Flesh Made Word
Thomas A. Kane, C.S.P.
Welcome to a new on-line preaching collection in a multimedia format -- FLESH MADE WORD: The Art of Crafting a Homily. This series will introduce the viewer to the art of crafting a homily through a variety of preaching approaches. Much of the material is visual, and the examples are designed to explore a wide range of preaching methods, styles, and techniques. This process was designed for both the seasoned and beginner preacher. There is a full menu of options, and each unit contains an introduction, a homily, and a conversation, which are time-coded. The series consists of nine units.
Video recordings of homilies and conversations:
1:40:00 minutes of actual preaching /1:50:10 minutes for Conversations
Simply click on the title to access the material. You can view each set in whatever order you choose. The homilies were shot mostly on location with a congregation. The recommended viewing method is to begin with the homily and then follow up the conversation with the preacher discussing the actual process of crafting the homily. We hope this series will open up to you the world of preaching, as we continue to proclaim and embody the Word.
Preaching with a Prop - Ryan Duns, S.J.
Incorporating a prop into one’s preaching can be profoundly effective. It can also prove completely disastrous. Having attempted on several occasions to incorporate a musical instrument into my own preaching, allow me to share some thoughts.
First, the prop is meant to support your preaching. Its use should flow from your message, enhancing the Word rather than detracting from it. When I use it best, the tin whistle serves to give an auditory illustration supporting homily’s point.
Second, one must remain mindful of the prop at all times. Whether preaching with artwork, an instrument, or something else, you must be attentive to its placement. I had to sacrifice mobility in order to keep the whistle “out of sight” while preaching, bringing it forward only when needed. Remember: if a congregant sees something out of the ordinary near the preacher, attention will be directed to the thing and not on receiving the preached Word.
Third, and I say this with a mea culpa, I have succumbed to using my musical gifts as a substitute for the hard work of crafting a homily. People left Mass saying, “Wow, he’s a great musician!” but I fear my musical flourish obscured the transformative word of the Gospel.
Drawing a prop into one’s preaching can transform the way the congregation receives what is preached. It provides another cue and anchor to help them grasp the Scriptures. Attentiveness to the question, “How does this support the Word?” will help to ensure the prop remains just that: a support and buttress used to bring people to move the hearts and minds of the congregation toward greater love for Jesus Christ.
QUESTIONS FOR REFLECTION
- Why do you think “preaching with a prop” enhances the message of a homily?
- What are the benefits? What are pitfalls?
- Is the prop integral to the message of the homily or simply an add on?
- What inspired you to preach with this focus?
- What have you learned from the experience?
- How does “preaching with a prop” support the Gospel message in a unique way?
- Why preach from one scriptural text, especially the Gospel?
Black Saints Celebration - Maurice Nutt, CSsR
There is a common misnomer by some to relegate the black preaching tradition to merely a style of preaching. Nothing could be further from the truth. While stylistic attributes are most notable in black preaching, one would miss the totality of the black preaching tradition if he focused only on the way that a sermon or homily is delivered. It is important to understand that in addition to style, the black preaching tradition is concerned with sermonic structure, biblical interpretive approaches, the black lived experiences, relevant current social, political and economic issues, sound Christian theology as well the correctives found in black theology. One must understand that both the Word of God and the black preaching tradition has been a tremendous source of support and consolation through the anguish and afflictions endured over centuries. These dimensions are all aspects of the tradition. To diminish or ignore one is to not address the full counsel of this unique preaching tradition.
Vital to preaching in the black preaching tradition are three essential elements; namely, preaching and the Holy Spirit, preaching as celebration and preaching for liberation: Holy Spirit-filled preaching is a requisite for many African Americans. In fact the person who preaches the Gospel makes a statement about the Holy Spirit just by entering the pulpit. Rev. Dr. James Forbes says that “the preaching event itself – without reference to specific texts and themes – is a living, breathing, flesh-and-blood expression of the theology of the Holy Spirit.” Thus, the challenge for preachers in the African American community is to free themselves to be used by the Holy Spirit and to cease trying to quench the Spirit.
