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Preaching: method - 02

St Augustine : Augustinian church Villanova University Pennsylvania USA
Augustinian church
Villanova University

Methods of Delivery
For Augustine, three methods of delivery are to be used in good preaching: (1) quiet, or peaceful; (2) moderate; and (3) grandiose (or full-powered). All styles of delivery can be detected in the sermons of Augustine.
But he expressly warns against the exclusive use any one style, especially the grandiose. The listeners become exhausted, to say nothing of the preacher.
No one should think that it is contrary to our teaching to blend these styles. On the contrary, delivery should be varied with every kind of style, in so far as this can be accomplished gracefully.
When a speech is long and drawn out in one style, it does not hold the listener; when a change is made from one style to another, the speech proceeds more effectively, even though it is now longer (De Doctrina Christiana 22,51),
Remote and Proximate Preparation for Preaching
As well, Augustine speaks of the remote and proximate preparation needed for the effective preaching of God's word. Among these the following can be discerned:
(1) Preachers must live the word of God, according to their good conscience and life call.
For Augustine, it is evident that the life of the preacher and the message he preaches must be in consonance. "Someone who speaks wisely and eloquently, but leads a wicked life, does indeed teach many …, yet, as it is written, has 'not won the favour of the Lord' (Eccles 3:21)." The result of this dissonance is that the listeners end up despising both the word of God and the preacher (De Doctrina Christiana IV 27, 59-60).
(2) Preachers need to prepare themselves for preaching both by prayer and reflection.
Preaching or writing about the word of God must be preceded by the prayer of the preacher that God will enable them to preach according to the Will of God. This prayer must be for preachers themselves as well as for those to whom the preaching is directed (De Doctrina Christiana IV 30,60).
(3) Preachers need to study the texts upon which they are to preach.
Upon his presbyteral ordination, Augustine requested Bishop Valerius to give him one year without preaching duties in order, by studying the Scriptures, to prepare himself for the ministry of preaching. Even at this initial stage of his ministry, he recognized the essential link between effective preaching and study of the Bible.
"Students of these revered writings are advised not only to learn the kinds of expressions in the Holy Scriptures, to notice carefully how they are customarily expressed there,…but also to pray that they understand them. This is chiefly and especially necessary" (De Doctrina Christiana III 37,56). ID2595
(4) Preachers need to establish contact between the assembly and themselves both on human and faith levels.
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