What is the difference between a homily and a talk?


Is it wrong for a layperson to give the homily?

It is indicated that a lay person may give a “talk” but not a “homily”. (I hope I understood that correctly).

At my old parish, we didn’t really have a pastor, but instead we had a parish director who would regularly give a “talk” at mass (we regularly had a visiting priest from elsewhere within the diocese).

It seems that since it was a regular practice, that it was a homily (thus in violation). But perhaps these were only talks?


Dear S,

A talk is an oral presentation and can be about anything. A homily is oral presentation that applies the message of the Scripture Readings from Mass to the concrete living circumstances of the faithful gathered in Church. It is an explanation and amplification of the Readings and is an integral part of the Liturgy of the Word.

A talk is never allowed to replace the homily. If it is given at another time during the Liturgy, it must not be done so as to resemble or be mistaken for the homily. (Instruction on Certain Questions Regarding the Collaboration of the Non-Ordained Faithful in the Sacred Ministry of the Priest: Practical Provisions 3, paragraph 1, 5)

Fr. Vincent Serpa,O.P.

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