bad homily

My husband and I have decided to become Catholic. :slight_smile: We go to Mass every Sunday now. We were going to a church far away that we liked, but lately we have been going to the one nearby. We have been liking it, but today the homily was a train wreck. I had to reinstruct my children properly after Mass. I think it was a deacon who spoke the homily. He made a big point about how it was unrealistic to be obedient all the time, and that we should just try to obey God a majority of the time. He may have had good intentions, but he fully communicated that it was OK to sin some of the time, and he wasn’t just saying that in light of God’s forgiveness.
Should we go to a different parish? How do we find a good one? We need to complete RCIA too, so it would be great if we could get plugged in somewhere where we can get our questions answered and get answers that are faithful to the magesterium.
One of my best friends has also decided to become Catholic, and she has come across the same problem. Her RCIA is totally liberal, and it is so discouraging. She ended up not going through with the Rite of Initiation because she wanted to maybe find a different parish. We both have kids and don’t really want our kids being influenced by false information.

My heart goes out to you. This is unfortunate, and let’s hope a rare occurrence regarding the homily given by the deacon.

You could give the parish another chance when the Pastor is giving the homily, and as for RCIA, it’s always good to add your own studies to that, and I applaud your efforts to supplement what you’re learning there with your own homework.

Finding a “home parish” is important, a place where you feel secure that the Church’s teachings are manifest, where the people are welcoming and where you feel useful.

Above all that is the Mass itself, and where people may fail us, God is there perfectly in the Blessed Sacrament each and every time. While we don’t ask for perfect homilies every Sunday and we don’t define our Catholic experience through personalities or church suppers, it is reasonable to ask that what is taught there is in keeping with the Magisterium, and that homilies such as you describe are not repeated. I wish you the best in finding the Catholic parish where you can feel your soul is fed and your family is shepherded by a Pastor who cares about this as much as you do.

Kathryn Ann

Without having heard the homily myself, I would have to guess that either you didn’t quite understand what he was saying, or, perhaps more likely, the deacon did not express himself very clearly. We should indeed feel bad about our sins, but we should not feel constantly discouraged and worthless because we are sinners. I suspect that for a majority of people the opposite is the problem – they go ahead and sin and don’t care very much – but for a sizable number of people overscrupulosity, discouragement, and even doubts about God’s love can be major problems.

One could even say that there is a certain sense in which “it’s okay to sin”: namely, that it is the struggle against sin, more so than the result, which is important. A runner will inevitably have days when he tires easily and even stumbles, but this is the price of being flesh and bones, and the fact that he is running the race is what keeps him healthy, certainly more so than if he got discouraged and just sat out. The stumble is not itself a good thing, but we can accept it as part of the human condition without endless hand-wringing and feelings of uselessness, even while apologizing to anyone we may have bumped into and pledging our redoubled efforts not to stumble again.

It seems like it might be nice for you to have a conversation with your deacon about what he meant before completely giving up on him and the parish. Maybe I’m completely off base, but then maybe he was trying to make a more subtle point and simply came up short.

First, let me say welcome. I am one who returned to the Church about 3 years ago and brought two family members in through RCIA and as good as RCIA can be or not be, depending on where you attend, it is really important to study on your own. I took my family through the Baltimore catechisms. It helped both them and myself. I really can’t stress that enough. I feel it is so important to study at home and study the catechisms. They are great.

Some may not agree with me about the homily part but I would maybe try the parish again when the priest is giving the homily and see if he is being faithful to the magesterium and if not try a different parish. It could be the deacon is new and the priest will be better or the deacon will be better with different homilies.

Where I live there are many parishes. Two closest to me get kind of liberal. I travel a short distance further for a faithful parish and it is beautiful and worth it.

God bless.

:thumbsup: I agree. Ask the deacon what he was trying to convey. It’s possible that he was trying to say what MarkThompson said and the homily didn’t come across the way he thought it did. If that’s the case, he needs to know so that he can do better next time.

When the Sunday homily at Mass is a “train wreck,” I make it a point to download and listen to the homily from the EWTN daily Mass. There are times when the deacon or the pastor studied and prepared for his preaching and then there are those occasions when, well, the prep and prayer was not enough.


