Media outlets frequently publish reports of new surveys, showing how dissatisfied Catholics are with their homilies. The approval ratings are always significantly lower than the parallel Protestant ones.
The primary persons to blame for this situation are Catholic preachers, and rightly so. Then the usual suspects are lined up as the causes of their poor performance: inadequate seminary training, insufficient preparation time, preachers being out of touch with the “real world” and unable to address women’s perspectives. These are real problems that need to be addressed.
But as these issues are discussed in the wake of each new survey, please permit a distinct perspective: Some of the blame for poor preaching in Catholic churches belongs to the people in the pews. Why? Because like any other form of communication, preaching is a two-way street. How a congregation responds to preaching affects how that homily is delivered; a congregation’s attitudes or openness also affects how ready they might be to hear and receive any good in the message offered.
With that in mind, here are concrete measures that you can employ to help improve the experience of your local homily, no matter who is preaching.
The homily should be part of an active relationship between preacher and parish. None of us, speaking or listening, should stop trying to improve the experience. Revelation is not revelation unless it is received. All of us can help our preachers feel that they are talking to people who are listening. And those listening might get a little more out of it.
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The Rev. Terrance W. Klein is a priest of the Diocese of Dodge City and author of Vanity Faith.
With thanks to America and Rev Terrance W. Klein, where this article originally appeared.