The Homily

Recent experiences at Divine Liturgy have made at least one fact clear: a priest or deacon who has poor language skills as homilist and preacher should not be preaching, much less be installed as a sole preacher. If a priest or deacon is a poor homilist/preacher he will fall far short of being the spiritual teacher he is called to be as a pastor.

Homiletics or preaching is a fundamental pastoring skill and requires knowledge of scripture, a very intimate familiarity with the audience, social and cultural acuity, fine language skills, honed language and communications skills, and practice, practice, practice.

According to the Patriarchal Synodical document, Text 13, The Parish and Pastoral Work:

d. The Homily during Celebrations
25. Let priests address the homily to all categories of people, preparing for it as they should. Homilies must always emanate from the Word of God, which is to be declared with persistence, in and out of season (2 Tim. 4:2). There should be a declaration of the Good News and a fulfillment of the Word of God in the lived reality which touches on the affairs of daily life, such as work issues, the strive to secure the daily bread with its inherent difficulties, differences, speculations and strife in addition to issues of existence, and local and international dilemmas. Priests are to exhort and to include these present-day matters in their sermons in the light of the Word of God and its interpretation according to the spirit of the Gospel. The sermon should not be limited to the Mass but should go beyond it to include celebrations of the other sacraments to help believers get into the Paschal dimension of each sacrament and to help harvest the fruits and grow in the faith.

So, the QUESTION (Part A) is very simple: If a priest or deacon does not have the necessary language skills, does not have the necessary social and cultural sensitivity, is not familiar with the socio-economic-cultural mix and make-up of the parish, cannot (or does not) communicate effectively with the majority of parish community, how can he effectively break open the Word of God? ANSWER (Part A): He cannot.

QUESTION (Part B): Why would he be assigned to a community of faithful if he cannot do this important part of pastoring? ANSWER (Part B): Only the bishop knows the answer to this one. But if you know, please do our poll and share your comments.

Definitions:
Homily: A liturgical sermon.
Sermon: Sermon comes from the Latin word sermo, a speech or conversation. The sermon should link together scripture, experience, theological tradition, human reason, and should link it all to life application.


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