Time after time, I hear this repeated as a quote of St. Francis of Assisi:
“Preach the Gospel always! When necessary, use words.”
Quoting canonized saints is good. This quote, however, does not come from St. Francis (see here and here). And this shouldn’t surprise us. It’s certainly not how we understand evangelization in our modern world.
But, I get why it’s an appealing quote to many. It contains some truth (preach the Gospel always!) but lacks the nuance to explain the relationship between witness and words–both essential for a Catholic understanding of evangelization.
So, I’ve got a new offer for all of those committed to [deliberately] erroneously attributing a quote to St. Francis for the sake of making a theological point. Next time, try this [actual] quote from Blessed Basil Moreau, founder of the Congregation of Holy Cross:
“How many souls we would win by the eloquence of our actions, many times more persuasive than the eloquence of words.” Blsd Moreau, Letters
— Holy Cross Vocations (@CSCVocations) December 3, 2015
p.s. today is Blessed Basil Moreau’s birthday. So seriously, stop using a made-up St. Francis quote and start using a more nuanced and historical one! 😉