12 October 2012

USCCB document on preaching

A cmte of the USCCB is reviewing a document on preaching.  It's titled,  “Preaching the Mystery of Faith: The Sunday Homily."

Here are two excerpts from the notice:

“The ultimate goal of proclaiming the Gospel is to lead people into a loving and intimate relationship with the Lord, a relationship that forms the character of their persons and guides them in living out their faith.” It added that “by highlighting his humanity, his poverty, his compassion, his forthrightness, and his suffering and Death, an effective homily would show the faithful just how much the Son of God loved them in taking our human flesh upon himself.”

This is a good summary of what a homily should be. 

“The homily is intended to establish a ‘dialogue’ between the sacred biblical text and the Christian life of the hearer,” the document said. It added that “apt stories that illustrate human experience or the realities of contemporary culture help enliven the homily and open avenues for understanding the meaning of the biblical text….”

I really wish that the word "dialogue" could be stricken from the Church's magisterial vocabulary. More often than not used as an excuse by dissidents to keep the Church talking while they do what they please.  In my experience, a "dialogue" is always a scolding monologue that assumes its righteousness and never allows itself to be questioned. 

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  1. "Dialogue" is one of many mealy-mouthed 20th-century-isms that need to be stricken from the magisterial dialogue (another one I hate: "empower"). At best, these pop psychology terms just blunt the sharp edges of the Gospel.

  2. Finally, that tired old vapid FULFILLED IN YOUR HEARING can be retired!

  3. So how would you fill in the blank? "“The homily is intended to establish ______________ between the sacred biblical text and the Christian life of the hearer."

    1. "The homily is intended to establish that the sacred biblical text still speaks to the Christian life of the hearer."

      "The homily is intended to establish the sacred biblical text as the ground of truth for Christian life of the hearer."

      "The homily is intended to mediate in contemporary terms between the sacred biblical text and the Christian life of the hearer."

  4. fr. Dismas, OP12:07 PM

    I hear that you're frustrated with the word, "dialogue," and that you find it hurtful. Would you like to dialogue on how this makes you feel?

    1. Fr. Dismas, thank you for your caring concern. Please, drop by the priory, and I'll be happy to dialogue with you. No need to tell anyone where you are going or who you are visiting. . .everything we will just fine.

  5. Fr. P,

    The other day you said that a preacher should prepare his sermon with a bible on one hand and the newspaper in the other.

    But then, I wonder: which newspaper? Of course, no one reads the news on dead tress anymore, so which news? From which source, the NYT website, the Drudge Report, Fox News, BBC? You and I know that the lamestream media has an agenda that's against the Lord's. For sure, countering that agenda is important, yet following it always cannot possibly but be counterproductive, for it places the preacher in defensive mode, which the hearers will notice sooner rather than later. And, BTW, isn't this a fair description of the last couple of decades?

    Instead, Fr. P, if I were a preacher, and I thank God for putting the fear of Him in me if I ever wanted to become one, I'd try to listen to the hearers in the confessional and to address their spiritual and other needs based on the readings in preaching to them from the pulpit. Surely a Liberal Arts major can pick on the theme of the maladies of their souls in a given week. ;-)

    Preach on, praedicatum!

    PS: hoping to have got the singular of praedicatorum right...

    1. Augustine, you have never heard and/or read me say that a preacher should have a Bible in one hand and the newspaper in the other. IF. . .IF. . .I said such a thing. . .mea culpa, mea culpa, maxima mea culpa. I will do penance publicly if I must.

      I don't read newspapers. What's the point?

      I am far more likely to preach from my experiences in the confessional than anything else. That's where the people of God are struggling. SO, go to confession and contribute to the improvement of Catholic preaching!

    2. What about preaching about things you DON'T hear in confession? Like say, for instance, if nobody is confessing to using contraceptives, is that necessarily a sign that nobody is in fact using contraceptives?

    3. And how do you know they aren't confessing this? :-)

      IF they aren't. . .I would suggest that it's because the clergy have failed to teach that it is confession-worthy.

      One small problem with preaching about contraception: since homilies are almost always about the lectionary readings, there are few (if any) opportunities to preach on contraception as such. Preachers would have to reach well beyond the readings to find the chance.

    4. People aren't confessing contraception (and fornication too, for that matter) and the clergy fails to teach that it's confession-worthy because everybody internalized a misguided "Don't Ask Don't Tell" mindset about these subjects...all in the name of "More Important Stuff" (that nobody seems to know what it is)...

      P.S.: Wasn't it Leon Bloy who reportedly said, when asked which newspaper he used to read, that he didn't read any, and when he wanted to catch up on the news he used to read the espistles of St. Paul...? :)

    5. The longer I'm in parish ministry and the more confessions I hear, the more convinced I become that humans are pretty much the same today as they were in the 1st c. Mr. Bloy makes the wise choice.