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Preaching to the Converted: On Sundays and feast days throughout the year

Paulist Press
RRP  $45.00

Preaching to the Converted contains short reflections (less than 750 words) on the gospel readings from the full three-year lectionary cycle.

These ‘story-based’ reflections are not meant to be replacement, or even model, homilies: they are not grounded in any relationship between a pastor and any particular congregation, and although the author is Australian, the reflections are written with an international readership in mind, and hence they lack local colouring or reference to national issues .

The author acknowledges that these are important aspects of any genuine preaching. Thus the book is intended instead as a resource to be mined and adapted to whatever is the local situation.

Though written by a Jesuit, with the Catholic situation in view, the reflections engage remarkably well across the protestant-catholic divide. This is even true for the reflections on most of the Feast days, where the catholic perspective is most distinctive. One recurring theme is the need for popular devotional practices to be informed by a solid scriptural understanding, particularly if some of the past excesses of ‘mariology’ are to be avoided.

I found several of the reflections of use when preparing ‘devotions’ for a group of older adults and as discussion starters for a group of younger adults. They are also helpful for personal reflection on passages from the gospels. (Tip: there is no scripture index, so have a lectionary table handy if you want to look up specific passages).

With its warm pastoral tone, balanced outlook and engagement with the issues facing the community of faith today, this is an excellent resource for preaching, group and personal reflections, to complement biblical and theological reference works.

Reviewed by Joel Corney