“We know that the faithful attach great importance to [the homily], and that both they and their ordained ministers suffer because of homilies: the laity from having to listen to them and the clergy from having to preach them! It is sad that this is the case. The homily can actually be an intense and happy experience of the Spirit, a consoling encounter with God’s word, a constant source of renewal and growth.” – Pope Francis, Joy of the Gospel
I don’t envy priests.
Priests have tough jobs and often wear many hats. So, I try not to be too judgmental or annoyed when I hear bad homilies. But Pope Francis is right; sometimes the people in the pews really suffer from having to listen to mediocre homilies!
In my opinion, a priest does not have to be a good speaker or a scholar to give a good homily (although that can help). What he does need is a prayerful heart that is immersed in God’s Word and close to his people.
When I am disappointed in a homily, I try to shelve my irritation and focus on what is the real center of the Mass, the Eucharist. I also say a prayer for the priest who may be overworked, tired, or going through a tough time. But I also mentally make a note to look up something edifying about the reading of the day or to listen later to a homily online.
Here are some of the best online homily resources I have found:
- Father Peter Grover, Boston, MA: Father Peter is one of my all-time favorite homilists. His homilies are not too long or too short; they are simple, profound, prayerful, Scriptural, and applicable to daily life. Priests (and everyone else) should listen to his homilies and take notes.
- Bishop Robert Barron, Los Angeles, CA: I have listened to Bishop Barron’s homilies for several years now and he never fails to deliver insights into Scripture that are at once surprising and immediately applicable to one’s life.
- Father Mike Schmitz, Duluth, MN: You might already know Father Mike Schmitz from the excellent videos he does for Ascension Presents. But he is also the chaplain for Newman Catholic Campus Ministries at the University of Minnesota Duluth and they archive his homilies online.
- Cardinal Timothy Dolan, New York, NY: I will never forget the homily I heard Cardinal Dolan give in St. Louis at a thanksgiving Mass after he was named cardinal. It was humorous, profound, full of joy, warm, and moving. Most of his homilies have these qualities; check them out.
- Father Matthew Gossett, Steubenville, OH: Father Matthew is a newly minted priest but his homilies demonstrate wisdom and prayerfulness beyond his years.
- Father Larry Richards, Erie, PA: Father Larry manages to give Sunday good homilies that are often under 10 minutes (!). His homilies are challenging, humorous, and get right to the point. They also are very Christ-centered. (In my opinion, it should be a rare homily that does not mention Jesus.)
- Archbishop Charles Chaput, Philadelphia, PA: Archbishop Chaput doesn’t shy away from controversial subjects and he often expertly ties together the readings from the Old and New Testament in detail before applying them to our lives.
- Msgr. Charles Pope, Washington DC: Msgr. Pope’s homilies are very much like his blog posts: profound, challenging, hard hitting, and insightful.
- Father Robert Spitzer, SJ: Father Spitzer is one of the few priests who posts some of his homilies from the daily Mass, which is brave of him and much appreciated. So if you are looking for a reflection about a daily Mass, look here first. (Father Steve Grunow also posts the text of many of his daily Mass homilies.)
- Dr. Scott Hahn, Steubenville, OH: These podcasts are not homilies but in them Scott Hahn breaks open the Scripture readings for each Sunday, finds multiple layers of meaning in them, and then applies them to our lives, which is everything an excellent homily should do.
So, next time you hear a less than stellar homily, say a prayer for the priest and when you get home visit some of these sites!
Do you know of any other priests who post their homilies online?