Tuesday, January 31, 2017

The preacher as man of Sodom

Honore Daumier,
The Destruction of Sodom, c. 1850.
"The living Word that enkindles and enlightens hearts is only present where the voice [(i.e. vox Verbi)] corresponds to the Word.  'The preacher must be a voice, because he must be conformed to the interior Word, that is to Christ [(Praedicator debet esse vox, quia debet conformari Verbo interiori)]', opines Nicholas de B(a)yard.  God only works through the preacher if he can recognize the voice of the messenger as his own voice.  [Only] then does the Word give sound [(Klang)] to his voice.  If the life of the messenger does not correspond to his proclamation, then the sermon is not worthy of being called God’s Word; indeed, it is the expression not of love but of vanity or acquisitiveness.  Such preachers are like the men of Sodom, who wanted to break down Lot’s door with sinful intentions.  God shuts the door of grace in their face."

     Zoltan Alszeghy, S.J., "Die Theologie des Wortes Gottes bei den mittelalterlichen Theologen," Gregorianum 39 (1958):  696 (685-705), quoting, besides Nicholas de B(a)yard, Gaufridus, Declamationes Prol. (PL 184, col. 437); Dionysius the Carthusian, Enarr. in 1 Reg. c. 1 a. 8 (Op. 3, p. 281); and Peter Cantor, Verbum abbreviatum c. 6 (PL 205, col. 38).  Alszeghy is dealing, of course, with the unresolved medieval tension between preaching as sacramental on the one hand and sub-sacramental on the other.

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