Heckler at Mass after weird lay preaching

In all my years attending Masses, I’ve never seen this before.

Presiding priest hands over preaching duties to random member of community. (That part isn’t new at this parish; it happens 4-6 times/year.)

“Homily” is the worst ever of all the lay preaching, if that’s possible. Lay preacher repeats some small portions of the OT reading for the Mass, then instructs the congregation to “think about what word or phrase is meaningful, and just ‘sit with it,’ and after doing so, make a presentation to your neighbor.” :eek:

I was incredulous. At first I thought it was a joke of a “test,” but she was dead serious. Since I was so distracted during her incredibly bad opening and flat, read, dispirited delivery (all of these lay sermons are read statically in dead-pan form from the pulpit; terrifically hard to stay awake, let alone be inspired), I had nothing to say to my “neighbor.”

Whew! I let my neighbor speak instead, and afterwards I thought that the lay preacher might “do something” with that exercise, but she didn’t. Instead, she duplicated the same “exam”! She then read another part of the same reading, demanded that we privately select a “meaningful word or phrase” and discuss its subjective meaning (mind you) with same neighbor. Again, I had nothing to say.

Lay preacher cut us off more quickly (whew! again) this time. Then she read some quick closing from her written “homily,” and with even more anti-climax, abruptly walked away.

Later, during the back-and-forth responsorial prayers, the presiding priest commented aloud about how clammed up the congregation was, how tepid their responses. Someone yelled from the back of the church, “Weak liturgy!” The priest responded, “Well, it’s two-way; the congregation also has a responsibility to participate” (or something similar to that comment).

I can’t say I blame the “heckler.” It’s just that it took me by surprise because I had never seen that before. It also threw the liturgist, who stood there with a shocked look on his face, assuming the complaint was directed at him (which I don’t think it was). But in any case, there were a lot of musical mistakes after that.

Has anyone been in a Mass where someone has commented publicly on the Mass, within earshot of the rest of the congregation? Has anyone been subject to a homily of any kind which demanded “reporting” to one’s neighbor in the middle of it? It sounded to me as if she was completely unprepared with any original thoughts of her own, and so conveniently was assigning us to do her work. Seriously I felt I was back in school. It was the most token “homily” ever, mostly an excuse not to speak.

[quote=Elizabeth502;7342943Has anyone been in a Mass where someone has commented publicly on the Mass, within earshot of the rest of the congregation?
Fortunately I’ve never seen this. I also don’t see what good it will do. If one has a problem with what is going on, talking to the person in charge and then going up the chain of command is the proper response. :shrug:

Has anyone been subject to a homily of any kind which demanded “reporting” to one’s neighbor in the middle of it? It sounded to me as if she was completely unprepared with any original thoughts of her own, and so conveniently was assigning us to do her work. Seriously I felt I was back in school. It was the most token “homily” ever, mostly an excuse not

to speak.

It sounds like what this person was attempting was some form of Lectio Divina which is a wonderful practice, but not appropriate in this context.

Incredible! I would have gotten up and walked out, probably muttering to myself audibly, “You have GOT to be kidding me!” Is this middle school??? WTH??? Makes me so grateful for my pastor, who talks too long, but his homilies are always thought-provoking and deep.

Can they even do that? I once had a priest who tried to ask people questions during his sermon. he eventually gave up after he realized that the blank 7:30-stares where all anyone had to say :wink:

This is a position I have never understood at a parish. What is a “liturgist”, what qualifications are necessary to be a “liturgist”?

The priest, preferably the pastor, should be the liturgist at his parish as that is what some of his training at the seminary is in.

The lay preacher probably went home with a crushed spirit after believing she was going to be blessing the congregation with a good spiritual exercise.

I’m new so I don’t know how often they do this during Mass, but perhaps some better oversight is needed in order to avoid such catastrophes.

Should never happen as only a clergy are to give the homily.

From the GIRM;

  1. The Homily should ordinarily be given by the priest celebrant himself. He may entrust it
    to a concelebrating priest or occasionally, according to circumstances, 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

Liturgy coordinator might be a better word for the pastor is officially the parish liturgist. But sometimes they do hire someone to serve in this capacity. I am the parish liturgist. I have a degrees in theology, liturgy, and a doctorate in ministry. I have had more liturgy courses than all of our 3 priests combined, and years of experience preparing liturgies since high school (which makes it over 40 years) Yet, I am also not given free reign. If there is anything I want to see done at Mass it has to be brought up at staff meetings and approved finally by the pastor. BTW I highly advocate doing the red and saying the black, which is more than I can say for our super conservative curate who thinks he can do his own thing at Mass because it is “his mass” and he can insert his personal piety into it even though it is not part of the Mass.

Having a lay person preach during Mass is an incredible liturgical abuse. In addition to the quote from the GIRM, let me add this from Redemptionis Sacramentum:
[LEFT][64.] The homily, which is given in the course of the celebration of Holy Mass and is a part of the Liturgy itself,[142] “should ordinarily be given by the Priest celebrant himself. He may entrust it to a concelebrating Priest or occasionally, according to circumstances, to a Deacon, but never to a layperson.[143] 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”.[144]

[65.] It should be borne in mind that any previous norm that may have admitted non-ordained faithful to give the homily during the eucharistic celebration is to be considered abrogated by the norm of canon 767 §1.[145] This practice is reprobated, so that it cannot be permitted to attain the force of custom.

