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Of course we want good preaching at liturgies. That is the one time the liturgy varies and is the most noticeable opportunity for Church to touch our hearts and minds. But it is a flawed system. More than once I've wanted to be able to get up and challenge the homilist on statements which show how out of touch he is with the realities of life in the real world. Of course, some homilists are able to overcome the difficulties of their separation from our everyday life to actually connect the Gospel with our everyday experiences, but they're rare. We were blessed in our parish a few years ago to have two priests who had had careers before becoming priests. They were able to relate to issues in a very different way than priests who entered the seminary immediately out of school do. When they talked about trying to balance the budget and make a commitment to supporting the parish, or talked about living gospel values in the workplace, it was obvious they knew what it meant and they were respected for it. But as long as priests are considered "separate from" the assembly rather than being equally members of the people of God, as long as they are sequestered from the everyday realities the rest of us face (jobs, family concerns, etc.) and as long as they only speak as celibate males, it's going to be awfully difficult for us to experience preaching that speaks to our true needs and experiences.

My parish (which is connected with a Catholic university) has many members in the pews who have strong academic credentials in religious studies, psychology, philosophy, and other fields that would make them potentially good and relevant homilists. Unfortunately, the Church seems to think that ordination alone automatically makes good homilists. It doesn't.

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