"It is no use walking anywhere to preach unless our walking is our preaching."
- St. Francis of Assisi
The following resources have been recommended by various people.
We hope you find them helpful.
SUMMARY OF GUIDELINES FOR PREACHING
Prepared by the Racine Dominican Liturgy Committee
1. Prepare – study, pray, ponder and break open the Scriptures.
2. Focus the message, be clear and precise, be selective in your choice of words and examples and proclaim the message with strength and conviction. (Too many ideas, examples, pointers, muddy the message.)
3. Keep the assembly in mind – the people listening to your message.
4. As you complete your draft ask yourself “What is the mission in my homily?”
5. Challenge yes, moralize no.
6. Allude to the special occasion that is being celebrated.
7. Average length of homily is 7-8 minutes: 4-6 is fine. Not more than 10 minutes!
8. The homily is only one part of the liturgy.
9. Prior to the occasion, check your voice over the microphone, etc.
10. When delivering your homily, eye contact is important.
Thoughts on Preaching
Fr. Jude Siciliano, OP
"Anyone who aspires to announce the Gospel, needs above all, to love the person to be evangelized, to know him or her with the heart and trust fully the power of the Gospel and the action of the Spirit, which invite the people of each culture to encounter salvation in their own way. We need to know how to approach people with respect and an attitude of listening and learning, to be stripped of the baggage of our own culture (without overstating it) in order to avoid all ethnocentrism and colonialism; to use the language and symbolism of those to be evangelized, incorporating the specific values of the other culture."
– Gen Chapter of the Dominicans in Mexico
How do we approach people of different cultures?
A GOOD BOOK FOR PREACHERS
by GABE HUCK AND GERALD T. CHINCHAR
Chicago :Liturgy Training Publications, 1998, Paper $12. A good workbook that provides questions for discussion groups involved in parish liturgy.
A Few Thoughts on Preaching
from Panelists at CCOP Meeting
1. When we preach, how we approach people is important. Anyone has the potential for change and all of us need change of mind and heart at one time or another. “Come follow me. Your true home is in God” is for all of us. What grieves us? What makes us anxious? What do we need to repent from?
2. We need to know the people in the pew before us. What are their pains and anxieties? How can we address them? How relate to the Scripture of the day?
3. We live in a global, multicultural society. What does that call us to in our preaching? We are also a pot-luck church? How can we get beyond the labels we put on people? Can we get beyond liberal and conservative? Beyond Black, White, Brown or any other color?
4. Preacher can point to brokenness in the world around them and also point to some ways people can get involved in the healing and repair work.
5. Don’t replace truth with convenience when you preach? What does that man to you as a preacher?
Dominican Contribution to Social Ethics in the 20th Century, Edited by Francesco Comapgnoni, OP, and Helen Alford, OP. Dominican Publications, Dublin, Ireland - 2007.
Peaching Justice: Ehtnic and Cultural Perspectives, Cleveland, Ohio: United Church Press, 1998
Risking the Terror: Resurrection in This Life. Cleveland: Pilgrim Press, 2001
The Silent Cry: Mysticism and Resistance, Soelle, Dorothy. Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2001
www.mumac.org/ppress.html Page of sermon, worship, and bible links of the Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church in MN.
Sermon Central www.sermoncentral.com Site of the United Church of Christ, a comprehensive resource site for worship, Bible study, and sermon preparation.
Resources Recommended by Greg Heille, OP
Burghardt S.J. Walter, Let Justice Roll Down Like Water: Biblical Justice Homilies throughout the Year, New York, Paulist Press, 1998
Preaching the Just Word. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1996
Campbell, Charles L. The Word Before the Powers: an Ethic of Preaching.
Louisville; Westminster John Knox Press, 2002
www.goodpreacher.com: Treasure chest of scholarship and story by renouned preachers like Jim Wallis, Walter Brueggmann and Fred Craddock.
The Practical Prophet
The Practical Prophet - Pastoral Writings of Bishop Ken Untener
Paperback $19.95 plus shipping and handling
The book contains much helpful information on the art of preaching, prophetic preaching, ministries of mercy and other topics.
Published by Paulist Press, 997 Macarthur Blvd.Mahweh, NJ 07430
Copyright 2007 by Bishop Gumbleton.
"Don't act as if you were superior to your material."
"Don't give the impression that your own conversion is complete."
Bishop Ken Untener's eight points to consider:
1. NEGLECTING THE GREAT MYSTERIES - Do not neglect the great mysteries in your preaching. They include death, Resurrection, sin and grace, the Spirit, redemption and the mystery of God. Homilies are meant to go to the root of what it means to be a Christian and live a Christian life. We need to point out what underlies it all and refer to the power of the Resurrection always available to us.
