28 May 2012

Feedback, please!

Before heading off to Texas last week, I made a cryptic comment about my homilies being BLAH lately and said that a retreat would help to make them better.

Well, the retreat helped me to think through why I think my homilies have been BLAH lately. 

I started this blog in Nov of 2005 for two reasons:

1). as a convenient way to distribute the homilies when asked for a copy;

2). and as a way for Normal Catholic Folks to give me feedback.

These reasons still stand.

Therefore, I need some feedback:  what's working?  What's not working?  Helpful?  Distracting? Annoying?  Good, bad, ugly?  What do you want to read/hear more about in the homilies?  Less?  I'm tough. . .so don't flinch from telling the truth as you see it.

Please, let this be heard loud and clear:  I am NOT fishing for compliments!  

Of course, every preacher on the planet likes compliments, but if these homilies are going to be of any use to anyone, they need to be reviewed in terms of the what homilies are supposed to be--proclamations of the Word for the spiritual growth of the People of God. 

Many of you have written to confess that you do not feel qualified to comment on a priest's homily.  I understand your reluctance; however, remember that we all receive the Spirit as we need Him and we use our spiritual gifts accordingly.  We all have the right to good preaching so that our gifts may be properly understood and used for the benefit of others.

So, what say you?
___________________

Follow HancAquam and visit the Kindle Wish List and the Books & Things Wish List

Click on St. Martin and donate to the Dominicans!  ----->

17 comments:

  1. I comment on your homilies quite often, only I usually do it by way of sharing it on Facebook, along with my thoughts. You do get comments there as well. I loved the one you posted Friday and shared it on my facebook as well. Thank you for feedin us :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you for taking the time to comment and thanks for the Facebook links as well!

      Delete
  2. Father, I don't often read your homilies so my comments may not be representative of your work. For instance the one you just posted for Pentecost: the part in parenthesis describing the scene in the upper room is very good. It's gripping and really puts me in the scene. however, it's relation to the rest of the story is not obvious. The part about Truth and whether Jesus was some sort of gnostic guru could be a good homily in and of itself, but seems unrelated to Pentecost. I don't see the connection between the Fire of the Spirit and Truth that the apostles cannot bear.

    And I'm not sure what it has to do with me? I've heard plenty of priests claim that they are not to blame for not preaching on the tough issues like Contraception or Abortion because the homilies (as opposed to sermons) are supposed to make the readings relevant to the modern day. Fair enough, but then what does this have to do with me? How do I understand Pentecost in 2012? What do I do with it? How does the scene in the Upper Room compare with the current battles over Marriage and Religious Liberty? If the Apostles could preach to everyone in their own language after Pentecost why are we so misunderstood today?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ben, thanks for your comments. My recent homilies have been more about explicating the readings and trying to tie them to modern issues. The Pentecost homily was written in 2009, so it was tinged with my love for rhetorical flourish! I hear you loud and clear: the more literary style tends to obscure the practical application. Thanks, again.

      Delete
    2. I wasn't sure I could be in any way helpful feedback-wise, but the as for point you brought up here I sure have 2 cents to offer: I of course admire your drive to improve and be clearer, but don't give up your "literary style" or "rhetorical flourish"...even though by the grace of God my parish priest got replaced and the homilies I get from the pew are theologically sounder than before, for me and perhaps for others here too, truth is that they still are mostly for Dummies-kind of homilies, if I make myself clear, so coming here and seeing more meaty material sure isn't bad...

      Delete
    3. Matheus, I couldn't give up the literary/rhetorical style if I tried. Being a good southern and a lit prof makes that impossible. Over time, I've toned down the flourishing somewhat and amped up the plain-speaking. Thanks for the comments.

      Delete
  3. Oh, you actually WANT feedback! I thought this blog was just to enlighten us. Really. I'll keep that in mind now. Thanks!

    Can't think of anything right now, but I know that several of your blog posts have really made me think and have drawn me closer to the Church. I'll let you know about that from here on.

    God bless you, Father!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Melissa, do I want feedback? You betcha. Catholic preaching will never improve unless Catholics stand up for better preaching. Thanks for the comments.

