Preaching and Vocation

If preaching the Gospel is a vocation, it seems odd that little attention is paid to its potential in candidates for the priesthood. "Can he do the studies?" is the first question that tends to come to mind, meaning the whole panoply of academic philosophy and theology that will engage him for six or seven years. "Can he pass the psychological tests?" is another big question, meaning does he have the personal maturity to start the process of formation and the potential for growth within that process? Here we are getting a little warmer with regard to preaching, because personal maturity has always been required in one who is to be given the power of the word, whether religious or secular. A question I sometimes ask my students when discussing a particular topic for a homily is: "Are you old enough to say this?" I then illustrate by suggesting that a freshly ordained young man might risk looking foolish preaching to grandmothers on how to fulfill their grandmaternal roles. When candidates come for those come-and-see weekends I suggest we make them do some basic communication--proclaiming the word, standing up and telling us a story, reflecting on an important topic, even some thoughts on the scriptures. Apart from whether they have the basic temperament and talent for preaching, we might also discover more about their personalities, since public speaking is so revealing of character. A liturgist I know, whenever he listens to a new preacher, asks himself the question: "Is this person for real?" Getting our candidates for the priesthood to stand up and speak to a group might help us answer that question in terms of both fundamental character and communication ability. Chris Chatteris, S.J.
Comments are automatically closed two weeks after an article's initial publication. See our comments policy for more.

Advertisement

Don't miss the best from America

Sign up for our Newsletter to get the Jesuit perspective on news, faith and culture.

The latest from america

A 14-year-old boy receives medical treatment at Suez Canal University hospital in Ismailia, Egypt, Friday, Nov. 24, 2017, after he was in injured during an attack on a mosque (AP Photo/Amr Nabil).
The pope described the attack as a “wanton act of brutality directed at innocent civilians gathered in prayer.”
Gerard O’ConnellNovember 24, 2017
“The Senate proposal is fundamentally flawed as written and requires amendment,” said Bishop Frank J. Dewane in a Nov. 22 letter to senators.
Pope Francis greets people at the “Regional Hub,” a government-run processing center for migrants, refugees and asylum seekers, in Bologna, Italy, Oct. 1. (CNS photo/L’Osservatore Romano)
Although he named no countries, Vatican observers believe he is referring especially to political leaders in several western and eastern European countries.
Gerard O’ConnellNovember 24, 2017
For Thanksgiving, we give you an inside look into what Jesuit basketball teams to watch out for this season.
Olga SeguraNovember 24, 2017