Some Good News: His Hermeneuticalness is back in the saddle again

Sometimes I post “good news” posts.  We all need good news for a change, right?

One piece of good news gets special notice today.

My good friend Fr. Tim Finigan, PP of Margate, is posting more often again at his exceptional blog: The Hermeneutic of Continuity.

Thus, His Hermeneuticalness is back in the saddle again after a bit of a hiatus.

His posts lately have been great. Today he posted one on how to get something out of even a less than good Sunday Mass sermon.

Each week I post asking you to comment on a good point from the sermon you heard at your Sunday Mass of Obligation. Fr. Finigan gives helpful pointers on listening to sermons. A taste…  HERE


You may well be right: priests are not always great communicators, [Only Christ is the Perfect Communicator.  Cf. Communio et progressio 11] but did you know that a sermon is a sacramental? That is to say that a sermon signifies spiritual effects which may be obtained through the intercession of the Church. By sacramentals, we are disposed to receive the grace of the sacraments.


It might be one sentence or phrase, it could be a commonplace truth of doctrine, morals or devotional teaching that we really need to hear again and act upon. It might even be a passing thought that seems a distraction from what the priest is saying. One way or another, if we are ready to receive the grace of God, He will give it, often in ways that might surprise us.


A sermon is a sacramental.

So, Fr. Finigan will help you listen to the sermon better.  But he has also just helped a lot of priests out there better to prepare their sermons.

FATHERS! Sermons are sacramentals.  Do you want to treat them the same way now?

Thanks, Fr. Finigan.

BTW… if there were EVER a time when we need a hermeneutic of continuity… it’s NOW.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

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  1. Akita says:

    I’ve been exposed to some remarkably toxic sermons through the years. One especially memorable one proclaimed “gay marriage is a matter of equal rights”. I feel that may have been seared into my teenagers brains. Was anything sacramental conveyed after that bomb was dropped? I felt my heart sink, and that a great betrayal took place. Father may have interjected some reminders about overall justice and being welcoming to gays in our family. Are we to turn poison into nourishment on our own?

    When father proclaims unequivocally that a recently deceased parishioner is with God, is that sacramental? When we are told the Koran is a holy book, is that sacramental? Again, are we to turn utterances contrary to truth into sacramentals?

    I’d venture to say that what is proclaimed from countless Novus Order pulpits is so beyond “weak sermon”, it could never, ever be sacramental.

  2. tho says:

    Father, I have heard so many boring, trite and semi- heretical sermons in my lifetime that I am thankful for my reduced ability to hear. One of the many beauties of the TLM is that you can be stone deaf and still appreciate the mystery of God.
    We celebrate a Missa Cantata almost every Sunday and the priest who we lost had a beautiful voice, not a Pavarotti, more like a Gordon McCrea, the priest we have now is a wonderful man, but his Pater Noster ( I want to be kind) is rough, and it makes me , if not grateful, at least content with my hearing loss.

  3. mike cliffson says:

    Thankyou for learning that a sermon is a sacramental. I now have qualms about some past actions and judgements of sermons.
    It’s always worth getting some of any sanctifying grace going : I ve long understood that the will is involved with both both sacraments and sacramentals in a rather different way – approaching the throne of grace with a sieve is a description-fits me often enough- but a really terrible thought is that a very thorough act of will is required to TOTALLY negate the effects of a sacrament on our souls and on ourselves. Whereas with a sacramental the grace is there just as much free gratis and for nothing but you do have to will it a bit to get much grace – excuse me if my theology is a bit wonky. I dunno. There are sermons that maybe become sacramental if you dwell on their antitype: eg meditating Our lord’s king ship rather than on how David’s foretaste and reflection of it fall a bit short in a few ways let alone a sermon seemingly praising a modern git modelled on greek king epimanes, he of macabees; and / or how, undeservedly, we’ve got , by the grace of God, a priest a nd mass and a sermon, thousands of millions haven’t and how thankful I should be ……

  4. rtjl says:

    I think I have witnessed the idea of a homily being a sacrmental in action many times.
    In my area there was a priest who could be counted on to preach outright heresy every time he preaches, things like, “When we say the Trinity is three persons we don’t mean that he is literally three persons, but rather that God has three ways of expressing his being just as one man can be a brother, a father and an Uncle” or “When we say that God is really present in the Eucharist, we don’t mean that a piece of bread is really God, rather, what we mean is that when we gather using the symbols of bread and wine, God makes himself present in the gathered assembly”. I could go on. He seemed to delight in using the great feasts of the church to preach on how the the thing we celebrated in the feast was not really true.

    The truly astonishing thing was that, when I spoke to people afterward about the homily, they never seemed to have heard the heretical parts but always seemed to walk away with what was valuable in the homily. I would say to them, “you mean you didn’t hear him say X”? And they would respond, “Oh, did he say that, I didn’t hear that.” It’s almost as if the Holy Spirit was blocking their ears at certain points during the homily.

    BTW – the priest in question is no longer in active ministry.

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