For today's blog, I step away from focusing on the preaching ministry to highlight the beatification of the early 21st century martyr Italian Fr. Giuseppe "Pino" Puglisi. Why? Because of his love of and work for peace.
In all fairness to the USCCB (United States Conference of Catholic Bishops) who called for the writing of the new document Preaching the Mystery of the Faith, I have to agree that there are many Catholics today that have not received proper catechesis in the faith. Colleagues of mine who teach courses in Borromeo, the minor seminary, have commented on this weakness, especially those men who have not attended Catholic high schools. The new document is an attempt to correct this lack. Fr. George Smiga, a member of our homiletic team at St. Mary Seminary, writes, "While respecting the contributions of Fulfilled in Your Hearing, Preaching the Mystery of the Faith seeks to enlarge the homiletic ministry, it argues that catechesis and doctrine are fitting content for the homily. This conviction may have resulted from a desire to correct a common misunderstanding of FIYH.
Although this blog has been focusing of late on the new document on homiletic preaching, I realize that the majority of Dominican women are not homiletic preachers per se. However, I believe that as women of the Order of Preachers, we must be aware of what is happening with preaching in the pulpit. Our Dominican charism calls us to promote sound Gospel preaching that names both disgrace and grace. Our Dominican brother Meister Eckhart says, "God streams into the soul in such abundance of light, so flooding the essence and ground of the soul that it wells over into the body, which is filled with radiance. Awaken, discover who you are! Close your eyes and see the radiant light within you." This is the purpose of every homily - to raise to awareness the indwelling Light of God that yearns to spread throughout our being.
The first act of evangelization is to first create a hunger for growing in relationship with a loving God. Thus the task of the preacher is to evoke and provoke such a hunger. The new document Preaching the Mystery of Faith - the Sunday Homily is a response to Benedict XVI's call for renewal of the preaching ministry at the October 2008 Twelfth General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, which focused on the Word of God in the life and minoistry of the Church. "The Word of God is a wellspring of constant renewal in the Church and a power that will be very more fully at the heart of every ecclesial activity" (Verbum Dei). In this same document, Benedict strongly urged that the catechetical aim of the homily should not be forgotten.
Instead of the regular blog, I share an article on Pope Francis's homily on women and the Resurrection posted by Grant Gallicho:
As I moved through St. Peter’s Square pestering every American I could find, I noticed a trend. Young Catholics kept bringing up the same concerns about their faith: how the church treats abuse victims, gays and lesbians, people of other religions — and women. I hope they’ve been paying attention to Pope Francis since they left Rome, because he’s been addressing the last of those topics with considerable vigor.
To evangelize is to share the Good News of Christ Jesus and the Good News basically is Emmanuel: God-with-us. The Good News is so much more than beliefs, such as those articulated in the Creed. It is more than the doctrines developed in the early centuries of the Church. These serve the Good News. BUT the Good News is a person and relationship with that person. Articles of the Creed and doctrines followed a developed relationship with Jesus the Christ. Plunging into the mystery of God in Christ - meeting God personally - leads to the various articulations of the gift offered by God. The first act of evangelization is to first create a hunger for such knowing God. This is the task of the preacher - to evoke and provoke a hunger for relationship with Father, Son, and Spirit.
More on preaching and evangelization! Fulfilled in Your Hearing: The Homily in the Sunday Assembly, published in 1982 by The Bishops' Committee on Priestly Life and Ministry of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, defines the homily as that preaching that addresses "a community of believers who, gathered to celebrate the liturgy, may do so more deeply and more fully and thus be formed for Christian witness in the world" (Article 43). Fulfilled in Your Hearing specifically points to the homily as more than explaining the truths of the faith: "Like all preaching, the homily is directed to faith. Some preaching is directed to people who have not heard the Gospel and is meant to lead them to initial acceptance of Jesus Christ as Savior. Other forms of preaching are directed to a deeper understanding of the faith or to its ethical implications.
From the Introduction to the 2010 General Chapter of the Order of Preachers: "There is only one distinctive mark, a sort of genetic code, for the members of the Order, for the Dominican Family. It is preaching for the salvation of humanity, the ministry of the Word, the mission of evangelization. The General Chapter celebrated in Rome wished to remind the whole Dominican Family, nuns, friars, apostolic sisters, and Dominican Laity, of this sign of our identity as we approach the jubilee of 2016.
Both John Paul II and Benedict XVI have called the Church to engage in a "New Evangelization, which is a call for the renewal of the Church first urged by Paul VI in Evangelii Nuntiandi (On Evangelization in the Modern World)." Pope Benedict has presented the New Evangelization as the focus, mission, and ministry of the Church going into the future. A few months ago, the USCCB (United States Conference of Catholic Bishops) sent to those of us who teach homiletics in seminaries a new document on the teaching of preaching titled Preaching the Mystery of the Faith. This document addresses the quality of the preaching in churches on Sunday, saying that most of this preaching has been poor in content and in delivery.