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Głoszenie słowa Bożego w środowisku zsekularyzowanym
Proclaiming the word of God in a secularized environment

Author(s): Leszek Szewczyk
Subject(s): Christian Theology and Religion, Theology and Religion
Published by: Wydawnictwo Uniwersytetu Śląskiego
Keywords: preaching;secularization;
Summary/Abstract: Preaching Gospel to people living in a specific historical context in the major task of the Church. Preaching the word of God adequately to the contemporary conditions requires knowledge of living conditions, existential and spiritual needs of contemporary listeners. Such a preaching derives its content from the Holy Scriptures and observation of the world in which the contemporary man lives and creates. Listeners should feel that it is them who are at stake in preaching, because they are able to find answers to their existential questions. The task of preachers is to establish a connection between the preached word of God and the contemporary world in which this word takes a specific shape. A preacher of the word of God can not fulfill his mission in isolation from the changes that take place in the world. A contemporary context of preaching the word of God is the phenomenon of secularization that contributes to the fact that many people abandon God and religion. In Poland, too, a growing number of addressees of preaching the word of God are indifferent and sometimes even unbelieving. Therefore preaching the word of God should increasingly take into account the need to evoke and develop faith and, as the consequence, encounter Christ. Such preaching should be opened to the needs of evangelization and reevangelisation in the environment of non-believers, pagans and lapsed Christians in need of conversion. The major purpose of this study is to describe a contemporary state of preaching the word of God and the degree of its adjustment to secularisation processes in progress and to show influence of Ecclesial structures on a factual shape of the preaching service. Based on considerations on preaching the word of God in the secularised environment it should be concluded that the initial purpose of the study was met. At every stage of the study a critical analysis of the current state of preaching was carried out together with the degree of its adjustment to the secularized environment as well as individuals no longer involved in faith and religion. At the beginning of the study the existing research and sociological, philosophical and theological literature concerning dominant trends in the contemporary culture and civilization were analyzed. Also, the emphasis was put on impact of secularisation processes on suppressing religiousness, especially ecclesial religiousness, as well as secularization factors in individual behavior and beliefs. Postmodernism, globalism and nihilismtrends that dominate the contemporary culture and civilisation and have a direct impact on listeners of the word of God. Polish religiousness is going through a peculiar metamorphosis. What can be observed is a transfer from inherited religiousness to religiousness by choice. At the same time listeners of the word God are not only believers, but also non-believers who came to listen to the word of God by accident. This is why preaching, although meant mainly for the faithful, should also have the character of preaching to „pagans”. In the homiletic theology, especially the West European one, a systematic shift from the former paradigm of secularization to the paradigm of evangelization can be observed. Also in Poland revival of preaching the word of God in the secularised environment should be inspired by assumptions and program if the new evangelization. The study includes a critical analysis of initiatives seeking to directly reach unbelievers and secularized believers. Precious inspiration in search for adequate content and form of preaching to secularized listeners can be found in documents of local Churches, especially documents of Conferences of Episcopates of Italy, France and Poland, an initiative of a dialogue with non-believers, foe example „the court of the gentiles” and „the court of dialogue” and a latter of pope Francis to a non-believer. The following part of the study points at a mission of preachers of the word of God in the secularised world. The teaching of the Church on the role and tasks of a priest as a preacher of the Word in the secularized environment was presented and changes in perception of a preacher in the environment was surveyed. Moreover, pastoral postulates were formulated concerning formation of current and future preachers who are getting ready to preach among those far from the faith and religion. Efficiency of preaching the word of God depends largely on a preacher’s personal testimony, knowledge of the preached message and problems experienced by listeners and skills related to use of the word. A priest in the secularized environment should be characterized by a friendship with Christ, prayer and a humble service with respect to the word of God. If he wishes to be a leader of the people of God and the man’s friend he has to master the skill of a careful „listening”. Many contemporary listeners of the word of God can not follow the fast pace of changing reality and do not understand the contemporary man sufficiently. Therefore many priests are tempted to separate from those who live outside an active and involved part of the community of the Church. A special task of a preacher in the environment of non-believers is evoking in their hear the desire to meet Christ. Preaching the word of God by the authority and in the name of the Church requires courage to defend integral teaching of the Church in spite of unfriendly condition and numerous dangers. A contemporary preacher has to have a clearly defined hierarchy of actions, in which priority should be given to measures that bring the man closer to God efficiently. A basis o formation of future and current preachers is acquisition of substantial philosophical and theological knowledge, knowledge of psychology and rhetoric and appropriate spiritual development. All this should contribute to an open dialogue with people of good will, cooperation with the lay faithful, sensitivity of problems of the faithful, spiritual support and