I AM concerned that some letters in The Catholic Leader (22/2/04) appear to have to misconstrued Elizabeth Harrington’s excellent ideas (CL 15/2/04) about actively reflecting on homilies in a number of tangible and meaningful ways.
As for the suggestion that all homilies are to be accepted as is, well, that appears hopeful at best and, with respect, somewhat out of place in today’s world at worst.
I am also concerned by the defensiveness of wanting to protect ‘Father’ – from what?
Shouldn’t it be possible to openly dialogue with any leader and minister about what they said or shared at an appropriate time and in a respectful way.
Isn’t the idea to help make homilies etc relevant, vibrant and meaningful?
I guess the ideas were meant to be challenging. I don’t think that any form of unproductive criticism of eucharistic presiders was being suggested by Elizabeth Harrington, rather honest and open reflection was encouraged to advance the ways we all share the ‘message of Jesus’.
All who gather are able to, in fact are encouraged to, reflect and discern the relevance of what is said and meant. In fact, post-Vatican II Catholic Christians are well qualified (by experience let alone study) to thoughtfully contemplate and integrate what the Word is saying.
Any talk, seminar, presentation or homily is an invitation for conscious consideration, and therefore is open to critique.
Homilies, notwithstanding their importance, should not be exempted per se, although I acknowledge that they are a special form of exegesis (interpretive teaching).
No one suggested any form of judgmental or invasive process. Perhaps, in the past, it is precisely a lack of active reflection that may have sometimes led to taking what was being done and said for granted rather than recognising Christ’s presence in the Word among us and then taken with us to work and home.
Surely giving the Word expression in the week after the eucharistic gathering is one of the whole points of ‘being a eucharistic community’.
Finally, one writer’s suggestion that someone contemplating studies for the priesthood would be seriously deterred by such an idea is puzzling and arguably, totally unfounded. Having said that, it is never easy to prepare a homily nor open one’s ideas up to public scrutiny.
Finally, on a positive note, to my mind, the richness of ‘breaking open’ the Word via homily, community and active reflection outside eucharist picks up on a number of exciting synod recommendations including:
That parish liturgy becomes more vibrant, meaningful and inclusive.
That parishes accept, value and use the initiative of small groups to nurture and support people on their faith journey.
That the person and message of Jesus and the works of the Church are effectively communicated in wider society.
The Catholic Leader is an Australian award-winning Catholic newspaper that has been published by the Archdiocese of Brisbane since 1929. Our journalism seeks to provide a full, accurate and balanced Catholic perspective of local, national and international news while upholding the dignity of the human person.
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