Cardinal Daniel DiNardo of Galveston-Houston has some pointers. He delivered the annual Carl Peter Lecture on Preaching on January 13 at the Pontifical North American College, the U.S. bishops’ seminary in Rome. Some highlights from CNS:
In learning to preach, seminarians should look to the homilies of the fathers of the church, where they will discover how eloquence and humility lead to “beauty and delight,” said Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston.
“If we could get at least part of this demeanor in our preaching and homiletic activity,” the cardinal said, referring to a homily by St. Augustine, “the very energy of the Word of God will find a place in our lives of ministry and make our ministry a harmony of doxology and wisdom.”
The patristic homilies, like the best homilies given today, “seize the hour and time, the place and the tenor of a congregation, and bring the ever new Word of God to the situation at hand,” Cardinal DiNardo told the seminarians.
While the fathers of the church were accomplished theologians, preachers and orators, he said, readers can see how often they simplified “their style and vocabulary to fit the artless but beautiful form that the expression of Christian faith demanded,” especially when preaching to catechumens and to the uneducated.
Modern Catholic preachers also are called to ensure, like the fathers of the church, that their preaching is biblical, theological and sacramental, the cardinal said.
“It is God-talk,” he said, and “always leads to spiritual and moral discernment” and is concerned about bringing people into closer union with God.