advice in problem solving. The next part of the monograph concentrates on research into the major directions of changes in the content preaching the word of God in the secularized environment. The service of preaching consists of conveying the same and unchanging truths, for the Good News revealed to us by God remains ever the same, however living conditions of listeners and their existential problems change systematically. This is why in the secularized environment it is necessary to change emphasis put on certain content and from the treasury of God’s revelation choose content that should be especially emphasized and presented to listeners. The major content of preaching the word of God is the good news about Jesus Christ, the Lord and Saviour. This preaching is rooted in the Bible and observation of the world in which the contemporary man lives and creates. In the secularized environment, without giving up the above mentioned sources, a preacher should emphasise kerygmatic message and lead to faith that is a personal encounter with Jesus Christ and has a personal and dialogue-oriented character. Showing God and Jesus Christ - the only Saviour of the man should be linked with an attempt to give answers to human questions and desires. Also today kerygma is the major part of ecclesial preaching and is addressed to various listeners. It is necessary, however, to devise kerygma adjusted to individual needs and expectations of the contemporary man who is either a non-believer of a lapsed believer. If by kerygma in the strict sense we understand the passion, death and resurrection of Jesus combined with the call to conversion, and by a kerygma in a broader sense we understand everything that is taught by the Church, which is the words and deeds of Jesus confirmed in the Bible, then in preaching the word of God in Poland preaching kerygma in the strict sense should be interpenetrated by preaching kerigma in the broader sense. Non-believers and secularized believers should be preached most of all kerygma in the strict sense, for its purpose is the initial conversion and preparation for baptism and entering the community of the Church. An ordinary preaching of the Church taking place during homilies should remain a broad kerygma, whereas preaching kerygma in the strict sense, which is a call to a fundamental conversion to Christ, should be addressed to the secularized and take place in exceptional circumstances. These circumstances are the most important moments of Christian life, such as baptism, weddings, funeral and Easter and Christmas homilies. Preaching addressed to the secularized should refer to human experience, failures of human searches and solutions and point at a solution of problems through opening to the Christian revelation. Such preaching that refers to the anthropological method seeks to evoke the hunger for God. Major topics of the preaching addressed to the secularized can not omit such issues as a human person and his dignity, freedom renewed by the cross and resurrection of Christ, the sense of life, love, happiness, sickness and suffering. The content of preaching addressed to non-believers may be universal and all-human values among which three transcendentals, truth, goodness and beauty, are dominant. In the final part of the monograph a formal side of a preaching utterance addressed to the secularized environment was analyzed. Preaching the word of God requires searching for the most efficient form of reaching people at the margins of faith and the Church. In the face of progressive secularization preaching the word of God requires courage and enthusiasm as well as boldness in searching for a language capable of conveying a deepmeaning of beauty of the experience of love. This search should be accompanied by awareness that preaching is the word of God (theological sphere) and the word of man (anthropological sphere). Renewal of a form of communicating the Good News calls for reformulation of a language of expressing one’s faith in a way that would be adequate to a cultural awareness of an environment in which it is preached. Precise verbal formulas, dogmatic definitions and teaching faith through memorising truths from the Catechism is beyond the grasp of many contemporary people. Preaching the word of God in the secularised environment should refer to the richness of the Bible and have a simple form. A preacher should make his statements more contemporary, since for many listeners the gap between the language of preaching and the language that would use on daily basis is too big. Listening to opinions of listeners of the word of God far from God and the Church allows for introduction of a language that would be communicative for contemporary people, an existential language of faith. It is absolutely necessary in preaching the word of God in the secularized environment to use a language of suggestion, dialogue, respect and empathy. A prudent use of imagery in preaching can introduce listeners to the world that so far has been unknown to him. It is advisable to use persuasion and broad argumentation that refer to an intellectual, emotional and volitional sphere of listeners of the word of God. Moreover, one should avoid boarder attitudes, which is willingness to adjust to colloquial speech of listeners of the word of God on the one hand and a persistent use of a hermetic, obscure language of theology on the other. Such attitudes should be overcame by seeking to keep sacrum in preaching utterances. The research carried out proved further research into the state of preaching in Poland is necessary. Growing secularization processes have a significant impact on homiletic theology. Its task is to devise – in the light of the analysis of the current situation – rules and directives thanks to which the Ecclesial service of the word might conduct its mission efficiently. The need of a constant perfection of preaching results from requirements of priests in the contemporary world which is adjustment of pastoral methods to constantly changing living conditions of the community of the faithful. The process of programming preaching can not omit systematically growing secularized environment.

  • E-ISBN-13: 978-83-226-3618-3
  • Print-ISBN-13: 978-83-226-3617-6
  • Page Count: 330
  • Publication Year: 2019
  • Language: Polish