In black preaching the preacher always presents a revelation. This revelation is communicated with inspiration and celebration. It is a matter of glorifying God and involving the hearers. The preacher is not an impartial reporter of what happens between the divine and God’s people in human history as recorded in Scripture. The preacher is one whose experience resonates with those in the biblical stories; therefore, the preacher is both recorder and witness. The biblical story is the preacher’s story, and it becomes the congregation’s story as well. The sermon or homily participates in a celebration of the kerygma or the Good News. Black preaching affirms celebration by reflecting on black people’s lived experience of the Word. Through black preaching, the faithful are theologically informed; they are inspired; and they are empowered to “run on just a little while longer,” knowing that by God’s grace everything will be alright. Finally, black preaching in effect is preaching for liberation.
Liberation preachers, especially those preaching to black congregations believe that God operates through the process of history to free humankind from oppression. They contend that God aims for all people to have respect, secure living conditions, freedom, opportunities to relate with all people in love and justice. Black preaching for liberation is to promote a world in which all live together in love, justice, dignity and shared material resources: thus, the preaching objective must have a moral and theological responsibility to develop a sound hermeneutical approach to the Gospel. The preacher is compelled to say something that addresses the needs of the people – directing the message to their head and heart. This holistic message will teach blacks how to live as Christians and how to relate their religion to freedom practices. In essence, sermons or homilies must encourage oppressors to repent, to turn away from complicity in oppression, and to turn toward God’s liberating work in history. Preachers in the black preaching tradition must uplift the oppressed with God’s message of hope and the assurance that “trouble don’t last always.”
QUESTIONS FOR REFLECTION
- What are the hallmarks of black preaching?
- Is your preaching biblically grounded, theologically sound, and culturally relevant?
- Preaching informs, inspires, motivates is a classic description of preaching. How do you describe your preaching experience?
- Does one spend time in prayer “talking with the Word” as part of the preparation process?
- Are all readings incorporated into the homily, or is there a limited focus?
- On a scale of 1-10, where does preparation for preaching rank in terms of my priorities in the use of my time each week? How much time do you think most preachers devote to preparing their Sunday homily?
- “My text is just a safety net. I know what I want to say. The outline keeps me on point.” What differences do you experience in your own preaching when you use an outline, a full, written text, or preach without notes?
- How is your body the medium of communication? Do you consciously use gesture, movement, and inflection to enhance your message?
- Are you passionate in your preaching? How embodied is your preaching?
Mission Preaching - John Collins, CSP
Mission preaching is a call to Catholics to become evangelizers or missionaries. We Catholics may have lost the missionary spirit which Paul V1 reminded us is a constitutive element of the church. If we do not evangelize, we are no longer the Church of Jesus Christ.
In mission preaching I am guided by two quotes. One from the Bishops’ Letter on Evangelization, which states that the first goal of evangelization is to "develop in all Catholics such an enthusiasm for their Faith that living their Faith in Jesus, they freely share it with others" and from 1 Peter "always be prepared to give a reason to everyone who asks you to give a reason for the hope that lies with you. Do this with gentleness and respect".
I center my mission preaching around this question: "Can you describe what happens in those events of your life in which you experience the Presence of God?" When one can describe the experience of God in one's life, one is able "to give a reason for the hope that lies within them".
I suggest to those attending the mission that ordinary, everyday, down-to-earth, sometimes monotonous, and even boring human experience can be the place where the experience of God is manifested to us. Preachers are encouraged to use stories of how ordinary human experience can reveal the Presence of God, if we allow ourselves to be open to the spirit.
The preaching process includes getting the listener in the habit of seeing the Presence of God in the ordinary, which helps them build their own faith story. By giving them an enthusiasm for the Presence of God, they are then free to share that story with others.
Click here for a brochure on The Mission
QUESTIONS FOR REFLECTION
- What is at the heart of Mission preaching? What makes it different than Sunday preaching?
- How do you connect the ordinary day-to-day living with the Gospel message? What do you mean by mjssionary? evangelical?
