A Sister Does a Sermon Before the First Reading


I recently moved to a new state and started attending a church that is so nice and close to my house. I’ve really liked the parish except that recently, a Sister (Nun?) who regularly assists Father during mass, has started doing some sort of pre-sermon right before the first reading for about 10 minutes or so. I really like this parish and would prefer to stay but I’m not sure if this is okay. If it’s not okay, which I think it’s not, how bad is it and should I look for a new parish? Should I contact the bishop or confront the priest or sister herself?


A woman speaking, having thoughts, ideas, etc.? Inside a church, no less? Horrifying. What’s next in the feminist master plan?


It’s hard to answer your question without more detail.

Had the mass actually begun, for example, when she did her talk? Or did it begin immediately afterward?

What was she speaking about?


Pax Christi!

I think the issue is, can any reader/lector comment or or give a sermon/homily when it’s time for a reading.

Gender is not an issue.

Only a priest or deacon can homilize, and then after th Gospel reading.

I am a lector and I am permitted to read exactly what is on the page of the lectionary.

God bless.


If she was speaking about a fundraiser or about some church function then no abuse. If she was preaching then abuse.


If she was speaking immediately before the first reading then there was an abuse without question or without reference to what she was speaking about or her sex. The only thing that happens immediately before the first reading is the Collect. This is proper to the priest, it is a prayer that is in black and red in the Missal, and cannot be substituted or augmented.

The only time which is during the liturgy and before the first reading where ad-lib comments are appropriate are after the Greeting. At this point, the priest or deacon or lay minister may briefly introduce the Mass of the day. So if it was at this point and she made a brief introduction, there is no abuse. But a 10 minute sermon, that is not a brief introduction by any stretch.


Thanks for the replies so far! To be more clear on a few points, first of all, I am a woman and I think women speaking up is great but I also believe that mass should be followed correctly without any liturgical abuses happening. I think this Sister is great as well and that is why I feel disappointment about this and that it’s going on. This is definitely a sermon-type thing during mass immediately preceding the first reading where she speaks about the readings and gospel for that day. For example, since today is Corpus Christi, she was talking about that. As soon as she is finished, she sits back down next to father and the lector goes up for the first reading.

Also, she started her speech with something like, “We celebrate today, what used to be called Corpus Christi…” It was a very strange statement. Just thought I’d mention it too. It may have been nothing, but I get the feeling that she’s trying to be modern or something?

Anyway, I appreciate everyone’s thoughts on this.


This appears to me to be just a backdoor way to fit in a lay homily. If introductory remarks are needed then the presiding priest can give them after the Greeting, which is where they belong. I have never seen a lay minister give introductory remarks.

There is also the liturgical ministry of Commentator, which is licit, but once again, spending ten minutes on introductions is really a stretch by any means.

I can tell you that an abuse I frequently see is misplaced explanatory comments done by the priest. Today at Mass the visiting priest gave a whole introductory spiel before making the Sign of the Cross. I guess that pedants will tell me that was outside of the liturgy but I can promise you that we already completed the Introit and the time for making an introduction is after the Greeting.

In my visiting parish and sometimes at my home parish, I hear the post-communion announcements given DURING Communion, that is, after the distribution but before the Postcommunio prayer. This is also illicit, and it seems to be done out of convenience, so that people don’t have to stand for the prayer and sit for the announcements then stand again for the dismissal… but it’s unfortunate and out of order.


It sounds to me like she was doing a commentary, which is permitted. Also, she was correct in her statement that the feast DID used to be called Corpus Christi. The Church in fact re-named today the Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ. So it wasn’t a case of sister “trying to be modern.”


The Church renamed it in English universally? How novel. All of the other feast days have Latin names that are then translated into the vernacular for various countries. I am willing to bet that Corpus Christi is still Corpus Christi today.


EWTN is running a series called Priests and Deacons and today’s episode was about problems in liturgical ministry. It can get a little crazy what goes on out there. Deacon Harold Burke-Sivers said he was at a parish to give a talk and during Mass a sister gave the homily. So during his talk he brought up the fact that sister should not be doing the homilies and they said they liked hers better than the priest. LOL He said that was not the point. Only deacons and priests are to do them. I guess he won’t be invited back to that parish.

Anyway it couldn’t hurt to talk to the priest about it. Curious of the age sister and priest might be.


At the parish I went for Mass today, there is a lay person who regularly assists Father during Mass and before the Mass, First Reading and Second Reading a brief commentary/summary/reflection/meditation is read. Perhaps this is to what you are referring? :shrug:


They look to be about in their seventies. Father might be a bit older.


Not quite. The Sister I’m referring to is a religious and considered a Pastoral Associate in the bulletin. She does the introduction before the procession going into mass, does her sermon directly before the first reading, receives the gifts before communion, assists Father with the Eucharist and passing out communion, and gives a very short closing speech summarizing the mass (whatever it may have been about that day) before Father gives the final blessing.


Sounds like what happens during the week at the parish I mentioned, since the lay sacristan is the only one reliable enough and around to help Father, except that we don’t consider it a sermon. :shrug:


How exactly does she “assist Father with the Eucharist”?


My guess is that she’s probably the sacristan and altar server in one.


That’s correct.


My question now is, what should I do? Should I talk to Sister about it? Does anyone know what I can point to in the Catechism to back myself up? How big of a deal is this? :confused:


Your first step will be to contact the diocese’s department of worship and liturgy (office of worship), either by letter, phone or email. Explain the situation, without making accusations or revealing any names (parish, priest or sister) unless they ask for them. Your question to them is ‘What are the norms for this diocese in this matter?’. You may find out that the bishop has given permission for such to be done or they will assist you on the best way to correct this situation.

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