On Preaching, Then and Now

“… this kind of talk is no longer in fashion. Even preachers are composing their sermons so as not to displease.  They may have good intentions, and the good deeds may follow; but the result is that few try to amend!  But why don’t sermons influence many to give up public vice?

Do you know my opinion?  Those who preach are very cautious; they don’t have the great fire of love of God that the Apostles did, and so the flame has little power to enkindle.”

Saint Teresa of Avila wrote this in her autobiography, The Book of Her Life, in the mid 16th Century.

She goes on to say that what preachers should stress is that people should “abhor their lives” and not worry so much about their reputations, deciding instead to stop worrying about losing it all for God.  “Those who in fact risk all for God will find that they have both lost all and gained all.”

Preaching (including my own) suffers the same defect in every era it would seem.  Saint Teresa would have been a useful homiletics instructor, both then and now.

And, her observation that us priests (including me) lack sufficient fire is also keen.  

“I have come to set the earth on fire, and how I wish it were already blazing!”  Luke 12:49.

May it be so, as the Savior commands.

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About Father Nathan Reesman

Father Reesman is a priest of the Archdiocese of Milwaukee. He is the Shared Pastor of Immaculate Conception Parish, and also of Saint Frances Cabrini Parish, both in West Bend, Wisconsin.
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