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Homilies-Directive from Rome

Official guidelines tell homilists to stick to the point

12 February 2015 13:14 by Hannah Roberts in Rome

The Vatican has told priests and deacons that their homilies should be based on Scripture and not be improvised, personalised or boring.

Cardinal Robert Sarah, the new head of the Congregation for Divine Worship, presented the new single-volume Homiletic Directory on Tuesday, saying it responded “to the need to improve the service of ordained ministers in liturgical preaching”.

Among a homily’s most important criteria, the Cardinal said, was its link to Scripture. The homily is “enlightened” by the Scriptures, especially the Gospel, he said.

The “main protagonist is God, for Christ His Son, in the power of the Holy Spirit”, he said, adding that the ordained minister is called upon by vocation to preach “but not in a personalised fashion”.

He also warned against improvisation. “Preparation of the homilist is of the first importance,” he said.

Archbishop Arthur Roche, congregation secretary, said it was important that "a homily isn't boring".

The directory states that because of "the integral bond" between the homily and the Eucharist, the homily itself is "an act of worship."

Pope Benedict XVI asked the congregation to draw up the directory after participants at the 2005 synod on the Eucharist and the 2008 synod on the Word of God requested a handbook to help priests with their homilies.