Tag Archives: laiity

Preaching to the Masses?

19 Sep

On occasion the issue arise as to who may give the homily at Mass. The General Instruction of the Roman Missal (GIRM) provides clear guidance on this issue:

“The Homily should ordinarily be given by the priest celebrant himself. He may entrust it to a concelebrating priest or occasionally, according to circumstances, to the deacon, but never to a lay person. In particular cases and for a just cause, the homily may even be given by a Bishop or a priest who is present at the celebration but cannot concelebrate” (no. 66, footnote omitted).

Similarly, the Code of Canon Law, canon 767, provides:

“Among the forms of preaching, the homily, which is part of the liturgy itself and is reserved to a priest or deacon, is preeminent; in the homily the mysteries of faith and the norms of Christian life are to be explained from the sacred text during the course of the liturgical year. . . . It is for the pastor or rector of a church to take care that these prescripts are observed conscientiously.”

The requirement that the homily be given by an ordained minister is not a denigration of the laity. In fact, it should be noted that all baptized Catholics have the right and duty “to work so that the divine message of salvation may be known and accepted by all men throughout the earth” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, no. 900). Through Baptism, all Christians participate in Christ’s prophetic office, and are called to bear witness to the Gospel not only by example, but also by proclaiming the Word of God to believers and non-believers alike (cf. Catechism, nos. 904-07). Continue reading