ARE OUR HOMILIES
IMAGINE receiving a special invitation from very good friends for dinner. All day long you anticipate that aromatic, wonderful and sumptuous meal. You have skipped lunch for you want to be very hungry because surely a banquet will be prepared for you to savor and enjoy. Anticipation builds as you very carefully choose a wine from your local winery to bring that surely will enhance whatever the main course will be. Of course when you arrive there are dips and chips, and the usual pre-dinner fare that you can nibble on but you dont want to eat much of these snacks because after all you are waiting for dinner. Finally everyone is called to the table by the ringing of a cute little crystal bell. You spread your napkin on your lap and start on the crisp green salad. Your choice of dressings. Very nice. Then the vegetables. Alright! Some fresh and crunchy French rolls and fresh churned butter. But then you begin to wonder, where is the main course? The succulent roast, chicken, lamb, or fish? The hostess is laughing and reclining at the table with the guests and is looking as if everything has been finalized except for the dessert. With a sinking heart and disappointment you realize this is it, all there will be. No main course! A Jacks hamburger on the way home then is beginning to look very good indeed.
THIS is what the lack of a good homily feels like. There is no main course to fortify the soul. We are left without substance, without something we can sink our teeth into or get excited about. Our stomachs may be full but our souls are not. So we leave the church hungry and disappointed because our priests cannot meet our spiritual needs.
HOW many times, a good beginning sentence or two of the homily catches our attention only to peter out into paraphrasing without thought to bringing the Old and New Testament alive and into present day needs. We sit there trying to mentally bring forth some usable insight that will strengthen us, make us think, and reflect on the goodness of God. Instead we hear a disjointed rendition of the gospel reading. We feel cheated.
AND there is no one to censor this travesty. We have no one to whom we can complain. The pastors themselves sometimes are overworked and are not inspired to offer the churchgoers what they are seeking. Perhaps if our priests could tape record themselves laboring over old bible stories without giving them the great and true parallels still vital today they would go that extra mile to prepare a decent offering. Everything that was true in the bible thousands of years ago is just as true today. But we need to be able to hear this so we can understand. Instead we are presented with a history lesson without giving us the wonderful update that God is the same today as yesterday and there are promises that transcend time and are still under warranty today. Insufficient offerings do not uplift or comfort anyone. Sadly many of our priests are simply not gifted for public speaking and most definitely not for preaching. Their talents may well lie in other directions such as visiting the sick, counseling, and the many, many parish obligations including baptisms, funerals, weddings, etc. So why not utilize their natural talents and bring to the Sunday mass those who can preach and inspire?
A good priest who can tend the flock is not automatically a good speaker. If he cannot be a natural weaver of imaginative homilies he should not be up there on the altar boring everyone to death with trite and dark pronouncements of hell and damnation while we shrink back against the pew in abject horror and fear without any hope and encouragement. We parishioners need to be told that we are loved and because of Gods great love for us we can go forth and make a difference in our own lives and those around us. We need to be told what is right and good. We need encouragement and inspiration. We need to feel the power of the Lord in our lives. Make us feel on fire for the Lord.
SADLY, I admit that out of all the years I have been a Catholic, I have truly enjoyed only a select few homilies touching that deep place inside of me called the soul. And those priests who touched me(a) were consistently great but were not in my parish(b)were transferred to another parish (c) retired or died.
NOW this is not right. I am simply tired of playing Russian Roulette each Sunday, hoping and praying I will hear the things I need from our shepherd. However, when I get hungry enough, I go where I am almost certain I will come away feeling like I am truly a child of God and my heart is totally full with all kinds of useful things to carry me through until the next time.
WE are increasingly losing our Catholic members. They are going to Protestant churches that are bible based and filled with the Holy Spirit. They read the bible at each service and understand it. Their ministers know how to reach deep within them and if they dont they are yanked out and replaced. The people in these churches are not passive but have come alive and filled with a fervor of which I sometimes get jealous. And I admit I am sometimes afraid to bring my Protestant friends to a mass because they will then see the ineffectual way our sermons are presented. I do not want to be told that I should go to their church one Sunday to hear their sermons. No! I want to hear those inspiring sermons in my own church. But I am and will always be a Catholic Christian for I am one of those people who stays where God sends me to the bitter end. Hope always springs eternal. And so I must dredge up from deep inside me what I know I should be hearing from our pulpit. Mass is not a solitary happening. It is for sharing. It is a family affair with all of us building strong confidence and encouragement. People need an affirmation of what they read in the bible, of what they believe in order to bolster up their spirits, and make them feel good about their Catholic Christianity. A pep rally so to speak for the Lord.
I am not looking for entertainment when I go to church. I want to hear all the good things God has promised. It does not matter if I heard it last year from that priest if it is good and made timely. I am aware that most priests do not have hours to spend writing an original homily for each Sunday in the year but use and reuse the good ones. Thats fine with me. But let the homily be a good one and then it bears repetition. We do not expect an original dissertation but one made new with a fresh deliverance.
IN spite of what I feel about our homilies, I am proud of our priests for their dedication; for giving up their lives to God and serving Him. And giving up the monetary compensation for their invaluable work. God called them into His Service and they heeded His Voice. Most of us would never make that sacrifice. Priests are the closest thing we have to something holy and spiritual; a link or bridge so to speak to our Heavenly Father. I like knowing they are there for me through all I may face.
I am extraordinarily proud of being a Catholic Christian. For I believe being a Catholic Christian is the greatest thing in my life but I want to find some solace and comfort for my soul each week. I do not think this is too much to ask.
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