Robert Waznak, a preacher and for the past twenty-five years a popular teacher of preachers, believes that before we consider how to preach a homily we need to explore what the homily is. That is why An Introduction to the Homily is not just another "how to" book, but a work that leads to a practical understanding of what the Sunday homily is supposed to do. Based on theological and historical foundations, this work provides sound theory for homilists striving to improve their preaching.
Chapter one explores the form of preaching called the homily both from historical and contemporary understandings. It fills a void in many Catholic homiletic texts and articles on preaching by offering a brief overview of the "New Homiletic," a new approach that recognizes other homiletic structures besides the deductive or Aristotelian. Chapter two presents an overview of the preacher from four major images within the Catholic homiletic tradition: the herald, the teacher, the interpreter, and the witness. Chapter three examines the origins of the Lectionary to help understand its place in the preaching event and explores some practical solutions to its problems. Chapter four provides helpful responses to questions concerning practical aspects of the homily.
Hundreds of books on preaching have appeared since Vatican II, yet these homiletic texts rarely include the theological and liturgical insights from Catholic scholars and church documents. In An Introduction to the Homily, Robert Waznak demonstrates how new homiletic scholarship from Christian churches; the insights found in normative Church documents; contemporary theological, liturgical and biblical studies; plus the lived experiences of preachers and people can help us come to understand the function of the homily in the liturgical tradition of the Church.
Chapters are "From Sermon to Homily," "The Preacher as Herald, Teacher, Interpreter, and Witness," "The Lectionary: Richer Fare or Lesser Choice?" and "Questions Often Asked About the Homily."
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In An Introduction to the Homily Waznak fills a lacuna in Roman Catholic homiletics with a text that deals with the evolution from sermon to homily, with images of the preachers, and pros and cons of Lectionary use. . . . Waznak has made a valuable contribution for teachers of preaching and their students.
An Introduction to the Homily is a synthetic work, designed to explore what the homily is, rather than how to preach a homily. . . . Lucidly written, rich in pithy quotations and eminently practical, this book deserves an honored place in Roman Catholic preachers' libraries not to occupy space, but to be read and meditated upon.
[T]his slim volume is bulging with homiletic insights. Readers receive a brief history of preaching and more. They also get a solid theory of what the homily should be, prominent models of preaching, and pastorally sensitive responses to frequently asked questions about how to preach.
Robert Waznak's An Introduction to the Homily is far more than another set of basics; it is a treasure-trove, in the tradition of Buttrick and Brueggemann, Craddock and Hilkert. Not only does he use to splendid effect an amazing amount of pertinent homiletic literature, official and other; he has precious insights of his own. . . . Tiro and veteran, get hold of it. Satisfaction guaranteed.
Robert P. Waznak's An Introduction to the Homily is a worthy reflection of his more than twenty-five years as a professor of homiletics. This Introduction will benefit both experienced and new preachers, serving to lead them more deeply into an understanding of the challenging task that preaching entails. . . . This book deserves a place on the top shelf of every person called to preach the gospel, to be read for information and transformation.
. . . engrossing and illuminating. . . . This challenges not only the homilist, but also those who listen to homilies not just how to hear a homily but how to offer critique to a homilist who seeks it.
Robert P. Waznak, SS, is Professor of Homiletics at the Washington Theological Union and co-editor of New Theology Review. He has published books in the areas of homiletics, preaching, and the media and is a presenter of preaching workshops for dioceses and religious communities in the United States.