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‘If you don’t listen to people, how can you preach?’

Pope Francis celebrates the Chrism Mass for Holy Thursday on Mar

© Antoine Mekary / ALETEIA

Deacon Greg Kandra - published on 11/11/16

A new collection of homilies by Pope Francis has just been published, and CNS has a first look:

A pastor out of touch with his parishioners’ lives has little chance of preaching a homily that can make the Gospel come alive for them, Pope Francis said. “Sometimes our words respond to questions nobody is asking,” he said in a new interview with Jesuit Father Antonio Spadaro, editor of the Jesuit journal, La Civiltà Cattolica. “If you don’t listen to people, how can you preach?” The interview introduces a new collection, in Italian, of homilies and speeches he gave as archbishop of Buenos Aires, Argentina, from 1999 until his election as pope in 2013.

There’s some fascinating insight into how he prepares his homilies:

While admitting that it does not always work, Pope Francis has a regular practice for preparing his homilies for the morning Masses in his residence chapel. “I start the day before, at noon the day before,” he said. “I read the texts for the next day and, usually, I choose one of the two readings” on which to focus. “I read the passage I have chosen out loud. I need to hear the sound, to listen to the words. “And then in the booklet I use, I underline the words that strike me most. I make little circles around words that strike me,” he said. “During the rest of the day, the words and thoughts come and go while I do what I have to do: meditate, reflect, savor,” he said. “There are some days, though, when evening comes and still nothing has come to mind. I have no idea what I will say the next day. In that case, I do what St. Ignatius said: I sleep on it. And, then, when I wake up, inspiration comes. The right things come to mind. Sometimes they are strong, sometimes weak. But that’s the way it is.” Listening to people’s stories, including in the confessional, is essential for preaching the Gospel, he said. “The further you are from the people and their problems, the further you hide behind a theology framed as ‘You must and you must not,’ which doesn’t communicate anything, which is empty, abstract, lost in nothingness.”

Read more. 

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