If you have not already read the article beginning on the front page of today’s Democrat and Chronicle, you might want to do so. It is entitled “Catholic Diocese Upends Custom on Homilies,” by David Andreatta. Here is the link to the full article: http://www.democratandchronicle.com/story/news/2014/07/19/catholic-diocese-upends-custom-homilies/12863357/ Many readers of Cleansing Fire will be delighted to know that Bishop Matano has been making changes to enforce Canon Law by eliminating lay preaching, and today’s D&C article quotes our Bishop’s committment to continue to follow Canon Law. Praise God!
Shown below are some excerpts and additional comments on the content of the D&C article. But let’s begin by acknowledging that David Andreatta has written a very fair and balanced article. Bishop Matano was willing to speak to the author personally, with a directness that exceeds that of many other bishops. It is so impressive that he actually acts like a Shepherd, and is consistently oriented to the real needs of the local Church, not to his personal defense.
The author notes that the practice of allowing laity to preach was “derided by the faithful for running afoul of church law.” Cleansing Fire folks can be relieved that a position long held by those who post on CF, is now seeing correction. It actually has been in the process of coming to an end; at least since March. Bishop Matano has been handling those relationships one-by-one. Only the most entrenched and stubborn would continue in disobedience to Canon Law and the teaching of a faithful bishop, but don’t be surprised if errant actions happen during the death throes of the unlawful practice of laity preaching during Mass. Andreatta states that the practice “has come to an end”. It certainly appears that it should be ended, given Bishop Matano’s strong words, but it would be unfair not to point out that Holy Spirit Church in Penfield has been mentioned as having had a lay woman homilist today, according to some of my friends who attended.
In an extensive interview, Bishop Salvatore Matano is reported to have said he is “now drafting guidelines to clarify that homilies are reserved for ordained priests and deacons, as prescribed by canon law.” [Canons 767 and 766 are the relevant Canons.]
“It is not a policy shift as regards the universal law of the church,” Matano said. “I am trying to help the faithful understand what is the universal law of the church and how important it is that in the celebration of Mass, we do what the church asks of us.”…. “Matano said he began addressing the matter in response to complaints from parishioners.” Wonderful. I hope CF commenters were part of the outcry.
Here are four comments in the article, which deserve some expansion (shown in blue).
1. Not surprisingly, Andreatta reports that the enforcement “has been received with disappointment, particularly among women, who made up the majority of lay homilists and viewed the practice as a way to play a more active role in their faith. … “It really enriched me, and I have to say I’m struggling with it,” said Diane Porcelli of Gates, who did not preach but is active at St. Mary’s Church in downtown Rochester. “It’s challenging my faith and I’m struggling with the exclusion.” She should have been struggling with the “inclusion.” Once again, it is all about non-existent personal rights instead of serving souls. “It really enriched me….” she said. So what? “Challenging my faith” … only if obedience isn’t at the heart of that faith. The arguments are a tired echo of the wannabe priestesses, who can’t take “no” for an answer, honoring the authority of neither Pope nor bishop. What is particularly damaging to those souls is when they are indulged in their “wannabe-ness.” The slightest indulgence (let alone major permissiveness) creates an aura of having rights that don’t exist, that have never existed. Then, when the activity is righteously ended, there is complaint and argument. And these kinds of remarks betray the motives of the wanna-be’s, as well as the need to stop the practice. (The lay preaching is a female ghetto…where are similar complaints from the men lay preachers? are there any?)
2. Andreatta writes: “The change comes as Pope Francis is calling for both broader opportunities ‘for a more incisive female presence in the church’ and for priests to spice up their homilies.” (I was amused by this quote. Isn’t Cleansing Fire just such an incisive presence? And what does gender have to do with it anyway?) The author continues: “Last year, Francis lamented that clergy and laypeople suffer through homilies: “The laity from having to listen to them, and the clergy from having to preach them!” The homily has been long limited to about 8 minutes in this diocese, so how boring could it possibly get? Isn’t the reality that many people in the pews simply don’t want to hear anything that challenges them? For example, many don’t want to hear moral preaching against abortion, contraception, same-sex “marriage.” And most lay preachers wouldn’t dare speak out on those issues even if they believed the Church’s teaching. Consider why not. Perhaps because they don’t have the charism of personal courage. How could a “spiced up” homily not touch on such issues?
3. Andreatta reports: “Supporters of lay homilies described them as often being more attuned to modern families than those delivered by priests, who take a vow of celibacy and are prohibited from marrying. “It was a way to have a woman’s voice and a woman’s experience reflect on the readings for the day,” said Gloria Ulterino….” Refer back to #2 above. Same point. Personally, I have no interest at all in hearing Gospel diluted through the women’s agenda. But the comment that minimizes the ability of priests because they are celibate is grossly misleading, a classic “straw man.” When are we going to hear the very valid counter-argument that lay preaching, which is not informed by hearing hours of confessions about the REAL problems of soul (but rather lay preoccupation about everyday complaints) has NO PLACE in the pulpit. It indulges the self-absorption of the laity. It is fascinating that the Holy Spirit chose to include in the New Testament St. Paul’s words about why it is better for a person not to marry (especially a person centered on serving God), how marriage dilutes the time and attention that can be given to God. I’d love to hear Gloria et al give a supportive homily on THAT SUBJECT! (See 1 Corinthians 7, especially 32-34). Actually, if there is anything about which priests might be criticized a little bit, it would be any residual wish or concern that what they do or don’t do will satisfy the women who lobby for their permissions. Many husbands have long ago realized that they just don’t know the answer to the age-old question: “What do women really want?” It isn’t clear that most women know the answer to that question either, so priests should stop worrying about it, as if giving up token assignments or positions were actually going to please, satisfy, or fix the issues. Indulgence only creates an appetite for more indulgence, as parents of many toddlers know.
4. Lay preaching has been characterized as CUSTOM by some opponents to the relevant Canon Law. If something had been in use for 100 years, perhaps an argument might be made, but 40 years is NOT custom. Moreover, even a 100 year old custom cannot acquire any legitimacy when it is specifically against the (Canon) Law. The author writes: “Like other lay homilists, Nancy DeRycke… [says] ‘It’s a 40-year-old custom that’s been part of the tradition of our local church, and people are saddened, people are frustrated and people are asking, ‘Why can’t you do this?’ ” DeRycke said. ‘They’re not satisfied with saying, ‘Because it’s the law.” “ (But I’ve always run that stop sign officer; it’s my custom. How can you interfere with my custom?”) The very quote of not being satisfied that “It’s the Law” is incredibly bad judgment to even articulate. And these are people who would presume to preach to us? Unfortunately, yes. Have they heard that the 10 Commandments are Law too? One wonders.
Click for more information to read Canon 767. It is not rocket science; it is very clear.
Canon 767§1 : Among the forms of preaching, the homily, which is part of the liturgy itself and is reserved to a priest or deacon, is preeminent; in the homily the mysteries of faith and the norms of Christian life are to be explained from the sacred text during the course of the liturgical year.
Canon 767§2 A homily must be given at all Masses on Sundays and Holy Days of Obligation which are celebrated with a congregation, and it cannot be omitted except for grave cause.
Canon 767§3 It is strongly recommended that if there is a sufficient congregation, a homily is to be given even at Masses celebrated during the week, especially during the time of Advent and Lent or on the occasion of some feast day or sorrowful event.
Canon 767§4 It is for the pastor or rector of a church to take care that these precepts are observed conscientiously.
Tags: Bishop Matano