Does it Matter if a Priest Doesn't Preach Well?

This is the question asked today in The Catholic Herald, following Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi's call upon priests to preach the Faith better.

Perhaps the beauty of the Mass in the Extraordinary Form is that good preaching seems less important, more of a 'bonus'. In the Novus Ordo good preaching seems to be essential.

Someone like St Anthony of Padua was a magnificent preacher, greatly gifted with eloquent and powerful preaching, but then great Saints are rare, not common, the exception to the rule, so how come the Faithful knew the Faith inside out before?

Recently at the Church of Christ the King, where the pentecostalists feed the poor on a Monday (with preaching), I met a lady who had only recently started going to the church. I explained to her that the Catholic Church teaches that the bread and the wine become the true Body and Blood of Our Lord and she replied that none of her Catholic friends had told her that. I told her that the Catholic Church teaches Our Lady to be the 'new Eve' as Our Lord is the 'new Adam'. She replied that none of her Catholic friends knew that.

Is it preaching that has gone wrong? Or is it something deeper?


Jonathan said…
Did people know their Faith that well before? If so then they would have known it was their duty to pass the Faith on to their children. They don't seem to have done that...
I suspect that by and large they didn't know their Faith much better than our generation does except in one respect. I think the Church made it quite clear how important it was to be a Catholic and the faithful knew not to be seduced by protestantism or other errors.
Jonathan, you're dead right about Catholics knowing how important it was to be Catholic and to avoid protestantism. But they would have known at least those two things.

Everything in the old Mass screams 'this is God' at the Blessed Sacrament. All of the prayer manuals they had, which you can still find now, constantly stressed stuff about the real presence and that the host was our Lord etc. And we've alwaysssss known that. I mean, we had Benediction rather than evening Masses back then. And plus the medievals knew it - they'd rush to the rood screen in England to get a glimpse of the host, they called going to Mass, 'seeing God' and for this reason bullied priests into prolonging the elevation! Everyone knew, and so did everyone before and after.

And as for things about the new Eve.... in the period after the Immaculate Conception was defined, I doubt you could move for all the 'new Eve' references. References to our Lady as the new Eve is, I think, pretty common in the pious literature of the last few centuries.

They might not have been walking catechisms, but I'm not sure we're all called to be that. They did know the bare minimum though - which is a lot higher than it is now!
Doc said…
Preach the Gospel every day. Use words if necessary... I think this is where we should all be... priest and lay-persons alike.
Evagrius said…
"The truth is rarely plain and never simple."

It isn't ever just one thing. There is a matrix of interlocking and mutually reinforcing problems in the Church at the moment. This is why the situation continues to grind ever so slowly forward, rather than there being a sudden overthrow of the 'Spirit of Vatican II'.

In fact, that phrase in itself is interesting, isn't it? The "Spirit of Vatican II". Something by nature insubstantial and difficult to pin down...
"...Is it preaching that has gone wrong? Or is it something deeper?.."

The Smoke of Satan entered the Vatican.

The web site I have has sermons from Priests that are edifying to souls.

I believe some Priests also listen to them to get a few pointers.

I have noticed a change in their speak towards more Catholic in demeanor.

The Holy Mother provides the Priest with the words he needs.

It is hard for a Priest to ask for help when he has a bunch of lay women leading him a round by the nose.

We need to encourage our Priests to turn away from lay people, and turn towards Heaven.


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