Sunday, 13 May 2012
Preaching the word
I wrote my homily for this evening's Mass yesterday afternoon. I think that's the most organised I've been in eighteen years. I'm at a loss what to do this afternoon. I am missing the stress of the impending deadline. I love preaching. I was struck when I read the lapidary line in Sacramentum caritatis (2007): "...the quality of homilies needs to be improved (46)." Mine certainly do! You're only ever as good as your last gig. No preacher is always on form. I have been to a couple of workshops organised by the College of Preachers, an Anglican foundation which operates ecumenically, and I found them both very encouraging. The key thing about preaching, I think, is that it is the preacher's gift to the congregation. At a birthday party, if I give somebody a £10 book token and somebody else gives that person a Ferrari, my book token remains significant. In the Church we are en famille: I pray about the readings, I reflect on my own experience, I throw in an anecdote if one comes to mind (apparently three or four recur regularly, the students say!) and I seek to communicate something of my own joy as a believer. Job done! If I try to be impressive, it invariably comes out all wrong. Why should I seek to impress members of my family? They know me; they are ready to accept my gift. If I remember to be straightforward and respectful, I can generally sense that some kind of authentic interaction has occurred, enough for the Holy Spirit, who inspired me in the first place, to do further work in the hearts and minds of my auditors.