200 YEARS AGO: PREACHING – CHEW THE BREAD OF THE WORD

The Missionaries, who spent a large part of their ministry in preaching the Gospel, needed to be clear about their priorities:

we must seek only to instruct the people,
to be attentive to the needs of the majority of the audience,
and we must not be content to break the bread of the Word of God for them,
but also, as it were, to chew it for them.

1818 Rule Part 1, Chapter 3, §1 Preaching

These four directives contain the heart of preaching for the Missionary. He had to be close to the people, so as to be aware of their needs. Only then could he respond by giving them the instruction that they needed.

Their aim was to feed their listeners with the Word of God – but not only in theory. Like a mother-bird feeding her chicks by having chewed the food first, they were to have chewed the Word themselves so as to nourish others. The Missionaries “chewed” the Word of God in their daily times of prayer and Gospel meditation and in trying their best to live it through the practice of the virtues, the lived values of the Kingdom. Then would the Missionary be able to say, like Saint Paul: “I hand on to you what I have received…”

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One Response to 200 YEARS AGO: PREACHING – CHEW THE BREAD OF THE WORD

  1. Eleanor Rabnett, Oblate Associate says:

    This morning’s gift is a sense of “all”. The breaking of the bread of the Word of God is not ‘enough’ – it must also be chewed for those who are to receive. All.

    It strikes me that Frank’s use of the word ‘give’ is not a mere handing-over, not simply dropping a tomb in front of us and saying ‘read this and you’ll live’. As it was with Eugene, there is no portioning, no measuring, no holding anything in reserve. I think of Jesus and how he ‘gave’ his life – not just sharing bits and pieces of it, but his whole life. And St Paul who “hands on what he received” – he also does not speak of measuring, or portioning.

    The word “Oblation” comes to mind – that total giving of self. I am reminded of what Fr. Jerome Hellman OMI wrote: “Oblate – offered, poured out, spent…” “All”. I look at how here in this place the words are chewed for us – they’re not just put out for us to take – they, like bread, are broken and chewed first before being given to us. Eugene himself did this with the Constitutions and Rules and that practice continues on today. Not just for the “newbies” but for and with each other.

    How do I give? Is it humbly, having first chewed on it so that another is able to taste it and swallow it?

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