abuse? On the contrary, I consider myself rather lucky when I get
a good round of it, and feel to like the abuser the more.
Besides, I was fully convinced that you were better than your
language might lead one to believe." When he retired, the
observation was frequently made:--"There's a priest unlike the
rest. He acts up to his religion. I don't know but that I shall
confess to him;" and the veiled intent was often carried into
practice. Act in this way, and you will be loved more and more;
and when men have learned to love the servant on earth, they may
perchance learn to love his Master who is in heaven.

This done, you will have made a good beginning, and you must
persevere by presenting religion under its most attractive
aspect. Generally, however, religion has been exhibited to the
people in a manner which imposes too great a restraint on
individual liberty.


We should talk less about what religion forbids, and a little
more of the benefits which it imparts. Don't be always
saying:--"Religion forbids this, and that, and the other thing;"
for you will turn the people against it, and will be charged with
insisting on what is impossible. We Frenchmen are very children
of Adam--and of Eve too. It is quite enough for a thing to be
forbidden to induce us to do it. We have a ravenous taste for the
forbidden fruit. For instance, a man curses and swears in your
presence. Don't tell him that it is a sin, an abominable habit;
for he will then take a malicious pleasure in repeating his
profanity. Tell him rather that it is unseemly, that it is
vulgar, that it shows bad taste, and he will abstain; for all,
even the most depraved, wish to be thought well brought up. Let
us therefore talk less of vices and more of virtues.

Let us now suppose that you are brought in contact with a crafty
and narrow-minded class of persons. Disconcert all their
manoeuvres by a straight forward and sincere address, and by a
still more frank demeanor, always combined with discretion. Then
there will be no gratification in deceiving you. Above all, never
resort to underhand measures, and carefully avoid slander. The
people hate them: and God and His truth have no need of a secret


When you have to deal with an egotistical and slanderous set,
never speak of egotism or slander; but scatter love broadcast
among them, make the good chords of their hearts vibrate, filling
them with the holy palpitations of charity toward their brethren.
Thus slander and egotism will vanish, according to the saying of
St. François de Sales:--"When there is a fire in the house, every
thing is thrown out through the windows."

In large cities, where the people are quick, bustling, and
petulant, your speech should be lively, frank, bold, winning, and
irresistible, that it may cause their hearts to thrill with
emotion, and excite their interest by occasionally drawing a
smile from them. In small towns, on the contrary, be less bold
and more circumspect, and let it be your first aim to acquire the
confidence of the people. Study your ground well, the prevailing
prejudices, and even the local routine.

Novelties often engender distrust. To gain currency for them, you
must secure the affections of your charge, and soar above petty
ideas and feelings. Be impassible and kind in the midst of the
puerile interests which surround you. Be just, for the people
love justice: they even love a severe man who is just; how much
more, then, will they regard such an one if he is benevolent
also? Confidence once restored, go to the main point; stir up
men's consciences, appeal to the better part of human nature, and
throw routine overboard.
Bring religion into close contact with those hearts which seem so
cold, and you will witness things unknown to those who believe
these people to be indifferent or hostile, simply because, as is
often the case, the people in small towns are not known. They are
looked at too near, they are judged by the exterior, and almost
always by those characteristics wherein they clash against

There is another reason why you should keep aloof from the
narrow-mindedness above mentioned. One frequents certain
excellent families of the locality who are devoutly inclined and
are munificent to the Church. There is no harm in that; but it
often happens that these worthy persons have rather contracted
views, and are not altogether exempt from petty passions. They
are fond of hearing and repeating some ill-natured gossip, or the
least edifying news of the day; and as we are all apt to acquire
some of the ideas of those with whom we associate, one comes at
length to look at things with their eyes, and finally adopts some
such style as this:--"My parish is this, my parish wishes that;"
whereas, if matters were closely analyzed, it would turn out that
the alleged wish of the parish is confined to a few of those
aforesaid pious souls.


The next false step is to adopt a self-conceited course of action
and of religious teaching, wholly irrespective of the Catholic
Church: nothing is thought of what may be done elsewhere.
"Success can only be achieved in such a way," becomes the
expression of this self-sufficiency; while those who fall into it
grow exclusive and empirical, and forget that, thanks be to God,
the ways of doing good are multifarious, and among them such as
are suited to all dispositions and characters. Nay, it will be
fortunate if this conceit does not assume to have done all that
could be done, and to deny the possibility of others doing better
or more. Happy indeed is the man who can truly bear such a
testimony to himself! We war against prejudices: let us therefore
beware of entertaining any ourselves, for they are not the
easiest enemies to be dislodged. Yes, we sometimes circumscribe,
we confine the beautiful Catholic religion within the small town
where we ourselves reside; we recognize it there, and there only;
it is taught as it should be only there; no good can be done
except what is done there, whether that said small town be called
Quimperlé or Saint-Pierre-de-Chignac.

As regards the people in rural districts, who are dull, timid,
susceptible, and rather gross, you must strive to open out their
souls in order that religion may penetrate them. They are not
over-exacting, not having been spoilt on that score, and a very
little attention satisfies them.
A token of good-will, a salutation, an act of politeness, a
trifling gift bestowed on their children, will suffice to attract
them toward religion; for, generally speaking, when it is
properly presented to them, they are attached to it: they love
it, they are proud of their Church and of their curé, and are
ready to fight to prove that he is the most accomplished priest
in the kingdom.

The peasant must never be provoked or pushed to extremes. When he
resists, don't attack him in front, but turn the difficulty by
laying hold of one of his weaker points, some one of the good
fibres of his heart; otherwise, the more you talk and threaten
the more he will consider it a duty not to listen to you. Never
be at variance with any one. The priest should have no enemies,
and should not be content while he has any. I do not like to hear
the remark: "That man is my enemy." Christ never said so; but He
did say:--"Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do."

One of the most effectual ways of gaining over the peasant, as
well as the people generally, is to show great confidence in him,
and to raise him in his own eyes. Don't be chary either of
encouragement or commendation when he has but partially deserved
them. Suppose him to be all that you could wish; you will thereby
pave the way to impart some useful truths to him. Exalt his good
qualities in his own estimation. He has fallen so low that you
need not be afraid of making him vain, or of raising him too
May you rather succeed in exalting him to heaven! Did not Christ
come to raise the fallen? Carrying about with him, as man does,
the remembrance of his noble origin, he finds it very hard to
resign himself to being a nonentity on the earth. For my part, I
prefer a little vanity to the mania of envy and hatred.

In this respect also, timidity has led to our passive cooperation
with the malevolent. We have suffered the people to be too much
depressed. We have allowed them to be practically told that they
are nothing and the rich every thing; that the lot of the
disinherited poor is toil, misery, and contempt; that of the
rich, affluence, enjoyment, and honors. Rather raise the people
by telling them, in the accents of truth, that they are great in
the estimation of God and the Gospel; that they have their share
of dignity and honor, and have no cause to envy others.--"My
friends, the rich have their advantages and you have yours. They
have their joys and so have you. Beware of envying them. A good
workman! why, such an one is the spoilt child of Providence. You
are mistaken in thinking that wealth alone brings happiness. The
rich happy, indeed! How can any one be led into such a delusion?
You know not what they have to suffer: their sufferings are
fearful; and if I wished to discover the most poignant sorrows on
earth, I should not knock at the hut or cottage to seek for them.
I should knock at the gates of those splendid mansions which
adorn our squares. It is there, behind those triple curtains,
that I should find them with their claws of iron embedded in
broken hearts. ... My friends, with a stout heart and two strong
arms you may be as deserving, as happy, as great, as noble as any

But this must not only be said; the people must be treated in
such a manner that they may understand it. We must respect them
much, in order that they may learn to respect themselves; showing
them always due deference: as, indeed, we should show all men. In
a word, we should practise, in our dealings with the people, all
the decorum and refined politeness of the drawing-room; with
greater sincerity, to boot.

For, indeed, they have more need of such treatment than others.
As manifested toward them it would be novel and efficacious;
elsewhere it is generally vain and barren. This kind of
politeness charms and raises them out of that moral degradation,
the remembrance of which besets and weighs them down. So treated
they will cease to hate, to envy, or chafe; and will learn to
love, to be resigned, to have better aspirations: and, withal,
they will bless you.


The best way to direct, to benefit, and to reclaim the people to
religion, is to develop the good sentiments which lie dormant in
the recesses of hearts; the foremost of which is charity, or the
spirit of self-sacrifice.

France is the home of charity: it exists among the high, the low,
and the middle classes. The people are naturally sympathizing. As
already remarked, it is a pleasure to see their readiness to
oblige. The rich class are charitable; but are they more so than
the popular classes? I will not judge; I prefer saying to all:
"Well done; onward!"

If you wish to inspire a man of the people with good-feeling,
calm, and a love of the truth, prevail on him to perform a
charitable act. Get him to comfort or to relieve some one, even
though you undertake to compensate him for so doing.

When you meet with a hasty or passionate man, do not adopt the
ill-timed and absurd method of arguing with him. Is he capable of
understanding you? He is drunk with rage, and such intoxication
is more terrible and brutifying than that with wine. In
attempting to argue with him, you are like the woman who
sermonizes her husband on his return home with his reason drowned
in liquor.

Rather take the man, and induce him to undertake an act of
charity. Talk to him about humanity, get him to help a
fellow-creature, and after that you will hardly recognize him as
the same individual. That act of generosity will transform him;
will raise him in his own eyes, will give him holy joys, will
draw him toward God, will reconcile him to himself and to
humanity. God be praised for having brought down charity to our
earth! It blesses him who receives, and him who bestows it.


The people are specially capable of appreciating
disinterestedness, the spirit of self-devotion. It is their
element, and constitutes the largest share of their happiness.

But latterly they have been treated harshly and cruelly. Wants,
aspirations, and desires have been fostered in them which can
never be gratified, and their life has been poisoned thereby.

Much has been said about ameliorating their condition. So far
well; but that amelioration has been made to consist, in a great
measure, of material enjoyments, of more to eat and drink: in
fact, of feasting. In former times they lived on rye bread and
were not unhappy. Now they have wheaten bread, and meat with it,
and even coffee; yet they complain and are not content. A want
should not be created among the people, unless there is a
certainty of its being amply and always provided for.

The people, however, are not always won over through their
appetites; they prefer being led by the nobler instincts of the
human heart. They like what is grand, what is costly, and what is
obtained by great sacrifices. They have not, in any degree, the
_bourgeois_ tastes, the _bourgeois_ petty calculations, the
_bourgeois_ love of little comforts.
They are much more disinterested than is thought. We must not
attempt to gain them over by their material interests solely:
that would be to ruin them and ourselves also; but, allowing them
a due share of such inducements, we should rely mainly on their
generosity and devotedness; for the people really admire great
actions, great achievements, and the great characters who bear
sway over the destinies of mankind. They entertain a species of
worship for them; they refuse them no sacrifice. They attach
themselves to their good or evil fortune, and with them they are
always popular, always abiding.

The wars of the Revolution and of the Empire have weighed heavily
upon France, have levied the tax of blood on many families;
nevertheless, the name of the Emperor is still surrounded with a
magic halo. Moreover, in the east of France, the marches and
counter-marches of armies, with two successive invasions, have
devastated the country, overburdened the peasantry with imposts,
and altogether ruined many of them. For all that, enter any
cottage there, and you will find the picture of Napoleon by the
side of the image of the Virgin. Even on the field of battle,
amid showers of shot and shell which decimated their ranks, the
brave children of the people exclaimed in death: "Vive
l'Empereur!" Such are the French people at heart: if there is a
tendency in them to seek their own interests, there is a tendency
in them, equally strong, toward devotion and self-sacrifice.


If, then, you would give them a right guidance, speak to them of
other than petty ideas and material enjoyments: the more so,
because, if you attempt to win them over by such low motives,
they will become insatiable; their appetites will get the mastery
over them and plunge them into every kind of excess. Material
enjoyments, indeed! It may be questioned whether France, with all
its fertility, and all the resources of its advanced
civilization, would suffice, in that case, to furnish their first

In order to elevate, to control, and to satisfy this great
colossus, the people, you must be provided with something more
than human, something mysterious, surpassing human views and
human reason; otherwise, you will continue powerless, and will
never bring about any moral improvement in the world.

What has become of our great men, who trusted in man, who
appealed to reason only, however exalted that reason may have
been? Where is now their ascendency? Where the devotion which
they have kindled? Where are the masses who have clung to their
good or evil fortune? They fall, and their fall is regarded with
Even in prosperity, do they secure attachment? Do they acquire a
permanent sway over the hearts of men? Not in the least; respect,
and esteem, and even fidelity are meted out to them according to
their characters, or according to the benefits which they are
judged to have conferred on us. "That man is worth so much: he
possesses so much learning, so much talent, and may be so far
profitable to me. He only deserves so much consideration; I owe
him nothing more." That is his account fully made up. A halo of
superhuman radiance should surround him who would govern the
masses--something divine, infinite, presaging immortality,
heaven, hell, eternity ... otherwise, you will continue to have a
degraded, besotted, or savage people, a people who, in the
country, are sunk in materialism, encroach on their neighbor's
field, or become the prey of usurers; who, when their asses are
diseased, will call in a veterinary surgeon, but will let their
wives suffer rather than pay a doctor to attend them; who will
weep over the break-down of one of their horses, but find no
tears for the death of an aged parent;--a people who, in towns,
find all their pleasures and happiness in rioting and debauchery;
who are never well; who accuse others of their sufferings; and
who, after squandering their own substance, appeal to others,
with hate on their lips and a sword in their hands, saying: "Now
we will share with you."


The best means of reclaiming them to religion is, first, to get
possession of their ideas, their instincts, and their good
feelings. We must enter in at their door, and make them go out by
ours. Bind, rivet religious thought to their thought--to those
sentiments which cause their hearts to vibrate most, and then
elevate their souls; wean them from the prepossessions of earth,
from indifference and evil passions, and impart to them the joys
of religion and charity.

Take advantage of any occurrence, of any great event, of a fire,
a calamity, an illness. ... A fire reduces a poor family to ruin,
Appeal for aid, placing yourself at the head of the movement, and
the result will surprise you. A laborer falls sick, and his
fields remain untilled. Call his fellow-laborers together, and
they will be glad, they will forget their own interest, to come
to the assistance of their suffering comrade. The people of
France are not known; the spirit of self-sacrifice and generosity
which is in them is not known. It may require some great occasion
to develop it. Well, it is for you to bring it about.

For instance, you wish to restore a church or to build a new one,
and require a considerable sum of money for the purpose. So much
the better; out of that requirement, you may draw treasures of
charity and religion.


Enter the pulpit and state your object; be like a father in the
midst of his family. Set the whole case before them, your fears,
your hopes, your need, and then add:--"We rely upon you. You will
aid me, will you not? for I shall take the lead, and this will be
our church."

You will then witness how the old French and Christian enthusiasm
may be rekindled in the hearts of the people, insomuch that you
will be tempted to ask:--"Are we really in the nineteenth
century? Are we not still in the middle ages?" All will
cooperate: the poor man will offer his two arms, work men will
give their day's labor, the agriculturists, if there be any, will
supply carts; this one will give money, another wood, a third
stone; here windows, and there ornaments will be presented. Who
knows but that some, who have never been accustomed to work, will
offer to aid in the building? The little _bourgeois Voltairien_,
who has been known to speak evil of God and of His curé, even he
may wish to have a hand in the erection of the church; so that
all will thereby be brought nearer to God, nearer to the truth,
and nearer salvation.

Similar things have occurred in every part of France; though few
have any conception of the existence of such a spirit among the
people. We have even heard venerable pastors exclaim on
witnessing it:--"I have held this parish for twenty-five years
without knowing of it. I could not have believed that my
parishioners had so much good in them."


Haymon, abbé of Saint-Pierre-sur-Dives, [Footnote 13] tells us
that in the middle ages, kings and mighty men of the time,
renowned and wealthy, nobles of both sexes, stooped so low as to
lay hold of the ropes attached to the carts laden with provisions
and materials for building churches, and drag them to the house
of God. And what appeared most astonishing was, that, although
owing to its size and heavy burden, the cart was sometimes drawn
by upward of a thousand persons, so profound was the silence
maintained that nobody's voice was heard above a whisper, and the
eye alone could recognize particular individuals in that vast

    [Footnote 13: _Manuel de Charité_, p. 244.]

Similar spectacles may be witnessed again. Scenes akin to them
occur frequently in the least religious parts of the country, and
under the most adverse circumstances. One such took place during
the present year at the prison of St. Pélagie.

Two years ago, a new parish was formed in one of the most
miserable quarters of Paris, where the people were almost pagans.
An appeal was made to their charity, and five hundred francs, in
_sous_, were collected after the sermon. Moreover, the poor
brought gifts of bread, and wished to help in the erection of the
Two poor women brought the fire-wood which had been given to them
by the _Bureau de Bienfaisance_. Many brought their rings and
wedding presents. Working men clubbed together to ornament the
church; and, what is better still, now that it is built, they go
there to pray. O people whom Christ loved, how little are ye
known! how little beloved! Ye would be saved. ...

To sum up: in order to benefit the people, they must be cared
for; they must be loved, must be made to love all that is good
and great, and then you may lead them where you will. Charity is
popular in France. Above all, succor the unfortunate; do so
bountifully, and you will gain an ascendency which nothing will
be able to wrest from you. You may then defy the criticisms of
wits, of the press, and of hate, and retain possession of the
most glorious sovereignty in the world--that over the hearts of

We must insist, therefore, on the necessity of giving the people
a right direction; not the dry and cold direction of a
metaphysical argument, or of a sword's point, but a benevolent,
sympathetic, devoted impulse. ... We have not busied ourselves as
we ought about the people, about their moral amelioration. We
have abandoned them to the intriguing and ambitious, and then we
complain of and reproach them. Have they not as much reason to
murmur against and to upbraid us? The people are what they are
They are like those unclaimed lands which belong to the first
occupant: they are good or bad according as they are well or
badly managed; and, looking at the manner in which the people
have progressed for the last ten or twelve years, it would hardly
seem that they have been under the direction of honest men. What
have we done? What masters have we given them? To what school
have we sent them? To the school of the tavern, the
liquor-vaults, and debauchery. And who have been the masters of
this great French people? Men over head and ears in debt,
bankrupt tradesmen, briefless barristers, peddling
tipstaffs--such have been their educators; and yet forsooth, we
have the face to complain that they have been badly brought up!
What ought to surprise those who know the temptations and
allurements to which they have been exposed, and the kind of
literature which has been put into their hands--no less than
eight millions of mischievous books every year by colportage
alone--is, not that the people are so bad as they are, but that
they are no worse. Their nature must be good at bottom, and
Christianity must still survive in their hearts, to have
withstood as they have done. I deplore the good which is ours no
longer; but I bless Providence for that which still subsists.


We have, in truth, played into the hands of designing and
malevolent; for when we have seen them set on the people,
overwhelming them under a crushing load of errors, prejudices,
and antipathies, instead of taking part in the contest, we have
too often stood aloof, and contented ourselves with the vain
deprecation, uttered perhaps with a smile of disdain:--"They are
being taught what is unreasonable and will not bear examination!"
Very true; but do the people examine? When a bad press has been
active, lavish, and amusing withal--when it has followed them
into their workshops, their cottages, in fact, everywhere--how
did we act? Why, we gave them some wearisome treatises which were
either puerile or crammed full of metaphysics. Good heavens! when
shall we be brought to understand that the people do not reflect,
that they look, listen, and then go forward? They need some one
to guide them, and if honest men do not undertake the mission,
they will find others who will. ...

To aid us in affording that guidance, we should invoke the
cooperation of the higher classes, inducing them to exert
themselves for the moral amelioration of the people. Here, again,
we have another rich mine to be worked which has been greatly
neglected, but whereby all may be benefited. The people must be
morally reformed by the rich, and the rich by the people.


Alas! we often have to deplore the little effect which our words
produce on the higher classes. But why should you expect them to
understand us? They have no longer the Christian sense; they do
not wish to endure, their aim is to enjoy themselves. They are
devoured by sensualism and hardened by egotism. To remedy this,
begin by dipping their souls in the waters of charity; teach them
the way of self-sacrifice and devotion; enlist them in efforts
for the moral benefit of the people, their children, and the
poor, and then you will be listened to.

This kind of charity is readily understood in France. All of us
have some sort of pretension of wishing to do something for the
moral welfare of the people, even though we may not be strictly
consistent in our own morality. But the French mind is so logical
that it cannot play such a part for any length of time without
being bettered thereby, were it only for shame's sake or out of
self-respect. Something within will say:--"Before attempting to
reform others, I shall do well to reform myself." Then charity
will attract heavenly blessings, and the heart will open itself
to the inspirations of the Gospel.

If, therefore, you wish to convert or reform a man, set him to
reform one somewhat worse than himself. You will succeed much
more readily in that way than by argument.

Take the case of a young man whose virtue is more than wavering,
and the flights of whose imagination cause you anxiety. Set him
at work to reform others, or to make the effort on some notorious
He will do his part wonderfully well; his own virtue will be
strengthened and confirmed thereby, and you will have given
beneficent scope to an exuberant vivacity which the youth himself
did not know how to utilize.

It is related that a president of the Society of Saint Vincent de
Paul had reason to fear that some of its members failed to
discharge their Paschal obligations. There were, at the same
time, several poor families to be converted, and he committed the
task to the suspected defaulters. The result was that they were
the first to partake of the Holy Communion. The thing was simple
enough: before leading others to the confessional, it was
necessary that they themselves should show them the way.

Every effort made by the higher classes to benefit those below
them, revives and sustains in the former the spirit of
compassion, of benevolence, and of self-sacrifice--the best
sentiments of the human heart. It imparts life to them; for to
live is to feel, is to love, is to be loved, and to cause love in
others. To have sympathy with and fellow-feeling for the
poor--that is to live; but to be wholly absorbed in business
matters, in advancing one's own fortune, or in concocting
intrigues--that is not to live; rather it is to become brutish
and to go to ruin. Nothing is more immoral and contrary to nature
than to be always taken up with self.
Moreover, the course which we are recommending tends to draw the
different classes closer together, to teach them to know and
esteem each other, and to assuage mutual jealousies and
antipathies. The people are fond of being thought of, of having
interest manifested toward them. Under such treatment they
readily yield, and are glad to be reconciled. They become even
proud of the tokens of benevolence bestowed on them by some
wealthy individual; it is a kind of safeguard to them against
evil passions. They say to themselves:-"We are loved and
esteemed: let us by honest and Christian conduct continue to
deserve such consideration."

Further, it cannot be denied that there is a tendency in the
spirit of the people to fancy themselves despised by the rich.
Even suspicion on that point must be rendered impossible, for it
may lead to serious evils. The people are implacable on the
subject of contempt: they are even cruel, and they cannot pardon
it, whatever else they may be ready to overlook. They forgive
those who deceive and those who rob and over-work them; but they
do not forgive those who despise them. To be despised is to them
the last indignity: and perhaps there is some reason in that
popular instinct. It is surprising that our blessed Lord
complained but once during His passion. ... He suffered, He died,
without a murmur; but when the affront of contempt was inflicted
on Him, He complained, and uttered that speech which revealed a
heart profoundly bruised:--"If I have spoken evil, bear witness
of the evil; but if well, why smitest thou me?"


But when the people meet with benevolence and cordiality among
the rich, jealousy and hate give way, and they may be heard to
say:--"If all the rich were of that sort, they would be adored;
we should be ready to die for them." Moreover, they are led
thereby to have more faith in God and in the reality of a

Some few years ago there lived an artisan's wife who was
notorious for her hatred toward society, toward the rich, and
even toward God. She hated them with an implacable, a woman's
hate. Her malignity was specially directed against the _rolls of
silk_ and _bundles of stuff_--so she designated the females of
the upper classes--and she was known to be in the habit of saying
to her children:--"I have brought you up for the democracy ... to
humble the rich and to reestablish equality; and if you do not
become democrats, I will disown you."

A priest commissioned a young marchioness, as virtuous as she was
accomplished, to attend to this poor creature. She began by
listening with kindness to all her grievances and insults, and
even allowed herself to be called a _coquine_. Nevertheless, by
dint of patience, she soon succeeded in calming her embittered


One day, the marchioness, who was about to absent herself for
several weeks, went to bid farewell to her _protégée_. She took
her affectionately by the hand, and then, moved thereto
spontaneously by her kind heart, and doubtless by the grace of
God also, cordially kissed her, saying, as she left:--"I shall
soon see you again."

The poor woman was stunned with amazement, and moved even to
tears, and forthwith went to the priest; but instead of first
saluting him, she began by exclaiming:--"Is it possible? You will
not believe me; nevertheless it is true. She kissed me! .... Yes,
the lady marchioness kissed a miserable creature like me. ... Ah!
I have frequently declared that there was no good God; now I say
there is, because that lady is one of His angels. I have said,
too, that I would never confess; now you may confess me as often
as you please." Since that time she has been an exemplary

The day after, the priest wrote as follows to the excellent lady
whom God had made the instrument of this good work:--"You may,
indeed, consider yourself happy. ... We priests are at great
pains to preach, and do not always succeed in converting our
hearers; but you succeed with an embrace!"

Oh, if women only knew! Oh, if they would, what good they might
do, what evil they might prevent! ....


Moreover, the existence of real virtue in a woman of the world
depends upon her coming out of self, and devoting herself
assiduously to works of charity. ... For, you may rest assured of
this, that without self-denial on her part you will never be able
to keep her in the right way. ... Take the case of a light,
worldly, and gay woman--and there are many such; you will never
acquire any influence over her except through the medium of
charity. She will make promises, but she will take care not to
keep them: you can never rely on her being faithful to them. It
will be vain for you to address her in the most conclusive
speeches, to ply her with refined and smart essays on good
breeding--in vain that you assail her foibles and waywardness
with irony and sarcasm--in vain that you hold up before her the
terrors of death, hell, and eternity. She will find loopholes by
which to elude all that, and to deceive herself. It will not
prevent her in the least from being vain and excessively addicted
to pleasure, from baring her shoulders immoderately, and from
going a-begging for idolatrous incense in fashionable circles.
Before all, she must be made to feel, to love, to be loved, to
devote herself. Charity filling her soul will set fire to the
house, and then every thing else will be thrown out of the


Strive, therefore, to enlist all--women, men, and even
children--in searching out the distressed, and in the moral
improvement of the people. Make charity honorable; let there be
benevolent enterprises in your locality in which all can take
part, so that there may not be a man or woman who has not his or
her poor, or who is not engaged somehow in works of charity.

This is the case already in several towns in France, where a
person can scarcely decline being a member of some benevolent
association without suffering a loss of respect. You must
overcome all repugnances on this subject, more especially that of
_amour propre_. There are those who will raise the following
objection, which is by no means rare:--"How can I, a man in my
position, a woman of my standing, busy myself about a set of
beggarly people like these?" To such reply:--"And why not? In the
great cities, men the most eminent by fortune, talent, and
reputation, do it. ... Even ladies who are fêted and sought after
in the world--the young and beautiful, countesses, marchionesses,
and princesses--even such do not disdain the task. There are
women in Paris, possessing every thing that heart can desire,
with a rental of from two hundred thousand to three hundred
thousand francs, who deprive themselves of legitimate pleasures
to occupy themselves in making clothes for the poor, visiting the
most wretched hovels, and nursing the indigent sick."
Tell them all this with gentleness and kindness; make the grand
ladies of certain small towns--such as the wives of lawyers,
judges, advocates, merchants, commission agents, and
viscounts--ashamed of themselves. It will tend to wean them from
that spirit of contempt and sensualism, and that pride of shabby
finery, which consists in thinking one's self superior to a rival
because she has had the signal honor of finding a better
dressmaker. Tell them that, if they affect the fashions and
usages of Paris, they would do well to imitate the charity, zeal,
and devotion which are exercised there.

To cite but one instance, that of Donoso Cortès, whom we may now
praise, for God has just called him to Himself. He disappeared
every day from home at certain hours. No one knew where he went;
but it was afterward discovered that it was the time of his
visits to the poor. M. de Montalembert, who knew him well, tells
us that he loved the poor passionately, but, withal, discreetly.
In fact, in order to benefit the people, that is how they must be
loved. Thereby alone can you hope to succeed in restoring them to
the path of Gospel self-denial and self-sacrifice.

Be on your guard, moreover, against another excuse often urged by
certain of the wealthier classes. They say:--"But the people
distrust us; it is quite enough for us to attempt to lead them in
one way to make them determined to follow another."


The people distrust the wealthy classes! If it be so, whose fault
is it? Is it all theirs? They do not know those classes; they
seldom see them except at a distance, and from a lower standing.
Their estimate of them is founded on slander; how, then, can they
have confidence in them? ... Their confidence must be won, it
must be raised by dint of benevolence, charity, and
self-devotion, and the task is by no means impracticable. What!
the possessors of fortune, and talent, and a name, and yet unable
to gain that confidence on the part of the people which a
schoolmaster, a village lawyer, a tipstaff, a man without any
intellectual or moral worth, is able to secure! Of what avail,
then, is it to spend so many long years in study? What does a
good education mean, and of what use is it? Surely a very false
idea has been formed of education. It will soon be made to
consist in knowing how to train a horse, or to turn a compliment,
or in instilling vanity into brains which need no addition of
that quality. Knowledge, talent, position, and birth are not
bestowed on us for the benefit of self, but for the welfare of
all; and it therefore behoves those who are endowed with a
greater capacity--who possess more knowledge, more time, more
influence, and more heart than others--to share their advantages
with those who have less, or who have not the leisure to acquire


That the influence of which we are speaking may be secured is
proved by the fact of its existence throughout France. There are
parts of the country where the rich man is king and father of his
_commune_; which then resembles one great family. There, the
tenant of the cottage exchanges smiles with the proprietor of the
mansion, and the joys and sorrows of both are warmly
reciprocated. No important step is taken by those who are below
without knowing first what those above them think of it. Under
such circumstances, how many evils are avoided, how many quarrels
adjusted, how many animosities appeased! Oh, what a glorious
mission! How sad to reflect that it is not carried out
everywhere! Nevertheless, strive to make it understood by
persuasion. Make frequent appeals to the hearts of the rich, to
their love of humanity. Invoke them to aid us in stopping the
misery at its source. Invoke their pity on the masses who toil
and suffer beneath us; their pity for those poor children whose
fathers devour their bread; pity on behalf of the aged who pine
in cold and hunger; pity for the woman who spends her Sunday
evenings in tears, expecting every moment to encounter the
brutality of a husband who reels home with his reason and heart
drowned in liquor. Appeal even to their sense of shame, and tell
them that, if it is right to protect animals, it is still more so
to cherish human beings--that their words, coupled with a good
example, would be all-powerful to remedy these miseries--that it
is the rich and great of the earth who sow good or evil in the
hearts of men, and that if matters do not progress to their
satisfaction, they should begin by taking the blame to
themselves. ... Your efforts will be appreciated by many. ... You
will be blessed by all.


