I’m on the fence about books of homilies. A confession: I wrote for a homily service for several years back in the 90’s. I was given three assignments each quarter, and I tried my best with them. But toward the end of my tenure as a writer, I had been exposed to many reluctant homilies at Mass, and often enough, they were reading off a script someone else wrote. It was often good material they were feeding me, but did it have any strong connection with their faith communities?
And so I found in my mail the other week this quality paperback edition of “homilies and reflections for cycle A.” On the cover, James Martin and Richard Rohr were referenced as among the contributors. And opening the pages, I found a number of familiar bloggers and internet “personalities.” I also found names of famous Catholics known for their ministry in the world. Also included in this volume from Deacon Jim Knipper’s Clear Faith Publishing are some offerings from people outside the Roman tradition.
So we have an all-star cast, and a publisher’s theme I’ve not seen attached to other homily services:
While I know this book will not, in itself, build a new world, I do hope one or more of these homilies will inspire you to renew your Christian commitment to aid the hungry, the naked, and the sick, for that is what we are called to do.
Perhaps the measure of a good homily is less its source and more what it inspires the faithful to do in the world after the liturgy.
If so, perhaps this volume (the second in a series, I presume) is off to a good start. The quality of these writings is quite high. I haven’t read everything in this book, but a few things strike me.
- Authors are attributed. So if preachers use one of these, they can reference it. And they should.
- Most adhere to the American Catholic homiletic pattern: illustrate with a story, pull in the Scriptures, and integrate.
- The non-Catholic homilists vary from that pattern a bit and I often found their insights refreshing.
- This volume is not intended to be a homily2014 resource. The contributions are referenced with Lectionary readings (minus the Psalms).
The main problem I see from a liturgical standpoint is that the feasts that interrupt numbered Sundays are not all represented here. We have a handful of them this year, but only All Souls is given a homily.
Among holy days Christmas (Vigil and Day), Mary, Mother of God, and All Saints have essays. But no Immaculate Conception or Assumption. With twenty-five preachers represented, I think it would be relatively easy to cover those gaps. Or reprint from last year’s award-winning book.
I think Fran was responsible for my getting this copy. She has two good homilies in this collection.
Even if you’re a homily book skeptic like me, this volume has many excellent reflections to supplement your (hopefully good) parish preaching. It’s good, thoughtful material to get you into the upcoming Sunday. A handy reference for a minister’s shelf.
These are good words breaking open well the Good Word. Recommended for people who prepare for Sunday in any way.