He does, however, step up to the altar once a week to deliver a sermon during Sunday Mass, which means he delivers four sermons every month at my village church. I have come to realize that only one of the four sermons he gives each month manages to connect with me in any meaningful way. One in four is considered satisfactory for batting in baseball. Does the same apply to sermons?
Now, before anyone berates me for criticizing the man, let me just add that I am well inclined to my parish priest and consider him a hardworking individual. He celebrates Mass four times each Sunday; one in my village - the three others in neighboring villages. He is an astute individual who is well-versed in Christianity, the Bible, history, and the Catechism of the Catholic Church. On top of that, he adheres to a rather resolute vision of what the Church should be and spurns liberal encroachments into Christianity.
Nevertheless, I find his sermon 'average' disconcerting and somewhat dispiriting. In all fairness, I doubt my blogging 'average' even comes to his sermon 'average' in terms of interest, profundity, and insight, but I am a mere abecedarian layman whereas he is a trained professional. Don't get me wrong; when my priest manages to hit the ball, he tends to whack it clear out of the park; but the other times . . .
Of course, my Christian faith does not hinge upon the effectiveness of sermons; in fact, I would continue to consider myself a Christian if I never heard another sermon or never set foot in a church again for the remainder of my earthly life. In other words, I do not need the church or any organized Christianity to be a Christian, and I will not stop being a Christian because of any perceived weakness or corruption in any church within organized Christianity. I approach Christianity from the personal level and build up from there; but at its core, my Christianity does not depend on many external sources to validate it.
Having said all of this, I must stress that external sources can be extremely helpful, stimulating, compelling, and thought-provoking. My experience as a Christian has taught me this - the most helpful, stimulating, compelling, and thought-provoking discourses today are not happening in churches or in sermons, but in the isolated and overlooked corners of our shattered Christendom. And they are being delivered by the misfits, the solitary, the heretics, the non-denominational, the seekers, and the mystics.
Here's to them.
And here's to hoping my parish priest eventually encounters them.