|Preaching Gospel to people living in a specific historical context in the major task of
the Church. Preaching the word of God adequately to the contemporary conditions requires
knowledge of living conditions, existential and spiritual needs of contemporary listeners.
Such a preaching derives its content from the Holy Scriptures and observation of the world
in which the contemporary man lives and creates. Listeners should feel that it is them
who are at stake in preaching, because they are able to find answers to their existential
questions. The task of preachers is to establish a connection between the preached word of
God and the contemporary world in which this word takes a specific shape. A preacher of
the word of God can not fulfill his mission in isolation from the changes that take place
in the world. A contemporary context of preaching the word of God is the phenomenon
of secularization that contributes to the fact that many people abandon God and religion.
In Poland, too, a growing number of addressees of preaching the word of God are
indifferent and sometimes even unbelieving. Therefore preaching the word of God should
increasingly take into account the need to evoke and develop faith and, as the consequence,
encounter Christ. Such preaching should be opened to the needs of evangelization and reevangelisation
in the environment of non-believers, pagans and lapsed Christians in need
The major purpose of this study is to describe a contemporary state of preaching
the word of God and the degree of its adjustment to secularisation processes in progress
and to show influence of Ecclesial structures on a factual shape of the preaching service.
Based on considerations on preaching the word of God in the secularised environment it
should be concluded that the initial purpose of the study was met. At every stage of the
study a critical analysis of the current state of preaching was carried out together with the
degree of its adjustment to the secularized environment as well as individuals no longer
involved in faith and religion.
At the beginning of the study the existing research and sociological, philosophical and
theological literature concerning dominant trends in the contemporary culture and civilization
were analyzed. Also, the emphasis was put on impact of secularisation processes on
suppressing religiousness, especially ecclesial religiousness, as well as secularization factors
in individual behavior and beliefs. Postmodernism, globalism and nihilismtrends that dominate
the contemporary culture and civilisation and have a direct impact on listeners of the
word of God. Polish religiousness is going through a peculiar metamorphosis. What can be
observed is a transfer from inherited religiousness to religiousness by choice. At the same
time listeners of the word God are not only believers, but also non-believers who came
to listen to the word of God by accident. This is why preaching, although meant mainly for the faithful, should also have the character of preaching to „pagans”. In the homiletic
theology, especially the West European one, a systematic shift from the former paradigm of
secularization to the paradigm of evangelization can be observed. Also in Poland revival of
preaching the word of God in the secularised environment should be inspired by assumptions
and program if the new evangelization.
The study includes a critical analysis of initiatives seeking to directly reach unbelievers
and secularized believers. Precious inspiration in search for adequate content and form of
preaching to secularized listeners can be found in documents of local Churches, especially
documents of Conferences of Episcopates of Italy, France and Poland, an initiative of
a dialogue with non-believers, foe example „the court of the gentiles” and „the court of
dialogue” and a latter of pope Francis to a non-believer.
The following part of the study points at a mission of preachers of the word of God
in the secularised world. The teaching of the Church on the role and tasks of a priest as
a preacher of the Word in the secularized environment was presented and changes in perception
of a preacher in the environment was surveyed. Moreover, pastoral postulates were
formulated concerning formation of current and future preachers who are getting ready to
preach among those far from the faith and religion. Efficiency of preaching the word of
God depends largely on a preacher’s personal testimony, knowledge of the preached message
and problems experienced by listeners and skills related to use of the word. A priest
in the secularized environment should be characterized by a friendship with Christ, prayer
and a humble service with respect to the word of God. If he wishes to be a leader of the
people of God and the man’s friend he has to master the skill of a careful „listening”.
Many contemporary listeners of the word of God can not follow the fast pace of changing
reality and do not understand the contemporary man sufficiently. Therefore many priests are
tempted to separate from those who live outside an active and involved part of the community
of the Church. A special task of a preacher in the environment of non-believers is
evoking in their hear the desire to meet Christ. Preaching the word of God by the authority
and in the name of the Church requires courage to defend integral teaching of the Church
in spite of unfriendly condition and numerous dangers. A contemporary preacher has to
have a clearly defined hierarchy of actions, in which priority should be given to measures
that bring the man closer to God efficiently. A basis o formation of future and current
preachers is acquisition of substantial philosophical and theological knowledge, knowledge
of psychology and rhetoric and appropriate spiritual development. All this should contribute
to an open dialogue with people of good will, cooperation with the lay faithful, sensitivity
of problems of the faithful, spiritual support and advice in problem solving.
