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The Deacon's Bench

The Deacon's Bench

The Art of Preaching Archives

A great message — especially for deacons

posted by jmcgee

Listen to one of the modern era’s greatest preachers. H/T New Advent

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On provocative preaching

posted by jmcgee

“Preaching is about saving before it is about consoling, and God makes this clear to Ezekiel and to every preacher. I think a lot of people think that preaching is supposed to merely please and encourage them. There is a […]

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Preacher attempts to break record for longest sermon

posted by jmcgee

Is this really such a good idea? If you are attending Lambeg Parish Church in Lisburn this weekend, bring a cushion. Parishioners at the church will have the opportunity to sit through their rector’s attempt to break a UK record […]

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Meet New York’s subway preachers

posted by jmcgee

They are an exotic, quirky breed. Now the New York Times offers this look at some of them: The graffiti has been replaced by advertising. The tokens have been replaced by MetroCards. But the subway preachers are a constant. They […]

Revealed: what makes a homily good

posted by jmcgee

“If anyone ever compliments me and says, ‘Gee, that was a good homily,’ I learned a long time ago never to ask them why because I get so depressed. I worked so hard on this and I expect them to […]

A funny thing happened on the way to the pulpit

posted by jmcgee

Did you hear the one about the people who are trying to find humor in ministry? Check it out: Can you say the word “breast” in a sermon? If so, how often? When trying to keep a congregation’s attention during […]

“A lot of preachers have had to wing it…”

posted by jmcgee

If you wonder how a preacher goes about his (or her) job, take a look: Pastors take great care to craft sermons they hope will inspire their congregations. Many spend hours each week thinking, researching and writing. When the Rev. […]

You can’t say that in church: all about “Pulpit Freedom Sunday”

posted by jmcgee

If you wonder why churches cannot endorse political candidates, Chuck Colson explains — and explains what some preachers may be doing about it this Sunday: In 1954, then-Senator Lyndon Johnson was in the middle of a particularly bruising re-election battle. […]

“What good am I?”

posted by jmcgee

Looking for a little musical inspiration for approaching this Sunday’s scriptures? This song, by Bob Dylan, in a haunting interpretation by Tom Jones, says it. Sing it, Tom.

Can the pastor tell you what to preach?

posted by jmcgee

That’s the question posed to Fr. Z., who offers this response: I think the pastor does have a certain measure of control over what you preach. He is the pastor, even if he is an heterodox jackass. The pastor, parish […]

Roamin’ Catholics: preachers who won’t stay put

posted by jmcgee

The always-interesting Fr. Z looks at a question from a reader about a priest who wanders around when he preaches: For centuries in the pre-Conciliar form of the Roman Rite the preacher is accompanied to the pulpit by the master […]

Write this down!

posted by jmcgee

“Have upon your study table, always accessible, a good-sized substantially bound blank book. Whenever a germinant thought comes seize your pen and write it down. Such thoughts will come out of your special course of literary reading, out of your […]

Faith? There’s an app for that

posted by jmcgee

And what started as a fad is becoming a trend, according to Reuters: Father Tom Eichenberger began a recent sermon by playing an iPhone ring tone of church bells into the microphone and talking about how praying is like using […]

What do you preach at a wedding?

posted by jmcgee

That’s the question that is lurking in the back of Cathleen Falsani’s mind. She’s been asked to officiate at the wedding of two friends, and is mulling what to say. From the Huffington Post: In the Book of Common Prayer’s […]

Preparation H (for homily)

posted by jmcgee

How does a preacher prepare for the Sunday homily? A local paper in Oregon took up that question this weekend and asked preachers of various denominations — and got an interesting array of answers: Quaker pastor Stan Thornburg of North […]

On homilies: “How can you plant seeds?”

posted by jmcgee

A bit fat h/t to Mike “Googling God” Hayes, who is pointing readers to this very good chin-scratcher about what makes for good preaching in the Catholic Church. From the Pray Tell blog: In the midst of all the bustle […]

