40 Myths About the Catholic Church–Bad preaching

“People leave the Catholic Church because the preaching is awful”

OK, I’m going to give partial credit on this one.  Some preaching is awful.  Some priests and deacons either don’t have the right stuff to deliver the message, or they’re not trying hard enough.  I like to think Father Paul and I provide pretty decent homilies at Saint John Nepomuk, (especially Father.  I hope someday to be as good as he is.)  In other churches, maybe not so much.  But, does bad preaching really mean you have to leave the Church?

First of all, are you prepared for mass?  Do you come running in three minutes before mass starts?  Do you arrive early so you can talk to your friends?  Or, do you get to church in time to look over the readings for the day and to pray for insight?  You wouldn’t go to a hockey game without looking at the paper to see the news about your favorite team.  Should you prepare any less for the Holy Sacrifice of the mass?

Let’s say you have done your preparation but the deacon or priest just drones on, not addressing your needs at all.  I offer two alternatives.  First, the homily usually takes from five to ten minutes out of the total forty-five to sixty minute mass.  If the preaching is really that dreadful, tune it out.  Reflect on the readings yourself.  Do your own mental homily.  Again, the homily is just a small percentage of the total mass and the best is yet to come.

Second, most of us live within a few minutes of several Catholic churches.  If you just can’t stand the preaching, go someplace else!  The whole point of going to mass is to praise God, to receive His Body and Blood, and to fortify yourself spiritually for the coming week.  If you’re spending the entire mass being angry at the content and/or delivery of the homily, do yourself a favor and find yourself another parish!  Where you are now isn’t a good fit for you.  There’s a reason why Baskin-Robins has 31 flavors.

I guess there’s a third thing you could do.  Start writing anonymous notes to the deacon or priest.  Tell him what a jerk he is. I can tell you from experience that this won’t work and, by spending mass time engaged in such a negative process, you’ve negated any grace you might receive from attending mass.

Back to the myth.  I think the quality of preaching in the Catholic Church has improved tremendously over the last 45 years that I’ve been a Catholic.  The homiletics courses taught in the seminaries are much better than they were.  Guys are being ordained much better prepared to deliver God’s message.

People who leave the Church usually have two reasons for doing so.  One is the real reason which usually involves them wanting to do something that the Church forbids (like remarrying without the benefit of a declaration of nullity of the first marriage).  The second reason is the one that sounds good.  (Mass is boring.)  If you undertand what’s happening on the altar, you will never be bored.

FYI, there is currently a project underway to develop a video course on the art or preaching using never-before-seen video of Archbishop Fulton Sheen.  I hope they get this project off the ground.  The Archbishop was certainly one of the finest homilists of his time.

Advertisements

One Response

  1. Amen.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: