Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Why Can't More Priests Preach Like This?

This clip is relatively famous in trad circles. It goes back to what I was saying about Social Credit:

However, though I agree with what he's saying, my point is more about his style of speaking. We need to start sending more of our priests to Southern Protestant seminaries to learn how to preach. Catholic sermons are usually so weak. Even if they have a good message or content, they're delivered so meekly. We need lions in the pulpit! They need to start studying great orators like Martin Luther King.

People should get a chill down their spine when they hear a sermon! Instead we usually get something quite bland, even if informative or insightful. One problem is that the clergy, especially the higher clergy, has been made into a bureaucracy of bookworms through the seminary system. There are a lot of men in the clergy I would consider to be brilliant academics. But there are very few men in the institutional church whom I would consider real leaders.

Appeal to reason is good. But it needs to be matched by appeal to emotion to really motivate people to ACT. The emotions Catholic preachers seem willing to tap into are rather limited to saccharine or maudlin piety, warm-and-fuzzy lovey-dovey, and perhaps their old favorite: guilt.

They need to learn to use people's Anger, Awe, Pride, Desire, etc...

Unfortunately, even orthodox priests are, apparently, afraid or embarrassed to speak like that. Maybe it's because they distance themselves from such powerful and "scary" emotions in their own psyche. Maybe they lack the courage of their convictions.

So they'll give these nice little academic homilies in this tone that sounds like they are apologizing for everything they are saying, so they undermine their whole message.

Strong emotions would polarize people, and they're afraid of that too, I think. If they preached like that, the people who agreed would be strongly inspired, but those who disagreed would be strongly upset. This divide still exists when they preach meekly, of course, but without the strong emotions it isn't as threatening.


FrGregACCA said...

Did Fr. Coughlin go to a Southern Protestant seminary? I doubt it. Gotta be other ways to teach effective preaching (such as studying great orators and preachers like Martin Luther King, Jesse Jackson, Billy Graham, Fulton Sheen, and yes, Barack Obama.)

A Sinner said...

Oh no, lol, the thing about the Southern Protestant seminaries was just a joke; though they have undeniably produce superior public speakers and know how to move people emotionally.

FrGregACCA said...

I'm kinda speaking tongue in check meself, and still am, but frankly, a couple of others who came to mind were the Rev. Jeremiah Wright and that white priest who pastors an African-American parish on the South of Chicago.

Then, of course, there's Fr. Corapi, who does pretty well, some of these new Orthodox priests (many of whom were once Evangelicals and Pentecostals) are pretty good preachers too.

Mark of the Vineyard said...

If you've ever heard David Higbee speaking, especially in his Bible study lectures, the man packs quite a punch when he's expounding on some passage or other. It seems he was once a protestant minister and is now a lay Catholic.

Kelly said...

I've found late-vocations priests are, in general, better preachers. One priest who is a particularly good homilist used to be a building cleaner! Another two were senior IT managers.

And in my somewhat limited experience with FSSP priests, I've found them generally really great in the confessional and really bad in the pulpit.

Michael said...

Fulton sheen was always very careful not to let his passion for preaching drive him away. There is a specific point he mentions in his autobiography about preaching in Ireland during the political turmoil, something to the effect of: "Ireland's only queen is the Blessed Mother." Afterward he felt remorse for saying it because he had lost sight of the divine.