PopeWatch: 138

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PopeWatch recalls hearing a Methodist sermon that went on for an endless hour.  Most priests tend to limit their sermons to 15-20 minutes, although PopeWatch believes that many of those sermons are too long.  PopeWatch therefore was cheered by paragraph 138 of Evangelii Gaudium:


138. The homily cannot be a form of entertainment like those presented by the media, yet it does need to give life and meaning to the celebration. It is a distinctive genre, since it is preaching which is situated within the framework of a liturgical celebration; hence it should be brief and avoid taking on the semblance of a speech or a lecture. A preacher may be able to hold the attention of his listeners for a whole hour, but in this case his words become more important than the celebration of faith. If the homily goes on too long, it will affect two characteristic elements of the liturgical celebration: its balance and its rhythm. When preaching takes place within the context of the liturgy, it is part of the offering made to the Father and a mediation of the grace which Christ pours out during the celebration. This context demands that preaching should guide the assembly, and the preacher, to a life-changing communion with Christ in the Eucharist. This means that the words of the preacher must be measured, so that the Lord, more than his minister, will be the centre of attention.

Catholics do not attend Mass to hear sermons but to receive Christ in the Eucharist.  A good sermon is appreciated but is not essential.  Unlike many forms of Protestantism that center their worship upon the musings of a minister, Catholicism is a sacramental faith with the Mass serving as the vehicle by which the miracle of transubstantiation occurs.  Much of the evils that beset the Church stem from a failure over the past half century to understand this and act upon it.  Pope Francis is dead on target with his understanding that the homily must not attempt to compete with the Eucharist as the center of attention for all Catholics at the Mass.

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  1. Implicit in this is the idea that there are occasions in which a priest should be giving lectures, and that the laity should be attending non-liturgical Catholic functions. It’s amazing how shallowly we live our Catholic lives.

  2. Pimky

    Rosary, sermon and benediction was a common evening devotion in both France and Scotland, until displaced by evening mass.

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