Working with the Preacher

We Catholic priests are not usually known for outstanding preaching. True, there are some among us who are gifted preachers, but as a group we compare poorly with Protestant Preachers at least insofar as delivery and creativity go.
I have commented elsewhere on the problem of poor preaching in our beloved Catholic Church( .
What I would like to do here is to note that the quality of preaching is not only dependent on the preacher but is also dependent upon the congregation. In our critique of Catholic preaching we tend to weigh in heavily on the priests’ shortcomings. But in this article I’d like to propose that our congregations in our parishes also have a role improving Catholic preaching.

My own experience as a priest powerfully underscores the role of congregation in helping to craft the preaching moment. I have served almost all of my 20 years in African American parishes. In these settings the congregation takes an active part in the preaching moment. Acclamations and affirmations such as “Amen!” “Go on!” “Make it plain preacher” “Hallelujah,” and the like are common. Hands are often raised in silent affirmation, nods of the head move through the congregation. Now all of this affects the preaching moment powerfully for me and helps it take shape and come to life.

There is also an air of expectation in the church as the Homily moment arrives. African American congregations want a good sermon and are eager to hear what the preacher will say. People expect to hear a word that will change them. I have heard some in the African American community refer to tangible energy in the room as “the hum.”

That there are high expectations of me is both encouraging and challenging. That I am expected to do well means I have to prepare, I have to pray, I have to summon my talent, memory for scripture and experience of culture and weave them into a homily that is from the heart but well prepared. High expectations encourage me to strive for sermons that are not just adequate but also aimed at the superlative. And the beauty is that it is not all up to me. The congregation knows its role and they pray and work with me when I preach and together we form a kind of partnership.

To be sure, I am the one who teaches with the authority that Holy Orders confers. But I am not alone, delivering a monologue of sorts to a largely passive audience. All this brings the preaching moment much more to life. There is an enthusiasm in the congregation that is contagious and leads me to enthusiasm for what I say.

A final observation here of mine would be the question of length. The usual length of a sermon in the African American Parishes is closer to a half an hour unlike the 10-12 minute lengths expected elsewhere. It is a great luxury to be able to spend a little more time preaching through the whole text of a gospel or epistle not just a thought or exhortation. Now I would never recommend to a priest that he preach a half an hour is he only has 10 minutes of material but my point is not that a sermon must be longer, but that congregations might relax a bit on the time concerns. Many of my brother priests feel very constrained by the expectation of a very brief sermon.

Two quotes to end with. One from recent times and one from antiquity. The first quote is from, the Scripture Scholar William Barclay who is commenting on how Jesus was expelled from the synagogue in Nazareth:

There can be no preaching in the wrong atmosphere. Our churches would be different places if congregations would only remember that they preach far more than half the sermon. In an atmosphere of expectancy the poorest effort can catch fire. In an atmosphere of critical coldness or bland indifference the most Spirit-packed utterance can fall lifeless to the ground. (The Gospel of Mark, p. 140)

The second quote is from Gregory the Great in his Homily on the Pastoral Office:

Pray then for us that we [preachers] may have strength to labor for you as we ought, that our tongue may not be slack to exhort, and that, having undertaken the office of preaching, our silence may not prove our condemnation at the tribunal of the just Judge. For oftentimes by reason of their own sins the tongue of preachers is tied, oftentimes on the other hand it is because of the sins of their people that the gift of eloquence is withheld from pastors. By reason of their own sins the tongue of preachers is tied, according to the words of the Psalmist, “ But to the sinner God hath said, Why dost thou declare My justices ? ” (Ps. xlix. 16.) And again, the voice of preachers is hindered because of the sins of the people, according to the words of the Lord to Ezekiel : “ I will make thy tongue stick fast to the roof of thy mouth, and thou shalt be dumb, and not as a man that reproveth, because they are an obstinate house ” (Ezec. iii. 26). As though He said expressly : The gift of eloquence is withdrawn from thee, because while the people offend Me by their sins they are not worthy to have the truth preached to them. Through whose fault it is that speech is withdrawn from the preacher is no easy matter to decide. But that the silence of the pastor is hurtful to himself sometimes, and to his flock at all times, is beyond all doubt. (Lib 2.4)

