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FOR BISHOPS

 


 

HOW TO PREACH TO THE POOR AND THE RICH

Herbs which nourish some animals kill others.  Hissings that calm horses excite monkeys.  Medicines that heal some illnesses are poison to other illnesses.  

Thus, preachings must be suited to the character of the hearers and fulfill different needs; but all preachings must be directed toward the building of the faith.  

Wherefore men must be admonished more severely than women because of their greater obligations, while women must be admonished gently.  Young people make progress only by severe admonitions, while the elderly advance by gentle remonstrances.  

The poor must be taught how to find consolation in their tribulations, while the rich must be warned against being proud because their whole security is founded on the "uncertainty of riches."  

Though loving kindness is to be bestowed to the indigent, honour is not a debt due to the proud.  Comfort those refined in the furnace of poverty; inspire fear in the rich who are foolishly elated by the consolations of temporal glory.  The poor must learn that they possess riches though they do not see them; the rich must realize they are really poor in the midst of their riches.  

Unfortunately, it may happen that a rich man is humble while a poor man is proud.  Then the preacher must be more vigorous in smiting the pride of the poor while encouraging the humility of the rich.   

Sometimes, however, the proud rich must be treated gently as the insanity of King Saul was calmed by the gentle songs of David.  

To admonish the proud the the powerful, give them first an analogy as Nathan gave King David the analogy of the rich and poor husbandman.  After they have learned the lessons, expose the similarity and let them stand corrected by their own lips.  

St. Gregory the Great: Pastoral Care, Part III

 

 


 

 

(05-18-05)

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