Monday, September 21, 2015

A few words on preaching in Catholicism

It's sometimes challenging to be a member of the Pastoral Council at my parish.  In the last 15 years, we've had 4 pastors (in the Archdiocese of Portland, one pastor usually stays 6 to 12 years, with the approval of the Archbishop, so this is a lot of changes quickly).  In addition, before 1996, the parish wasn't dioscean, it was Franciscan- and urban Franciscan at that, which means it had a tendency to attract people "Church shopping" for a comfortably liberal parish.

And then God and Archbishop Vlazney sent us Fr. Steve Stobie.

Excellent Administrator- even with the post 2007 slump, the parish is now back in the black financially.  Wonderful confessor priest- every priest has his own talents, and Fr. Stobie's is the Sacrament of Reconciliation.  Wonderful person too, if you can break through his introversion and actually get to know the man.

But also, a Canon Lawyer who is very conservative for this parish.

Which leads me to the link I want to save, and my reason for writing this post. One lady, who apparently did not realize this was a liturgical abuse, complained about how we never hear from women in the homily anymore. Three priests ago, we had a very holy, but also very liberal, pastor who would turn the homily over to lay people quite often. He even did so for me back when I was in high school in a different parish. But that was then, and this is now- post the CDF cleaning up the Y2K General Instruction of the Roman Missal, and thus, we need to hold tight to Canon Law on this issue.

Canon 767 is the main culprit here.  In one of the few places where clericalism is written into Canon Law, only a Bishop, Priest, or Deacon may give the homily- and the homily should be limited to being related  to the readings from the lectionary.

This means that the kind of freewheeling homilies we got used to in the 1970s and 1980s are truly no more; in any parish where the priest is faithful to the General Instruction of the Roman Missal, Canon 767 is followed to the letter.

It also explains why Fr. Stobie, so free in the confessional to be pastoral, gives boring lectures on ancient history for his homilies, and never seems to relate them to the present day.

Fr. Stobie is currently on Sabbatical, and I hope when he returns, he'll have some fresh eyes, fresh insights into the scriptures to share with us.  But if he doesn't, at least now I understand why.

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