Dear Editor: Reading the article (May 2) about the Holy Father exhorting new priests to avoid “boring homilies” made me think about my experience sitting in the pews during my lifetime.
For me the most effective homilies have been when the speaker has spoken from the heart as the pope suggested. Relating personal stories – about growing up, human interactions, the day’s news stories – these have really captured my attention. While it may sound “irreverent,” for me personally, one “Flushing” reference can sometimes be more effective than two “Jerusalem” references.
And, of course, homilists have to be sure that they are “heard” not just spiritually, but also audibly.
This can be especially true for visitors who may not be familiar with the acoustics of the church they are visiting. Having been a lector for many years, I know that sometimes what you hear in the pulpit is louder than what the people in the pews are hearing. Don’t be fooled. I think it is better to be a bit too loud instead of being too low.
Finally, I think about pauses. Is it sad but true - in this fast-moving world we live in, where we are constantly being bombarded by distractions, a homilist who pauses too long, runs the risk of losing people’s attention. It is a challenge for the homilist to gauge how long is needed for the message to sink in without allowing the mind to wander. I’ll be listening.
Dear Editor: John emphasizes in his Gospel that, “God is love” (1 John 4:8). Love of God and of one another is at the heart of the Kingdom of God proclaimed by Jesus. Father Daniel Murphy, recently retired as pastor of St. Saviour’s in Park Slope, has always been outstanding in his ability to communicate God’s love to his parishioners.
I heard Father Murphy’s homilies regularly when he was assigned to Our Lady Help of Christians, Midwood. I enjoyed his preaching at Children’s Mass and at retreats for singles and for married couples. In later years, I occasionally heard him preach at St. Andrew’s and St. Saviour’s.
Father Murphy is always well prepared and engaging. He communicates effectively using everyday language. His warm and welcoming personality enable him to make personal contact even when addressing large groups. His homilies reflect not only the readings of the day but the strength of his faith in a loving and merciful God. He is a priest who seems to thoroughly enjoy his service to the people of God.
I’m in my mid-70s and have heard thousands of homilies. My favorite homilist is Father Danny Murphy. Thanks to Father Murphy. Thanks to all of the wonderful priests and deacons who invest so much time and effort in preparing homilies that strengthen our faith and bring us closer to God.