How can you be a better preacher?

posted by jmcgee

Though the advice in this piece is aimed primarily at Protestant preachers, some of the ideas have applications for the rest of us, too: In churches of any denomination, pastors serve and shepherd the people. Preaching is only one aspect […]

Shepherd of note: a singing bishop

posted by jmcgee

Yes! Can someone say “Amen!”? This just made me smile: a video of the newly installed bishop of Springfield concluding his homily with a song from one of the Backstreet Boys. Yes. Really. You can read about him here. But […]

Pentecost: making a new church

posted by jmcgee

“The Spirit who came as a great rushing wind and as tongues of fire on the first Pentecost will come more quietly but no less powerfully upon us today and upon the gifts we will place on this altar. If […]

Can you hear me now: the perils of P.A. systems and preaching

posted by jmcgee

Some provocative food for thought from Msgr. Charles Pope on the question of what the modern microphone has done to the art of preaching: I have discussed with brother priests before the concern I have at how too much microphone […]

The Lord is my goalie: a homily on hockey

posted by jmcgee

It’s not every Sunday that a homily finds a connection between hockey and Jesus Christ. But a priest managed to do that last weekend: Father Paul Noble isn’t the only Blue Jackets fan to suggest that players from his favorite […]

What the sermons said

posted by jmcgee

Here’s an unusual idea, and it might make for an interesting exercise for a homiletics class. A group of journalists headed out to 10 different churches in Ireland last Sunday, to hear the homilies and write about what they heard. […]

The state of Catholic preaching

posted by jmcgee

The sage Msgr. Charles Pope has a few thoughts about what goes on (and doesn’t) up in the pulpit: When I talk with Catholics who have left the Church, the number one reason I get that they left was poor […]

Deacon apologizes for homily remark about “Adam and Steve”

posted by jmcgee

I’ve never heard of someone making a public apology for something he said in a homily. Until now: The Gloucestershire Gay and Lesbian Community has accepted a Catholic deacon’s apology for preaching that “marriage is between Adam and Eve — […]

How long is your homily?

posted by jmcgee

The Vatican has a suggestion: Homilies should be no longer than eight minutes — a listener’s average attention span, said the head of the synod office. Priests and deacons should also avoid reading straight from a text and instead work […]

If

posted by jmcgee

At first blush, I thought this brief essay was a classic example of someone who had a deadline to meet, and nothing to say, and an editor breathing down his neck. But I’m thinking, no:  he actually has a good […]

A Prayer Before I Preach

posted by jmcgee

I have a rare weekend off from preaching; they’re showing a video for the Bishop’s Annual Catholic Appeal at all the masses, so that will eat up the homily time. So I don’t have a homily to post today.  But […]

Advice to deacons, “as you hand on the word of God”

posted by jmcgee

“As the custodian of the word, Mary will hold a special place in your life as deacons. We are told in the Gospels that she treasured all matters pertaining to Christ in her heart. It was only until after the […]

“I doubt the value of priests being stand-up comics”

posted by jmcgee

“I do not believe we are there just to entertain, and attempts for church services to be informal for their own sake end up being trite and embarrassing. I also doubt the value of priests or ministers being stand-up comics. […]

The secret to a good homily? Listening

posted by jmcgee

This fine essay on preaching should give anyone who climbs into the pulpit ample food for thought: I taught a class on preaching last week. As we began I said, “Good preaching begins with good listening.” I think of preachers, […]

In a digital age, the old fashioned sermon survives

posted by jmcgee

In fact, in Britain it seems to not only be surviving, but thriving: Some ember still seems to burn in Britain’s 3.6 million regular churchgoers, for almost all of them feel a sense of expectation for the Sunday sermon, according […]

Mass as theater: after communion, let’s go to Sardi’s and wait for the reviews …

posted by jmcgee

Over at First Things, Patrick Rostrum has attempted to write what amounts to a review of a church and its mass, with special emphasis on the homily: The pre-service stillness did not last long. With the first note of the […]

