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Homily Topics

"I've never heard a homily about..." (you fill in the subject). I have heard this many times, and quite often I can (by the grace of God) say, "well, if you'd been here a while back, that was exactly what I preached about". I often wonder, however, what is going on at other parishes. I have heard stories of priests who preach on the technicals of philosophical arguments, the fantasticalness of both Demican and Republicrat politicians, as well as various other typical liberal subjects (immigration, social programs, immigration, tolerance, and of course, immigration). I know that goes on, but what about the priests who have not given in to modernism?


Someone who attended St. George recently made the comment that everyone in the parish seemed to know the faith. That was very encouraging to me. I may not be able to teach people everything they need to know (though I try!), but I do tell them reqularly to go out and learn; read, read, read! Although people do not usually suggest what I preach about, I do listen to their comments and try to understand what people are struggling with so that I can know what to address. This is the importance of a priest spending time with his people and getting to know them; you cannot lead people that you do not understand.


It is interesting, however, what the subject is that people will say "I've never heard a homily about...". It is quite frequently their "pet subject". They have something that they are passionate about, and either they want to hear what they already believe, or they want others to hear it so they can be justified in their stance. I wonder if people with this perspective ever listen when the homily is not their "pet subject"?


There is, of course, another layer to this. These are the reasons that most people do not consider when they mention the "never heard". First, priests are required (regardless of whether they are obedient or not), to focus the homily on the readings; usually on the gospel reading. This means that a subject like IVF does not fit easily into the context of the vast majority of gospel passages, and to force it is to do an injustice to the Scripture.


Secondly, sometimes the "never heard" subject is one that is so narrow and specific that it would cause the majority of parishioners in Mass that day to tune out. If something only really applies to a small portion of the parish, then priests may mention it in a homily, but an entire homily about the subject is inappropriate. We all need to know Who God is, what holiness is, and what forgiveness looks like; not everyone needs to hear about illegal lobbying practices (though I was told that was the subject of a homily someone heard).


Thirdly, the "never heard" is often a subject that is better spoken of in private settings. There are some things that can only bear a passing reference to them, and a full open explanation and detailed description of them is not right in the Mass; especially when you consider that there are likely children present.


Therefore, there are good reasons and bad reasons why you may have never heard a homily on a certain subject before. Do not presume that the priest is avoiding it; yes, some do that, but it will usually be obvious if it is intentional avoidance from how else they behave and what other types of counsel they give.


When we come to the end of it: pray for your priest. Pray for me; I beseech you. We want to be faithful, but we too are tempted to compromise. We are temtped to take the easy way, and afraid of losing parishioners. No one likes to be hated (unless there is something seriously wicked in their hearts). Pray that priests will tell you what you need to hear, not just what you want to hear; and pray that you will listen!

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