Diogenes posts at CWNews that a new group, the College of Preachers, has published a new guide. This new guide discusses ways Catholic priests can improve their homilies. Great, you'd think, crummy homilies are a problem, and priests clearly need some sort of encouragement, advice to make themselves more adept at the oldest and second most visible part of their vocation. So enter the College's guide to preaching.
The guide sets out to help priests 'double-check' facts on areas which are out of their technical expertise. Again, great, right? Well no. The guide is designed so that say, Fr. Doe wants to preach about the mortal sin of mixing your recycables, he knows where to look to make sure he doesn't confuse the hard plastics with the corrugated cardboard. Yea, not what's really needed.
The problem most priests seem to have with preaching is actually coming out and saying something worthwhile. There's simply too much therapy and not enough instruction. As much as we like a chuckle, 4 jokes does not a good sermon make. Nor does reminding us that all we need is love and that we're all pretty good deep inside - that's what our saccharine hymns are apparently for.
Unfortunately it's just too easy to offer up a few heartwarming and mindnumbing comments, or make an empassioned pseudo-political speech against the most recognizable media-inflated issue de jour. But that's not effective preaching, and no matter accurate your facts are, the congregation still suffers.
I've noticed many younger priests to be much better preachers than older priests. I don't know why that is; maybe there's an a problem of priests burning out, especially after what the Church and Western culture has been through the past 40 years. But what these new priests seem to understand and the older ones don't, is that simply preaching the Gospel and Catholic tradition is and will always be the best choice. Not that reminding Catholics of God's demand that we, for example, be stewards of the Earth in the context of climate change isn't all that bad, rather, it's that people are inured to that sort of thing. We get that stuff from our friends, the media and family outside of Church and we don't need it every Sunday too.
edit: If you really want a guide to preaching, start by reviewing this.