“They departed by another way…”

posted by jmcgee

“The Journey of the Magi” by James Jacques Joseph Tissot And having been warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they departed for their country by another way. “It’s important to see that the Magi did go home. […]

Anglican watch: “Preaching will be theological, eloquent and sophisticated”

posted by jmcgee

Along with good liturgy, it seems the Anglicans will be bringing with them good preaching, too. From the blog Sub Tuum: One value shared in common among all Anglicans, however, has been their expectation of regular and good preaching. It […]

“You are going to die”

posted by jmcgee

That’s one of the fundamental messages contained in the funeral homily below, from Msgr. Charles Pope, of the Archdiocese of Washington. He writes about his approach here, and explains: I will admit that some of the things I say are […]

A 20-minute sermon?

posted by jmcgee

Evidently, that’s not uncommon in some parts of the world. And an archdiocese in India is trying to put a stop to it: The Catholic church in a recent circular has instructed the clergy to keep their sermons short. The […]

Priests say the darnedest things

posted by jmcgee

“Johnny announced to his mother one Sunday morning that he had two good reasons for not going to church that day.  ‘First, I am tired and need more sleep. Second, nobody likes me there.’  His mother replied: ‘Johnny, I have […]

Want better preaching? Do your part

posted by jmcgee

Over at his blog, Msgr. Charles Pope has some intriguing ideas about one way to improve the quality of homilies: My own experience as a priest powerfully underscores the role of congregation in helping to craft the preaching moment. I […]

A Coffin fit: a famous preacher’s sermons

posted by deacon greg kandra

Someone has taken the time and trouble to collect and edit the sermons of one of the most celebrated pulpit-pounders of the ’70s, William Sloane Coffin. I found this review in the online edition of the Christian Century: John Ames, […]

Quote of the day

posted by deacon greg kandra

“To a certain extent Christianity is always going to be counter-cultural. It cannot become a religious apology for what contemporary culture happens to believe at any moment in time. But at the same time we have to translate the realities […]

Corapi speaks

posted by deacon greg kandra

“Especially in these times, I felt that people not only need education in the faith — we’ve always tried to do that — but they also need inspiration. I find that there is a lot of — I don’t want […]

“How many times in the past week did the risen Christ appear to you and me?”

posted by deacon greg kandra

I’m not preaching this Sunday; we’re showing that stewardship video at all the masses instead. But I liked very much the thoughts below from the homily by the Concord Pastor, Fr. Austin Fleming: It would be much easier to live […]

Tip #1: Stay in the pulpit…

posted by deacon greg kandra

Over at Inside Catholic, David Mills is offering some sound advice for preachers. It all makes good sense to me. (Personally, the best advice I ever heard on this topic came from a layman who once said, “Good sermons don’t […]

Begging from the pulpit

posted by deacon greg kandra

Blogger and columnist Rod Dreher today posted this grim report from a reader about the kind of sermon nobody likes to hear: This year’s drive for the [local Catholic community chest] has been protracted, and Deacon N, after concluding his […]

“Little Man of God”: Preaching tips from an 11-year-old

posted by deacon greg kandra

Anyone who has qualms about climbing into the pulpit to preach might want to take a page from this tyke: The first time Terry Durham preached, he was not in front of a group of people or even inside a […]

“It’s the general mediocrity of Catholic preaching that leaves me depressed…”

posted by deacon greg kandra

A priest (and homiletics instructor) sent this my way, and it’s well worth pondering — one man’s reflections on the art of preaching: Listening to sermons at Mass, one often thinks, like the professor in the Narnia Chronicles, “What do […]

The power of positive preaching: a minister retires

posted by deacon greg kandra

The minister who has led one of New York City’s most famous and storied churches retired on Sunday — and gave one last sermon. From the New York Times: At Marble Collegiate, the landmark church on Fifth Avenue and 29th […]

What next? “The Wave”?

posted by deacon greg kandra

Over a ZENIT, they’ve posted a little something about a spreading liturgical innovation: ovation. Take a look: Q: The parishioners in our church used to be spontaneous in their reactions to excellent homilies that the priests deliver. The parishioners, sometimes, […]