Such are the French people; such, it appears to us, is the way to
do them good.

It is well to study books: it is indispensable; but it is not
enough. We must also study the hearts, the minds, the manners of
those with whom we have to deal, otherwise our knowledge will be
like gold buried in the mountains of America. "The good shepherd
knows his sheep, and is known of them." Is that saying always
realized amongst ourselves?

There is one particular point, however, on which we must be
thoroughly convinced, namely, that what sufficed in former times
will not suffice now. A great revolution has taken place among
the masses. A century ago, Christianity bore all away in its
strong current. Passions broke loose, no doubt; but sooner or
later all bowed before the Gospel. Nowadays, attempts are made to
justify human weaknesses. Formerly, scarcely any other guidance
was permitted but that of the Christian pulpit. Now, there are
platforms everywhere, and within a century we have between
fifteen and eighteen millions more who can read--from fifteen to
eighteen millions of men who may easily be led astray.


It is a common saying that "France is very sick." Then, I beseech
you not to treat it as if it were in perfect health. Would you
make an end of it?

"Christianity alone can save us," is another common remark. Very
true; but it must be brought in contact with the masses, and if
they do not come to us, we must go to them. ... We have been
unsuccessful in the ministry of the word; let us try the ministry
of charity.

Is it not the aim of Christian eloquence to win over the hearts
of men, and to dispose them toward that which is good? Avail
yourselves, then, of your position to carry out that object.  ...
Be persuaded that the world is tired of fine speeches; it wants
actions: and of that demand, who can complain? ... To study and
to argue is to act well; to act and to love is better still.

But the most formidable argument against Christianity is
this:--"We admit that Christianity has rendered great benefits to
mankind by endowing the world with admirable institutions; but
its sap is exhausted; its ascendency over the masses is lost."
Let us prove that this is false, not by words merely, but by
deeds: by self-denial and self sacrifice. Those arguments are


But in order to remedy the evils which beset us, we must not rely
on the systems of the learned or on human laws. Good heavens! if
reasonings and codes of law sufficed to secure the peace and
happiness of a people, France ought to be the most prosperous
country in the world.

Neither must we rely upon the power of the sword. It is easily
used; but, as De Maistre has said, to rely on force is like lying
down on the sail of a windmill to obtain quiet sleep. Then,
again, the adoption of force leads to the most terrible excesses.
Those who invoke it know not what they do: they have never
witnessed civil war or barricades, they have never seen French
blood flow in the streets, they have never heard the roar of
cannon or the crash of grapeshot. . . . May God preserve us from
a recurrence of such experience! Rather by dint of persuasion, of
devotion, and of love, let us strive to reconcile all hearts, and
make France the foremost people in the world--the most Christian
and divinely blessed nation.


    Chapter III.

    The Order of a Sermon

  The Exordium.
  Are there many Unbelievers in France?
  Manner of refuting Objections.

After getting to know the people and to be known of them, to love
them and to be loved by them in return, the next step is to lead
them to the knowledge and love of God and His Gospel by means of
oral teaching. ... In carrying this out, use plain speech, and
aim straight at your object, which is to expound the truth
proposed to be treated in such a way as shall cause it to be
listened to with interest. Let it be perceived at once what the
subject is, and what you intend to say. Sketch out your truth in
a few sententious words, clearly and emphatically enunciated.

Let there be none of those vague and halting considerations which
give the speaker the air of a man who is blindfolded, and strikes
at random,--none of those perplexing exordiums wherein every
conceivable fancy is brought to bear upon a single idea, and
which frequently elicit the remark:--"What is he driving at? what
topic is he going to discuss?"


Let the subject-matter be vigorously stated at the outset, so
that it may rivet the minds and engage the attention of the

Generally speaking, at the commencement of a discourse, there is
profound silence, and all eyes are fixed on the preacher. Avail
yourself of that opportunity to arrest the imagination of your
hearers, to attract their attention, which you should maintain
throughout, and to withdraw their minds from the things of earth
and from themselves, in order that they may live your life for
the space of half-an-hour.

Let your onset be bold and vigorous, that your audience may catch
a glimpse of the strength of your position, your means of
defence, and the triumph of the truth which you are about to
handle. ... "I prefer," says Montaigne, "those discourses which
level the first charge against the strongest doubt. I look for
good and solid reasons to come after."

This should be followed by a word of appeal to the heart, to
restrain its evil promptings--something genial and earnest,
calculated to open out the soul, and which, coupled with a simple
and modest demeanor, shall at once bespeak the preacher as
sincerely attached to his audience.
If preaching on the duty of charity toward the poor, you might
say:--"I come before you on the present occasion to plead a cause
which will secure me against all adverse criticism, for I know
your charity. I have not to address you to-day in language of
censure or rebuke, but in words of encouragement and blessing."

If a severe truth is to be urged on the congregation, it might be
introduced thus:--"You will permit me to declare the truth unto
you; for you love the truth. The people have never been hostile
to it. ... You yourselves would not be satisfied with half
truths; you desire something better. Therefore I shall deem it my
duty to tell you the whole truth with the freedom of an apostle,
but at the same time, with all Christian charity."

In a word, you should exhibit that gentle admixture of power and
benignity which so well befits him who speaks in the name of the
Most High; exciting the love of your hearers as with the
influence of a mother. Or, following therein the example of Saint
Paul, being like one who serves, and not like one who rules;
condescending toward all; striving to withdraw them from the
sorrows and passions of life, that you may lead them to the
truth, to virtue, and to heaven. ...

On great occasions it is usual to recite the _Ave Maria_ before
the sermon. It is a venerable and edifying practice which ought
to be followed; but forbear invoking the Holy Spirit or the
blessed Virgin unless you do it devoutly and sincerely.
It is frequently otherwise: one appeals to heaven, and fixes his
eyes on the earth: another, instead of the posture of prayer,
assumes the attitude of menace, and looks very much like a man
who demands your money or your life.

There should be order in the sermon, and the ideas should be
linked together, and should mutually support each other. But it
should not be laid down as an invariable rule always to follow
those categorical divisions which necessarily cut up a truth into
two or three parts, these to be cut up again into two or three
sections of truth, giving the speaker the air of a man who is
amusing himself with pulling a machine to pieces, and then
putting it together again. The Fathers did not ordinarily follow
that course. Indeed all discourses cannot be so subdivided; for
not every subject will bear it without losing much of its
interest. ... Most sermons seem to be modelled on the same
pattern, so much so, that the hearer is disposed at the very
outset to remark:--"I have heard that already twenty times over,
set forth just in the same way. What use is there in my listening
to it again?" This is one drawback, in addition to the
consideration that it is not prudent to take the audience into
your confidence as to the conclusion to which you intend to lead
them. ... Or another listener will say:--"Alas! we are still at
the second subdivision of the first part.
What a long sermon it will be!" He is seized with _ennui_, and
then farewell to all feeling of interest in the Divine word, and
to all hope of any benefit to be derived from it.

It is preferable to have a range of ideas known to yourself
alone, with intervening pauses. In that way you will carry the
hearers along with you. They will listen, will be moved, will
forget how time passes, and at the conclusion will not feel tired
with having followed you. It appears that the mania for
subdividing every thing is a complaint of long standing. La
Bruyère has passed his judgment upon it; which, apart from
exaggeration--the inseparable companion of criticism--is not
inapplicable at the present day.

Speaking of preachers he says:--"They hold three things to be of
indispensable and geometrical necessity, and to deserve your
admiring attention. They will prove a certain proposition in the
first part of their discourse, another in the second part, and an
other in the third. Thus, you are to be convinced, first, of a
certain truth--that is their first point; then of a third
truth--which is their third point; so that the first reflection
is to instruct you on one of the most fundamental principles of
religion; the second, on another not less so; and the third, on a
third and last principle, the most important of all, but which,
nevertheless, must be postponed for lack of time to another
occasion. Finally, in order to resume and sum up these divisions,
and to form a plan. ...
What! you are ready to exclaim, more yet! And are these merely
the preliminaries to a discourse of forty-five minutes duration
which is still to follow! Why, the more they attempt to digest
and throw light upon the subject, the more they confuse me! I
readily believe you, for it is the most natural effect of that
heap of ideas, which always turns upon one and the same thought,
with which they pitilessly burden the memory of their hearers. It
would seem, to witness their obstinate adherence to this
practice, as if the grace of conversion was attached to these
preposterous divisions. I heartily wish that they would pause in
their impetuous course to take breath, and give a little
breathing-time to others. Vain discourses! Words thrown away! The
time of homilies exists no longer; our Basils and Chrysostoms
will fail to reclaim them; people will pass over into other
dioceses to be beyond the reach of their voice and familiar
instructions: for men in general like set phrases and finely
turned periods, admire what they don't understand, consider
themselves edified thereby, and rest satisfied with deciding
between the first and second points of a discourse, or between
the last sermon and that which preceded it."

Division must not be sought for; it must present itself, and
spring out of the subject which you are about to discuss, or the
object which you have in view.
For instance, you intend to treat on deference to man's opinion.
Establish these two points:--1st. That there is no disgrace
attached to the practice of religion; and 2nd. That even if there
were, in the estimation of some men, it is our bounden duty to
brave it.

When a dogma of the faith is to be treated either before the
people or others, never propound the truth in a hypothetical
form, which is fraught with danger. Thus, do not say:--"Does the
soul die with the body or does it pass to another life?" ... "Is
Jesus Christ a mere man; or is he the Son of God?" Always use the
affirmative form:--"The soul does not die with the body; the soul
will live for ever." ... "Jesus Christ is the Son of God; he is
God Himself." Otherwise, you will seem to question those
verities, and may give rise to doubts. Such was the result in the
cause of an artisan, who remarked, after listening to a
sermon:--"For my part, I was quite sure that there was another
life; but I learn from what the preacher has stated to-day, that
there is something to be said against as well as in favor of the

The people like a strong, self-reliant, and fearless affirmative,
declared boldly and sincerely in the name of God, which admits of
no buts, or ifs, but which descends from on high, claiming the
ready assent of all without distinction.


Discussion is not the way to teach Christianity. It must be fully
understood that the truth of the Gospel is not the conclusion of
an argument; that it depends neither on the talents of the
preacher, not yet on the acceptance of the hearer; that all such
accidents do not affect it in any way. Christianity must be
expounded just as it is; but in a noble and energetic manner,
such as shall cause it to be readily understood and loved in
spite of all opposition.

Nevertheless, in condescension to human infirmity, you may
occasionally justify God, as the Divine word says, by pointing
out the fitness of a Catholic truth; but this must be by the way
only. Resume quickly the high standing of a man who speaks in the
name of God--_tanquam potestatem habens_--who is himself
controlled by a truth which he cannot modify in the least degree.
Call in frequently the aid of faith; prove, without stating that
you are going to prove; and, in order the better to combat men's
errors, confront human authority with the authority of God.

Men will raise such objections as these:--"But the Gospel itself
declares. ... Those great men who are called the Fathers on
account of their piety and genius have said ... The Catholic
Church, armed with its infallible authority, says ... God Himself
has declared ... And as against these witnesses what is the word
of a mere man to me? Moreover, I will not submit; I will not bow
down to human authority. Am not I a man as well as he? Am I not
endowed with reason? He affirms, I deny; he denies, I affirm; my
word is as good as his, even were he what is called a man of
Granted that genius commands respect--and I respect it when it
yields to what is superior to it--but, as compared with the law
of God, what is a man of genius? A poor pigmy, who labors and
drudges for forty years to acquire some traces of a superior
mind; who more frequently possesses the _amour propre_ of a silly
woman; and who, while pretending to govern the world from his
study, allows himself to be led by his own female domestic. For
my part, I require something better than that; a greater, a
higher authority, and one much more self-reliant."

You will best restrain and meet these objections by having God
always at your side. Entrench yourself behind the Divine
authority; efface the man and hold up God; impose silence on the
earth and let Him speak, but with power and loving-kindness.

Unhappily, we have not maintained this high standing. The Divine
word has been brought down too much to a human level; it has been
made too much to reflect man's image. The incessant attacks of
the enemies of religion, and, it may be, our own scholastic
studies also, have inspired us with a combative, and querulous
humor. Christianity is now discussed, proved, philosophically
demonstrated. You constantly meet men who are going to _prove_
this to you, then to _prove_ that, and then again to _prove_
something else. In God's name, don't repeat this so often, but do
it a little better.


These attempts to prove certain propositions generally result in
obscuring and confounding them. A preacher states a truth; you
understand and enjoy it. He demonstrates it; and you understand
it less, and perchance begin to doubt it.

Some years ago especially, we were seized with the malady of
dogmatic conferences. Every one wished to hold conferences to
prove the _reasonableness_ of Christianity. The epidemic has
abated, but we are not wholly free from it. ... That there should
still be one or two of these conference-men in certain large
towns is all well enough; yet even that is to be regretted, for
the genus is an offshoot of the misfortune of the age, and is by
no means apostolic. In order to treat Christianity in that way,
extraordinary talent is required, together with a thorough
knowledge of the dogmas of our religion, a knowledge equally
profound of the human heart, of philosophical systems and errors,
and a mathematical precision of language.

We may rest assured that the control over antagonisms and
passions, so as to preclude doubt or suspicion from creeping into
the mind, must always proceed from an elevated standing, and that
men possessing the necessary qualifications, or even some of them
in a high degree, are extremely rare.


This consideration has been sadly overlooked. Very soon we shall
have every one attempting to philosophize Christianity. There are
scarcely any, down to the youngest priest, who does not take up
the most difficult dogmas, and who does not seek to do battle
with those who are styled "unbelievers"--that is the current
word nowadays, because, as it would seem, the old term (infidel)
has been worn out by long usage, and, therefore, it has been
thought necessary to create a new one.

All this is very deplorable. Until quite lately there was hardly
a discourse, addressed even to the people exclusively, which did
not contain passages intended for unbelievers, or tirades against
unbelievers, or apostrophes to unbelievers. The believers who
were present were neglected for the sake of the unbelievers who
were absent.

It is not rare, indeed, to meet with men who call themselves
unbelievers, who assert it, and who write themselves such; but
will you find men who are seriously unbelievers, and who do not
falter in their negations? A pious priest, who was frequently
called upon to attend the sick in the higher classes of society
in Paris, was once asked whether he often met with men who had
ceased to believe. He replied, good-naturedly:--"Pray, don't
allude to the subject. Though I have been long accustomed to
minister to great sinners, I have never yet had the good fortune
to lay my hand on one who was even a little unbelieving. As
regards the faith, men in general are better than their words or
their writing either."


As has been well remarked:--"The man who, even in all sincerity,
says: 'I don't believe,' often deceives himself. There is in the
depths of his heart a root of faith which never dies."

Real unbelief cannot prevail in France. There is too much good
sense, too much rectitude in the French mind, and too much moral
beauty in the Gospel, to render absolute unbelief possible.

These pretensions to unbelief are generally based on a little
ignorance combined with a large amount of feeble-mindedness; so
that when one tells you that he does not, that he cannot believe,
you should understand him to mean that he is weak and timid. Let
us be on our guard against taking such men at their word, for we
should thereby show how little knowledge we possess of the human
heart. A priest who was called in to attend a person who had
spoken and written much against religion, put this question to
him:--"When you wrote were you quite sure of your own unbelief?"
The other replied, "Alas! Monsieur l'Abbé," ... in a deprecating
tone, which seemed clearly to imply:--"How young you are, and how
little you know of the human heart!"

No; the question between the world and ourselves is not whether
the miracles and mysteries of Christianity are believed, but
whether the morality of the Gospel is practised.
That is the real question at issue. So true is this, that
scholars and honest men will not hesitate to say frankly:--"The
matter is not one of argument; only retrench from your religion
several small commandments of God and the Church, which we need
not specify, and then we will be on your side."

That is the secret of unbelief. It is not faith that is wanting,
but the courage to do what is right.

How, then, are we to get rid of those preachers who are always
taken up with unbelievers? How delivered from those endless
sermons addressed to unbelievers? They do us much harm and very
little good. The whole thing, besides being ill-judged, is a
mistake. By incessantly speaking to men about unbelief, we may
end in making them unbelievers; just as we may make a dolt of a
man by dint of telling him that he has no sense. Besides, what a
blow it is to Christianity to give the people to understand that
a notable portion of a great nation has seriously contested its
Divine origin! Is not this to suggest the temptation that they
too should become unbelievers, since, by so doing, they would be
in so numerous and goodly a company? Instead of such a course,
begin by telling your audience--but in the accents of profound
conviction--that there is not one unbeliever among them; that
they all have faith; that they believe as you do; that they are
better than they judge themselves to be; that not every one who
wishes it can become an unbeliever; that Jesus Christ is too
eminent in history and in the world to be regarded, in earnest,
as a mere man: ... tell them this, and you will do them good,
and, besides, you will be telling the truth.


They all believe, but their faith is imperfect, wounded. So true
is this, that Voltaire himself, as all the world knows, could not
rid himself entirely of his faith, all Voltaire that he was. ...
What! Voltaire, with all his wit, and, if you will, his genius,
Voltaire, with his demon pride, his satanic hatred of Christ, his
half century of blasphemies,--Voltaire, the head of the most
redoubtable cohort of enemies that Christianity ever had,--even
he could not wholly divest himself of his belief; and yet it is
pretended that our pigmies of the nineteenth century, with their
limited knowledge and petty malice, are able to stifle their
faith when that giant of impiety was unable to strangle his in
his eagle's clutch! ...

Only a little reflection is needed to convince ourselves on this
point. For what is unbelief? It is the conviction that
Christianity is false. Now, how can such a conviction be arrived
at against eighteen centuries of genius and virtue, against the
authority of the Gospel, against Christ Himself? How can any man
reasonably attain the position of being able to confront those
eminent men and facts, and say:--"I am quite sure that you have
deceived the world ... you have lied?"
It is impossible. It may be said and written in a moment of
passion; but such assurance is not, cannot be attained.

We shall, therefore, be acting truly as well as wisely in not
descanting so much about unbelievers. For, after all, of what use
is it? For the most part, these alleged unbelievers are not
present to listen to you. Neither is that the worst feature in
the case. These kinds of sermons are by no means calculated to
convert them. Generally speaking, they show too little regard for
the _amour propre_ of such characters; who, as is well known, do
not pique themselves on their humility. If we would benefit them
we must pass quickly from the mind to the heart: that is their
weak point. We must not keep ourselves so much on the defensive,
but carry the war into the enemy's country. Our tactics should be
to do good abundantly to all men that we may save all, and then
there will be no doubt about their believing in the divinity of

All the parts of a sermon need not be equally good and powerful.
Two or three more elaborate and striking passages will suffice to
ensure success; but those passages should be such as effectually
to overthrow prejudices and errors, and should be conclusive
against all gainsayers.


There should also be intervals to break monotony--that
stumbling-block of many sermons; to give the mind rest; to allow
time for the hearts of the audience to be penetrated by what has
been said; to introduce familiar topics which do the soul so much
good; to soften the asperities of any great emotion; to bind up
the wounded; in a word, intervals for the preacher to become the
father after having represented the King, to attract the hearts
after having gained the minds of his hearers.

It is a mistake to aim at making every part of a sermon equally
powerful and equally prominent. It is an attempt against Nature.
Moreover, we should not aspire to adduce every available proof in
support of a particular truth. One or two will suffice, and the
strongest is not always the most convincing to your audience.
Select those likely to produce the greatest impression, and
forbear when that end is attained. The victory is yours, retain
it, and do not expose yourself to a reverse.

There are men who do not think they have proved a thing until
they have brought together, pell-mell, all the known proofs in
the world. The consequence is that, after listening to one of
their sermons, the question discussed appears more confused to
you than ever.


As regards objections to be refuted, you should never adduce any
but such as are current in the locality where you are speaking;
and it is dangerous to give them a too salient form, for you may
thereby wound the faith of your audience. But the objection once
stated, refute it at once in a few sharp and decisive words. Let
your reply be in language as prompt, striking, and decisive as
that of the objection. Avoid all circumlocution and hesitation in
meeting it. Show it no pity, but let it expire forth with in the
presence of your audience. Let every word tell like the cut or
thrust of a sword, or, at least, like the stroke of a mace which
shall effectually silence the objection. You may then justify,
easily, the blows which you have dealt: but strike first and
explain afterward; otherwise, never attempt to place an objection
before the people. If, as is too often done, you begin by
saying:--"Before refuting this objection, two principles must
first be laid down," or, "three reflections must be made," the
minds of your hearers will go a wool-gathering; they will not
listen to your reflections; they will retain nothing of your
discourse beyond the objection; you will have lost your time, and
may have done harm into the bargain.

In sermons to the people, the peroration should be energetic,
captivating, fervent; not a fervor of the head or throat, but of
the soul, accompanying something to enlighten the minds of the
hearers, to gain the assent of their hearts, to subdue their
passions, and to electrify their spirits.


Let us be on our guard against those vapid perorations which are
nothing more than the ending of a discourse which we are at a
loss how otherwise to wind up. The audience must not be dismissed
with a wrong impression; therefore be more affectionate at the
conclusion, the more severe the truths have been which you have
enunciated. In a word, the peroration should be sympathetic and
vibrating. It should comprise all the power, all the marrow, and
all the energy of the sermon. It should contain some of those
keen thoughts, some of those proverbial phrases, which recur to
the mind again and again like the strains of a familiar song
which we sing involuntarily,--or a single thought, which when
once entertained leads one to say:--"Were I to live a hundred
years, I shall never forget it."


  Chapter IV.

  The Sermon Should Be Popular.

  What constitutes true Popularity?
  Popularity in Words, in Thought, in Sentiment.
  One of the most popular Sentiments in France is Patriotism.
  Means to utilize that sentiment.
  The Relationship between Popularity and Genius.
  Saint John Chrysostom.
  Daniel O'Connell.

The language of the Christian orator whose object is to make
religion known and loved, should possess the following

It should be, 1st, popular; 2dly, plain; 3dly, short.

All eloquence to be effectual must be popular. An orator is
essentially the man for all, and is specially made for the
people. The people are the best judges of true eloquence, and are
themselves the best soil to be cultivated thereby. Cicero says
that "the most infallible token of an orator is to be esteemed as
such in the opinion of the people." He was so persuaded of this
that he remarks in another place:--"I wish my eloquence to be
relished by the people."


This is still more true as regards the Christian orator. He
appeals to all: to the little, to the poor and the ignorant as
well as to the great, the wealthy, and the learned, and his
speech should be understood and enjoyed by all. He is not free to
deprive any one of the truth. All men are people before the
Gospel, and that Gospel speaks in unison with the souls of all.
It stoops to raise, to comfort, and to enlighten all. Hence the
truly popular preacher proclaims himself at the outset as no
ordinary orator, but one about to be powerful, and to rise into a
giant, before whom even the most learned will be obliged to bow,
because his soul is linked with the Divine word, and with the
hearts of the people.

This popularity of Christian discourses has become rare, more
especially in our towns. Instead of being satisfied with the
life, the sap of that Gospel which has moved the world, preachers
have deemed themselves obliged to call in the aid of philosophy,
metaphysics, and distorted phraseology and rhetoric. The
exception has been taken for the rule. The Divine word has been
bound, imprisoned in a terminology, which many do not understand.
The preacher speaks, but the man remains impassible and cold.
Painful reflection! The word of God passes by and says nothing to
the mind, the soul, or even to the ears of the audience.


But I hasten to observe that the popularity of a sermon does not
consist in using common, trivial, or vulgar language. The people
do not like such a style, and regard it as derogatory to their
intelligence and dignity. They have much more tact than is
generally supposed. They know perfectly well what befits each,
and have an exquisite sense of propriety. The people wish their
preacher to speak better than they do, and appreciate dignified
language. Hence, whenever they have to name any thing mean before
you, they are careful to preface it with the proverbial apology:
"saving your presence." In fine, the object of preaching being to
elevate the people, the language adopted should be superior to
theirs. The style of speaking has an important bearing on the
morals of life.

We may, however, occasionally borrow some of their most striking
and picturesque, and even some of their quaint expressions, put
them into a good framing, and make them the starting-point for a
felicitous sally or thought. They have then a powerful effect.
The people perceive thereby that you are acquainted with them,
that you must have visited among them, that you know their life,
their toil, their sorrows, and even their foibles, and they will
open their hearts to you at once. They feel themselves to be on
familiar ground, where they find, as it were, an old friend.
There is a strange instinct among the people which leads them to
reason thus:--"That man knows us, therefore he loves us;"
whereupon they readily give you their confidence.


Then, again, it is not very difficult to maintain a style of
speaking at once dignified and popular. Look at the lady of
fashion dealing with the petty tradesman, or even with a
fish-woman--a character by no means celebrated for choice or
polite expressions. The price of the article treated for is
discussed, the bargain is struck, both parties come to a
satisfactory understanding, and the language of the woman of the
world has been sober throughout, and perfectly becoming. ...

But popular speech consists not so much in the expressions used
as in the thoughts and sentiments conveyed thereby. We have
already remarked that the people have good sense, ready wit, and
above all a heart. ... We must lay hold of those points in them
to effect an entry into their minds as well as their hearts,
thereby preparing the way for religion to follow.

The people have a certain aggregate of ideas and thoughts, and
their own way of apprehending and appreciating things. All this
should be studied, for it constitutes the best holdfast of
humanity. We should make ourselves of the people, as it were, in
their mode of thought, joining thereto superior knowledge; study
those ideas which they do not adequately estimate, put them into
expressive and proverbial language such as they relish, and then
engraft religious thought into their thoughts in order to
elucidate and elevate them.


But the people possess, above all, an inexpressible richness of
sentiment, together with admirable instincts. These must be laid
hold of, cultivated, and profoundly stirred, and then
Christianity should be brought in and fused, so to speak, with
those good instincts and noble sentiments. Dive down to the
bottom of the souls of the people ... touch the best chords of
their hearts ... be inspired with their aspirations ... be
animated with their passions; I had almost said be agitated with
their anger. Possess yourself of what is best in them, and return
it to them in vivid expressions and glowing effusions of the
soul, that they may think, feel, will, as you do; that their
thought may seem to have anticipated yours, while, at the same
time, you exercise sway over them. Then your sermon will be the
outward expression of the best sentiments of the human heart,
ennobled by the Divine word. Such, we take it, is true
popularity; such also is the real power of Christian eloquence.

In this way you may lead men onward to the highest speculations,
and raise them even to heroism. You may then use the language of
scholars, provided that you continue to be of the people in


One noble and powerful sentiment which should be cultivated--a
sentiment which may be made to call forth the sublimest
aspirations and the most heroic transports--is patriotism. The
people love France, they love the glory of France, they love all
that concerns France. If, then, you wish to interest them, to
induce them to listen to you, to stir them up, to enlarge their
hearts, speak well of France to them; dilate to them of their
earthly country, and then you will find it much easier to raise
them to that country which is in heaven.

An admirable example of this was afforded by Monseigneur the
Archbishop of Paris, during his visitations, and he produced one
of those magic effects which seem hardly to belong to our times.

The venerable prelate visited a school of adults, consisting of
about four hundred youths, all in the flower of their age and the
heyday of their passions. On taking his seat, the whole assembly
intoned a harmonious and popular hymn, full of patriotic
sentiments. The archbishop made this the starting-point of his
lecture, and soon there was such a thunder of applause that the
floor of the hall shook, to say nothing of the ears of the
spectators. The speaker himself must have been stunned, but he
resumed with animation:--

  "Do you know, my children, why this magic word 'country'
  electrifies your hearts? It is because one's native country is
  the sacred home of man, of his duties and his privileges. It is
  his life, his cradle, his tomb; it is every thing to him after
  heaven, from whence he comes, and whither he must return; and
  which is on that account the glorious country, the kingdom of
  all righteousness, the fruition of all privileges, the
  communion of all souls, of all happiness, of all good. Chaunt,
  therefore, your earthly country, but be not forgetful of that
  country which is beyond the skies.


  "Yes, sing it, and love it well. It has need of all your filial
  love and useful prowess. It has bled much; it still suffers.
  Respect it, comfort it, for it is your mother. You are indebted
  to it for birth, instruction, employment, and a livelihood. It
  behoves you to show yourselves worthy of these benefits, to
  merit them, to win them, and to preserve them. Young citizens,
  be men! Young men, be Christians!

  "I recognize in your ardor the descendants of those warriors
  who, on the approach of the enemy, gained the frontier at a
  bound, and as one man. They were workmen when they left;
  workmen less fortunate and educated than you are. They
  returned, as you know, conquering heroes, or they fell covered
  with glory.

  "Were the country again menaced, and an appeal made to your
  courage, I should have no misgivings; for, hardly should I have
  blessed the tricolored standard over your heads, than it would
  take the eagle's flight and echo a reply by a brilliant
  victory, either from the summits of the Alps or from the
  borders of the Rhine."


We must renounce all attempt[s] to describe the sensation which
this discourse elicited, and which it at the same time
restrained, that the speaker might not be interrupted. It broke
out at last; the hurricane burst through all bounds, and then
suddenly subsided as if in remorse at its own violence. This
intelligent silence seeming to say: "Go on," the archbishop

  "I doubt not that you would easily triumph over the enemy: but
  would you overcome yourselves also? would you subdue your
  passions, calm your impetuosity, be Christians, be virtuous?"
  [Footnote 14]

    [Footnote 14: _Visites Pastorales_, p. 136.]

"Yes, yes!" exclaimed these noble youths. Their hearts were
touched, and they were ready for any sacrifice. The prelate then
rapidly set forth the virtues which they ought to practise, the
temptations which they should avoid, the vices they should
subdue, and the passions which they should curb. Thereupon, the
explosion of enthusiasm was redoubled, showing that these brave
youths were not irretrievably wedded to their errors and foibles;
for though in reality undergoing a partial defeat, they applauded
as if they had been the conquerors.

