This book, the first of a projected two-volume set, is a collection of six of the more than 20 lectures presented by scholars in the annual John S. and Virginia Marten Homiletics Lecture Series at Saint Meinrad Seminary and School of Theology.
In 1986, John S. and Virginia Marten of Indianapolis, Indiana, made a generous grant to Saint Meinrad to endow a homiletics program. Shortly after I arrived to teach homiletics in the summer of 1990, Dr. Thomas Walters, then the academic dean, and I thought it would be a great idea to have an annual homiletics lecture. The idea was well received by the administration and the Marten family.
Along with the annual lecture, the Marten endowment has also made possible a first-rate homiletics/liturgics classroom in a renovation project in the late 1990s, which remains the envy of many larger seminaries. The Marten Lecture series has now been in
place for over 20 years. The list of lecturers and lecture titles is included in this book; the series is ongoing.
I think this is a marvelous and diverse collection of works. It has been my privilege and pleasure to personally invite each of these lecturers to speak at Saint Meinrad. I am grateful to each lecturer who has made his or her way to rural southern Indiana to the campus of Saint Meinrad Seminary and School of Theology.
This collection is not intended to offer the very latest in homiletic theory by these men and women. Rather, it is a sort of pulse-taking or snapshot of what has been going on in the homiletics world over the last 20 years. These scholars are still very active in their various disciplines and continue to push the envelope in both the theory and practice of preaching. Nevertheless, as I reviewed all of them, I was struck by how important each of them still is. I have personally benefited from the work of all the lecturers before, during and after their short time at Saint Meinrad as Marten Lecturers. Their work is important. That is why they were invited to bring their insights to Saint Meinrad.
In some small way, I hope the lecture series has been a way for these presenters to move forward in their thinking and research, at the same time they have provided a stimulus to those listeners who are now preachers to expand their own homiletic horizons. With that said, all the lectures contained within maintain their status as valuable and ongoing contributions to the important work of proclaiming God’s Word for the people of God.
As I have read through each of these several times, I am struck first by the diversity of topics that have been addressed. At the same time, however, I recognize a common spirit that runs through each of the lectures. That spirit includes a great faith in the power of the Word and of the word. There is also a deep and common respect for the hearer as well.
As Fulfilled in Your Hearing notes, preaching is the responsibility of the whole Church. This does not mean that everyone can be a preacher, but that hearers and homilists are all responsible for and are empowered for the work of bringing the Word to fruition. As a hearer, I must do my best to listen for God’s Word to me as an individual, but also to us as a Church.
There is finally, then, a consistent resistance to the individualization of religious practice. Church is more than a collection of individuals. It is a communal enterprise. While there are several Christian “neighborhoods” or faith traditions represented in these lecturers, they share this common spirit.
This selection is intended to be representative of the series as a whole. Topics have been wide ranging, as is the case with homiletics theory and practice in general. Some of the lectures did not translate well from their original oral/aural presentation to the written page.
In one case, the presenter, Fr. Robert Waznak, SS, has claimed his opportunity to preach directly to and with the saints. I suspect he has set them straight on at least a couple of matters. In a couple of cases, we could not locate the presenter in time or did not receive the requisite permission in time for the preparation and publication of the volume. Ultimately, space limitations dictated the impossibility of including all the lectures.
I would be remiss in the extreme if I did not express my gratitude to the Marten family of Indianapolis, who made that initial grant to Saint Meinrad Seminary and School of Theology to endow our homiletics programs. Virginia and the late John S. Marten made the original challenge grant in 1986. Since then, the Marten family has continued to be interested in and involved in the work of our school, as well as in the work of Saint Meinrad Archabbey as a whole.
In preparing the lectures for inclusion in this volume, we transcribed some of the lectures from the videos of the lectures. In other cases, lecturers provided us with manuscripts of their work. In a few cases, I have made slight edits to make the lectures fit the written nature of the volume.
I have endeavored to make only the smallest of corrections, without altering in any way the intention of the authors. What I am unable to communicate in this printed form is the grace and enthusiasm each lecturer brought to his or her presentation. I am grateful for the spirit they brought to the task.
With thanks to the Marten family, the Marten Lecturers, to Fr. Denis Robinson, OSB, our president-rector, who suggested the idea of this collection, to the monks, faculty, staff and students, and to all who have thus far benefited from the lectures, I hope the series will have a long and fruitful future. It is held the first Tuesday evening of October, with a workshop held the next day.
Dr. Richard Stern
Professor of Homiletics