FIYH 31: Liberal Arts and Culture

FIYH makes a case for the preacher to be engaged with the art and literature of a culture. I think that a nation’s culture should have priority.

For the US, that means American philosophers, authors, and so on. Not to say that Chaucer or Dickens are lesser lights than Dickinson or Cather, but they don’t provide the same insight relevant to preaching.

Obviously, immigrant culture would be essential to form a preacher who serves an immigrant community.

[31] It is somewhat more difficult to speak of what is involved in the understand­ing of people and how the priest/preacher can prepare himself for this demand of his office. Surely part of the rationale of the requirement that students in theological seminaries have a background in the liberal arts, with an emphasis on philosophy, is that familiarity with the leading ideas, movements, and person­alities of human civilization (or at least of Western civilization) will enable preachers to engage in a critical dialogue with contemporary culture, recognizing what is conformable with the Gospel, challenging that which is not. The great artistic and literary achievements of a culture are surely a privileged means of access to the heart and mind of a people.

(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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