Can laypeople preach homilies?


Is it permissible for lay people or non-ordained religious (sisters, brothers) to preach the homily at Mass?



From the General Instruction of the Roman Missal:
66. The Homily should ordinarily be given by the Priest Celebrant himself or be entrusted by him to a concelebrating Priest, or from time to time and, if appropriate, to the Deacon, but never to a lay person.* In particular cases and for a just cause, the Homily may even be given by a Bishop or a Priest who is present at the celebration but cannot concelebrate.


RIGHT! And we can’t stress that enough.
Never, ever, ever, never, ever in any circumstance, in any case is a lay person allowed to give a homily.



Never, I would walk out and attend another service.


Thanks. I thought so, but I wanted to double-check.

Some of us live in rural areas where this isn’t a realistic option, though.


Walk out, and then come back in when the Liturgy of the Eucharist starts.


In the event that this does happen, the local Ordinary should be contacted ASAP.


Could this rule be changed?


Interesting you should ask this. I was listening to Catholic radio today and there was a woman on (I’m pretty sure from Priests for Life but I’m not 100% sure) and she was offering her availability to preach in parishes. I thought to myself, “Wait…do Catholics allow that?” Or maybe she preaches outside of Mass? Would that be allowed?


It is disciplinary; I don’t know if a lay person would ever be authorized for liturgical preaching.

In the distant past, bishops had to authorize local clergy to preach. St. Dominic petitioned Rome for this faculty for all the friars in his new order, the Dominicans, and it was granted, and eventually became the norm in the Church. Today, bishops, priests and deacons all have faculties to preach.

I don’t see lay homilies as a possibility in the Church. The clergy are representatives of the Church and have accountability to preserve authentic doctrine and teachings. Without the graces of ordination, formation, training, and a promise of obedience, the laity are just not equipped for this liturgical function.

That being said, there are plenty of apostolates by which the laity may have their voices heard. Catholics Answers is a lay apostolate which preaches the Gospel in its own way. Here on the forums we preach to whomever will listen. Naturally, these forms of preaching are presented as lay opinions and not necessarily the belief of the Church. I think there is plenty of room for the laity to evangelize that we do not need to usurp the clergy’s special role in preaching at Mass.


The Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston requires their diaconate students to give what are called “Reflections” during daily Mass. The celebrating priest grades the “Reflection” afterword and sends a report to the seminary. I don’t know how widespread this practice outside of our local diocese. You might not have to leave Mass.


No. But there are things a layperson can do with training, certification and deputation.

I was asked to support a part of my Diocese's Detention Ministry. First as a musician at a children's service at a County Home for Children ... where the Catholic Children there were not released for mass ... and it was rare that a Sunday Mass was said by a priest.

The Juvenile Hall Chaplain, a deacon did the service. The Eucharist came from a mass said at a local parish. It was present on the altar the whole time. An approved "script" (prayers and responses) very similar to a mass was followed ... but there was no offertory or Liturgy of the Eucharist because the Eucharist was already there.

The readings of the day were (and are) the same readings as are said throughout the world at Catholic Masses.

At the time of the "homily" the "presider" or "leader" gives a brief "reflection" on the readings of the day. Depending upon the age of the children at our service, that reflection was made age appropriate. The kids' ages are between 5 - 17.

Over time I was asked to take Communion Service Leader training and certification with the Diocese, which I did. I was a Communion Service leader today for a group of 7 children, aged 14-17. Only one of the 7 actually took communion today. A muscian (also a Communion Service Leader but not the leader today) assisted.

Once per month a Norbertine priest says an actual Mass for our group. And that is better.

While not a homily, I was honored to be able to share for a moment or two on today's Pentecost Readings. I did remember having heard these readings many times before FROM the homilies of priests and tossed in some gold nuggets I remembered.

In the Gospel the apostles were still hiding when Jesus came into the room on Easter evening. He gave them power to forgive sins, breathed on them and imparted the Holy Spirit unto them.

