A Joint Review

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E. Foley, ed., Liturgical Press, 2016 -

M. E. Connors, ed., Liturgical Press, 2016

By: R. B. Williams, O.P.



     Reading these two collections of essays on preaching was like going into a room with two very rich buffet lines and trying to digest everything on offer.  It would require more than one trip, and one’s digestive system would be hard put to absorb it all.  My goal here is more or less to describe, with occasional comment, the two collections, both of which are well worth reading.  Since their individual thrusts are different, a comparison would not be fair.  Much will depend on the level of preaching skills the reader has attained.  If one is a beginner, I recommend first reading PREACHING MATTERS – A PRAXIS FOR PREACHERS by Ryan and Wilhelm, which I reviewed earlier.  I believe the two collections presume a certain level of public speaking skills beyond the beginning stage.  The sheer richness of the essays could be daunting, but would definitely be most helpful once one can pulpit preach with some confidence.


     The two collections have different origins.  A HANDBOOK FOR CATHOLIC PREACHING was commissioned by The Catholic Academy of Liturgy and co-sponsored by The Catholic Association of Teachers of Homiletics and The Federation of Diocesan Liturgical Commissions.  These are some heavy-hitters in the professional liturgical community of the North American church.  The second collection, TO ALL THE WORLD – PREACHING AND THE NEW EVANGELIZATION, has its origin in a conference at Notre Dame University in June 2014.  I attended that conference and it appears that the essays in this volume were developed by the particular presenters from their workshops.  So, in approaching the two volumes, one may expect the first to be more academic in tone and the second more pastoral, recognizing that both these categories are fluid.  They only have one author in common, Timothy Radcliffe, O.P., former Master of the Dominican Order, who leads off each collection.  (No doubt, Timothy’s name would catch the eye of prospective purchasers who have a broad acquaintance of the professional preaching scene in the U.S.A.!)  Timothy is worth reading twice anyhow (the essays are not identical, but have a similar outlook.)  For the rest, one will not be bored by repetition between the two volumes.


     In a preface by Edward Foley, OFM, the editor of “Handbook” notes that the book was aimed at “graduate students in ministerial studies” and states: “Every article….was meant to be a self-contained overview of a particular historical period, genre of preaching, homiletic theory, or contemporary issue.”  Michael Conners, csc, the editor of “To All the World,” writes in his preface: “Speakers, preachers, bishops, evangelizers, lay and ordained, men and women – there was a palpable sense of devotion to the church’s evangelical mission as we fathered.  One after another the speakers thoughtfully put flesh on the bone of ‘new ardor, new methods, and new expressions.’”  So, the roots of each collection are quite different, yet together provide a broad panorama of the challenge of pulpit preaching in our day.


     In “Handbook,” I found Dianne Bergant’s “Biblical Preaching” very stimulating, although I am not in agreement with allowing the lectionary to determine the preaching agenda entirely.  Some of its selections and editing leave out too much for my tastes, but I recommend her article and the reader can make his/her own judgment.    John Baldovin’s “Liturgical and Sacramental Preaching” would be valuable to any preacher, especially the beginner.    Lucy Lind Hogan’s “Rhetorical Approaches to Preaching” is another that I found particularly interesting.  I recommend to the prospective reader that he/she go online and look at the table of contents.


     “To All the World” features articles by authors I know or have known personally, including the late Virgilio Elizondo, Honora Werner OP, Jude Siciliano OP, David Garcia, and Donald Senior CP.  The thrust here is toward the “New Evangelization,” and that gives the volume a particularly enthusiastic tone.  I attended Donald Senior’s presentation on the U.S. Bishops’ document, “Preaching the Mystery of Faith,” and I think he did about as good a job as anyone could do, given the length of that document, which I think will militate against a wide-readership!    Jude Siciliano OP’s workshop was more interactive than the essay shows.  He gets the audience involved in constructing a homily, which illustrates his idea of “evangelical dynamism.”  Jeremy Driscoll osb’s article on “Preaching the Resurrection: Central Content of the New Evangelization” is strong theological reading but really worthwhile.  David Garcia and Melvin Tardy offer insights for preaching respectively to Hispanic and African-American communities.  Again, the prospective buyer can go online and read the table of contents to aid in deciding to purchase.


     I would recommend these two volumes as the next steps after PREACHING MATTERS because they take one into the “depths” of the subject of preaching.  There is great richness, but one should be basically prepared to make good use of them.  Certainly, having all three would be a great step in developing a preaching resource library for anyone who preaches from the pulpit whether on weekends or daily, Eucharist or not. 


Book Review Archive

Just click on a book title below to read the review.
(The latest submissions are listed first.)


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• How I Found Life and Freedom on Death Row •
• Christ and the Spirit: Catholic Perspectives Through the Ages •
• The Council and the Making of the Ultramontane Church •
• A Joint Review •
• St. Dominic: A Story of a Preaching Friar •
• Moses in Pharaoh's House •
• ...and the Mountains Echoed •
• Behind the Beautiful Forevers •
• Preaching the Mystery of Faith: The Sunday Homily •
• The Rhythm of Being... •
• Remi De Roo - Chronicles of a Vatican II Bishop •
• Redeeming the Past •
• Abraham Joshua Heschel: Essential Writings •
• This Is Our Exile •
• Compassion: Loving Our Neighbor in and Age of Globalization •
• True and False Reform In the Church •
• Adult Faith •
• The Mystical Way In Everyday Life •
• Racial Justice and the Catholic Church •
• Let the Great World Spin •
• The Priesthood Of the Faithful •
• Living With Wisdom •
• Where the Pure Water Flows •
• Best Advice For Preaching •
• We Speak the Word Of the Lord •
• Great World Religions: Islam •
• Of Books and Preparation •
• After Sunday: A Theology of Work •
• A Captive Voice: The Liberation of Preaching •
• Written Text Becomes Living Word... •
• Voicing the Vision: Imagination & Prophetic Preaching •
• The Death of Innocents •

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