Lenten Conferences of Fr. Lacordaire No. 1

by | Feb 19, 2024 | Formation

At the request of Frederic Ozanam and other university students, the Archbishop of Paris, Monsignor de Quélen, instituted the Lenten Conferences at Notre-Dame, which are still held today. The first cycle of conferences took place from February to March 1834. Father Lacordaire, who would later join the Dominicans but was then a diocesan priest, preached those of 1835 and 1836. These extracts come from those conferences.

Jesus chose his apostles from the poor

Conferences of the Rev. Père Lacordaire, p. 29*

And who were the first apostles whom he chose? You might have seen… experiments of apostleship in times near to us, men who, after a century of destruction, found it fit and excellent to build up again: where did they choose their apostles? In the higher ranks of society: they invited to themselves the learned, the ingenious, the high functionaries of state. Jesus Christ did not thus act: the work was the deliverance of the human race from error; he chose his apostles not from among the oppressors of the understanding but from among the oppressed— not from the ranks of philosophers and learned men, but from the poor and simple-minded. One day, as he walked on the borders of a lake in Galilee, he saw two fishermen, and he said to them, “Follow me; I will make you fishers of men.”(1) And such were the first liberators of the human understanding.

(1) St. Matthew, ch. 4, v. 19.

Jean-Baptiste-Henri-Dominique Lacordaire (1802-1861) was a renowned preacher and restorer of the Order of Preachers (Dominicans) in France. He was a great friend of Frederic Ozanam (in fact, he is the author of a very interesting biography on Ozanam) and very close to the Society of St. Vincent de Paul.

Image: Lacordaire, painted by Louis Janmot (1814-1892), friend of Frederic Ozanam and an early member of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul.

*Source: Conferences of the Rev. Père Lacordaire: Delivered in the Cathedral of Nôtre Dame, in Paris. Author: Jean Baptiste Henri Dominique Lacordaire. Translated from the French by Henry Langdon. Publisher: T. Richardson in 1853.