Why is the Eucharist more important than the homily?

Friends :),

Whatever is said about Christ being truly present in His totality in the Eucharist, He did not make it the center of His teaching in the Gospel. When our Lord came, it seems the Good News is entirely based on moral reformation. All His parables, stories, and instructions tell each man to buckle up and change himself for the good. He encouraged reading, preaching, loving one’s fellow, and making brothers out of all men. This seems so much more central than Communion, and yet… the section leading up to, including, and after the Consecration takes up more time in the Mass than the instructive part of the Mass does.

It used to be officially called the “Holy Sacrifice of the Mass”, right? This implies that the Consecration and Communion are more important than the instruction, to me. Why should this be the case, when God spent 3 years in ministry, and only one night on the Eucharist?

What does a solemn consecration of the Eucharist mean if the congregation are ignorant of true moral living? How can the Eucharist impart grace to people who don’t know how to live like Christians in the first place? My problem is that homilies seem more accidental or dispensable, when they are really the most important part of the whole Mass! It’s a human being speaking directly to others, with moral authority, on how to live. This seems more important than the Eucharist, which does not speak or teach. :confused:

Not the center of His teaching?

“I tell you the truth, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you” (John 6:53)

The homily is definitely not the most important part of the Mass, in fact, it’s not part of the Mass at all. The homily occurs outside the Mass, which is why we make the sign of the cross before and after it. The point of the Mass is not to provide a foundation for priests to lecture the people, rather, it is by faithfully attending Mass that we can come to a realization of God’s power and grace.

Yes, but He also said “Amen I say to you: unless a man be baptised by water and the spirit, he cannot enter the Kingdom of Heaven” (John… 2:?). He also said “Unless a man be like unto one of these little ones, he cannot enter into the Kingdom of Heaven” (Mark 10:15). Jesus taught many things which cannot be passed over. :slight_smile: It just seems that sacramental grace is preferred over doing the will of God, at least in catechism. :blush:

The homily is officially part of the Mass as promulgated by Paul VI, isn’t it? We’re talking about the ordinary form of the holy sacrifice, not anything extraordinary or minority in nature. I’ve never been to one normal Sunday Mass where the priest crosses himself before and after the homily. Didn’t Vatican II make it part of the Mass, and obligatory?

The Eucharist is God Himself in His totality. Scripture is His Word. The homily, OTOH, is the word (small w) of a human being.

Don’t get me wrong. The homily is necessary but it is not a substitute for teaching on ‘how to live’ from the family or from the catechism. The homily actually is not supposed to be about ‘moral teaching’ but is to be a discussion of the particular Scripture readings at that Mass.

IOW: Yes, the Eucharist is the most important thing. Yes, it is also important for people to live moral lives. Teaching them about this is important. But that is not the ‘reason’ for the homily itself, nor is the homily to be considered as more ‘important’ than the Eucharist.

Why is the Eucharist the more important thing? If a layman didn’t know it was literally the Body of Christ before consuming it, he’d gain nothing. He would certainly not be moved to meditate on what he’d just done, because to him it might as well be eating a stale cracker. On the other hand, actually hearing “do this; do that; love your neighbour as you love God” is really something substantive that anyone can meditate on and live.

Sorry if I seem to be contrary, but this is my legitimate concern. Jesus’ demand of perfection (as in today’s Gospel) comes from being and doing. You are not perfected by the Eucharist as a person, from what I can see.

What exactly do you understand the Eucharist to ‘be’ and to ‘do’ to a person?

What exactly do you understand is the purpose of a homily?

It can’t be preferred because the two cannot be separated. If you fail to do God’s will and commit a mortal sin, you cannot receive communion. If you do God’s will, and avoid mortal sin, the Eucharist will keep you strong. It is not possible to separate the sacraments from a moral life. The two go hand-in-hand for Catholics.

  1. I don’t know, because my R.C.I.A. class isn’t all that good. I only go on what I’ve seen and experienced. When a man who is usually uncharitable and angry receives the Eucharist daily and remains uncharitable and angry, I must conclude that the Eucharist does less for a man than a good, simple sermon or homily might do for him.

