When are laity allowed to give 'a talk' from the gospel?


I’m working at a rural Catholic school in the middle of nowhere. There is not going to be a priest for the next few weeks because he’ll be away on a trip to another diocese. We normally have a Wednesday morning Mass for the school but instead we’ll be having what was called a "Liturgy of the Word’. The one teacher said that she’ll be giving the homily next week. What does she mean by this? What differentiates between giving a homily and giving a talk? I’m teaching religion classes for two grades and I “preach” from the gospel in class following the textbook quite a lot, though my understanding is that only deacons and up can preach the gospel in Mass. Since there won’t be a Mass, is it basically just analogous to a service?


In my training as a Lay Leader of Prayer (and I am also a EMHC), we were taught that when we have to lead a Liturgy of the Word with or without Communion there is no homily to be given, or even a “talk”. I have never done so. Now whether this varies by Diocese, I don’t know.


In the document “Sunday Celebrations in the Absence of a Priest” it says:

Homily/Reflection: Deacons are allowed to preach a homily provided they
have been granted faculties to do so. Lay leaders may preach, provided
they have been trained and have been delegated to preach by the Bishop.
Presumably, all designated lay leaders of Sunday celebrations in the
absence of a priest will have the appropriate delegation to perform all the
functions of this position, including preaching.

For a weekday service, even if it were a Mass, the homily would be optional. But if the pastor wanted one, the same guidelines would seem to apply. In the end, it’s the pastor’s call - with approval from the Bishop.


I’m assuming the bishop doesn’t have to directly approve of each individual throughout his diocese? Basically, the diocese can have a policy to permit lay leaders to give a service - and with the pastor’s approval - can preach a reflection?

I’m in a diocese covering a handful of Native American reservations. We’re either the poorest or one of the poorest dioceses in the United States, and our particular priest that’s going away on an important retreat is filling in from Nigeria. We have no deacons available. We have extremely limited resources. I wanted to make sure I wasn’t doing anything wrong, since I will likely be leading one of these services (I have to lead the 6th & 4th grade classes since their teacher’s aren’t Catholic)

I don’t want to be paranoid, but while I’ve dug fairly extensively into hot button issues, apologetics, scripture, etc., ecclesial law & liturgy is still largely a foreign language. I’ve also become the sacristan but I’m kind of guessing my way through it. I want to be in the know.


Our parish is also on a reservation - we have Mass just twice a month. The other celebrations are done from Sunday Celebrations in the Absence of a Priest. The lay leader gives a reflection - we don’t call it a homily.

My husband occasionally leads a Communion Service on weekdays - he gives a brief reflection on the Gospel or other readings.


I don’t think laity are really ever allowed to give the homily. Only clergy are. Bishops, Priest, and Deacons.


See the quote from “Sunday Celebrations in the Absence of a Priest” in Corki’s post above.


Technically speaking (for the good of future readers of this thread) the lay person preaches on the readings, but it’s not technically called a Homily.


In our Archdiocese, there may be a reflection, but it generally something form a book or the internet, which has be pre-approved or even selected by the absent priest. The lay leader reads it to the people IN PLACE OF a homily. There a small time fro reflective prayer after, and before continuing with the rest of the communion service OR the prayer service, depending on the nature of the service. At the Catholic school I worked at as DRE, we have prayer services when no priest was available for Mass. Generally the children did a skit, or sang songs associated with the theme or Bible story, and I would give a short reflection on what they did.
It wasn’t a Mass…we use the church as a place to gather for prayer because we couldn’t have a Mass.


Can you contact your chancery for advice? We aren’t able to second-guess the priest here. Perhaps there is particular law in place for you. Perhaps he’s obtained relevant permissions. We don’t have enough information to know and we really can’t, unless we knew the mind of your bishop. I suggest you consult with your Office of Worship and see what they say.


It’s not a homily. It is supposed to be either lay preaching by someone trained and authorized by the Bishop or, in some cases, reading prepared remarks that have either been written by or approved by the pastor. Only the ordained can give homilies.


Sounds like a one man bible study…

There is no reason to do this.


The school attends a Mass on Wednesday mornings. Father will be gone for the next month so we’ll be doing a Liturgy of the Word instead. On Wednesday, the Mass substitutes the religion class on that day.


Is this a communion service or just a prayer and scripture service? A communion service has specific guidelines that, it would seem, are not able to be followed since your priest is already gone. If it’s just a prayer service, there are no specific “rules” and anyone can give his/her reflection of the readings that are shared. It just can’t be called a homily since that is something that is only at Mass.


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