The language of sermons preached before mixed congregations should be so plain and simple that the audience may clearly understand all that is said, and may be moved to practise all that is taught. Hence the preacher should avoid two things: loftiness of thought and superfluous elegance of language. With regard to the first, would to God that Superiors would imitate the example of St. Philip Neri. It is related in his life that he commanded those who gave instructions to the people to speak on subjects that are useful and popular, and never to enter into scholastic questions, or to seek after sublime conceptions. Hence when he heard the members of his Congregation introduce subjects that were too subtle or curious, he made them descend from the pulpit, even though they were in the middle of the sermon. Finally, he exhorted all to employ their eloquence in showing, in a plain and easy style, the beauty of virtue and the deformity of vice. Of some preachers we may say, with the prophet Isaias: "Who are these, that fly as clouds?" [Is. 60:8] And as lofty clouds seldom forebode rain, so, from the sermons of those that preach in a lofty style it cannot be hoped that the waters of salvation will ever flow. Hence the holy Council of Trent has commanded all parish priests to preach in a style accommodated to the capacity of their flock. "Archpriests, - - either personally, or by others who are competent, shall feed the people committed to them with wholesome words, according to their own capacity." Hence also the celebrated Muratori wisely observes: "The preacher must speak to the people in the language in which a man of learning would endeavor to persuade a peasant, and thus he will make an impression on the learned as well as on the ignorant."
- St. Alphonsus Liguori: On Preaching
Now that St. Francis de Sales resided in Thonon (France), and as yet it was not prudent to say Mass in the town, he went every morning to offer the holy Sacrifice at Marin, a village on the other side of the river Drance. In June 1596, the bridge having been broken by the floods, he was obliged to cross upon a plank, stretching over a terrible chasm, and often as slippery as glass with its coating of ice. Yet rather than be deprived of saying Mass, he would creep on his hands and knees, at the risk of his life, across the frightful pass. Occasionally he also said Mass in the chapel of the monks of St. Bernard at Montjou, or in that of the castle of Allinges. When he visited the latter, he used to preach and give communion at the neighbouring parish-church. On one occasion the congregation only amounted to seven persons, and he was advised to save himself the trouble of preaching. He replied, however, that he would preach if there were only one person present; he owed instruction to a little flock as well as to a great one. The sermon, which was on the invocation of saints, saved the faith of a gentleman who heard it, and who was on the very verge of apostasy. He now ventured to preach, mounted on a chair, in the market-place of Thonon, when the people would break off business and listen to him, hushed in silence. He was indefatigable in visiting the sick; and as he was in a heretic town, he made his flock understand by his manner when he was carrying the Blessed Sacrament about him, and they followed him reverently at a distance.
- Robert Ornsby: The Life of St. Francis de Sales (1856)