Tradition and Preaching: Back to the Future

By Dr. Jeff Mirus ( bio - articles - email ) | Dec 13, 2012

One of the tasks of the USCCB’s November meeting was to review and approve the American bishops’ first statement on preaching in some 30 years. It was approved by an overwhelming 227 to 11 vote, with only 4 abstentions. The original English text of this 54-page document will be published as soon as the Spanish translation is completed.

But Adoremus received permission to publish a few excerpts in its latest Bulletin. The excerpt which struck me most forcibly, given the lack of concern for Catholic continuity which characterized much of the Church in the West in 1982 when the last statement was published, was this one on the preacher as a “Man of Tradition”:

Along with a profound love of the Scriptures, the homilist should also have knowledge of and religious adherence to the Church’s Sacred Tradition and its essential link to Scripture. From the perspective of Catholic faith, the one Word of God is expressed both in Scripture and in the Church’s Tradition. Blessed John Henry Newman said that the teaching of the Bible is like a seed, which has gradually unfolded across space and through time. Theology, spirituality, the liturgy, the lives of the saints, the formal teaching of the Church, great Catholic art, architecture, and poetry—all of these constitute the unfolding of the Word of God within our Catholic heritage. Tradition along with Scripture, therefore, is an important source from which preachers can draw inspiration.

This particular passage does not seek to clarify the relationship of Tradition as a source of Revelation with traditions which develop as Christians live and implement their Faith in specific cultural contexts, both of which combine to from our Catholic heritage. But it is an excellent reminder for preachers to draw their inspiration not from the latest theories but from those traditions which have developed in harmony with Tradition, Scripture and the Magisterium, and which have become part of our heritage because they have stood the test of time.

Jeffrey Mirus holds a Ph.D. in intellectual history from Princeton University. A co-founder of Christendom College, he also pioneered Catholic Internet services. He is the founder of Trinity Communications and CatholicCulture.org. See full bio.

Sound Off! CatholicCulture.org supporters weigh in.

All comments are moderated. To lighten our editing burden, only current donors are allowed to Sound Off. If you are a current donor, log in to see the comment form; otherwise please support our work, and Sound Off!

Show 4 Comments? (Hidden)Hide Comments
  • Posted by: feedback - Jul. 07, 2018 11:34 AM ET USA

    I am sure that the so-called "shortage of priests" and "crisis of vocations" are directly related to the disproportionately large numbers of homosexual ordinations.

  • Posted by: filioque - Jul. 05, 2018 6:22 PM ET USA

    shrink has it exactly right. If only we could be rid of the whole rotten crew of complicit, cover-up, look-the-other-way bishops and priests. I wouldn't care if there were only 10 honest ones left in the world. We would be better off. Our popes have failed us, our press has for the great part failed us, everyone who pretended the problem was pedophilia failed us. The homosexual activists who have pushed their agenda need to be expunged, even if every desk in the Vatican is left empty.

  • Posted by: Randal Mandock - Jul. 05, 2018 11:03 AM ET USA

    As a "safe-environment facilitator," I struggled mightily in trying to decide if I would offer the course during my first year in this capacity. The problem was the unqualified talking point about heterosexual abuse of minors and other vulnerable individuals. I finally offered the course after stepping back to view the forest instead of the individual trees. I now qualify that point with hard data from the John Jay Report and from evidence since the report's publication. The audience is receptiv

  • Posted by: shrink - Jul. 02, 2018 6:51 PM ET USA

    The 2002 Natl. Review Board saw this as a problem of homosexuals in the priesthood, and even the timid Cdl O'Malley expressed as much in 2010 when the John Jay Report tried to sweep the gay elephant under the rug. The US bishops and the last two popes have ALWAYS known the abuse problem to be a gay problem, but they do not dare expose or correct it fearing the backlash will be too damaging. So as the gay bishops continue to scuttle the Church, they have also rendered it ungovernable.