Lenten Conferences of Fr. Lacordaire No. 19

by | Mar 14, 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.

The Church in the world

Conferences of the Rev. Père Lacordaire, p. 509-510

…violence is not the best arm against the evangelic law, nor the greatest peril for its immutability. Right perishes less by violence than by corruption. It was not Attila who was the greatest scourge of liberty and of human dignity, but the eunuchs of Constantinople. When Jugurtha went out of Rome, and turned round to curse her, he did not hesitate about his anathema, he pronounced but that short phrase: Emenda civitas [Reform the city]. O city, who seekest only a purchaser! city, who still holdest the balance in which Brennus formerly weighed thy destiny, and who holdest it no longer to purchase, but to sell thyself! It was the gold of Cæsar which was to be feared for the Gospel, much more than his vigorous measures; the luxurious ease of the palace, much more than the horror of dungeons; the seduction of the smile, much more than the severity of a sentence. Jesus Christ then armed his Gospel also against that kind of persecution. He formed for it, for ever, by the virtue of the cross, a militia, sober and poor, who, inwardly nourished by the hidden manna of a holy unction, had but little to ask for from the earth, and were always sure of finding that little. If the rich might sometimes create temptations for them, there should also come from them tempests which would devour the evil with the cause, and bring the evangelic tribe back again to simplicity and fidelity. There are recent examples of this. Not long ago you stripped the Church of her goods and of her honours; you thought, perhaps, that you had destroyed her, —you have but purified and reinvigorated her.

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.