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“How shall freedom be defended? By arms when it is attacked by arms, by truth when it is attacked by lies, by faith when it is attacked by authoritarian dogma. Always, in the final act, by determination and faith.”

― Archibald MacLeish

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Cardinal Tagle: Can we encourage our Filipino priests to deliver BETTER Sunday Homilies?

"The Mass", as we most often call it, is really short form of, "The Most Holy Sacrifice of the Mass".
Linger a moment on those 7 words, for they contain quite nearly everything that you will need to know in order to understand why you go to Church, or why you ought to.
The Mass, first and foremost, is a Sacrifice. Not a figurative sacrifice, not a mere remembrance of something done long ago, and not a metaphor. It is a real sacrifice. At Mass you are witnessing – even participating in – a sacrifice, very real and very present.
Does that surprise you?
We do not hear very much about this – but unless we understand this most fundamental, this absolutely central aspect of the Mass, nothing else makes sense. Our lack of understanding the Mass as a Sacrifice contributes to most of the confusion that surrounds our going there and being there.
From Wikipedia
The General Instruction of the Roman Missal (GIRM) states:
29. When the Sacred Scriptures are read in the Church, God himself speaks to his people, and Christ, present in his own word, proclaims the Gospel. Therefore, all must listen with reverence to the readings from God's word, for they make up an element of greatest importance in the Liturgy. Although in the readings from Sacred Scripture God's word is addressed to all people of every era and is understandable to them, nevertheless, a fuller understanding and a greater effectiveness of the word is fostered by a living commentary on the word, that is, the Homily, as part of the liturgical action.
65. The Homily is part of the Liturgy and is strongly recommended, for it is necessary for the nurturing of the Christian life. It should be an exposition of some aspect of the readings from Sacred Scripture or of another text from the Ordinary or from the Proper of the Mass of the day and should take into account both the mystery being celebrated and the particular needs of the listeners. From Wikipedia
So, what should be the Sermon be?
The homily (sermon) should be preached only after the Gospel. As the sermon remains one of the main methods of the catechesis, best use should be made by enlightening and expanding the word of God of the days Gospel readings, and not unnecessarily bore the people by talking of some other topics and events.
If people want to hear something else other than the world of God, they know where to go...
THE Sermon In The Sunday Mass Is NOT:
Entertainment
A social
A musical
A comedy
A talent show
A talkathon
An irate EQP Reader just sent this e-mail:
In the spirit of fraternal correction, we would like to share our experience about a certain Catholic priest who delivered one of the goofiest homilies we have ever heard.
We just went to Mass in the Church of Our Lady of Fatima in Philamlife, Las Pinas. It was the 10:30 am mass this Sunday, All Saints Day. 
The gospel for this Sunday, November1 2015 is a very beautiful one about the Eight Beatitudes.

Gospel                                  MT 5:1 – 12A
When Jesus saw the crowds, he went up the mountain,
and after he had sat down, his disciples came to him.
He began to teach them, saying:
“Blessed are the poor in spirit,
for theirs is the Kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are they who mourn,
for they will be comforted.
Blessed are the meek,
for they will inherit the land.
Blessed are they who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
for they will be satisfied.
Blessed are the merciful,
for they will be shown mercy.
Blessed are the clean of heart,
for they will see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers,
for they will be called children of God.
Blessed are they who are persecuted for the sake of righteousness,
for theirs is the Kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are you when they insult you and persecute you
and utter every kind of evil against you falsely because of me.
Rejoice and be glad, for your reward will be great in heaven.”
Absolutely everything, every gesture, every act, must be directed to God Who is the sole focus of the Most Holy Sacrifice that we call the Mass — and not to a priest as an entertainer — most often a comedian — who demand your applause ... at the foot of the crucified Christ.
If any of your readers have ever experienced little of sanctity in going to Mass because of some priests... and much in the way of silliness ... if you have left as empty as you had arrived  ...You are not alone!
The priest as a comedian
"I didn't know what was going on in the head of the priest (in Our Lady Of Fatima Church in Philamlife Village, Las Pinas) during the homily. 
Instead of expounding about the gospel about the Eight Beatitudes, he was in a very strange mood.
This particular priest has the habit of SHOUTING and/or SCREAMING at the top of his voice. He is either not aware that the church has very good sound system or he probably has some inherent hearing defects.
He started his sermon by saying that we look at each other and greet each other "Happy Fiesta" since today is All Saints Day. He then asked for a  round of applause.
He then asked everybody to look again at his/her companion and repeat slowly the priest's words, "I want you to die!" in the spirit of All Saints Day. He then asked for another round of applause! 
He deliberately did this to either inject some shock value or provide some comic relief. Of course, the churchgoers were very surprised! 
He actually took out of context what St.Therese of the Child Jesus innocently told her mother when she was just three years old.
He also completely omitted the Gospel about the Eight Beatitudes and instead told some irrelevant anecdotes to elicit more laughter.
At the end of his goofy homily, he conducted the rest of mass in an odd mixture of vernacular and Latin Mass. (Is he unaware of the Second Vatican Council?)
From National Catholic Reporter:
Rome: Allowing priests to celebrate Mass in the language of the local congregation rather than in Latin allowed the faithful to understand and be encouraged by the word of God, Pope Francis said.
"You cannot turn back. We have to always go forward, always forward and who goes back is making a mistake," he told parishioners after commemorating the 50th anniversary of the first time a pope celebrated Mass in the vernacular following the Second Vatican Council.
"Let us give thanks to the Lord for what he has done in his church in these 50 years of liturgical reform. It was really a courageous move by the church to get closer to the people of God so that they could understand well what it does, and this is important for us: to follow Mass like this."
In his homily at the parish, Pope Francis said people need to be able to connect the liturgy to their own lives.
"The liturgy isn't something odd, over there, far away" that has no bearing on one's everyday life, he said.
"The church calls us to have and promote an authentic liturgical life so that there can be harmony between what the liturgy celebrates and what we live out" with the aim of expressing in life what has been received in faith.
He said the Second Vatican Council's Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy, Sacrosanctum Concilium, defined the liturgy as "the primary and indispensable source from which the faithful are to derive the true Christian spirit."
While the liturgy is, in part, about doctrine and ritual, its real essence is to be "a source of life and light for our journey of faith," he said.
Going to church is not just about observing one's duty and "feeling right with a God who then must not be too 'bothersome'" afterward in one's daily life, he said.
People go to church "to encounter the Lord and find in his grace at work in the sacraments the strength to think and act according to the Gospel," he said.