05 March 2014

Advice to Preachers & Listeners

Some advice/notes for the preacher:

The preacher preaches to himself first. Preach “we” and “us” not “you people.” You struggle, fail, succeed, fall, get up, soar, wallow, succeed again. Use your struggles/successes.

Preach the gospel in front of you. What's the Good News in these readings? And what does it mean for us right now in these circumstances?

Avoid the temptation to scratch itchy ears. Preaching what you think we want to hear can be safe, popular, and ultimately damning. 

Challenge, provoke, encourage by preaching the truth. We are stronger than you think. We are also confused, worried, and tempted to despair.  Hold up the ideal.

Point out and celebrate in unambiguous terms our relationship with God. In every homily, tell us how being in love with God changes us. How failing to love hurts us.

Preach struggle and victory. Note the details of struggling to follow Christ but keep our eyes focused on Christ's victory (and ours in him).

Preach with passion. Let us know that you believe what you're preaching.

Stay fresh. Read good novels, good homilies; keep up with pop culture and the Church Fathers.

Feedback to your pastor:

You don't have to Occupy the Pulpit to get good preaching!

Silence = Approval. If no one speaks up, then Father will think all is well.

Encourage your pastor by pointing out what you found helpful/useful in his homily. Let him know that you were listening. Send him a note.

Encourage him to publish his homilies in the bulletin.

Tell him what sorts of things you need to hear. Can you address personal prayer and how to do it better? How do I love more and better? I'm confused about this teaching, can you explain it?

If his homilies seem ill-prepared, challenge him—charitably—to be better prepared.

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  1. Anonymous2:58 AM

    A married couple giving a homily is more down to earth about God's intervention the family life, than any unmarried priest.

    A unmarried priest talking about God'\s will in family life, is like a doctor who never touched a patient but gives advice from books.....

    1. False. You assume that the purpose of a homily is to "give advice." If that were true, then you would be right. The purpose of a homily is to expound on the lectionary readings in the context of the liturgical celebration. Also, many priests -- me included -- became priests after living in the world for some time. I was ordained at 41. So, let's not assume that personal experience makes one necessarily more qualified. If that were the case, then priests would have to be both male and female, all races at once, everything from international politician to unemployed burger joint cashier, etc.