All posts tagged: karlabellinger

Effective Preaching, From a Listener—Part 3

Effectiveness in preaching arises from the two-way communication between the sender and the receiver of the message. To continue from last month’s post, how do we as listeners receive, listen, and grow through your homily? You may feel, as you stand to speak, that you are preaching into a vacuum. Nothing could be farther from the truth. Each of us slides into the pew with a head full of ideas and concerns and dreams. We also arrive with different levels of motivation. Motivation to Listen To further the metaphor from the last two segments, if the homily is like butter, and we listeners are like toast, then we arrive at Mass in varying degrees of warmth. Some of us walk in with a sensitive heart and a responsive mind, ready to let your message soak in, like good butter on warm toast. Here are reasons that may happen: We are in love with God. We have had kindhearted experiences of the faith community and/or you as the parish leader. We have had experiences of your …

Effective Preaching, From a Listener—Part 2

In the first article of this series, I talked about effectiveness as “preaching that sinks in like good butter on warm toast.” Much is written about the “good butter” that a homilist is to prepare. In the last segment we talked about the Holy Spirit who is the source of that “sinking in.” But what makes for “warm toast?” What would be helpful for preachers to know to help us listeners to grow in faith?[1] First, understand what our lives are like. Week after week, you are like a rock star. As you walk thirty feet or drive 60 miles to the church building to say Mass, hundreds, maybe thousands of us are getting ready to hear you. After the fight with the ten-year-old over brushing his teeth, after changing the diaper or the bandages, after putting on the knee brace or the hearing aids, we turn the handle to the church door, file in and slide into the pew. Phew! We got here. Do you know how much effort it takes for us all …

Effective Preaching, From a Listener—Part 1

There is a mystery dimension to effectiveness in Catholic preaching. For example, I can sit in a pew with five faith-filled folks who hear the same homily and one will say, “Wasn’t that inspiring?” while another will shrug, “meh. . .” A lay preaching student told me that when she was in Preaching I class, she analyzed Pope Francis’ homilies for why he so touched people and wondered, “Just as an experiment, if I preached those same homilies, would they have the same outcome?” In the twentieth chapter of Acts, St. Paul preached on and on—so long that a young man was overcome by sleep and fell out of a window; yet the folks in Troas continued to listen to Paul speak on and on until daybreak. So what is “effectiveness” in Catholic preaching? And how do we get to “it” in ordinary homiletic practice? As Fr. Michael Connors, C.S.C. and I have been preparing for the Notre Dame Marten Program’s conference next summer—“To Set the Earth on Fire: Effective Catholic Preaching”—we have had in-depth …

St. Matthew, Child of God

Reading: Ephesians 4:1-7, 11-13 Brothers and sisters, I, a prisoner for the Lord, Urge you to live in a manner worthy of the call you have received With all humility and gentleness, with patience, Bearing with one another through love, Striving to preserve the unity of the Spirit Through the bond of peace: One Body and one Spirit, As you were also called to the one hope of your call: One Lord, one faith, one baptism; One God and Father of all, Who is over all and through all and in all. But grace was given to each of us According to the measure of the Christ’s gift. And he gave some as Apostles, others as prophets, Others as evangelists, others as pastors and teachers To equip the holy ones for the work of ministry, For building up that Body of Christ Until we all attain to the unity of faith And knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, To the extent of the full stature of Christ. And he gave some as …

Preaching Beauty

Late have I loved you, O Beauty ever ancient, ever new, late have I loved you! You were within me, but I was outside, and it was there that I searched for you. . . . You were with me, but I was not with you. Created things kept me from you; yet if they had not been in you they would not have been at all. You called, you shouted, and you broke through my deafness. You flashed, you shone, and you dispelled my blindness. (Augustine, Confessions X: XXVII) As I sat on the bus, the sunshine of the morning sky flickered through the windows. We wound up and up through the hills toward the Golan Heights in upper Galilee. As we bounced and jostled, I realized how deeply early sandbox experiences of the warmth of the sun have impacted my image of God. I also wondered, as we drove north from Nazareth, how the radiance of the sunshine and the tenderness of the early morning breezes impacted Jesus’ youngest images of God his …

Pentecost for Preachers: The Mysticism of the Homiletic Moment

The Easter season provides busy homilists with a basketful of opportunities to preach and preach and preach. Now Pentecost is coming. What more is there to say? What more is there to give? And, some may ask, where does the strength come from to keep on giving? We turn to this year’s Pentecost Gospel reading from John to find out. Jesus breathes on his future preachers and says, “Receive the Holy Spirit” (Jn 20:19–23). In Greek, this “receive” is lambano—to take hold of, to carry away to use—a verb that pulsates with the expectation of response and action. This is not the passive “receive” of the shaking of hands as in a receiving line at a wedding. This is a breathing forth that calls for a “pick it up and do something with it” transformation. The burning fire of the preaching of Pentecost builds from this tender waft of Jesus’ air. The experience of the Spirit in the second chapter of Acts came to dried-up and disheartened disciples. What did they have left to give? …