- How do you experience the Presence of God?
- What do you suggest as ways to assist the Assembly in sharing the Gospel with others?
- What techniques might be helpful for the preacher to develop an “evangelical enthusiasm”?
- What role does humor play in preaching?
- Should ritual be a part of a Mission? Or is Mission preaching just that: preaching with no rituals?
- How might media be used in presenting the Mission, such as visuals, music, props, etc.
- How long should a Mission presentation go?
- Is there a place for handouts (additional information and articles) to increase the fruits of the Mission?
Preaching to Children - Anne Krane
Children can be the most intimidating and rewarding group to preach to because of the many challenges that come with their age group. Typically, the children have a shorter attention span and a smaller vocabulary. They can be more easily overwhelmed and distracted. However, this age group is very ready to hear the word of God. When preaching to children, it is important to meet them where they are, with a strong confidence that they are open and excited to hear the message that you are bringing to them.
I strongly advise that preachers begin with a story or a prop, something light and easy to focus on. If nothing else, it will stir their imagination and help them to remember your point. It is important to keep the community engaged. Children along with adults love a a conversation. If there are opportunities to ask the congregation simple questions, do so. Homilies are meant to bring Christ’s message to people in a way that makes it relevant and urgent to their lives. For a younger demographic, use images that anyone can relate to - family, familiar characters, personal stories with emotional content etc. Even though you may use simple terms, don’t be afraid to raise tough questions. Our tendency as adults is to shield young people from big ideas, but when it comes to the word of God, they often can shoulder these ideas more effectively than adults.
One of the most important things to remember when talking to children is how smart and capable they are. Don’t dismiss them, and don’t give up and assume they will never get it. The fact is, we are all trying to “get” the Gospel. Children have a great capacity for faith as well as understanding. Don’t talk down to them or oversimplify the passage, simply challenge them! If the Gospel talks about injustice, figure out what their experience of injustice has been and take it seriously. If the theme is love, commitment, or hope, find a way to bring in their knowledge and understanding. What is trivial to the aduolt, might be very significant to children. These small people have the faith the Christ tells us to emulate. Preaching to children offers adults the opportunity for them to teach us.
QUESTIONS FOR REFLECTION
- What did you learn from the children’s comments about preaching?
- Why do stories appeal to children?
- Why do stories that depict real life experiences move children to be involved in the story?
- In what ways do children teach adults about lived experience?
- How does the context of the classroom influence preaching to children?
- How does the preacher incorporate the children’s appreciation of the five senses and personal stories in preaching preparation?
- How is drama (costumes, props, change of voice, characterizations) a constitutive part of creating a homily for children?
- Because the attention span of children is short, how does the preacher hold their attention though dialogue, questions and answers, and creative engagement?
Preaching On Palm Sunday - Radmar Jao, S.J.
"I love preaching for special liturgies like Palm Sunday because there is so much inherent drama in the readings that makes it that much more fun and engaging for me as a preacher and for the congregation. It’s “easier” to draw people into the drama of the Paschal Mystery on these occasions of our liturgical calendar because of the concrete symbols they can relate to and connect to God’s grace and love.
The rich imagery of the readings, the sacramentals, the liturgical colors, are all fair game to use when preaching. One should not be afraid to incorporate these tangible symbols of God’s grace and presence when preparing your homily. Of course, keep in mind these are to be used only insofar as they help support your message, rather than being a distraction or simply filler.
I use St. Ignatius’ “First Principle and Foundation” as my grounding when I craft and write my homilies. In it he says that human beings are created to “praise, reverence and honor” God. God created all things in this world for us to use insofar as they lead us closer to God. Thus, we are to use God’s gifts for this purpose. If any created thing leads us away from God, then we push it aside.
I believe this principle applies to preaching as well. If our primary goal as preachers is to help the people of God draw closer to God (and I believe it is!), then it follows that all is fair game to use for that purpose. Frankly, it helps with the editing process, and humbles me knowing that it’s not about my eloquence, my intelligence, or my demeanor. It’s all about God!"
