May 6, 2018

Friends,

When I grew up it was called the sermon, but since the days of Vatican II it is now called a homily. I’m talking about the reflection given normally by the priest/deacon following the gospel. The words of the homily are usually meant to give us deeper insight into the readings of that weekend’s Masses. Some priests may choose a certain reading or theme while others speak about all three readings. There are times when world events may take precedence over the readings, and the homily may focus on a tragedy (9/11 Catastrophe or the Marathon Bombing). Sometimes the preacher has gotten assistance from professional publications, e.g., Homily Hints.

I believe that because most Catholics today go to church by choice, they are engaged in the celebration and interested to hear the homily and hope they can learn something that enhances their life. As priests/deacons, preaching is a challenge and a privilege. We all have our good days and our bad days at the pulpit.

Occasionally, I decide to have what used to be called a “dialogue homily.” I may speak about a theme that is evident in the readings, or a current topic of conversation. During that time I go into the congregation with a portable microphone and ask for opinions from those sitting in the pews. One of those occasions took place the weekend of April 21/22 (World Day of Prayer for Vocations). I spoke briefly about the “calling” that each person receives to make a difference in this world and the lives of others. I also mentioned the three signs that convince me that I have chosen the right vocation for me. How do I know? I’m happy, I’m fulfilled, and I’m at peace with myself. We got into why the priesthood in the Roman Catholic Church is no longer attractive to many young men. After I spoke, I ventured into the crowd and asked for people’s input into the present situation of the priesthood. I was pleased to give our parishioners the opportunity to express themselves while present with others celebrating with us. We had wonderful feedback from all three parishes. Catholics today know they have a right to express themselves because they love their church and are deeply concerned about the “vocation crisis.” I’m a firm believer that we are all teachers and learners. I am deeply grateful to all those who chose to share their insight and concerns. How blessed we are to have you! I’m sure some of those who spoke even surprised themselves by taking the microphone, but that’s what passion will do. I’m sure that some may not believe the Mass is the place for dialogue or discussion; I personally believe it is a wonderful avenue to show our respect for you and your membership in the church.

It’s in listening to others that we have our mind and heart opened.

Enjoy life!
Fr. Coyne

 

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