We repeat it: one of the best means to popularize religion among
the people is to speak always in favorable terms of their native


There can be no doubt that deplorable excesses in the history of
the last seventy years have wounded the hearts of the clergy, and
imparted a savor of bitterness and sarcasm to our language
respecting France. But it is wrong: one should always love one's
country and one's times, though it may be a duty to combat their
prejudices and their errors. On this subject I commend the words
of one of our own statesmen, endeared both to religion and to his
country:-- [Footnote 15]

    [Footnote 15: M. de Falloux.]

  "Do not misunderstand what I am about to say; do not imagine
  that I wish to unduly criticise the era in which we live. No;
  my country and my contemporaries will find in me rather an
  impassioned advocate then a prejudiced detractor. I love my
  country and my time, for I cannot separate the one from the
  other. I believe that one cannot be loved without the other. He
  who does not acquiesce in the age in which he lives, its
  responsibilities and its dangers, does not wholly love his
  country: does not love his country except in times which either
  exist no longer, or in those which have not yet come. To do
  this, is to discourage, to lessen the power which we should
  hold at its service. The age in which each of us lives is
  simply the frame wherein God sets our duties; the career which
  He opens to and imposes upon our faculties. To study one's age
  is to search out what God desires and demands of us."


Then, again, we are bound to be just. If France has done wrong,
how much good has she not done; how much is she not still doing
every day! The words _Gesta Dei per Francos_ have not ceased to
be true as regards ourselves. Is not the blessed institution of
the _Propagation of the Faith_ the work of France? Is not, also,
the _Archiconfrérie_ for the return of sinners to the paternal
home, the work of France? Is not the society of Saint Vincent de
Paul likewise the work of France? That society numbers eight
hundred confraternities throughout the world, and of these, five
hundred are claimed by France. And wherever any good work is to
be wrought for the Church, is it not accomplished by the words,
the money, the prayers, and even by the sword of France? Surely,
the citizen of such a country, the child of such a fatherland,
has a right to speak well of his mother; more especially when the
object is to lead souls to virtue. Reawaken, then, the old French
and Christian enthusiasm, filling all hearts with the sacred
emotions of earthly patriotism, and with holy love for that
better home which is eternal in the heavens.

Such is true popularity; such the power of speech. One is strong
when he has on his side the reason and will of the multitude;
when he has sympathy with humanity, and possesses the hearts of
the masses.
Let others say what they please: the many possess more mind than
one person, whoever he may be; and popular speech has more weight
than the speculations or fancies of a man of science, or even a
man of genius.

Further, there is a sort of relationship between popularity and
genius, so that one cannot exist with out the other. For, what is
a man of genius? He is one who has learnt to seize the thoughts,
the aspirations, the wants of his own times, and has profoundly
traced them in brilliant, energetic, sympathetic pages; a man who
astonishes and revivifies the age in which he lives, by telling
it aright what it is, what it thinks, what it wants, and what it
suffers. Moreover, as has been remarked long ago, the finest
conceptions of genius are always grasped by the people.

On the other hand, the most sublime pages are always popular. I
shall cite but one example, which is familiar to all. ... The
prophet Isaiah is describing the fall of the King of Babylon:--

  "How hath the oppressor ceased! ... The whole earth is at rest,
  and is quiet; yea, the fir-trees rejoice at thee, and the
  cedars of Lebanon, saying:--Since thou art laid down, no feller
  is come up against us. Hell from beneath is moved for thee, to
  meet thee at thy coming; it stirreth up the dead for thee, even
  all the chief ones of the earth; it hath raised up from their
  thrones all the kings of the nations. All they shall speak and
  say unto thee: Art thou also become weak as we? art them become
  like unto us?
  Thy pomp is brought down to the grave, and the noise of thy
  viols; the worm is spread under thee, and the worms cover thee.
  All the kings of the nations ... lie in glory ... but thou art
  cast out of thy grave like an abominable branch, and as the
  slain, thrust through with a sword, that go down to the stones
  of the pit; as a carcase trodden under feet. How art thou
  fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! For thou
  hast said in thine heart, I will ascend unto heaven, I will
  exalt my throne above the stars of God, I will also sit upon
  the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north. ... I
  will be like the Most High. Yet thou shalt be brought down to
  hell, to the sides of the pit. They that see thee shall
  narrowly look upon thee, and consider thee, saying:--Is this
  the man that made the earth to tremble, that did shake
  kingdoms, that made the world as a wilderness? ... Thou hast
  destroyed thy land and slain thy people. The seed of evil-doers
  shall never be renowned. Prepare slaughter for his children for
  the iniquity of their fathers, that they do not rise nor
  possess the land." (_Isaiah_ xiv. 4-21.)

As might be expected, all great orators have been popular; for
one cannot be truly an orator by one's own power or by dint of
study; there must be, besides, a multitude to inspire you, and to
stimulate you by their criticism and opposition.


Demosthenes, the greatest orator of ancient times, was
pre-eminently a popular orator, and that popularity was the chief
element of his glory. The people of Athens were all for him, for
he loved them and knew them thoroughly: knew their frivolity,
their vanity, their generosity, and their happy impulses. He
invoked all that was great and good in the heart of man; not by
vain declamations, but by energetic appeals to sentiments which
one would blush not to possess. He drew his inspirations from the
noblest patriotism, and his politics--a rare exception--had their
source in the deepest affections of his heart.

Hence it was that the people were so much attached to
Demosthenes, and that he, on his part, could place such unbounded
confidence in them.

AEschines had complained that Demosthenes had reproached him with
being the host of Alexander. He answered him in these terms:--"I
reproach you with being the host of Alexander! I reproach you
with Alexander's friendship! How could you attain it? By what
means? No, I cannot call you either the friend of Philip or the
host of Alexander; I am not so foolish. Are reapers and hirelings
called the hosts of those who pay them? He is nothing, nothing of
the kind. First, a mercenary of Philip, he is now the mercenary
of Alexander; that is what I and all our hearers call you. If you
doubt it, ask them ... or, rather, I will do it for you. Men of
Athens, what, then, is your opinion? Is AEschines the host, or
the mercenary of Alexander? ... Do you hear their reply?"


So likewise Saint John Chrysostom, who was, perhaps, the most
popular of orators. We do not find that he amused himself with
vain speculations. He did not wander far and wide to hunt up
topics whereon to address his hearers, for they themselves
supplied all that he wanted. He found ample materials for his
purpose in the depths of their minds and hearts, and under his
masterly treatment the simplest things acquired an accent of
eloquence which gratified and moved his audience, which the
people understood and the learned admired.

Surrounded by his congregation, he seems like a father in the
midst of his family. He converses, he questions, he even
consults, and he always loves.

It was the custom in his time for the audience to applaud the
preacher during the sermon. They did not spare him that
manifestation, and these are the terms in which he complains of

  "Believe me--the more so because I would not say it were it not
  true--that when you applaud my discourses, I am seized with a
  certain infirmity, and feel quite contented and happy. ... But,
  on returning home, I reflect that all fruit of my speaking is
  lost through these applauses and commendations;
  and I say to myself: Of what avail is my labor if my hearers do
  not profit thereby? I have even thought of making a rule
  positively to forbid all applause, that you may listen to me in
  silence, with proper decorum and reserve. ... I pray and
  conjure you to suffer me to establish such a rule forthwith.
  ... Let us now order that no hearer shall make any noise while
  the preacher is speaking; and that if any one wishes to admire,
  let it be by keeping silence. (Applause.) Why do you still
  applaud me, even while I am making a law to prohibit the abuse?
  Though you will not suffer me to speak to you on the subject,
  nevertheless, let us enact the law, for it will be to our
  advantage. ... However, I do not wish to be too rigorous, for
  fear of appearing uncivil in your estimation; so that if you
  find so much gratification in applauding, I shall not hinder
  it; but I will suggest to you a much superior motive for
  eliciting still greater applause on your part, namely, that you
  carry away with you what you hear, and practise it."

When condemned to his first exile, the people flocked round their
pastor, determined to proceed to extremities rather than let him
depart. He then addressed them the following touching farewell:--


  "A violent tempest surrounds me on all sides; but I fear
  nothing, because I stand on an immovable rock. The fury of the
  waves cannot sink the vessel of Jesus Christ. Death cannot
  terrify me; it would rather be a gain to me. Do I fear exile?
  All the earth is the Lord's. Do I fear the loss of goods? Naked
  I was born into the world, and naked I shall return. I despise
  the scorn and the flattery of the world. I have no desire to
  live but for your welfare."

The people remained with him eight days to defend him, and the
holy pastor, in order to prevent an insurrection, escaped by a
secret door, and delivered himself up to his enemies. The Empress
_Eudoxia_, however, was soon obliged to recall him. "We shall
lose the empire," said she, "unless John is recalled."

Then, again, O'Connell, that orator who acquired so wide an
influence, how popular he was! But I shall let M. de Cormenin
describe him:--

  "Look at O'Connell with his people--for they are truly his
  people. He lives of their life, he smiles with their joys, he
  bleeds with their wounds, he groans with their pains. He
  transports them at his will from fear to hope, from slavery to
  liberty, from the fact to the right, from the right to duty,
  from supplication to invective, and from anger to mercy and
  pity. He directs the people to kneel on the ground and pray,
  and they all kneel and pray; to raise their faces to the skies,
  and they raise them; to curse their tyrants, and they curse
  them; to sing hymns to liberty, and they sing them; to bare
  their heads and swear on the holy Gospels, and they uncover,
  raise the hand, and swear; to sign petitions for the reform of
  abuses, to unite their forces, to pardon their enemies, and
  they sign, they forget, they embrace, they forgive.


  "That which makes him incomparable among all the orators of
  this or any other country, is that, without any premeditation,
  and by impulse alone, by the sole force of his powerful and
  triumphant nature, he enters wholly into his subject, and
  appears to be more possessed by it than of himself. His heart
  overflows; it goes by bounds, by transports, bringing into play
  all its pulsations. Like a high-bred charger, suddenly pulled
  back on its nervous and quivering haunches, even so can
  O'Connell arrest himself in the unbridled course of his
  harangues, turn short and resume them--such versatility,
  spring, and vigor is there in his eloquence. You imagine at
  first that he is staggering, and about to succumb under the
  weight of the divinity which inwardly agitates him; but he
  rises again with a halo on his brow, an eye full of flame, and
  his voice, unlike that of a mortal, begins to resound in the
  air, and to fill all space.

  "He is lyrical as a poet, and familiar even to playfulness. He
  draws his audience to him, and then transfers them to the floor
  of the theatre; or descends himself and mixes with the
  spectators. He never allows the stage to be without speech or
  action for a single moment.
  He distributes the parts to each. He himself sits as judge: he
  arraigns and he condemns; the people ratify, upraise the hand,
  and seem to believe that they are joining in a verdict. Some
  times O'Connell adapts the interior drama of a family to the
  external drama of political affairs. He calls up his aged
  father, his ancestors and the ancestors of the people. ... He
  disposes and extemporizes narratives, monologues, dialogues,
  _propoeia_, interludes, and peripatetics. Knowing that the
  Irish are both light-hearted and melancholy, that they are fond
  of metaphor, flourish, and sarcasm, he stifles laughter with
  tears, the grandiose by the grotesque. He attacks the House of
  Lords, and, chasing them from their aristocratic lairs, tracks
  them one by one like wild beasts. He is always popular, be his
  speech grave, sublime, or jocular:--

  "'Ireland! oh, how that name alone sticks in the Saxon throat.
  My friends, my heart and my mind are known to you, and I wish
  you to understand this, that I have power enough to prevent
  either Peel or Wellington from treading on the liberties of
  Ireland. I have only to say this to them: We will entrench
  ourselves behind the law and the constitution; but do not
  attempt to put our patience to the test beyond bounds, for if
  there is danger in exasperating cowards, there is a thousand
  times more danger in exasperating those who are not.'
  'I told you at the outset that I did not feel disposed to
  speak: this is not a speech, it is history which I am making at
  this moment. The people have placed unlimited confidence in me.
  I might, perhaps, say with affected modesty that I do not
  deserve it. I will be more frank. I believe that I do deserve
  it.' (Applause: yes! yes!) 'Mine is a strange fortune. I
  believe I am the only man, living or dead, who has enjoyed
  uninterrupted confidence and popularity for forty years.

  "_A voice_.--May you enjoy them twice as long!

  "_O'C._--'That is impossible. Long before then, I shall be
  summoned before my Maker to give an account of all the actions
  of my public and private life.'

  "_A voice_.--'You have always done your duty!'

  "_O'C_.--May such be the judgment of the Most High!'
  (Applause.) 'Kindly spare me these interruptions.' (Laughter.)
  'Our first duty is to obey the law. Don't think that in giving
  you this advice I intend that you should submit to unlawful
  outrage. After all, violence is not what I fear--I who am alone
  in the world.' (Cries of no, no, you are not alone!) 'Pardon
  me, my friends, I am alone; for she for whom I might have
  entertained fears, but whose courage would certainly never have
  failed, has been taken from my affections.' (O'Connell
  pronounced these last words with deep emotion, in which the
  whole assembly seemed to participate. Several ladies present
  raised their handkerchiefs to their eyes.)


  "'Were they to put a gag in my mouth or handcuffs on my wrists,
  I would still point out the safest and wisest course for you to
  follow. I trust there will be no conflict: let us close our
  ranks, shoulder to shoulder, let us rally round the
  constitution, that Ireland may not be delivered over to her
  enemies by the folly, the passions, or the treachery of her
  children.' (Applause.)"

He knows how to excite the laughter of his audience, and to
enliven them with racy comparisons, which are sometimes, however,
of a kind unsuited to Christian discourses.

  "There was formerly a fool in Kerry--a rare thing there. This
  fool having discovered a hen's nest, waited till the hen had
  quitted it, and then took the eggs and sucked them. After
  sucking the first, the chicken which had been in the shell
  began to cry out while descending the fool's throat. 'Ah, my
  boy, said he, 'you speak too late.' (Laughter.) My friends, I
  am not a fool; I know how to suck eggs. (Laughter.) Should
  England now be disposed to tell me that she is ready to do us
  justice, I would say to England as the Kerry fool said to the
  chicken: My darling, you speak too late. (Laughter and


He then continued, in the most sublime and rapturous accents:--

  "In the presence of my God, and with the most profound feeling
  of the responsibility attached to the solemn and arduous duties
  which you Irishmen have twice imposed on me, I accept them,
  relying not on my own strength, but on yours. The people of
  Clare know that the only basis of liberty is religion. They
  have triumphed because the voice raised in behalf of the
  country was first uttered in prayer to God. Songs of liberty
  are now heard throughout our green isle, their notes traverse
  the hills, they fill the valleys, they murmur with the waves of
  our rivers and streams, and respond in tones of thunder to the
  echoes of the mountains. Ireland is free!"

One may readily conceive the magic of this speech. I borrow once
more from the pen of M. de Cormenin.

  "Eloquence does not exercise all its power, its strong,
  sympathetic, moving power, except upon the people. Look at
  O'Connell, the grandest, perhaps the only orator of modern
  times. How his thundering voice towers over and rules the waves
  of the multitude! I am not an Irishman, I have never seen
  O'Connell; I believe I should not understand him. Why, then, am
  I moved by his discourses even when translated into a strange
  tongue, discolored, stunted, and deprived of the charm of voice
  and action more than with all I have ever heard in my own
  It is because they are utterly unlike our jumbled, wordy
  rhetoric; because it is true passion that inspires him: passion
  which can and does say all that it has to say. It is, that he
  draws me from the shore, that he whirls with me, and drags me
  with him into his current. It is that he shudders, and I
  shudder; that he utters cries from the depths of his soul which
  ravish my soul; that he raises me on his wings and sustains me
  in the sacred transports of liberty. Under the influence of his
  sublime eloquence, I abhor, I detest with furious hatred, the
  tyrants of that unfortunate country, just as if I were
  O'Connell's fellow-citizen; and I seem to love green Ireland as
  much as my own native land."

Here we have an orator who should be constantly studied by all
those who wish to benefit the people.

There is a wide difference between such powerful speeches and
those dreary metaphysical sermons, those finely-spun phrases,
that quintessence of reasoning, so common amongst us. For, what
do we often take for an orator or preacher? ... One who wraps
himself in his own conceptions, and soars into sublime regions,
while the poor audience is left on the plain below to gaze at him
or not, to grow weary, to sleep or to chat, when they cannot
decently go away. And yet it is so easy to be popular in France.
The native mind is prompt and readily roused to the noblest
Moreover, we are bound to do the higher classes this justice,
that they always tolerate and even admire the preacher who
addresses the people. They mingle with the crowd to join in their
applause, and, what is better, to profit by what they hear. Yes,
strange to say, under the influence of such eloquence, scholars
and wits throw aside their arguments and their prejudices, and
become one with the people--think, feel, and commend as they do.
... There are two powerful ways of leading men: to take up with
the higher classes or to go to the masses. The latter appears the
more powerful nowadays, for opinion and strength always prevail
with those whose wills are feeble.

We must retrace our steps, then, and resume a popular style of
address, which, to use a homely comparison, consists simply in
entering in by the door of the people, and making them go out by
ours; for to be truly popular is: to love the people ardently, to
throw our souls into theirs, to identify ourselves with them; to
think, feel, will, love, as they do; to rouse their instincts of
justice, generosity, and pity; to fill their souls with the
noblest thoughts; to exalt with the breath of the Gospel their
holiest aspirations, and to send these back to them in burning
words, in outbursts and sallies of the heart; and then, as with a
back-stroke of the hand, to crush their errors and destroy their
vices, and to lead them onward after you, while they shall
believe that they are still leading the way; to abase them to the
lowest depths, and then to raise them to heaven.
In all this, making them to play so prominent a part that, after
hearing you, they may almost be led to say with secret
satisfaction:--"What an excellent sermon we have delivered!" Then
will your words be invested with the two greatest powers in the
world: they will be the voice of the people and the voice of God.


    Chapter V.

    The Sermon Should Be Plain.

  An obscure Sermon is neither Christian nor French.
  Abuse of philosophical Terms.
  Philosophical Speculations not popular amongst us.
  The French mind is clear and logical.
  Plainness of Speech.
  Plainness of Thought.
  Starting from the Known to the Unknown.
  Père Lejeune.
  M. l'Abbé Ledreuil.

The sermon should be plain. ...

This truth has been partially demonstrated in the course of the
foregoing remarks. It follows, moreover, as a consequence from
the nature and design of the Gospel. The religious discourse
which is not plain is neither Christian nor French.

The Divine word should be understood by all, even by the poor
woman who crouches into a corner of the church; for she too has a
soul to save, and her soul is as precious in the sight of God as
the soul of a rich or learned man: perhaps more.

This is one of the glories of Christianity. Human lore is only
within the reach of those who are able to comprehend it, or who
have money enough to pay for it.
The word of God is for all; and none can be deprived of it, as
far as the preacher is concerned, without a grave dereliction of
duty on his part. Severe censure is passed upon those professors
who, to further their own ambitious views, take great pains with
some of their pupils and neglect others. This is called a crying
injustice, plundering the parents, and so forth. But the matter
under consideration involves something far more serious than a
pecuniary robbery.

We are all bound to preach the Gospel. Now, the Gospel is
remarkably plain. When it was first announced, or while the facts
which it narrates were extant or palpable, it must have been
surpassingly so. Hence it is not surprising that the multitude
upon whom our blessed Lord had been pouring forth the torrents of
His Divine eloquence, exclaimed:--"Never man spake like this

Further: he who does not use plain speech does not speak French;
for the French language is naturally plain, limpid, and simple,
insomuch that obscure speech is not really French: it is
Teutonic, a jargon, or a patois; but it is by no means the
language of the great Frank people.

All our most celebrated and popular writers and orators had a
clear and impressive style. Their weakest passages are those
which are most obscure.
Voltaire possessed this perspicuity in a high degree; and it was
partly on that account that he acquired so much influence and
popularized so many errors. His speech was true French, both in
expression and conception; but there was no heart in it. He had
perfectly mastered his own tongue, and had equally learned to
know the people with whom he had to deal. He who does not use
plain speech proves that he possesses neither a knowledge of men
nor a knowledge of the Gospel; nor even of his primary duties.

But it will be said:--Is it not occasionally allowable that one
should clothe his thoughts in language above the common, in order
thereby to raise religion and the preacher in the eyes of the
people, who admire what they do not understand?

I do not object, if you believe that any good is to be done in
that way, and if you feel incapable of exciting interest by a
simple exposition of the beauties of Christianity. But I tell you
that the idea savors strongly of charlatanism, and that
Christianity has no need of such an auxiliary. Whenever such a
course is adopted, it should be regarded as a tolerated
exception; but on this point, also, the exception has too
frequently been taken for the rule.

Nowadays, the Gospel is almost entirely overlooked, there are so
many other matters to be attended to. We must needs discuss and
argue, and treat all kinds of philosophical and humanitarian
Hence a great part of our time is taken up with talking
philosophy to pious men and women,--and after what fashion? The
pulpit resounds with such words as these: rationalism,
philosophism, Protestantism, materialism, pantheism, socialism;
and it will be lucky if all this does not ultimately get mixed up
with fetishism, anthropormorphism, Vishnooism, Buddhism, Kantism,
Hegelism, etc. No wonder that a woman of fashion once exclaimed,
in a fit of petulance:--"The Lord deliver us from these preachers
of _isms!_"

I repeat, it is all well enough that a few eminent men should
treat such questions before select audiences; but now every one
seems bent on talking philosophy, or on philosophizing about
every thing. We have the philosophy of theology, the philosophy
of the sacraments, the philosophy of the liturgy; and to what
does it all tend? To prove that God might have occupied a
prominent place among the thinkers of these times: which would be
proving very little in God's favor.

There has, indeed, been quite a mania to make philosophy about
every thing. We have heard a treatise on the philosophy of the
hand-grenade. As a malicious wag once remarked:--"We shall soon
have the philosophy of boots and shoes."

Hence it is that the ignorance respecting religion everywhere
prevailing, among high and low, even among those who constantly
hear sermons, is truly deplorable.


Society in general is much less instructed in matters of
religion, and even in philosophical questions, than is usually
supposed; for religion is no longer taught. We demonstrate,
argue, philosophize, but we do not evangelize. ... There is so
much ignorance among men, otherwise well-informed, on the subject
of religion, that they would certainly be deemed unfit for
confirmation even in a country district.

Neither is the community more proficient in philosophical than in
religious questions; and much less attention is bestowed upon
them than is imagined. We meet with certain systems in special
books, or among a particular class of persons, and we may think
that those systems are about to make a great stir in the world.
But do the masses trouble themselves about them? For the most
part, even intelligent men hardly know what to say when referred
to on such subjects.

Some years ago, a preacher delivered several discourses in one of
the principal towns of France on the subject of rationalism. He
decried it in good set terms, and was judged to have spoken very
ably. But the wife of a councillor in the Court of Appeal, tired
of hearing so much about rationalism without being able to make
out what it was, asked her husband, who was a great admirer of
the discourses, to explain to her what rationalism meant.
The husband stammered out a few words in reply, but was obliged
at last to say:--"Sincerely, I know nothing about it; but inquire
of M. le Curé, for he ought to be able to give you the

Instead of dragging all these systems into the pulpit, it would
have been far better to leave them immured in books and in the
schools. They are not dangerous in France while restricted to the
formulae in which they were originally conceived, because
philosophical speculations are by no means popular amongst us.
The French mind is too precise and active to be taken up with
such like dreams and crude systems.

A proof of this is afforded by the old Chamber of Deputies. ...
When a speaker was practical, and entered into the gist of the
question in debate, there was profound silence; but if he
attempted lofty flights, and soared into the region of
philosophical speculations, the attention of the hearers flagged,
and a great uproar ensued, insomuch that the luckless orator was
frequently driven to call upon the President to enforce silence
and order; who, on his part, reiterated that he could not
interfere. ... Altogether such scenes presented a curious study.

Generally speaking, the Frenchman is essentially a practical man.


It is true that ever and anon we pretend to great depth; but the
malady is momentary and does not last long. We are, in fact, like
certain eminent men who affect a speciality to which they have no
just claim, and who consider themselves more honored by a
compliment for an acquirement which they do not possess, than by
any which may be paid them for a talent for which they are really

In combating this tendency and these systems, we must be on our
guard against assailing them with hazy tirades or dull
metaphysics. We should drag them into the full light of the
Gospel, and dissect them by translating them into plain French,
and then they will soon disappear altogether. We must further
bear in mind that the truth, and especially evangelical truth, is
only rightly apprehended by the heart; whereas there is a general
disposition amongst us to be always reasoning. Are we not aware
that bare reason is foolishly vain, dishonest, stern, and
sometimes pitiless, and that to be constantly appealing to its
authority is to lose our time, and to engender the most
deplorable ignorance in matters of religion?

The people are very fond of understanding what is addressed to
them, for it raises them in their own eyes, and is, moreover, a
real gratification to them. Therein they are active, whereas when
merely astounded they are simply passive; to say nothing of the
additional fact that they go away as ignorant as they came.


A preacher who had been specially appointed to deliver a course
of sermons in one of our towns, was accosted while walking out by
a poor woman, upon whom his presence seemed to produce a lively
impression of joy, which was forthwith manifested in these
words:--"How delighted I am to have met you! I must tell you that
I attend your sermons and understand them. Yes, believe me, even
I understand your sermons. Every body says that you are a
_savant_, but for my part I don't believe it; because, whenever
our rector or his curates preach, I don't understand anything
they say; whereas when you preach I understand all. If you were a
_savant_, an ignoramus like me would not be able to understand
you." ...

We must retrace our steps, then, and return to a clear, plain,
simple, and vivifying exposition of the Gospel; for when religion
is set forth in that way it is always attractive. We may have to
study much to attain it, but when once Christianity is rightly
understood, and we get thoroughly to know those with whom we have
to do, we shall find it possible to acquire an influence over
their minds and hearts, and easy to adapt our style to the
intelligence of all. You should see the working classes when
addressed by one of our great preachers: their countenances
brighten, their eyes glisten, their bosoms glow. They understand,
they are moved, they applaud.


To attain this plainness--speech being the vehicle of
thought--words should never be used which are not generally
understood. There are terms in language which are common to the
literary and non-literary; only such should be adopted, and all
scientific, philosophical, technical, theological, and even
devotional terminology should be discarded. Our age is not strong
in spiritual matters: they speak a language which it does not
even care to learn, for it does not feel the need of it.

Use none of those set phrases, those trite expressions, which
follow one after another in all sermonizers for the last half
century. They form a threadbare language which no longer conveys
any meaning, and which is quite unfit for the transmission of
thought. Drive them from your pen and lips; try to acquire a
disgust, a hatred for them: they are more unintelligible than
either Latin or Greek. You would do well to abstain entirely from
perusing such sermonizers, because one unwittingly picks up their
hackneyed phraseology; which will recur to you when you are at a
loss what else to say. Moreover, they prevent you from being
natural. ...

It is desirable, doubtless, that you should read Bourdaloue for
doctrine, Bossuet for touch and for the sublime, Massillon for
style and form; but let that suffice.
Then read the Scriptures, the Fathers, books of devotion, and
such other works as will make you acquainted with the wants and
tendencies of the age, and teach you how to combat its passions
and its errors.

You must beware, however, of attempting to preach like Bossuet,
Bourdaloue, or Massillon. They addressed courtiers, and the elite
of society of their times, when men had more knowledge of
religion than they have now. Besides, if those eminent preachers
lived in these days, there is every reason to believe that they
would not always speak now as they did then.

Plain speech should be coupled with plain thought.

The thoughts which serve as starting points, should always be
simple, natural, and popular. The people do not understand
abstractions or the speculations of reason, which are to them a
strange language. You should start from the known to lead them to
the unknown. That is the mathematical and logical method. You
must begin with sensible, visible, and above all with actual
things, in order to draw them gently toward spiritual and
invisible things, and to the life that is to come. By adopting
this course, you may conduct them far onward, and elevate them to
great heights, even to the sublimest aspirations of heart and
soul. ... As we have already said by way of example: first
exhibit religion to them as grand, good, and lovely, then as true
and divine; winding up by fervently and energetically insisting
on the necessity of submission to its moral law.


It is an excellent plan to adopt the ordinary expressions in
every-day use among the people, and to apply them in a religious
sense. Thus, you might tell them to lay up in the _Savings Bank_
of Heaven, to become members of the _Refuge Fund_ of Eternity,
and you will be understood.

Monsigneur the Archbishop of Paris, during some of his
visitations, furnishes us with a delightful model of this style
of addressing the people:--

  "My children," said he to the operatives who had assembled in a
  courtyard to see and hear him, "my children, while attending to
  your worldly interests and material welfare--for the increase
  of which you have my sincere wishes--think also sometimes of
  that God who created us, and in whom we live, and move, and
  have our being. Do you know what that man resembles who lives
  without God and without hope? He is like a piece of wheel-work
  out of gear, or a faulty machine, which only mars what it ought
  to make, wounds the hand which it should help, and obliges the
  owner to break it up and throw it aside.

  "Maintain, then, my beloved children, the sentiments, and
  practise the duties which belong to your dignity as men. As
  workmen, be industrious, honest, and temperate, and your
  condition will be as happy as it can be here below, remembering
  that rest will come after toil; for we are all the day-laborers
  of a gracious God, and life is but a day, at the end of which
  we shall receive ample wages, and be abundantly recompensed for
  all our pains.


  "My children, I am glad to see that my words affect you. I
  regret being obliged to separate from you; but before going I
  give you my benediction as an earnest of my paternal
  tenderness, and of all the Divine graces which I invoke upon
  you, upon all who are dear to you, upon your families and your

We should begin, then, by exhibiting the material aspects of
religion, proceeding from thence to doctrines and duties, without
ceasing to be simple, true, and natural throughout. This,
however, is not the usual course pursued: we start with
metaphysics, move onward through a redundant phraseology, and end
by making religion more unintelligible than ever.