QUESTIONS FOR REFLECTION
- What are the pastoral issues around preaching on Palm Sunday?
- How do you preach on two very different Gospels (Palm and Passion)? Is time a factor in planning this celebration?
- What role does symbol and ritual action play in creating this homily?
- Is it liturgically appropriate to connect the drama of the Palm Sunday liturgy with the rest of the Triduum? What are the pros and cons?
- How do you make the entrance procession of palms have more meaning and impact, especially if you have a short distance to travel?
- How can the Palm Sunday homily lead people into a more meaningful celebration of Holy Week?
- How do you make Palm Sunday and Holy Week relevant to those on the periphery of the Church? (i.e. the seeker, the doubter, the disenfranchised?)
Good Friday: A Bilingual Homily - Rev. David Garcia
Bilingual Preaching is a real challenge for preachers. It is not acceptable simply to prepare a homily in English and then translate it into Spanish and fulfill the obligation to communicate the message to Hispanic/bilingual people. When one switches languages there is also a change of cultures. Generally speaking, the North American culture is more of an individualistic culture while the Hispanic culture is more of a communal oriented one. With a different culture, comes different meanings for words and phrases, as well as different images and stories meaningful to the people.
A preacher in a bilingual congregation needs to prepare two homilies, which can be related or distinct. These two homilies, within the same Mass, can be six to eight minutes each in length. The first homily should be in only one language and developed around one or more of the readings. Finishing that homily, the preacher then delivers the second one in the second language. This homily could refer to a different reading or reflect on the same readings as the first homily.
Some bilingual preachers prefer to speak English and Spanish in the same homily, at times switching languages every few sentences or even every few words. In the opinion and experience of many seasoned bilingual preachers, this approach can be confusing for those who are monolingual and irritating for those who are bilingual. Preaching two brief and culturally appropriate homilies is a respectful and effective way to reach everyone in the congregation. Monolingual people hear one culturally appropriate homily while bilingual people hear two.
QUESTIONS FOR REFLECTION
- What is the challenge of bi-lingual preaching?
- Fr. Garcia describes his preparation for preaching: pray with scriptures, read commentaries, take notes, reflect, develop an outline, organize material, set the material and preach without texts or notes. Can you see yourself preparing to preach in this manner? What works best for the preacher?
- Express in your own words the three-part template for preaching: focus on peoples’ reality; illuminate it with the Word of God; help congregation take message home.
- Do you read the “signs of the times” and relate them to the scriptures?
- Are all readings incorporated into the homily, or is there a limited focus?
- What are the reasons for selecting a single scripture text as the basis for the homily?
- Do you preach to people in light of their experience? Do you use examples that relate to family life, relatives, or friends?
- How are the people of different cultural and ethnic backgrounds in your congregation different in their life experience? How are their contexts different? the same?
- Does preparing two different homilies make sense to you? Why or why not?
Pesame - Rev. David Garcia
Thomas A. Kane, CSP
I have included the Pesame in this collection because it is a reflective combination of liturgy, ritual and popular religion. The Pesame takes place in San Antonio, Texas, on Good Friday night as a continuation of the afternoon Liturgy of Good Friday. It has in origins in the blended Tex-Mex culture of the region and is a unique contribution to the Church of the Southwest. The Pesame includes heartfelt prayers, the funeral procession, the burial of Jesus, and the Condolences to the Sorrowful Mother. I see this ritual event as an extended homily that moves the participants - heart, mind, and body. From all my work in liturgy, I can think of no other service that so engages the assembly on such an emotional and affective level, while providing a link between Good Friday and the Easter Vigil.
Rev. David Garcia
The ritual begins at dusk on Good Friday with a solemn beat of a drum fur the funeral procession. The wailing high-pitched song of a woman mourning the death of a loved one pierces the air. The long line of participants enters San Fernando Cathedral for the beginning of one of the most moving traditions of the church year, the Santo Entierro and Pesame a La Virgen, the Holy Burial and Sharing of Sympathy with the Virgin.