Settlement reported for man who sued priest over homily

posted by deacon greg kandra

Last year, I posted this eye-popping story about a man who sued a priest over a homily. Now, an alert reader has sent me an update: An Algonquin man will get a formal apology, but no financial reward, as part […]

We wait: a homily for the first Sunday of Advent

posted by deacon greg kandra

I have the weekend off, homily-wise, but I read this reflection over at Rocco’s and just had to link. It’s part of a new weekly series he’s beginning, devoted to particularly good homilies. This one comes from Msgr. James P. […]

Finally, an idea for this Sunday’s homily…

posted by deacon greg kandra

Here’s something you don’t hear priests preaching about very much. From the Dallas Morning News: God may have rested on the seventh day, but the Rev. Ed Young wants married couples to have sex all week long. Once a day. […]

Pell on preaching

posted by Deacon Greg Kandra

Australia’s Cardinal George Pell took a moment from attending the Synod of Bishops in Rome to chat with John Allen about what’s been happening there — and, at one point, turned to the topic of preaching: There’s been a lot […]

Bishops seeking ways to perfect the art of preaching

posted by Deacon Greg Kandra

The idea of better homilies — and finding ways to make them better — is emerging as a major theme from the Synod of Bishops. Zenit reports: A general instruction on homilies and a jubilee year dedicated to the art […]

“Can’t wait to see what God’s got in mind for you”

posted by Deacon Greg Kandra

This flick is sneaking into movie theaters this weekend — and it looks like something well worth checking out. It’s “Billy: The Early Years,” a biographical drama about the life of America’s most famous preacher. The New York Times has […]

On preaching: “Through grace, it changes lives”

posted by Deacon Greg Kandra

Over at the biblical Synod, they’re getting an earful about — of all things — preaching. From CNS: After the current church year dedicated to St. Paul, the Catholic Church should dedicate a year to the art of preaching, Bishop […]

Yeah, it’s just like that

posted by Deacon Greg Kandra

Fr. Matthew is an Episcopal priest-blogger who posts some of his wisdom on YouTube. Which is where I dug up this clever look at what goes into writing a sermon. I’m sure a lot of you out there will relate. […]

“The gift of dynamic, zealous preaching is rarely given to the lazy”

posted by Deacon Greg Kandra

What’s it like for a priest from Pennsylvania to become an archbishop in Kentucky? John Allen has a pretty interesting interview with Louisville’s Joseph Kurtz, in which he talks about southern Catholicism, the importance of vocations — he’s a real […]

A Canterbury Tale: Williams slammed for Lourdes homily

posted by Deacon Greg Kandra

Every preacher knows you can’t please everyone. And the Archbishop of Canterbury has just displeased a vocal group of Protestants with his homily yesterday at Lourdes. From CNS: Anglican Archbishop Rowan Williams of Canterbury, England, has come under fire for […]

How to preach with pizzazz

posted by Deacon Greg Kandra

Most of the people in the pews — and the people in the pulpit, for that matter — know this inconvenient truth: a lot of sermons are dull. But the guy in this story, from the Boston Globe, thinks he […]

Madison’s bishop takes aim at Pelosi and Biden in his homily — UPDATED

posted by Deacon Greg Kandra

This is really something: the improvised homily yesterday of Bishop Robert Morlino of Madison, Wisconsin. He chucked his prepared remarks to deliver this measured, thoughtful, but unwavering attack on the continuing confusions of Speaker Pelosi and Senator Biden. You owe […]

A few homily hints from Rome

posted by Deacon Greg Kandra

A scholar in Rome has taken it upon himself to clarify what he thinks goes into the making of a good homily. Father Dario Viganò, director of “Cinema” and president of Ente dello Spettacolo, an Italian foundation dedicated to the […]

