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Catholic Preaching

Discerning the Signs of the Times

Samuel Burke
Fr. Samuel Burke
Fr. Samuel Burke is a Dominican Friar and currently serves as a University and High School Chaplain in Edinburgh. His writing has appeared in New Blackfriars, The Tablet, The Universe and the Catholic Herald. He also serves as a Trustee of the Christian Heritage Centre in Lancashire, England.

Catholic sermons seek to break open the Word that we might better hear the God who speaks to us. Catholic preaching is fundamentally oriented toward encounter with the living Lord, and is liturgical in context, apostolic in origin, the subject of historical development, and, crucially, transformative in effect.

The sermon’s setting within the Eucharist is both christological and scriptural. Following their encounter with the risen Christ on the road to Emmaus, the two disciples say, “Did not our hearts burn within us while he talked to us on the road, while he opened to us the Scriptures?” This brief reflection encapsulates the very essence of the sermon’s purpose. It was followed by the “breaking of the bread” in which they recognized the risen Lord in their midst. This bringing together of Word and Eucharist provides the basic model of the Mass and is evident in the earliest accounts of Christian worship. In the second century, for example, St. Justin Martyr described the Eucharist as follows: “On the day called Sunday, all assembled in the same place, where the memorials of the Apostles and Prophets were read . . . and when the reader has finished, the bishop delivers a sermon.”


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