Saturday, April 29, 2006

Fire the Canons!

Our Sunday bulletin for March 12, 2006 contained the following announcement:

Welcoming 125th Anniversary Witness Reflections:
(Parishioner's Name) will be speaking at all Masses this weekend as he will be sharing heart warming reflections on our Parish's 125th Jubilee Year.

We welcome (Name) to share with us stories during the "homily time" just as we would welcome other laity or ordained when they share with us stories as to what is happening in their field of mission work. In fact, the Code of Canon Law does make allowances for the laity to homilize as it states in Canon 766: "Lay persons can be admitted to preach in a church or oratory if it is necessary in certain circumstances or if it is useful in particular cases according to the prescriptions of the conferences of bishops & with due regard for can. 767, #1." Therefore, on behalf of the 125th Anniversary Committee it is with open hearts we welcome (Name) for the "particular circumstance" as our speaker this weekend as he reflects on faith stories pertaining to our Jubilee Year!

Indeed one of our parishioners delivered his talk in the place of the homily at all of Sunday Masses. A few of us in attendance who have some basic knowledge of Canon Law and also the General Instruction of the Roman Missal were puzzled. I was under the impression that homilies were restricted to priests or deacons. The answer lies in Canon Law 767, #1 to which the bulletin entry makes reference, but does not include. It says the following:
Can. 767 #1. Among the forms of preaching, the homily, which is part of the liturgy itself and is reserved to a priest or deacon, is preeminent; in the homily the mysteries of faith and the norms of Christian life are to be explained from the sacred text during the course of the liturgical year.

It seems the "due regard for can. 767, #1" was disregarded by our pastor. He tends to take Church documents out of context in order to do justify his actions, much like some people quote Scripture out of context in order to support their own self-serving doctrines. Does he not understand or does he not care? Frankly, I am surprised he cited Canon Law at all. Perhaps he knew some would be upset that a member of the laity would be delivering a homily and thought he could fire a pre-emptive shot by finding legal support for lay preaching. It would also behoove him to read canon 767 in its entirely. Line #4 says: It is for the pastor or rector of a church to take care that these prescripts are observed conscientiously.