Laity delivering homily - what to do


#1

My wife and I attend a parish other than our home parish intermittently due to different mass time. At this parish, they regularly have the priest give a very short (1-2 minute) "homily", then have a member of the laity give a "reflection" on the reading, which last 10 or so minutes and is definitely filling the teaching role that the homily intends (i.e. it is not an update on the parish finances or a plea for donations to a charity).

My understanding is that this is a clear violation of the GIRM, and that this having the laity giving a "reflection" was clarified as also being not allowed. Can others confirm my understanding of this?

Oh, by the way, the laity given this "reflection" are always women, and almost always a very liberal interpretation of the gospel reading. We hear much about social justice, being inclusive, accepting others where they are, but rarely about the horrors of abortion, the sacraments, sin, the need for repentence, etc.

Assuming my understanding is correct, I feel obligated to report this to someone in authority. I see no point addressing the pastor, as he is the biggest offender. My initial idea is to write a letter to the bishop, but is there a particular office in the diocese that should be attending to these issues?

I don't have great hopes as we are in a very liberal diocese, but I feel obligated to do something.

Any thoughts or ideas are welcome.


#2

First, write to the priest in question. Be charitable in your correspondence. Redemptionis Sacramentum states that:

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

[67.] Particular care is to be taken so that the homily is firmly based upon the mysteries of salvation, expounding the mysteries of the Faith and the norms of Christian life from the biblical readings and liturgical texts throughout the course of the liturgical year and providing commentary on the texts of the Ordinary or the Proper of the Mass, or of some other rite of the Church.147 It is clear that all interpretations of Sacred Scripture are to be referred back to Christ Himself as the one upon whom the entire economy of salvation hinges, though this should be done in light of the specific context of the liturgical celebration. In the homily to be given, care is to be taken so that the light of Christ may shine upon life's events. Even so, this is to be done so as not to obscure the true and unadulterated word of God: for instance, treating only of politics or profane subjects, or drawing upon notions derived from contemporary pseudo-religious currents as a source.148

[68.] The diocesan Bishop must diligently oversee the preaching of the homily,149 also publishing norms and distributing guidelines and auxiliary tools to the sacred ministers, and promoting meetings and other projects for this purpose so that they may have the opportunity to consider the nature of the homily more precisely and find help in its preparation.

The priest may claim that he is preaching, but, having a lay person (male or female) deliver a 10-minute diatribe certain violates both the spirit and the letter of the law. If the laity must speak (stewardship drive, for example), the proper time is after the Post-Communion prayer, but, before the final blessing.

If the priest in question does not respond, then, write to the bishop, attaching whatever correspondence you have had with the priest (even if it is only your letter). If the bishop fails to act on this matter, then, your next recourse is to write to the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments.


#3

Definitely write the bishop and make a follow up visit to his office after you are sure he’s received it in the mail. If there’s no action, you need to write to Rome as well, this is a very serious abuse.


#4

Here are the steps for resolving conflicts within the Church:

Effective Lay Witness Protocol

You must talk to the pastor first. If you bypass this step and attempt to go straight to the Bishop (or, more likely, the Vicar General), the first thing he will ask you is “What did the pastor say when you approached him?” This is presuming you actually get a response beyond: “We have forwarded your concern to the pastor in question.”

I know it’s tempting to presume that you will receive the brush off from the pastor and not bother with it, but you have to start with him. As BendictGal said, do so with the utmost charity and respect. He doesn’t have to respond for you to take it to the next level of authority, but you do need to make the attempt to resolve it with him.

Follow the steps in the link above. Make you best effort to be non-confrontational.

For example, the wrong approach would be to to show him the excerpts from Redemptionis Sacramentum, wag your finger and say “You’re not supposed to do that!!!” The right approach would be to go up to him and sincerely request, “I was hoping you could help me to understand the current practices of the parish in light of these passages I read.”

Definitely let him know that you are concerned, but try to do so in a way that is more likely to trigger his desire to pastorally tend to your unease rather than in a way that is likely to make him defensive and stand-offish. That’s how I would handle it anyway.


#5

[quote="Tom_in_WNY, post:1, topic:186987"]
My wife and I attend a parish other than our home parish intermittently due to different mass time. At this parish, they regularly have the priest give a very short (1-2 minute) "homily", then have a member of the laity give a "reflection" on the reading, which last 10 or so minutes and is definitely filling the teaching role that the homily intends (i.e. it is not an update on the parish finances or a plea for donations to a charity).

[/quote]

I assume "WNY" means "Western New York". What you're describing sounds like the Rochester diocese to me. It's not uncommon there, and has the direct support of the bishop, despite it being against the liturgical regulations set forth by the Church.

You can try reasoning (charitably) with the pastor, or with the bishop, but my attempts (chronicled on my blog) have been unfruitful.


#6

The laity are authorized to speak after the homily, after communion, or later at the time of announcements. The laity cannot deliever the homily.
Go thru the proper channels for your area to discern if this is acceptable.