This tradition has continued in San Antonio for over two and a half centuries. It has always brought people together to enter into the gospel story of the death and burial of Jesus and the sorrowful loss his mother suffered. The images of Jesus and Mary that are carried in procession and lovingly honored are part of the strong sense of being present that day so long ago in Jerusalem, of entering totally into the gospel story and experiencing it from the inside.
Since medieval times rituals and ceremonies such as this one have been part of the Church's tradition. They belong to that form of devotion we now call popular religiosity. All of this was brought over to the New World by the Spanish evangelizers who saw these traditions as one powerful way to teach the faith to the indigenous peoples of the Americas. They trusted that if one lived in the moment of the gospel story one could be moved by that experience to enter more fully into the gospel. In that process one can then actually become the gospel, the good news for the world. That is the movement toward conversion.
The genius of popular religion is that it invites one to enter totally, mind, spirit and body, into the experience of the gospel or a story of faith. All the senses are involved. We see the ritual and the color. We feel the movement of our body and those around us. We touch the statues and images of the holy ones who are with us this day. We smell the incense or the flowers or the night air as we process through the plazas and streets. We hear the music or the soft shuffle of feet as we wind our way through our pilgrimage. We respond with our words in song or recited prayer. It is an experience of the whole being moving together with others as we follow the two santos, Jesus and Mary, on the solemn burial procession.
The first dominant image of the Santo Entierro is that of the crucified and dead Christ figure. Jesus is taken down from the cross at the beginning of the ceremony. Every motion is sacred. The nails are slowly removed and the arms slowly come down to the side. The image is lowered. We see the blood that flowed from the crown of thorns and streamed down his filce. The spots where each nail pierced the hands and the feet are clearly shown. The people carefully and lovingly place the body on the "ataud" fur carrying in the burial procession. The body of Jesus is then taken around the plazas and streets of the city, slowly and reverently, mostly in silence as each person reflects on the power of this moment. On this night the sacred space of the church spills out onto the secular space of the city. All becomes sacred space as the movement of people of faith fills the community. People in cars stop and stare, while pedestrians grow silent as the line of pilgrims slowly and quietly winds its way through the streets.
This is a moment of transformation. What is it about carrying the dead Christ that so fills us with a mixture of sadness and hope? Do we not see in this image the first taste of the Resurrection? Do we not feel the depths of loss and hopelessness, yet at the same time the promise of a future life? Maybe we see our own lives in this moment, a mixture of Joss and hopelessness, yet sustained by faith. It is this reflection that calls us to something else. We are called to become different, people of hope, as we make the streets different with our faith-filled movement.
We enter the church again and begin the loving preparation of the body for burial. The women dressed in black approach the Christ. They pour the scented oil over him and anoint the limbs and torso with soft caresses. They take their time. This is one night when no one rushes. All have time to enter fully into the experience. Every part of the body is anointed and re-anointed, carefully, lovingly.
We see in the dead Christ our own mortality. One day we will also die. It may be a tremendous moment of suffering and pain. It may be a silent unconscious final gasp of breath. Death may come in the prime of life or at the end of many years and many gray hairs. Death comes suddenly and unexpectedly. It can also come when one decides simply to surrender to a long illness or old age. It can be the result of cancer or AIDS as we are told by our physician how much time we have left to live. Death is inevitable and at the same time something we never completely understand.
The dead body of Christ calls us to prepare for our death by living. It calls us to welcome death as a friend not an enemy, as one to be embraced rather than feared. Our Hispanic celebrations of Dia de los Muertos allow us to celebrate death, to make fun of it, and to confront it. This is not fatalism It is living life fully so that we die well. It is understanding that we are all somehow connected in that great communion of saints with those who have gone before us. We venerate our antepasados. We ask for their guidance, inspiration and help. We see in their lives heroic faith-filled examples. We remember those who have died so that we learn from them how to live well. We see in the dead body of Christ our own dead loved ones. Christ was the first to die in faithfulness to His Father. Our departed loved ones followed him and we must do the same. It is a moment to renew our faith and to commit ourselves to follow the one who died fur us all.
