A sermon at a "traditional" parish that left me uneasy


My GF and I typically go to a very conservative parish for Sunday mass together. I had gone to it here-and-there until we started dating, and now we are there almost every Sunday. It’s actually run by Opus Dei.

The parish is known for having very “dogmatic” sermons at times; something that my traditional Catholic friends who visited the parish also noted. Yes, the style they are delivered in is more like a teaching session than a sermon.

This hasn’t bothered me too much, as they don’t harp on the same things over and over again. The priests do cover new and relevant topics. However, this past Sunday, a sermon left me feeling…well, just odd.

It was quite frankly all about sex.

It felt like a Pre-Cana or university seminar about sex. Yes, the priest did mention about the holiness of it…the respect of bodies…how our bodies were paid for (in regards to this Sunday’s epistle) and we must respect that. All valid points.

Then the priest went on for 25 minutes about the details of it that I found odd in a parish sermon, using words like “fornication”…“a holy bed of matrimony”…“sexual attraction”…“sexual desire”…“two becoming one in the sexual act”…and many other points.

I didn’t get all huffed-up; I sat and prayed for the priest. I am no prude by any stretch either; I went to a Catholic all-boys high school years ago and I have heard everything.

Yet, I was still bewildered. If I had a child of a certain age with me at mass, I’d have covered his ears.

Have we progressed as a society so much here in the USA to have frank sermons on sex as such? Has anyone else’s “traditional” parish gone on at length in such a viral way about the topic of sex in a sermon?


As I wasn’t there, I can’t say that I would have felt the same way, or not. I think it is time we talked frankly about the conjugal act. And maybe it being so “graphic” is no longer a problem. It is pervasive in this culture. Isn’t it? Maybe it’s good they hear the good side from the pastor before they hear the “fun” side from the mass media.

I don’t know for sure. But maybe. It’s certainly not disrespectful or profaning of human sexuality.


Except there are and were many of us that homeschool our children, that limit exposure to our graphic culture, that would be very upset about having to explain the birds and the bees because a priest decided to expose our children to it.

I wasn’t there either, but depending on how sexuality was addressed, I may have gotten up and left until the homily was over. I’ve done it before. The priest was addressing birth control. And my young son looked up at me and said, “What is birth control?”


Without hearing it, it’s hard to know whether I would have considered it too explicit, but my instinct is that it’s good the priest is talking about sex and what’s allowed and not. People are so poorly catechized on this topic; where else do young people learn nowadays that contraception is wrong? If they don’t hear that until they’re already engaged, our church has problems. The sexual culture has been pounding the opposite meassage loudly for years.

Was it a family Mass or is this Mass usually better attended by teens or young adults? That might make a difference, too.


since none of us were there to hear the whole homily or the context of some of the quotes you provided, there is no way anyone can say it was over the line or spot on. Just because he used the terms you claim doesn’t mean that they are inappropriate for Mass. Maybe if we had more priests to address the moral issues of our day, there would be less confused Catholics.


I can’t speak for parents, either. But from my perspective, they will be exposed to it one way or another. It is only a matter of time. Shields only work for so long. You’ve got to put a sword in their hand, or eventually the culture will give them one against you, and the Church. My first exposure to sexually explicit material was when I was 10. Far better, I say, for the priest to bring it up and denounce it than for your kid to hear it on a friend’s television years later and ask you about it.

When I was growing up - more like when I was 10 or so - dad would sometimes describe in graphic terms certain sorts of immorality. He didn’t do it often, but he did do it, and unashamedly so, as immorality. I think it did me a good turn. It certainly didn’t hurt me any.


Maryjk, I have young children so I am sympathetic to your dilemma in that situation. I’m just curious - what do you feel the priest should have done instead? Use a different term (e.g. contraception, the pill, postponing children)? Avoided the topic altogether?


I have never heard such a sermon and think in respect of families there it could have been reserved to a time when it’s announced as such a sermon regarding sexuality and Holy Matrimony at such and such Mass this weekend so people will be ready for it.

That said, I know not every parish has more than one Mass any given Sunday. Great to me he addressed the issue; maybe a better time like Pre Cana would be best.



Wow, 25 minutes is an incredibly long sermon! Our priest rarely hits the 10-minute mark and we still have plenty to ponder about afterwards.

I would’ve stuck around after Mass and asked about it. Were others upset? Maybe you should make an appointment to sit down with someone who could clarify the point of that sermon. Then again, as you said, they don’t harp on the same things over and over; perhaps this was the annual “sex talk.”


I’d say it’s probably a good thing for some home-school kids to hear a little about the world once in awhile: especially from a priest.

The few I went to high school with (they were home-schooled up to 9th grade) were painfully awkward and not ready for the reality of things, not being raised to resist some of the bad things in today’s culture. They started off hopelessly naïve, but have now, for the most part, become neo-heathens, post-college. I imagine if they’d have had some exposure at a younger age and been taught about it from a Catholic source, I doubt they’d be in the state they are today. Needless to say, I’m not a huge fan of home-schooling.


Did the priest give a warning? Usually, with a lot of Christian groups, when they are going to talk about topics like this they usually give a warning so that parents can escort their children away. Maybe you didn’t hear him say a warning at the beginning?

I’m with the others in saying that I can’t tell you what I’d think because I was not there to hear it. I’m kind of shocked that a priest would talk so candidly about it at Mass during the homily though.

I’d just speak with the priest kindly about your concerns. Maybe he just didn’t realize. ?


That doesn’t sound particularly graphic or anything to me. :shrug: These are things we need to hear and obviously over the last 50 years there’s been far too few sermons on the subject.


Based solely on what you have quoted here, it looks like the priest was making a very big effort to deal with an adult topic without saying anything that was graphic or beyond a “PG” level. Homilies should not be aimed at an 8 year old level; they need to cover a broad variety of topics important to the Catholic faithful and some of those topics are going to be ones that only effect the adults in the congregation and are beyond the understanding of the children. Since it’s unlikely that many of the parishioners are attending a separate class in moral theology, the weekly homily is the only time the priest has to cover these things.


I kind of agree with Tark on this one. Too many priests give “soft, mushy” sermons. Sounds to me like a great sermon.


Generally parishes leave these “talks” to the Youth Minister or DRE. Trust me.
And the audience is not that thrilled about it there either. :rolleyes:


For the youngest of children present, I would wager that any talk using “sexual …” would blow over their heads. Teenagers present should hear and understand. Children that are between 5-12 might or might not understand either. But when have we gotten so afraid to talk about morality and sexual desires? They are God given and a part of life. The Bible in a number of places is rather graphic in places like Song of Solomon and even in descriptions of actions of various people in it. I think it isn’t a matter that some home school children might be embarrassed, I think that moral issues and challenges need to be taken on in more homilies.


The pastor should have made his long speech to those he considers to be ignorant on dogma during a workshop in the evening. I’m so blessed to attend a Jesuit parish where the homilies are thought provoking and not lectures.:shrug:


This is also very true. Those who often decry the content not being suitable for children and also the ones who don’t want to talk about it at all. So the kids learn these things from their peers. Which can be disastrous.
The homeschoolers seems to do a good job with this children in area though.


Ten works. Six, not so much. At six, they are just learning how babies are made. They don’t need to know ABC.

I didn’t say he had to do anything different. Not all topics are for all ears. I see nothing wrong with taking your young child out.

I’ve gotten up during other homilies. One most notable was about death and dying. Not a terrible topic, and he probably said some really good things. But I had just lost both parents. Having me sobbing in the pew would have been a quite a distraction. :o


Indeed we do. :thumbsup:

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