  2. I understand the purpose of a homily to be the instruction of lay-people on the pure meaning of the Gospel, or some spiritual concept. It just seems so much more useful for souls to have a very long homily, or a homily-focused Mass, rather than a Mass where the Eucharist takes up 70% of the time. If a sinner takes the Eucharist and it means nothing, why not try to sap the sin out of him by stronger homiletics? :confused:

Yes, of course, but if the Eucharist takes up all the time how can someone learn to be moral? You might tell me that laypeople can go to separate lectures by priests, or Bible study evenings… but those are not under the Sunday Obligation. :wink: Christ did say that we must receive Him, our blessed Lord, in His Body or we wouldn’t be saved - but He also said we must do many other things, too.

  1. I don’t know, because my R.C.I.A. class isn’t all that good. I only go on what I’ve seen and experienced. When a man who is usually uncharitable and angry receives the Eucharist daily and remains uncharitable and angry, I must conclude that the Eucharist does less for a man than a good, simple sermon or homily might do for him.

John 6 Jesus said to them, “Amen, amen, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you do not have life within you. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him on the last day. For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me and I in him. Just as the living Father sent me and I have life because of the Father, so also the one who feeds on me will have life because of me. This is the bread that came down from heaven. Unlike your ancestors who ate and still died, whoever eats this bread will live forever.”

The Homely may be a good way to wake people up and give them a good message but nothing can be so powerful as Jesus Christ in the Flesh. The Catechism of the Catholic Church it states that the Eucharist is the Source and Summit of the Christian Life as well.

The mass in someways models Christ’s life. Although he did not spend his life preaching on the Eucharist, what do you think is the most important part of his life? Yes, all parts are important, the preaching, the miracles, etc. But the single most important action of Christ was redemption— his sacrafice on the cross. Although it only took one day, it is what we remember as the center of his life (the cross/crucifix is our symbol). So the mass has many important parts, each which contribute to helping the others (the creed, hymns, petitions, Gospel, sermon, etc.etc.) but the key is the actual *sacrafice * only with this can we properly : worship and thank God, ask him for favors, and pay for our sins.
I hope this was helpful

Glorious Order,
I’m wondering if what you might actually be struggling with as a catechumen is whether the Eucharist is truly the Body and Blood of Christ or just a ceremonial remembrance of the Last Supper.

Why is Christ’s sacrifice more important than talking about it?! Are we really even debating this?

I’m glad you’re asking.
I have nothing to add at the moment that hasn’t been said already, but these kinds of threads force us to think clearly as to how to share our faith with others. I trust that this time next year you’ll be able to answer some of my questions. :wink:

Watchman, you’re right. It does seem odd to be discussing this here. But that’s how we learn, eh? God bless.

How can it take up all the time? People should know from their basic catechism teaching that it is our responsibility as Catholic to do what the Church teaches, and to do the will of God. Bible study classes and lectures, although good, are completely unnecessary. The readings of the OT and Gospels are also incorporated into all Masses, and they provide powerful teaching themselves. The homily is hardly the foundation of Catholic teaching.

Exactly. Christ said: “You search the scriptures, because you think that in them you have eternal life. And it is these that speak of me.” When I came into the Catholic Church, I saw that the way the Catholic liturgy is laid out is a fulfillment of this verse. In the first part of the Mass we search the scriptures. But the scriptures lead to CHRIST HIMSELF in the Eucharist.