The entierro finishes with all of us lovingly approaching that dead Christ figure and leaving flowers on his body. We touch it, caress it, run our hands down it. We kiss his serene face, bloodied hands or tender feet. We carry our children with us and teach them to also know who this is. We want them to learn how Jesus loves them and how they must love him in return. We show them how to venerate this sacred image in a centuries old tradition of handing on the faith to the next generation. They quietly stare with big eyes as they get closer to the image then they have ever been before. They ask why was this done to Jesus and we begin to tell them the story. We take our role of being the chief catechizers of our children seriously as we carefully explain the story of Good Friday to them. It is a sacred moment as children begin to understand in their own way the love of God in Christ fur them. What a powerful lesson for us all.
The ritual now turns our attention to the Dolorosa. Mary, the mother of Jesus is dressed in black. She has the look of agony and profound loss. She has suffered intensely the cruel sorrow of a mother who is forced to see her flesh and blood tortured, beaten, mocked, and killed. She is there for every moment of the long march to Calvary. She feels sharply every whip, every full, every thorn and every hammer of the nails. She is hurt deeply by the taunts hurled at her son. Now she is the picture of sorrow as her race tells us that her son is dead. The loss is without compare.
In La Dolorosa we see ourselves in sorrow and loss. The losses we go through in life are many. They can be as simple as the loss of a friend who moves away or the loss felt when we graduate from school and realize that life will be different for us. It is the loss of leaving our mother country, our pueblo, our relatives and lifelong friends to come to the United States in search of a new life for us and our family. It is a loss that is also felt when a child leaves the home to get married or enter the service. It is a loss of a job when we are laid off or let go. It is the insecurity of seeing life changed and somehow never the same again. It is the deep loss of a separation or a divorce. Finally it is the loss of a loved one in death. Somehow that loss through death is the deepest and most final. There is a hole in the heart that cannot be repaired. There is a sense that something so much a part of us is now gone for the rest of our lives and we must somehow carry on. We can never be the same after loss. Something has died in us. Something new must now rise. It is always hard.
La Dolorosa is the symbol of all our sufferings and loss. She symbolizes especially the unjust suffering and losses we endure. Her son was killed in a great act of injustice. We see every day numerous injustices perpetrated on us and many more we know. We remember the child killed by a drunk driver or the son lost in the war. We have vivid memories of the innocent thousands killed on September 11th. We recall how a relative or friend died of cancer in the prime of life leaving a spouse and children behind. We know of the neighbor who is separated from his family because of unfair immigration policies. Over and over again, so many instances of injustice have been experienced by our people.
Often there is no one to turn to for help or support. Often the only thing left is faith.
La Dolorosa is the picture of faith tried by fire. She said yes to the invitation of God to be the mother of Jesus not knowing what it would mean to live out that vocation. She suffered deeply for that yes, yet she never wavered in her commitment to live that faith. She is the model of faithfulness in suffering. We receive tremendous strength in her example. She inspires us as many strong women of the past have inspired us. Our mothers and grandmothers, who handed on the faith to us, are called to mind as women of faith. Their prayers pulled us through many a difficult moment in life. We learn from their deep and firm steadfastness to their vocation of faith that suffering is part of this life. It is part of the carrying of the cross all disciples are called to do.
QUESTIONS FOR REFLECTION
- What makes the Pesame so engaging? so prayerful? so meaningful to the community?
- “Popular religion belongs to people not the clergy.” How does this statement reflect the experience of Pesame?
- How is loss and grief expressed in the ritual actions of Pesame?
- In what ways does the procession engage the heart and soul of the participant?
- Why does the power of personal presence and human touch so influence the Pesame experience?
- In what ways does the silent procession of Pesame influence other prayer practices?
- How does the expression of the seven sorrows of Mary still touch us today?
- How does the anointing with oil and the burial of Jesus with flowers teach us in ways that textbooks do not? What is the relationship to evangelization and catechesis?