Wise words on preaching to the choir

posted by Deacon Greg Kandra

Anyone who has ever climbed into a pulpit to deliver a sermon can appreciate these words from Fr. John F. Kavanaugh, S.J., in America: As a preacher myself, I know there are few moments to compare with the affection and […]

“Preach the realities in a way that our people are impressed”

posted by Deacon Greg Kandra

Priests, deacons and seminarians got an earful recently at a conference called “You Will Receive Power!,” focusing on how to grow in holiness. Juding from this account, it touched not-so-subtly on the topic of preaching, too: “I think that the […]

On priests, politics, and the pulpit

posted by Deacon Greg Kandra

Sifting through my “in” box, I found this very good piece by Fr. James Martin, picking up on a theme that was blazing hot when I left here: the notion of priests preaching politics from the pulpit. I don’t know […]

“Heart speaks to heart”

posted by Deacon Greg Kandra

For this feast of the Sacred Heart, you should check out this stirring homily, delivered the other night by James Douglas Conley, new auxiliary for Denver, whose episcopal ordination takes place this day. A grateful h/t to the always-alert Rocco […]

Archbishop puts an end to lay preaching

posted by deacon greg kandra

I’m a little bit amazed that this sort of thing is going on, since the Church’s position on this is pretty clear. But evidently, in some places, lay preaching at mass is not uncommon. But now, in one archdiocese, that’s […]

Pearls before breakfast

posted by Deacon Greg Kandra

Last year, the Washington Post ran a remarkable story about an unusual experiment in the Washington, DC subway. The reporter asked one of the most celebrated violinists of his age to play his fiddle — a priceless Stradivarius — on […]

iGod??

posted by deacon greg kandra

Looking for a little inspiration? Look no further than your iPod. Downloadable sermons are becoming all the rage, as USA Today reports: The Rev. Bruce Walker preaches to a congregation of fewer than 100 people in Greenville, S.C., but people […]

On preaching: “Is it pablum or prophecy?”

posted by deacon greg kandra

At his diocese’s Chrism Mass, Bishop Robert Lynch of St. Petersburg, Florida offered some stirring words to his priests and deacons about the importance of preaching. I thought it worth sharing: Without abusing the privilege of preaching, we must reclaim […]

A pastor’s toughest job

posted by deacon greg kandra

Here’s an interesting perspective on life in the pulpit, from several preachers in Pennsylvania. This comes to us from the York Daily Record/Sunday Times: In seminary, Greg Lindsey imagined that sitting at a dying man’s side would be the most […]

“There are times you feel the Holy Spirit just needs a typist”

posted by Deacon Greg Kandra

Here’s something a lot of us can relate to: being brand new on the job and approaching your first big challenge. In this case, the job is being newly ordained — and the challenge is a little something called Easter. […]

“I’m forever hopeful and I believe in what I preach”

posted by deacon greg kandra

Need an upper today? This piece from a paper in Pittsburgh just might do the trick: He’s known from Pittsburgh to Guam, offering a message redeemable by all ages. His caring and compassion have comforted as many as 15,000 in […]

Concern grows over priests using homilies off the Internet

posted by Deacon Greg Kandra

Well, this piece of news left me shocked, simply shocked, from CNS: A prominent Polish priest said young priests are using the Internet to plagiarize homilies for Masses. “If a priest takes another person’s text and presents it as his […]

“Reflections By The Bay”

posted by Deacon Greg Kandra

That would be the Chesapeake Bay, in my beautiful home state of Maryland. And that happens to be the name of a wonderful little blog by a Redemptorist by the name of Fr. Andy Costello. A reader — another Redemptorist […]

You are loved

posted by Deacon Greg Kandra

Every now and then, we all need to be reminded. A classmate once told me about some advice he received from a priest on the subject of preaching: “Just remember,” the priest said, “to tell the people that God loves […]

Read any good books lately? Besides The Good Book?

posted by deacon greg kandra

A paper in Texas decided to ask several local preachers what books they use for references and anecdotes for their sermons. Curious? Take a look: Curtis Sellers, pastor, First Church of the Nazarene: There have been three books that have […]

