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Notre Dame Conference – Part 2

Some snippets from today’s preachers  conference at Notre Dame (my comments in italics):

Liturgy and preaching should foster personal mystical religious experiences. Unfortunately most preaching has been boring,  superficial and useless. (Ya think?)

Sometimes our preaching is not based in the questions that our people are asking (I love that quote). We need to lead our people to reach for a place where they aren’t now, and may not even want to go, but need to be there. So we have to take them there.

Yves Congar commented on some people who wonder why people are not going to church especially since that is where they can encounter the Eucharist. He said, “Without an invitation that draws them in, they will not come, no matter how lavish the banquet.”  Each of us needs to be a beggar telling another beggar where he has found bread. Our people have a desire to drink of the water from someone who knows where the find the deep wells. (another great quote)

We need to “eat the scroll.” We cannot give a nourishing word that has not nourished us first. (This is just as valid for lay people evangelizing in the marketplace as preachers at Sunday Mass)

Three parts to the New Evangelization:

1. Cathechesis – Instruction from the Word

2. Paraclesis – Witnessing to the Word

3. Bringing our faith to the culture

If you think you know what needs to be done, you’re probably wrong!  In our encounter with God we sometimes feel like Isaiah who, like Isaac, had to wrestle with God to get a blessing although the blessing is ultimately not for us; it’s intended for someone else.

You might want to pack your bags and move on (like Isaiah) and God might be saying “just stay where you are and just look weak.”  This is wrestling with God, and wrestling is exhausting! You may want signs; you may want wonders; what you NEED is Christ! And Christ only comes crucified! When we encounter the cross, we encounter mystery. Thus we have to look beyond the cross, beyond the signs, beyond the mystery to arrive at wisdom.

And through it all, God is explicitly there …..despite all evidence to the contrary. The presence of the cross in you life is the explicit proof that God is there. There is never a cross without Christ on it.

We’re called to bring the Word into dialogue with the contemporary situation.

More tomorrow….

2 Comments Post a comment
  1. “Sometimes our preaching is not based in the questions that our people are asking…” Amen! I was thinking earlier about the great film “A River Runs Through It” and its preacher-father character. One of the things our Christian Protestant brothers have done so well is preaching. A great sermon is central to their people’s experience of their church. Catholic pastoral thinking, with its (proper, albeit often perfunctory) focus on the administration of the sacrament seems very prone to forgetting the central value of great homiletic witness. Thanks for these notes from the road, Father.

    So true. Any referencing ANYTHING from Norman MacLean is a winner in my book (especially with a brother in Missoula who took me to fish the actual rivers he wrote about). We’re getting better and conferences like this will go far to help. In my opinion, we (da priests) need to get more input up front in the preparation and prayer-centered, caring, professional feedback on the back end. I’ve used a “homily group” for years which (from their perspective) has helped the quality of the homilies and has afforded me a nice, intimate, mutually supportive faith-sharing group at the same time. Key is to have a few lay people pick up the logistics aspects of the process which, thankfully, I have had the blessing to find.

    June 27, 2012
  2. Sr. Kathleen Schipani #

    I needed to read this today— thanks for your insights…Sr. Kathleen You are most welcome! Glad to have been able to be a Holy Spirit conduit somehow. Sorry it’s taken so long to respond. I had to close the two parishes and school in Manayunk then report to Malvern the next day. Currently on Vacation with my own retreat to follow. God’s blessing on the great work that you do. I’m sure paths will cross soon. God bless. Fr.Z

    July 31, 2012

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