Preaching as a Biblical Character - James DiLuzio, CSP
Preaching as a Biblical Character: An Introduction
Thomas A. Kane, CSP
Preaching as a biblical character or preaching in character can be a liberating experience for the preacher; liberating because the homily is in the voice of the “other”. The mode of discourse is direct, experiential and colloquial. The style of preaching is quite close to traditional preaching in that the preaching has a strong scriptural base.
Sundays or a feast day seem like the appropriate time.
In this method, there are two basic options: preach as the character throughout and always stay in character or begin in character and then break character and comment on the experience. When one preaches in character, be watchful that it is not about you being the character, but there is a sense of transparency to the performance in which your very persona melts into the character. You actually become the character. Sometimes a very simple costume effect can help the congregation visualize the change of persona.
The benefits of preaching in character are: people are interested in stories, the mode is easy to memorize and appears more sincere, real and direct. This style of preaching requires careful exegesis and uses composition of place as a starting point, very much akin to Ignatian contemplation. “imagine yourself as…”
Suggestions for developing a technique:
- Read the scripture text many times from a variety of translations.
- What person in the scripture text speaks to you?
- What does s/he look like? Any distinguishing characteristics?
- Why is this character attractive? repulsive? intriguing?
- Imagine the person sitting across from you?
- Describe the clothes, the outward appearance.
- How does the person sound when speaking?
- What is this person about in life? What drives him/her?
- What is the person’s relationship with Jesus?
- Begin writing down thoughts, feelings, and dialogue that comes to you.
- Sound the text as you write. Speak out loud!
- Re-read the Scripture Text. Any new material?
- Study commentaries, dictionaries, other writings?
- What new insights are you gaining? Continue re-writing the narrative.
- Edit. Finalize. Block in space. Practice. Perform. Evaluate.
I am Luke
James DiLuzio, CSP
As preachers of Luke’s Gospel, we infuse our commentaries and life examples with Luke’s primary themes. The foundational element is The Great Reversal, in which the lowly are lifted up and the arrogant are brought low. Both stand equally dependent upon God. This is the grounding for Luke-inspired preaching.
The Great Reversal is rooted in Luke’s emphasis on Incarnation: the pattern of Christ coming “down to earth” to identify fully with the human condition. God literally with us! Only real-life examples of great inspiration, humility and forgiveness will make this reality present. From the lowliness of the manger (human vulnerability venerated) to the reconciling Sermon on the Plain, where all disciples, be they rich or poor, sick or in health, gentile or jew, stand shoulder to shoulder, equal in dignity before the Lord.
In preparing the homily, the preacher choses stories, anecdotes and images that makes this lowly equality the way of grace, the path of peace. This path is what we have in common with every other human being. We share a basic dependence on God for the air we breathe and the water we drink. Our homilies are to move preacher and listener alike beyond the constant temptation to judge and condemn to humble acceptance of the good and evil in all of us. This approach to preaching permeates our constant reliance on God’s mercy.
QUESTIONS FOR REFLECTION
- When preaching as a biblical character, what would a 21st century interviewer want and need to know about the person? What can be known from scripture? What are reasonable hypotheticals?
- Do you find storytelling to be foundational to preaching in general?
- When the preacher begins preparing a homily by praying over the scriptures, do you bring into account the emotional responses that bubble up? What common human experiences are associated with these feelings? How do these feelings assist the preacher in the preparation process?
- How do the scriptural resources, commentaries and footnotes offer ways to develop the character? As one of the models, does the preacher use the teaching mode to enter into a character?
- In preaching as a biblical character, how do multiple scriptural passages assist the preacher to develop a full character? In what ways does the love of story make the character come fully alive?
- How important is the editing process to creating the homily? How much time should the preacher spend in reviewing and editing the material?
- What role does humor play in preparing a homily?
- How important are the visual aspects of preaching? Would you consider a “costume change” to create the character? Are words enough?
Multimedia Preaching - Thomas A. Kane, CSP
Using media in preaching is a new endeavor in many circles. The focus is on methodology, artistic construction and using non-traditional (experimental) preaching techniques in communicating effectively the Gospel. Multimedia may include the use or combination of music, projected visuals, drama and dance. Many public spaces are now equipped with built-in projectors and screens to provide access to these creative endeavors.
