Monday, December 06, 2010

Those who give homilies can relate to this

This one goes out to the Priests and Deacons who preach God's Word.

For weekend Masses, I usually have some notes to guide me. I don't read my homilies word for word (I don't think I could), but I have a guideline of where I want to go with it, and whatever I see along the way that helps me get there, so be it.

But for weekday homilies, I just go at it. By way of preparation, before Mass I check out the readings, read the Barclay Commentary on it, and try to read a bit about the Saint of the day (if there is one). What thread connects them all? Where's my "foot in the door" to get the crowd's attention? What do they need to know about this saint? How do I do it all in under 5 minutes?

This morning I preached about St. Nicholas. I got it all in: his connection to Santa Claus, the stories of his generosity, his theological fortitude in the days of the Arian heresy and the Council of Nicea. If I may say so, I was funny, profound, and left them knowing more about the Saint than they did before the Mass.

Preachers, when we're done, have a moment to ourselves. That little time that it takes to walk from the ambo to the chair is the time when we know in our hearts how we did with our homily. Today, it felt like this:

Though there are also days it feels like this:


Unknown said...

You are just a breath of fresh air in this crazy world.... thank you for your hysterical and refreshing sense of humor... this blog is my two favorite things wrapped up in one: God and humor. I give it a 10 :)

Richard Collins said...

Speaking without notes is a tremendous asset to any sermon. I wish more priests would learn the lesson from you, Father. Thank you for a great blog.

Ellen said...

I certainly enjoyed the clips you included in your entry. I miss Wide World of Sports and the infamous ski jump fall and got a great chuckle seeing it again.

I can't imaging what it is like to prepare a homily whether written out or with just notes. It must be like preparing a term paper every week. And some are good at it and some, not so much.

We currently have two priests at our parish. Both use notes for their homilies. Neither can give a decent homily.

One is Filipino and speaks with a strong accent, though is quite soft spoken because of allergies and asthma. He is difficult to understand and most often miss most of his homily because of this. In addition, he can't seem to stay on topic.

The pastor's homilies are a mess. They have no central theme and he tries to cram too many ideas instead of sticking with one or two and making sense of them. I usually describe it as a tree - starts with a main trunk and by the end, which is almost about 20 minutes later, it's at the end of the branch at the top of the tree. Or we're being lectured to like we are stupid. After about 5 minutes, he's lost me and most of the congregation. Even the older parishioners are reading the missalette.

The only saving grace is that the third weekend of the month, the deacon's give the homilies. They are all good speakers and give homilies that relate to the readings. They are short, sweet and to the point. I always go away feeling like I've learned something that I didn't know or something that I can apply to my daily living.

I don't mind if the homily is 5 minutes or 20 minutes if there is some substance to it - give me something to relate the readings to my real life, or give me some insight into the people in the readings. But please make it interesting!

Sorry to rant. I really enjoy your blog and your insight. Thank you for your ministry. Can you move to South Jersey????

Elizabeth said...