Lay preaching once again

Let’s see: that makes the fourth time at this parish in less than a year. Please, no one reply that it’s fine if the priest gives “a short homily” first. The priest said like 5 sentences, which was merely an introduction to the lay preacher. (Happened to be female, but wouldn’t have made a difference if it were male, as even deacons are forbidden to do this.) Ordained priests are allowed to give homilies within the liturgy, period. Narrative talks by lay missionaries are allowed as an adjunct, I believe, such as after a true homily by the celebrating priest, right? Or I guess in substitution. I’ll be corrected if I’m wrong here. But in any case such talks are not in the classification of liturgical homilies on the scripture, which was what Sunday’s was: a liturgical homily commenting on the scripture of that Mass. And another bad homily by another person untrained to do so. I’m surprised she wasn’t allowed to read the Gospel as well. I’m not going to talk to the priest about it, because I know exactly how all the priests in the parish feel about it: they all approve. It’s just wasting my breath. So we lay people have to put up with it because the bishop doesn’t want to hear, supposedly, from lay people “until they talk to the priest.” Dumb rule, i.m.o. Especially since this is obviously a frequent violation at this location.

Just a point of fact…deacons are indeed allowed to give homilies.

I am sorry you are having to deal with such a priest. Pray for him that his heart may be softened and return to a state of obedience. I still would bother the bishop, each time and everytime this happens. Remember the parable of the unjust ruler. (No, I am not going to preach on it).

Lay people are not allowed to give homilies.

That is what I was going to say. It’s true.

Elizabeth, if you aren’t going to speak to the priest or bishop, why come here to tell us about it? There is nothing any of us can do. Please pray for your priests and tell them each time (in complete sincerity and charity) how much it hurts you when they allow this infraction.

Actually, these things do change some times. Be warned that this story is told from the perspective of someone who is pretty much outraged about it, but here it is:

Here are two quotes:
"…in a September parish bulletin, Patalano wrote: “Over the past recent years, several documents from the Holy See have stipulated that only deacons, priests and bishops are to preach at Mass.” And he quotes from the “most explicit of the three: `Instruction on Certain Questions Regarding the Collaboration of the Non-Ordained Faithful in the Sacred Ministry…”

“…wrote that for the past four years, aware of the edict, he “chose to ignore the rule.” Without saying why – there’s apparently been no pressure from the chancery – Patalano decided to ignore no more, and took “the painful procedure of informing Sr. Benilda. The last thing I want to do is hurt [her]. She is an outstanding woman and Dominican. Her scholarship is without question. And in my own way, as a man, I do understand her pain as a woman who feels qualified to preach. However, contrary to how I may feel, as a priest, pastor and prior, I must uphold the law.”…”

In other words, this priest didn’t agree with the Vatican, he didn’t want to stop this sister from preaching, but he did stop the practice, anyway. These things do happen, because there are priests (and laity who would hope to give homilies, too; this sister’s attitude was to be obedient and submit to the decision without argument) who are willing to put obedience ahead of their own strongly-held opinions.

I have heard the priests at this parish, and as you might expect of Dominicans, they are no slouches in the preaching department. They were impressed by this sister’s ability to expound on the Gospel.

There is nothing wrong with that. The world needs to hear the Word of God preached. Maybe if the laity aren’t allowed to do it during Mass, they’ll go out to their mission field and do it: in the rest of the world outside of the church, in the rest of the time outside of the Mass. That’s a lot of preaching that needs doing.

OP: Talk to the priest, tell him you understand that he wants to do the right thing, but remind him that this isn’t his choice. What he has to do is clear. If he doesn’t do it, then call the chancery office. But do give him that chance…that is the preaching that falls on you to do. God charges us to speak the truth, but he doesn’t give anyone the guarantee that the truth will be heard when they speak it. You aren’t any different. Do what you need to do, pray and hope for the best, but let the refusal of others to hear you be on their head, if that is how it goes. In all of this, put on charity–and, by the way, put on the same obedient attitude towards even the “dumb” rules onto yourself that you know we all need to have–and you will do well. God be with you!

