Cardinal’s advice: spice up your homilies

Tired of dull sermons?  So is a high-ranking official at the Vatican.


Roman Catholic priests have been told to inject ‘scandal’ into their sermons by a senior official from the Vatican.

Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi said priests needed to liven up their often ‘dull’ sermons with the scandalous parts from the Bible.

Cardinal Ravasi, the Vatican’s most senior cultural officer, added that if priests did not change their ways sermons risked becoming ‘irrelevant’.

The cardinal was speaking at an event in Rome where he said that social networking sites such as Twitter were a good way to spread the word of God.

His Eminence said that priests should remember that congregations were ‘the children of the television and the internet’.

The 69-year-old, who some believe is a candidate to become the next Pope said: ‘The advent of televised and computerised information requires us to be compelling and trenchant, to cut to the heart of the matter, resort to narratives and colour.’

‘We need to remember that communicating faith doesn’t just take place through sermons. It can be achieved through the 140 characters of a Twitter message.’

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10 responses to “Cardinal’s advice: spice up your homilies”

  1. Pretty impressive comments from a 69 yr old, Especially the part about twitter. Twitter is not our generation but for the Cardinal to recognize its power is noteworthy.

  2. I don’t know how I feel about that. Coming from years of pastors who went to conferences on how to spice up sermons, I’ve been left a bit cynical.

    I would offer that if a Priest’s own relationship with God was life consuming, that passion will naturally translate, no matter what the personality of the priest.

    I don’t have to go to conferences on how to spice up my relationship with my family, my exuberance and love for them is evident because I’m in a constant state of love with them (yes, yes, I know, not every day is lovely, but love, being a choice, still shows).

    That all could just be the view from where I sit, though.

  3. This Sunday, our pastor’s Homily was 35 minutes of complaints about the parishioners. You know that guy. The guy who spends every Christmas, Easter, Ash Wednesday Homily talking about all the lapsed Catholics who showed up for Mass.

    Well this Sunday the Homily was about the 1000 families in the parish who did not contribute money for the month of September. He threatened to quit the parish if the collections did not increase next Sunday. He said he was going to use up the last of his vacation leave this week and let the Bishop know his decision next week.

    There was utter silence in the Church as pretty much everyone was shocked that instead of religious inspiration, we got a verbal thrashing which didn’t make any sense. We are the folks who attend church and contribute to collection plate, he should go to the homes of those who don’t and complain to the them.

    How was your Homily?

  4. Over 5 decades of being Catholic, I’ve heard gobs of good homilies, and more than a few outstanding ones. The good ones have been all over the map stylistically — long or short, read aloud or delivered extemporaneously, animated jumping about or measured calmness, jocular or serious, in nearly-impenetrable accents or dulcet tones… But of the bad homilies that I’ve experienced, they all have one thing in common — a certain contempt for the congregation.

    St Paul was right — faith, hope and love will get you pretty much everywhere you need to go…

  5. Seriously, do we need more scandal? OK. OK. I know he was just making a point.

    A younger priest once said to a pastor, “Never let the Gospel stand in the way of a good homily.” Now, that was truly scandalous.

    A homilist needs to get the congregation’s attention…and then make sure he breaks open the Word of God in an accessible way. Props, anecdote after anecdote, personal experiences after personal experiences really detract from the message. The message is Christ, the Word. A little bit of humor is OK to grab the attention; but, if people choose the Mass of a particular celebrant because he entertains them, then he’s not getting the message across. He might as well get his own comedy show, talk show or whatever.

    A homilist needs to preach the gospel in season and out of season. When he opens his mouth, it will speak what is in the heart. If it’s there, it will come across. If it’s not, no amount of extras will make it shine through. The homilist also needs to practice what he preaches. That makes him believable. People notice. Hypocrites do not draw people to Christ. Humble preachers do.

  6. “Hypocrites do not draw people to Christ. Humble preachers do.”

    Sorry Notgiven,
    I strongly disagree. We are ALL hypocrites. There are many more hypocritical preachers than humble preachers. It’s the hypocrite that knows and acknowledges he’s a hypocrite that can bring people to Christ. People want to a priest or deacon is JUST LIKE THEM.

    Peace to all

  7. Yes, we are all sinners and hypocrites!

    That hypocrite that knows and acknowledges he’s a hypocrite and a sinner (acknowledgement is key) would be a humble preacher.

    …and, knowing what my sins are and have been, I would hope the priest or deacon wouldn’t be just like that, stooping to my level. I would hope that they would at least be striving to overcome their faults and setting a good example, making frequent use of the confessional and spiritual direction, etc.

    Do you think that a child molester, addict, abortionist, murderer, adulterer, thief, liar, cheat, gossip, exhibitionist, overbearing power-hungry maniac, spouse beater, etc would WANT the priest or deacon to be just like him or her? I don’t think so.

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