2. PREACHING AS THOUGH WE GET TO CHOOSE WHAT TO SAY - Remember we are not just preaching our own message. We are preaching what Jesus taught and what he has handed on to the church. Discern what the Lord is doing/speaking through this event. Remember we are all instruments through which the Word of the Lord is spoken and discerned.
3. USING SCRIPTURE AS A PLATFORM TO TEACH AND MORALIZE - We need to connect with the real lives of people in the pew. That means more than connecting with the happenings in their daily lives. It means reaching down into the hungers and questions in their hearts. We try to let God's grace open us to deeper questions and meaning. We don't change people's conduct by telling them what to do. We help them see things differently. Then they will act differently.
4. NEGLECTING THE OLD TESTAMENT - It is important to bring the message of the Old Testament into the homily. It gives us insight into how the people endured suffering and hardships and kept their faith. They trusted God as the faithful One and knew they would never walk alone.
5. GIVING A TALK RATHER THAN TALKING TO THE PEOPLE - Some homilies could just as well be from a taped message. Many homilies have too many thoughts . One thought with depth is much better than a string of thoughts put together. People thirst for a live message from the heart of the preacher. When you preach, speak from the heart.
6. BURYING OUR LEAD - The opening words of the homily should have a direct connection with the theme of the homily. Many do a beginning that is quite interesting but has little connection to the rest of the homily. The opening words should relate to and lead into the homily. It should be part of the flow of the Word of God and not have inappropriate interruptions inserted.
7. FAILURE TO EDIT - Editing is more than touch-up work on your homily. Most good writing involved major changes along the way. Some may have to be deleted and words or sentences may need to be reordered. If possible, have a journalist review your transcript. Editing may make the difference between a mediocre and an excellent homily.
8. PICTURE THE HOMILY AS ONE EVENT - Remember the homily is just one part of the liturgy, but only one part. Rather than trying to seize the whole event, craft a jewel of a homily that is part of the whole.
Feedback given to homilists may help them survive but not improve. Homilists need hands-on help to keep them moving in a positive direction.
Online Lectionary Preaching Tools
Mennolink: Preaching and Teaching Resources
This Mennonite preaching page includes Bible and translation commentaries, and other helps.
Living Web Lectionary Project
This gathering of online lectionary materials includes lectionaries themselves (Revised Common, Catholic, Episcopal, Orthodox, Coptic, Armenian, East Syrian, and others), commentaries, discussion groups and other resources related to understanding or preaching the lectionary.
Sermons and Sermon: Lectionary Resources
by Rev. Richard J. Fairchild
www.rockies.net - spirit/sermons.trml
This extensive collection by Rev. Richard Fairchild (United Church of Canada) includes year A,B,C, Easter, Christmas, Seasonal, Special occasions, etc., and is based on the Revised Common Lectionary. The site also includes children's stories, hymns, journals and more.
The Text This Week
This is an ecumenical Revised Common Lectionary site which includes links and general resources for each Sunday, including stories, movie connnections, artwork and reflections and questions to enhance prayer and study.
The Living Pulpit is an excellent resource for Preachers.
It is available at Siena Center Library. For information about ordering contact www.pulpit.org or write to Living Pulpit, Subscription Services at PO Box 3000, Denville, NJ 07834.
Irish Dominicans share information on their website: www.goodnews.ie. Commentaries on the daily Scripture readings, questions from their participants, and unfolding the story of Jesus.
America Magazine: Follow the link: The Word
www.americamagazine.org Also appears weekly in America Magazine.
Sermon Writer - What does it take to write a good sermon? Do we have that kind of time? SermonWriter can help. SermonWriter is delivered weekly by email and on the web. Charge is $39.95 a year. Go to www.sermonwriter.com. You can get a free sample by email.
Living Pulpit is publishly quarterly and is available from Living Pulpit, Inc. 40 South Fullerton Avenue, Montclair, NJ 07042. $39 per year.
Three Questions for a Homilist
Fr. Joseph Powers, SJ once said that if we answer NO to any of these questions, we have work to do.
1. Does my homily (or presentation) come from my faith?
2. Does it communicate my faith?
3. Does it evoke or challenge my faith and that of the listener?
We remember we preach not only to others but to ourselves. The homily should help the preacher become a better person because it applies to him/her too.
(Quoted from the book If You Preach it, They Will Come. See below)
If You Preach it, They Will Come
If You Preach it, They Will Come. Book by Rev. Eduardo Samaniego, SJ
Resource Publication, Inc., 160 E. Virginia St., #290, San Jose, CA 95112
Cost is $23.95.
