Limits of a priest's homily

what can a priest do/not do for his Homily?

can he sing?
bring out a guitar and sing?
use a power point presentation?
tell a joke?

i tried going through RS and i can’t find anything that says what a priest cannot do during Homily

Perhaps you should use the word “may” rather than “can”.

I have seen all of the above except that it was just an audio recording rather than a PowerPoint presentation.

I have heard priests tell stories and jokes but they generally have something to do with the subject matter.

yes, i’ve had many priests who use their gift of humor to convey the message of God to the flock

i just want to know if there are any limits imposed on a priest in his homily, or if he can do whatever it takes to convey God’s message according to his gifts


De Musica Sacra
Chapter III-4
Paragraph 73:

“The use of any kind of projector, and particularly movie projectors, with or without sound track, is strictly forbidden in church for any reason, even if it be for a pious, religious, or charitable cause.

there is another thread for this but i’m assuming that it may be allowed on a diocese-by-diocese basis as there is a widespread use of this in Asia.

or what if the priest uses an LCD TV? or a good old presentation board?
i mean, i’m just conveying a point. outside of the usual talk, what can the priest do or not do in his homily?

If the presentation is shown on a plasma screen, there’s no projector, though, so he’s in the clear.

Right? Or do we go by the “spirit of De Musica Sacra”?


De Musica Sacra
Chapter III-4
Paragraph 73:

“The use of any kind of projector, and particularly movie projectors, with or without sound track, is strictly forbidden in church for any reason, even if it be for a pious, religious, or charitable cause.

is it just me or is it deja vu? :smiley:


I had some internet issues. Opps… :blush:

I would say for sure go with the “spirit of De Musica Sacra”. (I believe) it was written before “regular” screens were big enough to even think about replacing a projector, so they wouldn’t have even thought about it.

thats fine Ben, i was just surprised that after a reply from me and Mark, i saw the same post again

anyway, there’s already a thread for projectors, i don’t want to turn this thread into that one. i just want to know if the priest can basically do pretty much anything he wants for his homily, assuming that he thinks that is the best way for him to preach to his flock

i’ve seen priests tell jokes (most common), priests sing (sometimes with accompanying instruments), and my favorite pastor who just got reassigned, turns homilies into mini-Bible studies where he disects the 2 readings and the Gospel and explains the whole thing including the history involved in the readings, and in the end gives us the lessons. of course my last example is very traditional in the sense of the homily where its mostly the priest talking

Neither. De Musica Sacra is an instruction, which means that it does not enact or promulgate liturgical law, but only explains in more detail the liturgical law that is already in effect at the time, which was 1958. The contents of De Musica Sacra are no longer in force.

has it been replaced by Musicam Sacram in 1967?

Musicam Sacram is another instruction, so it is at the same level of authority as De Musica Sacra. Unless there is a provision in Musicam Sacram that is directly contrary to a provision in De Musica Sacra, both of them would have been in effect in 1967.

A change in the underlying liturgical law is required to invalidate an instruction. In this case, I’m guessing (I’m not a canon lawyer) that it was the 1970 GIRM (General Instruction of the Roman Missal) for the new mass that derogated De Musica Sacra.

Here is the canon law on instructions:

Can. 34 §1. Instructions clarify the prescripts of laws and elaborate on and determine the methods to be observed in fulfilling them. They are given for the use of those whose duty it is to see that laws are executed and oblige them in the execution of the laws. Those who possess executive power legitimately issue such instructions within the limits of their competence.

§2. The ordinances of instructions do not derogate from laws. If these ordinances cannot be reconciled with the prescripts of laws, they lack all force.

§3. Instructions cease to have force not only by explicit or implicit revocation of the competent authority who issued them or of the superior of that authority but also by the cessation of the law for whose clarification or execution they were given.

Probably the best homily I ever heard was this past Holy Thursday.
The parochial vicar at the parish attend started his homily by singing (a cappella) the first verse of “The Servent Song” by Richard Gillard.

Brother, let me be your servant
Let me be as Christ to you
Pray that I may have the grace
To let you be my servant, too

I know, I know, probably not an “appropriate” song to many of you CAF-er’s, but it is one of my favorites. :wink:

Anyway, Father would sing a verse (he has a beautiful voice), then would preach for a few moments, then on to the next verse. It was a beautiful homily about his journey to the priesthood, and really put into perspective how important Holy Thursday was to the vocation of the priesthood.

All in all, it was the best homily I have heard in a while, and now,everytime I hear that song, I think about it, and say a prayer for more vocations! :slight_smile:

I can’t seem to find anything spelled out, however there are certain principles that would limit what a priest ought (not) to be doing in the homily.

The homily should be given by the priest-celebrant, priest-concelebrant, deacon, (or bishop or priest in choir). This would suggest that a recording is not to be used in place of the homily. Nor is a letter from the bishop an acceptable replacement for the homily except under grave circumstances.

The homily should be given from the ambo or standing at the chair, which restricts movement and props (even Archbishop Sheen’s blackboard doesn’t belong at Mass).

Further the homily is part of the Mass, anything that would be inappropriate at other parts of Mass would be inappropriate here, including music in a secular mode.

In short, I don’t think display screens or other props are generally appropriate. Singing or joking can be incorporated into a homily with a little discretion.

While I don’t think the song is appropriate for liturgical use, I do think there is a little more leeway in the homily as to what is appropriate (it isn’t replacing the Propers). I do think that is a good illustration of how singing can be appropriately integrated into the homily, however. :thumbsup:

so far the priests i have seen sing in Mass would sing a religious song. now, if the song is up to the tastes especially of Traditional Catholics would be another topic of its own. but thankfully i haven’t heard a priest sing a pop song yet (and hopefully never)

I actually had in mind a certain religious priest from a wonderful order as a negative example… Rapping the homily just does not fit with the nature of the Mass.:nope:

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