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Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Great Preaching or Not?

What does it take to be a great preacher?

This is a question I am sure I am not capable of answering with authority, although I have listened to a great many homilies and sermons over the years, I have only given a few, and the quality is less than great.

I am often hit with comments by parishioners regarding the preaching of this priest, or that priest, or what they would like to hear, or what they didn't appreciate hearing.
The comments do have similarities at times, but they also can conflict even after hearing the same homily at the same Mass.
So what is best?

To be a teacher?

To be a scolder?

To be a motivator?

There is no doubt that there needs to be a teaching element to preaching, one must be educated. However, Jesus did not choose the learned to lead his church?

To scold another is probably the most common complaint that I have heard over the years. So many people turn off the message as soon as they feel that they are being scolded.
To scold or to chastise cannot be the answer.

What about being a motivator. That sure sounds like a possible solution. Don't we all have most of the answers in life contained within us already. Hasn't the natural law been ingrained in our being. Accessing the truth from within and being motivated to cooperate with such truth is really the answer, isn't it?

This leads me to the concept and quality of of being spiritually fit.

What is that?

Well, fitness is health, be it mental, physical, or spiritual.

To be an effective preacher does one need to live the life of health and express it?
Do they need to be able to live what they preach?
Yes, preaching is about words, but those words must come from a place of creation that gives them credibility.

Without such, it would be like going to a dentist with rotten teeth. Or going to a weight loss doctor who weights 300 lbs. Or listening to a sermon about love while being scolded with angry words.

To preach effectively would mean to live what you preach, not just now and then, but everyday.
The preaching must contain an element of teaching because most catholics have very little correct knowledge about their faith. The preaching can include some correction if done with compassion, but must also motivate the individual to grow in holiness.
The preacher should look the part for credibility, don't you think so? That is what i hear so much from parishioners.
They don't have to be a super model, but proper care and attention to a devote prayer life, good eating habits, routine physical exercise, daily service based in love, and a true desire to serve all in their community is a must, isn't it?
Neglect to any one part, as identified above, will leave the preacher unbalanced, and the message will not be received entirely since it will posses a degree of superficiality, and possibly insincerity, and worse yet, hypocritical.

I was once told, that a person's words when spoken in truth and from the heart, has an unmistakable ring to it. It flows with a certain ring that speaks of the truth, it is unmistakable.

The alternative, no matter how profound or wise, when not delivered with complete sincerity and belief also contains a certain ring to it, a ring of doubt, disbelief, etc.

You are what you preach, or are you? This is a question I often ask myself, and it helps me grow.
One final note: even the best of critic would experience humility if asked to preach themselves on more than one occasion...... Just a thought!

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