Category: Sermons

The spoken word lends itself to a more passionate presentation. That is why more people are directly converted upon hearing a good sermon than from reading a good book. In his Letter to the Romans, a written word, Saint Paul does says that “Faith cometh by hearing.” Undoubtedly the apostle converted more souls directly by his preaching than by his Letters.

Now that I have seemed to diminish the importance of the written word, let me give you an “on the contrary” viewpoint.  The written word reaches more people and has the potential of lasting to the end of the world. Indirectly, therefore, on account of its permanence and reproducibility, the written word has a greater potential to convert a greater number of souls than the spoken. Korea is an interesting study on its own. Missionaries came to Korea in the sixteenth century and preached the Faith, but the leaders of this people were originally converted by reading Catholic books, which they had discovered in China. It was after reading these books that they sent an emissary to Rome to ask for missionaries.

It is a wonderful thing that, at least in the early and medieval Church, there were usually scribes that wrote down the sermons delivered by preachers. Did you know, for instance, that St. Thomas’ Summa was compiled from his lectures? Yes, he did edit the written text, but were it not for his students and secretaries, there may never have been a Summa Theologica. St. Augustine, likewise, had secretaries who transcribed his daily sermons. Father Migne, a great French scholar, compiled volumes with all the existing sermons of the early fathers, both from the East and the West. He effectively put the wisdom of the fathers at our fingertips. So, when you read the sermons of the saints, you are doubly blessed.  You can savor both their wisdom and the fiery zeal.