Urban Chidi Osuji D.Min.
LANGUAGE FOR EFFECTIVE PREACHING
PRACTICAL GUIDE FOR FIDEI DONUM PRIESTS
IN THE BELLEVILLE DIOCESE
Urban Osuji, Aquinas Institute of Theology, St. Louis, Missouri.
Culture is an inherited conception that has to do with what a person learns from the parents, others, and the society about what it means to be a human being. As a child grows in the society, the child learns the culture’s general assumptions about family relations, relations between men and women, attitude towards life and death. A child learns these assumptions from parents and caregivers. There are other cultural expressions including table manners and the distribution of chores. Of all these inherited conceptions, language is the most symbolic of them all.
Language as an essential part of preaching is the subject of this thesis. The hypothesis is that Fidei Donum Priests can be effective Preachers by attending to the linguistic idioms, imageries, phrases, and sentence construction of the local congregation. The language of preaching is the concrete language of everyday life. Preaching language is the language that the children hear and understand and when they do not understand, their mothers offer a simpler understanding of the language with stories and imageries. Stories and imageries create and leave impressions on the emotional life of the people. When Priests use stories, imageries, and metaphors in preaching, listeners identify God’s presence in their midst. And that is why concrete imageries are the best tools for preaching.
But the use of concrete language in preaching does not come easy to the missionaries. Therefore, Fidei Donum Priests must immerse themselves by taking time to go to the people, live among them, share their lives and learn their language, including imageries, metaphors, and stories that have significant value for them.