But we must be fair: preachers are not wholly to blame in this
matter; for if one tries to be simple, true, natural, and
evangelical, they will tell him in certain districts that his
style is not sufficiently high-flown, that it does not do honor
to the pulpit. This actually occurred to one of our best
preachers. A member of the congregation came to him and said:--
"You speak admirably; but there is one drawback to your sermons,
they are too well understood." So that the poor preacher, in
order to carry out the views of his adviser, felt that he would
be obliged to invoke the Holy Spirit to give him grace to say
unintelligible things! ...
What they wanted was something bombastic, academical, and highly
seasoned; and such is what is generally regarded as constituting
a profound, dignified, and useful sermon.

Look at our blessed Lord: surely He knew what real dignity was.
Or, let us study the Gospel: do we find there any of these fine
airs, this inflated and consequential tone? It is simple, clear,
and profound throughout. We hear it occasionally said of certain
individuals:--"He cannot adapt himself to the capacity of every
one; his knowledge is far too high and deep for that;" which
means, that the poor man indicated has heaped up in his brains,
pell-mell, a mass of ill-digested ideas which he is unable to
call forth with anything like order: and that is all. The truly
profound man, on the contrary, is always clear. He moves calmly
through the highest regions of science, and is as much at his
ease there as if he were at home. He sees things, and he narrates
them. He turns his thoughts over and over again, putting them
into a thousand forms, so as to be able to place them within
reach of the feeblest intellects. Take M. Arago as an example of
this wisdom and simplicity combined. He succeeds in rendering the
highest problems of astronomy intelligible, and that in a few
words, even to very young children. ...


Herein, also, a wrong estimate has been formed of the French
mind; since even those who move in the highest circles of society
much prefer what is simple, clear, and natural.

There is a well-known preacher in Paris who gives familiar
lectures--they are real sermons--even when appointed select
season-preacher. He has been preaching for the last twenty years
without ever sparing himself, readily responding to every call.
Crowds of the elegant world, notwithstanding, press round his
pulpit, and there is always the same affluence of hearers. The
most eminent of preachers, who adopted a different style of
address, would have been used-up long since.

A priest, full of the Spirit of God, died some years ago in the
flower of his age. He was remarkable in the art of giving plain
and simple lectures. After his death, these lectures, in a
mutilated form, were collected and published by a female, and
obtained as wide a circulation as the most celebrated discourses.

Plain speech pleases and benefits all; whereas what is called
sublime speech only amuses a few, and benefits fewer still.

But one of the most effectual ways of making the truth understood
by the people is by metaphor and simile. They speak an analogous
language themselves and readily understand it; more especially
when the comparisons are drawn from visible, present, or actual
things, and when they are striking or popular. The Sacred
Scriptures are full of expositions of this nature, and the
sermons of Père Lejeune also contain a rich mine of the same


O'Connell did not overlook this means of influencing the people,
and he sometimes employed it in the most picturesque and
characteristic fashion.

He was one day assailing the hereditary peerage. "What are the
lords?" said he. "Because the father was considered a good
legislator, therefore the son must be the same! Just as if a man
who proposed to make you a coat should answer the question: Are
you a tailor? by saying that his father before him was. Is there
any of you who would employ such an hereditary tailor? This
principle of common sense as regards the lords will become
popular in time. We want no hereditary legislators or tailors. Do
you ask who will make this principle popular? I reply, the lords
themselves, who show themselves to be very bad tailors."

Above all, similes drawn from actual things make a still greater

Thus, steam-engines and railroads are a common topic of
conversation nowadays, and form a rich source from whence to
derive matter for stirring similes and for profitable
instruction. For example, you wish to point out the necessity of
mastering the passions, and of restraining them by the laws of
God. The heart of man may be likened to a steam-engine of
terrific power, which we should mistrust, and which requires to
be under the most vigorous control.


Look at the locomotive confined within its iron furrows. It is a
wonderful thing; it approximates distances, develops commerce,
and contributes to the welfare of man. There is much in it to
call forth gratitude to a beneficent Providence. But look at it
when thrown off the line. O God! what do I hear and see? I hear
the most piercing and heart rending screams; I see blood flowing,
limbs broken, heads crushed; and I turn from the spectacle, and
almost curse the inventor. ... In like manner, the heart of man,
when restrained by the law of God, is worthy of all admiration;
it begets the noblest and sublimest virtues, and scatters the
blessings of a good example all around. It brings joy and
gladness to the domestic hearth, rendering all those happy who
love it; and on seeing such results I am proud of being a man.
But once beyond the bounds of that law--thrown off the rails, as
it were--O God! what do I hear and see? I hear bitter
lamentations, the harrowing cries of mothers, wives, and
children. I see vice, and crime, and shame mantling on the brow
of those who indulge therein; and at the sight of so much misery
and degradation I am tempted to utter imprecations, and almost
blush that I am a man.


Finally, another way of simplifying truth is by narrative, of
which the people are very fond. They cast every thing, even
spiritual things, into tales, legends, and facts, which they take
pleasure in learning to recite. We should imitate them, by
putting a moral or dogmatic truth into action, connecting it with
a fact, and then narrate it; in short, give it the form of a
little drama. When skilfully employed, this method has a powerful
effect upon the people, and even upon educated men. The _Paroles
d'un Croyant_ owed a part of the notoriety which it acquired to
this feature. The people must have facts, and often nothing but
facts. In like manner the Gospel narrates, but seldom argues. The
Holy Scriptures are full of truths rendered palpable, as it were,
by scenic representation.

Thus the prophet Isaiah exposes the folly of idolatry in these

  "Who hath formed a god or a graven image that is profitable for
  nothing? ... He heweth him down cedars, and taketh the cypress
  and the oak from among the trees of the forest; he planteth an
  ash, and the rain doth nourish it. ... He burneth part thereof
  in the fire; with part thereof he eateth flesh; he eateth roast
  and is satisfied; yea, he warmeth himself, and saith, Aha! I am
  warm, I have seen the fire. And the residue thereof he maketh a
  god, even his graven image; he falleth down to it, and
  worshippeth it, and prayeth unto it, and saith, Deliver me, for
  thou art my god. They have not known nor understood, for he
  hath shut their eyes that they can not see, and their hearts
  that they cannot understand.
  And none considereth in his heart, neither is there knowledge
  nor understanding to say, I have burned part of it in the fire;
  yea, also I have baked bread upon the coals thereof; I have
  roasted flesh and eaten it; and shall I make the residue
  thereof an abomination? Shall I fall down to the stock of a
  tree? He feedeth on ashes; a deceived heart hath turned him
  aside, that he cannot deliver his soul, nor say, Is there not a
  lie in my right hand?"

Père Lejeune, apart from certain quaint and obsolete modes of
expression, has some charming things of this sort, which must
have produced a marvellous effect. He is attempting to point out
the heinousness of sin, and to describe the punishment of Adam
and Eve:--

  "Picture to yourselves, then, the unfortunate pair, staff in
  hand, going forth from the earthly paradise, carrying nothing
  with them but two skins, given them out of compassion by the
  Judge, to cover their nakedness. They found themselves in the
  fields as if they had fallen from the clouds, exposed to the
  inclemency of the weather, to wild beasts, and to their own
  natural infirmities, without shelter, bed, linen, bread,
  covering for their hands or feet; without thread or needle,
  knife or hammer, destitute of any implements beyond their own
  feeble arms.
  They collect stones as best they may, and cement them together
  with mud to form a low room, and cover it with branches of
  trees, which they are obliged to break off with their hands;
  for they had neither saw nor hatchet. They gather leaves for
  their couch, and fruits and wheat for their subsistence; but if
  they wanted any in years to come, they must till the ground, or
  rather they must dig it up with sticks, having no other kind of
  spade. Think, then, of the woman, and of the straits to which
  she must have been put on being seized with the pangs of labor,
  which she had never before experienced, and on being confined
  with her first child. When she saw her firstborn ushered into
  the world in its natural state, moaning and trembling with the
  cold, and found herself utterly destitute of linen, cradle,
  cap, bandages, and all the other requisites for a new-born
  babe,--when she was called to bear all this, how poignantly she
  must have recognized the enormity of her offence!

  "But when both parents saw their son Abel, a youth as beautiful
  as a star, gentle as a lamb, and devout as an angel, stretched
  stark dead upon the ground, wounded and weltering in his blood,
  a ghastly spectacle to behold; the bloom on his face gone, his
  lips livid, the light of his eyes utterly extinguished,--on
  first beholding all this, they could have no idea that he was
  dead, for they had never witnessed death; but drawing near they
  say:--'Abel, what dost thou here? Who hath done this?' The dead
  are silent.
  'My beloved Abel, why speakest thou not? My son! my soul! I
  pray thee speak? But Abel has no more words, no more voice, no
  sight, no motion. Decay soon sets in, and Abel becomes foul and
  corrupt, and father and mother are obliged to cover him with
  earth. When at length they learn that it was their sin which
  had given entrance to death, what grief, what tears, what anger
  against the fatal tree, against the tempter, against
  themselves, and against everything which had contributed to
  their disobedience, must have agitated the wretched pair! Why
  did we pluck of that tree? Why did we not burn it rather than
  be tempted to gather its fruit? Why did we not quit the earthly
  paradise, and flee to the end of the world to avoid the risk of
  so tremendous an evil? Why did I not pluck out my eyes rather
  than look upon that which I was forbidden to know? Ill-advised
  that I was, why did I suffer myself to be amused with talking
  to the serpent? Liar, thou didst assure me that we should be as
  gods, and behold we are more humiliated and miserable than the
  beasts of the field!

  "In like manner, when you are in hell, you will regret, and
  lament, and resolve; but it will then be too late. You will be
  maddened with spite and rage against everything that has
  conspired to your condemnation. Alas! why did I not cut out my
  tongue when preachers told me that my oaths would damn me? Why
  did I not smite to death this scandalous bosom of mine?
  Why did I not destroy the papers of that lawsuit which I
  prosecuted so unjustly, and the schedule and bond of that poor
  man who could not pay the usurious interest which I charged him
  for money lent? Why did I not leave the town and province, and
  bury myself in the wilds of Canada, rather than remain where
  there was an occasion of my falling into sin?"

In concluding, I must be permitted to quote a more recent
example, premising that I only adduce it as a model of familiar
conversation with the working classes.

M. l'Abbé Ledreuil, in an address to operatives, is endeavoring
to convince them that they have no reason to envy the rich, since
the working man has his share of joy and happiness as well as
they. He expresses himself somewhat as follows, though I must
apologize for abridging, and therefore for disfiguring his

  "My friends, do not envy the rich, and don't believe them happy
  because they have nothing to do. The rich must work, after
  their fashion, under pain of being unhappy and of leading a
  miserable existence. Hence it is that, for the most part, they
  condemn themselves to work as you do. ... And do you know how
  one of this class passes his life who does not work? I will
  tell you: he thinks everything a bore, and he yawns.


  "In the morning, he no sooner begins to dress than he stops
  short. He is so tired! He stretches his limbs, and--he yawns.

  "He next sets about his toilet, which is a very formidable
  affair to him; enters into his dressing-room quite a perfumery
  shop in its way--looks around him, and then--he yawns.

  "Breakfast-time comes. He goes to the breakfast-room, surveys
  the different dishes, knows not which to choose, for the poor
  man is not hungry, and--he yawns.

  "After breakfast, he takes up a paper and skims over it. Pugh!
  politics are so uninteresting. Then more than ever--he yawns.

  "Toward noon, or one o'clock, he must go out, and asks himself:
  Where shall I go to-day? Shall I go to Madame So-and-so? No,
  she is at the waters. I will go to Mr. So-and-so. By the way,
  he is in the country; and then--he yawns.

  "For something better to do, he seeks the promenade, where he
  meets a friend of his own stamp. They shake the tips of each
  other's fingers, not to hurt their hands, touch the brims of
  their hats, and then together, one more than the other,--they

  "He next takes a chair, adjusts his feet on the bars, places
  himself at his ease, thinks of nothing, looks vacantly into the
  air, or bites the head of his cane, and then--he yawns.


  "In the evening he goes to the theatre, extends himself at full
  length in his box, gazes around him, listens, and then--he

  "He returns home very late. He is quite worn out and needs
  sleep, and ends the day as he began it--he yawns.

  "Not so the laborer: he rises early, goes to his work betimes,
  and he sings or whistles.

  "The breakfast-hour arrives. He loses no time in examining
  which dish he will partake of, for there is only one. He does
  not yawn over it, but eats with a good appetite, and in the
  same cheery mood he passes the remainder of the day.

  "My friends, don't be discontented with your lot. Don't
  say:--'If I were rich I would take my ease; for work is a
  blessing. Don't envy the rich, but be thankful for what God has
  given you. The honest and industrious workman, who has a good
  heart, and loves virtue, is the spoilt child of Providence."


    Chapter VI.

    The Sermon Should Be Short.

  The Discourses of the Fathers were short.
  The French Mind is quick to apprehend.
  Sermons are generally too long.
  Sermons of Ten, Seven, and of Five Minutes.

"Long sermons bore us," [Footnote 16] says M. de Cormenin; "and
when a Frenchman is bored, he leaves the place and goes away. If
he cannot so retire, he remains and talks. If he cannot talk, he
yawns and falls asleep. Anyhow, he declares that he will not come
again. ..."

    [Footnote 16: "_Nous ennuient._" It is useless to attempt
    giving the full force of the French _ennui_ in any one
    English word. That above adopted appears to me the nearest
    approach to it which our language affords; still it comes far
    short of the expressive original. Translator.]

The sermon should be short. At all events, it must not bore. Bore
or ennui is fatal in France, and is never pardoned. It has been
said, there are two things which are not permitted in France,
namely, to ridicule and to bore.
Unhappily the former is allowed nowadays, for there are many who
use it, and many who abuse it; but on the article of bore society
is still inflexible and implacable. The man who is deemed a bore
is shunned and detested. We, the clergy, must beware of exciting
this antipathy on the score of religion; the more so, because
most minds secrete a stock of the sentiment, which is readily
called forth when they are brought in contact with any thing

On the other hand, why preach so long? I know not how we have
allowed ourselves to be led into these lengthy discourses. What
is the good of it? What is the object? We speak in God's name.
Now, power and majesty are always chary of words; yet such words
are not the less efficacious for being few. The instructions of
our blessed Lord, who is the Divine Master of us all, were
uniformly short. Even the Sermon on the Mount, which has
revolutionized the world, does not appear to have lasted more
than half an hour. The homilies of the Fathers also were short,
and Saint Ambrose says:--"_Nec nimium prolixus sit sermo ne
fastidium pariat; semihorae tempus communiter non excedat._"
Saint François de Sales, too, recommends short sermons, and
remarks that excessive length was the general fault in the
preachers of his time.

  He says:--"The good Saint François, in his rules to the
  preachers of his Order, directs that their sermons should be


  "Believe me, and I speak from experience, the more you say, the
  less will the hearers retain; the less you say, the more they
  will profit. By dint of burdening their memory, you will
  overwhelm it; just as a lamp is extinguished by feeding it with
  too much oil, and plants are choked by immoderate irrigation.

  "When a sermon is too long, the end erases the middle from the
  memory, and the middle the beginning.

  "Even mediocre preachers are acceptable, provided their
  discourses are short; whereas even the best preachers are a
  burden when they speak too long."

Is not long preaching very much like an attempt to surpass these
men, who were so highly imbued with the spirit of Christianity?

On the other hand, we have to deal with the most intelligent,
keen, and sensible people in the world. They understand a thing
when only half stated, and very often divine it. You hardly speak
before they are moved to accept or to reject; and yet we
overcharge them with long and heavy dissertations. To act in this
way, is to evince an utter unacquaintance with one's people, and
to display our own ignorance, in spite of all the learning which
we may possess. Moreover, it tends to excite antipathy.
The Frenchman does not care to be treated like a German: he does
not wish to be told every thing, thereby depriving him of the
pleasure of working out the truth for himself. Open the vein,
lance his imagination and feelings, let them flow on the road to
truth, and he will pursue it alone; perchance more quickly and
further than you. Nothing impairs intelligence, sentiment, and
the effusion of thought so much as redundancy of words and even
of ideas.

A sharp working man, who had been listening to a sermon, was once

  "What did the preacher say? What do you remember of his

  "Nothing at all."

  "How's that? Surely you heard him?"


  "How is it, then, that you did not understand any thing?"

  "Ah," replied he, in an original language, which only the
  people can command, "because all he had to say was hid behind a
  mass of words."

There is too much reminiscence of our philosophical and
scholastic studies in our sermons. It often appears as if we were
speaking to a meeting of young bachelors in theology. We seem to
believe--and the notion is generally taken for granted--that we
have not adequately developed an idea unless we discuss it for an
hour or for three-quarters of an hour at the least.


Thus the audience is overwhelmed under the weight of a ponderous
erudition. It is not sufficient that they should have one proof
set before them, they must submit to any conceivable number on
the same subject. Or, to use M. de Cormenin's language, preachers
keep on using the flat side of their sword with weak proofs,
after they have given a decisive thrust with the weapon's point.
What has been said a thousand times before is repeated, and what
everybody knows, or what nobody needs to know, is dilated upon to
no purpose.

A man must be endowed with extraordinary genius who can bring
forcible thoughts to bear upon one and the same subject for the
space of a whole hour. But this consideration does not appear to
occasion the least embarrassment. The vacuities of thought are
filled up with words, and that is called developing an idea.

For the most part, we are all convinced that others speak too
long, but we are beguiled by the world's flattery.

We preach, and people are delighted, and send intimations to us
that we have acquitted ourselves to admiration; that they would
gladly have listened to us much longer, and so forth.


But we know better than any one else that the world does not
always speak the truth, and that we ourselves have frequently
denounced its want of sincerity. How comes it, then, that we are
deluded by such fine speeches? In flattering us, the world simply
plies its trade; but it is our duty not to give heed to its
blandishments. Moreover, there prevails at present a strong and
universal conviction that, generally speaking, our sermons are
too long.

Ask whom you please, enemies and friends, ask even the most
fervent Christians--thanks be to God there are intelligent men,
and men renowned for their charity among the sincerely
religious--ask them, I say, and they will tell you that our
sermons and services are too long. And if pious and intelligent
men are of that opinion, what must the masses think?

Undoubtedly, the intention is praiseworthy. ... We aim at
securing a greater good by lengthening out the services and
sermon. Still, it is equally certain that in so doing we discard
both prudence and charity. It resembles the ordinary treatment of
wives, who insist on giving their sick husbands good strong
broth, on the plea that it will do them more good than all the
chemist's medicines. The intention is unquestionably a kind one;
but it is no less true that the regimen, instead of benefiting
the patients, is most likely to kill them outright. Alas! the
same result has followed a similar injudicious treatment of men's


A man of high intellectual attainments, recently converted,
declared that the manner in which he was bored by sermons during
his youth, had kept him from listening to them for twenty years.
We complain, and with reason, that the masses have ceased to
frequent the church, and that sermons nowadays are not popular.
But do not we assist in driving them away? The services are
longer now than they were in the seventeenth and eighteenth
centuries, when there was more faith abroad among the people

Religion would most probably be greatly promoted if the sermon
and the services also were abridged. This might readily be
affected as regards the latter. Pitch your music out of the
window, or rather out of the door, as the former might not be
considered parliamentary. Or, take care at least that the polkas
with which your organist embellishes the _Magnificat_ shall not
occupy more than a quarter of an hour. With respect to the
sermons, they might easily be shortened without injuring them in
the least. Lop off all commonplace considerations from the
exordium, all useless discussions from the body of the discourse,
and all vague phrases from the peroration. Prune away all
redundant words, all parasitical epithets, using only those that
triple the force of the substantive. Be chary of words and
phrases; economize them as a miser does his crown-pieces.
The people affect those thoughts which are formulated in a single
word. They like such expressions as the following:--_vive! ... à
bas! ... mort! ... vengeance! ... liberté! ... justice!_ These
simple words often move men more than a long discourse.

In this respect, however, there has been a marked improvement in
many of our churches. There are parishes in Paris where a rule
prevails that no one shall preach more than forty minutes. In
some popular meetings, preachers are not allowed to speak beyond
fifteen minutes, and it is there that the most good is done.

Nowadays, brevity is one of the first conditions of success, and
of promoting the welfare of souls.

The preacher who was most frequented at Paris during the Lenten
season this year, hardly ever exceeded half-an-hour. There are,
undoubtedly, many other rules to be observed, but brevity will
not injuriously affect any of them.

The people are easily impressed: they like to be moved; but
nothing passes away so quickly as an emotion. In order to bring
them back to the church, we must have sermons of ten, seven, and
even of five minutes duration. The Mass and the sermon together
should not exceed half-an-hour.


This plan has been attempted. The experiment was made, and
produced the most happy and unexpected results. Intelligent and
zealous pastors, distressed at seeing that the greater part of
their flock scarcely ever heard the word of God or went to
church, established a low Mass, announced as specially designed
for the men, with a lecture of from ten to five minutes duration
every Sunday. ... Crowds flocked to the church, which was
sometimes found too small to hold them. Nor was this all: many
attended high Mass also, and even went to the confessional; which
they had not done, some for twenty, some for thirty, and some for
forty years. This success was obtained in irreligious as well as
religious districts, and under the most unfavorable
circumstances; even in populous manufacturing towns. And the same
plan is practicable everywhere. Frequently, nothing more is
required than a man to take the initiative with a right good
will, in order to attract crowds to the church and to religion.

But it will be objected: What can be said in ten or seven
minutes? Much, much more than is generally thought, when due
preparation is made, when we have a good knowledge of mankind,
and are well versed in religious matters. ... Have not a few
words often sufficed to revolutionize multitudes, and to produce
an immense impression?


The harangues of Napoleon only lasted a few minutes, yet they
electrified whole armies. The speech at Bourdeaux did not exceed
a quarter of an hour, and yet it resounded throughout the world.
Had it been longer, it would have been less effective. In fifteen
weeks, with a sermon of seven minutes every Sunday, one might
give a complete course of religious instruction, if the sermons
were well digested beforehand. [Footnote 17]

    [Footnote 17: We have chosen the seven minutes sermon,
    because experience has taught us that it attracts the
    greatest numbers.]

If, then, you wish to be successful, in the first place fix the
length of your sermon, and never go beyond the time; be
inflexible on that score. Should you exceed it, apologize to your
audience for so doing, and prove in the pulpit of truth that you
can be faithful to your word.

In your course of instruction, do not follow the old method which
commences with metaphysical questions and principles; but adhere
to the plan which we have indicated: start from the known to the
unknown. ...

In the first place, disconnect religion from all prejudices and
passions, and from every thing uncongenial. Discard all
objections and antagonisms. Exhibit it as good and lovely, then
true, then divine, then as obligatory, proceeding onward from
thence to God's commandments and to the sacraments. If you
apprehend that the term "God's commandments" does not
sufficiently strike your hearers, you may call them the duties of
an upright man.


When about to compose your sermon, study your subject thoroughly,
grasp the salient points, and then write. ...

But do not stop there; begin afresh. Supposing that you have
written four pages, reduce them to two, taking care that all the
strong thoughts and sentiments remain. ... Use those terms which
belong to a single thought, those expressions which imprint
themselves--or, as the Scripture says, engrave the truth as with
a pen of steel--on the hearts of men, and which scatter it abroad
full of life and exultation. Nothing is so profitable as this
exercise: it cultivates and supplies the intellect, gives us a
deeper insight into Christianity and mankind, and it teaches us
how to think, and how to write. ...

During the reading of the Gospel, ascend the pulpit and be quite
ready. Place your watch by your side and begin thus:--"Last
Sunday we said so and so. To-day we continue." ... Then enter
fully into your subject, enlightening the minds of your hearers
or stirring up their hearts as may be suitable, during the
discourse. When the allotted time arrives, stop short and

"But do speak more at length ... you are wrong in being so brief
... you only tantalize your audience ... you deprive them of a
real pleasure." Expostulations like these will pour in upon you;
but don't listen to them: be inflexible, for those who urge them
are enemies without knowing it.


Be more rigid than ever in observing the rule which you have
prescribed for yourself. Then your sermon will be talked of--it
will be a phenomenon--every body will come to _see_ a sermon of
seven minutes duration. The people will come; the rich will
follow. Faith will bring the one, and curiosity will attract the
other, and thus the Divine word will have freer course and be
glorified. ...

If the men do not come, appeal to the women, and ask them to help
you. If you want to attract the women, announce that you intend
preaching specially for the men. You will find this method
infallible; the men will follow.

Moreover, go yourself and find them out: visit the workshops,
factories, and wharves. Be particularly attentive to those who
are shabbily dressed and ill-favored. On taking your departure,
tell them with a smile that French politeness--in which you feel
quite sure they are not deficient--demands that visits received
should be returned: that you will dispense with their coming to
you personally, but will expect to see them at the seven minutes
sermon. The result will not disappoint you.


When you have many male hearers, you should reserve a space for
them. The women will complain that thereby they are placed
further away; but you must appease them with a compliment. Tell
them that you know their charity, and are persuaded that they
would not certainly wish to hinder the word of God from being
heard by those who need it most.

When you have well cultivated your congregation, when a strong
current of sympathy and charity has set in from them to you and
from you to them, when a number of conversions shall have been
made, then you may think of sending some of them to high Mass and
to Vespers. Don't fail to felicitate such:--"You have come hither
to hear me. So far well, and I am greatly rejoiced at it. Still
you may do something better: you may attend high Mass," adding
your reasons, and then conclude somewhat in this style:--"Now, I
hope that those who are rightly disposed will attend high Mass. I
only want the badly disposed, poor downright sinners, at my
sermons." You will be obeyed by some, and you will thereby do
much toward repopularizing religion; and when those who are not
converted fall sick they will say:--"Send for the man who
preaches the seven minutes sermon; I don't want any other." Thus
God will be blessed and glorified. ...

Here, then, you have a very simple and cheap means of restoring
the people to religion. It may be put into practice everywhere:
in great cities, in small towns, and even in hamlets. The subject
is one for serious reflection.
Even in our most religiously disposed towns, hardly a third of
the inhabitants habitually hear the word of God. Elsewhere,
matters are still worse; and yet all are sheep of the same Divine
pastor, all have a soul to save. Moreover, according to all
theologians, every parish priest of a cure is required, _sub
gravi_, to preach at low Mass, whenever the faithful generally do
not attend high Mass. Hence, by pursuing the course above
indicated, we may not only save others but shall also exonerate


    Chapter VII.

    Tact and Kindliness.

  We should assume that our Hearers are what we wish them to be.
  Reproaches to be avoided.
  How to address Unbelievers.
  Special Precautions to be taken in small Towns and rural Districts.
  How to treat Men during times of public Commotion.
  Forbearance due to the Church for being obliged to receive Money
    from the Faithful.

In France, it is not enough to say good things, they must also be
well said. This remark applies to all, but more especially to him
who speaks in behalf of the Gospel; for he is bound to follow the
Divine injunction:--"Be ye wise as serpents, and harmless as
doves;" which I should prefer to see carried out as commented
upon by St. François de Sales:--"Ah! my dear Philothea, I would
give a hundred serpents for one dove."

It is especially in this respect that we should endeavor to
reduce to practice what has already been advanced on the
importance of becoming thoroughly acquainted with the people, and
the necessity of loving them in order to our being qualified to
address them to good purpose.
We must make ourselves Sisters of Charity to the souls of men;
having all their pliancy and kindness, so as to be capable of
conforming ourselves to those light, weak, vain, and fickle
characters--to say nothing of the suspicious and malevolent--with
whom we may have to deal. Our age is arrayed in prejudices from
head to foot, and no sooner is one destroyed than another is
ready to take its place.

For the most part, a great mistake is made as regards this
necessity of exercising tact in our intercourse with the people.
It is remarked:--"We have to do with little people, such
circumspection is therefore uncalled for. Why should we give
ourselves so much trouble on their account?" Very true; but
little people are often very susceptible people everywhere; not
among the laity only, but among the clergy likewise.

The people have certain formalities, courtesies, and politenesses
of their own which we should learn to respect, for when once
outraged, they are more difficult to be appeased than the
educated and genteel classes. Complaints are often made of our
congregations; but have they not sometimes cause on their part to
complain of their preachers? ... Are these latter always prudent
and conciliatory in their mode of procedure? And yet success
depends on this mixture of tact and kindliness.


In our sermons, we should start with assuming that the people are
what we wish them to be; thereby raising them in their own
estimation, and laying hold of them by their better part. ... You
will then feel yourself quite at ease, and in spite of any desire
on the part of your hearers to oppose you, they will be
restrained from doing so by an exquisite sentiment of respect.

A _religieux_ who was engaged on a mission in a rural district,
had announced that a particular gallery, which had previously
been occupied by the men, would in future be reserved for the
ladies forming the choir. Now, the men were much attached to the
said gallery, and were determined to keep it. Accordingly, the
day after, long before the sermon, they installed themselves in
it as usual.

On ascending the pulpit, the preacher noticed that his directions
had not been attended to. What would he do? Command or scold? A
vulgar man might have done so under the circumstances, but he got
over the difficulty by a compliment.

Turning toward the occupants of the gallery, he addressed them in
a kindly tone as follows:--"My dear friends, you are aware that
the gallery was set apart for the ladies. Now, French politeness
calls upon us always to give place to the ladies, and not to
deprive them of it. From what I already know of you, I feel
persuaded that you will not be behindhand in that respect." ...
"We have put our foot into it," whispered the men one to another;
"and can hold out no longer.
Ah! the crafty fellow, he has outwitted us, and we must go." The
gallery was evacuated forthwith and made over to the ladies; to
the satisfaction of all, even of those who had been worsted in
the affair. That is the way to deal with the people. The preacher
might have asserted his absolute authority on the occasion; but,
like a wise man, he preferred the exercise of prudence and

We repeat it: the most effectual way of communicating the truth
to the people, of putting them in the right way, and of reforming
them, is not to be chary of complimenting them when they have
deserved it ever so little; and to show that we have confidence
in them. This course tends to gladden their souls; disposes them
to what is good, exalts, elates them. It should never be
neglected, for it is capable of transforming the most obstinate

Subsequent to the revolution of 1848, an association of
unemployed operatives was formed at the church of the Carmelites;
amongst whom was a number of sharpers, makers of barricades, and
workmen always on the look-out for work--men clothed in rags and
in a state of complete destitution. There were about twelve
hundred of them. A meal was first served out to them, which was
followed by a lecture.


The priests who addressed them soon acquired an irresistible
ascendency over this formidable body; so much so that certain
parties took umbrage at it, as a dangerous power to be wielded by
the clergy, and accordingly hired a set of roughs to hiss and
otherwise disturb the congregation.

