Do two swallows a summer make?

The news of two families, both dear friends, leaving the Catholic Church sent me into a tizzy. Do I need to hit the spiritual alarm bells? The ‘migration’ from one Church to the other is nothing new; the methods though are always reinvented to sound urgent for one’s salvation.

There are two comments I wish to limit myself to. There are those, including some among the Catholic clergy who play down the issue simply as a matter of ‘merely two swallows’. I suspect that their fear of admitting to this ‘trickling exodus’ would expose their own lack of dealing with the spiritual needs of their congregation. Secondly, there is the congregation who demand for quick, short and perhaps entertaining homilies who fallaciously believe they will get something meaty in ten minutes when in reality all that they get is bones stewed in a pot whose meat has long fallen off leading them to be vulnerable to anti- catholic propaganda.

Let me begin with my ilk; all is certainly not well at home. The window of faith to the Church for most Catholics is the Sunday homily which has become the primary point of communicating the faith and the demand is often that that window be shut in ten minutes. The maxim goes that if you should be brief, be bright and be gone.

Even the Holy Father, Pope Francis has once (to be read in context of his entire homily) thrown his weight behind what he called “short and not boring homilies”. While agreeing with the intention of the Holy Father, I respectfully disagree with his words lest some clergyman use them selectively to their advantage.

It is insulting to the congregation to assume that what they truly desire on a Sunday is faith ‘in short’. The reality behind the growing demand for brief homilies stems from boredom that sets in thanks to those members of the clergy who do not prepare themselves. The truth is that a great homilist can be heard for hours on an end even on a busy Sunday.

What adds to the complexity of this issue is that the content of the homily is catechetical, preachy and moralistic. This is not the intention of the Catholic Church. The failure to ‘break the word of God’ and explain the scriptures is what ails the spiritual nourishment of the faithful. Jokes and anecdotes help but they can’t be a substitute for God’s word which clearly needs to be explained by the homilist.

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