My Pentecost: tongues of flame, and the heat of a minor crucible

So, how was your Pentecost?  Here’s a window into the world of a deacon — or at least, this particular deacon. Last Sunday, my pastor and I agreed that he would preach the “high” Mass on Pentecost, since at that Mass he was going to be doing the confirmations for about a dozen adults.  (My [Read More...]

This may be a first: archbishop preaches in Rome basilica from an iPad

Details: Being a bishop means being no stranger to debates and challenges, but also knowing the joy of sharing the faith, said Archbishop Thomas G. Wenski of Miami. “We know a little bit about controversy and dissension, but like (St.) Paul we know also the joy not only of having encountered the Lord, we also [Read More...]

Preaching on contraception: “You have to make sure people know you’re being compassionate”

Several years ago, a newly ordained priest in the Archdiocese of Washington took it upon himself to preach one Sunday on the topic of contraception.  He reminded the congregation of the Church’s teaching on the subject, acknowledged that there were probably many in the pews that morning who did not follow it, and suggested that [Read More...]

Tailoring the message: how preachers adapt to different audiences

From Abilene, KS comes this intriguing look at how preachers of various denominations — including Catholic — sometimes adjust their sermons, depending on the congregation: For churches with more than one Sunday worship service, the sermon doesn’t change much from one service to the next. While the basic message stays the same, there are subtle [Read More...]

“Pray, prepare, practice…”

Several months ago, the folks at Deacon Digest asked me if I might have anything interesting to contribute to a special issue devoted to preaching. Well, I didn’t. But they printed it anyway. Now you can find that essay — “Pray, Prepare, Practice: How I Put Together My Homilies” — here at Patheos.  A snip: [Read More...]

When the preacher can’t preach

What can you do about bad preaching? I wondered about that recently, after hearing from two different priests, from two different corners of the country, who expressed frustration at deacons whose homilies in their estimation just aren’t up to snuff. “It was dismal,” one pastor wrote about his deacon’s homily.  ”He preached, as always, far [Read More...]

Preaching to children

Thursday night, I got a call from a classmate and  friend, the DRE in my parish, Deacon Bill, explaining that his mother-in-law had died after a long illness.  As a result, he would not be attending or preaching at the special mass for third graders in our parish Sunday.  He asked: Could I fill in [Read More...]

"Forgiving is an act of love"

A longtime FOB (Friend of the Bench) and FOD (Friend of Deacons) has just published a very good book on one of the most challenging aspects of the Christian life: forgiveness. Fr. R. Scott Hurd, from the Archdiocese of Washington, serves as the executive director of the archdiocese’s Office of the Permanent Diaconate.  (The Father [Read More...]

Preachers, get to the point!

That’s the message of a recent seminar on homiletics for priests and deacons.  CNS has details: For eight days at Loyola University New Orleans, three priests and five deacons absorbed the cool mathematics and internal symmetry of good preaching. Just as Moses descended from Mount Sinai with Ten Commandments chiseled on two stone tablets, the [Read More...]

Remembering a courageous pro-life homily that made history

It happened 70 years ago today: the Bishop of Munster, Germany climbed into the pulpit to condemn the Nazi’s euthanasia program.  Bishop Clemens August von Galen later became a cardinal, and was beatified in 2005.  L’Osservatore Romano takes note: The bishop did not hide from his faithful the names of certain places nor his attempts [Read More...]


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