Book Reviews – June 2020

At Mass with Jesus on Calvary: Reflections on the Prayers of the Mass and the Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist By Fr. Gene Martens, SJ. Reviewed by Fr. James Swetnam, SJ. (skip to review) Hope to Die: The Christian Meaning of … [Read more...]

Homily Possibilities for the Sunday Scrutinies

During the three middle Sundays of Lent, the Christian people welcome in a special way the Elect who are presented to Christ’s Church as those seeking full communion. The 3rd, 4th, and 5th Sundays of Lent thus provide great opportunities f … [Read more...]

The Call of the New Evangelization for Preachers

Although the new evangelization is new in several respects, its message is the timeless Gospel of salvation through Jesus Christ, following St. Paul, who writes, “What we preach is Christ crucified” (I Cor 1:23). At the heart of the pre … [Read more...]

Preaching the “Story of Stories”

Of the many writings from the French philosopher Paul Ricoeur, one stands out simply by virtue of its intriguing title — “Life: A Story in Search of a Narrator.”[1. P. Ricoeur, “Life: A Story in Search of a Narrator,” in eds. M.C. Doeser and … [Read more...]

A Method of Homily Preparation

St. Francis de Sales in his excellent book, On the Preacher and Preaching, declares emphatically: “We must adhere to method in all things; there is nothing more helpful to a preacher, makes his preaching more profitable, and is so pleasing t … [Read more...]

Some Notes for Preachers on the Reading of Ephesians Five in the Lectionary

In my years of presenting basic sacramental theology to engaged couples for pre-Cana, the interpretation of the literal sense of Ephesians five on marriage is something that has frequently occupied me. It was even an endeavor to which I was … [Read more...]

Father de Caussade and the Abandonment to Divine Providence

Existentially Bored Currently, we are witnessing a widespread cultural shift away from the Christian faith and an odd movement in many hearts toward various Eastern philosophies and spiritualities. As Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI once … [Read more...]

Book Reviews – April 2019

Reflections on the Sacred Liturgy, Vol. I: Lent & Holy Week By Fr. Thomas Hoisington. Reviewed by Stephanie A. Mann. (skip to review) Off the Hook: God, Love, Dating, and Marriage in a Hookup World By Timothy P. O’Malley. Reviewed b … [Read more...]

Pope Francis and the Purification of Heroic Desire

It is the duty of pastoral homiletics to call the faithful to heroic virtue. Virtue itself, to be sure, is a core fruit of receiving the Gospel, but, at times, we need to hear the call to heroic virtue; that is, we must know that the next … [Read more...]

“Many Shall Come from the East and the West”

A Comparison of the Preaching of Augustine and John Chrysostom

Introduction “Many shall come from the East and the West and will recline with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob at the banquet in the Kingdom of Heaven” (Mt 8:11). The two great preachers of the fourth and fifth centuries — John Chrysostom, Bisho … [Read more...]

Believing and Praying

The Power of Homilies

It’s often been said that by reflecting on what we have received in the tradition of liturgical prayer we can discover what we believe; prayer as a source of doctrine. The reverse is also true. What we believe determines what we pray — or wh … [Read more...]

The Doctors of Ravenna

Peter Chrysologus and Peter Damien

The city of Ravenna boasts two Doctors of the Church named Peter: the fifth-century bishop of Ravenna, Peter Chrysologus, and the eleventh-century cardinal bishop from Ravenna, Peter Damian. The earlier Chrysologus is honored each year in … [Read more...]

The Words Men Need to Hear

A Priest Speaks to College Seminarians

Speak only the words men need to hear, the things that really help them . . . (Ephesians 4:29) Introduction The effects of language—for good or ill—first occurred to me when I was five, during the summer before kindergarten. As my broth … [Read more...]

Maintaining the Liturgy in a Homily Surrounded by Technology

Does technology enhance or diminish a homily? Should we use technology in homiletics? These questions don’t elicit an agreed-upon answer, and often focus on the art of preaching itself. Let’s take a representative example from each side. Dr. … [Read more...]

Lessons from a Patristic Homily

In learning how to craft homilies, it is worth studying past master homilists; from these masters, we can learn masterful techniques. Reading those who wrote in one’s own native tongue is, of course, a necessary thing: Newman would probably … [Read more...]