May 1, 2009

How to Listen to a Homily

Fr. Phillip Neri Powell

The following is excerpted from the article “Put Down the Missalette! Listening to a Homily” by Fr. Philip Neri Powell, O.P., Ph.D. Visit his website here.

1. Put down the missalette...

or as I prefer to call them Those Paper Destroyers of the Liturgy, or Those Menaces to the Word Proclaimed. Put them down. No, tear them in half, stick them in your pocket, and bury them near a soggy marsh. Do you take your Riverside Shakespeare with you when you go to see Hamlet? Ask yourself this question: if we were meant to read along with the lectionary readings, why do we bother training and appointing a Lector to proclaim the readings for us? Why don’t we just say, “OK. Let us take out our missalettes, turn to page forty-three, and spend a few minutes reading the Old Testament passage, etc.”? We don’t do this because we are called upon in the liturgy to LISTEN to the Word proclaimed. Not to read along, not to check the Lector for errors, not to fiddle with a little book during the Boring Parts When We Read the Bible Out Loud. Can you listen and read along? No. You can’t. Sorry, you can’t. The whole point of the proclamation is that the Word is sent out, projected, given a voice, made alive. You can’t get this if you’re fumbling with a missalette or fussing over a mispronounced word or a lame translation. Hear the Word Proclaimed. Don’t follow along with another text. And, yes, this means we need VERY well-prepared and trained Lectors who understand what they do as a ministry of the Church... (to be continued)

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