A woman saw me the other day, and commented on how hip my dress is. I typically wear Vans or Chucks with my habit. In this case, I was wearing solid black jeans with my Priest Collar shirt, and a stylish Sweatshirt. Of course, that has more to do with Fashion, then with Homiletic Content.
Most people don’t go around saying “We want our Priests to be more fashionable!!!” Even the most materialistic, superficial sorts. Nobody stops going to Church because a Priest is not fashionable or hip. Priests tend to have a certain amount of leeway. On the other hand, most people don’t have experiences with priests who go overboard with trying to be hip, fashionable or relevant. Since it is so infrequent for a priest to be touching on pop culture at all in a homily, most people will not be thinking “Here we go again.”
Gaudiem Et Spes tells us to “Read the Signs of the Times.” That might mean being knowledgeable about what is popular. Some people think it means changing Church Teaching to Keep up with what is relevant. I think that it means understanding what is beneath people’s yearnings, and finding what in our tradition speaks to that, or finding a new way to communicate the Gospel to that. In reality, I believe that God & His People already have what is necessary to the human heart, it is usually that we don’t know the right way to say it. an example would be to find an instance in a recent film, like Iron Man, and finding something that mirrors our faith, then highlighting that aspect of our faith that really matters.
In this case, a priest refers to Jersey Shore. The writer is not interested in Jersey Shore analogies in homilies. I wouldn’t be either. Although, I do believe, by and large, we need not always be dependent on appealing to the “New Thing.” I mean seriously, don’t we have a wealth of knowledge, tradition, mysticism, and doctrine to appeal to as well? Further, there are just some things in our Pop Culture that are just disgusting, and I would find it insulting to think that a priest is trying to appeal to my level or tastes using something as disgusting as Jersey Shore (or MTV for that matter). The Priest is insulting me, myself and perhaps the entire Church by going that low.