|(Church of St. Vincent Ferrer, NYC)|
Today we celebrate the feast day of one of the greatest preachers, confessors and healers in the history of the Dominican Order, St. Vincent Ferrer (1350-1419).
He preached throughout Europe, unafraid to share the Truth knowing It had the power to convert and transform reluctant and sinful hearts. Thousands of lukewarm Catholics and clergy had their faith reignited. Similarly thousand of Jews and Muslims became Catholics.
One thing is crystal clear: St. Vincent Ferrer’s zeal for the salvation of souls knew no bounds. He valued and tried to reach every soul that crossed his path.
Oh, how that zeal is missing in our Church today!
Today, in order to give you a glimpse of why he was such an effective preacher, I offer the following excerpt on Preaching from his spiritual classic, The Treatise on The Spiritual Life.
“In preaching and exhortations use simple, familiar language to explain in detail what ought to be done. Support your contentions as much as possible with examples which will strike the sinner entangled in the sins of which you speak, as if you were preaching to him alone. Comport yourself, however, in such wise that your words may not seem to proceed from a proud spirit or one impelled by anger, but rather from the bowels of charity and a paternal love.
Let men find in you a father full of compassion for his children when they sin or are grievously ill or fall into the deep pit whence he seeks to extricate them. Have rather the heart of a mother who caresses her children, rejoicing in their progress and in the glory of paradise which she hopes for them.
It is by such preaching that one becomes useful to one's hearers; whereas, by merely speaking to them of the vices and virtues in general one scarcely touches them at all.
Act in the same way in hearing confessions. Whether you are gently encouraging weak pusillanimous souls or admonishing in severe terms those hardened in sin, exhibit toward all the bowels of a tender charity, so that the sinner may always feel that it is charity which inspires your words. If, then, you have a reprimand to administer, always let it be preceded by gentle, affectionate words.
You who desire to be of use to souls, begin then by having recourse with all your heart to God; beseech Him with all simplicity to deign to bestow upon you that charity which is a summation of all the virtues and whereby you may obtain all that you will.”
If I have piqued your interest in this astonishing servant of God, you can learn more about him and his life by visiting one of my prior posts which you can find here.
St. Vincent Ferrer, most humble confessor, healer, preacher and soul searcher, pray for us sinners, now and the hour of our deaths. Amen.