Evangelii Nuntiandi 43: Preaching

The importance of preaching is high, especially the liturgical homily.

43. This evangelizing preaching takes on many forms, and zeal will inspire the reshaping of them almost indefinitely. In fact there are innumerable events in life and human situations which offer the opportunity for a discreet but incisive statement of what the Lord has to say in this or that particular circumstance. It suffices to have true spiritual sensitivity for reading God’s message in events. But at a time when the liturgy renewed by the Council has given greatly increased value to the Liturgy of the Word, it would be a mistake not to see in the homily an important and very adaptable instrument of evangelization. Of course it is necessary to know and put to good use the exigencies and the possibilities of the homily, so that it can acquire all its pastoral effectiveness. But above all it is necessary to be convinced of this and to devote oneself to it with love. This preaching, inserted in a unique way into the Eucharistic celebration, from which it receives special force and vigor, certainly has a particular role in evangelization, to the extent that it expresses the profound faith of the sacred minister and is impregnated with love. The faithful assembled as a Paschal Church, celebrating the feast of the Lord present in their midst, expect much from this preaching, and will greatly benefit from it provided that it is simple, clear, direct, well-adapted, profoundly dependent on Gospel teaching and faithful to the magisterium, animated by a balanced apostolic ardor coming from its own characteristic nature, full of hope, fostering belief, and productive of peace and unity. Many parochial or other communities live and are held together thanks to the Sunday homily, when it possesses these qualities.

Let us add that, thanks to the same liturgical renewal, the Eucharistic celebration is not the only appropriate moment for the homily. The homily has a place and must not be neglected in the celebration of all the sacraments, at paraliturgies, and in assemblies of the faithful. It will always be a privileged occasion for communicating the Word of the Lord.

I think preachers and liturgists can see the homily operating on several levels. Or needing to. We have seekers coming to the Sunday (and other) assemblies. How much preaching is geared to first-time hearers of the Word?

The next basic level is acknowledging the message is for a “Paschal Church.” That means a message moving out of the preconciliar emphasis on the Good Friday salvific aspect and expanding to the whole Paschal Mystery. The Eucharistic Prayers help with this orientation, but preaching can also direct and guide believers as well.

For communities without a priest, it would seem that some message based on the Scriptures is vital, even if the fussbudgets among us are disinclined to call it a homily.

Whatever term we use, the basic effort is to connect the Word of God proclaimed and preached to the daily life of people. It’s important to consider that some of this effort should be directed to those who are new to the faith, those who have yet to hear the full evangelical message of Christ.

Anything any of you are seeing in EN 43? Feel free to comment.

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About catholicsensibility

Todd and his family live in Ames, Iowa. He serves a Catholic parish of both Iowa State students and town residents.
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