I’m a preacher. And a Catholic Priest. A couple of years before I was ordained, a classmate at seminary asked me what I wanted to achieve if ordained. “To preach the Gospel,” I said. “As a Catholic?” he asked, knowing that I had become a Catholic after a childhood at Salvation Army Sunday School.
Oh yes. A Catholic preacher may only get a few minutes to preach on a Sunday, in a 1-hour Mass, but those minutes count. I believe that out of all the different Christian denominations, the Catholic Faith embodies the fullness of the truth. The greatness of Catholic theology is that it seldom sets down precisely what must be believed, but is honest about the boundaries within which truth lies. The preacher must cover the ground we do profess, and offer his own particular perspective, without narrowing the scope of what Catholics may believe in good conscience.
When I was in parish ministry, up to December 2018, I generally posted my Sunday sermon here. Now I’m a full-time missionary with the Sion Community, so many of my sermons are aimed at very particular audiences – young people on formation, or parishes following the sequence of a Mission; it won’t always be appropriate to post them for a wider audience. But when I have time to prepare an appropriate homily electronically, I’ll share it with you. And occasionally I may share thoughts which aren’t sermons. Watch this space.
Two things this blog is NOT:
(i) A traditionalist rant. I have no objection to Catholics choosing to worship according to the extraordinary form and practice the trappings of faith more common before the Second Vatican Council, but that’s not my own preferred approach. We need to respect that the wise householder brings from the storehouse things old and things new, and that anything authentically Catholic, be it old or new, must be welcomed.
(ii) A campaign for doctrinal change. I am very happy with the teachings of the Catholic Church the way they are at the moment. That’s part of the reason I chose to become a Catholic in 1990. We don’t always do very well at living out that teaching in practice – whether that be the high-profile failures of the church in managing alleged or proven sexual offenders, or the little-discussed inadequacies of the church when it comes to applying Catholic social teaching to its own employees – but there’s a huge difference between identifying failures of implementation, and critiquing doctrine itself.
You’ll probably notice that my preaching is flavoured by a few personal priorities:
- Evangelisation: I expect every member of my congregation to be, or aspire to be, an ambassador for Christ.
- Ecumenism: why should we struggle to do separately those things Christians do better together?
- Charismatic Renewal: Every confirmed Catholic has the potential to manifest the extraordinary charisms offered by the Holy Spirit. If I can raise expectation, maybe more charisms will be manifested!
- Respect for Science: I am a professional scientist by background, after all.