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The Pope's Advice on Getting Sermons Written

I was pleased to see that Pope Benedict recently gave exactly the same advice that I would have given to priests on how to prepare their Sunday sermons:

My advice is to begin early on Monday, for if one begins on Saturday it is too late, the preparation is hurried and perhaps inspiration is lacking, for one has other things on one’s mind. Therefore, I would say, already on Monday, simply read the Readings for the coming Sunday which perhaps seem very difficult: a little like those rocks at Massah and Meribah, where Moses said: “But how can water come from these rocks?”.

Then stop thinking about these Readings and allow the heart to digest them. Words are processed in the unconscious, and return a little more every day. Obviously, books should also be consulted, as far as possible. And with this interior process, day by day, one sees that a response gradually develops. These words gradually unfold, they become words for me. And since I am a contemporary, they also become words for others. I can then begin to express what I perhaps see in my own theological language in the language of others; the fundamental thought, however, remains the same for others and for myself.

Thus, it is possible to have a lasting and silent encounter with the Word that does not demand a lot of time, which perhaps we do not have. But save a little time: only in this way does a Sunday homily mature for others, but my own heart is also touched by the Lord’s Word. I am also in touch with a situation when perhaps I have little time available.

(Visit to Roman Major Seminary, February 17)
Essentially this is the principle of “little and often” which I have frequently written about. He also talked about the importance of having a structure to one’s day and having “depth activities” (my phrase) which enable the day to go well. “Serva ordinem et ordo servabit te” (Serve the order, and the order will serve you).

Reader Comments (4)

Hi Mark
Can you offer us a direct link to the actual article you're referring to?

March 15, 2008 at 16:24 | Unregistered Commenterlearning as I go
That was difficult as I didn't read it in a website. However I've managed to find the reference:
March 15, 2008 at 17:12 | Registered CommenterMark Forster
Hi Mark
Thank you very much. I read both parts of the article....a great read!
March 16, 2008 at 16:09 | Unregistered Commenterlearning as I go
Lots of good stuff in that article. I always thought it a waste of time for every pastor to write his own sermon, but now I see a reason for it. I always felt slightly guilty when interpreting the scriptures in a personal way, thinking that wasn't how they were intended. If the Pope says to do it I'll be a lot more comfortable.

Thanks for the link!
September 19, 2010 at 0:29 | Unregistered CommenterCricket

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