Monday, May 02, 2005

More on the liturgy

The post on the liturgy below generated a lot of comments, so it's a topic people are concerned about. Over the weekend I was at a First Communion Mass on Sunday. The priest was very good with the people and seemed quite pastoral. But he gave the most awful homily I have ever heard on such an occasion. I don't want to be negative and criticize, but just to bring up a point that the homily is an important part of the Mass and it needs to be done well. In this case--at a First Communion--the homily was mostly on the role of the bishop, in particular to how it relates to closing parishes. (This was not in Boston; the particular diocese is not facing major issues around this now). The priest seemed to be mostly rambling, instead of taking advantage of a great catechetical opportunity to focus on the Mass and the Eucharist. It just didn't make sense to me, and I wonder what it meant to the people.
Liturgical reform needs to begin with better training for the priests, especially how they preach the Word of God. In discussing the priesthood, Vatican II emphasized more the aspect of preaching. Prior to the Council, the major emphasis was on the priest's role at Mass. So the Council balanced it off more by considering both aspects and even giving a certain priority to the task of preaching the Word.


Tom said...

What a wonderful thing it would have been if the priest had tried to communicate to the new Communicants (young people?) an idea about the Eucharist, in his homily. What is meant, for example, by the "Real Presence" or even that big word "transubstantiation." One needn't be 7 years old, either, to benefit from a homily on those subjects.

I think you are correct, Sister. A renewed focus specifically on the dogma of faith is required. The fundamentals of Catholic truth must form the basis of "pastorality." Without training in catechesis, even a well-trained rhetorician will be unable to give a homily because it's supposed to be about more than church politics and sociology or psychology. With a sound training in catechesis, even the most incompetent orator should be able to "fall back on" the truths of the Catholic faith and --even accidentally -- give the faithful something to remember. Perhaps the priest was having a bad day, but, First Communion is a tough day not to preach about the Eucharist.

Sr. Lorraine said...

Yes, I thought he missed a good opportunity to speak on the Eucharist. Probably some of the parents who were there don't usually go to church, so he could have helped motivate them to do so in the future too.
Again I don't mean it as a kind of negative criticism, but just to point out some of the problems and possible solutions.