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Pope: Homilies Must Be Brief! Brief! But Well Prepared

February 8, 2018. At General Audience, Pope Gives Homilists Some Advice

“Brief,” “brief,” “not more than ten minutes, stressed Pope Francis in regard to the “service’ that the homily constitutes, so that the Word of God, heard during the liturgy, passes from the ear to the heart and to the hands and makes one act in keeping with the Gospel. However, for this to be the case a well-disposed assembly is necessary, which is prepared by familiarity with the Word of God.

During the Audience on Wednesday, February 7, 2018, held in the Vatican’s Paul VI Hall, the Holy Father continued his catecheses on the Mass with a catechesis on listening to the Word of God and the homily.

“Brothers and sisters, as the Mysteries of Christ shed light on all the biblical revelation, so in the Liturgy of the Word the Gospel is the light that enables us to understand the meaning of the biblical texts that preceded it,” explained the Pontiff in regard to the Liturgy of the Word.

The Pope highlighted the liturgical signs that reflect the assembly’s preparation to listen to Christ “Himself,” who speaks during the reading of the Gospel: “For this reason, the reading of the Gospel is done by an ordained minister and is accompanied by several signs that reflect the assembly’s recognition of Christ’s presence. The Gospel is proclaimed to become conscious of what Jesus said and did once and what He continues to say to us and to accomplish for us.”

The Pope also invited ordained ministers – deacons, priests and Bishops – not to give a homily that is longer than ten minutes: a “brief” homily, he said several times. Otherwise, there are those that “go to smoke outside” during the homily, said the Pontiff, unleashing laughter: this “is true!” exclaimed the Holy Father.

The Pope observed that the listening of the Word passes by the ear, descends into the heart and reaches the hands, making one act: “To transmit His message, Christ also makes use of the priest’s word in the homily, which is “a taking up again of that dialogue already engaged in between the Lord and His people,” so that the Word of the Lord can take flesh in us and be translated into actions.

The Pope spoke of the homily as a “service”: “It’s the service that he who gives the homily must offer all those that take part in the Mass.”

He also emphasized the dispositions of the assembly during the homily, without “prejudices,” which are an “obstacle.” “However, the faithful that listen must also adopt the right interior dispositions and manifest, in an appropriate way, the attempts of the community to help the priest to carry out his ministry well.”

And among these dispositions, the Holy Father recommended familiarity with the Word of God. “And, in any case, the habitual reading of the Gospel and of the Bible fosters participation in the Liturgy of the Word.”