This video is an excerpt of a sermon of Dr. Martin Luther King “A Knock at Midnight.” Listen to the role that the congregations plays in the sermon. I realize that this sort of interaction with the preacher will not work in every congregation. Why in some suburban parishes if you started to “get happy” in Church the ushers might come to your side and give you the bum’s rush 🙂 But even if this sort of response isn’t available to you the priest will know when you’re engaged and praying with him. Work with the preacher!

36 Replies to “Working with the Preacher”

  1. On the two occasions I was fortunate enough to participate in Sunday Mass at Holy Comforter – St Cyprian I witnessed and was drawn into the mighty power revealed by both the liturgy and homilies. It was a literally breath-taking experience!
    May our Lord continue to inspire and bless you in your ministry, Monsignor.

  2. Our parish now offers “Nights of Reflection” for men and for women every month or so. The evenings include a talk, Adoration and benedictions.

    I took my 11yo daughter to a Women’s Night of Reflection this summer, because she likes the “really really good blessing.” As Fr D wrapped up his talk, my daughter leaned over, pointed at her watch and announced “he has been talking for THIRTY WHOLE MINUTES!”

    When even an 11yo knows there is a ten-minute “limit” you’ve definitely got an uphill battle.

  3. On the emotional content within which the preaching is expressed; either by the preacher, the congregation, or both; I sometimes find myself wondering if these emotional contributions are spontaneous (and real) feelings on the one hand or histrionic, on the other hand. And, if histrionic, are the emoters aware of this or not? If the one who is showing the passion has confusion about their real feelings then histrionics can feel very real to them and, the forced nature may not be apparent.
    I’ve never preached but have dabbled in live theatre, been a speaker at a union rally and at addiction recovery rallies and have observed various reactions to the speaking of myself, and others.
    One of those is about the “hum” that is mentioned. If I have undersood what is being referred to then, I think that both an interactive, and a non interactive one may occur on differing occasions.
    An interactive one is described and, can indeed be appropriate at those times but, when it is not interactive it could well be a sort of a group trance which is sometimes misunderstood as being innattentive.
    One could ask oneself, do the listeners slide forward in their seats as if the muscles act of their own volition, do their jaws grow slack, does persperation start up – even if the temperature’s cool?
    As an interesting note, sometimes a speaker (during or after the talk) or a speaker’s supporter will criticize the total lack of interaction during the trance. “Bunch of deadbeats” “not paying attention” other things said. Is this about the audience reaction or about a need to be fed with adulation as opposed to a feeling of fulfillment from within that would come from observing the audience reaction rather than expecting a certain reaction?
    One of my flaws here is that, upon conclusion, someone may ask how I felt about a sermon, a talk, a performance and I answer with an intellectual critique. No matter how good a quality the critique is – it’s not about how I felt.

  4. The type of call-response you describe is the norm in most African-American congregations but it is particular to that milieu. You won’t find it elsewhere; in some cultures to say *anything* during the homily would be seen as a lack of due deference to the authority of the preacher. In Latin American parishes it would be rare indeed. So it is unclear from this post what you are expecting.

    1. Perhaps a marginal change in that attitude or a little cross pollination. No need to be locked in to the rigid categories or hermetically sealed cultures etc. As I point out on the article, there is more to the behavior that call-response.

      1. Perhaps. But Msgr, those of us of outside the call-and-response school respect and want good preaching in our own traditions. It can be done–listen to Fr. Barron, for example–and frankly, it’s what I respond to much better.

    2. Obviously, as someone who is not a priest, I have no experience with that side of the homily. But I do teach math to undergrads while I am at school, and I can attest that atmosphere is important for teaching, and imagine that it would be similar for preaching.

