Vatican City, 10 February 2015 (VIS) – The Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments today published the Homiletic Directory, which opens with the decree of Cardinal Antonio Canizares Llovera, prefect of the dicastery on the date on which it was signed, 29 June 2014, Solemnity of the apostles Peter and Paul. The text also bears the signature of Archbishop Arthur Roche, secretary of the same Congregation.
“It is very poignant that Pope Francis wished to devote considerable attention to the theme of the homily in his Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii gaudium”, writes the Cardinal. “Both positive and negative aspects of the state of preaching had already been expressed by Bishops gathered in Synod, and guidance for homilists was offered in the Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortations Verbum Domini and Sacramentum caritatis of Pope Benedict XVI.
From this perspective, and bearing in mind the provisions of the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy Sacrosanctum Concilium, as well as subsequent Magisterial teaching, and in light of the 'Introduction of the Lectionary for Mass and the General Instruction of the Roman Missal', this two-part 'Homiletic Directory' has been prepared.
“In the first part, entitled 'The homily and its liturgical setting', the nature, function, and specific context of the homily are described. Other aspects that define it are also addressed, namely, the appropriate ordained minister who delivers it, its reference to the Word of God, the proximate and remote preparation for its composition, and its recipients.
“In the second part, 'Ars praedicandi', essential questions of method and content that the homilist must know and take into account in the preparation and delivery of the homily are illustrated. In a way that is meant to be indicative and not exhaustive, interpretive keys are proposed for the cycle of Sundays and Feasts, beginning at the heart of the liturgical year (the Sacred Triduum and Easter Time, Lent, Advent, Christmas Time, and Ordinary Time), and also for the Masses of weekdays, weddings, and funerals. In these examples, the criteria outlined in the first part of the Directory are put into practice: typology between the Old and New Testaments, the importance of the Gospel reading, the ordering of the readings, and the nexus between the Liturgy of the Word and the Liturgy of the Eucharist, between the Biblical message and the liturgical texts, between celebration and life, and between listening to God and the particular assembly.
“Two appendices follow the main text. In the first, with the intention of showing the link between the homily and the doctrine of the Catholic Church, references are given to the Catechism according to various doctrinal themes in the readings for each of the Sundays and Feasts of the three year cycle. In the second appendix, references to various Magisterial teachings on the homily are provided.
“This text was presented to each of the Fathers of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, and was reviewed and approved at the Ordinary Sessions of 7 February and 20 May 2014. It was then presented to Pope Francis, who approved the publication of the Homiletic Directory. This Congregation is pleased, therefore, to make it available, desiring that 'the homily can actually be an intense and happy experience of the Spirit, a consoling encounter with God’s word, a constant source of renewal and growth' (Evangelii gaudium, 135). Each homilist, making his own the sentiments of the Apostle Paul, is to renew the understanding that 'as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel, so we speak, not to please men, but to please God who tests our hearts' (1 Thess 2:4).
“Translations into the principal languages have been undertaken by this Dicastery, while translations into other languages remain the responsibility of the concerned Conferences of Bishops. All things to the contrary notwithstanding.
“From the offices of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, 29 June 2014, the Solemnity of Saints Peter and Paul, Apostles”.