The preacher, who was apprised of this on entering the pulpit,
did not manifest the least discomposure. Before beginning the
sermon, however, he looked round upon the sinister figures and
tattered habiliments of his hearers with a benevolent
countenance, and then said in a sonorous voice:--"What a pleasant
meeting this is, my friends! What an excellent audience! what
silence! what attention! Therein I recognize the people. ... Père
Lacordaire preaches at Notre-Dame to the noble and wealthy, and
it is found necessary to station constables there to maintain
order. ... None but men of the people are here, and yet we have
no constables amongst us. We do not want them, for the people are
their own police; the people are discreet." ...

He then delivered his sermon, which was listened to amidst the
most profound silence. Never was an audience of nuns more
attentive than those men; their deportment was admirable. The
roughs took the hint, saw that their game was up, and that those
who had engaged them would lose their money. They accordingly
moved toward the door.


When the sermon was over, however, a few hisses were attempted;
but fifty stalwart arms instantly seized the intruders, and
administered a castigation to them which was by no means

By laying hold of men in this manner we may lead them onward a
great way on the road to improvement. ...

One should be very cautious not to assume that his hearers are
wicked, impious, or unbelieving. The people do not relish such
imputations: they don't like reproaches; neither do you, dear
reader. They rarely do any good, and often much harm.

If it is deemed desirable to censure a fault, a vice, or a
scandal, such delinquencies may be treated of in a general way,
and energetically denounced. In applying the lesson to your
hearers, you might say in a subdued tone--"Malpractices like
these are committed elsewhere. It is even stated that you are not
wholly free from them; but perhaps it is only the malevolent who
say this of you. However, if you have really been guilty of them,
I am sure you will abandon them in future. It is always a duty to
prove that the malevolent are in the wrong." You may further
add:--"I will do you this justice, that whenever I have given you
any advice, I have always had the satisfaction of finding that
some at least have profited by it."


It shows a want of charity as well as tact--and it is, moreover,
deplorably vulgar--to address a congregation in such a style as
the following:--"All my preaching, and all the trouble which I
take in your behalf are in vain, for you are not a whit better.
Faith is departing from France. ... I must abandon you to your
fate. No matter how I preach, none the more come to the sermons."
... I say this mode of address is as vulgar and contemptible as
it is derogatory to the minister of the Gospel. Saint John
Chrysostom, as already remarked, did not talk in that style:--"If
you reject my words," said he, "I shall not shake off the dust of
my feet against you. Not that herein I would disobey the Saviour;
but because the love which He has given me for you prevents my
doing so." ...

If sermons are not attended, whose fault is it? It is our duty to
look into that question. At all events, if only a few come it is
not certainly their fault, and therefore they should be spared
all reproaches; otherwise some captious hearer--and such are to
be met with everywhere--may slip into a corner of the pulpit, and
say:--"Take care, Mr. Preacher; you are speaking ill of the
absent, and you know better than I do that such a proceeding is
improper." ...


If your audience is scanty, I can quite fancy that you would like
to comment upon it, and also to express a little annoyance at the
fact; but you may do something better. Begin by congratulating
those who are present, thank them heartily for coming to listen
to you, and tell them afterward, in an affectionate manner, that
it would be a praiseworthy act if they could induce one or two of
their comrades to accompany them to the next meeting. Instead of
uttering reproaches against the erring absentees, which your
hearers might report to them, charge the latter to communicate
words of kindness to them:--

"Tell those dear brethren who do not attend the lectures, that we
bear them no ill-will; that we love all of them; that they too
are our children; and that we never cease praying for them."
Thereby all will be edified, and God will be less offended. ...

Further, it is highly imprudent to say to one's audience:--"I
have preached to you a long time, and yet you are still the same:
I see no improvement in you. On the contrary, evil increases
every year. I wash my hands of you; you will be lost: you will be
damned." ... Now, the people do not like to be damned, or to be
discouraged. Besides, such a course is highly dangerous. ...
Might they not say:--"As it seems that we are damned already, let
us at least enjoy life while it lasts." Moreover, may there not
still be a portion for the pastor, even from among the erring

A pastor once recapitulated in the pulpit the results of his
ministrations in this language:--"My time is thrown away upon
you, for you become more and more ungodly.


"The first year of my cure there were only five persons who did
not communicate at Easter.

"The second year there were eleven.

"The third year there were thirty.

"And the number has gone on increasing, so that at present there
are eighty non-communicants." After Mass, a mischievous peasant
approached the speaker, and said, in a low voice:--"Monsieur le
Curé, take my advice, and don't make so much stir about this
matter. According to your own testimony, we were in a
satisfactory condition when you took charge of us, so that we
must have deteriorated under your _reign_."

Neither should such commonplace and infelicitous remarks as the
following be made:--"Faith is departing from among men. ... Hell
is let loose on earth; ... everybody is abandoning religion;" ...
for observations like these only tend to induce others to abandon
it; and the people will hardly feel disposed to practise a
religion which the rest of the world is alleged to be giving up.
They would rather prefer being lost with the multitude.

On the contrary, you should say something to this effect,--"Go
to! faith is not extinct, for there are many godly men to be
found in all ranks of society.
You would be convinced of this if you only knew what takes place
in our large towns, where numbers of the young, the rich, and the
learned belonging to the higher classes, and others occupying
distinguished positions, may be seen devoutly frequenting the
services of the church, partaking of the holy communion, visiting
the poor, and practising confession with the docility of little
children. Moreover, what exemplary women there are amongst us!"
... You might then add:--"Brethren, we should strive to imitate
such men, and should not allow ourselves to be outdone by them."
Representations like these will induce the people to think more
highly of religion, and will make it more attractive to them.

We have already discussed the most appropriate method of warning
the people against the bad example and pernicious talk of those
who affect infidelity; but a few additional remarks may not be
out of place here. In general, we should not evince any fear of
such antagonism, nor attach much importance to it. We should
rather cause the impression to be produced that God having
bestowed mind and talent upon mankind, is a proof that He can be
in no dread of those endowments.

Above all, we should lay great stress on such reflections as
these:--that those who call themselves unbelievers are, in fact,
nothing of the kind, and are better than their words would imply;
although, perchance, they might not be greatly disappointed if
they could attain to infidelity; that they have as good reason
for fearing hell as others have of being in dread of the police;
and that by dint of repeating that they are unbelievers, they
have been led to imagine that they are so in reality.


You might liken them to some of those old soldiers of the empire,
who, from having travelled a good deal in foreign countries, are
generally allowed the license of embellishing and even of
inventing a little. As everybody knows, they make free use of the
privilege, and concoct a number of tales wherein they themselves
are made to play a prominent part. These they repeat incessantly,
until at length they succeed in persuading themselves that such
stories are true, and that the incidents actually occurred as
they have narrated them. ... It is the same with those who wish
to pass themselves off as unbelievers. Hence we should not allow
ourselves to be moved by their words; for at heart they are
better men and nearer to God than is thought, and you should
insist on the duty of praying for them. If you pursue this
course, none will be hurt or offended, and the wives, daughters,
or mothers of these pretended unbelievers will return home from
your sermons happier at the thought that all hope for those whom
they love is not wholly lost.


The sterner the truths which you have to set forth, the more
should tact and kindliness be brought into play, that the souls
of the hearers be not depressed. This, however, is a very common
error. We are terrible in the pulpit; we thunder and storm there;
whereas in the confessional we are gentle and paternal. That was
all well enough in times of faith; but an entirely different
course is called for nowadays, otherwise you will estrange the
hearts of your people. Be paternal in the pulpit, be paternal in
the confessional as well; but at the same time uncompromising in
your principles. There are many things which terrify at a
distance, but which, nevertheless, are readily assented to in the
familiar intercourse of the confessional.

We sometimes hear such language as this, uttered in a tone of
great self-conceit, after a long tirade or vehement
declamation:--"I have driven them into a corner. I have now
fairly crushed them." You have crushed them, have you? So much
the worse, for in so doing you have altogether misapprehended
your duty. God has not called you to crush men, but to raise and
save them. Moreover, there is much cause to fear that those whom
you have crushed will not run the less eagerly in the way of

Hence all strong admonitions should be tempered with such
deprecations as these:--"Brethren, why am I constrained to tell
you these stern truths? You will pardon me for doing so, because
it is my duty. It pains me as much as it does you to have to say
Or, something to this effect:--"If I wished to pain you, or if it
was not rather my heart's desire to spare you, or if I did not
love you, I might inflict on you the chastisement of irony and
defeat; I might say this or that, and speak truly and justly. But
no; I leave you to your own consciences, which will tell you of
your faults and failings more forcibly than I can. For my part, I
prefer holding out a hand to you, I prefer to pity, to save you."

We must become the servants of all. ... That was the course
pursued by Saint John Chrysostom. "A man," says he, "who is only
bound to serve one master, and to submit to one opinion only, may
discharge his duty without trouble; but I have an infinity of
masters, being called to serve an immense people who hold many
different views. Not that I bear this servitude with any sort of
impatience, nor that by the present discourse I would defend
myself against the authority which you exercise over me in the
capacity of masters. God forbid that I should entertain such a
thought! On the contrary, nothing is so glorious to me as this
servitude of love."

The same feelings ought to pervade the heart of every Christian
priest, who should be able to say as St. Paul did to the
Corinthians:--"Out of much affliction and anguish of heart, I
wrote unto you with many tears; not that ye should be grieved,
but that ye might know the love which I have more abundantly unto


You become aware, for instance, of a prevailing disposition to
ill-will, and have cause to apprehend the ridicule of certain
parties. Under these circumstances, throw yourself into the hands
of your audience; make them your judge, and rest assured you will
be treated with indulgence. As Saint Augustine has said:--"If you
fear God, cast yourself into His arms, and then His hands cannot
strike you." In like manner, if you fear the wit and ridicule of
the French people, throw yourself into their hearts, and then the
sallies of their tongues will fail to reach you.

There are certain thoughts and expressions which have a great
hold on the French mind, such as progress, liberty,
enlightenment. These you should never meddle with unless
absolutely obliged. We ought to respect even the illusions of our
brethren, when they do nobody any harm. When we are forced to
combat them, it should be done with courtesy, with gentle irony,
or with profound ability. We, too, may speak of enlightenment, of
progress, and of liberty, and point out that they can only be
effectually attained through the instrumentality of religion. ...

Matters have undoubtedly improved on this score; proving that, if
we correct our own errors, the effect will not be lost upon
others. We are now far removed from the time when nothing but the
future was talked of, the philosophy of the future, the happiness
of the future, when it used to be said that the time was big with
the future, big with a new philosophy; nay, even with a new
religion; whereas, in truth, it was big with nothing but misery,
as the event fully proved. ...


We must not assail these delusions directly, nor imitate the bold
preacher who is reported to have said--"So we are supposed to be
living in the era of light! If so, then it is the devil who holds
the candle." On the contrary, you should enter into the current
of the ideas of the age, and strive vigorously to turn it in
favor of religion, by taking advantage of prevailing errors and
delusions to edify your hearers.

One of the lectures of the Rev. Père Ventura supplies a fine
model of this style of preaching; which but for the sacredness of
the place where it was delivered, would undoubtedly have elicited
roars of applause. He had been showing that the attempt to
introduce German philosophy into France was a great mistake,
inasmuch as it was altogether unsuited to the positive, sensible,
and Christian mind of the French people. He wound up as
follows:--"Frenchmen, it is your bane that you do not value
yourselves as you ought, that you wish to imitate foreigners;
whereas you are rich enough in resources of your own. Last
century you imitated English politics and were not very
successful. Why do you now wish to borrow a philosophy from
Protestant Germany? Frenchmen, be yourselves. ...
What! are you not rich enough in mind, in your wonderful talent
for comparison and for development, and in your extreme quickness
at deducing consequences from the most remote premises? Not rich
enough in the truth which eighteen centuries of Christianity have
poured into your bosoms, and to which you owe your civilization
and grandeur. Frenchmen, forbear aping others; you have only to
be yourselves in order to be great." (Prolonged sensation.)

We should become all things to all men, without ever being rude;
being always simple, natural, true, and upright. These are
qualities admired alike by all; by the little, and especially by
the great. ...

The wealthy residents in towns frequently go to spend a part of
the fine season in the country, where the curé, in order to exalt
religion in their eyes--and the pastor a little as well--thinks
himself called upon to be at the expense of some grand phrases
and flights of fancy. Now, such a course is neither adroit nor
apostolic. As to grand phrases, the visitors hear enough of them
in the towns. Besides, they may judge that you have talked at
them, and may be offended. Moreover, it is not at all unlikely
that they may think you have mistaken your profession. ...
Instead of acting in this way, do not seem to be aware of their
presence, but speak boldly to your people in your usual style.
Avail yourself, nevertheless, of any fitting occasion to tell
them some useful truths; to draw their attention to some striking
parable, like that of the poor man with the ewe lamb and the
prophet Nathan, which may afford you a good opportunity of
reaching the rich over the shoulders of the peasant. Be careful,
however, always to do this in a kindly manner; both rich and poor
will then be more satisfied with you, and God Himself will concur
in the same opinion.

Remember that you have a difficult part to play in a small town.
There, you may not say all that may be said in a large city.
There, the most paltry things assume huge proportions. One of our
best preachers entirely failed of success through having omitted
to repeat the _Ave Maria_ after the exordium, and for not having
allowed his audience time to cough, to expectorate, and to take
breath. It is a wonder that he escaped without having his
orthodoxy suspected.

Moreover, the residents in small towns are excessively fond of
finely-turned phrases, rhetorical displays, and pomposity. They
call such rodomontade poetry, and think it sublime. You may adopt
it occasionally by way of accompaniment. Nevertheless, don't be
led into the delusion that any essay in that style will prevent
the _sturdy bourgeois_ from slandering his neighbor, from
cheating him if he can, and from doing many other things of a
similar kind.


Good manners have great weight in France, and many things are
excused in him who says them cleverly.

A celebrated preacher was expected to preach a charity sermon in
one of the Paris churches. A crowded audience had already
assembled, when, to their surprise and disappointment, they saw
the parish priest enter the pulpit, and heard him announce that,
owing to the sudden indisposition of the eminent preacher, he was
obliged to supply his place. Thereat the congregation rose and
began to leave the church. Meanwhile the priest, seeing the
crowed on the move, and the anticipated collection disappearing
with them, suddenly arrested them with a _bon mot_. "My
brethren," said he, "when everybody has left the church, I will
begin." This so delighted the audience that they remained where
they were; the priest preached an excellent sermon, and the
collection was most liberal.

We should endeavor to acquire and practise all the breeding and
politeness of good society, with sincerity superadded. By birth,
we are for the most part children of the people; that is neither
a fault nor a disgrace; it forms an additional resemblance
between ourselves and the Apostles. But our primary education was
neglected, and we should fill up the gap by retaking from the
world those forms which it has borrowed from Christianity, and
fill them up with the substance. Then we shall be powerful men.


The present age has given us a great model of this tact,
kindliness, and urbanity of speech in the person of the Cardinal
de Cheverus.

"He generally spoke," says M. Hamon, [Footnote 18] "with such
tact and moderation, and so much to the purpose, that, far from
offending any one, his audience always went away gratified. Some
were convinced, others were staggered, and all disabused more or
less of their prejudices. When he addressed persons of a
different communion, his kind and affectionate words were the
utterances of a heart overflowing with benevolence and charity.
He made his audience feel by the accents of his voice and his
whole deportment that it was a friend who was addressing them;
not merely a sincere, but a tender and devoted friend, who wished
them all possible good; and this persuasion, by disposing them to
welcome his words, opened the way for him to their hearts.

    [Footnote 18: _Histoire du Cardinal de Cheverus_.]

  "His usual course was this: he first stated the question
  clearly, expounding carefully the true doctrine of the Church;
  eliminating therefrom all the erroneous interpretations,
  wherewith heretics have travestied it in order that they might
  decry it. He then adduced his proofs in a form so simple and
  natural, combining them with reasons so completely within the
  reach of ordinary intelligences, that no effort of the mind was
  required to feel their force.
  He adhered above all to those proofs which speak to the heart;
  setting forth all that is lovely and affecting, noble and
  excellent in the Catholic creed. It is almost unnecessary to
  add that his efforts were often crowned with deserved success."

But the exercise of tact and kindliness on our part, is specially
called for in times of public commotion, when men's minds are
disturbed and their passions inflamed. Under such circumstances,
we should endeavor to be perfectly self-possessed ourselves, in
order that we may be the better able to control others.

Before all, we should be just. The people, on their part, have an
exquisite sense of justice. In depicting their faults or their
excesses, abstain from all exaggeration; rather say too little
than too much, and they will accuse themselves unsparingly.
Outstep the limits of truth, and they will rebel, and you will
forfeit all your influence over them. Further, take pains to
explain to them in detail how matters stand; show them that you
are not an enemy, but a sincere friend and adviser, and they will
resign themselves, even to suffering.

A great orator has left on record a perfect model of this style
of address. He is so little known that I cannot resist the desire
of quoting him. Some time prior to the Revolution of '89, the
dearness of bread had excited public indignation at Marseilles,
excesses had been committed, and still greater outrages were


Mirabeau caused a notice, containing the following passages, to
be put up on all the walls of the town:--

  "My good friends, I am about to tell you what I think of the
  occurrences which have taken place in this superb city during
  the last few days. Listen to me: I shall not deceive you; my
  only wish is to be of use to you.

  "Every one of you desires what is right, for you are all honest
  people; but every one does not know how he ought to act. A man
  is often deceived, even with respect to his own interests.

  "You complain chiefly of two things: of the price of bread and
  the price of meat.

  "Let us consider the subject of the bread first; other matters
  will come after.

  "Bread is the most indispensable article of food, and there are
  two requisites regarding it: first, that there should be an
  adequate supply; and, secondly, that it should not be too dear.

  "Well, my good friends, I have some cheering news to tell you.
  There is no deficiency of wheat at the present moment. There
  are 50,000 loads in the city, which will furnish bread for
  three months and twelve days. But, my good friends, that is not
  all; your administrators and the merchants still expect a large
  additional supply. ...


  "Be calm, therefore; be perfectly calm. Thank Providence for
  giving you what others are deprived of.

  "You have heard it reported, and you yourselves know, that the
  seasons generally have been bad throughout the country. The
  people have to suffer elsewhere much more than you do here; yet
  they bear it patiently.

  "I trust, therefore, that you will be contented and quiet, and
  that your example may promote peace on all sides. Then, my good
  friends, it will be said everywhere: The Marseillaise are a
  brave people. The King will hear it--that excellent King whom
  we should not afflict, whom we unceasingly invoke--even he will
  hear of it, and will esteem and love you the more."

As might have been expected, this address produced the happiest
results. The people do not, cannot resist such appeals, unless
some mischievous demagogue interferes to rekindle their passions.

Lastly, I must say a few words on a subject which should be
candidly explained to the people. I allude to the money taken for
the use of chairs in our churches, and the difference which
exists in the celebration of marriages and funerals for the rich
and the poor.
This is a matter which causes great estrangement from religion,
and he who is not aware of the fact shows his ignorance of the
feelings prevailing among the people. It is desirable that all
should be set right on this point, both rich and poor; even the
most pious amongst us. Faith is no longer large enough to
comprehend these exigencies, and there is a wide-spread suspicion
abroad that the Church is following the ruling passion of the
multitude--love of money. Besides, the people entertain strong
views on the subject of equality, and expect it in matters of
religion, if they do not meet with it anywhere else.

Hence it is not uncommon to hear reflections such as the
following among the operatives of our work shops:--"Religion
nowadays is no longer the religion of the Gospel. The Gospel
loves and prefers the people; but religion as practised at
present prefers the rich and encourages felons.

"Take, for example, two men of humble parentage. The one remains
a workman and maintains his integrity all his life; he toils on
and dies poor. The other becomes rich by very questionable means,
defrauds right and left, and dies wealthy. He is then placed in
the centre of the church, and surrounded with burning tapers and
chanting priests. ... The poor devil of a workman, on the
contrary, who has been upright all his life, is borne in the rear
of the parish priest, accompanied by two or three assistants,
with as many tapers, and is then pitched into a corner. . . . And
you would have me believe that this is the religion of Christ? It
is no such thing; it is the religion of the priests: it is the
religion of money." ....


Arguments like these have a powerful effect on persons who are
incapable of sober reflection and who scarcely ever look beyond
the present state of existence. They harrow up the popular
instincts; and with the people instinct is everything. The man
who secures the command over their instincts may do any thing
with them; he who fails in that respect cannot manage them at
all. ... It is most desirable, then, that the inequality
complained of should be kindly and frankly explained.

In doing so, we might say something to the following effect:--
  "Dear friends, this subject is quite as painful to us as it can
  be to you; but you are aware that there are some stern
  necessities in life. The Church is poor nowadays, and yet has
  many expenses to meet. The sacred fabrics must be maintained,
  the wages of employés paid, suitable furniture provided, and we
  ourselves, brethren, even we, the clergy, must live. ... Would
  you like us to go begging our bread? Say, would you wish that?
  Certainly not; for if you knew we were in need, you would be
  the first to succor us, even though you had to stint
  Moreover, it is our duty to visit the poor; and would you
  condemn us to the greatest possible misery, that of witnessing
  want without being able to relieve it? Say, would you inflict
  such torture upon us? Well, then, brethren, the money in
  question goes to defray these expenses, to give us bread, and
  to enable us to alleviate the necessities of the poor.

  "Instead of complaining, therefore, be content that the
  weddings and burials of the wealthy should be made to provide
  for these requisites. Moreover, brethren, let us lift up our
  souls and look beyond the present life. Thank God, we are not
  destined to spend all our existence on earth. You know full
  well that this life is not all our life. There is another to
  follow, where all the inequalities which we see here will be
  perfectly adjusted, and when every one shall receive according
  to his works and not according to his good fortune. Why, then,
  attach so much importance to these matters? Surely you do not
  think that God troubles Himself about them; that He counts the
  number of tapers, or carpets, or chairs? ... God looks to see
  whether a man has been upright and honest, faithfully
  discharging his duties as a citizen and a Christian. Be all
  that, my brethren, and He will not fail to give you a blissful
  abode in heaven; which will be far better than the most
  magnificent place in the church, either at your wedding or your


    Chapter VIII.

    Interest, Emotion, and Animation.

  We should endeavor to excite Interest by Thoughts, by Sallies or
    Epigrams, by Studies of Men and Manners.
  The Truth should be animated.
  The Père Ravignan.
  The Père Lacordaire.
  The Heart is too often absent.

We remarked in a former chapter that the preaching of the Divine
word, especially on Sundays, should be to the people, wearied
with the toil and cares of the week, a rest, a joy; or, as the
Scripture says, a refreshment. ... It should be to them what a
spring of water surrounded with verdure is to our soldiers worn
out with marching, and scorched by the sun and burning sands of

Under its breath, the souls of men should dilate, blossom, as it
were, and feel less unhappy; for is not the Gospel glad tidings?
Was it not proclaimed at the Nativity of Christ:--"I bring you
glad tidings of great joy?"


Christian pulpit instruction should be a sort of paternal
intercourse enlivened with faith and charity--a family meeting
where the different members come to talk over their labors and
their trials, their fears and their hopes, and the bounty of that
Father who is in Heaven, in such a way that each may go away
benefited and less unhappy, saying within himself:--"I feel all
the better now. The words of the preacher have cheered me. Why
did he not speak a little longer? While he spoke, my soul was on
fire."--"Did not our heart burn within us, while He talked with
us by the way?"

Unfortunately, this is no longer the case. The sermon is looked
upon as something cold, official, and tedious; or merely as a
necessary accompaniment of the service. It is thought wearisome
to listen to, but must needs be endured for the sake of example.
Generally speaking, moreover, the greater part of the faithful
are absent, and the majority of the pious souls present consists
of females. These place themselves as much at their ease as
possible on a couple of chairs, and resign themselves to undergo
the sermon. When it is over, they remark that it was either a
good or an indifferent discourse, and then depart absolutely as
they came; none feeling in the least bound to practise what has
been enjoined.


Preaching, indeed, is a sorry trade. The preacher studies and
meditates on his subject, composes his sermon, and then commits
it to memory. What a task! He then goes into the pulpit, and is
grieved to perceive that the minds of his audience are
abstracted--that they look like persons who are being bored; so
much so, that he is glad if even by a nod of assent they do not
prove that they have been doing anything else rather than
listening to him. For the sermon is undoubtedly regarded in the
light of an infliction; a species of forced labor. When the
faithful learn that there is to be no sermon, they hail the
announcement with pleasure, and seem to say with great glee:
"Another sermon got over!" Hence one frequently hears the
remark:--"I shall not go to such a mass because there is
preaching there." Truly, all this is sad, very sad, as regards
the preaching of the Divine word.

But who is to blame, ourselves or the faithful? In the first
place, it is quite certain that in France there is a decided
distaste for any thing serious, or that requires attention and
mental effort. Nothing is cared for nowadays but what is amusing;
hence the most highly remunerated people amongst us are those who
cater for the amusement of others, some of whom make fabulous
incomes. How to be amused is, in fact, the great question of the
day, insomuch that you hear the remark on all sides:--"I will not
go there again, for the entertainment did not amuse me."

The malady of _ennui_ pervades the social atmosphere and all who
move in it, while any thing serious suggests wearisomeness and
disgust. This state of mind is the result of excessive
selfishness. For three-fourths of their time, men are bored about
themselves personally. They then feel the want of some excitement
to get rid of the incubus, and generally resort to whatever is
romantic in search of it.


Again, there is scarcely any prevailing love of the truth; on the
contrary, it is rather dreaded, and men manifest a strange
pusillanimity when confronted with it. Whenever a stern truth is
addressed to others, they readily applaud, and think it quite
right that this and that vice should be strongly reprehended; but
when it is brought home to themselves, they frown, question the
propriety of the censure, and can see no harm in their own
delinquencies. Besides which, there is a universal tendency to
pass judgment on every thing sacred and profane, and a sermon is
criticised as if it were nothing more than an ordinary literary
production. ...

These are shortcomings on the part of the congregation, but are
they wholly responsible for them? The blame is sometimes cast on
the world, on the absorbing passion for frivolity, and on the
literature of the day; but may there not be a little fault
elsewhere? It is our duty to look into this subject; and as we
are called upon to proclaim the truth to others, it behoves us to
administer it in the first place to ourselves. This will be a
real charity; the more so, because if we are not told it to our
faces, we may rest assured that it will be repeated with
additions behind our backs.


I hasten, then, to state it. There is a large amount of talent in
Paris, and no lack of clergymen who know how to draw, to
interest, and to direct an audience. In the provinces, too, how
many preachers are there, who, though little known, do a vast
amount of good! Christian eloquence is still one of the glories,
one of the purest and most indisputable glories of France. As a
witty writer has said:--"God has evidently made France His spoilt
child. The misfortune is that the child does not always profit by
the parent's indulgence." Unquestionably, there are still
apostolic preachers amongst us, whose words are effectual in
stirring up and saving the souls of men; nevertheless, is it not
equally sure, that our usual style of preaching is deficient in
interest and perspicuity, is too monotonous and didactic, is made
up of a misuse of reasoning and rhetorical phraseology, is
wanting in heart and soul, and, above all, in that tone of
conviction which lends to speech its paramount power? ...

In the first place, we must interest our hearers; for that is an
indispensable condition of benefiting them. ... People generally
require to be interested. They may be rather exacting on that
point: it may be a weakness on their part; but what is to be
done? Must we not become all things to all men? Must we not take
them as they are? It is constantly being repeated that society is
unsound; then, should we not overlook some things in those who
are ailing?
After all, the question is not to discover whether they are right
or wrong. The vital question is to save them, and how to get them
to listen to us, and to cause Gospel truth to reach their ears,
their minds, and their hearts to that end. Why should we take so
much trouble in preparing sermons if they are not to be listened
to? In that case, it becomes nothing more than a disheartening,
profitless labor. As somebody once remarked:--"They teach me to
compose magnificent sermons. I only wish they would also teach me
how to make people come and hear them."

Our aim then should be to secure a hearing. To attain that, we
must first excite interest. ...

There are different ways of doing this. We may interest our
hearers by well-digested studies of men and manners, conveyed in
various styles of unsophisticated and sympathetic language; by
spirited sallies; by metaphors drawn from the incidents of
every-day life; and by heart-stirring impulses and emotions. ...

In the first place, in order to interest an audience you must
never lose sight of them, but keep them always in your wake. They
should be made to think and feel with you, and even to anticipate
or divine your train of thought; for that will gratify them. At
other times, prepare a surprise for them, and that too will
please them.


When you perceive that the attention of your hearers is flagging,
it may be stimulated by a lively speech or sally; such as shall
gladden their hearts, and draw from them that gentle smile which
bespeaks approving assent. Frenchmen are delighted with this
style of address; and surely there is nothing to urge against it.
With so many depressing cares to battle with, one should rejoice
to see them inspirited a little under the breath of the Divine
word. Moreover, it may be made a useful medium for communicating
some wholesome truths.

Sallies of this kind are greatly relished by the French people,
even when directed against themselves.

All great orators have employed them. Saint Chrysostom himself,
always so grave and dignified, did not disdain to use them. He
thus wittily derides the vanity of the male sex of his
time:--"Look at that young man. He walks delicately on the tips
of his toes for fear of soiling his shoes. My friend, if you
dread the mud so much on account of your shoes, put them on your
head and they will be safe."

In another place he assails the vanity of the women. "Why are you
so proud of your fine clothes? You reply: 'Only look at this
stuff and see how beautiful it is: touch it, and feel how silky
it is.' True: but that is no merit of yours. 'But how exquisitely
this dress fits me!' True, again, but the merit of that is due to
the sempstress."


"Alas! for human weakness," he exclaimed; "it takes the produce
of a plant, an animal, or a vile insect, bedizens itself
therewith, then goes abroad and asks the world's admiration,
saying: Look at me, for I am worth something to-day."

All our great modern orators, both of the tribune and pulpit,
abound in trenchant sallies; which almost always carry
conviction, because they are universally understood.

"France," says M. de Falloux, "repels equally those men who can
do every thing, and those who can do nothing."

The Rev. Père Lacordaire excels in epigrams of this kind. He has
a peculiar talent in that line, and has succeeded in winning over
many of his hearers by his pithy humor.

