Lenten Conferences of Fr. Lacordaire No. 25

by | Mar 22, 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.

Pleasure is not the foundation of society, but virtue

Conferences of the Rev. Père Lacordaire, p. 589-590

Now, … [since] the need of association manifests itself [everywhere], and that after having destroyed Christian association, men desire to reconstruct another on the basis of pure reason, what do we see? We see… men consuming themselves… to substitute in association the law of pleasure for the law of devotedness [see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fourierism]… what man of heart would desire to live in a society where enjoyment alone would be satisfied? What man of heart could do without his efforts and virtue?… Pleasure is not the foundation of society, but virtue; enjoyment is not our vocation here below, but labour and grief. God has created us expressly to produce by us a thing which he could not produce alone; that is to say, greatness in vileness, strength in infirmity, purity in flesh and blood, love in egotism, good in evil, virtue in a heart which possessed each moment the liberty of being a hardened sinner. This is our vocation, our destiny. Jesus Christ has conquered the world only because he knew it; and because, from his cross, slave and God, he has supremely filled it. Salvation is found in following him, and also all glory and all happiness. This is why, thanks to God! pleasure and inclination will never found a society here below; misfortune will be the stronger, in order that virtue may be; there will be poor in it, that alms may be given; wounds, precisely that they may be bound up; tears, precisely that they may be accepted; disorders, that men may aspire to stability; ruins, that pride may be humbled; public misery, that there may be gratuitous and popular services; blood shed, that there may be saints.

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.