Yes, I hear it often on Wednesdays...Mike, Mike, Mike, what day is it, and I'm supposed to oblige, it's hump day. You know it's only hump day if we have a live for the weekend mentality as opposed to live for today. For in each "today" is it's own blessings, along with it's own ups and downs, good and bad. But for sure, each "today" is another opportunity to praise and thank and worship God! Wednesdays count just as much as other days of the week, so do Mondays for that matter!
Now with all that being said, I indeed am looking forward to the weekend! On these upcoming weekend days the diaconate for the Archdiocese of New Orleans will be in complete overdrive, and I'm happy to be part of it all. Not one, but two retreats will be taking place this weekend. In Covington, La. at the beautifully spiritual St. Joseph Abbey, the men who are already instituted acolytes and awaiting ordination next June, will be on retreat along with their wives. I wish them a wonderful retreat experience and will hold them in prayer. I will not be with them this year because I will be about 20 miles or so west of the Abbey at the equally beautiful retreat center known as Rosaryville, mid-way between Ponchatoula and Springfield, La. Here, we will welcome the recently selected men who begin their diaconate formation as aspirants, men seeking the possibility of becoming deacon candidates in a year. Along with our diaconate director and another brother deacon, I will help present A Simple Path, from Blessed Mother Teresa along with other spiritual exercises over the weekend. Perhaps now you know why I am so looking forward to the weekend.
Of course one does not arrive at some future date or future event without celebrating, or at least managing the now. During what has been not the most dynamic of weeks at work, the Deacon finds himself also without his car as the old Acadia gets some much needed work done including being caught up in one of the numerous GMC recalls. I reflected earlier today that while disappointing and inconvenient, it sure is not the end of the world. And the bill, whenever I see that final total for parts and labor, just remember, you can't take it with you!
Hump day was another grass cutting day. I waited to the sun was starting to go down and lo and behold, on a July 30th, thanks to lower than usual humidity and a nice breeze, it was not too hot. What is going on this summer? Of course, be it hot or not, wet or dry, please Lord, just keep any and all hurricanes away!
Enjoy the rest of your hump day and the end of July and be ready for the last full summer month of August. And in all things, give God the glory and be thankful for your many blessings.
“I really am encouraging priests, deacons, liturgical preachers to take time,” said Fr. Joseph Mele, author of The Sacred Conversation: The Art of Catholic Preaching and the New Evangelization. “What I always try to have my students do in preparing the homily is to first of all spend time simply reading the word, reading the Scripture, studying it ... and let the word speak to them. You really need to take time to outline, to structure your homily so that you know one main point and you are going to be concise about that.”
And that main point cannot be a message from the preacher himself to the people in the pews but rather one which comes from God. Recognizing this is one of the biggest challenges young preachers struggle with, said Mele, who holds a PhD in rhetoric and communications from Duquesne University in Pittsburgh.
That’s because hearing the message from God requires patience and a willingness to put one’s own agenda aside.
“Often the first thing to come to mind is still their own thought — this is what I want to say about this passage,” said Mele, a former professor of homiletics at Saint Vincent College in Pennsylvania. “Nine times out of 10 if they just stay patient and prayerful and reflective on the word another message will come. So the priest really needs to be faithful to wait for God to communicate the message God is desiring for the people.”
Mele gave this message to the Archdiocese of Toronto’s conference in homiletics held July 7 to 10 at St. Augustine’s Seminary. The conference, part of the seminary’s centenary celebrations, aimed to improve the preaching power of the archdiocese’s priests and deacons at the request of Cardinal Thomas Collins.
“(The cardinal) wanted to put a special emphasis on improving the state of homiletics,” said Deacon Peter Lovrick, who organized the three-day event. “Every one of the last popes have talked about the urgency to improve the state of homiletics in the Church and have given some very poignant and specific challenges or calls to the Church’s preachers as kind of a vocation for us to live up to. The Church is being very clear in what it is asking for from its preachers.”
Lovrick, a professor of homiletics at St. Augustine’s, said what the Vatican desires is preaching rooted in and focusing on Scripture. By doing that Lovrick said preachers will avoid the challenges Mele spoke of.
“If you do what the Church is asking you to do then you avoid all of the problems,” said Lovrick. “The problems being making preaching your own hobby horse, implementing your own agenda, bringing your own political slants in. It is almost an abuse of the congregation when you have a captive audience and they’ve come to hear the mind of the Church and not to hear your own particular agenda.
“Keeping focus on the Scripture, keeping focus on the mind of the Church, helps one keep focus on what the Church is asking for.”
Where Lovrick and Mele had a differed was on the length of the homily. For Lovrick, ideally a preacher will stay at the pulpit for 10 to 12 minutes while his American peer prefers a briefer seven- to eight-minute homily.
But at the end of the day, quality trumps quantity for both.
“I don’t like particularly to be emphasizing time limits,” said Lovrick. “It seems to me for a bad preacher five minutes can seem terribly long and for a wonderful preacher 20 minutes may just fly by like nothing. (A good homily) is an act of worship, an act of praise and an act of love which echos and fully connects with everything else.”
>Spotted 1st at Deacon's Bench