      Delete
  4. In all honesty, I've been following your blog for the non-homily posts. Most homilies I see posted on-line (not just yours) seem to take a while to get moving: you have to read quite a bit to find out what they are about. The way I (and I suspect many others) read blogs is I skim the top of the posts and read the ones that catch my attention...and very few of the homilies catch my attention in that way.

    I suspect it has something to do with how priests and deacons (I respond in the same way to the sermons over at the Deacon's Bench) are taught to put a homily together; and that in turn might reflect a real difference between homilies meant to be spoken, and blog posts. You tell me.

    But if you want criticism, we'll see what we can do. :-)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Will, it's interesting you note how a typical homily often fails to grab the audience. When I first started this blog, I got some feedback about my sometimes outrageous first sentences. Mostly, negative feedback! Over time, I toned them down and now it seems that I'm simply plodding along with the readings. Should I return to being outrageous? ;-)

      Delete
    2. It doesn't need to be outrageous; but I want to be grabbed by the subject, rather than led into it by degrees. See my comment on the homily you posted just after this post: I'd rather hear "What must I do to inherit eternal life" right off.

      I suspect the conventional wisdom is that you have to meet the congregation where they are, and then lead them into the topic. But sometimes that approach is so gentle that by the time the topic shows up I'm half-asleep. Hit me with the topic, and make it meaty! Then backfill if you need to.

      Delete
  5. Father:
    Grom the perspective of a faithful, your homilies are definitely uplifting. If you talk about divine truths on them, to me the firm does not matter since the content carries within itself all that is needed to strike a chord at least in some. If this is achieved them I would say that there is a good reason for you to continue.
    From the literary/composition perspective they definitely are crafted with good quality, and are easy to read. I'd say that when you feel that they are blah it's your own internal judge who is talking because, since -from the outside- the perception might definitely be completely different as your own.
    Now; personally, I like them. That's all I can say.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks! I always say, "The preacher preaches to himself first." Even "bad homilies" can touch someone. The most important thing--you're right--is to preach the truth.

      Delete
  6. I seem to have more difficulty with the homilies where you note in red thst it didn't go over well or other style comments. It seems to set me up not to like it even though I like most of them. Sometimes there seems to be a strain to tie everything together tightly, I don't think the readings always allow this. I like the outrageous openeings but then that suits my personality; I'm sure itdoesn't suit everyone.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. C., thank you for pointing this out! I'd never thought about it before, but now I will refrain from adding those notes. I like the outrageous openings too. . .but I'm always afraid that I might be trying to draw attention to the preacher rather than the gospel.

      Delete
  7. The problem is, Father, that 50 or 60% is about delivery. It's hard to know if a homily is good when you see it written. And I must admit I don't normally read the homilies. But I'll give it a go now. One useful thing my local curate does is to give us a sort of soundbite from the homily at the end of Mass, just before the final blessing. He doesn't preach again and eveyone hates it when we get three or four sermons - one at the start of Mass telling us about the day, one before the readings, one after the readings and one at the end. So I'm not advocating that. But it's great to have one line that the people can leave with.

    So, your Pentecost sermon. The first paragraph on truth and sci-fi/fantasy. I think a lot of people won't get what you're on about. I think the image could be good but in a broader literary frame - a common feature of fiction, a way of maintaining tension, is that the main character is always in the dark, following some sort of journey, real or emotional, but never in full possession of the facts, whether it's a detective story, or a love story.

    The meteorite image was unnecessary. Acts presents one image, you give another but an image for comparison is only good if it explains something better. A friend said to me recently that meeting his bishop was like meeting a high court judge. Well I've never met a high court judge so it's not a helpful image.

    Pentecost can be confusing because of the Acts and Gospel readings - the scenes are very different, the timeline totally different. Fear dominates the Gospel scene but not, I think, Pentecost. At Pentecost they've had the risen Lord for 50 days, they've had the Ascension nine days ago (or seven now!). I think it's expectation rather than fear that dominates. So I would have stuck with the notion of truth. The role of the Holy Spirit in truth. And then maybe a modern reference to specific truths that are denied.

    Hope that's helpful. It's always brave to ask for a critique.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Id like to see more Coffee Bowl and more Dominican life.

    ReplyDelete