Thursday, December 06, 2007

Excerpti: The Homily, Part I: Who can say the homily?

This is the first installment of a series I call Excerpti (extracts). Now that I have a collection of over 60 Church documents in digital form, I can search them easily, which means, if I want to know what they say about a particular term or concept, I can get that information (and its context) rather quickly. Most of the documents I cite are available in digital from on the Vox Ecclesiae page.

So this series will be a look at particular topics and what these documents say about them. I will provide the documents' excerpts in a chronological order (so that references to older documents refer to excerpts I've already provided), with the exception of Canon Law -- the Codex iuris canonici (CIC) for the Western Church, the Codex canonum ecclesiarum orientalium (CCEO) for the Eastern Churches -- which is presented first. Each excerpt is followed by its citation -- the author and year of publication, then the name of the document and the relevant section. I will start with a summary of what is to follow -- a bullet-point list of the conclusions arrived at.

For my first topic, I have chosen the homily. This is Part I: Who can say the homily?

Summary
The three primary sources for information on the minister of the homily are Canon Law, Ecclesiae de Mysterio, and Redemptionis Sacramentum. Ecclesia de Mysterio is referred to the most by the excerpts below; its subtitle is "On certain questions regarding the collaboration of the non-ordained faithful in the sacred ministry of the Priest".
  • At the Eucharistic celebration of the Mass, the only people who can give a homily are a bishop, priest, or deacon, period. (Cf. CIC, can. 763-765, 767 §1)
  • Those who have lost their clerical state or abandoned their sacred ministry may not give a homily. (Cf. Ecclesiae de Mysterio, art. 3 §5)
  • No non-ordained member of the faithful can give a homily at a Mass, not even seminarians and theology students. (Cf. Ecclesiae de Mysterio, art. 3 §1)
  • At a "Children's Liturgy", while a layperson can "speak to the children after the Gospel", this does not take the place of the homily, which must be given by an ordained minister. (Cf. Directorium de missis cum pueris, n. 24)
  • A "dialogue homily" is envisioned only for Masses with Children. (Cf. Ecclesiae de Mysterio, art. 3 §3)
  • In some circumstances, a layperson may preach in a church or oratory, but this requires express permission from the local ordinary; a priest or deacon can not give permission. Still, this preaching can not be a homily during a Mass. (Cf. CIC, can. 766; Redemptionis Sacramentum, n. 161)
  • As regards preaching by laypeople, this is neither their right (as of a bishop) nor their faculty (as of a priest or deacon), but an exceptional permission. (Cf. CIC, can. 764-765; Ecclesiae de Mysterio, art. 2 §3)
  • The permission given to laypeople to preach in particular situations is not to be regarded as "an ordinary occurrence nor as an authentic promotion of the laity". (Cf. Ecclesiae de Mysterio, art. 2 §4)
  • It is preferable that testimonies from laypeople happen outside of the Mass; if they must happen during the Mass, then they are to be given after the Prayer after Communion. (Cf. Redemptionis Sacramentum, n. 74)
Two important sources not quoted below deserve mention. First is the Pontificial Commission for Legislative Text's authentic interpretation of can. 767 §1 which is that the "Diocesan bishop cannot dispense from the prescription that the homily is reserved to priests or deacons." (AAS, v. 79 (1987), p. 1249) In other words, a bishop cannot grant an indult to a layman to preach the homily. The second is the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops' norm on can. 766:
Preaching the Word of God is among the principal duties of those who have received the sacrament of orders (can. 762-764). The lay faithful can be called to cooperate in the exercise of the Ministry of the Word (can. 759). In accord with canon 766 the National Conference of Catholic Bishops hereby decrees that the lay faithful may be permitted to exercise this ministry in churches and oratories, with due regard for the following provisions:

If necessity requires it in certain circumstances or it seems useful in particular cases, the diocesan bishop can admit lay faithful to preach, to offer spiritual conferences or give instructions in churches, oratories or other sacred places within his diocese, when he judges it to be to the spiritual advantage of the faithful.

In order to assist the diocesan bishop in making an appropriate pastoral decision (Interdicasterial Instruction, Ecclesiae de Mysterio, Article 2 §3), the following circumstances and cases are illustrative: the absence or shortage of clergy, particular language requirements, or the demonstrated expertise or experience of the lay faithful concerned.

The lay faithful who are to be admitted to preach in a church or oratory must be orthodox in faith, and well-qualified, both by the witness of their lives as Christians and by a preparation for preaching appropriate to the circumstances.