I am impressed that you listened critcally and more impressed that you redirected your children after the Mass to correct any misconceptions that may have grasped from the homily. You reflect the soul that the Church needs in this moment of time - seeking truth and discerning what may be untrue.

You will discover in your faith journey that not all priests are great homilists or that they focus on the Gospel message - same with deacons - so church hopping will prove rather tedious and confusing for your children. Pick one and stick with it, as the focus is not “the priest”, it is JESUS and HIS presence and Sacraments.

With your enthusiasm and once you have entered the church I would encourage you enter into the CCD program and begin teaching the faith to children, which is a tremendous avenue to increase your knowledge as you study to answer their questions. This will begin your pursuit of Holiness and greatly assist with your own childrens formation.

And after Mass, the coffee and donuts time, is a good chance to ask the Deacon to clear up some questions you may have with his message.

I think the deacon is not new. He seems to play a pretty big role in the church. The other homilies I have heard at the church, by two different priests, have been good, and as far as I could tell, faithful to the magesterium. We will probably try it again. Just wondering what other people do about this problem. We know of other churches that are reputed to be very orthodox, but they are all far away.
I think it is SO sad that much of the time wanna-be Catholics cannot rely on their RCIA for faithful teaching. My husband and I have been studying a lot, and I don’t know what I would do without and EWTN radio!

As others have said, maybe he just had a hard time with that particular sermon. I would try again.

I find it sad about the RCIA also. Maybe the issue is there is so much to learn and so little time in RCIA. :shrug:

If the deacon had said anything like what you explained, I would not have had a problem with it. I don’t expect him to be perfect. I am all for being gracious and making sure we don’t misunderstand them, but the way in which things are said are very important. He was speaking to a very large congregation and they need a serious shepherd. Most of them are not highly educated, and they need someone who will guide them truly. The rest of his homily was rambling and rather cliche. He also started in on gay marriage, how it wasn’t the real problem, and how he was gay, because gay used to mean happy. Like I said, rambling.

Realistically, I don’t think I would have a conversation with the deacon, since we are just visiting and I am not even Catholic yet. How would you even do that? If I get a chance, I would like to talk to one of the priests at some point, and possibly would bring the concern up, though I would imagine it would be awkward.

I wouldn’t worry too much about one bad homily.

You have visiting priests, stand-ins when your regular priest goes on vacation or has an emergency, etc. Sometimes they are awesome, sometimes not so much.

Perhaps this man is truly misguided and needs prayers. Perhaps the celebrant did a facepalm and talked to him after mass, kwim? I wouldn’t toss out this parish for one bad homily- go to a few, and see if this is a pattern or not.

it can also be used as a lesson for your kids- even the adults get confused. If we are confused, we should look at the catechism, ask the priest, etc.

Thanks for your encouragement.
I think there is a big difference between church-hopping and a new Catholic (or will be Catholic hopefully next Easter!) trying to find a good parish. We do NOT want to church hop! My husband just said the same thing; he is afraid we are becoming church hoppers. I think he is too afraid of reverting to Protestant “practices.” :wink:
But doesn’t everyone out there think finding a good parish is important? How depressing and lonely is it to be shepherded by people you feel are not very mature in their faith? I love how God can use anyone and they don’t have to be perfect, but you know what I am talking about here. Especially as it involves our new faith, and teaching our children, I think it is a big deal to not only have the Eucharist and the liturgy, but faithful teaching and a supportive Christian community.

Also, there are no coffee and donuts. Everyone shuffles out and, even as friendly as I am, I feel weird walking up to people randomly and trying to make conversation. And honestly,I have never fit in at any church I have been to, but I really don’t think we really fit in here either. It is a very mixed congregation, but we are definitely in the minority. Which is fine, but can make it harder to find things in common (besides of course a love for our blessed Lord!).

Also, there are no coffee and donuts. Everyone shuffles out and, even as friendly as I am, I feel weird walking up to people randomly and trying to make conversation. And honestly,I have never fit in at any church I have been to, but I really don’t think we really fit in here either. It is a very mixed congregation, but we are definitely in the minority. Which is fine, but can make it harder to find things in common (besides of course a love for our blessed Lord!).