      My classes are mostly silent except for the occasional question, but there’s a world of difference between the expectant silence of people who are interested and want to learn, and the bored silence of people who are only there because they think they’re obligated to be and are now waiting for it to be over so that they can leave. I may have the exact same material to present and the exact same examples to do, but it is hard to present them with any amount of energy, or even, to some extent, clarity, when the class is just waiting for you to finish. One class can go extremely well and then the next hour the same material presented using the same examples and same illustrations can flop completely.

      I imagine preaching is similar. I would hazard a guess that the call backs common among African-American communities aren’t strictly necessary to achieve the optimal atmosphere, but are just a particular way of expressing the interest that is. It is very easy to tell, when standing in front of a group of people, whether or not they are in engaged and, at least in teaching and I would imagine in preaching, it has a very real effect.

  5. I remember seeing how gifted you are as a preacher to get the occasional “Hallelujah” out of a non-African American parish like St. Mary of the Mills. I love every time I hear you preach.

    1. My family & I visited St Mary of the Mills in Laurel MD during Lent (the kinda off-Lent Sunday for which the liturgical color is pink) because my husband’s brass quintet had a gig nearby, and we would have missed Mass at our home parish.

      Several pews behind us was a woman responding enthusiastically to the deacon’s homily. My 11yo looked at the woman askance.

      I wonder whether all my lectures to my daughter on the topic “You Will Sit Still and Be Quiet During Church or You Will Suffer a Terrible Fate” were misguided…

  6. One thing I like to do once in a while if I hear a particularly good homily is to send the priest a short note thanking them; telling them what was meaningful about it to me and why. Not sure if this is really acceptable but I have never had one complain about it.

  7. It might be a little unfair to compare Catholic preaching to Protestant preaching. In a Protestant church the entire “liturgy” is ordered to the sermon, which is the source and summit of the Protestant service. In the Mass, regardless of how powerful any particular sermon may be, the source and summit of the liturgy is the Eucharist. To be an effective Protestant minister, you must be a good preacher, as preaching is the raison d’etre of the Protestant service. To be an effective Priest, you must offer the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass (and other sacraments) – great preaching is a plus, but it isn’t the final cause of the office of the priest, as it is for a Protestant preacher. None of this is to say priests shouldn’t improve their sermons, just to point out it isn’t exactly a level playing field.

    Honestly, the best way to improve Catholic preaching (and one which might lend to the air of anticipation you describe) might be to preach on hard issues, shying away from the platitudes we (the laity) are all to frequently subjected to week in and week out.

    1. It might be a little unfair to assert that the pinnacle of the Protestant service is the sermon. Perhaps that is the case in particular denominations and/or particular parishes, but the generalization is not correct.

  8. So, what I take from the post, is that the most important thing I can do to ensure good preaching is a) avoid serious sin and b) to go to confession and quickly as possible if I fall into serious sin.

  9. I don’t know, Msgr. I don’t think it’s the audience participation, not quite. I am reminded of jazz — where the audience cheers throughout the piece, vs. classical, where the audience holds all applause until the end. Either way, it is not the length of the piece, nor the customs of the audience, that decides whether the music is any good.

    I would agree that if your audience is expecting 10 minutes, it’s better to start changing that expectation by preaching 11, then 12, and slowly build endurance. But only if you have the minutes of good material. I have heard very few preachers who have even 10 minutes of material. And I’ve seen excellent preachers sink in the mire when they let themselves go on too long. (I am guilty of the same thing when I teach. The speaker tends to enjoy the talking more than the listeners do.) I think we need to start small.

  10. the quality of preaching is not only dependent on the preacher but is also dependent upon the congregation . . . I’d like to propose that our congregations in our parishes also have a role improving Catholic preaching

    This comment goes more toward catechesis, on-going religious education and formation, than it does to preaching proper, but part of that role of the congregation in not leaving the priest hanging, leaving it all up to him to preach the Word, is the faithful laity being collaborators in that mission and helping to spread the Faith by evangelization and catechesis, etc.

