FIYH 22-24: Praying

The prayer life. You may think it’s a given, but the bishops wanted preachers to be reassured in their reliance on God:

[22] Such extended, prayerful preparation is so important for preaching because it helps us reach the moment of inspiration, an inspiration that has affinities to poetic inspiration but is more. We ask for and expect the real movement of the Holy Spirit in us and in the assembly. If the words of Scripture are divinely inspired, as we believe them to be, then divine inspiration must be at work when those words are made alive and contemporary to the believing community in and through our ministry.

Being prayerful is not just about the preparation, but the whole manner of being. What is said here should apply equally to anyone in ministry, clergy or lay. This is not an urging for the preacher alone:

[23] The preacher is thus called, above all, to be prayerful. The prayer we speak of is not prayer alongside of preparation for preaching, or over and above this preparation, but the very heart and center of the preparation itself. Unless the Word of God in the Scriptures is interiorized through prayerful study and reflection, it cannot possibly sustain the life-giving, love-generating words that preachers want to offer their people. Preachers then are called to a prayerful dwelling with their people and to a prayerful dwelling with the texts of Scripture knowing them and allowing themselves to be known by them.

[24] This dwelling with the Scriptures and with the people which is the neces­sary prelude to effective preaching points to the necessity for certain pastoral skills and academic knowledge, both of which the modern seminary offers its candidates for priesthood, but which need continual updating and refining. We speak here of the skills of understanding and communicating with people, and of the knowledge required for the accurate and relevant interpretation of Scrip­tural texts.

#24 seems to have snuck in. But it does suggest that prayer is the necessary starting point for other considerations. This is an error of mine when I’m preparing presentations or even composing. Have I prayed with the topic or the Scriptures? Sometimes I want to skip ahead to getting things done. I’m sure that’s a temptation for some preachers, too.
Any comments?
(All texts from Fulfilled in Your Hearing are copyright © 1982 USCCB. All rights reserved. Used with permission.)





About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in Minnesota, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
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