These ten homilies, along
with much of this introduction, were originally
published in the Liturgy Training Publications
book Preaching About the Mass (LTP, Chicago,
1992). They are not "canned" sermons to be scheduled in a sermon series; rather,
they are intended to be examples of what homilies on the Mass might sound like. They are offered
to inspire the preacher and those who assist in homily preparation to go and seek the right
words for their place and time. They are intended to be just one part of a comprehensive parish
program of formation on the Mass. As you work your way through them you can imagine the shape
that such a catechetical program might take in your parish.
homily's purpose is not primarily to impart information. Before deciding to preach about
the Mass at Mass, parish leaders would do well to review the purpose of a homily by reading Fulfilled
in Your Hearing: The Homily in the Sunday Assembly.
This document, from the United States Bishops' Committee on Priestly Life and Ministry, reminds us that "the
homily is preached in order that a community of believers who have gathered to celebrate
the liturgy may do so more deeply and more fully-more faithfully-and thus be formed for Christian
witness in the world" (#43). It also says that the homily is not a lecture but a "scriptural
interpretation of human existence which enables a community to recognize God's active
presence in faith through liturgical word and gesture, and beyond the liturgical assembly,
through a life lived in conformity with the gospel" (#81).
enable the assembly to celebrate the liturgy
more deeply, fully, faithfully-this is
the purpose of preaching about the Mass. To
do so requires that the homily be more poetry
than prose, more an interpretation of meaning
than an exposition of facts. These sample homilies
attempt to illustrate how that might be done.
As you read through each one, think about how
you can incorporate its ideas into the preparation
process for your own homilies. One recommendation
is to follow the homily preparation process
outlined in chapter 4 of Fulfilled in Your
Hearing by making a group of parishioners
part of the process.
best time of the year for preaching on the Mass
is the Easter season, which already has a strong
mystagogical focus. The first six homilies presented
here are models for preaching from the Second
Sunday of Easter to the Seventh. They
"recognize the mystery" by reflecting
on the assembly, its gathering, its listening
to the word (two parts), its giving thanks and
praise (two parts).
The last four homilies approach
the same mystery of the assembly's role
at Mass from a different perspective. Instead
of going through the rite from start to finish,
these homilies address the elements of rite:
song, posture, movement, and the material objects
we use. They may be used independently or in
place of homilies three, four, five, and six
on the Sundays of Easter. Homilies one and two
might precede them if they are used consecutively.
With a little planning and foresight, the material
from some of these homilies could also be used
at other times of the year, such as the stretch
of Sundays that focus on the Bread of Life in
the summer of Year B.