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Cardinal Urges Priests To Liven Up Sermons
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Friday, November 11, 2011

Cardinal Urges Priests To Liven Up Sermons

That's what the article says.

From The Telegraph:
Sermons delivered by Catholic priests are often painfully "grey and dull" and need to be livened up with the "scandal" contained within the Bible, the Vatican's most senior cultural official said.

Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi said preaching in churches had become so formulaic and boring that it risked becoming "irrelevant" to congregations accustomed to the excitement and immediacy of television and the internet."

The advent of televised and computerised information requires us to be compelling and trenchant, to cut to the heart of the matter, resort to narratives and colour," said the cardinal, who as the head of the Pontifical Council for Culture is the Vatican's unofficial minister for culture.

Too many priests employed theological language that was "grey, dull and flavourless" and instead should spice up their sermons with graphic stories contained in the Bible, which used much more forceful imagery.The Bible was "crowded with stories, symbols and images," he said.

Speaking at a conference in Rome, he said Twitter was also an effective way of spread the Word of God.

"We need to remember that communicating faith doesn't just take place through sermons. It can be achieved through the 140 characters of a Twitter message."

Cardinal Ravasi, a champion of new media who writes a blog for the website of Italy's respected financial daily, Il Sole 24 Ore, said that whether they liked it or not, priests in the pulpit should be aware that their congregations were "the children of television and the internet."
I think the cardinal is onto something here.

In case some of you priests out there are thinking the cardinal is talking about you, let me suggest some techniques you might want to mull over, should you be considering his advice.

1) Puppets. Always a big hit.

2) Try preaching like this guy. He's got style.

3) Pre-record your homily and then Auto-tune it, like the "Turtle Fence" song, or the "Backin' Up" song.

4) Utilize laser light shows (might cause epileptic seizures, so have your congregation sign waivers before hand) or fog machines for dramatic effect.

5) If your church has TV screens hanging throughout the nave (such as my parish does), you could augment your homily with 3-D effects. Call it "Trinity-Vision". And if your church doesn't have TV screens, get them!

5) Sing to the congregation - I've heard of one bishop who does that, so it's cool. Sit at the piano and serenade your sermon, or break out a Stratocaster and play Stairway to Heaven while preaching about eternity. But rap is right out!

6) Wander amidst the congregation and ask random parishoners questions to make them feel awkward and embarrassed. That'll liven up your sermon for sure!

7) Have parishoners "act out" the sermon as you preach it. Or maybe even the Gospel, like my parish did for the Feast of the Annunciation. Seeing those two kids dressed up as Mary and Gabriel brought a tear to my eye...

Whatever you do, though, don't preach Truth, straight up, no chaser. There's no entertainment value in that.