FIYH 86-88: Reading, Listening, Praying

We get into some nitty-gritty preparation suggestions with these sections of FIYH. All of this advice is good. Reading in the original languages may be a challenge for some preachers, but the easiest and most fruitful idea is reading the passages aloud and listen to them as you do so.

[86] The preparation for a Sunday homily should begin early in the week whenever possible, even on Sunday evening. The first step is to read and reread the texts for the liturgy. Frequently the texts will be familiar, so it is important for us to do everything we can to make this reading as fresh as possible. Read the texts aloud; read them in several versions; if we read and understand Greek or Hebrew; we might try to read them in the original. Even if our knowledge of these languages is minimal, we may find ourselves becoming aware of nuances and connections that can easily be missed if we rely entirely on translations.

We think the Lectionary has a continuo principle, but in fact, we do not proclaim the four gospels in their entirety on Sundays in the year. Those open “spaces” can give helpful insight, as can the previous and future passages.

[87] At this point in the preparation process it is helpful, indeed almost essential, to read the texts in context-that is, to read them from the Bible rather than from the lectionary only. In reading and rereading the texts, continue to read all four of them (Gospel, Old Testament, Psalm, New Testament), even if a decision has been made about which text will become the focus of the homily. It is not necessary for a homily to tie together all the readings. Indeed, for the Sundays throughout the year, when the New Testament lesson is chosen without refer­ence to the Old Testament or the Gospel, attempts to impose some kind of thematic unity can be quite artificial. Nonetheless, the reading of the texts side by side, even if they are unrelated to one another, can often prompt new and rich insights into the “now” meaning of the Scriptures.

Along with the “reading aloud suggestion, this idea of writing down insights is quite excellent:

[88] Read the texts with pen in hand, jotting down any and all ideas. Keep in mind that what we are listening for is a Word from the Lord, a Word which can be heard as good news. We will be all the more disposed to hear and receive such a word if our reading is a prayerful, attentive listening to the text of the Scriptures. Try to read the text without asking “What does it mean?” Approach it humbly, dwell with it, and let it speak for itself.

I knew a priest who wrote down quite a bit, and kept his Sunday Lectionary journal pagtes in a file. Sometimes ideas would be set aside, onlyl to resurface three or six or more years later. More importantly, writing out the fruits of one’s prayers and reflections is enormously helpful in connecting the spiritual experiences of one’s quiet time with more of the thought process that goes into the homily.

Comments on any of this?

(All texts from Fulfilled in Your Hearing are copyright © 1982 USCCB. All rights reserved. Used with permission.)

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About catholicsensibility

Todd and his family live in Ames, Iowa. He serves a Catholic parish of both Iowa State students and town residents.
This entry was posted in Fulfilled in Your Hearing, Liturgy, USCCB documents. Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to FIYH 86-88: Reading, Listening, Praying

  1. FrMichael says:

    Looking ahead on a Sunday evening to the following Sunday readings?? Surely n. 86 was not written by someone who has to binate, trinate or even quadnate Masses on Sunday at a megaparish or mission Masses.

    Sunday night is for Evening Prayer and a beer while chatting over the week’s events with priest friends.

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