#7

[quote="japhy, post:5, topic:186987"]
I assume "WNY" means "Western New York". What you're describing sounds like the Rochester diocese to me. It's not uncommon there, and has the direct support of the bishop, despite it being against the liturgical regulations set forth by the Church.

You can try reasoning (charitably) with the pastor, or with the bishop, but my attempts (chronicled on my blog) have been unfruitful.

[/quote]

Thanks for all your responses. It has now come to our attention through japhy's blog that our local ordinary has already spoken on this issue, that the laity can "dialogue" with the priest as part of the homily. Of course, in practice, the laity is giving the homily, and usually a bad one. Since the bishop has spoken on the subject, it is no longer an issue of a rogue pastor, but a question of the validity of the norm in our diocese.


#8

I second Joe’s post. This Effective Lay Witness Protocol is extremely helpful. When dealing with issues like these, we need to follow the procedures established by the Church.

The same site has a good short article on the topic of lay preaching.


#9

The time for any announcements and reflections is after the Post-Communion prayer, not after after the Homily. The Roman Missal’s rubrics (what is noted in red) state that announcements and such should happen at that time.


#10

[quote="Tom_in_WNY, post:7, topic:186987"]
Thanks for all your responses. It has now come to our attention through japhy's blog that our local ordinary has already spoken on this issue, that the laity can "dialogue" with the priest as part of the homily. Of course, in practice, the laity is giving the homily, and usually a bad one. Since the bishop has spoken on the subject, it is no longer an issue of a rogue pastor, but a question of the validity of the norm in our diocese.

[/quote]

Then, you take that concern, which is a valid one, to the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments. Print out what is noted in the website and included that in your letter.

While the Lay Witness Protocol may be alright, I go by what Redemptionis Sacramentum has to say.

  1. Complaints Regarding Abuses in Liturgical Matters [183.] In an altogether particular manner, let everyone do all that is in their power to ensure that the Most Holy Sacrament of the Eucharist will be protected from any and every irreverence or distortion and that all abuses be thoroughly corrected. This is a most serious duty incumbent upon each and every one, and all are bound to carry it out without any favoritism.

[184.] Any Catholic, whether Priest or Deacon or lay member of Christ's faithful, has the right to lodge a complaint regarding a liturgical abuse to the diocesan Bishop or the competent Ordinary equivalent to him in law, or to the Apostolic See on account of the primacy of the Roman Pontiff.290 It is fitting, however, insofar as possible, that the report or complaint be submitted first to the diocesan Bishop. This is naturally to be done in truth and charity.

Furthermore, the "dialogue" homily is, from what I understand, to be used in certain Masses with Children, but, the children need to make up a majority of the Faithful in attendance at the liturgy (say, Catholic school students).

  1. The homily explaining the word of God should be given great prominence in all Masses with children. Sometimes the homily intended for children should become a dialogue with them, unless it is preferred that they should listen in silence.

But, that is the only time that the word "dialogue" appears anywhere, at least, as far as I can tell.


#11

That is incorrect, most cite your position. As a occasional speaker, sent by my Bishop, I was instructed , by more than one pastor, that after the homily I should speak Being very uncomfortable speaking at that time I contacted the Bishop and that is the source of my data.
I would prefer the time of announcements, yet I am obedient.
The missal is not the defining answer on this topic as evident by the Bishops answer.


#12

Actually, the Roman Missal is the definitive answer. It states, in the red, that this is where the announcements are to come.


#13

Here is what the Roman Missal states:

**Prayer after Communion

Then, standing at the chair or at the altar, the priest sings or says:

L**et us pray. stand

Priest and people pray in silence for a while, unless a period of silence has already been observed. then the priest extends his hands and sings or says the prayer after communion, at the end of which the people respond:

Amen.

CONCLUDING RITE

If there are any brief announcements, they are made at this time.

Greeting

The rite of dismissal takes place.
Facing the people, the priest extends his ands and sings or says
:

The Lord be with you

The underlining and italics are mine, but, as you can see, it clearly states that any announcements should take place after the post-Communion prayer. This runs the whole gamut, including stewardship pleas and any other remarks from the laity.


#14

[quote="benedictgal, post:13, topic:186987"]
Here is what the Roman Missal states:

The underlining and italics are mine, but, as you can see, it clearly states that any announcements should take place after the post-Communion prayer. This runs the whole gamut, including stewardship pleas and any other remarks from the laity.

[/quote]

You have misunderstood the above roman missal. That states announcements at that time. There is more happening than announcements.
I would not dismiss a Bishop so lightly.


#15

[quote="benedictgal, post:13, topic:186987"]
Here is what the Roman Missal states:

The underlining and italics are mine, but, as you can see, it clearly states that any announcements should take place after the post-Communion prayer. This runs the whole gamut, including stewardship pleas and any other remarks from the laity.

[/quote]

You have misunderstood the above roman missal. That states announcements at that time. There can be more happening than announcements At Mass.
I would not dismiss a Bishop so lightly. You just may be wrong.
Thanks but this is over.