[66.] The prohibition of the admission of laypersons to preach within the Mass applies also to seminarians, students of theological disciplines, and those who have assumed the function of those known as “pastoral assistants”; nor is there to be any exception for any other kind of layperson, or group, or community, or association.[146]
Layperson here includes religious sisters, brothers, CCHD representatives, and any other person who has not received the sacrament of Holy Orders.

Note (however), that a lay person is allowed to preach. But not during the Mass.

Karen, I hear you. That was going to be (previously) my decision, regarding taking action. However, very recently I noticed that one of the random community members previously used as a lay homilist at Mass, was instead going to direct/coordinate (and speak at) some non-Mass spiritual gathering, such as a retreat. Therefore, I read the shift as an indicator that someone had gotten the word out to the parish that lay homilies at Mass are forbidden.

Brother David, thank you for the correction on “liturgist.” It is used perhaps inaccurately at this parish to refer to the person handling the liturgical music. I will say in their defense, though, that they do an unusually good job at coordinating the words & themes of Mass music with the particular readings and with the homily content as shared ahead by the priest.

But I think no one (including the presiding priest) was prepared for the content/style of this “homily,” how flat the “participation” technique fell, and how at least one responder voiced his displeasure during the offertory prayers.

I am very thankful that I live in a traditional parish. We are not an EF parish though. We are an OF parish that does things correctly. I cannot even imagine our Parish Priest allowing a layman to preach the homily. Although saying we’re not an EF parish we do have an EF low Mass every week and the head teacher of a local Catholic school has just had his daughter baptised in the EF rite.

That is not unusual in the Eastern Catholic Churches. I know a priest that sometime does that during the NO homily.

Its like Nancy Sinatra sang 30+ years ago, “These Boots are Made for Walk’n”

I have been attending Divine Liturgy in an Eastern Catholic church for over 45 years and have NEVER seen this done. Where did you dream that one up from?

What can I say. I am shocked. All I can say is thank goodness they have not degenerated that far in my parish.

I have however a question which I have already started a thread on but so far no one has replied and I would like some really good support because I am intending to speak to the priest in question.

This priest always omits the penitential rite in his mass for our group. We do a 2 day seminar on the Eucharist and the last day culminates with mass. The priest says he is allowed a few liberties because it is not a public celebration so he omits the the penitential rite because he says the 2 day seminar will suffice for the penitential rite so no “I confess” or Kyrie.

I hope Br David and others in this thread can help me some Church documents.

I have looked at the GIRM and there is nothing there that says that the priest is allowed to do this.

Hi Elizabeth,
A strange one indeed!
Why would a priest hand over the duty of the homily to a lay speaker?
Is he wavering in his confidence? Is he drunk on “my mass”-ism and feels he can do as he wishes?
As a previous poster commented, I too would have walked out.
God Bless,

Did you attend all the Divine Liturgies celebrated in the States? Just because you have not seen one that does not mean that it does not happen. I have not seen a lot in my life but I am quite sure that they still happen. I have seen it done at Byzantine and Maronite Liturgies.

Because there’s pressure in this parish for “lay participation at Mass,” and especially for female participation. I’ve never understood that. All present are fully participating at every Mass. The only thing that you’re not doing as a lay person is confecting the Eucharist (and actually uttering the prayers). The priest is formally offering the Mass, and without a priest, a Mass is not offered. But if you don’t think that your prayers are uniting to those of the priest in being offered to the Father, then you don’t understand basic sacramental theology. All you have to do is be present and be in the right disposition, and you are a full participant. You are not less a participant if you don’t preach. You are also not less a participant if you don’t distribute communion, are not a lector, and much else. There’s nothing wrong with taking on legitimate lay roles at Mass, but whether you take on those legitimate roles or not, they are supplementary and not essential to your participation.

The thing that really, really bugs me is that all the priests there are terrific homilists. I have been cheated 100% of the time that lay preachers have been used. None of them is a homilist. None of them is trained. None of them is inspiring. Preaching the Word is not equivalent to reading a speech or giving an academic talk, but that is the way these lay “preachers” are allowed to do it. It takes considerable learning to be a good preacher. Most of them are not at their peak as preachers just freshly out of seminary, because it takes practice and training.

To address the OP’s orginal questions, I have never seen either a question-and-answer homily (by anyone), nor a homily delivered by layperson, nor a spontaneous “heckler” at mass at my parish. Only deacons and priests deliver homilies, and none of them has tried a “socratic” dialogue that I can recall.

We did have one deacon who got interested in “whole community catechesis” a few years back and he wanted to have catechetical assemblies with a “Question of the Week” after mass in the parish hall. This idea was not well received and was eventually dropped (Time conflict with donuts and coffee, Hellloooo!). I remember at the parish council meeting somebody referred to it as “Homily II”.


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