One day his object was to show that rationalism does not possess
that charity which distinguishes the Christian faith and
ministry. Instead of entering into a long dissertation on the
subject, he expressed himself thus:--

  "I shall only say a few words about rationalism in connection
  with the topic before us. I have never heard of a rationalist
  having been beaten by the Cochin-Chinese. Minds like theirs are
  too highly polished and too ingenious to risk encountering such
  distinction in behalf of the truth. It will, therefore, be time
  enough to trouble ourselves about them, when the next vacancy
  occurs in the Academy. We are too well bred to offer them any
  thing else than a laurel branch, which they unquestionably


On another occasion he remarked with a smile, addressing those
who affected unbelief:--"Yes, sirs, I admit that you have mind,
that you have plenty of mind; but know this, that God has endowed
you with it--a clear proof that He entertains no fear of it."

Even the Rev. Père Ravignan, who is generally so austere, ever
and anon adopts a similar style.

One day, in recapitulating the philosophical errors of the
present time, he remarked:--"Rationalism is another error, and
has the largest following. It comprises a class of thinkers who
are devoid of faith; men who are eternally seeking but never
find; jaded in their search by the oscillations of doubt, the
sport of grand and pretty phrases. According to them, the day is
at length about to dawn; the solution of all questions is at
hand. If, by any chance, we may have still to wait a long time
for it ... in that case, you must exercise patience; the religion
of the future will come at last;" [then, taking off his cap and
bowing ironically, he added,] "for which, of course, we are much


Similar points are to be met with throughout the discourses of M.
Lecourtier. Addressing wives, he says:--"Do not play the master
at home. I know of no one so ridiculous as the wife who does so,
unless it be the husband who obeys her." Sallies like these are
treasured up, and serve to recall to memory a whole discourse.
Moreover, they enlarge the heart and dispose it to subsequent
nobler impulses. ...

"To do children good," says a well-known writer, "they must be
interested: they must be made to laugh, to cry, and then sent
away happy." Are not the people still children? Are we not all
children still, in more than one respect?

Let it not be supposed that in what has been said above, it is
intended that any person whatever should be ridiculed or held up
to contempt. On the contrary, irony should never be employed
except against prejudices, vices, and crimes.

Another way of exciting interest is by lively, skilful, witty,
and delicate sketches of men and manners. ... The Frenchman is
fond of being spoken to about himself, about his occupations, his
characteristics, his trials, even his foibles and caprices. This
fact is too much lost sight of. We descant on the Hebrews, the
Jews, the Egyptians, Midianites, Philistines, and other nations
of the past. Set all that aside, and speak more freely of the
Gospel and Frenchmen, and of Frenchmen and the Gospel; of
Frenchmen of the present age, of their virtues and vices. Do
this, and you will not fail to interest your hearers: you will
interest them in spite of themselves.


M. Lecourtier transcends in such portraiture. Hence, as before
remarked, his sermons always attract crowded audiences; and he is
never listened to with more attention then when delineating the
inner history of a man or woman of the nineteenth century.
Occasionally some are offended, and declare that they will not
come to hear him again; but they seldom keep their word, for they
find his discourses so interesting that they cannot stay away.

Humility is not our forte; on the contrary, we are all very fond
of engaging the attention of others. Indeed, we prefer ill-usage
to neglect; an instance of which is afforded by a letter
addressed to a celebrated man by an obscure author, wherein he
wrote:--"I entreat you to be kind enough to refute me, and, if
need be, to abuse me, for that will bring me into notice."

Studies of men and manners are well-timed everywhere. They are
understood by and interest all, because they draw forth a
repetition of the speech made by the woman of Samaria:--"I have
seen a man who hath told me all things that ever I did."

Nevertheless, we must not stop there. After depicting what is
evil, we must combat, and overcome, and drive it away by the
force of logic, and by the impulses of thought and heart
combined. In this, also, we may find it easy to excite interest.


Every truth should be proved. The French mind is pre-eminently
logical; but it is also prompt and quick, and likes neither that
which is long, nor that which is heavy; nor that which affirms
without proving, nor yet that which proves too much.

State your principles, therefore, in a clear and concise form,
and then demonstrate them in prompt and vigorous language; making
your audience feel from the outset that you are master of the
situation; thereby precluding the possibility of resistance on
the part of the ingenuous or even of the disingenuous, and that
while listening to you they may be led to repeat the remark of
the great Condé when he saw Bourdaloue ascending the
pulpit:--"Attention! voilà l'ennemi."

Such however, is far from being the case with ourselves. ... The
faithful are fed with nothing but frigid, precise, dogmatic and
even unintelligible discourses, which are supposed to convey
solid instruction. But what if it be so, if the discourses are
neither listened to nor understood? Dry bread is also solid, yet
nobody likes it only, any more than you do yourself; and if you
provide nothing but such food at your table, rest assured that
you will find but few guests.

We should animate or impassion reason itself. Demosthenes did
this, and so did all great orators. The Rev. Père Ravignan, whose
reasoning is always so forcible and logical, gives sensation and
life to his arguments in a masterly manner.


In his sermon on the divinity of the Lord Jesus Christ, after
demonstrating that we must admit the mystery of the Incarnation
or else submit to many other mysteries, he subjoins:--"But the
objection is raised that a mystery is inexplicable, insolvable.
So be it; nevertheless not to admit it, is to throw every thing
into the most frightful chaos. ... Then is Christianity false;
the world believes what is false; has been converted,
regenerated, civilized, by what is false; there is falsehood in
the faith, in the love, and in all the other inspirations of the
Christian religion; falsehood in all the blessings which have
been conferred upon humanity in the name of God the Redeemer;
falsehood in the heroism of innumerable martyrs; falsehood in all
the master-minds who have adorned Christianity; falsehood in the
whole chain of science, zeal, devotion, and superhuman virtues;
falsehood in the entire series of the ages of the Church, in all
its monuments, in all its testimonies; falsehood in the Catholic
priesthood and in the sacred ministry of all centuries; falsehood
in the happiness springing from faith and a pure conscience;
falsehood in the pulpit; falsehood on my lips and in my heart.
What! does your light and disdainful tongue find a lesser mystery
in all these consequences which necessarily result from your
principles? ME THEY TERRIFY."


We should, moreover, attempt in some way to put the truth into
action, making it to come and go, to speak, question, and reply;
and should always keep the scene so fully occupied that the minds
of the audience may not be diverted therefrom for an instant. In
this respect also, the Rev. Père Lacordaire supplies us with an
excellent model.

In his discourse on the _Intellectual Society founded by the
Church_, he points out the efforts which have been made by the
world to destroy the immutability of her doctrine, in a style
truly dramatic:--"When every thing else on earth is subject to
change, what a weighty prerogative must the possession by others
of an unchangeable doctrine be in the estimation of those who do
not themselves possess it! A doctrine which some feeble old men,
in a place called the Vatican, keep secure under the key of their
cabinet, and which, without any other safeguard, has resisted the
progress of time, the conceits of sages, the machinations of
sovereigns, the downfall of empires, and maintained throughout
its unity and identity. A standing miracle this, and a claim
which all ages, jealous of a glory which disdained theirs, have
attempted to gainsay and silence. One after another they have
approached the Vatican, and knocked at the gate with buskin or
boot. Whereat Doctrine has come forth under the form of a feeble
and decrepit septuagenarian, and has asked:--

"'What do you want of me?'



"'I change not.'

"'But every thing in the world has changed. Astronomy has
changed; philosophy has changed; empire has changed; why are you
always the same?'

"'Because I come from God, and God is always the same.'

"'But know this, that we are masters. We have a million of men
under arms, we will draw the sword, and the sword which
demolishes thrones may easily be made to behead an old man like
yourself, and to tear into fragments the leaves of a book.'

"'Attempt it. Blood is the aroma which gives me new youth.'

"'Well, then, accept half of my purple; join in a sacrifice to
peace, and let us go shares.'

"'Keep thy purple, O Caesar; to-morrow we will bury you in it,
and will chant over you the _Alleluia_ and _De profundis_, which
never change.'"

This is something which everybody can understand, and which will
always be listened to with pleasure, and with profit to the

But further: It is not enough to speak to the mind. That goes a
very little way, however powerful our speech may be; for the mind
is merely the vestibule of the soul. We must penetrate to the
sanctuary of the temple, namely, to the heart. The heart is
nearly the whole man, and we are hardly any thing apart from the
heart. It is the heart which believes--"with the heart man
believeth"--and it is the heart which begets virtues. Moreover,
the heart is what God demands from us.


But in order to speak to the heart, we must have a heart
ourselves, and make use of it too. Now, it is questionable in
these days whether many preachers have a heart. No one can
perceive it in them; so great is the care which they take not to
expose even a corner of it, lest by so doing they might derange
the massive chain of their arguments. And, besides, who knows but
that it might subject them to the charge of being deficient in
dignity? In fact, the heart appears to have come down from the
pulpit, and fears to occupy it again ... it is no longer allowed
to play a part there, lest it might prove disconcerting. It is
now regarded with suspicion, and God must have been mistaken when
he said:--"My son, give me thine heart." The general notion seems
to be, that nothing more is required in order to do men good than
clearly or obscurely to demonstrate the truth to them. But
knowing and doing are as widely apart as heaven and earth, and
the distance between the two can only be surmounted by the heart.
... Nothing, indeed, profits an audience so much; nothing is so
successful as the windings, the boundings of the heart, even when
introduced in the middle of an argument.


All those who heard the discourse of Père Ventura on the
_Philosophical Reason of Modern Times_, will recall to mind the
profound and sympathetic impression which he produced when, after
having spoken of a well-known philosopher, he added:--"But, after
all, he was endowed with a rare intellect, a genial heart, and a
noble disposition. Deceived and led astray as he had been by the
false doctrines of the day, he nevertheless eventually recognized
and avowed that he had made a sad bargain when he exchanged the
tenets of the faith for the vain conceptions of science. Some
moments before death, he shed tears over his beloved daughter,
who had just partaken of the holy communion for the first time.
Let me believe that his avowal and tears were acts of faith, of
repentance, and of love, which availed toward his salvation at
the hands of a merciful God. Let me, I say, believe this; for it
is a consolation to me to believe that my brethren have found
again, even in death, that grace which I hope to find myself with
a benevolent God."

Yes, if we appealed to the heart we should frequently discover
how good, true, and sincere it is, and how little is required to
change it:--often nothing more than a word, a reminiscence, a
tear, a look, a sigh. And yet how sadly has this easy and
effectual means been neglected! ... Every body does not
understand a fine dissertation, but every body does understand a
good sentiment.


To sum up: the sermon should be interesting, animated, vivifying;
ten years of a lifetime should be comprised in a sermon of thirty
minutes duration. Speak to the mind, to the good sense, to the
imagination, to the hearts of men, in words that breathe and
thoughts that burn; laying hold of them, as it were, by whatever
stirs the lively and profound emotions of the soul: by grief and
by joy, by hatred and by love, by tears and by consolations, by
hell and by heaven. Let your speech be always powerful and
triumphant. Whatever you attempt, do well. If you reason, let
your reasoning be sharp, to the point, and decisive. If you
exercise charity, let it flow in broad streams, that it may
inundate and cheer all around. If you give vent to anger, let it
escape in glowing and irresistible sallies. If you are ever at a
loss what other influence to invoke, then appeal to pity. After
such outbursts, there should be intervals of calm to tone down
asperities, to smooth to softness any bitterness, and to express
regret for having used them; but in reality to make a deeper
impression by touching a different chord of the heart. These
contrasts of thought and sentiment always produce a powerful
effect. M. Berryer is well aware of this, and often avails
himself of them with the greatest success.


In the celebrated discussion on the affairs of the East, after
having exhibited the humiliation of France, he added:--"Let no
more be said upon what has been done; above all, let us never,
never again recall the humiliating admissions which have reached
us both from London and Constantinople. (Profound sensation.)

"Let that despatch, wherein Lord Palmerston is stated to have
said that France would yield, and that the Eastern question would
be settled in accordance with the wishes of England, be buried in
oblivion. ... Is there a country whose ambassadors have
cognizance of such language, and not only retain their posts, but
become ministers? (Bravo, bravo!) That country is certainly not
France. (Renewed applause.) England cannot have said so. Those
who saw us even at Waterloo could not say such a thing. ..."

But after this suspension of arms, we must return to the charge
with redoubled nerve and bravery, implanting our weapon in the
heart, and turning it again and again within the wound. In other
words, our train of thought should be still more energetic, our
sentiments more powerful; embodied sometimes in a dramatic or
tragic form, wherein truth and error are brought together in a
fierce and obstinate hand-to-hand struggle; truth being made to
overthrow error and to triumph over vice, and then to raise the
erring and the transgressor, to embrace them, and to bear them
away with herself to virtue, to happiness, to heaven. ...


The following extract from M. de Cormenin furnishes an admirable
summary of the foregoing chapter:--

  "Select with a quick and confident instinct, from among the
  methods available to you, the method of the day; which may not
  be the most solid, but which, considering the disposition of
  men's minds, the nature of the matter in hand, and the
  peculiarity of concomitant circumstances, is the best adapted
  for making an impression upon your audience.

  "Take strong hold of their attention. Stir up their pity or
  indignation, their sympathies or their antipathies, or their
  pride. Appear to be animated by their breath, all the while
  that you are communicating yours to them. When you have, in
  some degree, detached their souls from their bodies, and they
  come and group themselves of their own accord at the foot of
  the pulpit, riveted beneath the influence of your glance, then
  do not dally with them, for they are yours; your soul having,
  as may be truly said, passed into theirs. Look now how they
  follow its ebb and flow! how they will as you will! how they
  act as you act! But persist, give no rest; press your discourse
  home, and you will soon see all bosoms panting because yours
  pants; all eyes kindling because yours emit flame, or filling
  with tears because you grow tender. You will see all the
  hearers hanging on your lips through the attractions of
  persuasion; or, rather, you will see nothing, for you yourself
  will be under the spell of your own emotion; you will bend, you
  will succumb, under your own genius, and you will be the more
  eloquent the less effort you make to appear so.


  "Be clear, exact, concise, impartial.

  "Do not attempt to say everything, but what you do say, say well."


    Chapter IX.

    The Power and Accent of Conviction.

  The Divine Word has always been the first Power in the World.
  The Gospel still the first of Books.
  There can be no Christian Eloquence
    without the Accent of Personal Conviction.

Hitherto, we may be said to have treated merely of human
instrumentality; we must now consider our subject in a higher
point of view. Reason, imagination, and sentiment are necessary
qualifications to success in our vacation; but we require besides
these the power of God, because our aim is to lay hold of and to
direct the souls of men. Now, as that mighty genius Bossuet has
remarked:--"There is nothing so indomitable as the heart of man.
When I see it subdued, I adore." And why? Because he recognized
in such submission a superhuman agency.

This power we possess in the Word, which is the power of God;
before which every head must bow, and every knee bend, whether on
earth, in heaven, or in hell. Armed with the Divine word, our
power is immense; only, in order to wield it, we must ourselves
be thoroughly penetrated thereby, and, above all, be able to
convince others that we are so. It must be felt, seen, and
acknowledged that God is with us.


The Divine word is the foremost power in the world. It has
withstood and overcome every other power. ... It has uttered its
voice everywhere: in the catacombs, at the foot of the scaffold,
under the axe of the executioner, and within the jaws of wild
beasts. It has spoken while the feet of the speakers have been
drenched in blood. ...

During the middle ages, mighty barons, sheltered behind
impregnable strongholds, had cast the network of their sway over
the whole of France, and silence was imposed on all lips.
Nevertheless, on more than one occasion did the Divine word, in
the guise of a priest or monk, venture to ascend the steps of
those redoubtable fortresses; and its voice alone sufficed to
inspire fear in the breasts of men clad in armor of steel.

There was a king in whom power seemed incarnate. That king was
Louis XIV. He dared to say:--"L'état, la France, c'est moi."
Under his inspiring look, military genius triumphed in war;
poetry begat the sublimest conceptions; canvas spoke; marble was
animated; and the arts replenished even the gardens of his royal
abode with master-piece s of skill.


One Sunday, Louis XIV., surrounded by his court, took his seat in
the chapel at Versailles, when the preacher boldly uttered from
the pulpit those terrible words: "Woe to the rich! Woe to the
great!" whereat the monarch lowered his eyes and the courtiers
murmured. ... After the sermon, there was some talk of
reprimanding the priest for his temerity; but the King remarked,
with a justice which does him honor:--"Gentlemen, the preacher
has done his duty; it behoves us now to do ours."

We may recognize herein the power of the Divine word; and it is
that same word which is on our lips.

What, indeed, is the word of man even in the mouth of the boldest
orator, even when set forth in all the brilliancy of its power,
when compared with the Divine word? ... Much has been said of the
force of Mirabeau's famous apostrophe:--"The communes of France
have decided on deliberating. We have heard of the designs which
have been suggested to the King; and you, who are not allowed to
be his organ with the National Assembly--you who possess neither
the standing nor the option, nor the right of speaking--go and
tell your master that we are here by the power of the people, and
that it shall not be wrested from us except at the point of the
bayonet." [Footnote 19]

    [Footnote 19:  The authenticity of this statement has been


This speech has been eulogized as grand, bold, and even
audacious; but, what does it amount to? Any priest might do as
much, and say something far better, with greater truth and less
arrogance; for there is no priest, however poor and humble he may
be, who might not say:--"We are here in God's name, and here we
intend to remain, and we will speak in spite of guns and
bayonets." ...

But the fact is, we are not adequately convinced of our own
power, and of the superiority which we possess over every thing
around us; for, with nothing else in our hands but that little
book which is called the Gospel, we may bring the world to our
feet; inasmuch as the Gospel is, and will continue to be, as
regards mankind generally, the first of books.

There are not wanting those who taunt us in this style:--"Ye men
of a past age, ye retrogrades, follow in the wake of your own
age; strive to progress. We, on our part, have been constantly
advancing, especially within the last two centuries ... we have
gained ground." ... To this we are justified in replying:--"Very
true; the human mind has developed; you have worked hard; you
have stirred up thought; you have filled our libraries with
first-rate books; there have been some profound thinkers and
sublime geniuses among you; and you have given birth to many
admirable ideas. All this we admit; nevertheless, show us a book
superior to our Gospel, or one which will even bear comparison
with it. Tell us where it is to be found. You talk of progress,
and bid us follow you; but it is we who are in advance, and you
who are behind. ... Begin your studies afresh; do something
better; and then come to us again, and we will see. In the
meantime, we occupy the foremost place, and are determined to
hold it."


Our power, we maintain, is far above that of any earthly weapons;
for the Christian preacher is backed by eighteen centuries of
learning and virtue, which believed what he declares by more than
ten millions of martyrs, who died to attest the truth of what he
proclaims; and, behind all that, he is supported by the mighty
voice of God which says to him:--"Speak, and be not afraid, for I
am with thee."

It behoves us, therefore, to be thoroughly persuaded of the power
which the Divine word confers upon us. But, besides this, we must
make our hearers feel that we are so endowed. They must be
impressed, while listening to us, that we verily and indeed speak
in God's name--that we are not men who have merely cogitated or
mused in their studies, and then come forth to propound their own
ideas; but that we are commissioned from on high to proclaim to
mankind the laws and promises of God, before whom we ourselves
profoundly bow. They must read all this in our whole deportment,
in our voice, our gestures, and, above all, in our charity. In a
word, we must possess _the accent of conviction_, that accent
which believes, speaks, arrests, and alarms.


The accent of conviction is made up of a mixture of faith, power,
and love combined; the combination forming a characteristic which
is at once simple, pious, and grand, redolent of inspiration and
sanctity. It is the power, the life of speech; the sacred fire,
or what Mirabeau styles _divinity_ in eloquence. "I have never
heard any one speak," said he, referring to Barnave, "so long, so
rapidly, and so well; but there is no divinity in him." The
accent of conviction is the magic of speech ... that which puts
argument to silence, withdraws all attention from the preacher,
and fixes it solely on what he says; or rather, on what God says
through him.

Unhappily, we are very backward in this respect. There is faith
undoubtedly in our souls; but it is not always manifest in our
speech. ... How, then, can we expect to make others believe what
we do not seem to them to believe ourselves?

We have to deal with a light, reasoning, and somewhat sceptical
world, accustomed to regard every one as merely acting a part ...
and if you do not possess the accent of conviction, it will
either suspect you of hypocrisy, or will brand you by admiring
how well you ply _the trade_, and how cleverly you play your


There is a remark very common nowadays, which is much to be
regretted. If one speaks of a preacher, he is immediately asked:
"Has he faith?" which means: Does he appear to believe what he
says? Should the reply be: "No; ... but he is a fine speaker;"
the rejoinder generally is: "Then I shall not go to listen to
him; for I want to hear somebody who has faith." This observation
is not intended to imply any doubt of the inward faith of the
preacher, but that he preaches as if he did not believe what he

Let us, however, do the world this justice, that when it meets
with the accent of conviction--the bold accent of faith, as Saint
Chrysostom calls it,--it is deeply impressed thereby. The
preacher who believes and speaks out of that belief, astounds,
staggers, and overcomes the gainsayers. A few words uttered with
the accent of conviction go much further than many long sermons.
How, indeed, can any prevail against one in whom God is felt to
dwell? ... Fine language, talent, imagination, brilliant
argumentative powers--all these are common enough amongst us, and
we are quite accustomed to them; but what is rare, what is
unlooked for, what carries every thing before it, is the language
of a faith and of a heart which seems to echo the voice of God


Two years ago, the late pious and gallant Captain Marceau was
present at a meeting of operatives in Paris, many of whom were
unbelievers and wrong-headed men. He felt moved to address them,
and the impression which he produced was almost magical. He had
never before spoken in public; nevertheless, he did so on the
occasion referred to with that accent of conviction and candor
which finds its way at once to the heart, overcoming all
resistance, and sometimes seeming to take away one's breath.

  "My friends," said he, "there are doubtless some among you who
  are not yet Christians, and who have no love for religion. I
  was once as ungodly as you are--perhaps more so; for no one has
  hated Christianity more cordially than I have done. I am bound,
  however, to do it this justice, that while I was not a
  Christian, that is, till I was twenty-three years old, I was
  unhappy, profoundly unhappy. ... Up to that period, my friends,
  I had not lived. No, it was not living ... I worried myself,
  or, rather, my passions drew or drove me hither and thither,
  and carried me away; but I did not live ... I was a machine ...
  but I was not a man. ..."

Strange to say, scarcely any attention is paid to this accent of
conviction, which is the soul of all eloquence; more especially
of sacred eloquence. Those destined to proclaim the Divine word
are instructed in every thing else but this. ... Hence the
language from the pulpit is often cold, monotonous, turgid,
stiff, cramped, conventional, perfunctory; savoring of a formal
compliment, but of nothing to indicate the effusion of a genial
soul, and without any of those felicitous sallies of the heart,
those insinuating and familiar tones, as Fénélon calls them,
which produce in you almost a Divine impression.


And yet there are many pious priests amongst us, many who are
truly men of God. Still, such is the deplorable power of routine,
that their piety seems sometimes to abandon them when in the
pulpit--the very place where it should be most conspicuous.

Like myself, you have, doubtless, in the course of your life,
often met with one of these estimable priests, full of faith and
charity. His countenance alone did you good, and his words
cheered you alike in familiar conversation and in the
confessional. ... The same individual occupies the pulpit: you
are delighted to see him there, and forthwith set yourself to
listen to him with earnest attention; but, alas! you no longer
recognize him: he is no longer the same; what he utters is no
longer the word of life. You exclaim: "What has become of my
model pastor, my saint?"  ... for you hear nothing now but
declamation, or a sing-song speech ... a uniform tone which
utters the denunciation: "Depart ye cursed into ever lasting
fire," and the invitation: "Come, ye blessed of my Father," in
the same strain. ... You hear what you have heard a hundred times
before--a poor man who, with a painful sense of effort, is doing
his best to evoke refractory thoughts and phrases, and are almost
led to doubt whether he is not acting a part.


This monotony, this dull uniformity, this mannerism must be
abandoned, and we must resume our personality--our own minds and
hearts--enlarged and inspired by the breath of God; ...
otherwise, by persisting in that dismal tone, that frigidly
philosophical style, that finely spun phraseology, that speech
without emphasis, which characterizes the generality of our
sermons nowadays, we shall wholly lose our time, our pains, and
perchance our souls also. ...

Can it, indeed, be that we are wanting in a just sense of our
mission, and that we do not adequately estimate the object which
those who speak in God's name should have in view? The end of
preaching is to bring back the souls of men to the Creator.

In this respect also, it is to be feared that the philosophical
spirit, and a tendency to controversy, have turned us aside from
our proper aim and the end of all our efforts. Take away the
accent of conviction from a sermon, divest it of energetic faith,
and what is left thereof to the hearers? Mere sounding phrases,
and nothing more.

Now, let me ask, are you aware of the enemies with whom you have
to deal, and the difficulties which you have to contend against?
The object set before you is to redeem the hearts of men, who in
their thirst, their rage for happiness, have given themselves up
to the sensual, visible, intoxicating things which surround them.
You will have to do battle with the human passions: to say to
pride, be abased; to voluptuousness, be accursed; to the love of
gold, renounce your avarice and be bountiful ... and you fancy
that you will succeed in the encounter by the use of mere
phrases; forgetting, perchance, that those passions can make
better phrases than yours. They know how to give them life, and
will hurl them at you, glowing with a fire which will speedily
devour your cold and meagre speeches ... Nothing can restrain and
subdue the passions but the inspiration, the power of God. ...

It is high time that we should resume the accent of conviction in
our ministrations. Having that, the soul is perfectly at ease,
and, feeling sure of its footing, cherishes the widest
benevolence. ... Why should it be troubled, knowing that it is
secure in the Power on which it relies? It is only those powers
which doubt their own strength that are suspicious and wavering.
And when God is with us, we cannot fail to entertain profound
pity for the weaknesses, the prejudices, the profanities, and the
false reasonings of humanity.


    Chapter X.


  Action should be:
    first, true and natural;
    secondly, concentrated;
    thirdly, edifying.
  It should be cultivated.
  How cultivated by the Society of Jesus.

Action is not mere gesture, neither is it motion nor sound. It is
the manifestation of the thoughts and sentiments of the soul
through the bodily organs. It is the soul which, unable to reveal
itself, makes its material exterior the medium of communicating
its conceptions of truth and love to the souls of others.

The principle of action should be the heart. ... Action itself
may be in the voice, in gesture, in the face, in the hand, in
demeanor generally, and even in silence. ...

Action plays a conspicuous part in eloquence. We are familiar
with what Demosthenes said on the subject. Being asked three
times what was the first quality in an orator, he thrice
replied:--Action. This is an exaggerated judgment; but
Demosthenes probably estimated action in proportion to the pains
which its acquirement had cost him: nevertheless, it is certain
that action adds greatly to the clearness, the weight, the
impressiveness, and the power of thought.
It is the charm of eloquence. Saint François de Sales writes:
"You may utter volumes, and yet if you do not utter them well, it
is lost labor, Speak but little, and that little well, and you
may effect much."

Only a few are capable of appreciating the intrinsic value of a
discourse; whereas all can see whether you speak from an inward
sense of the truth--from the heart and from personal conviction.

It is more especially upon the people that action produces a
powerful effect; it attracts, it transports them. A preacher who
possesses sterling and noble ideas, who has genuine sentiment and
true action, is irresistible with them. Such weapons will
assuredly do great havoc among them; or, as I should rather say,
will save many. They may not always admit their discomfiture: but
they will not hesitate to confess that your words are weighty and
true, and tell against them.

But in order to be impressive, action must be: first, true and
natural; secondly, concentrated; thirdly, edifying. ...

1. In the first place, the preacher should be himself, and should
speak like a man. It is preeminently in the pulpit that every
thing should be genuine: that every accessory should harmonize
with the thoughts; that the eye, the look, and the hand should
corroborate what is uttered by the lips.


Strange to say, hardly any attention is paid to this point. Once
in the pulpit, it seems to be taken for granted that no effort is
required to give the truth distinctness. Words are strung on to
words, and any tone of voice is deemed appropriate. ... The
preacher speaks as nobody in the world ever spoke: he bawls,
chants, or sings without modulation and without feeling. Hence, a
malicious wag on hearing a preacher pronounce those terrible
words: "Depart ye cursed!" in a bland tone, turned to his
companion, and said: "Come here, my lad, and let me embrace you;
that is what the preacher has just expressed."

Everywhere else, men speak; they speak at the bar and the
tribune; but they no longer speak in the pulpit, for there we
only meet with a factitious and artificial language, and a false
tone. ...

This style of speaking is only tolerated in the Church, because,
unfortunately, it is so general there; elsewhere it would not be
endured. ... What would be thought of a man who should converse
in a similar way in a drawing-room? He would certainly provoke
many a smile.

Some time ago, there was a warden at the Pantheon--a good sort of
fellow in his way--who, in enumerating the beauties of the
monument, adopted precisely the tone of many of our preachers,
and never failed thereby to excite the hilarity of the visitors,
who were as much amused with his style of address as with the
objects of interest which he pointed out to them.


A man who has not a natural and true delivery, should not be
allowed to occupy the pulpit; from thence, at least, every thing
that is false should be summarily banished. ...

But is it so very difficult to be one's self? Assume your usual
voice, your usual manner, modifying them according to the number
of your hearers, and the truth which you are about to set forth.
Let your speech be frank, sincere, cordial, revealing a true and
affectionate soul. Be yourself, and be persuaded that to be so
suits you best. Make manifest your heart, your soul; for there is
nothing so attractive as a soul. Saint Catherine of Sienna said
that if a soul could be seen, she believed that people would die
of happiness at the sight.

Look at the man who has a cause to plead, or one who is moved
with a strong passion; he is always true--true even to grandeur.

In these days of mistrust, every thing that is false should be
set aside; and the best way of correcting one's self in that
respect, as regards preaching, is frequently to listen to certain
monotonous and vehement preachers. We shall come away in such
disgust, and with such a horror of their delivery, that we shall
prefer condemning ourselves to silence rather than imitate them.
The instant you abandon the natural and the true, you forego the
right to be believed, as well as the right of being listened to.

