46. Given the importance of the word of God, the quality of homilies needs to be improved. The homily is "part of the liturgical action" (139), and is meant to foster a deeper understanding of the word of God, so that it can bear fruit in the lives of the faithful. Hence ordained ministers must "prepare the homily carefully, based on an adequate knowledge of Sacred Scripture" (140). Generic and abstract homilies should be avoided. In particular, I ask these ministers to preach in such a way that the homily closely relates the proclamation of the word of God to the sacramental celebration (141) and the life of the community, so that the word of God truly becomes the Church's vital nourishment and support (142). The catechetical and paraenetic aim of the homily should not be forgotten. During the course of the liturgical year it is appropriate to offer the faithful, prudently and on the basis of the three-year lectionary, "thematic" homilies treating the great themes of the Christian faith, on the basis of what has been authoritatively proposed by the Magisterium in the four "pillars" of the Catechism of the Catholic Church and the recent Compendium, namely: the profession of faith, the celebration of the Christian mystery, life in Christ and Christian prayer (143).
Therefore, it is the chance to speak to the congregation about the Word of God, it's meaning and the relationship it still so very much has in modern day lives. We have not outgrown the Word of God, Christ's teachings, nor have we outgrown apostolic leadership.
For me, the homily holds something special and desperate at the same time. Years ago, I prayed for a husband who was stronger spiritually to come into my life, what God sent me was a man who has a heart of gold, a brilliant mind, and a belief system that was put to sleep years before I came into the picture. He had questions, however, and I found that I needed to have the answers. Fast-film forward and today, after years of study and asking my own questions, I am a Master Catechist teaching our children and answering the questions my knight-in-shining armor may have.
One of the questions he had lately was during a severe winter storm last weekend, which quickly turned to an icy nightmare over night. As we were watching the news tickertape slowly announcing the closings for Sunday morning services, we all particularly got a kick out of one, "The Church of the Open Door...closed". Hahahah!!! we all roared. But then my knight asked, "Will Fr. cancel Mass tomorrow?" Not a second later, our eldest daughter replied, "No, Dad, Mass is never canceled, Priests by their vocation must celebrate Mass everyday. If no one shows up, Fr. will still be at Church saying Mass." I smiled. The next day was not the first time in the many years that we have been married, that my non-Catholic knight escorted our daughters and I to Mass on treacherous weather days. I have often wondered if he does this without question or complaint to make sure we get there safely or because he is curious to see if I am the only crazy Catholic heck-bent to get to Mass come rain, sleet, or snowstorm.
Back to the homily, with each year that I am blessed to be the wife of this scientist boy (as he deemed himself once to cheer me up)I have seen him listening more intently to the homily with our daughters...they are listening, maybe searching for an unanswered question. The homilies can be such treasure-troves of Christ's love and direction for us. They can be filled with 'nuggets' as a friend of mine calls them.
Every Sunday, every day, every time Mass is celebrated is one more chance to answer someone's question, someone's yearning for more knowledge, someone's need for consolation, vindication, or condemnation. It is the one time that the priest has an opportunity to touch someone maybe off the street who came in to get warm, he has a captive audience.
Sometimes it's the last chance, a one time missed. The homily is a treasure, it can do so much for just one person, or many. A treasure-trove of love and guidance.
Copyright 2010 Ebeth Weidner
About the Author
Ebeth Weidner, a Master Catechist and cradle Catholic who considers herself a Catholic information junkie, writes from her heart about the faith and hope she finds in the Catholic Church. She is the author of “A Catholic Mom Climbing the Pillars” blog. She is the wife of a research science Professor and mom to 3 great young adults people living on the coastal side of North Carolina.