Saturday, January 14, 2006

Reflecting on Preaching

Over the past couple of years in detention ministry, I have found it useful to work up a brief reflection on the Sunday lessons, to "have in my pocket" when I go inside. Flexibility is everything inside and I can end up teaching a class, assisting in a Legion of Mary session, or holding a communion service with little notice. Having thought through the lessons, and come up with some brief and direct reflection, I am better prepared to handle whatever comes up.

And it makes such a difference in how I experience the Mass myself.

Recently, Texas Dominican Fr. Philip Powell, O.P. has presented a couple of excellent posts on practical homiletics on his blog, Domine, da mihi hanc aquam. The Art of the Homily and Mechanics of a homily..., along with the comments, are excellent reading, even if all you want is to understand better what your pastor is doing all week to prepare for Sunday. I like Fr. Philip's definition of a homily:

so, what IS a homily?
  • a liturgical device of Speaking the Word, giving the Word of God voice for today
  • authentic, authoritative instruction in the living faith of the Church
  • an exhortation to communal and personal holiness, encouragement in the face of despair
  • an "unpacking" of the readings in a way that addresses real problems of faith
  • a liturgical device for raising questions, suggesting answers, stirring up trouble, getting into fights
Of course, Fr. Philip is a member of the Order of Preachers, so one expects him to be pretty good at this, and the homilies that he posts support that. He's not the only Dominican on the web that I have learned from. Fr. Jude Siciliano produces First Impressions, which has been an important resource for me.

Preaching is becoming a more important topic for me as time goes by, and it is one of the reasons why I have considered the diaconate. It's not a matter of having something to say myself -- that's what a blog is for, after all. It is that from time to time, God seems to have something to say, and to my frank shock, seems to want to say it through me for reasons I cannot understand. I would not be my first choice.

2 comments:

Fr. Philip N. Powell, OP said...

Claude,

You said: "It is that from time to time, God seems to have something to say, and to my frank shock, seems to want to say it through me for reasons I cannot understand. I would not be my first choice."

That you wouldn't be your first choice is the best indication that you would be a very good preacher. Good homilies are always preached first to the preacher. "We" is not just a rhetorical device to diffuse blame, responsibility, or credit. If a preacher can't say "we" in a homily and mean it, then he ought to stay home. Humility before the Word, the Tradition and the Magisterium is the sure-fire guarantee that the preacher isn't an Oprah or a Star or a Legend in his own mind.

God bless...PNP, OP

Claude Muncey said...

Many thanks Father, and apologies gor taking a while to respond.