New Preaching Doc from US Catholic Bishops

Here is the document on preaching just approved by the U.S. Catholic Bishops’ Conference: “Preaching the Mystery of Faith: The Sunday Homily.”



  1. Thanks for the link. Am already sharing it with English speaking SVD’s here in Asia. Looking forward to reading comment on it.

  2. Let’s hope every bishop and every pastor puts as much time/money/energy into improving preaching as they did implementing the new missal. The quality of preaching seems a more pressing problem, with higher stakes in the outcome.

    1. @Scott Pluff – comment #2:
      That’s going to be hard to do. My pastor could “outsource” a lot of the work of the new missal to me. He can’t do that for his preaching.

  3. God’s Grief. Does it really take 54 pages to provide direction to the ordained in this most basic of issues? The USCCB needs either some divine intervention or a retreat that focuses on efficiency of thought and action. This document highlights the problems with the excessively bureaucratic nature of the USCCB. God bless Cardinal Dolan, but he seems to elevate caritas over veritas. Veritas is always succinct. There is some good stuff in there, but can you stay awake long enough to find it?

  4. Some years there was a study that showed that a relatively painless way to improve preaching is to tape the a preacher’s sermons and then have him study the tapes. Sounds reasonable to me.

    O wad some Pow’r the giftie gie us
    To see oursels as others see us
    It wad frae monie a blunder free us
    == Bobby Burns

  5. May I suggest as a good reference for preaching/preparing a homily: THE FOOLISHNESS OF PREACHING, by Robert Farrar Capon. This book would make a great text/basis for a homiletics course.

  6. Ann – agreed++++ Was dumbfounded at the length and multiplicity of words and yet no plan to really implement beyond encouraging each presider/deacon to do his best? How has that been working out?

    Taping, bishop involvement, one on ones, expert involvement, annual refresh and education, continuing education, appointing parish committee to meet often and provide feedback using taped homilies, requiring preachers to post homilies on the parish website, etc. There has to be accountability – as Reagan said well – trust but verify.

  7. It must have been pulled from there. I’ve found it elsewhere and updated the link. Try this one – and let’s hope it stays current.

  8. I’ll reiterate my comment on an earlier post: I fail to see how this document REPLACES Fulfilled in Your Hearing as was indicated in an earlier CNS report. It is certainly positioned as a supplement or even a counterbalance, but I don’t see it canonically negating FIYH. In fact, it even appears to affirm FIYH at the bottom of p. 50: “Fulfilled in Your Hearing provides practical advice about how best to prepare for the Sunday homily, advice that is still valid.”

    1. @Andy Edwards – comment #10:
      I agree. This new doc refers to FiyH in a positive way in several passages. Its positioning seems to be that the pastoral situation has changed somewhat in the last 30 years (e.g. more cultural diversity; a more urgent need for a New Evangelization), and there are a number of magisterial docs/initiatives that are pertinent to preaching on Sundays that have come about since FiyH was promulgated, which this new doc wishes to incorporate – especially Verbum Domini.

  9. Overall, there is quite a bit to like about this document. But having said that, I do have two substantive concerns.

    One is its insistence that “virtually every homily preached during the liturgy should make some connection between the scriptures just heard and the Eucharist about to be celebrated.” While I am in favor of scripture, Eucharist and connections between them – do I have to do it in every single homily?

    (People do notice when homilists become “Johnny-one-notes”. In a neighboring diocese, there was a time when every homily managed to mention abortion, the Eucharist and Mary. Those are all fine things to preach about, but they are hardly exhaustive of Christian life and discipleship.)

    The second regards utilizing the homily as a catechetical opportunity. The document notes, “During the course of the liturgical year, it is appropriate to offer the faithful, prudently and on the basis of the three-year Lectionary, “thematic homilies treating the great themes of the Christian faith.” Consequently, diocesan bishops may offer occasional suggested themes for Sunday homilies in their own dioceses in order to guide the teaching of the faithful by the clergy and to ensure effective and timely catechetical preaching on significant pastoral concerns, while at the same time preserving the importance of preaching on liturgical seasons and texts of the _Lectionary_for_Mass_.” Laudably, there are qualifiers in this passage that seek to buttress the essentially liturgical function of the homily. But this emphasis on catechesis worries me. I don’t want a “Fortnight for Freedom” to usurp the liturgical function of the homily. In this age of social media, the opportunities for catechesis are greater than they ever have been. I think the church would be better served to keep the wall between the classroom and the worship space, even if it is a wall with windows. Just my opinion.

  10. Agree with Jim Pauwels on reservations regarding ‘the homily as a catechetical opportunity’. While it might be commendable to refer to the CCC to confirm the orthodoxy, the adequacy of a doctrinal point that one makes in a homily, I’d be very uncomfortable with a homily built around the CCC since it is not written in language that suits a preaching situation. Often the liturgical texts, particularly the Collect and the Preface, provide enough theological content to explore the mystery of a particular Solemnity or Feast, and in more accessible language.
    Still haven’t managed to read the new document, with pencil in hand to mark the significant passages, but would like to have seen more use made of the Pontifical Biblical Commission on interpreting Scripture and “Verbum Domini”. Even if they’d had time to take into account the final statement and recommenations of the recent Synod on “New Evangelization”, I really wonder whether it would have made any substantative difference to the content.

  11. Bishop Ken Untener’s book, _Preaching Better_, remains my most-recommended book for homily preparation.

    Having worked with deacon candidates who are new to the preaching task, I find it most frustrating that they only hear priests preach. The outcome? Deacons preach like priests do (including that humdinger, “As we move to the Lord’s Table”) and so there is little connection between the lives they live and see and the priest-homily. Why do we bother to grant them faculties to preach if there is nothing different that they offer in their preaching?

    If I could have one wish, it would be that ALL who would preach go to as many different places to hear as many different people as possible exercising the preaching charism.

    1. @Shannon O’Donnell – comment #14:
      Shannon O’Donnell – I agree with your comment about deacons who have had only priests as models. Deacons need help to explore the possibilities of preaching. The document under consideration could have said a lot more than it did about making connections between family life, the workplace, the community, scripture and liturgy – something for which the deacon is ideally suited.

  12. I would say that men priests/deacons will always preach from the “male” point of view, interpreting God’s word (bible) through their male experiences.

    Women need to hear the “women” point of view also. I think this can be done ONLY if women are allowed to give homilies.
    And if men think that men and women experience God in the same way, than I dare ask men: why there is no homily about rape, pregnancies, mothers rising 3-4 children while the husband ” disappeared ” for good….?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *