In my Year of the Saints project I decided to find out more about the saints, and focus on using their lives as inspiration for my own. I wanted to use each saint as a role model and try to follow their example for the entire month.
The saint that I would like to model during the month of May is Bernardino of Siena (feast day: May 20). Like all my favorites, he was a Franciscan priest. When he first started out in the order, he prayed regularly, but didn’t preach much. He had a very weak voice that often went hoarse and silent quickly. That all changed, however, when he was on a mission in Milan. Suddenly, he found himself speaking in a rich timbre and a commanding power. His oration was so strong, in fact, that he attracted a crowd who would not let him stop speaking until he promised to return to Milan and preach again. The remainder of his life was dedicated to public speech.
Because of his powerful preaching, he became the patron saint of advertisers. If there is anything that requires persuasive speech, it’s advertising. (Anyone who has seen “Mad Men” knows it’s the truth.)
But here’s the wonderful thing about St. Bernardino: he abhorred all talk that was “indecent,” even from childhood. When he was a young boy he stood in the town square while some adults were talking. One man tried to embarrass him by speaking with inappropriate words. Imagine his shock when young Bernardino smacked him in the face! The crowd lauded him, and the man retreated in shame. Since then, he was known for his wonderful speeches—pure and decent words of praise.
St. Bernardino’s life is a good example for marriage-minded singles who are using online dating sites. We can learn a thing or two about profile writing from St. Bernardino’s persuasive speech. We can use the power of words to highlight our best qualities. And write our profiles in a way that reflects the human dignity that St. Bernardino focused on.
This month, try re-reading your profiles, or better yet, have another set of eyes to do it, and think of the ways you can highlight your best qualities. Then ask yourself two things: Am I using my words as persuasive speech? And, would St. Bernardino like what I have to say? Perhaps try praying to him before looking over your profile.
Here is a wonderful prayer:
Saint Bernardine of Siena, words were very important to you. You spent most of your life speaking the golden words of Jesus’ mercy and his Holy Name. And you abhorred words that were shameful. Pray for us that we may always choose to speak Jesus’ name with reverence and choose words of love over words of shame. Amen