Friday, December 10, 2010
Vociferous voices: Recalling Fra Girolamo Savonarola
“Elegance of language must give way before simplicity in preaching sound doctrine.” - Savonarola
I was surprised to discover that Magnificat published a short excerpt from Girolamo Savonarola's writings for the meditation on todays Gospel at Mass... "wisdom is vindicated by her works." [Mt. 11: 16-19] In the Gospel Christ describes the people of this age as children squabbling in the marketplace, disparaging both the Baptist and Christ for the one's austerity and the other's leniency and mercy. I couldn't help but consider the Gospel in relationship to some arguments which have taken place on this blog and elsewhere in Catholic media; good priest/bad priest, good nun/bad nun, and similar debates.
Interestingly enough, Savonarola, executed as a heretic by corrupt contemporaries, is now considered a saint by many. He was a fiery, outspoken moralist, highly critical of the papacy and corruption in the Church and society. He burned books and degenerate art. (He would burn my work for sure.) That said, he was a great reformer. I think some contemporary priests and traditional Catholics may be very much like Savonarola, as well as like other reformer saints, who were not always 'nice' or 'polished' in their teaching methods. I could name a few devout, habited nuns from my elementary school days who resembled Savonarola, not only in their teaching methods and temperament, but sometimes even physically - and they were supposed to be the good nuns. (Albeit, many might judge that they changed into 'girls gone wild' after the habits came off.)
As for the ensuing conflicts over faith and morals, and the faithful combatants in Catholic media, "wisdom is vindicated by her works" - in other words, time will tell.