Sunday, June 23, 2013

Have You Ever Heard These Things in a Homily?

When The Sinner wrote yesterday that he had never heard a homily on adultery, it got me thinking.

I have been Catholic for almost 13 full years.  In that time I have heard nearly 700 Sunday homilies and quite a few Daily Mass homilies - probably 1,000 homilies in all.  And I've heard these homilies literally all over the world, as I travel quite a bit.  So I have here a solid sample.

I have NEVER heard a homily on the following sins, which are all very common sins among Catholics, and which all can potentially send us to hell ...

  • Adultery
  • Fornication
  • Sodomy
  • Masturbation
  • Defrauding the laborer of his wages
  • Receiving communion not in a state of grace
  • Envy
  • Pride
  • Stubborn resistance to any Catholic teaching
  • Sloth
  • Unbelief
  • Greed

... this is very strange, for these sins are not only common, but, it seems, rife within the Catholic Church.

Likewise, I have heard mentioned only very rarely (less than six times each) such issues as ...

  • Pornography
  • Contraception

And, really, the evil of abortion is mentioned perhaps three or four times a year, and almost as nothing more than a shibboleth.

And, even if we look at areas other than sin, there are quite a few major truths of the Catholic Faith that are hardly ever mentioned or are simply ignored, such as ...

  • The redemptive grace of suffering
  • Inner transformation
  • Mortification
  • The power of Christ's sacrifice as anything more than a model or a natural work to emulate
  • Hell
  • Heaven (except as a vague place of comfort where we all end up, like the air conditioned shopping mall)

What do we hear instead?  Help the poor, give to the parish fundraiser, Jesus was nice you be nice too, forgive others, don't judge, try to stand out from the crowd, gosh I'm glad you're here it shows that you care.

I think, after 13 years and 1000 homilies, something is wrong.

How does my experience compare with yours?  Answer in the comment section below.

Meanwhile, you might want to take a look at one of my early blog posts, A Guide to Bad Homilies, which takes a shot at a humorous look at this same subject.


Terence M. Stanton said...


I have had a similar experience in my life until recently, Mr. O'Brien. For the past year or so I have been attending a church in which the pastor pulls no punches in regards to the "hard truths" (contraception, fornication, sodomy, adultery, pornography, self-abuse, etc.). He does not go more than a few weeks without mentioning these things in addition to emphasizing on a regular basis the Real Presence in the Holy Eucharist and the healing power of the Sacrament of Reconciliation. In short, he's awesome. Has the flock up and left because of his unapologetic orthodoxy? Not really. It is my understanding that donations are up 1/3 since he arrived in 2009. I'll go ahead and give you his name because he deserves to be recognized. God bless Father Rick Poblocki at Saint Josaphat's Church in Cheektowaga, NY. We need a thousand more priests just like him.

Adolfo said...

To be fair, "help the poor" encompasses a fair bit of teaching in the Old and New Testaments. Otherwise, agreed.

Miki Tracy said...

I returned to the Church in 1997, and for the better part of that time I have tried to be at Mass every day. I have heard homilies on all of the above. Maybe my travels just take me to the ministry of the best priests, but I doubt it. And considering that our salvation is dependent on caring for the poor, and it's one of the most neglected Works of Mercy (I know; it's my vocation, and we're always shorthanded), I'd say it's an important homily to revisit often.

Anonymous said...

I've heard masturbation condemned ONCE in homily.

Joey Higgins said...

I've been going to Catholic Mass for about 29 years - but to be fair - I was probably only paying attention well the last 13 or so.

I've heard some of the hard hitting stuff alluded to, but most of the time it is not explicit enough to make an impact. I have heard all of the above on retreats and talks outside of homilies, however.

Joey Higgins said...

@Miki Tracy

And considering that our salvation is dependent on caring for the poor

Not sure that this is accurate, especially dependent on how you define poor and how you define "caring." And... for the sake of argument, let's say that it is necessary - all of the other big ones that were mentioned before can take you out of the running.

ck said...

Yours is precisely my experience. I have told a few, very orthodox priests that we need to hear these teachings, but they are too afraid - of their people and their bishops, sad to say.

I do an RCIA talk where I talk about all these things using stories from my own experience and people laugh, cry, and practically carry me out of the room on their shoulders - and believe me that is not the reaction I expected the first time I gave the speech. The last time I did my RCIA talk my pastor attended and I figured (since he has very clearly expressed his unorthodoxy) that he would leap out of his seat, call me a liar, and throw me out bodily, but instead at the end he declared "What a wonderful witness!" and even e-mailed me again that night to say how much he liked it and how many RCIA candidates liked it. People want the Truth desperately. If given with clarity and charity, people gobble it up.