    In that respect, going into the Year of Faith, when we are all going to become more involved in our parishes and attending (or giving) the various talks and programs that are being offered for adults (or becoming more pro-active and involved in our kids’ education in CCD, etc.) — and we are all going to become more involved, right? right?? — in going to these talks and programs by priests and lay catechists, most of these are intended to be interactive, i.e. ask questions, help to get an actual group discussion going. Our priests and catechists are just that, they are not dentists, it shouldn’t be like pulling teeth with their audience.

    Yesterday, in his address at the opening of the Synod on Bishops in Rome, Cardinal Wuerl said an essential part of the New Evangelization is “a willingness to share [our faith] with others.” I know that the Monsignor has a fairly active and charismatic congregation, but many (most) other Catholics are notoriously reticent to express themselves and are all too often bumps on a log. But our faith is, by its very nature and at its foundational level, interactive, not passive. We need to get over our inwardness and become outward when it comes to sharing the faith.

    I know that some of this is due to a feeling that to speak of our faith is to be an imposition upon people, but in proclaiming the Good News, we do not impose, we only propose. We offer them something better than what this cold world has given them. But that feeling of imposing ourselves on others certainly should not even be an issue when we are amongst fellow Catholics, especially Mass-going Catholics. Instead, we should be all too eager to share the joy of our faith and thereby confirm and strengthen our brothers and sisters in their own faith. Especially men — there was a period when I was not all that active and did not go to Mass regularly because church looked all too much like the stereotype of being something for old women — but with more men being active and speaking out, it will strengthen (and give “permission” to) other men to become more active.

    With respect to working with the preacher, during the homily, even if you are not saying aloud “Amen,” etc., there are forms of non-verbal communication to help the preacher see that he is being heard and understood, one of which is actually paying attention and not flipping through the bulletin, or nodding or even just facial expressions can demonstrate if the priest is being understood and accepted or if there are possible objections to what he is saying, which allows him to then further explain and assuage any possible doubts. After Mass, rather than running for the car, give the priest encouragement by taking a moment or two to thank him for the good points he made in the homily, things that gave you something to think about. Better yet, rather than remaining a stranger with a vaguely familiar face, establish a personal relationship with your pastor and associate priests so that they at least know your name, and then when you discuss the homily with him, or offer constructive ideas for the future, you will be able to really engage with each other and he will know if he is on the right track, if his message is getting through effectively. Go to daily Mass now and then, rather than just on Sunday, and thereby help yourself as well as helping others in prayer and grace.

    During the week, go to the talks and programs and workshops offered by your parish (or some nearby parish) and participate. Few things are worse than to see some speaker give a presentation, periodically asking questions, trying to draw people out, and hearing nothing but crickets in response. So, even if you already know the answer, help him or her out, and ask some question. Involvement in the Church, both at Mass and on-going faith formation, should not be like going back to high school or college, where people are in fear that the teacher might cold call on people to say something.

    In prayer and reading scripture and other works of faith, here too be interactive. Have an actual conversation with God in prayer, not a rote and mindless monologue, and notwithstanding the response that Job received, do not be afraid to ask questions and sincerely seek understanding, and then be willing to shut up and let God get a word in edgewise. Learn about lectio divina to similarly actively engage with the word of God, rather than just passively reading the text, resulting in the words being seeds that just sit there and never take root and sprout in you.

    If we are to succeed in turning things around in this world, we must have “a willingness to share [our faith] with others,” as Cardinal Wuerl said. We must take the cover off the lamp and allow the Light of Christ to shine. Help out our priests in their preaching, help out our catechists in their teaching, help out our Lord in spreading His Good News.

