The Homily, Update on Revision of Lectionary

The Homily

Why do we always have a homily at Mass and what’s the difference between a homily and a sermon?
The homily (from the Latin homilia, meaning ‘conversation’) has its roots in the Jewish synagogue service where, after the readings from the Law and the Prophets, an explanation of their meaning was given by one of those present.

A homily was been part of the Church’s liturgy since the beginning but during the Middle Ages it changed from a breaking-open of the scriptures to an instruction on Catholic doctrine or morals, i.e., a sermon. It became almost an interruption to the Mass since the celebrant removed his chasuble and moved to the pulpit in the nave to preach.

The Second Vatican Council restored the homily as an integral part of the liturgy, stating that ‘the homily is to be highly esteemed as part of the liturgy itself’.

The introduction to the Lectionary says that the homily must be ‘truly the fruit of meditation, carefully prepared, neither too long nor too short, and suited to all those present, even children and the uneducated’.

Like the readings at Mass, the homily is a two-way process. The preacher prepares and delivers the homily but members of the assembly play their part by listening attentively to the readings and to the words of the preacher, keeping an open mind to the insights which are being presented, and applying them to their own personal circumstances.

Update on Revision of Lectionary for Mass for Australia 

Bishop Paul Bird CSsR (Bishops Commission on the Liturgy/National Liturgical Council), Dr Geoffrey Cox (composer/arranger of Responsorial Psalms) and Dr Paul Taylor (Executive Secretary of the Bishops Commission for Liturgy) met in Melbourne on Thursday 19 May 2016 to discuss a Lectionary for Mass revision proposal for Australia.

At this stage, the committee is in the process of mapping out the various issues associated with recommending the New Revised Standard Version (NRSV), or the Revised Standard Version (RSV) or the Jerusalem Bible translations of the readings, and the NRSV, RSV or Revised Grail (2010) translation of the Responsorial Psalms.

The Australian Catholic Biblical Association will be consulted in relation to the relative merits of each translation in relation to issues such as fidelity to the source languages, conformity with Liturgiam Authenticam (the 2001 document on translations of liturgical texts from original languages), effectiveness for proclamation, suitability for singing (in relation to the psalms) and inclusive language. Negotiations with relevant copyright holders will also need consideration. A recommendation is to be made to the BCL/NLC on 14 September and then the plenary meeting of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference in November 2016.



Elizabeth Harrington