Catholic Culture Resources
Catholic Culture Resources

What man of you, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone?

By Diogenes ( articles ) | Jun 02, 2004

Some pointed thoughts on homilies from Donna Bethell:

I just finished some points for a parish plan some of us are working on for the parish council (this is to counter the proposal to have a big, expensive questionnaire to find out what the uncatechised think we should do).

1. All homilies will concentrate on Catholic doctrine, especially as related to the Scripture readings of the day, and our call to be transformed in Christ. Homilists will observe some basic homiletic principles, e.g.: the homily is not about them or any books, TV programs, movies, or funny or moving experiences they have read, seen, heard about, or had; two minutes of solid material is better than twenty minutes of blather; and homilists will do their utmost to avoid saying "perhaps" and "in a special way." Homilists will feel free to plagiarize extensively from their distinguished predecessors: Augustine, Leo the Great, Gregory the Great, Francis de Sales, John Henry Newman, Romano Guardini, et al. They will not be afraid of saying what has been said before. It's called Tradition. Most people haven't heard it.

2. All parishioners will be urged, often, to devote five minutes a day to prayer and to nourish their prayer with five to ten minutes of reading: the Bible, the Catechism, any encyclical or Council document, the great wealth of sound Catholic literature. The Catholic Standard doesn't count.

3. All parishioners will be urged, often, to avail themselves of the Sacrament of Penance and to add a daily examination of conscience to their daily prayer time. To aid them, the parish homilists will undertake a regular program of speaking on sin and its endless varieties as well as God's inexhaustible mercy.

I found the following remarks by commenter Keith Reimer -- offered in response to Amy Welborn's question (12-1-2002) "What makes a great homily?" -- perceptive and moving:

A great homily is one that can be imagined as a second reading in the office of readings in a future breviary 1000 years hence. Think Augustine, John Chrysostom, et al. ...

Don't tell me your thoughts on Harry Potter, your teen years, your first job, or the weather. Speak to the Gospel. Quote and integrate scripture. Plainly speak up for the Truth. You have a church full of people looking at you asking "Father, what must I do to have eternal life?" Tell us. Ask for everything we have. Ask for all our hearts, all our souls, all our minds.

I want to be respected as someone who has read, listened, studied, and remembered past lessons, even as I daily struggle to make them my daily rule of life. I want to unwrap some fraction of a layer of a mystery. I want to move ahead in learning, understanding, contemplating. I want something to remember in the days to follow -- to chew on, something that gnaws at my mind as it forces me to confront the Truth.

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