LAST Wednesday’s article, “On Badly Delivered Sermons,” drew mixed reactions from readers. Below are two of the letters that I received on the subject.
From Jerriel Isidro:
“You go to mass not because of how good a sermon is delivered.
You go to mass because you love God and God loves you. You go home to your family because you love them. The love you have for God is much more than any love. Always remember that you love God, you should be happy every time you attend mass whether the sermon is good or badly delivered.
“No matter how good or bad a sermon is, you still go to mass because you love Him. Love shouldn’t be conditional. You should have followed the example of the priest you mentioned. You pray for the priest when you find his sermon bad. It is not only the priest celebrating the mass, you also have your duty to pray.
“Every priest is different as we are different from each other.
Some priests are good in sermons, some priests are good in counseling, some priests are gifted in healing and some priests are gifted in foresight. Whether a priest is good or bad in giving sermons, he cannot turn down his duty in celebrating mass. Let’s thank God that He has provided a priest to celebrate mass with us. Today, there are only a few priests.”
Dear Jerriel: You’re right---no two people, whether priest or layman, are the same. We also have our own competencies. For example, I can write an affidavit but I can’t deliver a sermon.
But that does not mean I cannot appreciate a good homily when I hear one or wish that the next one would be just as good, if not better.
Do we go to Church because we love God? Absolutely. Does that love entail enduring a sermon that you know the priest could have done better if only he tried? Maybe. Does that love prevent me from publicly wishing that the priest shares the same affection for God and respects his obligation to spread His word by acting like a shepherd instead of an entertainer or a haughty drillmaster? Absolutely not.
From Luchi Flores:
“I read your column, ‘On Badly Delivered Sermons.’ I agree with you 101 percent. Sermons and homilies are supposed to enhance the readings and teachings of the church. However, some priests talk endlessly for 20-25 minutes, not caring if the message they delivered was understood or not. I once asked a priest friend how long should a sermon be and he says 11 minutes, otherwise, people’s minds start to wander.
“I just came from a novena mass for the Sto. Niño. While on our way back to the office, my colleagues and I talked about the sermon and agreed that it was good. It was concise and straight to the point. All he did was discuss the significance of the responsorial psalm to our daily lives as Christians. After the discussion, the challenge and call to action. Tapos!
“I really do feel that public speaking skills should run in the genes of our priests so that they can become better translators of God’s Words.”
Dear Luchi: Public speaking skills may be helpful but they’re not indispensable. The age of bombast is past us. From my own experience, the sermon that truly nourishes the soul is the one spoken from the heart, usually a first person account. It would help if the reverend keeps the sharing short but that can only happen if he comes prepared.
Anyway, as Cardinal Vidal once jokingly told us when someone asked for advice on what to do if the sermon is too long, “Matulog ka na lang. Hindi ka pa magkasala.”