    1. Whenever I go to my mom’s parish in Michigan, we invariably have this priest from India, with a fairly heavy accent. Eventually I noticed at the end of the pews there were written copies of his homily, which people would read along as he gave it. I suppose that provides the benefit of people understanding his speech, but it does seem to eliminate any flexibility to possibily change extemporaneously what he is going to say to meet people’s reactions. Then again, Pope Benedict usually works from prepared remarks, which again have the benefit of his saying things exactly as he wants to and not forgetting anything, but he is just as brilliant those times when he speaks off-the-cuff.

      Usually though, unless the person is trained to be able to give a dramatic reading, reading a sermon (or any other speech or talk) is an excellent way to put people to sleep. It still is totally bewildering why more teleprompter politicians refuse to acquire this skill.

  11. Responses should be allowed to be respectfully-natural. If responses are authentically “participatio actuoso” and do not distract others from their “participatio actuoso”, then let it be.

  12. Sorry, but I do get distracted by people making sounds or comments during a homily. I think making eye contact with the priest and showing your full attention to him is enough to let him know his homily is appreciated.

    Priests come in all ‘shapes’ and ‘sizes’ as far as delivering a homily is concerned. I have long ago decided that I should not set an appointment immediately after attending mass, just in case Father gets carried away in his preaching! Also, if we really put our mind into it, every homily will speak to us in some way.

  13. I must be especially blessed in being in a parish with great preaching. Our pastor tends to “shoot from the hip”, especially at daily mass, and even so, his typical homily is always at least worth listening to. Our associate pastors are usually new priests, fresh out of seminary, and on fire. Having grown up in a fundamentalist church in which much of the preaching was “concordance sermons” and every. single. sermon included our church’s pet issues and it was a rare sermon that was less than 30 minutes of harangue, I find Catholic preaching to be a welcome relief. Of course, my Protestant experience was different than most.

    I also love the fact that in a Catholic mass, the preaching is not the focus, but the Eucharist is. I’m not suggesting, nor would I, that there is no place for preaching or that it has no value. But in Protestant churches, where there is no Eucharist, preaching takes its place, things are out of whack, the cart is before the horse. It’s lovely to be in a place where things are in their proper places.

    1. We really need to stop saying enthusiastic Christians are “on fire”. That is definitely NOT our aim

      1. You’re being hyperliteralist here Madge. Language is apparently more creative than you imagine and thus to be “on fire” can mean more than you allow. You might also read Acts 2 re the Pentecost event, something about tongues of fire…..

      2. Fwiw, enthusiasm isn’t exactly what I was trying to communicate. Dedication and devotion (devout-ness) are more the idea.

  14. God bless you Msgr. Pope! I’m not sure how your call to be more vibrant in the congregation will fall on the ears of suburban white Catholics, but the blending of certain cultural practices in an effort to reinvigorate the faith and joy of our congregations can be a sure manifestation of the New Evangelization.

    My wife and I attend a rich white parish here in Dallas, but I’m not afraid to give an audible “amen” at a zinger during a homily. I haven’t gotten approached yet, and it really is in an effort to support and encourage a priest or deacon who may be talking about something that makes him, and us, uncomfortable.

    Preach it brother!

  15. I first heard you on a YOUTUBE video at the White House, National Day of Prayer with President Bush, Monsignor. Since then I have rarely missed one of your podcast homilies. I appreciate the fact that you are having a teaching conversation with a responsive parish audience. You’re always saying something they know they need to hear.

    Most parishes don’t want to hear and don’t know they need to hear. In these parts any priest exceeding a 7 minute homily is considered a bloviator. Oddly, when these Catholics de-Pope and join the evangelical ecclesial community all they do is extol the 45 minute ministrations of the fellow in the jeans and open necked shirt. Go figure.

    Keep it up! May your tribe increase.

  16. I envy every Catholic who has a priest who speaks English as a first language . How blessed thou art!!! Throughout the Sacramento Diocese we have Flipino , Indian and Latino preachers whose accents are so thick you wouldn’t know if their homily was good even if they were giving one. Every Sunday we leave totally perplexed without a single memorable thing in our minds other than the reading itself .