First, be aware of the various cultures – the oral culture of proverbs, the literate culture of text (theory and concept) or the post-literate, electronic culture of television, mass media and the computer and technological age. Media can be a positive addition to the preaching of the gospel, especially in connecting the art with the culture around us. Done well and with sensitivity, this style of preaching can provide a challenging and effective medium of communication. On the downside, it can foster passivity and “spectatorship.” There is a fine line that requires balancing the form and the content so that there is engaging communication with the material, the flow, and the placement within the ritual itself.
Today’s use of projections enables a blending of sight and sound for powerpoint, iMovies, or other visual platforms. The software makes media more accessible to the creative preacher. The results can be very professional looking as long as the script contains strong theological and pastoral content. Creative media does not compensate for, nor enhance, poor or flimsy content.
Trust the media you are working with; let the media say what it says in its own communicating style; don’t try to explain media away or make an excuse for using it. Be clear with your process. In working with others, use a full script, provide clear instructions, stay with the script, and do not improvise, especially if others depend on the script for cues. Practice with visual projections, lighting, sound, volume and balance. Rehearse a number of times all the way through with everyone engaged in the production.
QUESTIONS FOR REFLECTION
- What is involved in creating a multimedia homily?
- In what ways does the preacher craft the homily for the ear and not the eye?
- What techniques dies the preacher employ to amplify and deepen the biblical themes of the homily through music and visuals?
- How does multimedia preaching heighten the emotions?
- What makes a homily conversational?
- What are the necessary steps for a preacher to create a homily with a unified core?
- How does revising and editing assist the preacher to create a homily that is crisp, clear and direct?
- What are the values for good beginnings and endings of the homily?
- What is the value of a collaborative approach in working with others in a multimedia format?
VIDEO RECORDINGS OF HOMILIES AND CONVERSATIONS
1:40:00 minutes of actual preaching
1:50:10 minutes for Conversations
ABOUT THE PRODUCER/DIRECTOR
The Rev. Thomas A. Kane, CSP, is a Paulist priest, and an internationally known ritual maker and videographer. His research interests include the area of arts, communication, and liturgy and culture. Dr. Kane studies contemporary worship and celebration and has written and lectured on liturgy, dance and creativity in the United States and around the world. He has documented liturgical inculturation, making documentaries about the Church and culture in different parts of the world - Africa, Latin America and the South Pacific. His DVD collection, The Dancing Church Around the World, includes The Dancing Church of Africa, The Dancing Church of the South Pacific, and FIESTA! Celebrations at San Fernando Cathedral, published by Paulist Press.
Father Kane recently retired from the Boston College School of Theology and Ministry where he taught preaching, liturgy, and theology and the arts for over forty years. He also collaborated with a “preaching team” to produce three faculty handbooks on methods in teaching preaching.
As the director of Paulist Reconciliation Ministries in Washington, D.C., he coordinates various ministry projects throughout North America, including outreach to disaffected and alienated Catholics. He is the Executive Director of Landings, a lay ministry program that welcomes returning Catholics to the Church. He recently edited Healing God’s People: Theological and Pastoral Approaches: A Reconciliation Reader and All Holy Men and Women: A Paulist Litany of Saints. His next project will be developing Landings2, a follow-up program to assist returning Catholics to explore their spiritual development.
He was a liturgical consultant to the World Conference of Churches in Geneva for many years and is a member of the Academy of Homiletics, the Catholic Association of Teachers of Homiletics (CATH), and the North American Academy of Liturgy and Societas Liturgica.
On stage, he choreographed the liturgical movements for Sarah Caldwell’s 25th anniversary production of Leonard Bernstein’s Mass and has performed with the Omega Dance Company as a guest artist in the United States and abroad. On Sundays, Father Kane assists at St. Malachy Parish in Burlington, MA, and Holy Family Parish in Concord, MA.