At the churches I have attended, there simply wasn’t time for coffee and donuts. Currently, my church has five masses on Sunday- and these are all with overflow into the chapel! They need everyone to leave after Mass so there is room in the parking lot for the NEXT group of attendees. I don’t know if that is a consideration where you are, but it definitely is here, and at the other two churches I attended while living elsewhere.

From what I’ve experienced, you get to know people by trying out one of the activities in the bulletin- rosary makers, a bible study, talking with other parents during the kids CCD classes (or teaching them!).

Yes, I think the “shuffling out” has to do with the next services. There seem to be some kind of fellowship lunches after, but I don’t know how to get involved with that; it doesn’t look like the kind of thing that you can just invite yourself in. :slight_smile:

Sigh. After being a Protestant all my life, I feel like an outsider at church now. It is worth any little sacrifice I make now, and I have hope that it will change for the better.

A bad homily is a bad homily and it can be really discouraging. I have heard homilies that made me cringe because if I were to take them to face value they would say things that go against the teachings of the Church. However, homilies are not logical debates and so sometime it is very difficult to make a point that could be easily understood by everybody without saying something that does sound wrong. I know that while it is reasonably easy for me to prepare a one hour class for catechism, it would be really hard to prepare a homily. I do not know which USA president (Teddy R.???) stated it but if I paraphrase him it goes: “It takes me four hours to prepare a two hour speech and it takes me a week to prepare a five minute speech”.

/agree with MarkThompson - speak to the Deacon about it. be charitable vs. confrontational. be honest about how you interpreted the sermon. See your role as beneficial to the Parish by essentially supporting the Deacon by giving him honest feedback.

How would I speak to the deacon? It would be strange for him to accept advice from someone who is not a member of the parish, and not even Catholic.

Just approach him as one brother to another…“may I speak with you a few moments, I have some questions about your homily?”

try to think of something positive to say first. i.e., I love your speaking voice, but I am just not understanding your message" etc.

However, if you go to this with a prayer for him and for yourself, and ask the Holy Spirit to guide the conversation, you will be fine. be charitable, be honest, and listen.

As a protestant convert I remember going through a lot of the same feelings. Homilies can be very hit and miss. RCIA can be very hit or miss. Sometimes I would cry out to God, “Really Lord, *this *is Your Church? Where is the teaching of Your word?!”

As for after church socializing, I will tell you right off that Catholics do not have the same idea of “fellowship” as protestants. Part of that is the way Mass is set up, prayer and silence (hopefully) before and after the Mass. Catholics primarily come to Mass to receive Eucharist, fellowship and the homily are secondary-- or maybe tertiary :stuck_out_tongue: But there should be some opportunities to fellowship during the week, various apostolates, etc.

It seems in your other posts there are some secondary questions about if the parish is right for you. If I were assessing a parish I would check out:

  1. Is there adoration in the parish?

  2. What are the hours for Confession in the parish?

  3. Is the Tabernacle is front and center?

  4. Is there a crucifix? Statues of Jesus, Mary, Joseph? Kneelers?

  5. Do at least some receive Eucharist on the tongue? Do people spend time in prayer before and after Mass?

I would look more at the earmarks of Orthodoxy than the people. The Catholic church is a big big place, with all kinds of people. You DO fit in because God has called you to the Catholic Church. It’s not an easy transition.:hug3:

I read “Rome Sweet Home” and “How to go from Being a Good Evangelical to Committed Catholic in 95 Difficult Steps,” among many other books. These were helpful in that they prepared me that I would not only say good-bye to many of my Protestant friends (or at least not be in their circles anymore), but that there would not be a Catholic replacement. In other words, I would not be able to count on having the same type of community that I was used to having at church. The ready-made, all-in-one stop for my social needs. While I am happy to give that up for the sake of Christ and a fullness of the truth, I really want to find a parish where I can hear about that fullness of truth, without having to filter out too much error. If I can’t have one, I must have the other.

But if I never find the parish I am looking for, God will enrich me through these trials. At least there is a wonderful online community, and the saints, and I can always hope that more of my old friends will join me! (One of my closest friends has already decided to!)

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