Pope Francis in Evangelii Gaudium offers some guidance as one prepares to preach.
145. Preparation for preaching is so important a task that a prolonged time of study, prayer, reflection and pastoral creativity should be devoted to it.
Those first three qualities are obvious, even if they are sometimes avoided. What do you suppose Pope Francis means by “pastoral creativity”? Consultation with lay people? That would be pastoral, and certainly beyond the bounds of the usual practice for many clergy.
With great affection I wish to stop for a moment and offer a method of preparing homilies. Some may find these suggestions self-evident, but I consider it helpful to offer them as a way of emphasizing the need to devote quality time to this precious ministry. Some pastors argue that such preparation is not possible given the vast number of tasks which they must perform; nonetheless, I presume to ask that each week a sufficient portion of personal and community time be dedicated to this task, even if less time has to be given to other important activities.
Notice “community time.” Clearly, the Holy Father doesn’t see preaching as a solo endeavor.
Trust in the Holy Spirit who is at work during the homily is not merely passive but active and creative. It demands that we offer ourselves and all our abilities as instruments (cf. Rom 12:1) which God can use. A preacher who does not prepare is not “spiritual”; he is dishonest and irresponsible with the gifts he has received.
Pretty strong condemnation for unprepared preachers. Is Pope Francis on target with this? Is he too harsh?