Getting Your Homily Fix

Catholic priests don't always have the reputation of setting the pulpit on fire with their preaching. In fact, many Catholics would complain about their pastor not being a good preacher at all. This is certainly unfortunate in a time when so many people are searching for purpose, encouragement, and truth.

I wouldn’t say this is the case in my parish, but I do like to turn to various online resources both to prepare myself for the upcoming Sunday Mass readings and also to recommit myself to God’s challenge throughout the week to become the “best-version-of-myself.” The best way I have found for doing this is through podcasts—subscriptions to weekly audio homilies and reflections that are automatically downloaded to my computer via iTunes. And since these resources have been so helpful to me I figured I would share them with you all in hopes that it would help you in your faith journey.

Pre-Sunday Homilies & Reflections

Word on Fire Sermons
Fr. Barron is one of the top Catholic commentators on faith and culture and what I like about his sermons is that they are published a week in advance so that you can listen to them ahead of time.
Listen Online – or – Subscribe via iTunes

Sunday Bible Reflections by Dr. Scott Hahn
As one of the leading Catholic scripture scholars, Dr. Hahn does an amazing job of bringing together the meaning of the all the readings. He doesn’t just focus on the gospel, but shows how the first reading, psalm, second reading, and gospel all work together as a symphony of sorts, resounding in our hearts the message that God loves us.
Listen Online – or – Subscribe via iTunes

Post-Sunday Homilies & Reflections

The Reason for Our Hope Weekly Homilies
Fr. Larry Richards—author of Be a Man! and Surrender!—is a dynamic, down to earth, straight to the point kind of guy. His homilies are usually 10-15 minutes long and he picks one important topic from the readings to expound on which he drives home with his witty, in-your-face style backed by short stories of his personal experiences. I also recommend taking advantage of his daily tweets and Facebook posts.
Listen Online – or – Subscribe via iTunes

Good Catholic Sermons by Msgr. Charles Pope
What I like about Msgr. Pope is the energy and passion that come across in his preaching. His homilies tend to be a bit longer—usually around 30 minutes—but it’s worth every minute of your time to listen. He makes the scriptures relatable and likes to mix in old hymns and songs to help keep the ideas fresh in your mind. You will never forget a Msgr. Pope homily! He also blogs daily.
Listen Online – or – Subscribe via iTunes

Sharing is Caring

These are the podcasts that I have come across that have helped me, but I am sure there are plenty more resources out there. So if there is a podcast that I have missed that you think is a great resource either before or after Sunday Mass, please let me know in the comments. Also, if you haven’t heard of any of these podcasts, I suggest you start listening to them, then come back let me know what you think.

UPDATE: If you happen to be of the non-iPhone-using crowd, like yours truly, I suggest an app called Podcast Addict for Android. This will allow you to subscribe to podcasts straight from your Android device.


11 responses to “Getting Your Homily Fix”

  1. Rich Beyers says:

    Thank you for posting these options.

  2. The Emperor says:

    I do not belong to one specific parish. I have been this way ever since I was old enough to drive and visit other churches, although there have been churches that I supported financially. I was doing a web search today because I have often wondered about the issue of Catholics listening during homilies. I knew a Father Jim who is the pastor at Immaculate Conception Church. Father Jim always gave a great sermon, but he also observed that so many pews were empty on the weekends. (Saturday vigil at 4pm and only one Sunday Mass at 9a.m.) I would often comment on his sermons, and one day I told him that perhaps a lot of Catholics don’t attend Mass because they never heard good sermons growing up, to which he replied “Trust me, I grew up with BAD homilies.” He said that this is because public speaking was not emphasized in the seminary. Obviously Father Jim was well aware that “bad homilies” are often a standard at many parishes and have been for a long long time.

