What makes for a good homily or sermon? How can all people, including laypeople, improve the quality of church preaching? Bishop Robert Barron and Brandon Vogt walk through five specific qualities of good preaching that result in true conversion.

Topics Discussed

  • 1:56 – Why does good preaching need to be mystical?
  • 4:08 – Fulton Sheen and the power of the Holy Hour
  • 6:58 – How does good preaching become more biblical?
  • 11:48 – Why good preaching unnerves its listeners
  • 14:21 – Bishop Barron’s advice for preachers worried about discomforting parishioners
  • 16:37 – How good preaching leads to conversion
  • 19:31 – Preaching lessons from Jesus and the woman at the well
  • 22:01 – Why good preaching must result in mission
  • 24:46 – How can laypeople encourage better homilies?

Bonus Links

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11 comments on “WOF 003: Five Qualities of Good Preaching

  1. William Guy Dec 30, 2015

    Dear Bishop Barron.

    My mother is going to be 83 years old and my father had passed away about eight years ago. He believes in his Catholic faith for Ridley and he also read many stories about majigoria also about Fatima. Garibandal And other places of our lady.

    OK my question is. My mother often ask me, when she goes to heaven will she meet her husband again where they be together,

    Or will they be just friends. Will her mom and Debbie together and everyone together and will they know each other.

    Can you please answer that question for her and I will read it to her once I get your reply.

    All the best may God bless. May the angels of protection watch over you.

    Best regards

    William Guy

    My mothers name is Grace

    you can personalize your letter to her. thank you

  2. Bishop Robert Baron,
    As per your discussion on preaching, a lot has been made of what some churches do in preaching. (Both Catholic & Protestant.) Some churches have had many ways as part of the Homily from very charismatic preaching, to skits, interpretive dance, and using a video clip to help illustrate a point. Not to mention a pre-show before the Mass started. For many years, I went to such a church with a very talented and charismatic priest. (Sadly, he is no longer a Priest.) Who used skits as part of the homily, a little back and forth discussion with one of the musicians, a song (sometimes secular, if it helped illustrate a point), and video clips. All where used to help illustrate a point. But he was also a very powerful preacher. Before the mass though, it was rarely quiet, often lively, doing a warm up show. Since it was Life Teen program there, for the teen mass, he would invite the teens around the Altar for the consecration of the Eucharist. (The Vatican no longer permits it). As I now understand, that some people would view it as a “carnival atmosphere”.

    As I understand many in the church feel that preachers of the church want straight Homilies, and to the point. The church should be relatively quiet before Mass. No skits or jokes in the Homily. In fact some people want the music to be pretty much an Organ or Piano, with a choir or just one person singing very traditional music. No guitars or drums. No using some of the more recent up-beat christian pop music, like Hillsong, Chris Tomlin, Delirious, etc.
    My question to you is: What should the church do to encourage better preaching? To let priests use whatever talents they have, without turning the mass into a carnival, more focused on entertainment, and perhaps attracting people for the wrong reason? To what level, can a Mass be entertaining? Whats your take on a skit, video clip, or interpretive dance being used as part of a Homily? As for music, I have no problem with many of the modern christian songs being played in church, as long as they are written for the intention of Worship. I see no problem in that. I’m just curious on what your take is, what the Holy See’s guidelines are, and what many Bishops guidelines are?
    Sincerely, Tom Sena

  3. Racheal Dec 30, 2015

    Thanks for distinguishing between preaching and teaching-that segment is something Protestants may gain some insight about their religion and how they practice it.

  4. Sheri Stewart Dec 31, 2015

    I always enjoy listening to Bishop Barron……He restored my faith in the Catholic church and actually was the main reason I FINALLY became Confirmed into the Catholic Church at the tender age of 59……hahaha…… I had not gone to Church except for a few times for years and years (like 30). Thank you again Bishop Barron

  5. Sara Nagel Jan 1, 2016

    Dear Bishop Barron,
    Thank you for your fidelity to your vocation. May God continue to richly bless you in the gift of preaching…may He richly anoint you in the Spirit to continue the mission for which He has created and Sent you!
    We currently have a very dedicated, biblical pastor, full of the Spirt who regularly spends time in front of the Blessed Sacrament…and so he is a powerful preacher! What I would be most grateful for is advice on how to increase vocations. We seem to really be struggling to produce seminarians in our Diocese, possibly from wounds of the past. Can you recommend materials and practices that will help me be an agent of healing among the Faithful? Our priests need us more than ever….and they need the hope of a new generation of priests that will continue God’s work after them!
    Peace in Christ, our Radiant Hope!

  6. Gloria F James Jan 5, 2016

    Quite educational really. I like the fact that good preaching is firstly Mystical

  7. Awesome commentary. I am part of a small prayer group and I am sharing this talk with my group. This is the feedback my team needs to be nourished and to be a nourishment

  8. Joshua Jan 7, 2016

    Some of us are too poor to go to Holy Hour…. Please pray for me.

  9. Joshua Jan 7, 2016

    Fulton Sheen liked The Knox Bible. The Fr. Hugh Thwaites S.J. began to record that version on audio. When is someone with a good voice going to continue the audio work that Fr. Hugh Thwaites began. A complete Knox Audio Bible would be very good. There is a need for Catholic Audio books with good voices…

  10. Deacon Chuck Lewis Jan 12, 2016


    Great job but I want to sensitize you to the lack of mention of deacons. We are used to being forgotten but a lot of the men struggle with this omission. I wouldn’t want them not to listen to the wisdom here because they were not listed with other clergy.

    God bless you in your ministry and family life!

    Deacon Chuck

  11. Patrick Morgan Feb 4, 2016

    Bishop Barron,
    A strong ‘Amen’ to your “Five Qualities” podcast! I am a Protestant (LCMS Lutheran).

    Two brief thoughts:

    1. The need for good preaching is not a problem endemic to only Catholicism. Protestant preaching is at a low-ebb. I see two broad strains. In the broadly evangelical church preaching seeks to be relevant and experiential and, simultaneously, has slowly detached itself from the Bible. In the Reformed, Calvinistic churches one is more apt too hear a lecture about God (many ministers, ironically, wear the black Genevan, academic gown!). Many Lutherans, depending on the parish, bounce back and forth between the two.

    2. Second thought. If the Roman Catholic Church wants to reach Protestants, the preaching has to really improve. Christ has to be present, not only in the Eucharist, but in the preaching of the Gospel. As you stated in the podcast, priests need to “Man up!” If that happens I think Catholics will be surprised to see lots of Protestants at their door step.

    Thank you so much for the podcasts. Keep them coming!