  17. Presbyterian ministers give great homilies without that tradition. But they do have a bible in the pew that the minister asks them to use. That’s another way to encourage participation. I just get the sense most priests don’t do the kind of Bible study that illuminates the readings .

  18. There seems to be something that can be felt, rather than be clearly and logically observed, in these responses. Where is the joy? Not the sort of group conscious that sometimes occurs in some churches but, more like a shared, but personal, joy at the pleasant parts of the Gospel. The dedication of the followers who found that, being in the prescence of The Kingdom of God being announced.
    Many harsh and serious things are mentioned in the Four Gospels and they need to be addressed. The need to take sin seriously due to its very nature before going into the consequences. How we hurt ourselves by hiding in false comforts of false “gods” whose ways are close to our own level. More.
    However, why did more than the twelve core members stick with a life on the road for three years? Three years of constantly packing up to head to the next whistle stop where uncertain accomadation awaited and was probably often physically uncomfortable. Something like (but infinitely more than) a troupe of vaudeville performers.
    If they weren’t in direct conflict with temporal authourity then the hint of it was always pending but, what wonderful words of simple genius turned the conflict aside. What excited them so? Was it that He chose to be among us and, even though He’s returned to the Right Hand of the Father, He mystically remains among us. There must be some excitement here. The Spirit of God seeking to actually enter each of us and be part of us – if we dare to let Him in.
    By all means stress that the challenges to improve ourselves are tough to take on but … show how worth doing the work is. Good examples of those who followed The Way for many centuries and were happy with the little that they had because the were no longer confused about right and wrong. They may not have understood it but had shed the confusion about it.
    So many more joyful messages there are and not only the (also important) warnings of consequences and spiritual teachings to learn.

  19. Msgr. Pope,

    I think that your instincts as a musician also serve you well as a homilist. The perfect sermon, like that perfect piece of music, establishes a profound link between the deliverer and the listener. If the music is Bach or a wonderful spiritual the link is almost a given. The music or the homily must “reach” the listener.

    As an undergraduate I was music director in the Newman Center chapel at a major university. The two Servite priests were both professors on staff and remarkable theologians and church historians. The homilies were extraordinary blends of theology, history, tradition, and explanation, delivered to a packed church when the large neighborhood parish down the street was fairly empty. As remarkable as those sermons were, they would have failed in that large urban parish a few blocks away.

    An occasional “Amen” or “Glory Hallelujah” from the congregation must be as rewarding as the stunned silence that follows a magnificent musical performance.

  20. A lesson on good Catholic preaching can be obtained by listening to one of our Church’s greatest American Catholic preachers. Look no further than Venerable Fulton Sheen. In a retreat to a group of priests during the 1970’s, he gives the formula for great sermons. He said explicitly that he practiced his sermon all week long during the Holy Hour which he made religiously on a daily basis. He promised that if priests were to do this the priest would always be successful and would not have to use notes or read the sermon. Role models are important and it seems our Church and the priesthood would benefit from this future saints guidance.

  21. Dear father, thanks for your good post. When I was in the seminary in the “bad old days” (the 1970’s and 1980’s), we were pointedly taught not to use any written aid at all. Not notes, not an outline, and God forbid, not a written-out sermon. (That was OK for St. John Chrysostom, but we’d outgrown it, I guess!) We were advised to have “an idea of where we wanted to go,” to have “three points,” and to make them in seven minutes, unless it took longer… as we all realize, I think, this led to a generation of two of vague, vapid commentary about “what does this mean in our lives today?” with little substance to provide an answer.

    As to the authority to preach that the Church confers, it is worth less than it ought to be if not joined with actual skill in preaching.

