23 October 2010

How to say it?

Determining when to speak boldly and sternly can be a difficult thing for a priest to do, but it was not so with Saint Damien of Moloka'i.

If he knew one of his parishioners was not at Mass, he would often soon be found at their door with a word or two. Of these encounters, he said:

I must in almost every house change my methods. At one time I speak words of sweetness and consolation; at another I must add some bitterness because there is a sinner who refuses to open his eyes; and even as the thunder sometimes rolls with vehemence, so I now and again threaten a hardened soul with terrible chastisements, and this has often had good effect.

He somehow knew what to say and how to say it. That is a skill I hope to develop, with the assistance of his prayers.

Certainly it is true that a priest cannot always be harsh, but neither should he always be soft. Some things are simply too important and necessary to keep quite about.

I once heard sound advice given from one priest to another - it may have been Saint John Vianney who said it; I cannot recall at the moment: a priest should be as fierce as a lion in the pulpit and as gentle as a lamb in the confessional.

Even so, sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't. I don't want to push anyone away from the Church because of the manner in which I say something, but neither do I want to keep someone away from the Church for not being courageous enough to speak boldly.

1 comment:

  1. Speak the truth with charity? And let the Holy Spirit lead.