Many wise words go unheard when we refuse to tap into the talents of qualified laypersons.
The current restriction limits the movement of the Spirit in and through the People of God.
I don't think I'd like to see it every week, but it would be a nice change for parishioners to express their experiences and faith in relation to the gospel reading.
Some topics benefit from a lay viewpoint. Priests are not as "sheltered" as they once were but they cannot have the viewpoint of a layman that is lived, not studied.
"Do not hide your lamp under a bushel, Put it on a lampstand in the room so that all may see." (Luke 11:33)
On certain topics laypeople have experience: trying to live a full Catholic life while raising a family, working full time, living in the midst of budget restrictions and a materialistic world.
Father Thomas Langenfeld, C.S.V.
Las Vegas, Nev.
The gift and talent to preach doesn't reside in a man's testicles! Sometimes laypeople have more wisdom, experience, and expertise on a topic than the clergy do.
I believe in the priesthood of all believers and that sometimes it's the laity who represent Christ.
Diverse opinions are necessary. A celibate priest preaching about marriage, commitment, or any aspect of raising children doesn't ring true for me.
Cape Elizabeth, Maine
I would rather listen to someone who wants to preach, not someone who has to preach.
I think the priests could use the relief from time to time.
I believe only the priest should direct the Mass and consecrate the Eucharist, but we all have gifts to offer in all other portions of the Mass, including the homily.
Not allowing lay preaching reinforces the us-versus-them mentality. Lay preaching can help eradicate the feelings of disconnectedness that sometimes exist in some parishes.
Our Baptism requires us to use all the gifts of the community. It is sinful to subject the people of God to more of the drivel we hear today. It is sinful not to allow the people to preach.
I haven't heard a good homily in so long it would be a real treat.
Fort Wayne, Ind.
Q: I don't think lay preaching should be allowed because ...
Laypeople have no obligation to teach the faith of the church faithfully. Priests and deacons are accountable to bishops for the fidelity of their teaching to the magisterium. I do not deny that many parish members are gifted and worthy speakers and teachers, but they do not carry the burden of obedience, so there would be no "quality control" over their homilies.
At Mass I need the doctrine of the church.
It would introduce another headache for the parish priest, forcing him to choose who can and cannot preach.
I feel priests do a much better job.
Mary Pat Fraser
Grosse Pointe, Mich.
They would stray from the tenets of our faith.
It is not feasible to expect laypeople to acquire the in-depth knowledge expected of ordained priests. Do you feel you could take my place teaching university-level chemistry without my training and experience?
K. G. Mayhan
Q: My best experience with lay preaching was when ...
A mother of two spoke from her heart of the joy of motherhood at Mother's Day Mass.
C. J. Fulco
Wheat Ridge, Colo.
A member of our parish, who was dying of cancer, preached about the renewal of his faith and how God had blessed him before and throughout his illness.
Pentecost Sunday, when parishioners gave testimony to faith experiences.
Sun City West, Ariz.
A nun made me realize women should not only preach but be ordained. She was far better than many or most male priests.
Margaret L. Hoerr
The pastoral associate (a woman) gave a superb homily on priest abuse and the bishops' coverup. The gospel calls us to name it ... and she did.
On Good Friday and special liturgies we have someone share a powerful experience and turning point--testimony rather than explanation.
Father Patrick Thompson
A couple from Marriage Encounter gave the reflection at the Masses. Their message was based on experience and a deep belief in what they were saying. No homily should be without those elements.
Patrick J. Whitcomb
Green Bay, Wis.
Funerals where family members gave hopeful, comforting thoughts to the congregation.
Bel Air, Md.
Q: My worst experience with lay preaching was when ...
Someone had an axe to grind and seemed to enjoy preaching as a way of self-empowerment.
Laypeople give financial reports in lieu of the homily.
A person who was very nervous and seemingly unprepared began to cry in the middle of the reflection (and this was not at a funeral).
Allen Park, Mich.
I don't particularly like "testimonial."
St. John's, Mich.
A layperson who wasn't experienced preached at Sunday Mass. Boring!
My worst experience with lay preaching has been not having that option available. Aside from various charity appeals, I've never heard a woman speak at Mass.
I have been preaching for about 10 years. My pastor encouraged me to learn how to preach and then to do it. It's an awe-inspiring responsibility. I take it very, very seriously. I feel very honored and often unworthy to be a preacher.
At our Children's Liturgy of the Word, laypeople "preach"--more discuss the readings with the children. If someone pointed out to the pastor that this was lay preaching, however, he would end it in a heartbeat.
Gales Ferry, Conn.
I would like to see a more formal training requirement for this, as with volunteer Sunday school teachers. I wonder how accurate some of the things they teach are.
I would hesitate to stipulate too many requirements for lay preaching. Some people with advanced degrees can't express themselves very well, while others who have little or no theological education are very spiritual and capable of engaging people when they preach.
Holbrook, N. Y.
I've done it. I prepare well and put together thoughtful, practical, challenging homilies--even if people think they have to be called "reflections" and should be banished to some "minor" point in the liturgy.
Sister Judith Brower
How can we expect the less than 1 percent of the Catholic Church (male celibates) to meaningfully break open the Word of God consistently to the 99 percent who live lives that the priests have never experienced firsthand? What's wrong with this picture?
Southold, N. Y.
If I knew ahead of time that there would be lay preaching, I would attend another Mass.
Betty Ann Gravelin
If we are taught and encouraged to speak our faith out on the sidewalk, we ought to be able to speak our faith inside the house as well.
Fort Worth, Texas
There was a time when few lay people had the theological training to preach. Those days are gone. There is no valid reason to exclude good lay preachers who act with the consent of the pastor.
A little competition might improve the quality of preaching by our deacon and priest.
Robert G. Walz
North Branch, Minn.
Jesus took a chance with fishermen, tax collectors, zealots, and women of all kinds to spread the good news. Why can't we?
It's like lectors--some are good, some not so good, and some terrible.
There is an old adage that says, "I really learned my subject when I taught it to someone else." Wouldn't greater understanding of practical spirituality emerge from ordained and non-ordained hearing one another reflect on God's Word?
St. Louis, Mo.
The Spirit has many tongues. We all lose when we make our God too small.
AND THE SURVEY SAYS ... 1. I think laypeople should be allowed to preach the homily at Mass. agree 71% disagree 16% other 13% 2. Qualifications for lay preachers should include: (More than one answer allowed.) 74% A particular expertise on the topic the layperson will preach about. 65% Training in public speaking. 59% Any advanced theological study. 21% No special training needed if the person is a good preacher. 9% Only ordination qualifies a person to preach. 3% Anyone should be allowed to preach. 9% Other. 3. At my own parish: 62% We never have lay preaching. 25% We have occasional lay preaching. 4% We regularly have lay preaching. 9% Other. 4. I'm afraid lay preaching will blur the distinction between clergy and laity. agree 12% disagree 82% other 6% 5. The quality of preaching at my parish is: 33% Good. 29% Excellent. 19% Decent. 10% Fair. 6% Poor. 3% Other. 6. If lay preaching were allowed at my parish, I think the quality would: 45% Improve. 32% Stay the same. 12% Get worse. 11% Other. 7. If lay preaching were allowed, would you be interested in preaching? yes 54% no 46% These results are bused on survey responses from 292 U.S. CATHOLIC readers and website visitors.
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|Title Annotation:||sounding board|
|Article Type:||Letter to the Editor|
|Date:||May 1, 2004|
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