    To this day, I respect and admire the Protestant ideal of a sermon—not a homily—that is a persuasive piece of literature as well as “three points that are Meaningful to People.” The Protestant movement is collapsing, but this one aspect of good liturgics is well worth recovering from their wreckage. Let us research, write, and read our sermons, with an eye to lifting up the Gospel and pointedly pushing back against the manifold errors of the day. If that sounds quaint, I am complimented! Blessings on you.

  22. I think there is something to the critique that certain forms of enthusiastic preaching might be histrionic or emotivist. As such, this form of vibrant preaching perhaps ought not be present during the holy Sacrifice of the Mass, wherein a homily based on the liturgical readings is most appropriate. However, fiery preaching can and, indeed, should have a place in regular, non-liturgical preaching. The parish mission, in most places long gone, should return! The Second Vatican Council called for parochial Sunday vespers–the perfect time for listening to a good, lengthy, heart-arresting sermon–but when’s the last time anyone’s celebrated Evening Prayer in a parish with the parish clergy?

  23. From my experience growing up in the late 60’s, 70’s and into adulthood in the 80’s I believe the lack of good priestly formation and homiletic skills was one of the reasons I drifted from the church. Aside from the emptiness I sensed in the Novus Ordo, I also felt there was a definite lack of Catholic doctrine in the homilies. I just wasn’t getting any nourishment. There were a couple of priests (literally 2) who could give a prepared sermon and get my attention but most were the new age, feel-good, talks that I could get from magazines and my friends. I went through a period of starvation in the desert and found my way back to the Latin rite by the grace of God. I now find myself in an Eastern rite parish (Ukrainian) where the pastor is well intentioned but hampered by his inability to express himself well in English. Besides which, the Ukrainian church is following along with the year of faith and has sent out a questionnaire to parishioners who will be involved with the 2013 sobor and it reads like a psychological questionnaire one would get in school. ..all about how the laity will help evangelize. If the priests, who’ve been to seminary, can’t evangelize, I’m rather sure the laity won’t be any better at it. Sorry, but I don’t see any improvement in this quagmire until the formation of priests (and nuns) is solidly Catholic.

    1. I agree with you, one can feel the difference in the Latin Mass. I too, found a Latin Mass, one very reverent, celebrated by a benedictine monk, I was so happy, I cried with joy and waited with great joy for the Sundays. The priest is gone, other one is in his place, its is good but not the same. I do not have the feeling of happiness as before.

  24. It has been many years since I heard a sermon really meaningful, one with substance, alive and and touching. After the Vatican II the faith seams diluted. All I hear is that God loves us, (never mind He wants to be loved in return) as if He will do every thing for us without our participation. God will save us no matter what, He will change our diapers, we do not need to grow, avoid sin, repent, receive communion in a state of grace, all seams things of the past. Priest take the whole week out in retreats (though there are 2 priests), leaving lay people to read the gospel, preach, give communion to the faithful, acting and take the place of the priest at. the altar. Have we regressed in our faith? when will we mature?. The lay people who minister in that particular church are the most disrespectful I have ever encountered. Many do not make any gesture of reverence when they approach the sanctuary, they open it as they were equal to Christ. The chapel is on the side of the church and it is impossible to have any silence before or after mass, as well as in the main church. It remind me the words of Jesus Himself: “the road that leads to perdition is easy and broad and many are the ones that go trough it”. The pastor is very proud of the size of the congregation. All the patties are done inside the main church . I am very sad and thought of leaving it, but I think about Jesus suffering the greatest cruelty in human history and been treated with that mockery so I decide to continue, knowing that I am one of the few who have reverence for Him and may console Him.

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  26. I think you are correct. Many in congregations do not realize the amount of work and self sacrifice that goes into a sermon. So much preparation and thought and well, work. You mentioned African American congregations and the distinct differences among Protestant types of sermons. One other type of sermon I have come across is Street Preaching, I just get amazed at the number of differences there are in how the Bible is presented. I think if more people thought about how hard it is to be responsible for others education, they would be inclined to lend more support.

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