kelly wahlquist

Catholic Evangelist & Speaker

Kelly Wahlquist is a dynamic and inspiring Catholic speaker whose gift of weaving personal stories and Scripture together with practical advice allows her audience to enter more fully into what Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict have called us into - to be witnesses of our faith and part of the New Evangelization.

Filtering by Tag: HOMILY



Daily Reading for Dec. 16: Evangelii Gaudium paragraphs 145-159

Reflection by Fr. Scott Hurd


Can you imagine the headline: “Man falls from window after sermon puts him to sleep?” This actually happened to a young man named Eutychus while he listened to the preaching of no less than Saint Paul himself, as we can read in the Acts of the Apostles (Acts 20:9). We shouldn’t judge poor Eutychus too harshly, however. Scripture makes it quite clear that Saint Paul had “talked on and on”- until midnight, as a matter of fact- and Saint Paul once admitted that he wasn’t the most exciting public speaker.

    Saint Paul was an inspired evangelist, to be sure, and God used his words to touch the hearts of countless people. Since then, the Church has been blessed with the gifts of many outstanding preachers, such as Saint Dominic and Saint Anthony of Padua. At the same time, Saint Paul wasn’t the last preacher to put his listeners to sleep. And that’s a shame! Good preaching builds up the Church, glorifies God, and changes lives. Preaching is so important, in fact, that Pope Francis makes a special point of discussing the proper preparation of homilies in his new Apostolic Exhortation, Evangelii Gaudium.

    It’s been joked that, at ordination, every new priest or deacon is given a “pilot’s license,” in case they need to “wing it” in the pulpit. But winging it should be the exception, and not the rule, because more often than not, “winging it” produces homilies that fly about as well as a lead balloon. Pope Francis concedes that deacons and priests are busy people. Nevertheless, they should strive to make homily preparation a top priority for their ministry. 

    First and foremost, preachers should call upon the Holy Spirit to help them discern what God would have them say. They should become transformed by prayerfully reflecting upon the biblical texts on which they’ll preach, so they in turn can preach words which God can use to transform others. After all, one cannot give what one does not have! Preachers should know the people they serve so their homilies can speak directly to their situations. They shouldn’t speak over people’s heads, so that they’re left scratching those heads. And although he doesn’t say so in so many words, Pope Francis encourages preachers to employ the KISS principle: Keep It Simple, Silly. Part of being simple is being short, just like the attention spans of so many of us today! Short and simple doesn’t mean superficial; it’s just that they’re a key to being effective. And being effective, Pope Francis insists, also involves delivering a positive message: “Positive preaching always offers hope, points to the future, and does not leave us trapped in negativity.”

    Scripture insists that faith comes through what is heard. Therefore, preachers should ensure that what the faithful hear is the very best they have to offer, and comes from the heart. The bottom line is, Pope Francis concludes: “Preparation for preaching requires love.” Amen to that!



Reverend R. Scott Hurd is a priest of the Archdiocese of Washington, and is presently serving a three year term as Vicar General of the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of Saint Peter, established by Pope Benedict XVI on January 1, 2012. Fr. Hurd began his ordained ministry as an Episcopal priest and entered the Catholic Church in 1996. He holds degrees from Oxford University and the University of Richmond. He and his wife Stephanie live in Virginia with their three children.

His first book, "Forgiveness: A Catholic Approach," received an "Excellence in Publishing" award from the Association of Catholic Publishers.

His third book, "When Faith Feels Fragile: Hope for the Wary, Weak, and Wandering," was released in September 2013 by Pauline Books and Media.

Enter your email address:

Delivered by FeedBurner



Daily Reading for Dec. 15: Evangelii Gaudium paragraphs 135-144

Reflection by Deacon Mike Bickerstaff


As a Mother Speaks to Her Child – So Also Does the Church Preach


In paragraphs 135 – 144 of Evangelii Gaudium, the Holy Father speaks about the importance of the homily within the liturgical celebration. Right off the bat, Pope Francis describes what the homily can and should be, “an intense and happy experience of the Spirit, a consoling encounter with God’s word, a constant source of renewal and growth” (¶ 135).

In my diaconate ministry, I have been three-times blessed by the Lord. First, the opportunities encountered to serve and console people in their need and suffering, to share in their joy and celebration, has been life-changing. Second, to share my talents to further and deepen adult education and faith formation has been a true joy. Third, to serve the Lord in my liturgical roles, including the joy of proclaiming the gospel and preaching, has deepened my own interior participation in Holy Mass and at other liturgies.

As one who preaches a homily on a fairy regular basis, I welcome the Holy Father’s inspiring words of instruction, encouragement and correction in regards to the homily.

Pope Francis reminds us of the words of Blessed John Paul II in Dies Domini , “the liturgical proclamation of the word of God, especially in the Eucharistic assembly, is not so much a time for meditation and catechesis as a dialogue between God and his people, a dialogue in which the great deeds of salvation are proclaimed and the demands of the covenant are continually restated.” He says of the homily, “it surpasses all forms of catechesis as the supreme moment in the dialogue between God and his people which lead up to sacramental communion” (¶ 137).

Much of what Pope Francis writes in this section might seem to be directed solely to the clergy who preach, but that would be a mistake. For the proclamation of God’s word, he reminds us, is a dialogue. 

God speaks to us within the context of the liturgy and we all hear… and we take what we have received into our daily lives and return it to God through our love for one another and through our prayer. The priest and the deacon are called to “guide the assembly, and the preacher, to a life-changing communion with Christ in the Eucharist. This means that the words of the preacher must be measured, so that the Lord, more than his minister, will be the centre of attention” (¶ 138). If we are to be transformed by grace and led to a deeper communion with the Lord, both the preacher and the hearer must be engaged.

I really like the image that Pope Francis paints of the homily being a moment of conversation, much like a mother with her child, “…she preaches in the same way that a mother speaks to her child, knowing that the child trusts that what she is teaching is for his or her benefit, for children know that they are loved” (¶ 139).

He goes on to describe the homily as a heart-to-heart conversation that, “arises from the enjoyment of speaking and it enriches those who express their love for one another through the medium of words. This is an enrichment which does not consist in objects, but in persons who share themselves in dialogue” (¶ 142).


We who preach should take to heart these words and give the time and thought and prayer necessary to meet these ideals and principles. This role the Lord has placed on us is both a high honor and a grave responsibility where we serve to bring God and the human person together. “To speak from the heart means that our hearts must not just be on fire, but also enlightened by the fullness of revelation and by the path travelled by God’s word in the heart of the Church and our faithful people throughout history” (¶ 144).

Those who listen should recognize the encounter with their God that takes place, particularly in the Liturgy of the Word during Holy Mass. We should present ourselves as children who love to hear and do what their mother speaks to them.

Into the deep…


Deacon Mike Bickerstaff is the Editor-in-chief and co-founder of the The Integrated Catholic Life™ ( A Catholic Deacon of the Roman Rite for the Archdiocese of Atlanta, Deacon Bickerstaff was ordained in February, 2006, and is assigned to St. Peter Chanel Catholic Church where he is the Director of Adult Education and Evangelization.

He is a co-founder of the successful annual Atlanta Catholic Business Conference; the Chaplain of the Atlanta Chapter of the Woodstock Theological Center’s Business Conference; and Chaplains to the St. Peter Chanel Business Association and co-founder of the Marriages Are Covenants Ministry, both of which serve as models for similar parish-based ministries.

Enter your email address:

Delivered by FeedBurner