Continuing his series of posts on homiletics, Fr. Philip Powell, OP, offers some advice on how to listen to a homily. A representative sample:
4. Listen now, argue later. OK. Fr. Oprah is on and on and on about his latest trip to the therapist and he’s boring the snot out of you with tales of his evolving consciousness and how close he is to exploding into Cosmic Oneness with the Womb of Universal Is-ness. First, put down the missalette. Just put it down. Pay attention to key words and image and repeat every word in your head. Why? Because for better or worse, ugly or pretty, he’s the preacher and (however hard it is for us to understand why) the Church has seen fit to make him a priest. He has something you need to hear. Even if you need to hear in order to reject it. Listen now, argue later. If you start arguing when he launches into a description of his Naked Rebirthing Sweat Lodge Ritual with Richard Rohr and you tune out because you need to argue, then you can’t hear what it is you need to hear from him. You’re spending your homily time arguing with someone who can’t hear you argue and couldn’t care less if he could. So, don’t waste your homily time arguing with your version of Fr. Oprah’s homily. Hear him out and argue on his time later.
That’s good advice for me. Another great Dominican, Fr. Giles Dimock, once told my Sacraments class that we are not called to be sacramental SWAT teams, nitpicking every point in the celebration of the Mass such that we never actually worship. That’s not to say that we should just ignore gross heterodoxy that invalidates the Mass, but that’s not the usual sort of problem we encounter at Mass.