Catholic Culture Solidarity
Catholic Culture Solidarity

More on stones & bread

By Diogenes ( articles ) | Jun 04, 2004

Prof. John Finnis offered some remarks on preaching as obiter dicta in an outstanding address on Thomas More, reprinted in AD 2000.

The present crisis of faith and morals, like the crisis in More's time, centres on the clergy, their formation, their esprit de corps, their preaching. When did I last hear a sermon which tried to explicate, vindicate or make real the factual truthfulness of what they commonly and misleadingly call the "stories" of the Gospel? Or which explicated the appointed scriptural readings by putting us in the presence of the meditations and explanations of one or more of the Fathers, or by showing us the interpretation of that text in the Councils? Or indeed which expounded for us a sentence, let alone a paragraph or a page or a chapter, of any of the constitutions of Vatican II, a Council which simply has never been preached and which remains substantially unread even by many quite learned clerics. Anyone who today would like to learn from Thomas More could do no better than to read and re-read (ideally with the texts cited in its precise footnotes) the 20 pages of Vatican II's Dogmatic Constitution Dei Verbum on Divine Revelation, unprejudiced by the misleading claims of those, far or near, who invite you to be less impressed by the text then by its differences (which they hugely exaggerate) from earlier drafts.

Finnis's last point may raise a few eyebrows, but he's right. Take a gander at Dei Verbum or Lumen Gentium -- or Sacrosanctum Concilium, for that matter -- and ask yourself if resembles anything you've ever heard from the pulpit.

Feel free to continue the discussion about what makes a good homily (and a bad one) in the comments boxes. Perhaps a seminarian will be listening in.

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