25 November 2007

Help make me a better preacher. . .

I need some feedback from regular readers/listeners. . .

My homilies have been kinda BLAH lately. I haven't really enjoyed writing them or preaching them. This is very unusual b/c the one thing I truly look forward to in my week is praying over the readings, writing the homilies, and preaching them. It seems like I've gotten into a rut. . .maybe lost some nerve or energy or Spirit or something. . .I dunno. I had hoped that the ad experimentum over at my other site--kNOt + homi(lies)--would challenge me, but I got sick and then started traveling and I haven't had time to do much over there. . .

What do you think? I'm not fishing for compliments here. I really need some feedback. Some constructive criticism. Even if you think nothing is awry here, please tell me how to improve.

What would you like to hear more about/less about in these homilies?
Are these homilies too "moral"? Do they need to be more doctrinal?
More on social justice/peace issues?
Am I being too "preachy" or "finger-wagging"?
Am I getting too professorial, too didactic?
Am I just saying the same things over and over again?
Should I concentrate more on practical spirituality?
Or more on biblical interpretation?
Do you connect with a more or less literary style?
Maybe something less rhetorical and more straightforward?
Do I need to be more/less "aggressive" in taking on issues?

Right now, I think of myself as a fairly competent exhortatory preacher, meaning I want my homilies to fire folks up or arouse in you an urge to do something. Scripture is vital, of course, and tradition and magisterium.

But is there more that I need to consider? Leave me comments! And remember, please: I need criticism not compliments!

Thanks and God bless, Fr. Philip, OP


  1. Anonymous10:21 AM

    One of the things that I notice you and many other priest do, is to preach on something other than the readings. You use the readings, but more as supplementary material to your real homily. I would like your homilies much better if you would preach the readings, explicating them and tying them together, and THEN relate them to our lives. I've always heard that "The Word of God is powerful;" I think it's true, and you don't need more than that. So perhaps your problem is that you are trying too hard.

    Catholics come for Mass, not rhetoric.

  2. Dear Fr. Philip:

    I can't give general answers to any of the questions you raise. I often enjoy your homilies and always agree with them; even so, and speaking from my own personal standpoint, not all of them tell me something I feel I needed to hear. But that doesn't tell either of us what you ought to have said instead. Others might benefit where I don't. And I think the others could say the same for themselves.

    If you're interested, you might consider running drafts by me and/or others for reaction before you deliver or post the final product. A couple of priests I know have done that with some success.


  3. Father: I enjoy your homilies as is.

    Please understand that I'm not trying to be harsh with what I'm about to say, but I'm concerned that you are soliciting feedback on your homilies. Why? Possibly, because I've had more then enough of the homilitics by popular consensus witnessed by me during my dissident Catholic days.

    Let the Holy Spirit and St. John Vianney continue to guide you. I think it must be natural for priests to worry their homilies are not conveying the message they feel they must convey. However, I have to believe that Christ will convey His message thru you when you are still and listening. Continue to preach the Truth. It does not have to be creative. God has blessed you in that your homilies are creative. However, I've known priests who may be considered by some to be dull homilists. IMHO, you can't be dull when you are presenting the truth. I'd rather hear the Truth plainly presented then not at all.

    This probably makes no sense and is poorly written. Apologies, if that is the case.

    God bless you.

  4. Thanks for these comments! Keep them coming...

    Cathy, never fear that I will ever preach anything but the unvarnished truth of the faith...my concern here is more about style/reception that anything else...

    Fr. Philip, OP

  5. Anonymous11:09 PM

    Hi, Father Philip,

    The style of your homilies always strikes me as extremely reactionary - against modern pop culture, against Enlightenment science, against fundamentalist Protestantism. I often feel that in wielding the day's readings into condemnations of these things you "preach to the choir." Consider the audience of the homilies - UD students, Priory members, people who have made the effort to attend mass and worship God. These people do not need to be told that science alone is not sufficient to discover truth or that "once saved always saved" is to narrow. I find that these themes are frequently repeated - I'd like to see you do something else with the readings besides spur on to fight in the "culture wars." The tone of the homilies usually strikes me as very defensive. Yes, we must be defensive in certain situations, but there is so much more to being a Christian that I feel is hardly ever addressed in your homilies.

    Also, sometimes your verbal pyrotechnics sometimes become a distraction. I am an English student, so I realize that big vocab is fun to show off, but a clear, simple message is often most effective in a homiletic setting.

    I'd like to see you offer more practical advice, more advice that I can use to shape my everyday prayer life and study and work.

    Just my two cents - hope it helps!
    And I really appreciate that you ask for advice and input...really makes me feel valued and "pastored" to.

    Best Wishes,
    Former UD Student

  6. Hi Fr Philip,

    Maybe you can give a sermon on the Early Fathers' sermons?


    These books are very good.
    Perhaps preach on the Holy Mass, and How Christ Said the First Mass which follows the Traditional Latin Mass:


    God Bless