FIYH 81-83: More Method

It was Sacrosanctum Concilium that described the ideal experience of liturgy for worshippers: inspiration that the Christian life may be more evident and better lived in the world outside of liturgy. Where the homily is concerned, the preacher is charged with tying together the timeless witness of Scripture with the lived experience of the faith community.

[81] This method also respects the understanding of the homily that is central to this document: a scriptural interpretation of human existence which enables a community to recognize God’s active presence, to respond to that presence in faith through liturgical word and gesture, and beyond the liturgical assembly, through a life lived in conformity with the Gospel.

Get your act together, the bishops counsel. They don’t give a blueprint, but rather suggest the preacher devise a plan that allows for consistency. What good is it if week to week the homilist blunders about the week prior, spending energy and time on the peripherals?

[82] The most important feature of any method is precisely that it be methodical, that is, orderly and regular. In the preparation of the homily, as in other creative endeavors, the total amount of time we spend preparing may be less important than our observance of a regular pattern of activity spread out over a certain period of time. Doing the same thing each day for the same amount of time is often a condition for success, whether this be in study, in prayer, in writing, or in artistic achievement. A regular daily pattern of activity for the preparation of the Sunday homily is likewise often the key factor in effective preaching over the long term.

The bishops foresee the temptation to forego preparation as time “unproductive.” A good number of pastoral ministers might apply this advice to their tasks that require preparation. Rehearsal for any music minister comes to mind as an example. And if the pastor is unwilling to invest in preparation, how might the expectation of others be encouraged? 

[83] Each of us called to the regular ministry of preaching needs to determine just what part of each day of the week is going to be devoted to the preparation of the Sunday homily. The time we spend each day need not be lengthy, but it needs to be determined ahead of time and be held sacred. Schedules, of course, are always to be adjusted for emergencies, but unless we determine in advance that a particular time is going to be used for a particular purpose, and stick to it, it is all too easy to have our entire day filled with appointments and meetings which we felt we could not turn down or postpone because “we had nothing special planned.”

  

Any preachers in the reading audience with suggestions on how they do it?

(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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