Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Do Ministers Know Who They are Speaking to?

Last Sat. night I was at a mass at a nursing home. There were only about fifty people present, about 30 in wheelchairs, residents and 20 a mixture of caregivers and others. The celebration was The Queenship of Mary. The visiting Priest gave a homily that lasted no more than seven minutes or so and was terrific. He let us know there was hope and life could be less traumatic if we trusted in God.  Everyone went away uplifted. The very next day I was at the Sunday Mass at the same place and there was a little less than 200 people present. maybe 45% residents and the rest caregivers and others. The place was loaded with wheelchairs and the people gathered were hurting. A nursing home is an end of life holding ground and, for those who are permanent residents, know it if they have not fallen into dementia. The celebration was the same. Mary's Queenship. The Priest chose his homily on the Gospel and the part that said to those who were looking for entry into the kings mansion, "I don't know where you are from..." and there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. The homily droned on for 20 minutes with this dreary message that had the moral that we had to change our priorities or we'd be left wailing in the darkness. He was talking to a group that had more than enough troubles. They were struck with various forms of illness that left them dependant upon others as they waited for death. Not only were they affected mentally, physically but financially, it is not cheap to reside in a nursing home even with Medicaid which requires a person to become poor before they can qualify. On top of it all the talker's point was made at around 10 minutes and the next 10 minutes only repeated his dreary message. This homily might of been pertinent at a men's retreat or revival but certainly not where the problems the congregation were facing was already over whelming. Bishop Sheen was a magical speaker who brought humor, love and morals in every talk or program he gave. I suggest he be used as a model when religious speakers are being taught. Know your audience. Be brief and to the point. Always leave them feeling the love, and not the wrath, of God. I pray this will eventually happen.
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