St. Augustine (354-430), one of the greatest theological
writers in Church history, was also a superb preacher. Huge crowds came to hear
him, and he went on, as he admitted often, at great length in his sermons.
Sometimes, after a long discourse, he paused so his hearers could go out to
eat; then, right after eating, they would come back for another long discourse.
When he sent them out for food, it was not that they looked tired.
"Go out and take some refreshment, not for your
spirits-for your spirits are, I notice, indefatigable; but go out and give some
little refreshment to your bodies, the servants of your souls, so that they
may continue to minister to you; and when you are refreshed, then come back
to your real food. (Ennar 1,20 on Ps.88, cited in St. Augustine
of Hippo, by Hugh Pope-p162).
In accordance with a permitted custom at the time, people
often applauded him enthusiastically in church while he was preaching. This
made him afraid. Do you not realize that I…indeed, all of us,…will
have to render a strict account to God for your applause? You surely do not
imagine that such praise does any honor to me?
It is a burden, not an honor. A very strict account indeed
will have to be rendered for it. For I am afraid lest when Christ comes to judge,
He may say: You wicked servants! Gladly did you accept the praises of
my people, while holding your tongues about things that meant death to them.
" (PL 46,874-81-St.Augustine of Hippo) [Full
article by Fr. Robert D. Smith]
Last Sunday Fr. Bryce Sibley of Saintly
Salmagundi posted this
about receiving applause after a homily. I wouldn’t be surprised to find out
that Fr. Sibley felt the same way as St. Augustine did about it.