    Father David is an old school priest who I say has a quiet wisdom. He is very passionate about the Catholic Church and supports it fully, although I’ve spoken with him one on one and found him to occasionally disagree with some church teachings (the death penalty for example). I told him that he should show his quiet wisdom more often during his homilies, but I realize that he doesn’t want to appear insubordinate. Since I actually was an altar boy under him roughly 40 years ago, I realize that he pretty much recycles the same ten minute sermons regularly over the years. He normally focues on these specific topics: Confession/Mortal Sins; the Blessed Mother; Almsgiving; Abortion is evil; Sexual sins are really bad; Catholics are blessed because we have sacraments that our Protestant brethren don’t have; Jesus is really good; and everyone should be a saint. I would often approach Father David after Mass and critique his sermons (LOL one time he told me that “I wish you would remember the GOOD THINGS that I say”). One time while doing this, I said that “I hope you don’t get annoyed with me for giving critiques after Mass,” and he said something that threw me for a loop. He said in all seriousness “I’m just glad that somebody actually listens to me during Mass.” That told me a lot, but what it told me was not very encouraging.

    I was attending Our Lady Of Sorrows at five o’clock Mass when the priest gave a sermon that I found to be particularly offensive. He was talking about how “Everyone can make a difference.” He then proceeded to tell the story of how Rachel Corrie became a martyr and a hero. (If you don’t know the story of Rachel Corrie, you should Google it. Apparently the rest of the congregation wasn’t familiar with her story either, but I myself was well aware of what had happened). The priest was going on and on about how Rachel Corrie saw an injustice done in Palestine and so she went there to protest it, and while protesting she was accidentally run over by a bulldozer. The priest said that although we as Catholics did not have to go to such extremes, it was amazing what this young college coed was willing to do to stand up for her belief and that we could be inspired by her passion. After Mass I approached the priest and admittedly there were only a handful of people standing around in the back of the church visiting with each other. Before I approached him I noticed two elderly ladies and I mentioned that Father is wrong and that Rachel Corrie was no hero. The ladies didn’t know what I was talking about and one of them mentioned that they didn’t remember what the sermon was about. Anyhow I approached Father and told him that Rachel Corrie was a terrorist sympathizer and the reason the bulldozer was in that area in the first place was to demolish homes and tunnels where weapons were kept to be smuggled into Israel to aid suicide bombers. The priest was shocked and said “Oh my goodness! Forgive me, I didn’t know.” At this point the others in church start to look over at us to see what we’re talking about. Father then said that he got the idea online from a website he visited that offers sermons to Catholic priests! (Whatever anyone may think about Rachel Corrie, the fact is that the priest apparently didn’t have much to say about the readings that day, and so he decided to wing it and just go to a website and pick something without doing further research on it). FYI personally I don’t mind priests looking elsewhere to get inspiration; there’s only so much that can be said about the same readings that go in a three year cycle (that’s another pet peeve of mine for another time). Nonetheless, whatever the priest wants to talk about should at least be tied to the readings at Mass.

    I also on occasion would take my elderly mother to church. I asked my mom (who is hard of hearing but wears a hearing aid…SOMETIMES) what the sermon was about. One time she tells me that she forgot her hearing aid so she didn’t even hear it. Another time she said that she really wasn’t paying attention. (After that, when she attended with me, I think she actually would pay attention thinking I would quiz her afterward). However I don’t really believe my mother is that unusual when it comes to paying little or no attention during Mass… I think most older people go because they are obligated.

