He did. And how it paid off.
I'm not sure if he was aware of the elegant completion his sermon brought: on this same feast a year ago, another priest spoke of suicide from the point of view of doctrine. Today, so did he - in a way that made it clear that he understood the fear and hopelessness that underlies that drastic decision, in a way that held those who had either been there or are there. His point was that the Assumption is a feast of hope - and we all *need* hope, even when it is the tiniest silver thread through the darkness which we find ourselves in. One of the most powerful points he made was that when we are in that darkness, it is impossible to see past the present moment: but it is in THAT moment that we most need to look beyond that moment - which brought him, most naturally, to Our Lady.
I wasn't sure whether to cry or cheer - maybe both. What had felt sharply poked at or necessarily hidden now felt safely held.
He also talked about how we tend to emphasise soul over body, but that we are both - and we need to remember that no matter how our bodies can seem to hinder us, they ARE part of us and we can't disown them - and that we need to bring body and soul back together, using Our Lady as a template and a sign of hope.
And in that hope, in that looking to Our Lady, we - as she - need to renew our 'Fiat' to God, with life and our faith every single day of our lives.
It was, without a doubt, one of the best sermons I've ever heard.
Weaving the threads of his sermon, he held us, his flock, compassionately whilst offering orthodoxy, which is what shepherds must always do - from the public pulpit to the private confessional. But it was the fact that he ad-libbed it, which allowed him to be really present and emotionally engage with us, that moved it from great to one of his best.
The person I saw in the pulpit was the person I see across the table at La Cucina.
He was practising what he preached - integrity of body and soul.