Revista Studii Teologice


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Predica, predicatorul şi ascultătorii. Studiu pastoral-liturgic

Sermon, Preacher and Audience. A Pastoral-Liturgical Study

Autor(i): Pr. Vasile GORDON

The present study is interdisciplinary, both pastoral-liturgical and homiletic, thus belonging to the corpus of Practical Theology literature. It comprises three parts complementing each other, namely: sermon, pracher and audience, each examined in a liturgical and pastoral-missionary context.
Part I (Sermon) tackles the following topics: The impact of the spoken word (either positive or negative), with arguments selected from the Holy Scriptures and the writings of prominent theologians; Restoration and improvement of the word, paralleling the „restoration of man” – as Fr. Stăniloae famously put it; the main functions of word: practical, scriptural, charismatic and liturgical; The sermon as liturgical, sacramental and soteriological act. „Liturgical” – in its capacity as an act of worship and religious devotion, always part of the divine public service; „sacramental and soteriological” – because through the sermon the gift of faith may be conveyed (and also received), as happened on the Pentecost and according to St Paul who states: «Faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word about Christ» (Rm 10, 17); The relationship between word and the Holy Mysteries, pointing out that the sermon (implicitly the gift of faith) can have a soteriological role only in conjunction with the grace imparted by the Holy Mysteries.
Part II (Preacher) enumerates some of the characteristic traits of an experienced preacher: The preacher’s personality. The notion of personality, underscoring how important it is for the preacher to have a good reputation, in order to ensure the receptivity of his audience. The chapter also dwells on a preacher’s intellectual qualities; Moral-spiritual traits of the preacher, focusing on the qualities that must be cultivated: a saintly life, distinguishing him from other public speakers, such as politicians, journalists, etc; humility/modesty, endearing the preacher to his audience; discretion, a remarkable corollary of humility; discernment/ sagacity, one of the most appreciated virtues evinced in the Lives of Saints, the Patericon, etc; emotional intelligence and empathy involving a number of qualities which modern psychology ascribes to remarkable educators. Obviously, they cannot be absent from the moral-spiritual dowry of a preacher.
Part III (A sermon’s audience) is addressed from three angles: attuning, communication and reception (receptivity). „Attuning” in its turn has three major aims: Orthodoxy (preaching musyt be completely in agreement with the Orthodox doctrine), audience (according to its capacity/limitations in receiving the message), self (in relation to one’s own capacity for understanding). „Communication” is also threefold: with God, with the listeners, and with oneself. „Receptivity” (reception) presupposes a number of sine qua non qualities of the listeners. As it was in the times of our Saviour’s preaching, the homiletic message can be understood only by the listeners who „have ears to hear” and are not „callous-hearted”. A good analysis of receptivity is provided by Andrei Pleşu in his recent book Jesus’ Parables. The truth as story (Humanitas, 2012), pointing out that Saviour’s parables cannot be understood by those who willingly place themselves „outside” moral life – actually, outside liturgical life. Thus the sermon will be best understood by those people who attend divine worship and are „within” the Church, or, as the saying goes, are Christians „with a Church”.
Instead of general conclusions presented in the final part, the present study delivers its conclusions for each part, which in this case is much more edifying. These are „partial conclusions”, drawn for the respective section.

Pagini: 83-112