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Mike Hayes Answers:
It’s always uncomfortable for people to give and get criticism. But when offered and received from a place of charity, it can often be a good thing.
A priest friend of mine some time ago told me that he welcomes criticism, especially on the weeks that he knows he was feeling a bit “off” in his delivery or preparation. In fact he also says that he needs to hear from his parishioners to know whether he’s reaching them and ministering to their needs as a preacher.
I would say the following. A homily criticism shouldn’t be the first interaction that you have with your priest. He deserves an opportunity to get to know you and for you to get to know him. Secondly, in the waning seconds after mass might also not be the best place to launch into a critique either!
Here’s what I do. I do two things when I hear a bad homily. First, I talk with the preacher afterwards briefly about setting up a time when we might be able to chat a bit more formally about the experience of Sunday mass. I let him know that I’m struggling to hear the message that he’s trying to communicate and ask if he might have a few minutes to speak about that. I’ve never been refused.
Secondly, if the problem is lazy preparation and I think that the preacher “mailed it in” that week (hey, we’re all human!), I usually reduce my collection offering and enclose a note in my weekly envelope explaining why I “cheaped out.” I wrote a tongue-in-cheek article on that experience some time ago. Feel free to read that here.