The next part of the monograph concentrates on research into the major directions of
changes in the content preaching the word of God in the secularized environment. The
service of preaching consists of conveying the same and unchanging truths, for the Good
News revealed to us by God remains ever the same, however living conditions of listeners
and their existential problems change systematically. This is why in the secularized environment
it is necessary to change emphasis put on certain content and from the treasury
of God’s revelation choose content that should be especially emphasized and presented to
listeners. The major content of preaching the word of God is the good news about Jesus
Christ, the Lord and Saviour. This preaching is rooted in the Bible and observation of the
world in which the contemporary man lives and creates. In the secularized environment,
without giving up the above mentioned sources, a preacher should emphasise kerygmatic
message and lead to faith that is a personal encounter with Jesus Christ and has a personal
and dialogue-oriented character. Showing God and Jesus Christ - the only Saviour of the man should be linked with an attempt to give answers to human questions and desires. Also
today kerygma is the major part of ecclesial preaching and is addressed to various listeners.
It is necessary, however, to devise kerygma adjusted to individual needs and expectations of
the contemporary man who is either a non-believer of a lapsed believer. If by kerygma in
the strict sense we understand the passion, death and resurrection of Jesus combined with
the call to conversion, and by a kerygma in a broader sense we understand everything that
is taught by the Church, which is the words and deeds of Jesus confirmed in the Bible,
then in preaching the word of God in Poland preaching kerygma in the strict sense should
be interpenetrated by preaching kerigma in the broader sense. Non-believers and secularized
believers should be preached most of all kerygma in the strict sense, for its purpose is the
initial conversion and preparation for baptism and entering the community of the Church.
An ordinary preaching of the Church taking place during homilies should remain a broad
kerygma, whereas preaching kerygma in the strict sense, which is a call to a fundamental
conversion to Christ, should be addressed to the secularized and take place in exceptional
circumstances. These circumstances are the most important moments of Christian life, such
as baptism, weddings, funeral and Easter and Christmas homilies.
Preaching addressed to the secularized should refer to human experience, failures of
human searches and solutions and point at a solution of problems through opening to the
Christian revelation. Such preaching that refers to the anthropological method seeks to
evoke the hunger for God. Major topics of the preaching addressed to the secularized can
not omit such issues as a human person and his dignity, freedom renewed by the cross
and resurrection of Christ, the sense of life, love, happiness, sickness and suffering. The
content of preaching addressed to non-believers may be universal and all-human values
among which three transcendentals, truth, goodness and beauty, are dominant.
In the final part of the monograph a formal side of a preaching utterance addressed
to the secularized environment was analyzed. Preaching the word of God requires searching
for the most efficient form of reaching people at the margins of faith and the Church.
In the face of progressive secularization preaching the word of God requires courage and
enthusiasm as well as boldness in searching for a language capable of conveying a deep
meaning of beauty of the experience of love. This search should be accompanied by
awareness that preaching is the word of God (theological sphere) and the word of man
Renewal of a form of communicating the Good News calls for reformulation of a language
of expressing one’s faith in a way that would be adequate to a cultural awareness of
an environment in which it is preached. Precise verbal formulas, dogmatic definitions and
teaching faith through memorising truths from the Catechism is beyond the grasp of many
contemporary people. Preaching the word of God in the secularised environment should
refer to the richness of the Bible and have a simple form.
A preacher should make his statements more contemporary, since for many listeners
the gap between the language of preaching and the language that would use on daily basis
is too big. Listening to opinions of listeners of the word of God far from God and the
Church allows for introduction of a language that would be communicative for contemporary
people, an existential language of faith. It is absolutely necessary in preaching the
word of God in the secularized environment to use a language of suggestion, dialogue,
respect and empathy. A prudent use of imagery in preaching can introduce listeners to the
world that so far has been unknown to him. It is advisable to use persuasion and broad
argumentation that refer to an intellectual, emotional and volitional sphere of listeners of
the word of God. Moreover, one should avoid boarder attitudes, which is willingness to adjust to colloquial
speech of listeners of the word of God on the one hand and a persistent use of
a hermetic, obscure language of theology on the other. Such attitudes should be overcame
by seeking to keep sacrum in preaching utterances.
The research carried out proved further research into the state of preaching in Poland
is necessary. Growing secularization processes have a significant impact on homiletic theology.
Its task is to devise – in the light of the analysis of the current situation - rules
and directives thanks to which the Ecclesial service of the word might conduct its mission
efficiently. The need of a constant perfection of preaching results from requirements of
priests in the contemporary world which is adjustment of pastoral methods to constantly
changing living conditions of the community of the faithful. The process of programming
preaching can not omit systematically growing secularized environment.