FIYH 68: Limits and Possibilities

The next ten numbered sections fall under the heading of “The Limits and Possibilities of Liturgical Preaching.” The bishops ask six questions many clergy and most concerned Catholics might frame:

[68] But isn’t all this too limited a view of preaching? Does it really respond to the needs of the people? Doesn’t regular Sunday preaching have to take into account the ignorance of the Scriptures on the part of large numbers of Catholics, even those who participate regularly in the Sunday Eucharist, and deal in some systematic way with the fundamentals of the faith? Is there not a crying need for regular and sustained teaching about the moral imperatives that flow from an acceptance of the Good News? What about all those times when people’s lives are shattered, when they simply are psychologically incapable of offering God praise and thanks, when it seems they have nothing to be thankful for? How do we speak to all the people in our congregations who have yet to hear the basic Gospel message calling them to faith and conversation, or who may even need a form of preaching that heightens their sensitivity to basic human realities and in this way readies them for the hearing of the Gospel?

As we’ll see in the next few posts, perhaps another question to add is this: Do we expect too much from the Sunday homily, given the varied and great pastoral needs of the faithful? Granted, we know the Sunday liturgy is the locus where the preacher has the best chance to reach the most people, at least in some minimal way.

To me, it is essential the preacher knows the community well–very well. A visiting preacher must certainly ask questions of the pastor or others to allow an acquaintance, however, brief, with the people. Lacking that, we might get a message, even a fruitful one, but is it liturgical preaching?

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

About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in the Pacific Northwest, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
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