Thursday, November 11, 2010

“The preacher looked at me and he ...”

For some reason, I had the urge to launch this with a line from a Bee Gees song, one which has nothing to do with the subject. On the other hand, this is a preacher, and he's talking about preaching. Anyway, a priest-friend in North Dakota sent this out, inviting others to do the same. The speaker is Rev Bill Casey of the Fathers of Mercy, the audience is other priests, and the subject is bad preaching in the Catholic Church.

Traditionally, Catholic preaching is different from Protestant preaching. Protestants don't go to Mass, they go to a Service, where most of the time is spent listening to a sermon. Catholics don't go to a Service, they go to Mass, where the sermon (or, more appropriately, a homily) is a brief interlude in the central action, the offering of Sacrifice. So the will to attract the faithful through preaching is not as prevalent among Catholics as among Protestants; however critical, it is simply not the main reason they are there. Combine this with the loss of faith among a generation of priests, not to mention dissent and errors against the Faith, and you have a disaster waiting to happen.

The majority of priests in their fifties and sixties want desperately to be liked. Those who become the locus of personality cults may be charismatic, may stir emotions among their devotees after a fashion, but they rarely have anything substantial to say, and they are certainly loathe to make too many moral demands.

In the Diocese of Arlington, this is generally not a problem. (There are a few exceptions, who are obvious enough to save us the trouble of putting a sign around their neck.) At the parish where I work, it is never a problem. If you don't believe me, or if you live where the homilies are indescribably bad, click here.

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