2dly. Action should be concentrated: that is to say, it should
proceed from a soul which is itself convinced, penetrated,
fervent; which puts a restraint upon itself that it may not say
all that it feels: unless it be from time to time, like the
flames which escape at intervals from a volcano. Inward fervor
harmonizes with the sacred word, whereas excessive noise and
motion are wholly unsuited to it. If a passionate outburst
sometimes escapes us, it should be repressed forthwith. Père
Ravignan is admirable in this respect: after thundering at his
audience, he immediately resumes the most benignant countenance.

In the first place, the preacher should be calm; master of
himself as well as of his subject. He should have a steady
demeanor, should keep his forces well in hand, not relinquish his
hold over them, unless it be designedly, and never lose
self-control:--_be carried away and yet possess himself, and
retain self-possession while allowing himself to be carried

Vocal power and bodily motion are frequently very much abused.


The more a man shouts, the greater effect he is believed to
produce, and the greater orator he is held to be. Often, however,
it is quite the reverse. Genuine passion--passion driven to
extremities--speaks low, says little, and that little in a few
detached words. The most captivating eloquence is that which says
much in a few words, and that noiselessly. ...

The vocal power is the animal part of man; he shares it in common
with the brute creation, who often possess it in a high degree.
But the distinguishing sign of intelligence is the consonant.
Well-educated men attend less to sound than to articulation. The
vowel is the letter that kills; the consonant is the spirit which

Bodily motion should be moderate; too much motion wearies the
preacher and the audience likewise, and distracts their
attention. One may be eloquent without much gesticulation. There
is a famous preacher who generally speaks with his hand in his
robes, whose discourses, nevertheless, are very powerful. ...
Here, also, the same reflection which was made above recurs to
us; namely, that a profound passion is scarcely ever accompanied
with agitation; it is unmoved, prostrate, and does not manifest
itself except by occasional sudden outbursts. Mistakes are often
made on this score, and that is thought to be a fervent sermon
which is delivered with much bawling and much gesticulation.


It is true, as M. de Cormenin remarks, that the people are fond
of expressive gestures, such as are visible at a distance, and
above the heads of the congregation; that they also like a
powerful and thrilling voice; ... but all this cannot be kept up
long, for preacher and hearers soon, grow tired of it. Then,
again, the people are fond of variety, and a monotonous voice
sends them to sleep. That the delivery of a sermon should
sometimes be accompanied with significant gestures, and that
emotion should occasionally vent itself in an outburst, is all
well enough; but compress such power as much as possible, so that
it may be felt that you possess within your own soul a force
threefold greater than you outwardly manifest. ... The more
vehement you wish your sermon to be, the more you should restrain
the air in its passage, forcing it to make its way in thrilling
explosions and a resounding articulation. Then many will fall by
the sword of the word.

3dly. Action should be edifying.

The bearing of a man who speaks in the name of the Gospel should
be full of grace and truth. It is most desirable that he should
possess knowledge and talent, but those endowments do not
suffice; he must possess, in addition, a virtuous, yea, even a
holy exterior. Frenchmen are much more sensitive on this point
than is usually thought. A godly man at once inspires their
respect and veneration; and were a saint to appear in our midst,
it is certain that he would reproduce many of the scenes of the
middle ages. A saint is essentially a man beloved by the people,
because he is surrounded with a Divine halo.


The Christian orator makes his appearance with simplicity and
modesty. He kneels and bows profoundly, rises up, and then looks
round upon his audience with a kindly expression, devoutly makes
the sign of the cross, and then begins his sermon, thinking only
how to arrest the attention of his hearers.

The time is happily long gone by when the preacher used to enter
the pulpit with great formality, a flushed countenance, and hair
most carefully got up; then place by his side a fine white
handkerchief, sometimes of costly silk, which ever and anon he
methodically passed over his face. These airs no longer suit the
times: the preacher nowadays must not be engrossed with self,
with his handkerchief, or his surplice, or his hair; neither must
he cause others to be taken up with such trifles. In the pulpit
the man should disappear, and the apostle alone be seen. ...

The people, who have an exquisite notion of propriety, are very
sensitive on all such matters; and God often derides our affected
words and actions by rendering them vain and barren, and by
making use of the most insignificant things to convert the souls
of men.


A converted Parisian operative, a man of a wilful but frank
disposition, full of energy and spirit, who had often spoken with
great success at the clubs composed of men of his own class, was
asked by the priest who had reconciled him to God to inform him
by what instrumentality he who had once been so far estranged
from religion had eventually been restored to the faith. "Your
doing so," said his interrogator, "may be useful to me in my
efforts to reclaim others."

"I would rather not," replied he; "for I must candidly tell you
that you do not figure very conspicuously in the case."

"No matter," said the other; "it will not be the first time that
I have heard the same remark."

"Well, if you must hear it, I can tell you how it took place, in
a few words. A _religicuse_ had pestered me to read your little
book--pardon the expression: I used to speak in that style in
those days. On reading a few pages, I was so impressed that I
felt a strong desire to see you.

"I was told that you preached in a certain church, and I went to
hear you. Your sermon had some further effect upon me; but to
speak frankly, very little, comparatively, indeed, none at all.
What did much more for me was your open, simple, and good-natured
manner, and, above all, your ill-combed hair; _for I have always
detested those priests whose heads remind one of a hair-dresser's
assistant;_ and I said to myself: That man forgets himself on our
behalf; we ought, therefore, to do something for his sake.'
Thereupon I determined to pay you a visit, and you _bagged me_.
Such was the beginning and end of the affair."

The thought should never be absent from our minds that we preach
the Gospel, and that the Gospel is preeminent in inculcating love
toward humanity. Away, then, with all domineering and dictatorial
airs! Away with all violent language! The people regard it as the
ebullition of anger, and are not at all edified thereby.

On the other hand, in order to succeed, the heart of the preacher
must first be penetrated with what he teaches; an appropriate
accent will follow of itself. There are men who carry about with
them something godlike. ... Such men are eagerly listened to,
they are believed, and then loved.

From what has been said, it is obvious that we should train
ourselves to obtain proficiency in action.


Action is the manifestation of the thoughts of the soul through
the medium of the body. But the body often rebels and weighs down
the soul; and in this, as well as in many other things, requires
to be suppled, mortified, disciplined to obedience. However
strong the soul may be, it rarely gets the mastery over the body
at the outset, and does its part very inefficiently. It is the
same with soldiers. When a young conscript first joins his
regiment he is heavy and awkward, and his military arms seem a
burden to him. Six months later all this is changed: he is quick
and smart, and carries his arms with quite a French grace. The
same transformation may be effected as regards public speaking.

One who has had considerable experience in the direction of
seminaries, has written the following; which I feel it a duty to
transcribe entire:--

  "It is incumbent on a preacher to possess oratorical action,
  and to practise himself therein until he has acquired it.
  Conscience, indeed, must tell him that he ought not to neglect
  a matter on which the success of his ministry depends; and that
  if, to the mischief of men's souls, theatrical actors spare no
  pains to attain perfection in action, the preacher should
  strive, with at least an equal zeal, to become proficient in
  that respect for the good of men's souls. What! shall the
  ministers of God weaken by vicious action the force of all they
  say, while the ministers of Satan, by consummate skill in
  action, redeem the vanity of their speeches, and impassion the
  souls of their audience! Surely, this would be a disgrace to
  the clergy, and an outrage on the word of God.


  "If it be objected that in the case under consideration art is
  useless, because nature teaches what is needful, we reply, with
  Quintilian:--_Nihil licet esse perfcctum, nisi ubi natura curâ
  juvatur_. All talents are rude and unformed until the precepts
  of art refine and impart to them that polish which makes them
  valuable. Demosthenes had few natural gifts for public
  speaking; but exercise and experience gave what nature had
  denied him.

  "If it be objected, further, that the Apostles never learnt the
  rules of action, we reply that they received the power of
  miracles--a more than adequate compensation for human
  eloquence. That, moreover, they received the gifts of the Holy
  Spirit, which enabled them to proclaim the Gospel worthily.
  That, inspired by that Divine Spirit, they were eloquent in
  action as well as in speech; and that St. Paul would not have
  been listened to on the Areopagus unless he had been able to
  captivate the eloquent people whom he addressed, as well by
  external action as by the sublimity of his language.

  "Saint Charles directed that the candidates for holy orders in
  his seminary should be exercised several times a week in public
  speaking; and the Church has always followed the same practice.
  The Fathers also bestowed much attention on the formation of
  speech. Deprive me of every thing else, says Saint Gregory of
  Nazianzen, but leave me eloquence, and I shall never regret the
  voyages which I have made in order to study it." [Footnote 20]

    [Footnote 20: _Traité de la Prédication_. By M. Hamon, Curé
    de Saint-Sulpice.]


What we are most deficient in is articulation--that powerful
articulation which isolates, engraves, and chisels a thought ...
which fills the ear with harmony and the soul with truth; which
gives the orator an extraordinary power of animation, by bringing
into play the whole nervous system. We have already remarked that
the force of a word is entirely in the consonant, whereas it is
often laid on the vowel. The emission of the vowel is the rude
block; the consonant is the artist's chisel, which works it into
a masterpiece. ... It appears to be frequently imagined that it
requires as much effort to discharge waves of air as to hurl a
heavy club into space; but it is not so in the least. What is
needed is that the air should be compressed and triturated, and
reduced into expressive and harmonious sounds. It is from
misapprehension on this score that so many preachers fume and
tire themselves and others, and that some appear like men who
disgorge words which they have swallowed by mistake. A little
practice would prevent them from falling into these and similar


At the same time, we should not practise, as is often done, upon
every sermon which we preach, for by so doing we shall be apt to
deliver them very badly. It is scarcely in nature to prepare
sentiments beforehand. As M. de Cormenin satirically puts
it:--"Be impassioned, thunder, rage, weep, up to the fifth word,
of the third sentence, of the tenth paragraph, of the tenth leaf.
How easy that would be! above all, how very natural!"

The course to be pursued is this:--we should practise ourselves
in the delivery of the several parts of a discourse, such as the
expository, the demonstrative, and especially those which give
expression to the different passions. That done, and when once in
the pulpit, such studies should cease to occupy the mind.

The exercise thus insisted on is practised in other professions.
Men who devote themselves to the theatre, cultivate their voices
and their limbs. Young law students and advocates have their
conferences, where they train themselves to plead at the bar; and
yet those who are called to save souls neglect to cultivate the
talents which God has given them!

This is the usual process:--A young man composes a sermon while
at college, which is generally made up of odds and ends and
quotations, and in putting them together he does his best not to
be himself. With this stuff he mounts the pulpit, it may be of a
town church or even of a cathedral; and behold him a full-fledged
preacher! And then, forsooth, astonishment is expressed because
the faithful are bored, and do not come to listen to us! The
wonder is that so many attend our sermons.


But let us be just: all do not entertain this idea of sacred
eloquence. By certain religious orders, the Jesuits for example,
it is regarded in quite a different light. I crave pardon for
revealing their family secrets; but it is for the good of souls.

A novice among the Jesuits, no matter what he may have been
previously--whether a lawyer, author, preacher, canon, grand
vicar, bishop, or even a cardinal--must attend a reading-class
three or four times a week. There he is made to read like a
child, is taught to articulate and accentuate, and every now and
then is stopped while those present are called upon to point out
the merits and defects in his reading. This training is persisted
in until his pronunciation is perfect, and he is free from all
disagreeable accent.

But that is not all: every Monday during his noviciate, or during
the term of his studies, that is, for five, six, eight, or ten
years, he has to undergo a training in the _tones_, which
consists in his being made to recite what is called the formula
of the general _tones_--a short discourse, comprising all the
tones ordinarily used in oratorical compositions; such as the
tone of persuasion, of menace, of kindness, of anger, of the
mercy and justice of God, of prayer, and of authority.
Thereby the young preacher is taught how to supple, to break in
his own organism, and to adapt it to those different tones.

After these come the _special tones_. This consists of a short
discourse, to be composed in two hours on a given text, and must
contain certain specified strokes of oratory. Three or four of
the younger novices are exercised in this way, exclusive of the
sermons which are preached in the refectory.

But the most profitable part of the exercise is this, that after
reciting his tones, the preacher must remain in the pulpit while
the master of the novices asks some of the spectators what they
think of its substance, form, expression, etc., the poor patient
being present and obliged to hear all his faults detailed. This,
however, is done in all charity; and moreover, his good qualities
are pointed out in a similar way.

These are most interesting meetings. They comprise, besides young
lawyers and ecclesiastics, men of general experience, logicians,
poets, and preachers, who are all invited to express their
opinion with the greatest freedom.

The youngest are interrogated first; for the young are naturally
fastidious, and generally find much to blame. Time, however, will
correct them of that fault. After these come the older novices,
then the Jesuits well trained to preaching; and lastly, the
master of the novices, who sums up the different opinions
elicited, and then proceeds to expound the science.
It sometimes happens, however, that the judgments passed are so
well formulated and so well based, that, despite his desire to
criticise or to applaud, the master is obliged to modify his own

When the young preacher leaves the pulpit, he retires to note
down his defects and merits, which he is subsequently expected to
read over from time to time.

One excellent feature in this exercise is the encouragement which
it is designed to impart; for besides pointing out defects, no
efforts are spared to develope in the novices the talents which
God has given them. They are made to understand that a man may do
good even though he be subject to half a dozen drawbacks.
Mistakes are often made on this score. One qualification only may
suffice to render a man a remarkable orator, whereas another may
be free from all obvious defects, and yet be a sorry speaker. The
Lord deliver us from a faultless preacher! for he is generally a
very bore, as incapable of a trait of genius as he is of a
blunder. Always intent on guarding against this and that defect,
he loses his personality. He is no longer a man; he is no longer
a priest: he is merely a scholar doing his recitation. ...


In order to form a young speaker into a good preacher, he should
first be set to address the lower classes. ... Among such
audiences he will be better able to discover his own special
talent, and to utilize his qualifications. The Jesuits pursue a
similar course.

The young Jesuit is sent to address the inmates of prisons and
hospitals; if in orders, he is charged with missions in rural
districts; if unordained, he is put to catechise; but always
accompanied by the indispensable _socius_, who is not chary of
criticising or applauding him. It is doubtless owing to this
training that the members of the Society of Jesus have acquired
that standing, power, and unction for which they are so

Another advantage of this training is that it teaches the science
of life, and imparts wisdom in forming opinions.

If a young priest has not thoroughly studied the difficulties of
public speaking, he is apt to think that the art of preaching
consists in composing a sermon, learning it by rote, and then
delivering it without tripping. If he finds that he is considered
to have acquitted himself tolerably well, he is thenceforward
disposed to dogmatize remorselessly, and to tolerate no appeal
from his irrevocable verdicts, with all the stateliness of a man
who has the satisfaction of not knowing what he says.


But when a man has studied and labored, say, for fifteen years,
he becomes more indulgent and moderate, and begins to understand
that there may be other ways of doing good besides his own. A
priest who was once called upon to preach before several others
of the same profession, complained that their presence rather
embarrassed him. Whereupon one of our most celebrated orators
remarked:--"It is far better for you to have to deal with a dozen
of our first-rate preachers than with an equal number of curates
or even collegians."

Practice, therefore, is indispensable. But it will be urged:
"Where is the time to come from? One has so much to do during the
four years passed at college, and afterward in the work of the
ministry." Very true; still we are bound to pay attention to the
most essential requirements of our vocation: and should not
preaching be of the number nowadays? We learn dogmatic theology,
designed to serve as the ground-work for solid lectures; but if
nobody comes to hear them, or if they send the audience to sleep?
... Ethics also are learnt, and the solution of difficulties
which occur at the confessional: but what if the people do not
come to confession? ... It should ever be borne in mind that the
object and aim of our studies is _propter nos homines et propter
nostram salutem_. Then, again, might we not talk less about past
heresies and errors, and be more taken up with the time present?
Might we not also devote less attention to those doubtful
questions which are the great temptation as well as the great
bane of professors of theology and philosophy, who dilate at
great length on the opposite opinions held regarding them, never
omitting to add their own, and generally wind up somewhat in this
style: Decide as you please?

I submit these considerations to the wisdom and piety of the
directors of our colleges, who are well aware that a priest
should not be learned for himself only, but should be capable of
communicating what he knows to others, and of securing their
attachment to it.

Things are taken for granted which no longer exist. It is
supposed that the churches are full, that careless Christians
attend the services, and that the confessionals are frequented;
all of which are often mere gratuitous assumptions. Something
must be done before such notions are borne out by facts; namely,
our priests must be taught how to attract men to the church and
the confessional, and then to instruct them when they are there.

Lastly, the young students might meet together during the
vacations, and mutually aid one another by their common
experience. Parish priests might also meet in a similar manner,
and communicate to each other their reflections and the progress
of their labors, in all simplicity and charity, just as young
lawyers do.
Then we might anticipate the happiness of seeing every thing that
is false, borrowed, factitious, artificial, stiff, vehement,
trite, and noisy, together with all unmeaning action, monotony,
and _ennui_, descend from the pulpit; and of seeing their places
occupied by the true, the simple, the natural, the powerful: in a
word, by the Gospel.


    Chapter XI.


  Study a Duty
  The State of the World calls for Knowledge
    on the part of the Clergy.
  Knowledge has always been one of the Glories of Religion.
  All the eminent Men in the Church were Men of Study.
  Reasons adduced for not studying, answered:
    Want of Leisure,
    natural Aptitude,
    the Plea of having already studied sufficiently,
    that one is fully equal to the Requirements
      of the People committed to his Charge.

From what has been said above, it will readily be inferred that
much study is called for on our part--study of the sciences and
study of mankind, study of books and study of the human heart.
... In order to attain a noble simplicity, to acquire ease, and
to be natural, a man must possess profound knowledge. I even
venture to say that a little study leads us away from the
natural, whereas much study conducts us to it.

But there are other and still stronger motives for study on our
part: namely, duty, and the salvation of mankind. It has been
said, and that truly, that piety is the first and most essential
requirement. We admit that it is so; but genuine piety consists
in the faithful discharge of the duties of one's station.
Now, it is absolutely impossible for a priest at the present day,
whatever position he may occupy, to discharge his duty without an
adequate amount of learning.

For, what is a priest? He is the depositary of the science of
life, and is debtor therein to every man. He is bound to trace
out the way for all; for the small and great, the young and aged,
the learned and ignorant, the humble and proud together.

He is bound to confront human passions and errors, to expose
their wiles, to withstand the assaults of vice, and to enlighten
the minds and win over the hearts of men by the power of the
Gospel. A priest's need of knowledge is truly paramount. ...

Hence the Church has always recommended study. The Fathers were
men of study; the men whose genius has made them illustrious,
were studious men. Look at Bossuet! we boast of his fluency; yes,
he was fluent; but the thought of the life which he led up to a
very advanced age is enough to make one tremble. He generally
rose at two in the morning, to continue a task hardly
interrupted. Let us not deceive ourselves in this matter: the
labors which have redounded to the glory of the Church have been
dearly bought.


Bossuet's intense devotion to study was notorious. One day his
gardener accosted him thus: "Monseigneur, I am very much put out;
for I dig away and plant flowers, and you do not take the least
notice of them. If I could plant some John Chrysostoms or some
Saint Augustines in my garden I should be much more successful."

Even in our own times, those priests who effect any real good are
unremitting in their studies. The rule which Père Maccarthy
prescribed for himself is appalling:--"My recreations," said he,
"must be short. It is generally enough for me to walk about with
a book in my hand, or while I am reciting my prayers.
Unprofitable talk and time misspent are crimes in a priest."

At the age of fifty, he could no longer work seated, owing to an
infirmity brought on by doing a charitable act. He lay down on a
sheepskin spread in the centre of his room, and there worked from
ten to twelve hours a day. We admire his success; but we here see
what it cost him. We complain that the faithful do not come to
our sermons; have we made any such efforts as these? Let us do
the men of our time this justice, that whenever they come in
contact with a priest possessing piety and knowledge--sound
knowledge which is not acquired from books alone--he never fails
to make a lively impression upon them.

On the other hand, the men of the present day crave after
knowledge: it is one of their fancies. Are they right in this, or
are they to blame? You may think as you please on the subject;
but we are, nevertheless, bound by the obligation of charity to
become all things to all men, that we may save all; and among the
means thereto, knowledge is one of the most efficacious.


There are but two powers in the world nowadays: namely, the power
of wealth and the power of talent.

The prestige of a name, of authority, and of dignity, has passed
away. The fact is to be deplored; but it is true. What are we to
do in consequence? We must take men as they are, in order to
better them.

As regards the power of wealth, we do not possess it; and we are
certainly not the worse for that. We are for the most part poor,
the offspring of humble parents; and what Saint Paul said of the
first Christians is applicable to us:--"Not many mighty men, not
many noble, are called."

We must array ourselves, therefore, on the side of the power of
talent. Therewith we may secure a hearing, and may succeed in
reclaiming some to the faith. ... There are two ways leading to
religion: many are led thereto by love, and through the heart,
and many likewise by knowledge; but when the two are conjoined,
incalculable good is the result.

A priest who is notoriously ignorant is already condemned: he is
morally dead, whatever other excellent qualities he may possess.
He is stigmatized with some such remark as this:--"He is a worthy
man, but he knows nothing." ... Thenceforward, what can you
expect him to effect, even among peasants, who have heard that
fatal verdict?
The world calls for knowledge from us, and we are bound to supply
it. To that end, we must study, I do not say all human sciences,
but we should acquire some thoroughly, especially those which
bear upon our special duties; and, as regards others, should not
be what may be called "ignorant" of them. It would be
disgraceful, for example, if we were obliged to refer to laymen
to explain to us the beauties of our church architecture, or the
symbols which decorate our ornaments.

Frenchmen like a bold, animated, lively--a telling style of
speech; let us endeavor, therefore, to attain it. ... The world
comes to us; let us meet it half way. Let us partake of its
science, and it will partake of our religion.

Further, knowledge has always been one of the greatest glories of
the Church. At the period of the Revolution of '93, even
according to the testimony of occasionally prejudiced historians,
there was an immense number of men among the clergy of France who
were eminent for learning and talent. Nowadays, we are called an
admirable clergy--the first clergy in the world. That sounds very
well; but it is a mere compliment: that is, we do not merit the
eulogy. Let us lose no time in proving our claim to it in every


But there is no lack of plausible reasons adduced for our
dispensing with study. Good God! the egregious mistakes and
infirmities which speech has taken under its patronage ought to
be well known by us. On the point under consideration, the
reasons urged are various.

The first is: "We would gladly do it, but, really, we have no
time." Now, let us be fair here. This is quite true in some
cases. ... The labors and anxieties of the sacred ministry are
absorbing, and, besides, they cut up the little leisure which is
left us after a conscientious discharge of our duty. ... I say,
this is true sometimes; but very often, if we only had the will!
... How is it with us, whenever we have a strong desire for any
thing? ... Put the question to the weakest among men, and you
will learn even from them, that when they have the will they
always find the way. Come along with me, and I think we may
succeed in picking up some scraps of time, and, perchance, a
large supply. ... And, first, as regards those long dinners: if
you were to curtail a little from the commencement, a little from
the end, and a small portion from the middle, methinks what
remained would be amply sufficient for that meal.
Dignity is brief in words, and at dinner likewise; feeling that
it is endangered by exhibiting itself too long and too near in
the midst of meats and drinks, which savor little of Gospel
mortification: without taking into account the poor, who do not
see us sitting down at sumptuous tables, while they are hard at
work and fare scantily. ... And what shall we say of the
numberless visits received and returned, the cares which are
self-imposed, travelling, certain kinds of reading, and
inordinate sleep? In all these there is much scope for economy.
Place an old academician, or a compiler of works which nobody
reads, or a decipherer of illegible manuscripts, or a
bird-stuffer, or the eternal collector of coins and butterflies,
in the same position, and you will see how he will contrive to
save therefrom five hours a day at least. ... And we who are
called to save men's souls! ... Oh, idleness! idleness! That,
too, is another of our calamities. ... The serpent of indolence,
one of the vilest beasts in creation, glides in everywhere. ...
What restrains us is this, that we do not plunge into study; that
we have not the taste, the passion for study. We can only attain
such a temper by hard work. Let us break through the first
difficulties, then the taste will come, and ample time will be
found. ...

The fact of a man having studied a good deal during his lifetime,
is another plea on the same side. It may not be expressed, but
the flattering notion is nevertheless entertained that we have
already acquired a certain amount of knowledge; that the public
are aware of it, and have more than once complimented us on that


Yes, one has studied a good deal, learnt a good deal, and, we may
add, forgotten a good deal. ... Nothing is so soon forgotten as a
science which is not cultivated.

A strange habit obtains in this respect. ... We judge of a man's
abilities by what he was at college. He had ability then; but
subsequently he learnt nothing, and has forgotten much of what he
did learn. His knowledge has dwindled down to the wretched _just
enough_:--a fact which is patent. For all that, he is still
regarded as an able man. ... Another was rather backward at
college, but since then has worked, striven, and succeeded in
enlarging his talents. Why should such an one be spoken of as
unapt, while we venture to think that we ourselves are well up in
every thing, because we were believed to know something fifteen
years ago? Moreover, it never seems to be borne in mind that
college education merely gives us the key to knowledge and the
taste for study.

But one is naturally endowed with great ingenuity; what need is
there, then, for so much application? The Lord deliver us from
these gifted men! They are long-winded, tedious, monotonous,
bombastic, and any thing but natural; bearing out what we said
above, that a little study removes us from the natural, whereas
much study draws us toward it.
Our aim should be to have it remarked of our
discourses:--"Really, all that is very simple, and precisely what
ought to have been said. It is just what I should have said
myself had I been called upon to speak." But we shall not attain
that stage without much painstaking. Sermons generally are worth
what they cost; and our most able men are those who study most.

The course sometimes pursued of restricting study to one special
subject is a sorry habit. It reminds one very much of a young man
whose chief aim is to get his bachelor's degree.

But it is further urged:--"No complaints are made; on the
contrary, people have been pleased to tell us that they are quite
delighted with us."

Good God! and has not every one experienced the same! Who,
indeed, has not been deluged with compliments? Do you know any
one to whom the like has not happened? It would be a great
curiosity to discover a preacher, however wretched, tiresome, and
insipid he may be, who has not found a few pious souls to bestow
on him the alms of a small compliment, or a small lie. He is to
be congratulated, indeed, if in addition thereto, after having
listened to one of our good preachers, some of them do not come
to him and say, with all the subtlety of the serpent:--"Yes, his
sermon was very grand, it was magnificent; still, we like your
excellent and charming little discourses much better."
There is no doubting one's ability after that; and one is tempted
to believe himself a Ravignan, or an unrecognized Lacordaire. ...
One sees, of course, that there is some exaggeration in all this:
nevertheless he is fain to believe the half of it at least. ...
Alas! flattery is the ruin of kings--and of preachers also.

Lastly, we have this plea:--"I know quite enough to speak to my
own people; I shall always be superior to the good souls which
are committed to my charge." ... It is not superior to, but in
unison with them that you should be. ... Let us see, however,
what your knowledge really is, in connection with the good souls
you speak of. Whenever you address them from the pulpit, is their
attention riveted? do their countenances beam, do their eyes
glisten, or are they moistened with tears? Do you hold them under
the spell of your words? Do you possess their souls, together
with your own? ... "Alas! no," you reply; "blockheads that they
are; they yawn, they dread the sermon, and are delighted on
finding that at Mass the Gospel is immediately followed by the
Creed." ... Away to study! then; ... brush up your knowledge and
your heart; betake yourself once more to the study of your
people; find out their weak and their strong points; study their
minds, their manner of looking at and apprehending things; and
then you will come forth to proclaim the truth pithily and
powerfully, and will take up your proper position.
The general impression, however, appears to be that a preacher
has but to open his mouth and the people should listen to him
with ecstasy; otherwise they are called dull and stupid. Instead
of speaking to them a language which they understand, they are
treated to a theological theme amplified; whereon they
remark:--"All that is undoubtedly very grand; but it does not
concern us." Or, as an operative once said:--"If that is the word
of God, it is not addressed to us; it must be intended for the
rich." ...

Study, then, is necessary to qualify us for doing good to all;
even to the lower orders, the poorest and meanest. We have
remarked elsewhere, that it is more difficult to preach to the
ignorant than to the literary: more preparation is required.
Hence it is that there are more men fitted to address the upper
than the lower classes; and yet the latter form nearly the whole
of the community. ... Be it ours, then, to attain that
superiority which knowledge confers; whereby also we shall be
able to lay hold of both small and great, through the medium
which they severally offer for being so secured. The world
thirsts for knowledge; let us give them knowledge; let us make
ourselves masters of knowledge, for then we shall undoubtedly be
stronger than the world.
We shall then be invested with a twofold power: the power of
human and the power of Divine knowledge. The world possesses the
power of human speech only; we shall possess that, and the power
of God's word likewise. In a word, the world possesses the earth;
absolutely nothing but the earth: we, too, shall possess the
earth and heaven besides.


    Chapter XII.


  The Excellency of Zeal.
  Love for the Body should be coupled with Love for the Soul.
  The Zeal of the Wicked.
  How Zeal should be exercised.
  Associations of Apprentices, of Operatives.
  Conferences of Saint Vincent de Paul, of Domestics,
    of Clerks, of the Young.
  Circulation of good Books.
  Happy results of the same.
  The Advantages and Difficulties of Opposition.
  Great Occasions.

There is a sentiment which should sustain us, and infuse life
into all that has been above set forth; into our studies, our
composition, and into the Divine word: namely, Zeal. Zeal is
power, joy, happiness, expectation, reward and salvation, to the
priest and to humanity generally.

We need not stop to prove the necessity of zeal. ... It is
enjoined on all men:--_Unicuique mandavit Dominus de proximo
suo_. ... Is a priest who is without zeal a priest at all? Is not
such an one rather a mere man? He is placed here solely to keep
up the sacred fire which the Lord Jesus brought down to earth;
and what must a cold and insensible priest be nowadays in the
midst of those who are perishing through the vices which fret and
consume them? He is an almost inconceivable contradiction. ...


One of the glories of Christianity is its zeal in ministering to
the wants of the body: a charitable service, wherein the priest
takes a conspicuous part. But of what avail is it to succor the
body, if the soul is neglected? Of what use is it to go forth
proclaiming charity! charity! if the soul, the most sensitive and
suffering part of mankind, is abandoned to endless misery? Who
can fail to be touched with compassion at the sight of so many
poor creatures who drudge and wear themselves out, who go and
come, who endure and curse, unconsoled and hopeless?

