Lenten Conferences of Fr. Lacordaire No. 7

by | Feb 27, 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.

O my poor lowly brother, thou art a sublime and sacred being

Conferences of the Rev. Père Lacordaire, p. 238*

Catholic doctrine… does not disdain to persuade the poor man; it approaches the workman, and says to him: My poor brother, thou art condemned to eat thy bread by the sweat of thy brow; thou wearest for thy vestment, sackcloth, rather than a soft material woven by the hands of men, thy fellows; O dear humble brother, as said Saint Francis of Assisi, be content with thy lot. Hearken; behold truth comes to thee! it teaches thee that thou art the son and the brother of a God, that thou art the friend of God, that He is come from heaven for all, that he has given his blood for thee. O my poor lowly brother, thou art a sublime and sacred being; thou dost not know thyself; awake, see thyself, open the eyes of thy soul. Look not without, upon thy body, which is nothing, but look within, and learn at once within thyself what a soul is that is made in the image of Divinity.

The Church persuades that poor man; a radiation from on high is produced within him; his soul hears that which his reason does not hear; he becomes an admirable being, a holy glory of God; he believes, he loves; he is ready to give his blood for God and his brethren; he aspires to it, and whilst striking with his hammer upon his anvil, he fancies he feels the blows which the Saviour received; and exclaims: How refreshing is the air! How genial is the warmth of that fire! The faith which has transformed his soul transforms also his toil.

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.