#16

According to CAF apologist Michelle Arnold a layperson can give a talk after a homily.


#17

The 2004 Instruction Redemptionis Sacramentum from the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments says this:
74. If the need arises for the gathered faithful to be given instruction or testimony by a layperson in a Church concerning the Christian life, it is altogether preferable that this be done outside Mass. Nevertheless, for serious reasons it is permissible that this type of instruction or testimony be given after the Priest has proclaimed the Prayer after Communion. This should not become a regular practice, however. Furthermore, these instructions and testimony should not be of such a nature that they could be confused with the homily, nor is it permissible to dispense with the homily on their account.
In other words, a testimony (etc.) from a lay-person should be done outside of Mass, but if it is necessary that it happen during Mass, it should happen at the very end, after the post-Communion prayer, right before the Dismissal.


#18

[quote="curlycool89, post:16, topic:186987"]
According to CAF apologist Michelle Arnold a layperson can give a talk after a homily.

[/quote]

With all due respect to Ms. Arnold, she is not affiliated with the Church in any official capacity. She works for a private, albeit, Catholic, organization, but, her interpretation is wrong and is not going by what the authoritative documents of the Church have to say.

The Roman Missal clearly states that any announcements should be done after the Post Communion prayer. Even the citation provided by japhy indicates this.


#19

[quote="thomas_jd, post:14, topic:186987"]
You have misunderstood the above roman missal. That states announcements at that time. There is more happening than announcements.
I would not dismiss a Bishop so lightly.

[/quote]

No, I have not. This weekend, when we had our diocesan appeal, the message/video was deferred until after the Post Communion. With all due respect, diocesan appeals do not trump a homily nor should they be treated at the same level as the homily.


#20

From the 1997 Instruction On Certain Questions … at vatican.va/roman_curia/pontifical_councils/laity/documents/rc_con_interdic_doc_15081997_en.html :

“§ 3. As an expositional aide and providing it does not delegate the duty of preaching to others, the celebrant minister may make prudent use of “dialogue” in the homily, in accord with the liturgical norms. (footnote 73: Cf. Sacred Congregation for Divine Worship, Directory for Masses with children Pueros Baptizatos (1 Nov. 1973), n. 48: AAS 66 (1974), p. 44.)”

The Directory for Masses with Children has in n. 19:
"… Wherever the bishop permits, in addition to the adaptions already provided in the Order of Mass, one or other of the particular adaptations described later in the Directory may be employed in a Mass celebrated with adults in which children also participate."

So saying that n. 48 only applies when there is a majority of children, or only a few adults, is not correct. If the bishop permits, then Mass with 2 children and 1000 adults can have the dialogue of n. 48. But note how this is described “the homily intended for children should become a dialogue with them”.

Another challenge from the 1973 Directory for Masses with Children:
“24. … With the consent of the pastor or rector of the church, nothing forbids one of the adults who is participating in a Mass with children from speaking to the children after the gospel reading, especially if the priest finds it difficult to adapt himself to the mentality of children. In this matter the norms issued by the Congregation for the Clergy should be observed.”

Perhaps this is what the Vatican had in mind when it wrote in the 1997 Instruction: “All previous norms which may have admitted the non-ordained faithful to preaching the homily during the Holy Eucharist are to be considered abrogated by canon 767, §1. [footnote 72: Cf. C.I.C., can. 6, § 1, 2o.”

Regarding when a lay person can give instruction or testimony in Mass, from the 2004 Instruction Redemptionis Sacramentum:
"[74.] If the need arises for the gathered faithful to be given instruction or testimony by a layperson in a Church concerning the Christian life, it is altogether preferable that this be done outside Mass. Nevertheless, for serious reasons it is permissible that this type of instruction or testimony be given after the Priest has proclaimed the Prayer after Communion. This should not become a regular practice, however. Furthermore, these instructions and testimony should not be of such a nature that they could be confused with the homily, nor is it permissible to dispense with the homily on their account."

The 1970 Instruction Liturgicae instaurationes, had in n. 2(a) “The priest, therefore, is the homilist; the congregation is to refrain from comments, attempts at dialogue, or anything similar.” (From Documents on the Liturgy 1963-1979, Liturgical Press, Minnesota, 1982, ISBN 0-8146-1281-4, pages 161.)

Similarly in the 1969 Instruction Actio pastoralis (on Masses with Special Groups), 6(d):
"… with the exception of what is spoken by a “commentator,” the faithful are to refrain from making reflections, exhortations, or the like during the celebration." (Documents on the Liturgy 1963-1979, Liturgical Press, Minnesota, 1982, ISBN 0-8146-1281-4, page 674.)

A lay commentator could talk before the reading, from the Introduction to the Lectionary:
“42. The one presiding is responsible for preparing the faithful for the liturgy of the word on occasion by means of introductions before the readings.70 These comments can help the gathered assembly toward a better hearing of the word of God, because they enliven the people’s faith and their desire for good. He may also carry out this responsibility through other persons, the deacon, for example, or a commentator. 71”


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