Sunday, January 24, 2010


This is the most important part of the mass in one respect—that it adds to the mystery and beauty of the mass rather than taking from it—but all too many priests deliver much less, and this is the subject of this article from Chiesa, which looks at using sacred art to shape and deepen the homily.

An excerpt.

“ROME, January 21, 2010 – A stir was made recently by Bishop Mariano Crociata's criticism of the shoddy quality of many Sunday homilies.

“Crociata is the secretary general of the Italian bishops' conference. Speaking at a conference on the liturgy at the end of the year, he called many of the homilies given from the pulpit every Sunday insipid "mush," almost an "inedible dish," and in any case "hardly nourishing."

“His criticisms were picked up by "L'Osservatore Romano" and by Vatican Radio. There were some who retrieved a quip Joseph Ratzinger made when he was a cardinal: "The miracle of the Church is that it survives millions of terrible homilies every Sunday."

“As pope, Ratzinger has made it abundantly clear that he thinks one of the primary duties of the Church is to elevate the quality of the homilies.

“The homilies that he gives himself at public celebrations have become a characteristic feature of his pontificate. He prepares them personally, with extreme care. In fact, he proposes them as a model. He even constructs the messages that he reads at the midday Angelus each Sunday, from his window over St. Peter's Square, as little homilies on the Gospel of that day's Mass.

“But there is one particular way to follow up on this intention of Benedict XVI. And it is the way of sacred art.

“Fortified by the art that adorns countless churches all over the world, homilies could be a better introduction to the sacred mysteries than words alone (and even usher people into them, as in the "Virgin Annunciate" by Antonello da Messina reproduced above, where the viewer looks at the Virgin from the same position, outside of the painting, as the angel Gabriel).”