« Popcak's serious | Main | We need a break... »

August 20, 2003



I'd like to start an arts journal!



The deafening sound you hear is me applauding as vigorously as I can.



Fwiw, preaching is mandatory on Sundays and holy days: a moratorium might be considered an abuse. Of course, so is the babbling we're usually subjected to. Hm.

Tom Harmon

Brava Bravissima!!!


Oh. Okay. Well...then how about 1 minute homilies?

For six months?

It's not heresy that concerns me most - I don't think I hear much of that - it's the lack of any meaningful content and the lack of connection to Eucharist.

ita o'byrne

Excellent, Amy! Too bad you (or any of us) don't have the ear of Rome...Because you know the bishops won't do anything of their own accord without being pushed.

Bill Walsh

What I've always wondered is why dioceses don't work up a standard (though perhaps orthodox would be too much to ask in some places...) homily for each week and issue it to all the parishes, so that if a priest can't or doesn't care to work up an original homily, he can fall back on something professional.

I just about ran up to the altar and kissed a priest in Centralia, Washington, when I was visiting the town. He produced a piece of paper from his pocket read a coherent, five-minute homily on the readings of the week, then sat down. Beautiful.

Sean Gallagher

I don't know about other dioceses, but the Archdiocese of Indianapolis has a fifteen point religion curriculum based on the four pillars of the CCC. By the way, Daniel Buechlein, the Archbishop of Indianapolis, is the former chair of the Bishops Committee on the Use of the Catechism, the committee of which Amy wrote.

As a DRE, when I speak with the catechists in my parish about forming lesson plans, I tell them that the curriculum should guide the way in which they use their textbook, not the way that the textbook itself is set up.

Sean Gallagher

As to twinning (there we go again, 'verbing nouns' as Calvin & Hobbes once said), most, if not all, dioceses already implicitly do that through parish assessments.

The problem is that it is too anonymous. Money seems to go into a big hopper and gets sent out to those who need it, except that those who give usually do not know to whom it is given.

In order to insure the best use of the funds available, such 'twinning' would have to be managed and arranged very carefully. But I suspect that the harder the work put into it could possibly produce greater fruits.

People in dioceses would actually get to know each other, at least a little bit. And people would start to have some very concrete experiences of the broader nature of the Church than they get simply at their home parish.

Carrie Tomko

Ask the bishops to commit to saying Mass EVERY day of the week. No excuses. No "I'm too busy." No "I have a committee meeting." Not even "I have to meet with the lawyers or make counseling appointments." Mass gets first priority. No exception. And that will be Mass conforming to the rubrics.

Only prayer is going to get us out of the mess that we are in. Only God can save us.

Gregg the obscure

Your second suggestion is brilliant and the rest are all very good. In light of the suggestion that bishops be required to say Mass daily (I think they already are, but I'm not certain and can't access appropriate resources to check), I'd suggest that all priests be at least very strongly encouraged to be available for confessions at least five hours a week. If the priests get bored sitting in empty confessionals, maybe they'll start teaching about the necessity of confession. (One of the best quips I ever heard was from a visiting priest who noted that he spent an hour in the confessional with no penitents and that he spent that time praying that the parishioners would feel suficient guilt to get them to confession soon.)

Tom Mohan

This is two in one day. Keep writing before the annointing lifts. I really appreciate the sanity and simplicity of your suggestions.

I was just thinking this morning about what the future church will look like, when our kids are adults, and not exactly thinking about it entirely positive. But your thoughts today restore alot of hope that there are young adults with their wits about them, who know the Lord, and who are active in blessing the church with their talents. High caliber stuff Amy!

Tom Mohan

Bill Walsh:

There are only a few homilies I remember after years have gone by, but I remember a brief homily on each of the 3 readings that opened the Word to me and prepared my heart for communion. I remember it was less than 5 minutes long. I recently attended mass at the basilica at Univ. of Notre Dame with my highschool son and the sermon was typical length, maybe even a tad longer, but brilliant and well prepared. This one came to mind right away when Amy suggested those who have the gift to preach, let them preach. This priest had the goods.


High praise, Amy.

The consistent response I hear from mature, faithful, orthodox Catholics is that the crisis is not about institutional structure; as Richard John Neuhaus has said, it has three main issues: fidelity, fidelity, and fidelity.

But I also know that there are tremendously decent, compassionate, committed people all over the American church who have spent so long without being challenged to fidelity that at this point, the challenge would seem like a departure from the norm.

How do we compassionately reevangelize people who have not been challenged to the adventure of fidelity? How do we (and who should) approach priests who don't make this challenge part of their ministry?

Is there some way that isn't as severe as the fire-and-brimstone, what-we've-been-doing-since-Vatican-II-is-largely-wrong approach? Or do we simply tell hard truths bluntly and let come (or leave) who may?

