Father Michael Monshau is the only priest in the planet with a doctorate in homiletics — the research of preaching. The 71-year-previous Dominican priest teaches at The St. Paul Seminary in St. Paul and serves as prior of St. Albert the Wonderful Priory in Minneapolis. As he celebrates Christmas, he’s honoring aged traditions even though offering new insights at the pulpit. “We try to remember the delivery of that child in buy to put together ourselves and our environment for his 2nd coming,” Father Monshau reported. “Christmas is difficult, hard work for Christians.”
Q) What to start with drew you to priesthood?
A) I was drawn to Church lifetime, consecrated existence. I did not define it. When I was in 1st grade, it was wintertime and the conclusion of the school day, and Sister experienced used fairly a little bit of time acquiring us lined up in our coats and galoshes ready to go property. Our youthful assistant pastor arrived in, and from way in the again of the place, I looked at this nun and this priest, dressed as they did in the ’50s, and in that minute, a little something inside me mentioned: “Those are your personal. You are a person of them.” And I claimed, “OK.” From then on, I understood that I had a vocation to consecrated life.
Q) Was the Dominican enthusiasm for educating central to that connect with?
A) What I really like about staying Dominican is this: They’re the most monastic get that I could discover that still experienced no problem about the active ministry of educating and preaching. We’re in the center, fifty percent and 50 percent. St. Thomas Aquinas called that the most excellent form of spiritual daily life since it’s a blend of the contemplative and the apostolic.
Q) St. Thomas Aquinas is a well-known Dominican you have composed about.
A) Certainly, and his instructor was St. Albert the Great. He taught us to think of our college students 1st. Albert was amazing. He was one particular of the first to place jointly Catholic theology and science. But in its place of marketing his individual perform, he pointed to his student, Thomas Aquinas. Albert has constantly been my product as a professor. For occasion, I have an assignment the place I check out to get my college students printed.
Q) You stay with 6 other Dominicans ranging from their 30s to their 80s. Do the 30-somethings maintain you young at heart?
A) Yes and no. We keep just about every other ageless. Simply because these pretty younger brothers stay with me and the elders, they reside with the custom. A 30-year-previous brother normally takes much far more than his 30 years’ expertise to ministry since of his shared daily life with his elders. And us elders are knowledgeable of so a great deal that is new and building since we’re residing with it.
Q) Your time with each other will have to be so loaded.
A) As remarkable, my occupation is about at the time a thirty day period to prepare an evening of recreation for us. I cannot keep in mind any task that was more difficult than attempting to remember to a team with that age selection. The issue that related us all was ax throwing. It was the most delightful recreation I can recall! It in some way brought us with each other where by we were most alike, at our most prevalent denominator.
The second most successful activity has been viewing “The Chosen” as a local community. It’s the intergenerational dynamic that I’m discovering so attention-grabbing.
Q) Is there any Christmas custom from childhood that you nevertheless carry on?
A) My grandma was Swedish, and she’s the symbol for all the wonderful points of my childhood Christmas. So I get our Swedish Xmas horse out — a dala — and a candle I’d offered her. She died on Dec. 13, which is when Swedes get started their celebration, the feast of St. Lucy.
I hand painted and calligraphed 40 Xmas cards for the other residences in our order. Calligraphy is contemplative. I’m open with just about every card. I pay attention. I turn to the Scriptures. I get it from somewhere — it did not occur from me, I get it. To provide attractiveness into the earth is to cooperate with God’s strategy.
Q) What’s the important to a excellent homily?
A) The most effective homily I’ve at any time heard was when I was a amateur, and my novice grasp took us to a migrant camp. It was an emergency — they didn’t have a priest. He apologized for not being ready to preach to them. He explained, “Espanol es en mi corazon, pero no es en my boca.” Spanish is in my coronary heart but not in my mouth.
That was the entire detail. And it was sufficient. You could see how they associated to him soon after Mass. They felt so acquired, so recognized, even in his inability to preach.
Q) That simplifies the equation. It is about heart, sincerity.
A) And it’s a relationality.
Q) Do you motivate storytelling in homilies?
A) Yes. Some theologians say storytelling — which we call narrative preaching — is the most perfect kind for preaching. It’s the indigenous style for preaching mainly because most of what we know about the Father by means of Christ arrived through his storytelling. It roots the Gospel and the Gospel information in our have life, our own context. You know where I do some of my most effective understanding? A whole lot of the profound insights I acquire appear from the apply homilies of my college students.
Q) Do you urge the seminarians to be short?
A) I do not feel brevity is a virtue but squandering 1 2nd is a big offer. The world is falling apart. People’s marriages are falling apart mainly because they don’t have adequate time for just about every other. Folks develop monsters rather of altered adults since they really don’t have plenty of time for their youngsters. In a world that is falling apart because men and women never have plenty of time, I far better not betray them — I dare not waste just one moment of it.
Q) How do you educate the artwork of the homily?
A) Every homily should really have a aim and a perform. A aim is one sentence that summarizes a homily. Can you ask people today leaving the church to describe what Father just reported in just one sentence? The functionality is: What are you intended to do as a consequence of hearing this homily? It may possibly be activism, functioning for the weak. But it may possibly be anything internal — deepening your have confidence in in the Blessed Mother. A homily has to guide us to some response.
Q) Listening well is critical to talking nicely.
A) You have to pay attention. That’s what existence is: listening. You discover from men and women you disagree with. I have usually been 100 p.c — with no any caveats — in aid of Church instructing on abortion. But I’ve realized a lot about human character and the depths of the struggling that existence can suggest for some individuals by listening to professional-abortionists. Now, their arguments don’t sway my views at all. I’m unmovable. But there is one thing to understand about humanity everywhere, even when encountering really serious sin.
We’re in the middle of lifestyle wars. We have neglected how to hear to every single other and to be respectful to each other. It is a breakdown in communication, which definitely makes this an age for the preacher — we have to take the accountability for healing this, in massive element.
The best office to develop a homily is on the floor in entrance of the tabernacle in the church. Listening to the phrase, thinking about in the presence of the Lord — because he’s counting on us to be speakers of his phrase.
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