1) In Case Someone Thinks I am Preaching ..., 2) Once again, in case ANYONE thinks I am PREACHING ...
Brief answer: no, I am not.
Expounding it a little, here is a definition of what it means to preach:
Catholic teaching on the homily is that it is the means by which “the mysteries of the faith and the guiding principles of the Christian life are expounded from the sacred text”.*
So, if Sunday after Sunday, Feastday after Feastday, Weekday of Advent after Weekday of Advent, Weekday of Lent after Weekday of Lent I had been following the readings from Scripture in Holy Mass, and from them expounded - over time as homily after homily comments on Gospel or Epistle after Gospel or Epistle - more or less the totality of the mysteries of the faith, more or less the totality of the guiding principles of the Christian life, then I would indeed have been preaching. That, as you can very well see, is NOT what I am doing.
And since I am not using that means, I am perhaps not pursuing its purpose either. Look here what its purpose is:
Like sacred scripture itself, sermons are part of a call to action, where that action entails the embracing of faith and, then, adjustments to behaviour to suit that belief-system. We don’t just need to believe that Christ actually walked the earth in the first century; we must accept him as our personal saviour. From that acceptance should result improved behaviour in the form of humility, forgiveness, charity, gentleness, peace and a holy joy.*
In order to make such a call to action, I would have to have a call to making that call.
My own actions as a writer, insofar as concerned with religion at all, is not making that kind of call to action of embracing the Christian life. That is why one cannot say I am preaching. My own action may be
- apologetic - i e helping someone get over a difficulty with the faith in the intellectual sphere or against the prejudices of current false morality;
- or civic - like speaking for the Christians persecuted or against the ones persecuting them. More of the former in what concerns the Middle East, more of the latter here, where persecutors of the faith and morals involve school system, child welfare and psychiatry;
- or intellectual, satisfying the curiosity on detail that sermons are not meant to satisfy. It is for instance in that sphere (sometimes with apologetic intent) that I listen to Rob Skiba and Chuck Missler, not so much for the kind of divine doctrine that is called theology as in sound Catholic theology as for the kind of human doctrine called philology as in sound history, knowledge and understanding of text content and a few more. But even there I am not just a consumer.
So, if someone has the idea of telling me I am doing it wrong if I want to preach, the anwer is I do not want to preach and I do not spend my time preaching. I am a scholar and not a priest. But some very ill educated persons have gotten into their heads that anyone saying anything to make the Resurrection of Christ credible to his audience is preaching, or anyone who defends Catholic Morality rather than abortion and sodomy, is preaching. Unfortunately some clergy have listened to such ill educated persons (which probably means they have, those they listened to, positions beyond what their education would make valid ambition for them and that some clergy are too concerned with such positions and what people in them tell them about people) and have therefore set out to make me understand that as a preacher I am doing it all wrong. But the very brief answer is that I am not a preacher, I am a writer.
And when conversing I donot try to get the subject of conversation onto religious topics so as to witness, but neither am I very pleased when it is about certain non-religious topics which I have heard a bit TOO often (like my speaking very good French, said in a somewhat surprised tone by more than one).
Hans Georg Lundahl
Ember Saturday after
Elevation of the Holy Cross
* Paul Danon : What is good preaching?