From a reader…
Father, our parish priest is a good man, well versed in Scripture, in the encyclicals. He is also charismatic.
However, his preaching is dreadful. He uses the homily as an opportunity to teach and goes on far too long. Yesterday, he preached for 35 minutes; this in addition to confirming 16 candidates so that Mass took a total of 2 hours. [Imagine! 2 hours out of your week... in church!]
One could see people getting impatient and quite a few had to leave; their small children simply could not remain any longer.
How does one tell a priest that his preaching needs to be short, succinct, to the point, and leave the theological teaching to another time?
I sense that my priest wants to share everything on a subject with us, thinking that something will stick to someone. But the result is the opposite. He loses the majority and those who listen at first, and wish to listen, tune out after he goes on and says the same thing in three different ways.
How does one kindly tell one’s priest that he needs to learn to preach? thank you.
Criticizing a priest’s homiletic skills is generally as easy as criticizing one’s wife’s weight gain. One can take the Subtle Approach™, suggesting, “Hey, hon, let’s have a walk after dinner!”, or perhaps buying a new exercise bike for oneself, but making it clear that she can use it anytime she wants. You might suggest the arugula salad, again, and you can hope the hints are picked up. One use the More Direct Approach™ and leave a diet book on the coffee table, or comment on how much better the lady down the street looks since she lost all that weight. One could use the Blunt Approach™ and say, “You’ve put on a lot of weight lately.”
Any approach is a potential minefield, and just as likely to reap a huge negative reaction as it is to bring about positive change.
Me, I’d take the Cushioned Direct Approach™. “Father, I love what you have to say in your homilies and would definitely sign up and come if you had a mid-week scripture/apologetics/catechesis class. I’m concerned though that the length of your homilies is turning people away from the parish. I wish you would tighten it up a bit.”
Now, having no responsibility whatsoever for the results of your attempts (unless it works), with the wife or the parish priest, I bid you adieu.
(And Fathers, remember, you don’t have to get all of it into every single sermon.)