The following comes from an October 14 Angelus article by Mike Nelson:
“A preacher,” says Msgr. Francis J. Weber, “has maybe a quarter of an hour a week to reach his audience at Mass with his homilies. But many of today’s preachers in our church are overwhelmed with so many responsibilities that they don’t have time to properly prepare.”
And that’s a problem, says the archivist emeritus of the Los Angeles Archdiocese, who recalls the words his own homiletics professor, Vincentian Father Oscar Miller at St. John’s Seminary, from the 1950s: “Never preach without preparing. It’s unfair to the people and unfair to the Scripture.”
To that end, Msgr. Weber — in the spirit of fairness to assemblies and Scripture, and of helpfulness to overwhelmed homilists (priests and deacons alike) — has assembled a three-volume collection of homilies, one for each Liturgical Year cycle, that may be used in whole or in part by those finding themselves short of time, or inspiration, as they prepare for Mass.
Simply titled “Sunday and the Feast Day Homilies: Years A, B and C,” the handsomely-bound collection (published by Editions du Signe) is the latest work by the prolific pastor of Mission San Fernando, whose “California Catholic Heritage” was a fixture in The Tidings for 33 years.
“And it only took me 57 years to do these,” smiles Msgr. Weber of the collection of homilies, which stems in large part from the observation of his mentor and friend, acclaimed church historian Msgr. John Tracy Ellis.
“Msgr. Ellis contended that the evangelists were the first archivists for the Catholic Church,” says Msgr. Weber. “Their role was to gather, proclaim and circulate the contents of the Catholic faith to future generations.
“And our Lord gave the evangelists only two mandates: teach the Gospel and sanctify the people with the sacraments, starting with baptism. But preaching, or teaching, is chronologically first.”
“I think I write better than I preach,” he says, “and very few can do both well. Archbishop [Fulton J.] Sheen could do it, and so could Cardinal [Timothy] Manning. The thing is, as Father Miller said, you need to be prepared, be sure you have something to say or people will get bored. Words are pregnant, and they can give great meaning when they are lined up right.”