“Preaching is in fact a dangerous activity. The life of Peter of Verona, often called Peter Martyr, illustrates one dimension of this danger.
One of the earliest members of the Order of Preacher, St. Peter Martyr preached vigorously against the heresy of the Cathars despite threats against his life. Due to his efforts, many Cathars converted to Catholicism, leading a group of Milanese Cathars to plot against him and to hire an assassin, one Carino of Balsamo. On April 6th, 1252, Carino and an accomplice set upon Peter and his companion as they made their way from Como to Milan. Carino struck Peter’s head with an axe and Peter rose to his knees, recited the beginning of the Apostle’s Creed and, according to legend, dipped his fingers in his own blood and wrote on the ground: “Credo in Unum Deum” before dying. It would seem that preaching is a dangerous business.
However, Jesus concludes the Beatitudes by telling his disciples “Blessed are you when men revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so men persecuted the prophets who were before you.” Martyrdom is in fact a blessing. Yet preaching remains dangerous even when the great reward of martyrdom is off the table.
Consider what Blessed Humbert of Romans wrote in his Treatise on Preaching:
There are three evils to be noted which result from a premature and rash acceptance of the office of preaching.
The first is that the good results which the preacher might have produced at the proper time will be imperiled. It is necessary, St. Gregory informs us, to warn those, who, because of their age or their incompetence, are unsuited to exercise this office, and who nevertheless meddle in it prematurely; for their rashness endangers the good results which they would later have achieved. Eager to undertake what they are not prepared for, they lose forever the good they might have accomplished at the right time.
The second evil resulting from too early entrance into the office of preaching is the obstacle which the preacher places in the way of his own formation; for whoever undertakes a task before he has the necessary strength makes himself for the future weak and useless. As one author of the lives of the Fathers admonishes: “Refrain from instructing too early, for you will thus weaken your understanding for the rest of your life.”
The third evil is the danger of the preacher losing his own soul. In regard to this St. Gregory wishes that those who are impatient to assume the office of preacher to consider the fledglings which, before their wings are strong enough, try to fly into the skies, but soon fall back to earth; or to consider a foundation newly-built and insecure, which, instead of becoming a house when the superstructure is added to it, rather collapses and becomes a pile of ruins; or to consider those infants born prematurely before being completely formed in the womb of their mother, and who fill graves rather than homes.
The innumerable evils resulting from haste prompts Ecclesiasticus to say: “A wise man will hold his peace till he see opportunity” (Ecclus. 20:7).
It is also for this reason that Isaias gives the following warnings: “. . . and it shall bud without perfect ripeness and the sprigs thereof shall be cut off with pruning hooks: an what is left shall be cut away and shaken out. And they shall be left together to the birds of the mountains and the beasts of the earth: and the fowls shall be upon them all summer, and the beasts of the earth shall winter upon them” (Isa. 18:5-6).
And finally, it is for the same reason that our Lord Jesus Christ before His Ascension, commanded His preachers, the Apostles, “Wait here in the city until you be clothed with power from on high” (Luke 24:49). St. Gregory, explaining this, says: “We remain in the city when we retire into our innermost soul, not venturing forth with idle words, but waiting the coming of the divine power, before we appear before men to preach the truth which we now possess.”
Let us then carefully prepare ourselves for the Holy Preaching. Holy Father Dominic, pray for us.”
Summa Catechetica, "Neque enim quaero intelligere ut credam, sed credo ut intelligam." – St Anselm, "Let your religion be less of a theory, and more of a love affair." -G.K. Chesterton, "And above all, be on your guard not to want to get anything done by force, because God has given free will to everyone and wants to force no one, but only proposes, invites and counsels." –St. Angela Merici, "I want a laity, not arrogant, not rash in speech, not disputatious, but men and women who know their religion, who enter into it, who know just where they stand, who know what they hold and what they do not, and who know their creed so well that they can give an account of it."- Bl John Henry Newman, Cong. Orat., "We cannot always have access to a spiritual Father for counsel in our actions and in our doubts, but reading will abundantly supply his place by giving us directions to escape the illusions of the devil and of our own self-love, and at the same time to submit to the divine will.” —St. Alphonsus Ligouri, "The harm that comes to souls from the lack of reading holy books makes me shudder . . . What power spiritual reading has to lead to a change of course, and to make even worldly people enter into the way of perfection." –St. Padre Pio, "Screens may grab our attention, but books change our lives!" – Word on Fire, "Reading has made many saints!" -St Josemaría Escrivá, "Do you pray? You speak to the Bridegroom. Do you read? He speaks to you." —St. Jerome, from his Letter 22 to Eustochium, "Encounter, not confrontation; attraction, not promotion; dialogue, not debate." -cf Pope Francis, "God here speaks to souls through…good books“ – St Teresa of Avila, Interior Castle, "You will not see anyone who is really striving after his advancement who is not given to spiritual reading. And as to him who neglects it, the fact will soon be observed by his progress.” -St Athanasius, "To convert someone, go and take them by the hand and guide them." -St Thomas Aquinas, OP. 1 saint ruins ALL the cynicism in Hell & on Earth. “When we pray we talk to God; when we read God talks to us…All spiritual growth comes from reading and reflection.” -St Isidore of Seville, “Also in some meditations today I earnestly asked our Lord to watch over my compositions that they might do me no harm through the enmity or imprudence of any man or my own; that He would have them as His own and employ or not employ them as He should see fit. And this I believe is heard.” -GM Hopkins, SJ, "Only God knows the good that can come about by reading one good Catholic book." — St. John Bosco, "Why don't you try explaining it to them?" – cf St Peter Canisius, SJ, Doctor of the Church, Doctor of the Catechism, "Already I was coming to appreciate that often apologetics consists of offering theological eye glasses of varying prescriptions to an inquirer. Only one prescription will give him clear sight; all the others will give him at best indistinct sight. What you want him to see—some particular truth of the Faith—will remain fuzzy to him until you come across theological eye glasses that precisely compensate for his particular defect of vision." -Karl Keating, "The more perfectly we know God, the more perfectly we love Him." -St Thomas Aquinas, OP, ST, I-II,67,6 ad 3, “But always when I was without a book, my soul would at once become disturbed, and my thoughts wandered." —St. Teresa of Avila, "Let those who think I have said too little and those who think I have said too much, forgive me; and let those who think I have said just enough thank God with me." –St. Augustine, "Without good books and spiritual reading, it will be morally impossible to save our souls." —St. Alphonsus Liguori "Never read books you aren't sure about. . . even supposing that these bad books are very well written from a literary point of view. Let me ask you this: Would you drink something you knew was poisoned just because it was offered to you in a golden cup?" -St. John Bosco " To teach in order to lead others to faith is the task of every preacher and of each believer." —St. Thomas Aquinas, OP. "Prayer purifies us, reading instructs us. Both are good when both are possible. Otherwise, prayer is better than reading." –St. Isidore of Seville “The aid of spiritual books is for you a necessity.… You, who are in the midst of battle, must protect yourself with the buckler of holy thoughts drawn from good books.” -St. John Chrysostom