Presbyterorum Ordinis, in section 4, begins to describe the ministry of priests, beginning with the Word of God. Priests, as co-workers with their bishops, have the primary duty of proclaiming the Gospel of God to all. … Through the saving word the spark of faith is lit in the hearts of unbelievers, and fed in the hearts of the faithful. This is the way that the congregation of faithful is started and grows, just as the Apostle describes: “Faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.”
To all (people), therefore, priests are debtors that the truth of the Gospel which they have may be given to others.
This is no less an important quote than many taken from the constitution on the liturgy, but is it made manifest in parish life? People are often openly generous with their priests, but is the reciprocal attitude evident?
PO 4 continues by saying priests teach and lead others into holiness by “profitable dialogue,” preaching the “mystery of Christ,” or “treat(ing) contemporary problems.
In order that it might more effectively move (people’s) minds, the word of God ought not to be explained in a general and abstract way, but rather by applying the lasting truth of the Gospel to the particular circumstances of life.
Some priests are so immersed in the life of their parishioners, such preaching comes easily. It makes little sense to me so few priests have formed groups of parishioners to discuss and discern the message of the Sunday readings in preparation for the homily.
In the Christian community, especially among those who seem to understand and believe little of what they practice, the preaching of the word is needed for the very ministering of the sacraments.
But how often is it skipped over in celebrations of baptism or reconciliation?
And given the importance of preaching, have seminaries truly caught the sense of this? Personally, I couldn’t care much for Vatican “inspections” of seminaries. It would be interesting if seminaries were examined from the other end of the hierarchy, the lay people. Do preaching professors have the grasp of passing on vitality and relevance in preaching to new priests? We sure need it.