In brief

posted by Deacon Greg Kandra

When I was studying homiletics, we were taught to keep our homilies to a succinct seven minutes. Or less. But in this week’s America magazine blog The Good Word, we meet a priest who had a different idea, from blog […]

“Pay attention to what we believe, how we believe, in whom we believe”

posted by deacon greg kandra

In a recent address, a leading American archbishop has offered a word or two of wisdom to those who seek to preach The Word. From CNS: Preaching effectively in U.S. multicultural communities hinges upon believing passionately in God’s word and […]

Preaching on deadline

posted by deacon greg kandra

Looking for a quick (very quick) spiritual pick-me-up? A church in Roanoke, Virginia is trying out an idea: short services, with short sermons. Very short. This article on the church comes from The Roanoke Times: The hereafter is an eternity, […]

Those who are missing at mass

posted by Deacon Greg Kandra

If you’re wondering, like a lot of us, why more Catholics don’t go to mass, a priest has just published his thoughts on the subject: Why do Catholics stop attending Mass? This question was asked in a recent study conducted […]

On Mary: “She adapted herself to the mentality of her audience”

posted by deacon greg kandra

The Vatican has used yesterday’s feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe to issue some thoughts on what it means to be a Catholic communicator. As a Catholic, and a communicator, I found this pretty interesting: Like Our Lady of Guadalupe, […]

“You don’t see the Stations of the Cross”

posted by Deacon Greg Kandra

The other day, Rocco posted about St. Louis’s Fr. John Jay Hughes, whose homilies have become the stuff of legend. The good padre now has started posting them to a blog. One of my readers sifted through some of the […]

Hushed Huckabee

posted by Deacon Greg Kandra

This is what happens when you have a minister running for president. Mike Huckabee undoubtedly has what might be called a “pulpit trail” — but he won’t let anyone see it. This, from Mother Jones: Before beginning his political career, […]

The Vatican’s new online bible commentary debuts

posted by deacon greg kandra

Every now and then something pops up online that is a real breakthrough — and a wonderful resource. This link is one of those: Biblia Clerus, a bible commentary set up by the Vatican Congregation for the Clergy. As Catholic […]

A preacher’s preacher

posted by deacon greg kandra

Heard any good preaching lately? Priests in Florida evidently did — and the Florida Catholic has a profile of the man responsible: Talk about pressure. Imagine standing for an hour in front of more than 100 priests and talking about […]

Preaching to the converted: how sermons helped make America

posted by deacon greg kandra

Another new book to add to my sagging and overcrowded shelf: A City Upon A Hill: How Sermons Changed the Course of American History by Larry Witham. According to the description at Amazon.com: The Puritan founder John Winthrop preached about […]

Previous Posts

This blog is no longer active
This blog is no longer being actively updated. Please feel free to browse the archives or: Read our most popular inspiration blog See our most popular inspirational video Take our most popular quiz ...

posted 10:42:40pm Dec. 12, 2010 | read full post »

One day more
A reminder: "The Deacon's Bench" is closed! Please enjoy the archives! ...

posted 11:26:20pm Dec. 11, 2010 | read full post »

Meet Montana's married priest
Earlier this week, I posted an item about Montana getting its first married priest. Now a local TV station has hopped on the bandwagon. Take a look, below. ...

posted 10:29:55pm Dec. 11, 2010 | read full post »

Big day in the Big Easy: 10 new deacons
Deacon Mike Talbot has the scoop: 10 men today were ordained as Permanent Deacons for the Archdiocese of New Orleans. This group of men was formally selected on the day the evacuation of New Orleans began as Hurricane Katrina approached. The ...

posted 6:55:42pm Dec. 11, 2010 | read full post »

Gaudete! And let's break out a carol or two...
"Gesu Bambino," anyone? This is one of my favorites, and nobody does it better than these gals: Kathleen Battle and Frederica von Staade. Enjoy. ...

posted 1:04:10pm Dec. 11, 2010 | read full post »

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