The diocesan bishop will determine the appropriate situations in accord with canon 772 §1. In providing for preaching by the lay faithful the diocesan bishop may never dispense from the norm which reserves the homily to the sacred ministers (can. 767 §1; cf. Pontifical Commission for the Authentic Interpretation of the Code of Canon Law, 26 May 1987, in AAS 79 [1987], 1249). Preaching by the lay faithful may not take place within the Celebration of the Eucharist at the moment reserved for the homily.
Both are laws: the first (the Pontificial Commission's ruling) has universal force; the second (the USCCB's norm) has force within the US episcopal conference. (Thanks to Cameron from the Catholic Answers Forum for recommending these two sources. Cameron is a married deacon in the Catholic Church, and a canon lawyer!)

Western Canon Law
"Bishops have the right to preach the word of God everywhere, including in churches and oratories of religious institutes of pontifical right, unless the local bishop has expressly forbidden it in particular cases." (CIC, can. 763)

"Without prejudice to the prescript of can. 765, presbyters and deacons possess the faculty of preaching everywhere; this faculty is to be exercised with at least the presumed consent of the rector of the church, unless the competent ordinary has restricted or taken away the faculty or particular law requires express permission." (CIC, can. 764)

"Preaching to religious in their churches or oratories requires the permission of the superior competent according to the norm of the constitutions." (CIC, can. 765)

"Lay persons can be permitted to preach in a church or oratory, if necessity requires it in certain circumstances or it seems advantageous in particular cases, according to the prescripts of the conference of bishops and without prejudice to can. 767, §1." (CIC, can. 766)

"The most important form of preaching is the homily, which is part of the liturgy, and is reserved to a priest or deacon." (CIC, can. 767 §1)
Canon 766 says that lay persons can preach in a church, but canon 767 §1 explains that the homily, which is the "most important form of preaching" is the duty of a priest or deacon (or a bishop), that is, a man who has received Catholic ordination. Therefore, the permission for lay people to preach is restricted: they cannot give homilies. The "without prejudice to" part of can. 766 means that can. 766 "is non-operative when it comes to the matter specified in can. 767 §1" (Jimmy Akin). Thus, there are situations when a lay person can preach in a Church, but it can never be as or in place of a homily; they can preach at retreats, missions, etc.
Eastern Canon Law
"A pastor cannot habitually hand over to another his obligation of preaching to the people committed to his pastoral care except for a just reason approved by the local hierarch." (CCEO, can. 614 §3)

"The homily is reserved to a priest or, according to norm of particular law, also to a deacon." (CCEO, can. 614 §4)

Other Documents
"Let priests therefore ... assiduously distribute the heavenly treasures of the divine word by sermons, homilies and exhortations[.]" (Pope Pius XII, 1943 - Divino Afflante Spiritu, n. 50)

"... the homily or sermon in which the official head of the congregation recalls and explains..." (Pope Pius XII, 1947 - Mediator Dei, n. 21)

"This is the object not only of readings, homilies and other sermons given by priests..." (Pope Pius XII, 1947 - Mediator Dei, n. 101)

"Accordingly priests are to give a homily whenever it is prescribed or seems advisable[.]" (Sacred Congregation of Rites, 1967 - Eucharisticum Mysterium, n. 20)

"The priest, therefore, is the homilist[.]" (Sacred Congregation for Divine Worship, 1970 - Liturgicae Instaurationes, n. 2/a)

"With the consent of the pastor or rector of the church, one of the adults may speak to the children after the gospel, especially if the priest finds it difficult to adapt himself to the mentality of children." (Sacred Congregation for Divine Worship, 1973 - Directorium de missis cum pueris, n. 24)
The Latin for "may speak to the children after the gospel" is "post Evangelium verba ad pueros dirigat": literally, "direct words to the children after the Gospel". This is not the homily, and as such, must not take the place of the homily. The Latin would have used "homilia" to denote the giving of a homily, by a non-ordained adult, to the children. In other words, the children are not to be deprived of a homily, which can only lawfully be given to them by an ordained minister. (cf. What Have We Done to Our Children?, Adoremus Bulletin, Vol. IX, No. 10)
"Sometimes the homily intended for children should become a dialogue with them, unless it is preferred that they should listen in silence." (Sacred Congregation for Divine Worship, 1973 - Directorium de missis cum pueris, n. 48)

"Much attention must be given to the homily: it should be ... reserved to ordained ministers." (Pope John Paul II, 1979 - Catechesi Tradendae, n. 48)

