Only Priests and Deacons May Preach. Why Is That?

I found this to be a very good article on an issue that people often ask me about:

Significantly, from the article:

The meaning of the Mass is encapsulated in the words the priest says as he pours the water and wine into the sacred chalice: “Through the mystery of this water and wine may we come to share in Christ’s divinity who humbled himself to share in our humanity.”

That’s it.

Now the reason for preaching being reserved to priests and deacons becomes clear. At the Mass the priest and the deacon stand in persona Christi. They represent Christ symbolically and liturgically, one as Christ the Priest, the other as Christ the servant.

This is why they are ordained. NOT just to be a social worker in black. Not just to be a theology teacher in a collar. Not just to be a spiritual director or a parish administrator or a fund raiser.

The priest and deacon are ordained and set apart from the laity for this reason: to help incarnate Christ in the world through their own person and through their own vocation. This is why the catechism teaches that one of the ways to objectively know that you have encountered the risen Lord is “in the person of the priest.”

Lay people can’t do that in the same way, and that’s why they are not permitted to preach at Mass.

Deacon Jeff, thank you for this!
I come from a diocese where lay preaching (mostly by women) had been the norm for nearly 25 years. Our new Bishop put an end to that when he arrived, but it has been an uphill battle in getting people to understand why.

I think that it would be more correct to note that laypeople may not deliver the homily, or read the Gospel, at Mass. Laypersons may preach, at times, outside the Mass.

Canon Law:

At mass? Really?

Yes, really.

Thank you, Deacon Jeff!

There is no intrinsic reason why those who have the gift of preaching cannot preach to tbe faithful. Personally I believe the Catholic church is excessively strict in the limitations it places on the matters and the Spirit could be allowed to flow somewhat more without damage. Really, limiting preaching to ordination is simply about control, a Church discipline, not about any intrinsic theology that requires this.


Thanks! :slight_smile:

Among other things, I’d think there’s a difference between the “gift of preaching” and the gift of talking to large groups. Theological training and the ability to correctly explain doctrine and open the Scriptures in the specific setting of Mass are different things.

Preaching by the non-ordained is not forbidden. It is only in the context of Mass that preaching is reserved to the ordained.

If Preaching means “Doing it in mass”, ie Homily, then yes, I agree.

If Preaching means “just talk about Gospel, or a speech on our faith, outside of mass”, then I think one who had **certified **background (ie. lay theologians, with master and doctorate) should be permitted. During my scapular enrollment, a sister made a good explanation as to why we need to do family rosary and enroll in scapular… but I guess that’s not “preaching” in catholic term?

Right. Every parish and every youth group deserves an excellent teacher/DRE.
Those folks should get busy!

Let me be sure I understand you correctly.

Are you saying that the current understanding according to the USCCB et al. that lay people may not preach at Mass, i.e. doing a homily is 'all about control, a ‘discipline only, not required’, and that the Church should change and permit any lay person who felt inclined ‘by the Spirit’ should be allowed to preach at Mass and that in that context, specifically of homilies as currently done only by priest or deacon, the Church is ‘limiting’ people and needs to change?

We are not talking about the parish finance leader, after communion but before the blessing, standing up to make a report about necessary repairs. We aren’t talking about Susie or Jim from the high school as representatives of the confirmation class talking about how they went to help out at the senior center, or about the cool retreat they had, at the same ‘point’ in Mass.

We are talking about Joe or Jane who feel 'led by the Spirit" to come up after the gospel and speak about that gospel, just the way that Father A or Deacon B do.

Do you think that Joe and Jane in the specific scenario above should be allowed to preach in that case?

:thumbsup: Yes to this.

I didn’t think it necessary, but I see it is, so by way of clarification, the article (If you guys would just read it) relates ONLY to preaching at Mass.


How about control is a good thing when groups are gathered to celebrate Liturgy in community – rather than total chaos whereas each will do as they wish when whatever “spirit” they have moves them?

Alas, we still so often link in vain - even here at CAF , Rev. Mr. Jeff.

I read the entire article, but I stumbled upon it while trying to search something else to read about this subject - instead of simply clicking on your link and reading it completely at first.

Is that bad or what ? .:doh2:

I guess I still need to practice what *you * preach.

If only you would just formulate an accurate question :shrug:.
And yes I did read the article, he’s entitled to his personal opinion.
If you have a definitive directive, like that re women priests allegedly being for all time, re lay preaching I would be interested.

You believe because I am not choosing your first first black and white option that I am therefore choosing the complete opposite?

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