    My point is this: If you took a poll as people were exiting church after any given Mass and asked them what Father’s sermon was about, I believe the vast majority of them would NOT be able to tell you. WHY is that? Is it because so many of us were raised to attend Mass every weekend because it’s “a mortal sin” to skip it? Is it because we were raised in traditions that we simply accepted without questioning them so we simply go through the motions to fulfill a moral obligation? Is it because the priests don’t put much effort into actually lighting that fire to make us excited about attending Mass and then telling others about it? Take your pick. I hate to invoke Anton LaVey, because he was the founder and high priest of the Church of Satan. However, Anton LaVey made a very good point when he said that “Church should be a place where people look forward to coming. It should NOT be a place where people look forward to leaving.” Personally I don’t mind inviting others to attend church with me (although I don’t get many takers, ESPECIALLY among lapsed Catholics). Funny thing though, since I attend vigil Masses wherever it’s convenient for me, I got a lot of exposure to many different priests and congregations, and so if I did choose to invite somebody to church in the hopes of evangelizing, I had in mind specific churches with enjoyable and interesting priests to take the strangers to visit, and yes there were many churches that I AVOIDED bringing strangers to, because I felt that in all likelihood that the stranger would get nothing out of the sermons and be turned off by them. (And yes, sadly, Father David’s sermons were among those that I avoided bringing strangers to visit).

    WHY don’t Catholics in general pay attention to the homilies? WHY don’t a lot more priests put some actual EFFORTS into preparing their homilies to make them interesting? And finally, if it’s understood that public speaking is not as emphasized in the seminary, WHY don’t the seminary professors START EMPHASIZING public speaking?

    All comments, responses, and yes even critiques of my post are welcome.

  3. Will says:

    Thank you for your list! One of the most down-to-earth and orthodox Sunday homily podcast series I’ve ever heard comes from Fr. Michael Schmitz. He’s the pastor from the Newman Center at the University of Minnesota Duluth. His archive dates from today all the way back to 2007. And his style is so relevant Lighthouse Catholic Media and St. Joseph Communications are sponsoring some of his talks. Enjoy! Link 1: Link 2:

  4. Ricky Jones says:

    Will, thanks for the recommendation. I’ve heard of Fr. Michael Schmitz, but I’ve never listened to his homilies. I’ll make sure to do so now and possibly add it to my list.

  5. Elizabeth Monaro says:

    I am hooked on this guy…have listened to them all and having withdrawals, that’s how I found your suggestions… Brilliant homilies, really educational as well.

  6. Jonathan Brumley says:

    Thank you for this list.

    It’s not actually a homily podcast, but I highly recommend the study series by Dr. Lawrence Feingold called: “Mystery of Israel and the Church”:

    This series is one of the best and clearest sources of Catholic teaching and spiritual insight on the internet. Dr. Feingold is a strong Thomist teacher and he has studied in Israel and in Rome. He is a former sculptor and a convert from Jewish atheism.

  7. The Emperor says:

    Thank you for the information, Mr. Brumley, but I must ask: why do you personally think the average practicing devout Catholic pays little or no attention during the homilies?

  8. Jonathan Brumley says:

    I can’t answer your question, because I think I don’t know many “average” Catholics. The pastor at our parish (Fr. James Misko at St. Louis Church in Austin) is a very engaging and dynamic speaker, and we are always talking about his homilies afterwards.

  9. The Emperor says:

    Well consider yourself among the minority. Trust me I have been to many many Catholic churches, and the vast majority of the time, I see people simply sitting thru Mass waiting for it to end. Personally I think that’s because several generations of us were raised to go to Mass because it’s a “mortal sin” to skip it and so many of us went regularly just to keep from being sent to Hell.

    Sadly too many Catholics have only a textbook knowledge of Jesus Christ because for many years the RCC spent more time teaching us to serve God through the Catholic Church rather than actually getting to KNOW GOD through His Son Jesus Christ.

  10. Ricky, I know this post is from a while ago, but in case you haven’t given Fr. Mike Schmitz a chance yet, please make sure and do so! In addition to his awesome homilies he has also been putting out 5-10 minute YouTube videos each Wednesday that are DYNAMITE. I have all of them linked on the following page if you’d like to check them out:

    God bless you!

  11. Ricky Jones says:

    Hey Greg, I actually have been keeping up with Fr. Mike and seen some of his great videos! Thanks again for the recommendation. Hope all is well with you!

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