FIYH 116-120: Appendix

Let’s finish up Fulfilled in Your Hearing, the full text of which is linked below in the copyright credit. Speaking of copyright, I will mention in light of recent swipes taken at the US bishops and ICEL, that the USCCB was very generous in the permission it gave to permit me to post sections of this document on this site and initiate our discussion. One drawback of the embittered reform2 approach is that it often accompanies a sense of entitlement, a “right” to do as one wishes, and an assumption of ill-intent on others’ parts. Full disclosure, a little diplomacy, and good manners will net a lot of cooperation.

[116] This document on preaching has dealt mainly with what the individual preacher can do to improve the quality of the Sunday homily. In conclusion, we offer some recommendations for steps that can be taken on the national, diocesan, and parish levels to foster more effective preaching.

It’s a curiosity that these recommendations were relegated to the very end of the document. They’re worth considering. However, they put more of the onus on bishops. First, national suggestions:

[117] 1. A doctoral program in homiletics to prepare teachers of preaching should be established with diocesan support, perhaps at the Catholic University of America.

2. Seminaries, especially at the theologate level, are urged to emphasize preaching as a priority (d. Program of Priestly Formation, 3rd Edition, Chapter III, Art. 2, Homiletics).

Each diocese is urged to take some action, but how does your diocese stack up against these six points?

[118] 1. Programs to improve preaching skills should be established at the diocesan or regional level.

2. Programs for the study and deeper understanding of Scripture and preach­ing theology should also be established.

3. A Center for Preaching Resources should be founded in each diocese by the diocesan office for worship or continuing education, or by the seminary.

4. The Bishop(s) of the diocese should model the nature and purpose of the homily in preaching. They should not accept more preaching engagements per day than allow for preparation.

5. Criteria for the granting of faculties to preach should be clearly formu­lated and followed.

6. Continuing development of good preaching should be supported by the diocese through the granting of time and funding.

The following parish initiatives would likely require the pastor’s backing. Without his support, none of these are likely to succeed or even be initiated:

PARISH

[119] 1. A resource center should be established within each parish to assist preachers and lectors in fulfilling their ministry.

2. Groups to help preachers prepare and evaluate their homilies should be formed.

3. When there are several preachers in a parish, their preparation for preaching should be coordinated.

4. Readers should be trained in the effective proclamation of Scripture and provided opportunities to grow in their understanding of it.

5. Job descriptions for priests should be evaluated in order to highlight the importance and provide adequate time for preparation of the ministry of preaching.

6. Some record should be kept of the themes of each Sunday’s homily in order to bring the parish community into contact with the major facets of our faith each year, and to avoid undue emphasis on one truth at the expense of others.

It is commendable that LTP has included FIYH in its series on liturgy documents for the past several years. Still, I suspect few lay people read it. What about permanent deacons?

[120] At all levels, national, diocesan and parish, bishops and priests are urged to invite religious and laity to read this document so as to assist, encourage and support priests in efforts toward a renewal of preaching in the church.

Any final assessments on what we’ve read?

(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.
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