As promised, I’m going to try and walk through a presentation I gave on Evangelistic Preaching in a series of blog posts over the coming weeks…
The Venerable Paul VI boldly proclaimed, “the Church exists to evangelize” – so how do we do this with our preaching? What is evangelistic preaching for us in a Catholic setting?
Evangelistic has an edge to it. A certain connotation. It even has a bad rap. We might think of tele-evangelists or a preacher pounding a Bible on a pulpit, asking “if you were to die tonight, do you know that you’re on your way to heaven? Not too many people think first of our Catholic Church when they hear the term evangelistic preaching.
And for Catholics, preaching has a certain connotation. For the typical Catholic the pew, preaching = Eucharistic homily. Period.
And this goes for those outside the visible boundaries of the Church as well–ask the average American who is “allowed to preach” in Catholic churhes, and they’ll say, “men only,” “priests only.” Because for most people, preaching = Eucharistic homily. (I even hear my theology professors sometimes make that assumption.)
But, our Church has been talking about types of preaching that aren’t necessarily a Eucharistic homily, for over a century…
In some cases, the reference is an allusion brought out by context, i.e. if the “liturgical homily” holds “pride of place” among the ministry of the Word, which includes “pastoral preaching,” then pastoral preaching does not simply = liturgical homily (CCC, 1993). In other cases, such as Fulfilled in Your Hearing, it’s an explicit statement, “preaching is not limited to the Eucharist,” with suggestions for where these other forms of preaching are found, i.e. “evangelistic gatherings.”
In any case, it’s clear that in our Church documents, preaching isn’t limited to Eucharistic homilies.
Image Credits (in order):
Evangelii Nuntiandi no. 42, 43; Fulfilled in Your Hearing p. 2; Code of Canon Law 1983 Can. 770; CCC para. 132; Complementary Norm on Canon 766 (Lay Preaching)