Getting The Most Out of Online Homilies

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Through the Church and the cycle of readings God has set out a lesson plan for your life. Each Sunday the Holy Spirit gives you instructions for the week through these readings and through His priests in their homilies.

I am a true connoisseur of awesome homilies. The way some folks appreciate fine wine, I savor a well-crafted sermon. I love to listen to the Holy Spirit speak through these various men. Each has a very distinct personality, but the voice of God speaks loud and clear through each one.

There are those I listen to when I want to hear the Holy Spirit speak softly to me, when I need spiritual consolation or when I want to be reminded I am a beloved daughter of Abba, my Daddy, God the Father.

I listen to others to be catechised.  I turn to one particular priest when I need to be lovingly yelled at, and another for scholarly breakdowns of what’s going on in the gospel.

And, now, there’s Pope Francis, already trusted to present simple, down-to-earth advice on how to live the Catholic life pragmatically and fully with love for God and others.

getting the most out of online homilies

I have compiled a good-sized list of well-spoken, wise alter Christi from whom I seek out guidance each week. My prefered method of bible study is to listen to and consider their comments on the daily gospel reading as I reread it myself. I routinely hear or read at least 12 to 15  homilies a week, some of them two or  three times. I will come back to a great homily over and over, even years later.

Having done this for a few years now, I have yet to find a perfect homily site, let alone many that would even qualify as good. As a homily afficionado, I can offer some helpful advice to make any homily website more effective– after all, we all know how much priests appreciate advice on their homilies! Priest can do these simple things to improve the user experience of their homily sites, and, as listeners of we contribute much to the efficaciousness of our own experience with God’s Word .

The homily is a weekly gift to us from the Holy Spirit. God has been extraordinarily generous in providing the means for His priests  to share the good news with the entire world. I hope my small offering helps make that a better experience for everyone involved.

Advice to Those Who Post/Upload Homilies:

Text, audio, or both?

Both, of course!  I get that there are priests who may not like the sound of their recorded voices, but I like to hear them. Listening, opposed to reading, provides tone and inflection–not to mention personality.  Listening to homilies is a relaxing, enjoyable way to give more time to God each day, and is less labor intensive than reading (okay, so  I’m lazy like that ). Audio allows the busy Mom to finish the dinner, change a child or to connect with God in the car on the way home from work; there’s a lot to be said for portable sermons!.

Then, again, there are other times when it’s very convenient to be able to copy and paste some remarkable bit of sagaciousness, or times when we cuddle our feet up on the couch with a cup of tea, which practically demand the written word.

So, if possible, offer both.

Make it searchable; preferably by key words and by the associated readings.

When I am studying a particular Christian topic of concern like prayer or forgiveness, or a specific bible verse, it is very convenient to be able to find which homilies specifically address the subject at hand.

Keep an open archive.

I’m not sure why–maybe space limitations, lack of know-how, or perhaps because they recycle homilies and don’t want to be found out–but a fair number of priests keep only the most current homilies active. If the preaching is good, I will return to it time and again over months and years and, sometimes when I discover a priest whose message I particularly need to hear, I will go through his archives to see what else he has to say.

Have your own blog or website on which to post.

Most priests move from parish to parish every few years. If they post their homilies only on the parish website, it can be hard to follow them when they move. If they have their own blog or website past parishioners can continue to learn and grow from their homilies.

Add a subscribe button.

Some priests post like clockwork; most don’t. Some announce what day and time they will regularly post the most recent exhortation; others post sporadically or only when they feel they have a worthy offering. It can be hard to know when you’ll find a new release.

I will actively seek out a priest who touches something deep in my soul; the rest have to remind me to come listen to them. Adding a subscribe button or a join list option makes that much easier.

Most priests have to be a Jack-of-all-trades-master-of-none; hopefully the tips above will help make them more masterful Jacks of the homily site. 

Advice to Listeners of Homilies:

Practice an attitude of gratitude.

The first thing we as homily listeners can do to improve the homily experience include thanking your priests and giving them positive feedback when possible. An attitude of gratitude goes a long way in improving our own perceptions. Remind yourself that every homily you listen to is a gift from God and from the priest and you will enjoy the homily that much more.

Be consistent in your listening.

Whether you listen to one or several priests, listen to them regularly. Most priests have a central message they are trying to get across and this comes out over time. Homilies are Gods lesson plans. These lesson plans have the end goal of getting you into Heaven. Staying with the same teacher(s) over time will be a benefit to your soul.

Listen prayerfully.

As important as listening to God’s voice in the weekly sermon is, it is vitally important to listen for God’s voice in your heart as well. Before you listen to a homily, either at Mass or online, read and re-read the Gospel, allowing God time to speak to you. After listening to a homily, again, allow God time to speak.

In times of trouble, reflect.

When you are experiencing trials and tribulation, stop and reflect on the week’s lesson. I would be willing to guarantee whatever you are experiencing is somehow connected to that week’s Gospel. God is an omniscient teacher. He knows what you will be experiencing when and plans His lessons accordingly.

Act on it.

Most important of all, after God has spoken to you with His instructions for the week, act on them. Share the lessons you have learned with others. He’s not speaking just to hear Himself speak. Go and live His Word.

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4 Comments

  1. I love this post…and the advice in both directions. I listen to 2 different priests quite faithfully on podcasts. They have very different styles, but they both inspire me, convict me and encourage me. I was wondering if you are going to share your homily/podcast recommendations? I wonder if we’re listening to one of the same ones?

    • Thanks So much I am glad you enjoyed it. My top 5 favorite homilist are :

      Fr Anthony is one I am sure you don’t listen to …but should …he’s a local pastor http://www.olg-parish.org/parish/homily.html

      Fr Sam Medley is a SOLT priest you can find him on facebook or see his “Medley Minute” on youtube …his homilies are here http://frsamuelmedley.podbean.com/

      Both of the above I view as being very filled with the Holy Spirit.

      Fr Larry Richards I consider my catechist … He’s the first priest I started listening to when I came back to the church …his CD’s helped form my strong Catholic Faith …http://thereasonforourhope.org/meet_father/homilies.php?show=archives

      FR Barron is the best from a bible study POV … he is so very knowledgeable.
      http://www.wordonfire.org/WOF-Radio.aspx

      A new one ( new to me that is) – whose homilies I have found incredibly edifying is Fr ViVian p.blogspot.comvivianbolando

      • I am a fellow lover of homilies. I listen to Father Larry Richards as wells as Father Robert Barron. I will check out the others you recommend. I wanted to recommend three others that are favorites of mine: Monsignor Charles Pope,podcast is called Good Catholic Sermons Father Mike Schmitz UMD Newman Catholic Campus ministry podcast and lastly Father John Riccardo’s podcasts. I’m not sure if anyone else has the time or interest to listen to all of these but these priests are all excellent homilists.

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