Preparing a sermon is a very important part of a priest's work and a very rewarding part, but not infrequently the sermons fail to make contact with the congregation. One of the criticisms is that they are not addressing the problems that the Christians are having at that particular time and place. We are talking to ourselves and of little help to our Catholics.
This is a position that many of us find ourselves in and it is not an easy fix. To ask a representative group of the parish to preview the sermon and give their suggestions is certainly a very beautiful idea but not many of us would have the leisure of mind and humility for such a confrontation every week. It certainly would be a help if one were prepared for such an approach to sermon preparation.
One priest who experienced frustration in preparing sermons that were not speaking to the congregation in their needs decided to do something about it. The Catholic Times has an article on a pastor in Seoul who did select a group to review his sermons. He has two two groups that monitor his sermons and help in their preparation, meeting with them every other week. He has found that it has helped a great deal in getting the attention of his congregation.
They meet on Saturday mornings and discuss the readings for the Mass on Sunday. The pastor started this monitoring two years ago and has found it very helpful. Besides the readings, they discuss the problems in every day living and many other assorted topics that can be fuel for the preparation of the sermon.
The opportunity of getting some interesting incidents from the life of the people that can mirror the difficulties the people are having, and have the readings reflect this, is always of interest to the people. Having a group of people immersed in the life of the society that will be a sounding board will be an important influence on what will be said on Sunday.
I do not think that this will catch on too quickly but it is an example of what can be done to improve the sermons. Priests do not have any great press on giving good sermons and anything that can help improve the efforts should be looked upon favorably.