Poor homilies, empty churches

AT the sideline of the recently-c0ncluded 6th National Charismatic Congress last week, Bishop Emeritus Teodoro Bacani admitted in an interview that the poor quality of sermons or homilies given by priests is one of the reasons why our churches are getting emptier these days.

Bacani noted that the El Shaddai Movement where he serves as its spiritual adviser has more attendees despite the long speeches of its charismatic leader, Bro. Mike Velarde.  He also noticed the huge attendance of spiritual gatherings of Brother Bo Sanchez of Kerygma movement.

Perhaps, our priests could take a few lessons from Velarde and Sanchez who, by the way, did not study homiletics, which is one of the courses a major seminarian has to pass before he can be ordained as a full-fledged priest.

Two former colleagues in the media, who are devout Catholics, observed that our priests have become irrelevant as they fail to make some “connections” with the people they preach to.

For one, it is obvious that there are priests who have not developed good communication skills.  Or if they can speak well, they would inject anecdotes or even jokes that are irrelevant to the people’s lives because they thought they have to be entertaining to get the crowd’s attention.

But saying Mass – and giving homily – is not and should not be a performance.  Instead, it is the celebration of the highest form of prayers among Catholics.  The Liturgy of the Holy Mass is the ultimate prayer of thanksgiving in remembrance to the passion and death of our Lord Jesus.

A friend said that the homilies she finds most attractive and helpful are those given by priests who really dwell on God’s Word and those given by priests who, by their example, remind us of Jesus.  Amen to that.

While our bishops and priests have been so vocal about their opposition to RH bill, same-sex marriages, Hacienda Luisita, and lately, divorce, they should also pay more attention to improving their homilies if they want to be truly relevant to the people.

It is a good thing that by December, changes in the prayers and responses said during the Mass will be made as the Catholic Church around the world adopts the new English translation of the “Roman Missal,” or the book that contains the text for the celebration of the Mass.

These changes in the prayers and responses during Mass are intended to reflect the true meaning in the original Latin text, the language of the Roman liturgy.

While all these innovations are indeed very laudable, more efforts should also be given to how our priests celebrate the Mass and prepare for their homilies so that people are drawn to prayers whenever they go to Church and listen to their priests.

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