A Priest’s Guide to Preaching the Gospel
Summary of Humani Generis Redemptionem (PDF)
On Preaching the Word of God
Pope Benedict XV
June 15, 1917
I. Jesus Commissioned the Apostles to Preach the Gospel
It was the desire of Jesus Christ, after he had
won the redemption of the human race, to send his heralds to announce to
all mankind what they must believe and do in order to be saved. Their
preaching renewed the face of the earth, it turned men from error to
truth, and it turned men’s hearts from vice to virtue.
Preaching the wisdom taught by the Christian
Religion is the means to continue the work of eternal salvation.
Preaching must be looked upon as a matter of the greatest and most
momentous concern and must be the object of special care and attention.
Preaching Does Not Produce its Effect
The preachers of the Word are more numerous;
however, in the state of public and private morals and the constitutions
and laws of nations, there is a general disregard for the supernatural,
there is a
falling away from Christian virtue, and a slipping back more and more
into the shameful practices of paganism.
Has the Word of God ceased to be living and
effectual or more piercing than any two-edged sword? Has its long and
continued use blunted the sword? Were the Apostles living in better
times or did they find minds more readily disposed to the Gospel?
If the Word of God does not everywhere produce
its effect, the blame certainly must be laid on those ministers of the
Gospel who do not handle it as they should.
Bringing Preaching Back to its Ideal and Norm
A. Duties of a Bishop
Preaching the Gospel is the paramount duty of
the Bishop. Due to the Bishop’s many duties he must of necessity comply
with this obligation through others. No one on his own responsibility
is to undertake the office of preaching. No one is to preach in the
diocese without being summoned and approved by the Bishop.
The preacher is the Bishop’s substitute. The
Bishop is to select for this sacred office only those who are fit and
can exercise the ministry with profit to souls. This profit is
spiritual fruit. Those fit for preaching have signs of a divine
vocation, are imbued with power from on high, have the required
knowledge and possess the necessary virtues. The character and learning of the person are of
If a Bishop detects someone preaching for his
own gain and glory and perverting the holy office of preaching, the
Bishop is to remove this person lest a stain is brought upon the sacred
office of preaching. The Bishop is responsible for the errors of the
Requisites of a Good Preacher
The ideal preacher must:
Be the right person.
Have the requisite virtues.
Preach with the right intention.
Preach with the right method.
Right Purpose in Preaching
To be ambassadors of Christ
To give testimony to the Truth
The preacher must
diffuse the light of truth made known by God and he must quicken and
nourish the supernatural life of the people. The preacher must promote the glory
of God. He must lead men to a fuller knowledge of God and the way of
D. Errors in Preaching
Some are moved to preach by the desire of
vainglory and to satisfy it. Due to this they express high rather than
practical thoughts. They are ashamed of what is simple and plain.
Since some truths revealed by God frighten our
weak and corrupt nature and are not calculated to attract a multitude,
some preachers avoid them.
Some do not focus on things eternal but instead
focus on current issues engrossed in the minds of their listeners. They
seek to only please their hearers.
Some do not focus on the Scriptures but turn to
Some take to preaching to make money.
Some have neglected the acquisition of what is
necessary for performing the sacred office of preaching.
Learning is absolutely
necessary for the preacher, especially knowledge of:
Self – will lead a priest to renounce his own
God – will lead him to make others know and
Duties – will lead him to discharge his
Spiritual Preparation for Preaching
Full conformity to the will of God.
Perfect submission to the will of God: “Lord what will thou have me
do?” (Acts 9:6)
Patient endurance of hardships. A soul
prepared for hardships that will not avoid labor or trouble of any
kind. This effaces whatever human weakness there is in the preacher.
A spirit of prayer. What gives a man’s
words life and vigor and makes them promote the salvation of souls is
Divine grace. He little given to prayer profits not himself or his
Subjects of Preaching
Never avoid subjects, owing to the corruption of the age, that appear
Humani Generis Redemptionem
On Preaching the Word of God - Pope Benedict XV
Copyright © Libreria Editrice Vaticana 2006
The Catholic Society
Copyright © The Catholic Society 2006
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