The Person Of The Preacher

by Humbert of Romans

Chapter Two

XI. The Person of the Preacher

The qualities requisite for a preacher in regard to his person are first of all, that he be of the male sex, for St. Paul

“does not want women to be permitted to speak” (I Tim. 2:12).

He gives four reasons for this: Firstly, a lack of intelligence, for in this woman is thought to be inferior to man; secondly, her natural state of dependency (the preacher should not occupy an inferior place); thirdly, the concupiscence which her very presence may arouse; fourthly, the remembrance of her first error, which led Bernard to say,

“She spoke but once and threw the world into disorder.”

Next the preacher must not have an exterior deformity which is offensive to the sight, for as the Lord, in the old law, rejected as ministers those who were deformed, so, too, the Church excludes them from solemn functions because of the derision they might engender and which would scandalize the people.

The preacher must also have sufficient strength for long hours of study, for the expenditure of voice necessary in preaching, for the fatigues of travel, and to put up with the lack of even the necessities of life. For so the Apostles inured themselves to suffering that they might announce the holy word.

They must also be of a suitable age.

The Redeemer, says St. Gregory, although in heaven He had the omnipotence of the Creator, and was the teacher of the Angels, yet He did not begin His mission of teaching until He was thirty years old. This He did in order to inspire the over eager with a healthy caution, showing them how He Who was sinless did not preaching the perfect life until He had reached the perfection of maturity.

The preacher must also be superior to others in his state of life, in literature, in religion, and in other things, unless he only preaches occasionally and that before the learned, in order to exercise his art. From this it follows that the layman, occupying the last place, has not the quality for preaching.

“How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him that bringeth good tidings and that preacheth peace” (Isaiah 52:7).

That is to say that the preacher ought to have a certain pre-eminence. And finally, he must not be an object of men’s scorn, lest this scorn fall on his preaching.

“He,” St. Gregory says, “whose life merits blame, must expect scorn for his word.”

About Fr. John A. Peck

Director of the Preachers Institute, priest in the Orthodox Church in America, award-winning graphic designer and media consultant, and non-profit administrator.
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