Why Catholic preaching has gotten better

Why Catholic preaching has gotten better February 11, 2015


One priest lays out his argument, beginning with the new lectionary:

The new lectionary has brought back the Old Testament to a more fitting position. The readings in the Missal of Saint John XXIII were pared down to a rare degree, and this had the unfortunate effect of impoverishing the preaching. Indeed the preaching sometimes had nothing to do with the Mass or the readings; and most people thought of “the gospel” as opposed to the Four Gospels. But nowadays we are in a better position. We understand the Scriptures better than we did, and we understand their context better than we did. Every reading is an extract, but now, one hopes (and this is certainly the hope of the new Directory) when the reading is read, the fact that it comes from a particular context helps us to understand its setting and importance in the history of salvation.

The other thing that has helped is that the preacher may well be more aware of his audience than was once the case. Back in the day, people were in Church, and kept coming to Church; nowadays they have to be kept in the Church through a concerted pastoral effort by the clergy and collaborators. I do not mean for a moment that they have to be encouraged to come to Church through entertaining sermons, as Archbishop Roche mentions. God forbid! I cannot imagine anything worse, and I speak from experience, having sat though many a cringeworthy effort. What I mean is that the homilist has to link the “now” of Jesus with the “now” of his congregation. In the immortal words of the poet, “It dates from the day of his going in Galilee.” The sermon takes the congregation to Galilee and shows them that Galilee is actual. The Holy Scriptures are not some historical text: they are forever up to date. The Gospels are good news, ever new.

Read the rest. 

Image: Gutenberg Bible via Raul654/Wikipedia

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