Monday, July 27, 2015
How many priests give good sermons? In the opinion of a retired professor of humanities, writing in With Bible, at the most two out of ten.He is not talking about revivalist preaching or eloquent sermons, but a sermon that connects the Gospel to life, and helps listeners to reflect on the words and motivates them to put the words heard into practice. These kinds of sermons are rare, and is it not the reason we have many reading the parish bulletin during the sermon?
Priests consider the homilies at Mass important but some spend time giving theological explanations and some just give a perfunctory sermon. He says he doesn't know how they teach homiletics in the seminary but listening to the sermon he can make an educated guess.
Liturgy is important for we are given the message of the Gospel, God's love in the liturgy, and the sermon is the key to this message. Young priests read a prepared sermon very carefully, and the older priests speak very confidently, without help, but they don't deal with the problems Christians are facing. When we just hear theology, talks about attitudes, and Church news, they are not helpful in our daily lives. What is happening in society and the way it impacts the Christians is an aspect of the sermon that can't be overlooked, although some Christians have difficulty with this side of the Gospel message. He feels the Church should take notice that many of the clergy are not doing a good job in their homilies. Parishioners besides Communion do not see the importance of the other parts of the Mass. He would like to know how many are moved by the Mass and have tears come to their eyes.
Homilies should prepare people to receive our Lord in Communion and be changed. Each day we need to be born again and is this not taking part in the death and resurrection of Jesus? He feels that this element of being changed by what happens at each Mass is not a big part of the Church's concern. A big reason is the lack of homilies that fit the situation in which the Christians find themselves.
He admits that he has to come to a new understanding of his life as a Christian. Our present times he feels could be gloomier than the time when Jesus was on earth. Love is what is able to break through the darkness which we face. We need homilies that make us understand our lives and help us to live as Christians.
In his talks to the seminarians he tells them to be conservative in what they believe but progressive once they become priests in what they do. If the priests do not prepare the congregation to receive our Lord in Communion they should blame themselves. A priest who doesn't see what is going on in the world may be a good high priest but he is not a prophet. The sermon is what lights the fire. At the end of Mass we have the Sending: "Go forth the Mass is ended" we are meant to live the Mass and be the hands and feet of Jesus to others and the world.