Vatican Publishes Directory to Help Improve Homilies

Cardinal Robert Sarah Tells ZENIT This Directory is Geared for Universal Church

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The Vatican has given priests a handbook on how to give better homilies.

During a press conference held this morning in the Holy See Press Office, Father Ciro Benedettini, vice-director of the Holy See Press Office, Cardinal Robert Sarah, Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Sacraments, Monsignor Arthur Roche, the congregation’s secretary, and Father Corrado Maggioni, its undersecretary, presented the homiletic directory.

“Often, for many of the faithful, it is the time of the homily, felt as good or bad, interesting or boring, that makes them decide whether or not the entire celebration was good,” the cardinal stressed.

The dicastery prefect noted how good homilies and preaching have been big priorities of Pope Francis and Pope Benedict XVI, and how this booklet is a fruit of that.

“Certainly, the Mass is not the homily,” Cardinal Sarah admitted, “but this is an important moment for the purpose of participation in the holy mysteries, that listening to the Word of God and communion with the Body and Blood of the Lord.»

“The directory is not born without a reason. It aims to offer a response to the need to improve the service of liturgical preaching,» he said, noting the bishops made this known during the Synod of Bishops in 2005.

The vice-director of the Holy See press office joked that one of its priorities is to ensure that homilies will not make the faithful fall asleep.

When ZENIT asked if more light could be shed on which nations preachers were in greatest need of this directory, Cardinal Sarah responded, “The directory is for all nations, for the universal Church. It is not aimed for one more than others.”

He added, “The scope is not limited. It is for all nations. It was asked for by the bishops during the synod in 2005.”

When asked how the guidance will be implemented, the cardinal explained that is the responsibility of the bishops to ensure that priests are following the guidance.

The book, less than 200 pages, is intended for priests, seminarians, and deacons who give homilies. It will be given out by bishops conferences.

The original text is in English. Other than Italian, French, and Spanish translations, bishops conferences will be responsible for translating according to their needs.

The book is divided into two parts. The first is ‘The Homily and Its Liturgical Setting,’ which is broken down into the Homily, Interpreting the Word of God in the Liturgy, and Preparation.

The second part is the ‘Ars Praedicandi,’ which discusses how to properly preach during the Sundays of Easter, Lent, Advent, Christmas, Ordinary Time, and other occasions, such as weekday Mass, weddings, and funerals.

There are also two appendices: the first discusses the Homily and the Catechism of the Catholic Church and the second provides Post-Conciliar Ecclesial Sources Relevant to Preaching.

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Deborah Castellano Lubov

Deborah Castellano Lubov is Senior Vatican & Rome Correspondent for ZENIT; author of 'The Other Francis' ('L'Altro Francesco') featuring interviews with those closest to the Pope and preface by Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Parolin (currently published in 5 languages); Deborah is also NBC & MSNBC Vatican Analyst. She often covers the Pope's travels abroad, often from the Papal Flight (including for historic trips such as to Abu Dhabi and Japan & Thailand), and has also asked him questions on the return-flight press conference on behalf of the English-speaking press present. Lubov has done much TV & radio commentary, including for NBC, Sky, EWTN, BBC, Vatican Radio, AP, Reuters and more. She also has contributed to various books on the Pope and has written for various Catholic publications. For 'The Other Francis': or

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