[quote="EasterJoy, post:8, topic:176621"]
It's just like anything else having to do with liturgy: preparation, preparation, preparation.
Also, associate pastors are still learning what works for them. Don't expect an old head on young shoulders. Also, it your direct feedback is not positive, you might ask the pastor about how to or whether to deliver it to the younger priest.
I think a good homily:
1) Actually opens up the Holy Scriptures for that Mass. It shouldn't be a sermon on a general topic. Like lay refections, those have their place: that is, somewhere other than within the Mass.
2) Chooses one or maybe two points, and sticks with them. This is very hard for new priests and deacons, because they can think of about a million things to say on any particular set of Scriptures. They need to avoid the tempation to say all of them.
3) Is structured in a way that is appropriate for reception by people who don't have a pencil and paper for taking notes. This might include rhetorical devices, it might just mean that the flow is linear and easy to follow, but if people aren't going to remember what is said, there is no point in saying it. Only a very organized and disciplined mind can do this without a lot of preparation.
4) Everything that does not make the central point more memorable is left out. That doesn't mean the homily is short, but it does mean the homilist is self-disciplined.
5) The message includes a call to change perception, behavior, or both in a tone that is challenging, but not accusatory. The people should not be able to escape the sense that the words are meant to make a change in the way they live and that with the help of God those changes are within their abilities. The Good News is meant to change our lives, after all. One of the best devices I have heard for this is when a priest is willing to admit how he fails or has failed in this area himself, or how people he clearly admires have failed (like the saints). This has the added advantage of making the homilist more approachable as a confessor. If a homilist only mentions the things that the saints do right, and never talks about their struggles, it makes sanctity seem an impossible goal.
I don't think that we should make the assumption that the parochial vicar (associate pastor) is necessarily still learning what works for him. My parochial vicar, a monsignor, is actually the best homilist in our diocese and he is very effective. A lot of pastors in our city, even our bishop, I dare say, could learn just by observing him.
He served as our cathedral's first rector. The new administrator (the third one after the rector had been reassigned) was rather frustrated because parishioners were comparing him to the rector. He asked me why. He told me that he had a PhD in philosophy and gave me his other credentials. I suggested that maybe when the former rector comes to do a wedding or a funeral, the new administrator might just want to hang out in the sacristy or sit in the pews and hear him preach. I also suggested that next time the Scott Hahn conference rolls around, he might just join the former rector and the two other priests who attend. He seemed receptive to both of the ideas.
A good part of my PV's preaching ability is that he genuinely loves the liturgy. He makes it a point of gently reminding us why we are gathered in church for Mass. He makes it a point of reminding us that we are in the very presence of God and are just as much present at the salvific mysteries as the Blessed Mother and Sts. John and Mary Magdalene. He even went so far as to tell us, one Sunday, that it was more important that we listen to the actual words of Scripture than his preaching. He says that he is just the instrument, but, that God speaks to us through Sacred Scripture and what goes on at the Mass.
Now, there have been times when he has tanked and I have told him. Because we are friends, I can share that with him. But, even when his homily is sinking faster than the Titanic, he still manages to get his point across, though, not in his usual eloquent manner.