Friday, November 10, 2006

So you think you could preach a better homily than you heard last Sunday?

They study homily-preaching at the St Paul Seminary. And they might do some practicing in your parish. Be gentle with them. No throwing tomatoes!

As a necessary part of our training to become priests, St. Paul Seminary has many classes focusing on the practical aspects of “being” a priest. Several of these classes are centered around preparing to preach the homily once we are ordained. This semester, for Theology II students, presents our first step into the world of preaching, and as part of this class we are called to ‘give’ homilies to our teaching parish committee members and then they offer feedback to us, which we bring back to the classroom.

This past Wednesday was the first time that I gave a homily to a group of people other than my classmates. Considering that I have heard hundreds, if not thousands, of homilies in my life, it is not as easy as it looks. Though the homily was only supposed to be 6-7 minutes long, I managed to talk for a full 10 minutes. I am sure that I will hear about it class. In my defense however, I did hold their attention for that period of time and they would not have believed that it was so long had a group member not been keeping track of time.

For the assignment we were asked to prepare a homily for one of the upcoming Sunday’s in Advent. I chose the first Sunday of Advent for no particular reason. In addition to the readings from the Mass, I also incorporated the opening prayer and preface into the homily. Though most homilies are on the readings, since the prayers of the Mass are also sacred texts they also can be the subject of homilies. The point that I chose to focus on is the two-fold meaning of the season of Advent, which is reflected in both the readings and the prayers. We anticipate the season of Christmas and celebrate the first coming of Christ, while at the same time we wait in eager anticipation for his second coming.

My teaching parish committee said that it was a very good homily, though it could have been shortened (what homily couldn’t be). And they also gave some very good feedback on what they want to see in a homily. Hopefully, in a few years, my classmates and I will be read to preach to much larger congregations. Mike, Future Priests of the Third Millenium

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