FIYH 60-62: The Homily and the Liturgy of the Eucharist

The bishops address some liturgical issues with the homily. They make a connection between the homily and the liturgy of the Eucharist:

[60] A homily is not a talk given on the occasion of a liturgical celebration. It is “a part of the liturgy itself.” In the Eucharistic celebration the homily points to the presence of God in people’s lives and then leads a congregation into the Eucharist, providing, as it were, the motive for celebrating the Eucharist in this time and place.

Do you think this appeal to God’s presence is a real one?

[61] This integral relation of the homily to the liturgy of the Eucharist which follows the liturgy of the word has implications for the way in which the homily is composed and delivered. In the first place, the homily should flow quite naturally out of the readings and into the liturgical action that follows. To set the homily apart by beginning or ending it with a sign of the cross, or by delivering it in a style that is totally different from the style used in the rest of the liturgy, might only reinforce the impression that the homily is simply a talk given on the occasion of a liturgical gathering, one that could just as well be given at another time and in another context.

Homilists are nearly always concerned about speaking on what has already been proclaimed. How many homilists have a mind to look ahead, to address important aspects of the liturgy to come? I hardly see the sign of the cross used to mark the homily, but I wonder about the more frequent use of announcements, or personal sharing, or even the stab taken at humor. On that last point, I’m not saying humor isn’t appropriate for liturgy, but sometimes it sticks out as sort of a joke-of-the-week. If a homilist has to be explicit in tying a joke into the body of a homily, I’d think we have a candidate for the stylistic disconnect explained above.

[62] Although the preaching of the homily properly belongs to the presiding minister of the Eucharistic celebration, there may occasionally be times when. it is fitting for someone else, priest or deacon, to preach. On these occasions the integral relation of the homily to the rest of the liturgy will be safeguarded if the preacher is present and actively involved in the whole of the liturgical celebration. The practice of having a preacher slip in to read the Gospel and preach the homily, and then slip out again, does not do justice to the liturgical integrity of the homily.

This is a good one for others, especially liturgists and clergy to weigh in on. I’ve served in parishes where one preacher prepared all the homilies for a given weekend. It’s a pragmatic choice when a parish has more than one preacher. On the surface it would make sense to consider the time used to prepare two or more homilies versus one homilist’s preparation and the utilization of that prep time at all Masses. Additionally, it can unify the preached message in a parish community weekend to weekend.

However, if the connection to the Eucharist is important enough, it can tear at that unity for the preacher to enter the celebration just for a particular “duty,” then leave. Or do you ask a preacher to attend all the Masses? That’s not an uncommon expectation of music directors, so why would an every-other-week preacher be exempt?

What do you think?

(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.
This entry was posted in Fulfilled in Your Hearing, Liturgy, USCCB documents. Bookmark the permalink.

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