Who can(‘t) Preach the Homily?


September 20, 2012 by mattfradd

I was recently asked: Can a lay-person preach the homily at Mass or a Communion service? What about just reading the Gospel? Now I’m well aware that only a small percentage of my readers will find this question -and therefore my answer- interesting. Nevertheless It’s an important question which deserves a Catholic answer – and here it is:

According to  the General Instruction Of The Roman Missal (GIRM):

“The homily should ordinarily be given by the priest celebrant himself. He may entrust it to a concelebrating priest or occasionally, according to circumstances, to the deacon, but never to a lay person. In particular cases and for a just cause, the homily may even be given by a bishop or a priest who is present at the celebration but cannot concelebrate” (GIRM 66).

What about a communion service?

According to Sunday Celebrations in the Absence of a Priest (the most explicit, relevant liturgical document), when a deacon is participating,

“it belongs to him to lead the prayers, to proclaim the gospel, to preach the homily, and to give Communion” (Introduction 18).

What if a Deacon is not participating at a Communion service?

The document goes on to say:

“the first two readings are proclaimed by one or two readers. The gospel is proclaimed by the leader. A layperson omits the greeting, “The Lord be with you,” before the gospel.

In the absence of a deacon, the layperson may read the gospel but without greeting the congregation in a clerical manner (“The Lord be with you”). And for the homily there are three options: (a) the lay person may read one prepared by the pastor, (b) the lay person may preach a brief non-homily if he has been given this role by the bishop, or (c) there may be silent reflection” (Introduction 40-41).

Hope that was a help. For a much more exciting blog post, see Catholic, Gay, and Feeling Fine. 🙂

8 thoughts on “Who can(‘t) Preach the Homily?

  1. Vlad says:

    What’s a brief “non-homily?”
    How about a testimony shared by a lay person as part of the homily?

  2. D. O'Neill says:

    My brother in Catholic “nerd”-idity, keep up the ἀπολογία!

  3. Andre says:

    Interesting info!

  4. Rachel says:

    most informative. i have honnestly wonderred about this myself a few times.

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