As a Protestant who had a lifetime of listening to wonderful sermons, this difference in emphasis was amazing–cataclysmic really–the Eucharist takes Christ’s life–His passion, death and resurrection–beyond the realm of the intellect and into the realm of our own experience–we become UNITED with Christ in His sacrifice. This is powerful…

But it seems that the OP’s struggle with this is more a perceived lack of holiness in Catholicism–and he concludes that receiving Christ Himself does not make any obvious difference in the average Catholic’s life… consequently, his hope that a good sermon might whip them into some kind of holy state…

I’ve got news for him–plenty of protestants listen to plenty of sermons–and they aren’t any more holy than a lot of Catholics…and sometimes, lots of religious verbiage can become just a better hiding place for sinning behind closed doors…

In a quick answer, the “Living Word” is by far more important than the “Written or Spoken Word.” It is the Living Word that makes the homily effective. A person must first be receptive to the working of the Holy Spirit before the message of the Gospel can be efficacious in their lives.

God Bless,
CSJ

But someone who receives the Eucharist daily will 99% of the time receive that daily Eucharist in the context of Mass - in other words they will ALSO have daily scripture readings and sermon. The two are rarely separate.

Your man who remains uncharitable and angry remains uncharitable and angry in spite of hearing a daily sermon - so whence the conclusion that a sermon would be of more benefit than the Eucharist? Why make the distinction when the two are so seldom offered separately in any event?

  1. I understand the purpose of a homily to be the instruction of lay-people on the pure meaning of the Gospel, or some spiritual concept. It just seems so much more useful for souls to have a very long homily, or a homily-focused Mass, rather than a Mass where the Eucharist takes up 70% of the time. If a sinner takes the Eucharist and it means nothing, why not try to sap the sin out of him by stronger homiletics? :confused:

I’ve never been to a Mass where the Eucharist takes up 70% of the time or even nearly that long. In the average 50-minute Sunday Mass I’ve attended, the whole Eucharistic Prayer and distribution of Communion normally takes something like 20 minutes maximum. The average homily takes somewhere around 10, true, but you can’t separate the homily from the Liturgy of the Word of which it is part, and the readings normally take another 10 minutes or so.

Yes, of course, but if the Eucharist takes up all the time how can someone learn to be moral? You might tell me that laypeople can go to separate lectures by priests, or Bible study evenings… but those are not under the Sunday Obligation. :wink: Christ did say that we must receive Him, our blessed Lord, in His Body or we wouldn’t be saved - but He also said we must do many other things, too.

No, those other things aren’t the Sunday obligation, but neither is communion alone. MASS - comprising Liturgy of the Word (including sermon) just as much as Liturgy of the Eucharist - is the obligation.

You’re drawing an entirely artificial distinction, one the Church herself doesn’t make when telling us what our Sunday obligation is. She recognises, as much as you do, that scripture and Body and Blood are all necessary components of our obligatory worship.

Have you seen or experienced that a lengthy homily does an angry or uncharitable man more good than the Eucharist? In my experience, such a man is not significantly affected by either. However, a man who may be considered marginal (such as myself) often finds his mind wandering during a sermon (*especially *a long sermon), but is riveted to the Mass.

Eucharist is of Jesus Christ. Homiletics is of man. The Church ran the numbers, and Jesus won.

I suppose this is my biggest problem. A good sermon would bring all minds to be captivated by the heart of Christian duty. Even if a sermon isn’t all that good (and is very long), the virtuous man should be attached to its words and try to extract meaning from it. The homily is really a human being teaching us from Jesus Christ’s own words, but what does the Eucharist teach us? Does Christ guide you more effectively when you’ve consumed Him (never having received, obviously, I am in darkness)?

The teaching of Christ with regards to God and men has captivated me more than explanations of the Eucharist. It would be nice to believe that the Eucharist brings graces, but I see more grace and holiness flowing from reading the Bible, having faith, and doing good works for God’s glory. This is a very tactile thing of me to think about a supernatural reality, I admit, but something seems odd about the whole thing. :frowning:

If something does not make you grow in real holiness towards men and God, what is the point? How does the Eucharist help men grow more than reading God’s word and doing it? I see no healing, feeding of the poor, or visiting of the sick happening in the Communion line!

OP, how long have you been in RCIA? If you are still stuck on this point, I wonder if your classes are just beginning, (My hope) or if the training really is that bad and you are approaching an Easter Baptism/First Communion/Confirmation in only about 8 weeks?

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