These letters are part of an ongoing discussion that began with an editorial, “Need for Good Homilies,” published in the Feb. 7 issue. You can find the complete archive here.
Dear Editor: The late Father Andrew Greely once commented that the sign of a good liturgy could be judged by the expression on the people’s faces as they exited Mass.
Father Daniel Murphy, pastor emeritus at St. Saviour’s, Park Slope, is both a homilist extraordinaire and a gifted liturgist. Smiling faces indeed reflect both of these inspiring qualities as they exit his Mass. His gifts are truly inspirational.
Dear Editor: My experience has been that men who first worked in the world and later became priests give better homilies.
The two best homilists I am aware of are Father Whalen, a Vincentian from St. John’s University, Jamaica, and Deacon Greg Kandra from Our Lady Queen of Martyrs, Forest Hills.
Kew Gardens Hills
Dear Editor: I am writing because there is too much fuss on about homilists. Yes, when we go to church, we want to get the most out of what the priest says/explains but there are the readings as well. Didn’t our Lord say “Do what they teach but do not what they do?”
My reason for writing this is based on an email sent by someone with the name withheld in Jackson Heights. The person was complaining about the way some priests explain the readings of the Bible and ask questions of the audience which is not made of little children.
Whatever church that is (there are several in Jackson Heights), you are the most blessed parish to have such a diversified church. If that is the case, those priests come from different cultures where to engage the conversation is the most important part of talking or explaining.
For your information, so that if you ever travelled in Third World countries, everybody in the church dances from the time the priest and others with him enter the church. This has changed with Vatican II and Masses celebrated according to the local cultures.
Please have tolerance and enjoy how others around the world celebrate in what is the rainbow of the church.
Dear Editor: The primary reason I go to Mass is to receive the Eucharist, the source and summit of life. If the music ministry uplifts, it is an added bonus; if the priest/deacon delivers a powerful homily, another bonus. When both the homily and music are good — the liturgical celebration is awesome. However, the Eucharist is always great.
I have been a member of St. Therese of Lisieux parish for over 40 years. During that time we have been blessed with many good homilists. I think two require special mention. The heart of my Catholic spirituality is the knowledge of the message of Jesus and my need to deepen my understanding of that message.
Msgr. Alfred LoPinto explained the truths of the faith in a profound and provocative way that helped bring us closer to God. His homilies were well organized and connected the Word to our lives. Father Al’s words motivated me to deepen my faith and helped to shape some of my personal behavior. His homilies not only nourished our intellect but also spoke to our souls.
My current pastor, Father Michael Gribbon, with his quiet wisdom, is a truly gifted homilist. He approaches his homilies with humility and passion. When he preaches, he calls us to the cross and invites us to the new life in Christ. His words speak to the whole person — comforting, instructing and moving to deeper faith. His homilies are inspiring and relevant, helping us to recognize what God is up to in our lives and in the world through Jesus.
Most impressive is when Father Mike preaches in Creole, a language he learned after he became a priest. He is able to make the readings meaningful and his words relatable to Haitian culture. That is the work of the Holy Spirit.
I thank God for all priests and deacons whose homilies nurture our spirits and help us grow in faith.