Self-Examination Questions for Dominican Preachers
Fr. Don Goergen, OP (St. Albert)
Our reflection on our vocation should include self-examination. What are we doing and how well are we doing it?
How is my particular ministry related to our corporate mission? How do I preach the gospel? Is the gospel central to my prayer, thought, and life?
How do I try to improve my own effectiveness as a preacher? Assuming that my preaching can always be better than it is, how have I taken responsibility for my continuing formation as a preacher? Where does my preaching need improvement?
Is my preaching substantively, doctrinally weak? Could it benefit from more study? Am I saying the same things today that I did five years ago? Repeating ideas that have not deepened or developed?
Or, is my preaching substantive and doctrinal, but spiritually lifeless? Does the power of the Holy Spirit manifest itself in my words? Is my preaching grounded in prayer? Am I preaching my own ideas (myself), or Jesus Christ?
Or, do I rely solely on the power of the Holy Spirit without enough attention to some basic human skills? Have I shifted all the responsibility to God and neglected what I might learn from others’ feedback, or from a preaching workshop?
Do I evaluate what I do? Allow others to give me straight feedback? Is my preaching grounded in humility, poverty of spirit and accurate self-knowledge?
What are the human experiences which form me and my words? Have I any experience of material poverty, dependence, solidarity with the poor of this world? How have I allowed the cry of the poor, those without social status, education or power, to influence my understanding of the gospel and my expression of it?
For Dominic, preaching was founded in a life of poverty, prayer and study. Is that true of me and my preaching?
Donald J. Goergen, O.P., is a preacher, teacher, lecturer, author, and theologian who has taught Christology and spirituality for many years. He has been the prior provincial of the Dominican friars of the Central Province in the United States. Don is currently in residence at the Friends of God, Dominican Ashram, Kenosha, WI 53140-1934