The greater part of them, notwithstanding, are not vicious. Some
are ignorant, others are led astray; ... many waver between the
good and the bad, only waiting for a kindly word to be addressed
to them; for an outstretched hand; for some great stream of good
to pass by them, and carry them away in its current. How gladly
would they follow it! Well, be it ours to create such currents of
truth and virtue; be it ours to confront human errors and
passions, and to arrest their onward progress.

I fancy that we stick too closely to our own snug corners, and to
our own ideas. Yes, we stand apart! ... and, regarding the
world's progress from thence, we naturally find that it goes on
most unsatisfactorily.
Very likely: ... we suffer it to be led by evil passions; ...
whereas we should take our stand in the breach as Moses did;
confront the invading vices and lusts, come to a hand-to-hand
struggle with them, and cry out to them with the mighty voice of
God:--"Stop! stop! you shall not carry away these souls, for they
are not yours, but Christ's; He has bought them, and redeemed
them with his blood!" ... If such courage, such resolution, such
vigor as this was more common amongst us, the aspect of the world
would speedily be changed. But, alas! our good qualities are
feeble; we have lost the power to will; we allow ourselves to be
carried away in the stream. What is wanted nowadays to direct the
world is not knowledge so much as it is _will_. ... Where,
indeed, are we to look for men with a will? ...

If we needed any additional consideration to stimulate our zeal,
we might say to ourselves:--"Let us observe the world; let us see
how the wicked act." The wicked, indeed, afford us Christians
some most humiliating and painful lessons, enough to make us hide
our faces from very shame; so much so, that we can wish nothing
better than that the best amongst us might possess that zeal for
what is good which the wicked evince for what is evil.


We censure the wicked, and are right in doing so; but let us at
any rate do them this justice, that they are adepts in their
profession: ... they profess their opinions boldly; ... they are
zealous and active; ... they are energetic, and ready to
sacrifice every thing, repose, money, liberty, even life itself.
... Then, how adroit they are! how expert in making themselves
great with the great, and little with the little! A pernicious
book appears ... forthwith it is put into an attractive shape and
embellished with fine engravings ... There it is, to suit the
rich and the drawing-room. ...

Next, an ordinary edition at a moderate cost is prepared for the
middle classes, for reading-rooms, and for the counter; and then
a popular edition--copies to be had at four sous each--for the
workshop and the cottage. A man recently converted, avowed that
he had contributed in three years no less a sum than 30,000
francs in the dissemination of such books. And we! ... we
Christians, who know the worth of men's souls, whose duty it is
to save them, rest satisfied with a few slender efforts, directed
often by mere routine! Shall we continue any longer inactive at
the sight of the torrents of vice and error which are hurrying
our brothers on to the abyss? Would that be to have faith? Would
that be to have charity? Would that be to love God and our
neighbor? ...

But how should this zeal be carried out into practice? That is
the important question. ...

In the first place, associations should be formed. In these days
we cannot dispense with them.


Society must be taken up in detail, ameliorated part by part, and
then formed into a compact structure; for a good community can
only be composed of good elements. These objects may be attained
through the medium of associations. There should be such for all
ages: associations of children, of apprentices, of operatives, of
Saint Vincent de Paul, of the _Sainte Famille_, [Footnote 21]
etc. They benefit all, the members and the directors also.

    [Footnote 21: See the _Manuel de Charité_, and the
    _Livre des Classes Ouvrières_ for the details and manner
    of establishing and conducting these associations.]

How comes it that there are not associations of young apprentices
in all the towns of France? How comes it that any town dares to
be without one? What strange beings we are sometimes! We surround
children with the most tender and assiduous care up to the time
of confirmation, and then, at the most critical age, when their
passions begin to cross them, we launch them forth, without
support and without counterpoise, into that pestilential
atmosphere called the workshop; and then we wonder, and say
naively that they do not persevere in the right path.

... Pray, can they be expected to persevere when thus left to
their own resources? ... You, with all your religious knowledge,
with all your acquired virtues, with all your experience and age,
would you do so in their place? I defy you to persevere under
such circumstances.


An affiliated society of Saint Vincent de Paul should exist
everywhere, even in the most retired corner of France. It already
comprises five hundred conferences. They have been founded in the
country, where they do a vast amount of good. No town or village,
at least, should be without its conference. It is sometimes urged
that the elements are wanting. That must be a wretched town or
hamlet which can not muster three God-fearing and charitably
disposed individuals.

Moreover, no town should be without its association of
operatives. There can no longer be any excuse on this head. They
exist elsewhere, are in active operation, and effect much good in
many places. The way to form and direct them is well known. We
have our associations of girls and grown-up women; but the men,
the poor men, are overlooked, neglected, and cast aside. ...

Lastly, we should have an association of the _Saint Famille_--an
association for the poor.

The poor are so miserable as they are owing to the ignorance and
moral abandonment in which they live. ... An association tends to
enlighten, to support, to elevate them; as also to bring charity
into play. Let no one tell us that he lacks time for this object.
Time is given you especially for the service of the poor; your
first duty is to evangelize the poor. ... On the other hand, are
you anxious to benefit the rich, to touch their hearts, to gain
their confidence, or even to secure their adoration--I say, is
such your desire? If so, busy yourselves on behalf of the poor,
devote yourselves to the service of the poor, be popular in a
holy sense; then, instead of vegetating in the midst of your fine
phrases and isolation, you will live in the fulness of life. You
will see around you outstretched hands, willing hearts, and open
purses, and will hear many a voice applauding and cheering you
with a cordial "Well done! take courage!" You will be driven to
humble yourself before God, saying: "Depart from me, for I am a
sinful man, O Lord."

Yes, let us be just toward the wealthy classes, toward the world
generally, and even toward those who do not practise religion at
all. Whenever they fall in with a priest who is friendly to the
poor, they are ready to pay him a large tribute of respect and
veneration; and nothing so much resembles love toward God as the
love which is shown toward one of His ministers.

Other associations might also be formed with advantage. For
example, in towns, a servants association; but as humility is not
one of our virtues, either among high or low, it might be called
the Household Association.
It might meet on Sunday--say once a month--and one would have an
opportunity of telling that class a host of truths which could
not well be spoken elsewhere; and these poor people, who are more
and more disposed to treat their masters as enemies, might be set
right. It is much to be regretted that a hostile party is being
formed in families; which, under certain circumstances, might
prove highly dangerous. On the other hand, all the fault does not
come from below. Nothing now but interest binds the master to his
servant, and servants attach themselves to those who give the
highest wages. As to probity, fidelity, and discretion, where are
they to be found? ... Masters are not only robbed, they are

Further, a mothers' association. The duties of a mother, more
especially among the lower classes, are very arduous. She
requires to be enlightened, encouraged, stirred up, and perhaps
rebuked. Such an association would afford eligible opportunities
for telling them many things which could not be appropriately
delivered before a mixed assembly. It is a great misfortune for a
family when the husband forgets himself and his duties; but when
the wife gives way, all is lost. Is she not, indeed, the guardian
of religion and virtue at the domestic hearth? The attempt thus
suggested has been made at Bordeaux and elsewhere with perfect
success. [Footnote 22]

    [Footnote 22: See the _Manuel de Charité_.]


There are two other associations which should by all means be
established in large towns: namely, an association of young
clerks, and an association of those young persons who are called
shop-girls or girls of the counter. These two classes are most
shamefully neglected; hence their morality is generally _nil_ ...
and from the large towns they go to the smaller towns, and into
the larger villages, where they help to form that egotistical,
sensual, _Voltairian_, excitable, and vain shop-class, ever ready
to disseminate the vicious lessons which they have acquired.

It would be easy to form these associations. There would be no
difficulty as regards the young females. With respect to the men,
all that is required is a good nucleus; which would soon be
increased by those who are at a distance from their homes.
Families are often pained at being obliged to launch a young man
alone into a great city, and would feel much happier on learning
that there would be some to protect him against being led astray,
and who would help him on in his new career. Almost all the young
people who come up from the country are Christians up to the time
of leaving their homes. Some genial title might be given to the
association, which would make it attractive.

Another great field for the exercise of zeal is the diffusion of
good books. [Footnote 23]

    [Footnote 23: See the _Manuel de Charité_
    under the chapter headed _Les Bibliothèques_.]


This kind of ministration has not been adequately or generally
appreciated hitherto. The ministry of the word, which is
proclaimed in our churches, is recognized; but that of the word
which, in the guise of a good book, goes and sits down at the
domestic hearth, is not understood as it should be.

We are, however, making some progress in this respect; and I
trust that the magnitude of existing evils may stir us up to
greater activity, and that after being thoroughly beaten we shall
rise up again as becomes Christians.

The Christian of the present day is not constitutionally brave;
he is rather timid, is subject to a number of little infirmities,
and does all he can to reconcile duty with interest. But when he
perceives that he has been wronged, when he is driven to
extremes, he falls back upon himself, recovers his strength, and
stands up for the faith. Then he is grand and bold; then he
defends himself, resists, assails, and triumphs even in death.

The time has come for us to avail ourselves of that tremendous
engine which Providence has introduced into the world for good
and for evil. Has not the Press injured us enough already? Has it
not already thrown blood and scum enough at humanity and
religion? Are not the two hundred millions of pernicious books
scattered throughout France enough? Is not the world sufficiently
estranged from the Church already? What do we wait for?


A powerful means of doing good is here placed within our reach.
Don't be deceived; almost every body reads nowadays. Mistakes,
however, are frequently made on that score.

A preacher gives a _retreat_ [Footnote 24] in a country district,
and is told by the curé that his people do not read. As the
exercises progress, heaps of books are forth coming of so
abominable a description that the like are not to be found in the
purlieus of Paris--books the very titles of which are an outrage
on public morality.

    [Footnote 24: A series of special religious services. ED.]

Let us here recall to mind what has already been stated, that
there are now in France from eighteen to twenty millions more
persons able to read than there were at the end of the eighteenth

But it is urged that good books are not read.--_That_ in a great
measure depends on the quality of the books.

Further, that after reading them, men are just the same as they
were. Not always; and who can tell but that some thought has
taken root in their minds which in time will bear fruit? There
are books which have wrought many conversions; which in the
course of a few years have reclaimed more individuals than our
most celebrated preachers have converted during their lives.
I may instance one which is universally known, which has been and
still is the angel of good to many perishing sinners; yes, and
such sinners too! such men! You have already guessed the title of
the book alluded to--it is the _Etudes Philosophiques_ by M.
Nicholas. [Footnote 25]

    [Footnote 25: A person holding a high position wrote to the
    author of the above-named work as follows:--"From being
    wholly indifferent to religion, you have made me, in a
    fortnight, a fervent Christian, one sincerely repentant, and
    firmly determined to lead a holy life." ... Another addressed
    him thus:--"I owe a great share of my restoration to your
    book, which I shall try and induce all my relations and
    friends to read."]

Sober town curés have expressed to us their belief that they have
effected more good among their people by means of their
libraries, than by their sermons and all the other resources of
the ministry combined.

But these books should be selected with great care: nevertheless,
very little attention is bestowed on that point. How strange! One
takes great pains about a sermon, which will be heard at most by
a few hundreds of individuals, and no care is exercised in the
selection of a book which will go to speak of God to the
thousands who do not frequent the Church! At the yearly
distribution of prizes in France, twelve hundred thousand volumes
are given gratuitously to respectable schools.
What a vast amount of good might be done through that channel, if
the books were well chosen! What a mass of profitable reading
might be introduced thereby among families! But as it is, the
works are taken up at random. A book receives a bishop's
approval; which is deemed amply sufficient to warrant its
adoption. It may be barren of ideas, tiresome, nothing more than
a bad religious romance; it may even be dangerous: no matter, it
is given away, notwithstanding all those defects. But what is
passing strange is the fact that this is done by men who have a
religious vocation, who are otherwise most distinguished, and who
are intrusted with the education of the children of the upper
classes. It would seem, indeed, as if we were bent on verifying
the assertion of our adversaries, that the pious possess no other
than a contemptible and humdrum literature.

It would be an act of intelligent zeal to remedy these

Lastly, another way of promoting the diffusion of good books is
to give men a personal interest in the undertaking. Authors and
publishers should be amply commended and remunerated for their
coöperation; and the trade--if you choose to call it so--made
subservient to the good work. Let those, also, who sell such
books make large profits by the sale. Generally speaking, success
is not best attained by acting alone, but by securing and
availing ourselves of the assistance of others. We often make too
much fuss about our proceedings, and should effect twice as much
if we fussed one half less.


But it will be urged:--"Such associations cannot be formed
without self-sacrifice and money; besides, they will encounter
opposition." Undoubtedly they will; and so much the better.
Opposition and calumny are the rod which God uses to drive us
onward. ... If there be opposition, then there will be courage
too; and many other noble qualities will be elicited. Is it so, I
ask, that we are called to "vulgarly follow the masses?" ...

There is a class of well-disposed people, who appear to have no
misgivings as to what Christianity is, who, nevertheless, give
expression to their supineness with a charming naïveté. You
propose some good work to them; they reply at once: "Excuse me;
there will be obstacles in the way; the time has not yet come for
such things; and, moreover, I should not like to put myself
forward in matters of that kind, for it might place me in an
awkward position." One feels tempted on these occasions to ask
the apologist:--"Are you a Christian?" You may do so, and the
ready reply will be:--"Yes, by the grace of God."

What, then, do you understand by being a Christian?

One who believes in the doctrine of Christ, has been baptized.


Now, listen to what the doctrine of Christ is: Blessed are they
who are persecuted. Blessed are ye when men shall revile
you,--when they shall drag you before the rulers of the people.

I think there is a prevailing tendency to regard those texts of
Holy Writ which embarrass us as mere rhetorical figures.

Men talk of the possibility of being placed in a false
position--that the time has not come--that there will be
opposition, etc. In like manner, when Christ sent His apostles to
convert the world, might they not also have said:--"But, Lord,
the world is not prepared; it is still so insensible. Besides, we
shall encounter opposition?" ... Or, when their shoulders were
beaten with rods, might they not have felt justified in saying:--

"Let us return to our own quiet life, for this only brings us
into difficulties."

Is not a priest's life essentially a militant life? Is not the
priest a soldier? What would be said, what would be thought of a
soldier who, on hearing the alarm, the enemy! to arms! should
coolly reply:--"Stop, there will be opposition; the enemy will
resist and assail us with musketry and artillery?" There would
only be one name for such a soldier in France--he would be called
a coward.
But no such soldier is to be found amongst us; on the contrary,
at the bare thought of opposition and resistance to be
encountered, his courage rises, his heart leaps, he runs, he
strikes, he conquers, or he dies a glorious death. That is what a
priest ought to be; ... better still; he should feel that he is
safe beneath the power of the Almighty; and be like a general who
maintains perfect calm while shot, shell, and death, are flying
around him in every direction.

Good God! what have we to do with peace? Peace will never be
yours. ... Talk of peace to men who are conquerors! ... Was it
not said in a celebrated harangue:--"We are the first soldiers
... and yet they come to talk to us of peace!" The priest is a
jeopardized, a sacrificed man, dead to the life of this world, to
whom it has been said:--"Go and defend such a post, and die to
save, not an army, but humanity." Be assured, then, that you will
never have peace, because human passions will eternally war
against you.

We have borrowed two things from the present age--and those by no
means the best of what it possesses--which do us a vast amount of
injury. The first is, a profound weakness of character, which
prefers a petty, vulgar, and rather sensual existence, disposing
us to lead the life of a retired tradesman. The second is a
tendency to _officialism_. We blame that tendency in others; but
are we not somewhat bureaucratic ourselves? We consider those
among us to be great men who are what is called good
The accessory has usurped the place of principal. Administration
is every thing: in certain localities it stifles the sacred
ministry. If Saint Paul himself were to return to earth, he would
hardly be deemed fit to be the curé of a canton, unless he was
judged to be well versed in administration.

Yet when Christ placed Saint Peter at the head of His Church, he
did not put the question to him:--"Canst thou administer well?"
but, "Lovest thou Me? lovest thou Me? Art thou quite sure that
thou lovest Me?"--that is, Dost thou know how to save the souls
of men? how to devote thyself, how to die for their sakes?

This brings us back again to the subject of zeal. There are many
earnest-minded priests in France--most admirable men in every
respect. Among the laity also, there is no lack of zeal,
devotion, and the spirit of self-sacrifice ... A Christian who
has no zeal is not tolerated: in fact, there is much more of it
than is generally supposed.

Now, something like this frequently happens:--On going to a town
which has hitherto exhibited no signs of zeal, you ask the
priest:--"How comes it that you have no associations, no society
of apprentices, of operatives, or of the _Sainte Famille?_ What
are you about? It is a shame!" ... He will reply:--"How can I
help it? I have no colleagues, and no laymen are available.
Besides, our people do not like to be drawn out of their old
habits: it is not with us as it is elsewhere." ... You then make
the same observations to the laymen, and they immediately
answer:--"Pray, don't mention it, for it is not our fault. We
should like nothing better; but we have no priests to take the
lead, and to tell us how to act. Our priests are excellent men in
their way, but _they cannot step out of their routine_."

It should be our endeavor, therefore, to bring priests and laymen
together; then there will be a mutual understanding between them,
and both will heartily coöperate in doing good.

For, at any cost, we must save souls. That is our duty, our joy,
our crown, that whereon our whole future depends; and what is
said of men of the world, who have made a false step in life,
will be said of the priest who fails in that respect--he has lost
his chance.

We should take advantage of every opportunity to benefit the
souls of men; to enlighten, to reclaim, to reconcile them. A
confirmation, for example, associated as it is with so many sweet
and sad reminiscences, offers a most eligible occasion for such
efforts. But beware of all vulgar vituperation of unbelievers, or
of the parents. They are on the look-out for such tirades, and
have already hardened their hearts and their faces against them.
Rather aim at their hearts, where they least expect an attack,
and where they are not prepared to resist you.


After stating that God will require a strict account of parents
for the manner in which their children have been brought up, turn
at once to the parents and say:--

"Do not be alarmed, for I am not going to reproach you. I would
not disturb your present happiness. I would not detract one iota
from your gratification. Enjoy it thoroughly, for you have a
right to it; it is but a slender recompense for all your pains.
Look at your children, they are happy, and they owe their
happiness to religion. No, I cannot bring myself to utter any
thing which might trouble you on this occasion; for it must have
cost you pain enough already to see your children go alone to the
holy table, absolutely like orphans, while you yourselves stand
apart, and are driven to say:--'Yes, my child is worthy to be
there, but I am not. ... I say, such a reflection as this must
have caused you intense sorrow.

"Nevertheless, you are not so much estranged from religion as you
may think: God is not far from you. One always loves his child's
friend, and your child's best friend is God. ... Can you repel
religion, can you repulse God himself, whom we are about to send
to you this evening in the angelic form of a dearly loved child?
Draw near then to the Gospel ... carry away with you, at least,
some pious sentiment, some wholesome regret, some incipient
desire after that which is good." ... Adopt some such strain as
this, and your words will not be in vain.


Similar efforts might be made on the termination of the special
services for Lent and the great ecclesiastical seasons, and on
other extraordinary occasions also. After congratulating those
who have profited by the means of grace, be careful to abstain
from upbraiding or denouncing those who have abused them. Such a
course is low and vulgar, and does much harm. On the contrary, do
all you can to encourage and touch the hearts of all. I may
suggest the following. Say what a pious and zealous _religieux_
once said to his audience, at the end of a home mission:--

"Brethren, I am going to tell you an anecdote. It is not true,
for the details are impossible. It is merely a parable.

"It is alleged that there is a country near the north pole, where
it is so cold that words are frozen as they issue from the lips.
If two men placed apart at a certain distance attempt to
converse, they do not hear one another, for their words freeze in
the air. But when spring comes, then their words are heard.

"Brethren, it is cold too and icy round your souls, and our words
freeze; but when spring comes, when God's sun shall shine, then
these our words will thaw and penetrate into your hearts, even
though it be not till the hour of death."


Thus, let there be an outburst of love and kindliness toward
those who have been edified by the means of grace, and a still
larger and more affectionate appeal to those who seemingly have
not profited thereby.--"What shall I say to you? Shall I address
you in the language of severity? I might claim the right to do so
in God's name; but certainly I have no desire to avail myself of
that prerogative. I prefer holding out a hand to you; I prefer
pitying, commiserating your misfortune. It would have been
delightful for me to have been the instrument of your salvation;
but you would not let me save you. Doubtless, God has not judged
me worthy; although my mission here embraced you also. ...
Another, I trust, will be more successful. ... Be assured that I
entertain no ill-will toward you: I do not denounce you; on the
contrary, I shall ever pray for you.

"Draw a little nearer toward religion. In your calmer moments you
sometimes say:--'I do not wish to die without the consolations of
religion. Were I to fall sick, I should send for a priest. Well,
then, dispose yourself to return to the right path: curb your
passions, and break off those habits which poison your existence.
Above all, do not be a stumbling-block to your children.
How often, as you well know, alas! are fathers the ruin of their
offspring. Therefore have pity on your children, and on your
wives also; for I whisper it to you that you are said to be
sometimes harsh toward them. Ah, the poor wives! such treatment
must be very painful to them: they who have already suffered and
endured so much."

That is the way to appeal to the hearts of men! Such are the joys
of the sacred ministry! They are the only joys vouchsafed to us:
and yet can we dare to complain? Are they not the most delectable
joys which earth can afford? To have committed to him the souls
of poor sinners to save, to love, and to bless; to be charged
with condescending toward his erring brethren; gathering them in
his arms amidst the miseries and sufferings of this life, and of
leading them to the truth, to virtue, and to heaven, is not this
the sweetest enjoyment which a priest's heart can desire? Was it
not to that end that he bade adieu to the world and left his
father and his mother in tears? ... O holy joys of the sacred
ministry, how little are they known and felt by any of us! It is
painful, doubtless, to have to stir up sin-sick souls; but when
at the cost of much self-sacrifice we are able to benefit but one
such soul, with what overflowing gratitude shall we thank God,
and say:

    "May All My Days Be Like This Day!"



      Books Published By The
      Catholic Publication Society.

  The Life And Sermons Of The Rev. Francis A. Baker,
  Priest of the Congregation of St. Paul, Edited
  by Rev. F. A. Hewit. One volume, crown octavo, pp. 504, $2.50

      Extracts From Notices Of The Press.

  "Father Baker was a lovely boy, a wise and thoughtful youth,
  and a devout servant of Christ. The son of a Methodist, the
  graduate of a Presbyterian college, he became first an
  Episcopal clergyman, and then a Catholic priest. In all these
  changes, he everywhere won love; and whatever were the
  peculiarities of his character, he was a sincerely good and
  thoroughly pure man, and deserved the tribute which this
  remarkably appreciative and tender biography pays him."--
    --_New-York Watchman_.

  "After Newman's Apologia and Robertson's 'Life', the memoir
  contained in this volume is perhaps the most respectable
  clerical biography that we have met for a long time. We
  recommend such persons as have already attained to settled
  principles, and who may have an opportunity, to give the Memoir
  itself a thorough perusal. It is rich in personal
  reminiscences. It is, at the same time, like the 'Apologia',
  both an argument and a biography."
    --_Christian Times_.

  "Father Hewit's biography of his deceased friend is a most
  noticeable piece of writing. It is as impartial as could be
  expected, and has a marked local interest from its allusions to
  local affairs in religious circles. A great part of it is
  occupied with an elaborate view of the Oxford, or, as it is
  familiarly called here, the Puseyite movement, and of its
  effect on this country. The conversion of Bishop Ives, the
  remarkable scenes at the ordination of Rev. Arthur Carey, the
  movement toward a Protestant Oriental bishopric at
  Constantinople, in which Bishop Southgate was engaged, and
  various other features in recent church history, all are
  described, rendering the biography of marked interest to
  Episcopalians as well as to Catholics; while the history of
  Father Baker is a curious study of the operation of religious
  belief on a young, vigorous, and active mind."
    --_New-York Evening Post_.


  "The portrait which forms the frontispiece to this volume
  appears to represent one of the contemplative, saintly,
  seraphic spirits of the early ages of Christianity, rather than
  a man whose life was cast amid the bustle and activity and
  worldly-mindedness of the nineteenth century. The impression is
  confirmed by the perusal of the memoir. It introduces us to a
  type of character which is rare in these days, and reminds us
  of a strain of mediaeval music. ... The sermons are remarkable
  for the earnestness of their spirit, the simple and vigorous
  eloquence of their style, and their frequent beauty of
  conception and illustration. The biography, by his bosom friend
  and companion, is an athletic piece of composition,
  controversial and aggressive in its tone, abounding in personal
  episodes, and presenting a spirited and impressive sketch of
  the movement in which both the author and the subject have been
  prominent actors. The volume, of course, possesses a paramount
  interest for Catholic readers, but it forms too remarkable an
  illustration of some important features in the religious
  tendencies of the day not to challenge a wide attention from
  intelligent observers."
    --_New-York Tribune_.

  "This is the very best edition, as regards typographical skill,
  that has as yet been issued of any Catholic work in this
    --_Boston Pilot_.

  "His sermons are brief, addressed to the common heart and
  reason of his hearers, and remarkably free from clerical
  assumptions of authority. The sermon on The Duty of Growing in
  Christian Knowledge is liberal and philosophical to a degree
  not usual in the pulpits of any denomination."
    --_New-York Nation_.



  The Works Of The Most Rev. John Hughes, D.D.,
  First Archbishop of New-York, containing Biography, Sermons, Letters,
  Lectures, Speeches, etc. Carefully Compiled from the Best Sources,
  and Edited by Lawrence Kehoe.

This important work makes two large volumes of nearly 1500 pages.
The editor has spared neither labor nor expense to have it as
correct and as complete as it is possible to make a work of the
kind. The prominent position occupied for so many years by
Archbishop Hughes makes this a highly important work; his views
on all the general questions of the day so eagerly read at the
time--are here collected and presented to the Catholic public in
two elegant volumes, which are indispensable to every library of
American Catholic Literature.

  _Price, Cheap Edition._

  Two volumes, 8vo, cloth, $6.00

  _Fine Edition, On Extra Paper._

  Two volumes, cloth, bevelled,  $8.00

  Two volumes, half morocco, bevelled,  $10.00

  Two volumes, half calf, extra,  $12.00


    Extracts From Notices Of The Press.

  "Opening these volumes, the first thing that strikes us is the
  vast energy, the indomitable resolution, the all-embracing zeal
  of this great prelate. No subject affecting the interests of
  Catholics was beneath his notice. The collection of such a vast
  pile of materials is in itself an arduous and laborious task,
  and when collected the arrangement and collation of the
  documents were a work of time and trouble, requiring both
  judgment and discrimination; both these qualities are apparent
  in the contents of the two large volumes before us."
    --_New-York Tablet_.

  "The editor deserves great credit for the care, industry, and
  taste with which he prepared his work."
    _Baltimore Catholic Mirror_.

  "This is one of the most carefully prepared, as well as most
  interesting, contributions to American and Catholic history."
    --_Boston Pilot_.

  "Every Catholic should provide himself with a copy of the
  works, because they are the history, almost, of the Church in
  her infancy in the Eastern States."
    --_Cincinnati Catholic Telegraph_.

  "Take him all in all, Archbishop Hughes was the greatest man
  that the Catholic Church has yet produced in this country, and
  his writings must have a deep interest for all the members of
  his communion."
    --_Chicago Republican_.

  "There is a fund of instruction in his writings alike to the
  Christian and the worldling, the Protestant and the Catholic."
    --_Daily News_.

  "The work of the editor appears to have been done in a manner
  worthy of the highest commendation."
    --_Pittsburg Catholic._

  "Every Catholic household should have the work."
    --_Irish American_.

  "This work gives his speeches and discourses in full. These
  will be sought for by multitudes of his admirers."
    --_New-York Freeman's Journal_.



    Sermons of the Paulist Fathers, for 1865 and 1866.
    Price, $1.50

    Extracts From Notices Of The Press.

  "They are good examples of practical, earnest, pungent
  preaching. ... Others besides Catholics may be stimulated by
  these discourses, and some Protestant preachers we have heard
  might learn how to talk plainly to the heart and conscience of
   --_Round Table_.

  "These sermons are dictated with a conviction of mind and
  earnestness of heart that the hearer and the reader are carried
  away while reading or listening to them, which, after all, is
  the triumph of eloquence."
    --_Boston Pilot_.

  "These sermons, like those which preceded them, are sound,
  practical, and able productions."
    --_Catholic Mirror_.

  "They are adapted to the wants of our age and country, and
  consequently must elevate the standard of morality whenever
  they can secure the attention of a reader."
    --_Pittsburg Catholic_.

  "Here are twenty-one Catholic sermons in various degrees of
  excellence, nearly all of which are so thoroughly and truly
  catholic in the widest sense of the term, that they will be
  read with pleasure by Protestants, as well as by members of the
  communion to which they are carefully addressed."
    --_New-York Citizen_,



  May Carols and Hymns and Poems.
  By Aubrey De Vere. Blue and gold, . . . $1.25



  Christine, and Other Poems.
  By George H. Miles. Price, $2.00



  Dr. Newman's Answer To Dr. Pusey's Eirenicon.
  Paper, $0.75



  Three Phases of Christian Love:
  The Mother, The Maiden, and The Religious.
  By Lady Herbert.
  One volume, 12mo, $1.50

  Extracts From Notices Of The Press.

  "The author writes in a spirit and style worthy of the sacred
  subjects of her pen. It is a book that should be in the hands
  of every Catholic, and one which Protestants might read with
  benefit to themselves, and without having their prejudices
  rudely assailed. Mr. Kehoe has issued the volume in admirable
  taste. Its mechanical execution is without a flaw."

  "We hail this work as a great acquisition to our Catholic
  literature, and recommend it to the attention of all. It is
  just the book that ought to be placed in the hands of Catholic
  ladies. The publisher deserves great credit for the beautiful
  type, paper, and binding, which make this book equal in taste
  and elegance to any published in this country."
    --_Pittsburg Catholic_.



  Aspirations of Nature.
  By Rev. I. T. Hecker.
  Fourth edition, revised, cloth, extra, ... $1.50

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