By the way, when you talk to him about this, you might point out that laypeople give some excellent parish missions, that this is allowed, and that maybe that is a place these people could use their gifts within the parish. A little sugar does help the medicine go down.

I believe though, that it is permissible, in a communion service with no priest present, to have a layperson read a homily written by a priest, deacon or bishop who is absent.

But it has to be read verbatim and I would assume it has to be made clear who the author is.

Because with the exception of responses like yours, I hope for constructive responses, which I do appreciate from the others, and thank them.

IMHO, Mrs Sally’s was a constructive response, too, even though it cut to the chase very quickly.

We have two choices in these cases, both of which are highly recommended: speak up charitably and pray fervently. The requirement of the chancery office that a person who has been given with no reason to fear reprisals speak to his or her priest before going to the bishop is reasonable, not “dumb”.

I will defend you, OP, on this front: sometimes, when there seems as if there is nothing to do, it takes some exploration of options and some encouragement before deciding what to do. I think you were right to post here, Elizabeth. Do act, though, so that something besides venting frustration comes of it.

We’ll have to agree to disagree on this. :slight_smile:

The requirement of the chancery office that a person who has been given with no reason to fear reprisals speak to his or her priest before going to the bishop is reasonable, not “dumb”.

Possibly you have not seen my other discussions about this, on other threads. (It came up recently on this subforum.) I detailed in one of my responses on another thread precisely why – and I still maintain this – the policy is indeed dumb, from the very rationale of why it is supposedly needed; it is a self-contradictory policy, i.m.o., in that it exposes and makes vulnerable the parishioner.

I will defend you, OP, on this front: sometimes, when there seems as if there is nothing to do, it takes some exploration of options and some encouragement before deciding what to do. I think you were right to post here, Elizabeth. Do act, though, so that something besides venting frustration comes of it.

Thank you.

At some point, a letter needs to be written to the priest and then to the bishop. The letter should be sent via certified mail, return receipt requested. What the priest is doing is violating RS, especially this section:

[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

If neither the bishop nor the priest respond, then copies of what you wrote to them should be sent to the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Disicpline of the Sacraments along with a letter detailing just what happened (and continues to happen).

Simply hiding one’s head in the sand and wishing things would go away is not the right approach. The norms are being violated and something needs to be done to address the problem.

and thank you to you, too, benedictgal, for the constructive reply.

From the 2002 General Instruction of the Roman Missal (GIRM) approved for the USA, which can be accessed from :
“… 66. 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. …”.

I went to the trouble of looking up one such post:

You think priests don’t like being complained to directly? If you think that being complained to to one’s face makes a person defensive, imagine being complained about to your boss behind your back! Just imagine yourself a college instructor, and getting dragged into the dean’s office for complaints from a group of students who never talked to you directly. It has happened to me. Do you know that does to the teacher, in terms of trusting either the students or the dean? Zero support, zero benefit of the doubt, zero confidence in my ability to be a decent human being and deal with criticism like an adult, that is what it feels like. Other instructors felt the same way. They were appalled that the dean handled the situation in the way that he did. I had zero desire to keep teaching under him. Do I need to tell you what priests feel about a bishop who doesn’t tell parishioners to talk to their pastors first? Worse. Why? Because the relationship between bishop, priest, and layperson is closer and more profound than that between dean, instructor, and student. After all, a teacher gives his or her time. A priest gives his life. Give the guy some credit for that. Treat him as if he were a decent human being, until he proves otherwise.

OTOH, I’ve had students complain to me directly about how I teach. Sometimes we have a conversation and I change the way I do things, and sometimes I don’t. If they were to tell me I was in violation of university policy, be sure that I’d be very careful to make sure my “t’s” were crossed and my "i"s dotted! If that student were to go to my dean and tell them that I’d been talked to about the problem and would do nothing, I’d “have some ‘splainin’ to do”. If I stuck to my guns and the dean took their side, at least I’d have some feeling that the conversation had been started in a civil manner, though.