"Your worshipping assembly is hungry for relevance and inspiration - if you preach the Word like this, they will come to deeper faith! The author shares tips for effective preaching and guarantees an interesting, provocative and faith-evoking homily."
The Funeral Liturgy and Preaching the Funeral Homily
Postmodern Worship and the Arts, edited by Doug Adams and Michael Moynahan, SJ, 2002
Preaching the Funeral Homily, by Rev. R.C. Sonefeld, 2000
The two books above are available from Resource Publications, Inc., 160 East Virginia St., #290, San Jose, CA 95112
Funeral Liturgies, by Flor McCarthy, SDB, Dominican Publications, Ireland, 2003 Reprint.
A funeral is often a public event as well as a private event. Integrating the life of the deceased person with the Paschal Mystery is a challenge to the celebrant and to the homilist. That is what the congregation expects. Giving a generic "one size fits all" homily is not a good fit. What is the meaning of the event? What is the composition of those present at the funeral liturgy? What are the mourners feeling? Guilt, sadness, relief, loss, gratitude, loneliness, pain and more! The essential task of the preacher is to proclaim the Good News of eternal life, which Christ has gained for us.
The Scripture readings should be carefully chosen with the promise of new life as well as the deceased person and their loved ones in mind. The circumstances surrounding the person's death is also a factor to be considered.
The preacher is to avoid two extremes in the homily. One is doing a homily that is only a eulogy without reference to the Scripture readings. The second is making the homily so general without any reference to the person's life whose resurrections is being celebrated. The homily should be aimed somewhere in the middle of these two extremes. The homilist can draw inspiration from the person's life and show how the meaning of the scripture passage was lived out in the life of the deceased. It can be an illustration of courage, faith, hope and love or some other examples. The homilist is to hold up hope around these ideas:
Life is changed, not taken away. We transcend death by dying and rising with Christ. Faith is the answer to questions about our eternal destiny. We must be careful not to convey the idea that eternal life can be earned by our own efforts. It is a gift, not a wage for our good deeds. The symbols used in the liturgy can also be incorporated - such as holy water, the covering of the casket - the pall, the cross and Paschal Candle.
We live in a culture that denies death. The homily is a time to talk about death in a faith context and to offer hope to the participants and challenge them to look at the deeper meaning of life. The homilist should avoid exaggeration in speaking about the deceased. leave canonization up to the church.
In summary, the presider and homilist can consider this:
- Be yourself.
- Be simple.
- Keep listeners in mind.
- Confidentiality is the privilege of the deceased and family members.
- Don't rush the mourners.
- Offer the grieving persons hope.
S. Elyse Marie Ramirez, OP, offers these suggestions for weaving in justice:
When choosing names, examples, stories, look for those which are the experiences of people of color, other countries, economic realities. Use words with power and color.
Examples of themes to be woven in:
- Human Dignity
- Celebration of Diversity
- Embracing cultures
- Basic human needs, common good, family, local and global issues
- Just wage
- Option for the poor
- Sharing power
The challenge of prophetic preaching is
- to be true to the gospel message
- to be true to the socio-economic and political realities of the justice issues at hand
- to offer a word of truth, hope and reassurance to a community of faith that desperately needs to hear it
PREACH: Enlivening the Pastoral Art
It comes out six times a year and is published by J. S. Paluch Co., Inc., World Library Publications, 3708 River Road, Suite 400, Franklin Park, Illinois 60131-2158
There is a wide range of articles that pertain to formal preaching, people in the pew, living as disciples and more. It follows the liturgical seasons and is very readable and interesting.
Subscription rate is $42 a year prepaid.
Fr. Joe Juknialis of the Preaching Institute, offers this advice:
"Effective liturgical preaching is both communal and personal. So one should never presume to tell another what to preach. Only God's Spirit may do that. Thus, my working presumptions are that:
- professional preachers know how to prepare a homily;
- the best homilies flow from a preacher's own prayer;
- canned homilies should be preserved in the can and remain unopened;
- a homily is not the place for statistics regarding violence in our communities - other sources do this;
- homilies should speak to one's heart (along with having something worthwhile to say);
- while effective preaching does not shrink from identifying the destructive dynamics of our lives, namely sin, its primary purpose is to name the movement of God in the midst."
You may find these links to resources on preaching to be valuable:
- www.jp.op.org International Dominican Commission for Justice and Peace
- www.op.org International Dominican web site
- www.cacradicalgrace.org Center for Action and Contemplation
(Fr. Richard Rohr)
- www.judeop.org Dominican Friars of Raleigh
- www.futuretakes.org Quarterly international e-newsletter that provides future thinking for World Future Society
Here's a helpful aticle on the responsibility of people in the pew.
And some tips for lectors and preachers on preaching clearly to be heard and understood.