Sunday, June 14, 2015

Catechizing a Faithful Church-goer

She told me they were heartsick at the loss of their beloved priest who had been transferred to another parish.

And how had he endeared himself to his congregation, and what would you miss most?

Father B practiced punctuality almost as he practiced his religion, in fact, one might say it was a part of his religion.

Examples, please.

Father always started mass exactly on time. Every action, every word, contributed to the goals of the service and no extraneous motions protracted the meeting.  Father B’s Sermons were marvelous to hear, and one knew what it was all about when it was over.

Meaning what, exactly?

He always started his homily with a  humorous anecdote.  One’s attention was immediately riveted.  His message proceeded smoothly and logically to its conclusion, and the conclusion was like clinching the nail on the backside of the board--  the point was driven home and seated permanently in one’s mind.  The service was over in precisely thirty-five minutes and we went home knowing we had been in church.

And the new priest?

Rambles.  A lot.  And drones.  On and on.

Apparently what she wants from church is punctuality, proper structure, a clear message delivered wittily and succinctly with meaning that is relevant and can be grasped.  Is her expectation reasonable?


Vee said...

Punctuality? Reasonable.
Purposeful with everything that happens making a meaningful contribution to the Mass? Reasonable.
Brilliant delivery of homily? Not reasonable.
A homily is a reflection on the Word of God. Unfortunately all of God's called are not equally gifted in public speaking. However, if parishioners arrive at the meeting to worship (as opposed to, say, people watching), God will speak to them even during a less than enthusiastic delivery of the homily. (It would be good though if those with less ability in speaking understood the issue of attention span and planned short and to the point messages.)

To me the important part of worship is that the focus is on God.

vanilla said...

Vee, if we were discussing this face to face (that would be nice) I am sure we would find many points of agreement. But if you are suggesting that a sermon has to be dull to be worshipful, I shall respectfully disagree.

Oh, maybe you meant that even a dull message can speak to the worshipper if his heart is rightly focussed on God. (See, I knew this needed to be face to face.)

Vee said...

Yes, the latter.

Grace said...

Her expectation is reasonable for any public speaker regardless of the topic. Maybe we can shop it around the political arena as well.

vanilla said...

Vee, duly noted.

Grace, anyone presenting whatever ideas via speaking in a public forum should be intelligent, intelligible, interesting. And brief. Shop that around the political arena.

Lin said...

I agree, wholeheartedly!

It is very hard to find a priest here that accomplishes that. And when you find the wonderful combination of a church AND a priest that you connect with, the archdioceses moves that priest out of your church because they don't want them to get too attached to their congregation.

I struggle with today's Catholicism for this reason. We do not go to church very much, but I am spiritual and in want of more. Always searching....and oftentimes left empty by the humans who are supposed to bring me the message.

vanilla said...

Lin, the important thing is one’s relationship with Christ. It is helpful to have wise mentors, but keeping attuned to God’s will is vital. Prayer and reading of the Scriptures are more valuable than the homily on Sunday, be it ever so good. Blessings as you pursue God’s will in your life.