"But these encouraging and positive aspects cannot suppress concern at the varied and frequent abuses being reported from different parts of the Catholic world: the confusion of roles, especially regarding the priestly ministry and the role of the laity (indiscriminate shared recitation of the Eucharistic Prayer, homilies given by lay people, lay people distributing Communion while the priests refrain from doing so)..." (Sacred Congregation for Sacraments and Divine Worship, 1980 - Inaestimabile Donum, Foreword)

"Accordingly the homily is to be given by the priest or the deacon. {Cf. Liturgicae Instaurationes, n. 2/a}" (Sacred Congregation for Sacraments and Divine Worship, 1980 - Inaestimabile Donum, n. 3)

"In the Catholic Eucharistic Liturgy, the homily which forms part of the liturgy itself is reserved to the priest or deacon, since it is the presentation of the mysteries of faith and the norms of Christian living in accordance with Catholic teaching and tradition. {Cf. CIC, can. 767 and CCEO, can. 614 §4}" (Directory on Ecumenism, n. 134)

"Canon 766 of the Codex Iuris Canonici establishes the conditions under which competent authority may admit the non-ordained faithful to preach in ecclesia vel oratorio. The use of the expression admitti possunt makes clear that in no instance is this a right such as that which is specific and proper to the Bishop {Cf. CIC, can. 763} or a faculty such as enjoyed by priests and deacons. {Cf. CIC, can. 764} The terms in which these conditions are expressed - 'If in certain circumstances it is necessary..., ...if in particular cases it would be useful...' in canon 766 - make clear the exceptional nature of such cases as well as the fact that such must always be done iuxta Episcoporum conferentiae praescripta. (Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, 1997 - Ecclesiae de Mysterio, art. 2 §3)

"In some areas, circumstances can arise in which a shortage of sacred ministers and permanent, objectively verifiable, situations of need or advantage exist that would recommend the admission of the non-ordained faithful to preaching. Preaching in churches or oratories by the non-ordained faithful can be permitted only as a supply for sacred ministers or for those particular reasons foreseen by the universal law of the Church or by Conferences of Bishops. It cannot, however, be regarded as an ordinary occurrence nor as an authentic promotion of the laity." (Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, 1997 - Ecclesiae de Mysterio, art. 2 §4)

"The homily, therefore, during the celebration of the Holy Eucharist, must be reserved to the sacred minister, Priest or Deacon {Cf. Catechesi tradendae, n. 48; [GIRM (1970), nn. 41, 42, 165;] Liturgicae instaurationes n. 2a; Inaestimabile donum, n. 3} to the exclusion of the non-ordained faithful, even if these should have responsibilities as "pastoral assistants" or catechists in whatever type of community or group. ... For the same reason, the practice, on some occasions, of entrusting the preaching of the homily to seminarians or theology students who are not clerics is not permitted." (Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, 1997 - Ecclesiae de Mysterio, art. 3 §1)

"A form of instruction designed to promote a greater understanding of the liturgy, including personal testimonies, or the celebration of eucharistic liturgies on special occasions (e.g. day of the Seminary, day of the sick etc.) is lawful, of in harmony with liturgical norms, should such be considered objectively opportune as a means of explicating the regular homily preached by the celebrant priest. Nonetheless, these testimonies or explanations may not be such so as to assume a character which could be confused with the homily." (Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, 1997 - Ecclesiae de Mysterio, art. 3 §2)

"As an expositional aide and providing it does not delegate the duty of preaching to others, the celebrant minister may make prudent use of 'dialogue' in the homily, in accord with the liturgical norms. {Cf. Directorium de missis cum pueris, n. 48}" (Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, 1997 - Ecclesiae de Mysterio, art. 3 §3)
Note that the reference is to the Directory for Masses with Children: that is when dialogue homilies may be used.
"Homilies in non-eucharistic liturgies may be preached by the non-ordained faithful only when expressly permitted by law and when its prescriptions for doing so are observed." (Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, 1997 - Ecclesiae de Mysterio, art. 3 §4)

"In no instance may the homily be entrusted to priests or deacons who have lost the clerical state or who have abandoned the sacred ministry." (Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, 1997 - Ecclesiae de Mysterio, art. 3 §5)

"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. {Cf. CIC, can. 767 §1; Ecclesiae de mysterio, art. 3} 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." (GIRM, n. 66)

"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 a Deacon, but never to a layperson. {Cf. GIRM, n. 66; cf. CIC, 767 §1; Ecclesiae de mysterio, art. 3 §1} 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'. {GIRM, n. 66; cf. CIC, can 767 §1}" (Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, 2004 - Redemptionis Sacramentum, n. 64)

