The occasional, often ill-considered thoughts of a Roman Catholic permanent deacon who is ever grateful to God for his existence. Despite the strangeness we encounter in this life, all the suffering we witness and endure, being is good, so good I am sometimes unable to contain my joy. Deo gratias!

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Deacons and Homilies

As ordained permanent deacons we may preach only if we receive the faculty to do so from our bishop. And then, once we're assigned to a parish, the frequency of our preaching usually depends on whatever agreement we have reached with our pastor. In general the Church encourages its priests to preach regularly and suggests that deacons preach occasionally. Our parish is somewhat unusual in that we have so many deacons assigned. The upshot is that each month a deacon can expect to preach at one or two weekday Masses and perhaps one Vigil or Sunday Mass. Since we are all involved in various parish ministries -- in effect part-time, unpaid ministers -- this preaching schedule actually works out quite well, at least for me. Preaching well demands preparation, and it's not unusual for me to spend many hours writing a Sunday homily. If I preached every weekend, I suspect my other ministries would probably suffer.

But if there's one thing I've learned over the years, it's to be prepared. On far too many occasions, for one reason or another, I've been called on to preach at the last minute. Normally this isn't a real problem since I've been a deacon long enough that I can usually put together a reasonably good homily after a brief review of the readings and a few minutes of thought. But I really dislike having to "wing it" and would rather deliver a well-constructed, well-prepared homily. Since I have always written my homilies using the computer, they are all stored on my trusty hard drive, almost 20 years of homilies. If I'm actually scheduled to preach I always write a new homily; however, if I'm not scheduled to preach I look through the stored homilies for the particular Sunday in question, select one, print it, and take it with me. It's rare when I have to use it but it has happened.

Indeed, it happened yesterday evening at the 6 pm Vigil Mass. Shortly before Mass, Fr. Peter, my pastor, asked if I were preaching more than once during August. I replied, "No, just once a few weeks from now," and then half-jokingly I added, "but I'm always prepared, even today if necessary." With that he said, "Wonderful, because I have four Masses this weekend and could use a break from preaching. You do it." And so I did. 

I preached pretty much the same homily I gave three years ago and later posted on this blog. Any changes were minor and really didn't alter the central theme. It's based largely on the Gospel reading from John 6 and, therefore, focuses on the Eucharistic gift that is Jesus Christ. If you want to read it, here's the link: Homily, 18th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year B

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