As far as being able to bring up issues with a priest, I have done it many times. What do you mean, “I don’t care how much ‘charity’ is extended.”? It makes a great deal of difference how much “charity” is extended! (May I ask, by the way: What is with the quotation marks?) Well, most bishops do care about whether you care enough about your pastor to go to him first, too. It is simple common courtesy. If you don’t do it, it amounts to an accusation that he would be vindictive about your complaint. When he’s never given you or anyone else any reason to feel that way, other than by simply being a priest, of course he feels defensive. It does not feel good to have someone you spend your life working for that they assume they can’t trust you to be fair. It hurts, and our priests have feelings, too. So that’s the reason for the “dumb” policy, and why I think it is anything but “dumb”.

I believe that within 25 years the, ahem, oridnary form, will evolve to a point where this is an officially recognized lay minsitry. Just hang in there a little longer and it will all be cool.

I’m sorry you had that experience as a teacher. It is apparent that that colors your viewpoints about a very different venue.

The difference between the authority of a priest and the authority of a teacher is night and day. I would know, I am a teacher, so be careful what you assume I do and do not know. Frankly you overreacted to my post that you quoted.

#1 - charity was put in quotes because it was repeated over and over on the thread, as if that was all that was required. Wrong. In the situation of which I spoke in one parish, the priest was considered certifiably psychotic (seriously). Possibly his bizarre behavior and extreme aggression stood out so much because the other priests were so normal and so sane.

#2 - it’s important not to take people’s quotes from other threads out of context. You did that to me, which was unfair, uncharitable without quotes, and inaccurate. It’s particularly important not to personalize what someone says on another thread, in another context, to yourself, and then accuse the poster of all kinds of attitudes you ascribe to me that I do not have. I think you need to calm down a little and separate your unrelated situation to what I described on a very different thread.

#3 - It is patently obvious that priests who violate the oft-repeated, oft-published regulations on lay preaching are not in the dark about what they are doing. They don’t you or me to “inform” them – whether neutrally, whether in six layers of kid gloves, whether submissively, whatever – what the regulations are. That’s why it’s a silly exercise. This is not a gray issue – unlike many other things one could bring to a priest’s attention, and which rightly he should have the right to hear firsthand from a questioner or a complainer. (“Gee, I wonder why you said ___ in the homily, Father? Could you clarify? I had read the opposite from some Vatican documents; maybe I don’t understand them sufficiently, or maybe I misinterpreted your comment.”) Lay preaching hardly comes under that category.
If I were to engage in unlawful corporal punishment against a student, or to hurl verbal abuse at the student – something I clearly know is illicit and is stated in black & white – I shouldn’t expect that an offended student or parent should tiptoe over to me and “inform me charitably” that I’m in the wrong. I would be lucky to still have my job tomorrow. That is very different from questioning my teaching style (i.e., a parent requesting a conference about my approach, my assignments, etc.)
The breaking of an infraction is obvious on its face. Ambiguous actions, or actions subject to various interpretations, are something else entirely, and one can reasonably expect to be approached on the latter, but not on the former.

So I will repeat again, unapologetically, and I urge those who are truthfully, sincerely looking for the context of my opinion, to search the threads for yourself and not rely on a distortion by someone who lifted out of context and misrepresented its content:

There is a chasm of difference between the relationship between a priest and a parishioner, vs. a teacher and a student. Both are dependent relationships, but the former is far more emotionally charged, and is unique in that it is spiritually charged as well. I know exactly what would happen if I approached the priests in this parish. I would be treated like an unwelcome outcast.

There’s nothing to “discuss” with the priest. The regulations have been violated. Benedictgal and others have posted those regulations. The priests in that parish are literate and not blind. And no priest there is even vaguely a new, untrained priest. Their ages range from 40-ish to 80-ish. They know exactly what they are doing.