My instinct is to say that we have a greater responsibility to our brothers and sisters than simply to draw a line in the ecclesial sand; my prayer is that God raise up the saints to call us more deeply into the fidelity we need.

Barb N

Excellent stuff, Amy! Thanks so much. I especially thought the part about sending Barbara Nicolosi lots of money was inspired.

Barbara Nicolosi


As to the "twinning" idea, Bishop Anthony Pilla in the Diocese of Cleveland has begun what is called "Vibrant Parish Life" initiative, pairing up two or more parishes to share liturgies, Christian education, social justice endeavors, etc. One large suburban parish is financially supporting a smaller inner-city parish, along with its school so that those kids have a chance for a better education. Another suburban parish is supporting a parish in Haiti.

It will be interesting to see how this evolves. Connecting parishes at the local, national and global level seems a very "catholic" thing to do.


Amy - your suggestions are wonderful and on the mark, however Number 2 should be expanded to include all of us.
The only reason to follow the Catholic faith is because it is true. Everyone should be reminded of this, should be prompted, as seems necessary, to understand what the Church actually teaches (and why she teaches it), and then make a decision: am I willing to accept this faith and take on the responsibility of living my life within it? Of course, as you suggest, this is doubly important for those who would choose to lead the flock.


Great job, Amy. I noticed one thread running through your suggestions. Bishops, please worry about the Church. Do your job. When I think of the bishops and what advice I'd give them, it is simply that. Don't act like one more lobbying group amidst the Teamsters, Christian Coalition, and NRA. Sure, temporal things are important. Our government is important. Bishops can't turn a blind eye to the culture and the government. But if you, as bishops, spent your time and effort helping your flock be holy, your flock would infuse the culture with Christ's holiness. Which, by the way, is your flock's role. Be a priest, not a politician.

Sandra Miesel

I second your remarks on homilies. One of the problems--besides the inability of most Catholic priests to preach their way out of a paper bag--was changing from sermons arranged as systematic instruction to homilies on the readings. No wonder we never hear about some topics. No wonder there is no sense of coherence to the faith getting through to the pews.
Whatever they've been getting in the seminaries (at least around here) produces priests who never cross-reference other parts of the Bible or quote saints but do like to talk about themselves. (I was once in a parish where the assistant's sole topic of discourse was the state of his own psyche.)It's often been a source of embarrassment to bring non-Catholic friends to Mass and here some vacuuous insult to faith & reason "preached."
My parish as an excellent ex-Dominican as one of its priests and he has obviously had good training in preaching. So somebody still knows how to do it.
Oh yes, and get priests to say the Mass as written--no little "personal" touches.


Good point, Sandra, about the Dominicans. I sometimes have the opportunity to visit a Dominican parish about 50 miles from where I live. They have 5 or so priests and each of them has given excellent homilies whenever I've been there. Well delivered, relevant, Catholic, not watered down yet not harsh in tone. Just very good. Maybe the bishops could figure out how the Dominicans train homilists and borrow some of their ideas.


Peace, Amy.

For the most part, I like the comments and the spirit behind them. 1. Bravo. 2. Interesting but impractical. Clergy have tenure, laity don't, so why does this just seem like an excuse for an inquisition? By the way, who's responsible for nitpicking their way through reams of testimony? Clergy? You I would have little problem with. Some cleric who has a bone to pick and somewhat falls into your category 1 -- nada. I think we're stuck with flawed sinful folks. 4's a cool idea. Ken Untener has upped your number 5 on homilies. If clergy really took Fulfilled in Your Hearing seriously, then we'd be in good shape.

Predictably, I'm not sure what you mean with 6. You and I clearly have far different experiences of liturgy. The liturgies I know have to be above average, or my whole career is a sham. I appreciate that as a writer and lover of the arts you want to see moolah sunk into an arts journal (which I think is a good idea). But the problem in many parishes is the imbalance between funding for schools (and their 150-page RE textbooks) and liturgy and the arts that go into making good liturgy. But I share your pet peeves on liturgy. I just don't see much of them.


Todd, must be that your whole career is a sham then. Don't complain--you said it first. The only thing that saves most "liturgies" from being total disasters is the fact that they are really the Sacrifice of the Mass underneath all the detritis and no one (NO ONE) can change that. The essential character of the Mass completely trumps all the rest of it and that is what people have to realize, the sooner the better.

Verify your Comment

Previewing your Comment

This is only a preview. Your comment has not yet been posted.

Your comment could not be posted. Error type:
Your comment has been saved. Comments are moderated and will not appear until approved by the author. Post another comment

The letters and numbers you entered did not match the image. Please try again.

As a final step before posting your comment, enter the letters and numbers you see in the image below. This prevents automated programs from posting comments.

Having trouble reading this image? View an alternate.


Post a comment

Comments are moderated, and will not appear until the author has approved them.

Your Information

(Name is required. Email address will not be displayed with the comment.)