FIYH Introduction 5-7: Focus

The introduction to Fulfilled in Your Hearing wraps up with a reminder of its focus and purpose:

The focus of this document, therefore, will be the Sunday homily; and even more specifically, the homily preached by the bishop or priest who presides at the celebration of the Eucharist. Again, we recognize that there are occasions when the homily may be preached by someone other than the presider, by a deacon serving in the parish or a guest priest preacher, for example. Yet, in terms of common practice and of liturgical norm, the preaching of the homily belongs to the presiding minister. (See The General Instruction of the Roman Missal, #42: “The homily should ordinarily be given by the celebrant.”) The unity of Word and Sacrament is thus symbolized in the person of the presiding minister of the Eucharist.

In other words, don’t be disappointed if we say nothing of deacons or lay homilists. The purview of this document was intended to be the Sunday homily, not even just any ol’ homily a priest gives in the parish. Note the USCCB endorses the homilist and the presider being the same person, as a normative practice.

While this document is addressed specifically to priests who have a pastoral ministry that involves regular Sunday preaching, we hope that all who are concerned with effective proclamation of the Gospel will find it helpful. This document may also prove useful in the preparation for and continuing formation of permanent deacons as ministers of the Word.

The insights in FIYH will also be useful for lectors and anyone interested in parish liturgy. It’s my belief this is one of a few USCCB documents with which the parish liturgist should be familiar.

We propose that this document be used as a basis of discussion among priests and bishops, and by priests with members of their congregations. In such sharing of personal experiences, of expectations and frustrations, and by mutual support, we find hope for a renewal of preaching in the church today.

Two important discussions: do they happen in your parish or diocese? This document is nearly thirty years in print; do we still have the same hope for homiletic renewal today?

(All texts from Fulfilled in Your Hearing are copyright © 1982 USCCB. All rights reserved. Used with permission.)

About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in Minnesota, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
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2 Responses to FIYH Introduction 5-7: Focus

  1. I find it interesting that the document makes a distinction even for guest priest homilists, implying that the use of guest preachers are not normative. Too often, the parish homily gets taken over by whatever mission, good cause, or second collection is being promoted that weekend. As nice as it is to hear about these organizations, even from an ordained guest homilist, the flow of the liturgical year too often gets disrupted by these guests who have no ongoing relationship with the parish itself. I think FIYH will later on advocate that the preacher should know the assembly to whom he his preaching–something that is difficult for a guest preacher, ordained or not, to do.

  2. Todd says:

    Diana; good point and FIYH does. I’ve long accepted guest preachers as part of the landscape, but I’ve harbored doubts about the special interest pitch.

    That said, isn’t there the ancient tradition of guest preachers, Saint Paul being foremost among them, coming in? Of course, he knew these communities …

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