Lay Preaching

Chaire_église_Saint-Étienne,_Château-Renard_-1Time for lay preaching? They suggest it in L’Osservatore Romano, recounted here.

Some Catholics don’t even make it to the main discussion. A few are stuck on: should we even talk about it?

Image credit.

About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in the Pacific Northwest, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
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4 Responses to Lay Preaching

  1. Liam says:

    The discussion as topically framed has an unfortunate reverse-engineering quality to it. That is, the real subject is not preaching, but on who/how. That does not appear likely to be fruitful.

    • Todd says:

      I quite agree. The difficulty with touching on the issue of better preaching brushes on that tender spot of seminary training or priest continuing formation. Lay preaching is something of a back door, assuming that forming lay people for preaching is at all a priority.

      However, if one accepts preaching as a connection of the Scriptures to the ordinary life of the assembly, then yes: adding lay people to the roster of preachers would accomplish this somewhat. But again, that touches on the wound of the lay-clergy divide in the Church. And where priests are well-connected to the daily life and concerns of their lay companions, it seems lay preaching is less of an issue.

      Perhaps it comes back to the question: why has the institution resisted lay preaching? What’s with that, really?

      • Liam says:

        I don’t mean this cynically, but it may come out that way at first blush: Perhaps the Church has itself reverse-engineered a process to make sure that the only people who can preach badly are clerics under its control.

        That’s not entirely cynical. It does come from a sense that there bad preaching is something that needs to be controlled and bounded. It’s fear-based, which is normally itself a poor starting point, but not an *entirely* unreasonable fear.

        And I’ve certainly seen terrible preaching (and I don’t just mean bad – I had a facepalm moment with my pastor’s homily this past Sunday, but it was merely an egoistic assertion (repeated for effect, unfortunately) of doubt that was both unnecessary and distracting from what would have been a better homily without it – I mean things that make one wince or get up and leave because you can feel its violence). A preacher can assert a power to bind the faithful in a way that is much more constrained in contexts governed by approved texts, and that can become quite a powerful weapon.

        I would just suggest that this is the most functional way to go about dealing with bad preaching because, in practice, it’s relatively rare for terrible preachers to get disciplined anyway.

        One might suggest that allowing lay preaching will help reduce the weaponizing potential of preaching. Or not. I don’t assume a conclusion to that suggestion – I could see that taking several directions….

        Who is The Word and The Word’s real presence in the divine liturgy? How does the homily flow from The Word to the Body?

  2. Liam says:

    Correction due to overtyping: I would just suggest that this is *NOT* the most functional way to go about dealing with bad preaching because, in practice, it’s relatively rare for terrible preachers to get disciplined anyway.

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