EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

Merrimack Valley

March 31, 2013

A time to shine

Preachers deliver sermons to packed houses on Easter Sunday


“Preaching is an oral communication, so you want to make sure the wording is for the ear,” Gibson said. “If the sermon is not clear to the preacher, it’s not going to be clear to the listeners.”

The Rev. Dennis McManus, professor of liturgy and homiletic at St. John’s Seminary in Brighton, said when writing a sermon, priests must start with prayers because preaching is part of their vocation.

“This is not his personal message. It’s the Holy Spirit that speaks to him as a priest,” McMannus said. In addition to prayer, McManus said they must have a relevant topic.

“He needs to take his message and use it in a language that lifts them up. I don’t care if they’re Easter and Christmas Catholics, they still need to be lifted up,” McManus said.

McManus said priests can use humor or examples from popular culture to deliver their message including stories of people who have overcome adversities.

“Those are the best examples because when people go home, they can tell the story, because they can identify with it as human beings, saying, ‘I can do that,’ ‘I can try that.’ The door is wide open for priests to use anything appropriate for people to get the message across so that the hearts of the listeners are filled with faith, hope and love,” he said.

The Rev. John Delaney, pastor of Sacred Hearts in Bradford and St. Patrick in Groveland often uses stories in his homilies.

“Every one knows about ‘American Idol,’ has gone to Dunkin’ Donuts or stood in line. What we have to remember is that the priest is not the focus, it’s Jesus Christ,” Delaney said.

McManus said an Easter sermon should not be longer than 10 minutes.

The Rev. Larry Peacock, executive director of Rolling Ridge Retreat Center in North Andover, agrees.

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