FIYH 56-57: Faithfulness to the Congregation

Some pastoral advice that will contribute to the fruitfulness of the homily:

[56] If the homily must be faithful to the Scriptures for it to be the living Word of God, it must also be faithful to the congregation to whom this living Word of God is addressed. The homily will be effective in enabling a community to worship God with praise and thanksgiving only if individuals in that community recog­nize there a word that responds to the implicit or explicit questions of their lives.

[57] There are many ways in which priests get to know their congregations and allow themselves to be known by them: involvement with parish organizations, individual and family counseling, social contacts, visits to the sick and the bereaved, planning for weddings and baptisms, the sacrament of reconciliation, and, equally as important, simply being with people as a friend and member of the community. The preacher will be able to draw on all these contacts when he turns to the Scriptures to seek there a Word from the Lord for the lives of his people.

Some priests demur on the angle of friendship and community involvement with the laity. I think it happens to a greater or lesser degree to pretty much everyone. My take on the bishops mentioning friendship as a virtue is a recognition of certain qualities of that relationship. Being a confessor, a counsellor, and a pastor can involve a profound intimacy with people. Being a friend is a different way of being involved. Maybe it’s not deeper, or more sacramental. Friendship presumes a certain mutuality.

Might that mutuality be helpful to the preacher? I think there’s a quality that goes beyond the one-sided nature of a sacramental minister. Pastoral relationships are also strongly one-sided: the priest is there to counsel, to listen, to serve.

But having friends among lay people would seem to provide additional insights to flesh out the whole picture in a parish or other community.

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

About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in the Pacific Northwest, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
This entry was posted in Fulfilled in Your Hearing, Liturgy, USCCB documents. Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to FIYH 56-57: Faithfulness to the Congregation

  1. Tony says:

    I think it is good for a priest to have lay friends, but not among his flock (IMO, of course).

    My relationship with my daughters is different than my relationship with my friends. A priest is expected to be the spiritual father of his parish, hence the title “father”. The role is different than it is with others outside of his parish.

    I have priests who are friends, but they are not my pastor.

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