ASK FATHER: Q&A instead of homily

From a reader…


Father, Is it permissible for a priest to instead of giving a homily at a Sunday Mass, “Open up that time to the congregation for a Q&A on any topics they would like to discuss?” I am pretty sure this is not ok but wanted to double check that this is in fact not permitted, as our priest informed us. he will be doing this next Sunday. Thank you!


It’s not okay, and frankly, it’s rather silly. 

I would recommend going.  Ask the question:

“Father, when did the Church give you the authority to mess around with our Liturgy and turn the homily into a Town Hall Meeting?”

If he pulls out a ukelele… well… that’s, as they say, another whole ball of wax.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. Giuseppe says:

    I recall one homily about the Immaculate Conception that was excellent. It was brief and to the point. A key element was that God has a plan for you even before you are conceived, and Mary is the perfect example. Made a nice pro-life connection. And then reviewed the calendar and 9 months to clarify whose conception was celebrated when. Birth of Mary 9/8 therefore her conception is celebrated on 12/8. Birth of Jesus on 12/25 so his conception is the Annunciation on 3/25. At the end he asked ‘any questions?’ There were none. Then he said ‘if you ever have a question about the faith or if anything is confusing to you, your responsibility is to ask someone. You can always ask me before or after mass.’ I liked that touch. This was ~30 years ago at a church in Philadelphia.

  2. rosaryarmy says:

    How about if most of the homily is asking questions of the congregation? I can maybe see that for a children’s Mass but I saw it at Sunday Mass last week and it rubbed me the wrong way. That may have been because I was still trying to recover from hearing “Gather us in”, however.

  3. JabbaPapa says:

    Well it’s clear from the Third Edition of the Roman Missal, Novus Ordo, that a Q&A “on any topics the congregation would like to discuss” is forbidden by virtue of the fact that the Missal clearly states that Homilies must be explanatory of the readings, or in some particular cases (Baptism, certain Masses during Holy Week, etc), on certain particular obligatory topics additionally, but is the form of a Q&A itself — if it remained strictly within those topical limitations — abusive in and of itself ?

    The “Documents on the Liturgy”, Part II, Article 3. The Homily, found here states :

    § 3. As an expositional aide and providing it does not delegate the duty of preaching to others, the celebrant minister may make prudent use of “dialogue” in the homily, in accord with the liturgical norms.

    In this particular case the “dialogue” is clearly not prudent, nor consistent with liturgical norms, as described anyway by the reader — but do the liturgical norms prevent the use of Q&A completely ?

    [As I used to do with 2nd graders at my home parish on weekday mornings.]

  4. kurtmasur says:

    At a parish in my area (very NO and typical Vatican II atmosphere), the priest there occasionally quizzes the people about tidbits they just heard during the readings.

    Personally, I cringe when I see this and I think it looks silly because it then feels like the whole congregation is in grade school.

    So now that something related has been asked, I would like to know if such quizzing during the homily by the priest is allowed?

  5. Matt Robare says:

    The new pastor at my parish likes to have “town meetings” with the parishoners, but he has them after Mass.

  6. norancor says:

    Is it just me, or is the stupid quotient in the Church on the rise?

  7. Venerator Sti Lot says:

    This reminded me of something in one way very similar, in another very different: the ministry of Fr. Dmitri Dudko. His Orthodoxwiki article sets out the circumstances: “In the Soviet State, the churches were not permitted to distribute publications publicly, hold classes. or conduct discussion groups. Sermons were limited to matters of ritual. In this atmosphere Fr. Dimitri framed his sermons in the form of a dialogue in which he addressed written questions that interested his congregation. His candid comments, presented in his strong speaking style, soon caused the church to be overflowing with visitors. But, his success also brought interruptions to his life as the police subjected him to interrogations.” Michael Bourdeaux, in his obituary (in 2004), notes his sermons had “taken on the form of conversations, in which Dudko answered questions from his crowded Moscow congregation, first in writing, and later in direct dialogue. Reconstructed from notes, circulated in samizdat, these sermons appeared in French in 1975, in English (as Our Hope) two years later, and in eight other languages.” Sadly, he was persecuted by State and Church, and successfully bullied into a public recantation.

    I remember people being given warm food in the back of a Church across the Moscva from Red Square in the Soviet time – presumably because, in a similar way, such practical charity could not be freely practiced outside the Church building.

    May the time for such Q & A sermons (and soup kitchens) in the English-speaking world be still long delayed!

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