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Nicene and Ante-Nicene Fathers, Ser. II, Vol. X:
Dogmatic Treatises, Ethical Works, and Sermons.: Chapter XXIII. Jests, although at times they may be quite proper, should be altogether banished among clerics. The voice should be plain and frank.

Early Church Fathers  Index     

Chapter XXIII.

Jests, although at times they may be quite proper, should be altogether banished among clerics. The voice should be plain and frank.

102. Men of the world give many further rules about the way to speak, 152 which I think we may pass over; as, for instance, the way jesting should be conducted. 153 For though at times jests may be proper and pleasant, yet they are unsuited to the clerical life. For how can we adopt those things which we do not find in the holy Scriptures?

103. We must also take care that in relating stories we do not alter the earnest purpose of the harder rule we have set before us. “Woe unto you that laugh, for ye shall weep,” 154 says the Lord. Do we seek for something to laugh at, that laughing here we may weep hereafter? I think we ought to avoid not only broad jokes, but all kinds of jests, unless perchance it is not unfitting at the time for our conversation to be agreeable and pleasant.

104. In speaking of the voice, I certainly think it ought to be plain and clear. 155 That it should be musical is a gift of nature, and is not to be won by exertion. Let it be distinct in its pronunciation and full of a manly vigour, but let it be free from a rough and rustic twang. See, too, that it does not assume a theatrical accent, but rather keeps true to the inner meaning of the words it utters.


Footnotes

18:152

Cic. de Off. I. 37.

18:153

Cic. de Off. I. 29, § 103.

18:154

S. Luke vi. 25.

18:155

Cic. de Off. I. 37, § 133.


Next: Chapter XXIV. There are three things to be noticed in the actions of our life. First, our passions are to be controlled by our reason; next, we ought to observe a suitable moderation in our desires; and, lastly, everything ought to be done at the right time and in the proper order. All these qualities shone forth so conspicuously in the holy men of Old Testament time, that it is evident they were well furnished with what men call the cardinal virtues.

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