There is a bit of "being born again" in this that reflects God breathing into the nostrils of Adam at his creation and making him "a living soul" -*** this insight I didn't share with the young people today. But I believe I heard it in a homily ... or possibly from reading Bishop Sheen or some Catholic scholar. ***

Today's miracle of speaking in tongues by the humble apostles about to build Jesus' Church is almost a reversal of the same Lord confusing the language of the proud builders of the Tower of Babel.

St. Paul's reading talked about the different parts of the body, which I related to our little group that had men and women, leaders and congregation, adolescents, adults and senior citizens, and several different ethnicities present. Yet God calls us all to be one ... and yet respect the gifts of others.

I did a brief synopsis of the Passion, Resurrection, and Ascension leading up to this day of Pentecost. And how the apostles began building Jesus' Church beginning that day.

After this the apostles began acting as Church, first in the Jewish temple and synagogues, working miracles, then later traveling to take Jesus' message everywhere.

As I was about to finish my reflection and move to the "prayers of the faithful" today - A boy raised his hand and asked a question. I don't usually do Q & A. This time I thought avoiding the question would have possibly been more disruptive.

He asked "What's the difference between Catholic and Christian?"

This question can have many senses to it, and I'd answered it before on a Wednesday.

"A Christian is a person who follows Christ. A Catholic is a person who belongs to the Church that Jesus founded. That Church is for everyone or universal. The Greek word for that is Catholic. So a Christian follows Christ - who invites everyone to His Church." And I referred back to the day's reading of St. Paul and the "parts of the Body".

We had a mature crowd of older teens. And at the county home, our group may be with us just once or twice.

So when I "lead", I also try to teach them what a liturgy IS, that it is relevant to their lives, that Christ is real, and reading the Bible and going to Mass is a very good thing to do.

As we have unchurched visitors or Catholic kids who have not received their first communions yet ... we have an instruction about who may receive built into the service.

When kids get confused about that ... I try to encourage them to be instructed and receive their sacraments at their local parishes. And also point out that on MOST Sundays, we read about the apostles following Jesus BEFORE they received THEIR first communions.

What we "lay" (but instructed and commissioned) leaders do at these Sunday services might seem like a homily to some. All of us (three of us) generally make clear that we are not priests (one CSL is a woman) or deacons -- and that this is not a mass. The first words on the approved form we follow also makes that clear, identifying what we do as a
Catholic Communion Service.

When Father comes once per month we again stress that a MASS will be said on THAT Sunday.

I'm honored to do this work. But it is different. I must say that when I have to give a reflection on a set of readings I tend to get many more insights and memories of past homilies (gold nuggets) to share. As a "children's ministry" on MOST weeks our sharings are MUCH more simple than this one today.

Generally when people hear about this unusual ministry ... a percentage gets very disturbed about it. So I propose ... if YOU as a layperson were asked to do this ... would you?


It could, but I would be surprised. Priests have abdicated so much over the past few decades a backlash has started (eg concern about the vast number of Eucharistic ministers), that I think some of this stuff is going to get clawed back. You are talking about marginalizing the priests even further, and I just don’t think that is going to happen.


Great temporary solution, then I would take L Marshall’s advice. :thumbsup:


[quote="Reborn2013, post:13, topic:326989"]
concern about the vast number of Eucharistic ministers


Eucharistic Ministers are priests and bishops.


[quote="Elizium23, post:15, topic:326989"]
Eucharistic Ministers are priests and bishops.


You need to continue your explanation. While priests and bishops are 'Eucharistic Ministers,' Deacons are considered 'Ordinary Ministers of Holy Communion.' Lay volunteers approved by the local bishop and pastor, therefore, are to be considered 'Extra-ordinary Ministers of Holy Communion'.


Yes, there is, but it’s very rare and only with approval from the highest levels from Rome. It’s a dispensation. For former Anglican parishes entering the Ordinariates, the former Anglican priest can be given a dispensation to preach the homily (not a “reflection”) for the purpose of pastoral continuity between the congregation and their former pastor. The former Anglican priest would at this point be a seminarian (but not yet a deacon) on the fast-track toward the Catholic priesthood. This happened for a few months at St. John the Evangelist here in Calgary until the former Anglican priest was ordained to the Catholic priesthood.


The homily is reserved for clerics. There is no prohibition for the laity to speak after the homily, at the time of announcements, or after Mass.


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