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Publisher: Veritas

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Though the Homiletic Directory was published nearly three ye, 10th Jan 2019

Reviewer: Fr Hugh Clifford, Kinvara, Co Galway

Though the Homiletic Directory was published nearly three years ago, it is worth dwelling on here, as this resource does not seem to have ‘made the headlines’ in Ireland. The Homiletic Directory was compiled in response to a desire expressed by the participants of the 2008 Synod of Bishops on the Word of God, a wish that Benedict XVI acknowledged afterwards in Verbum Domini (60). The Second Vatican Council called for preaching to be nourished by scripture, and hence the readings at Mass now provide us with a rich diet of scripture. The Homiletic Directory is a help to preachers to better avail this. It is not a collection of sample homilies, but is a more enduring and helpful resource because it goes deeper into the principles of preaching.
Part one situates the homily in its liturgical setting. It quotes the Introduction to the Lectionary (24), ‘The purpose of the homily at Mass is that the spoken word of God and the liturgy of the Eucharist may together become ‘a proclamation of God’s wonderful works in the history of salvation, the mystery of Christ’ (SC 35, 2).’ Three criteria for interpreting scripture in preaching are proposed: being attentive to the content and unity of the whole scripture, reading scripture within the living tradition of the whole Church, and being attentive to the analogy of faith. Drawing on Pope Francis’s advice for preachers in Evangelii Gaudium 135-159, the Directory goes on to suggest and describe a lectio divina style of preparation of the homily.
Part two focuses on the seasons and particular moments of the liturgical year and provides some pointers on how best to draw on the readings in preparing the homily for each.
In my opinion, the most helpful part of the Directory is the appendix, ‘The Homily and the Catechism of the Catholic Church’. The Directory notes that ‘[t]he homilist’s task is not to make the readings at Mass fit a preconceived schema of topics, but to invite his listeners to ponder the faith of the Church as it

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Veritas Publications

Homiletic Directory

by Congregation for Divine Worship


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A two-part Homiletic Directory. The first part, entitled The homily and its liturgical setting, describes the nature, function and specific context of the homily. 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, the 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.

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