Homilies by laity at communion service

I have been told in the past that only a priest or ordained deacon can give a homily. In our local parish, lay members “preside” and give homilies or “reflections” --same thing. I challenged the practice without knowing of any authority that says I’m right. Can someone help me with this?

what do you mean by “communion service”? when I was in college, the director of Catholic Campus Minestry would bring us Communion from his church. he was authorized to do so. this would be if we couldn’t get a priest for Mass. we would read all the scriptures and he would than give a “homily”. since there was no priest there, I always assumed this was better than nothing at all. is this the kind of thing you are talking about, or are you actually talking about Mass?

In a Mass, only the Priest or Deacon can give the homily. In a communion service the rules are different. It depends what you are having in your parish.

First, does your parish have enough priests and deacons to cover all the Masses? Sometimes that is a valid reason for allowing parishoners to preside over masses. Normally you are correct in the belief that only a priest or deacon could give a homily. In fact there are rare cases where priests have been ordained with the stipulation of not being able to give homilies or hear confessions such as Fr. Solanus Casey. However, in cases of hardships like not having enough clergy to cover all the Masses then qualified individuals like catechists, facilitators, etc. who are accustomed to leading prayer groups may lead a prayer service to satisfy Sunday obligation. Any homily, however should be submitted to a priest or deacon of the parish for review to insure that it doesn’t contradict any Church teachings. The quote below is from Canon Law.

§3 Where the needs of the Church require and ministers are not available, lay people, even though they are not lectors or acolytes, can supply certain of their functions, that is, exercise the ministry of the word, preside over liturgical prayers, confer baptism and distribute Holy Communion, in accordance with the provisions of the law.

Take care
Dennis

What is given at a communion service, while it may resemble a homily, is not a homily since a homily can only occur in the context of the Mass.

The authority to do so has to come from the bishop, and while I’m not sure as to how closely such reflections should be, or must be supervised by the priest, I personally think they should be.

When I did communion services in the absence of our parish priest, I usually just used the reflection from one of the approved daily sources, like Word Among Us or Magnificat. If I felt called to do something beyond that, I would submit it to the priest for his approval before doing it.

If you have questions about your specific situation–which would be acceptable where I am if the bishop authorized it for the parish–you should probably check with your diocesan office to see if it has been authorized.

And as noted previously, if there are adequate priests to celebrate Mass, there should not be a communion service.

Peace,


While it is true that laity may lead a communion service —the laity in no circumstance can give a homily.

It has in Sunday Celebrations in the Absence of a Priest:
“43. … Since only a priest or a deacon may give a homily,
[footnote 36: See Code of Canon Law, canons 766-767] it is desirable that the pastor prepare a homily and give it to the leader of the assembly to be read. But in this matter the decisions of the conference of bishops are to be followed.”

Sunday Celebrations in the Absence of a Priest is dated 2 June 1988, from the Congregation for Divine Worship.

no way shape or form can laity preside over a Mass. Only the priest or bishop (not a deacon, certainly not a lay person) can confect the Eucharist, that is, consecrate the sacred species. No consecration, no Mass. read again the canon law citation you provide. It refers to mission territories where there are no priests available, and the Holy Communion distributed is that consecrated by a priest, during Mass on a previous visit.

If you read the rest of the canons in the section you reference you will see descriptions of Communion Service in the Absence of a Priest. Any reflection or meditation read by a lay person presiding over such a service is by definition not a homily, since a homily is the preaching by a priest during Mass.

I think the Canon Law passage is referring to something called a paraliturgy, which I have never seen myself, but which I have heard is like a Mass only without the Liturgy of the Eucharist, and at which a layperson can preside.

As far as homilies are concerned, I had an experience in high school where, during a Mass, some students were asked by the priest to go up and give reflections, in lieu of the priest giving a homily. I guess, in light of this discussion, this was wrong? I was actually one of the students who gave a reflection (thinking that it was OK), so if this was wrong, was it sinful on my part?

Karolina


I do read Canon law in its entireity on specific subjects when quoting it to ensure it is used as source in a manner in which it was intended. I do the same with CCC. The use of some words like homily and Mass were not good choices for me to use. I will apologize for not looking over my post better. Also I should have referenced the Conference of Bishops on the matter but I didn’t see the reason for being that technical in the reply. However, the missions you speak of are in our own backyard. Look around you. There are parishes who do not have enough priests and in some cases no priests in which to say Mass. Dioceses around the U S have been forced to close some of these parishes. The problem is so bad in some areas that the use of deacons or lay people have been utilized to cover all the Mass times needed. The use of the term Mass may have been incorrect but nonetheless, the prayer service done by a deacon or laity does satisfy the Sunday obligation. As far as the homily goes, again wrong choice of term for me to have used, however a priest may prepare one, choose a reflection from sources like the Magnificat if he so chooses or even accept something written by someone else provided any such material is studied by that priest to make certain it stays within the teachings and doctrines of the Church. That plus the priest should make positively known to the person presiding over the service that they must relate said sermon in its entirety with no changes or deviations. To do so would be to usurp authority and a sin on that person’s part. Usually, however, due to the problems within the congregation it can cause the sermon is done away with in those services. That being said, what effectively happens is that person presiding over the service does not technically give a homily but rather does an additional reading. They are a reader not a homilist in that sense. There is a difference. There is also a difference in Canon law and the application of Canon law.
Take care
Dennis


In a word, no! You were following the instructions of a priest doing what you thought was alright. The priest is in charge of the Mass he celebrates. What goes on within the context of that Mass is his responsibility to make sure everything is done within the guidelines of the Church. I’m sure you had to submit those reflections to him beforehand for him to look over. If he didn’t then its on his shoulders and not yours.
Take care
Dennis

I doubt very much if the term “paraliturgy” is used in canon law. A communion service is just that, a liturgy of the Word with distribution of communion. It is not “Like” a Mass, it is not a mass, it is not a para-liturgy, it is a liturgy, but it is not a mass or a mini-Mass.

steppenwolf quite rightly highlights the difficulty that abounds when communions services are held on Sunday in times and places where a priest is not available for Mass, and the reason many bishops discourage such services. The very casual way many or most Catholics use the word “Mass” to describe such services shows how widespread the confusion is. Ask 9 out of 10 people who attend such a service and they will tell you they have been to Mass. It is not just a “lapse of lingy” it is a serious abuse to use the word Mass to describe a liturgy of the word, a communion service or anything else that is not a Mass.

Take a look at this:

Can. 766 Lay persons can be permitted to preach in a church or oratory, if necessity requires it in certain circumstances or it seems advantageous in particular cases, according to the prescripts of the conference of bishops and without prejudice to ⇒ can. 767, §1.

Can. 767 §1. Among the forms of preaching, the homily, which is part of the liturgy itself and is reserved to a priest or deacon, is preeminent; in the homily the mysteries of faith and the norms of Christian life are to be explained from the sacred text during the course of the liturgical year.

Can. 766 Lay persons can be permitted to preach in a church or oratory, if necessity requires it in certain circumstances or it seems advantageous in particular cases, according to the prescripts of the conference of bishops and without prejudice to ⇒ can. 767, §1.

Can. 767 §1. Among the forms of preaching, the homily, which is part of the liturgy itself and is reserved to a priest or deacon, is preeminent; in the homily the mysteries of faith and the norms of Christian life are to be explained from the sacred text during the course of the liturgical year.

This thread is 10 years old.

Time flies when you’re having fun giving homilies.

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