"It should be borne in mind that any previous norm that may have admitted non-ordained faithful to give the homily during the Eucharistic celebration is to be considered abrogated by the norm of canon 767 §1. {Cf. Ecclesiae de mysterio, art. 3 §1} This practice is reprobated, so that it cannot be permitted to attain the force of custom." (Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, 2004 - Redemptionis Sacramentum, n. 65)

"The prohibition of the admission of laypersons to preach within the Mass applies also to seminarians, students of theological disciplines, and those who have assumed the function of those known as 'pastoral assistants'; nor is there to be any exception for any other kind of layperson, or group, or community, or association. {Cf. Ecclesiae de mysterio, art. 3 §1}" (Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, 2004 - Redemptionis Sacramentum, n. 66)

"If the need arises for the gathered faithful to be given instruction or testimony by a layperson in a Church concerning the Christian life, it is altogether preferable that this be done outside Mass. Nevertheless, for serious reasons it is permissible that this type of instruction or testimony be given after the Priest has proclaimed the Prayer after Communion. This should not become a regular practice, however. Furthermore, these instructions and testimony should not be of such a nature that they could be confused with the homily, {Cf. Ecclesiae de mysterio, art. 3 §2} nor is it permissible to dispense with the homily on their account." (Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, 2004 - Redemptionis Sacramentum, n. 74)

"[T]he homily ... is reserved to the Priest or Deacon during Mass. As regards other forms of preaching, if necessity demands it in particular circumstances, or if usefulness suggests it in special cases, lay members of Christ’s faithful may be allowed to preach in a church or in an oratory outside Mass in accordance with the norm of law. {Cf. CIC, can. 766} This may be done only on account of a scarcity of sacred ministers in certain places, in order to meet the need, and it may not be transformed from an exceptional measure into an ordinary practice, nor may it be understood as an authentic form of the advancement of the laity. {Cf. Ecclesiae de mysterio, art. 2 §§3-4} All must remember besides that the faculty for giving such permission belongs to the local Ordinary, and this as regards individual instances; this permission is not the competence of anyone else, even if they are Priests or Deacons." (Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, 2004 - Redemptionis Sacramentum, n. 161)

"[O]rdained ministers are asked to consider the celebration as their main duty. In particular, they must prepare the homily with care, basing themselves on an appropriate knowledge of Sacred Scripture." (Synod of Bishops, XI Ordinary General Assembly, 2005 - Propositiones, n. 19)

"[O]rdained ministers must 'prepare the homily carefully, based on an adequate knowledge of Sacred Scripture'. {Propositio 19} ... In particular, I ask these ministers to preach in such a way..." (Pope Benedict XVI, 2007 - Sacramentum Caritatis, n. 46)

2 comments:

James said...

Thank you for the collection of quotes proctecting preaching at Mass, but I wonder about the Divine Office: What about the practice of a layman to give a reflection after the reading in the Liturgy of the Hours? What about seminarians or religious novices practice preaching during the Liturgy of the Hours?

japhy said...

"In a celebration with a congregation a short homily may follow the reading to explain its meaning, as circumstances suggest." (General Instruction of the Liturgy of the Hours, n. 47)

"Homilies in non-eucharistic liturgies may be preached by the non-ordained faithful only when expressly permitted by law and when its prescriptions for doing so are observed." (Ecclesiae de mysterio, art. 3 §4)

If the Divine Office is combined with the Mass (cf. GILH, nn. 93-99), they constitute one act of worship; furthermore, the two are combined in such a way that excludes the Reading from the Divine Office, so the homily (which "may follow the reading") has no place therein.

However, if the Divine Office is celebrated apart from Mass, it constitutes a "non-eucharistic liturgy", so a layperson can give a homily "only when expressly permitted by law and when its prescriptions for doing so are observed".

This particular item has no references. I assume it means permission from the ordinary is required, and Ecclesiae de Mysterio, art. 2 §4 must be upheld:

"In some areas, circumstances can arise in which a shortage of sacred ministers and permanent, objectively verifiable, situations of need or advantage exist that would recommend the admission of the non-ordained faithful to preaching. Preaching in churches or oratories by the non-ordained faithful can be permitted only as a supply for sacred ministers or for those particular reasons foreseen by the universal law of the Church or by Conferences of Bishops. It cannot, however, be regarded as an ordinary occurrence nor as an authentic promotion of the laity."