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the liturgy of the word

By Diogenes ( articles ) | Feb 02, 2005

Barbara Nicolosi calls attention to Amy Welborn's "gist of the sermon" thread and makes some well-aimed observations of her own.

I remember, as a child, my Mother would, every now and then, ask us in the car on the way home from Mass, what Father had said in his homily. Generally, her request would generate an agonized silence, while me and my three sisters, and Dad, would rack our brains to try and remember something that we had just been witnesses to less than an hour before. Mom meant the exercise, no doubt, to shame us all into better attentiveness. In defense of my 12 year old self, the ones who should have been shamed were the preachers.

Most Catholic preaching is so bad that the biggest challenge for most Open Book readers will be to remember anything that they heard in a homily, never mind recollecting some kind of coherent theme. This point can be made even more starkly by asking people to recall something memorable that was said in the homily two or three weeks ago. I bet you one in a hundred will be able to recall anything. And yet, I bet people can remember the gist of episodes of Alias or Buffy the Vampire Slayer from three years ago. ...

There was one point, a couple year ago, when I would actually bring a spiritual book to Mass, in case the homily was so inane that I would have some healthy place to take my brain, instead of the unhealthy place of simmering resentment. Now, I just keep the weekly missal open on my lap, so that if Father's comments meander off onto the planet Zondor, I can, at least, re-read the day's readings over and over to myself. I haven't put a lot of thought into whether this is right or wrong behavior for a sheep in this post-Conciliar weirdness time. It's my way of surviving. "Lord, to whom else shall we go? You alone have the words..."

On target. The only caution Diogenes would offer is that -- should the homilist take it into his head that it's his duty to say something memorable, instead of something true -- we'll be treated to shock therapy ("Ha! They won't forget THIS anecdote ...!").

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