I do have another idea, though, about what I might do that might encourage action without reprisal, either to me or to any specific priest. I.m.o., that would be preferable than just putting up with it or going through some phony pretense of “approaching the priest” when both he and I would know exactly what’s going on.

^ a part was left out accidentally while I was editing:

When perceiving a threat, priests, like the rest of us, are capable of lying, and have done so – in this parish, in other parishes. It puts a parishioner in an awkward position, not to mention the priest as well, for the former to question something that rightly belongs between a priest and his superior(s). That’s why approaching the superior, i.m.o., is the better approach. Maybe the priest(s) have been granted an exception by their bishops, for lay preaching. I wouldn’t know that, and yet it would be convenient for a priest to assert that even if it weren’t true.

If someone questioned what I were doing in education, I would actually want them to approach my superiors, perhaps because I have a trusting, open relationship with those, and I know that as long as my actions are in line with regulation and approved practice, my superiors will back me up. If someone were to lie about me, my superiors would first observe me with their own two eyes before coming to a judgment. They wouldn’t assume that some parent making some outlandish statement has no ulterior motives, is hearing things accurately, or does not have some vindictive motive for hurting me.

I have no way of knowing what a bishop has told a particular priest. But if anyone were to go to a bishop about an infraction against a stated liturgical practice, the bishop could correct such a parishioner himself. He could say, “I know about such and such parish; the priests have occasional permission to experiment,” or “the priests get particular approval each time they want lay preaching.” If it’s the first time he’s heard it, and he approves, he can set the parishioner straight. (“I have no problem with lay preaching occasionally.”) Then the parishioner is hearing it straight from the horse’s mouth, so to speak, and there is zero complaint he or she could have against the priest. Nor does the priest ever have to hear about this if the bishop approves a novel or unapproved practice. I actually doubt very much that our bishops would have any desire to even repeat such a complaint to the parish priest, should the bishop have given prior approval. He would know from the start that it would only unnecessarily demoralize the priest or cause dissension in the parish.

Finally, just to be clear: the frustrating thing is that I like these priests. Truly I do. If I didn’t find them to be men of God, I would never attend this parish. This is the one troubling thing that occurs in the parish. While they are very, very different from some other quite traditional parishes I attend (esp. the one which is quite traditional), I find that there is good stuff to be learned from many parishes, and this one “represents” one side to my faith that is a more modern side. It’s a different emphasis on spirituality, but it’s a valid one, and God reaches me through my experiences there in a very different way than in other parishes.

The simple solution would be to walk away. (I find that way more appealing than “confronting” a priest, no matter how charitably – I repeat. I find that whole prospect just leaving me very vulnerable and essentially ruining my otherwise excellent relationship with the priests.) In most parishes, questioners = troublemakers = sources of division.

I consider it neither a solution to walk away, nor a solution to perform a non-anonymous investigative role that I believe rightly belongs to their clerical superiors, not to me, and with whom they would be way more comfortable than they would be with the equivalent of a challenge by a parishioner.

I do not see that ever happening. As a disciplinary matter, it could happen. But no one in the Church has said anything about changing the discipline. As far as these priests that break the rules, once someone holds themselves above authority, they will break rules, regardless of how strict or lenient.

Actually, doing nothing is probably the worst thing that someone can do. Silence can be taken to mean ascent. In good conscience, I would not remain silent, regardless of whether or not I like these priests.

My best friend is a priest. There have been a couple of times when he has done things that have run contrary to the norms. I have called him out on it. We have argued, not speaking to each other for several weeks. But, as soon as the inappropriate activity occurs and I bring it to his attention, it stops the next day. After awhile, we mend fences. Now, he asks me to research things for him to make sure we are on the right track. We appreciate each other.

Furthermore, the CDWDS guarantees the faithful the right to a properly celebrated Mass. What you experienced is quite the opposite. Here is what Redemptionis Sacramentum says regarding liturgical abuse:

  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.

Everyone means just that, all of us, you, and me included. This is not just reserved to the clergy and the bishops.

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