To speak with eloquence is a skill that is not easy to come by. Perhaps not everyone will agree with me. A gift is after all what we term it, a GIFT, and strictly speaking, all is gift and all is grace. There are those gifted with such eloquence and there are those who have to spend effort, time and lots of money and put in many hours of practice as well in order to hone their skills.
How effective are such courses like public speaking? Of course, I can say that it all depends on the one speaking. For one thing, it depends on the job at hand. I know for sure that there are preachers who make me nervous listening to them. I am nervous because I am praying that they will be clear and not go round and round without making their point. One can then understand the reasons our Holy Father offers for all who need to polish up their homilies or sermons. In fact, I realised that it is a very difficult task.
I had a chance just two weeks ago to help a priest in a foreign land write a full homily in English. The request came so urgently that I decided to give it a try. He had learnt some English years ago, and now that he had been posted to a city parish with foreigners, he had no choice but to preach in English. In the past, I had sent him some materials and so his request came as a surprise.
My dear readers, be sure that by the time I was satisfied enough to send the homily to the priest in a land far away, I had spent many hours just writing a homily of about three pages. It was not too different and I have written lots and lots of long essays with topics that were more challenging. So here was I trying to reflect on the mustard seed and growth in one’s spiritual life. It took me a long time. I did not just write. I counted on praying over and over again. . . .
Today I thank God for the experience. I thank God for giving me a more compassionate heart, and to be less critical and more charitable with my comments. Lord, be praised!
Many priests generally preach well, and there are some who are excellent. Besides the fact that they have good relevant and meaningful content, they also deliver with joy and enthusiasm. They drive home a point or two, and those points remain in one’s heart for a few days. That is truly anointed preaching. Praise God!
Yes, I would say that it is possible for one to be trained in public speaking. I do believe that hard work would always pay off. Even those who are not very conversant with such public skills can still make it. I do know of people who need to speak in public and some of them sometimes stutter and stammer; still, the goodness of our Lord is evident and their speeches, once delivered, are quite acceptable. The speeches do not leave one in doubt about points raised. They are generally clear but lacking in oomph, perhaps. Still, it is sufficient that one gets the message across, and that is quite enough, isn’t it?
If God can use a donkey, surely he can use one who stutters and stammers! Praise the Lord! I am humbled. . . and rightly so, as St John the Baptist’s birthday is being celebrated today (24 June) this great saint reminds me: God must increase while I must decrease.