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Puppets
Question from Anonymous on 2/10/2014:

As a baby boomer I remember hearing sermons about heaven, hell, and purgatory. Now when I go to Mass my parish priests sometimes use hand puppets during the homily to make their point. What? The world is falling apart and we have to watch puppets? Why have the clergy abandoned the fire and brimstone approach and turned to entertaining us with jokes and puppets? I can go to the movies to see this any day of the week.

Answer by Catholic Answers on 2/11/2014:

Anonymous--

I sympathize with your outrage. Had I seen the puppet-show homily, I would have been sorely tempted to simply get up and walk out. I can only say that evidently there are clergy who either lack a sense of decorum, or who do not realize that such acts are not entertaining but condescending. Maybe both.

These homilists' puppet shows are completely inappropriate, but all I can suggest is bearing with it in the moment because the reason we are there at all is for the sacramental sacrifice of Christ on the cross that will soon take place after the homily. If Christ must be there, then so can we be there for him. But if the puppet shows are a regular feature at Masses in this parish, you are certainly free to look around for another parish. I would also drop a note to the bishop to let him know about the Sunday-morning "entertainment."

As for your question about fire-and-brimstone preaching, I caution you not to jump from one end of the spectrum to its exact polar opposite. While preaching about heaven, hell, and purgatory at liturgies in which the readings lend themselves to those topics is a good thing, fire-and-brimstone preaching fell out of favor with homilists for good reason. People tend to be more drawn to the God who loves them than they are to the God who is presented as eager to throw them into the pits of hell. The image of the angry God is also theologically problematic. As Julian of Norwich wrote about a mystical experience she had of God:

But notwithstanding all this, I saw truthfully that our Lord was never angry, nor ever shall be, for he is God.... I saw no wrath except on man's part, and that [God] forgives in us.

Michelle Arnold
Catholic Answers


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