I think I can offer you a promising solution to a serious problem we face.
The problem is the Catholic laity’s lack of faith formation. This decades-old deficit has become grave today. The laity’s poor formation stands in the way of their ability to remain faithful in a hostile culture. It certainly prohibits their re-evangelization of it.
I think the solution is a doctrinal and practical formation.
While there are many ways this formation ought to be given, I am convinced that the homily is the best opportunity pastors have to help the laity deepen their knowledge and practice of the Faith. The reason is that Sunday Mass is the one time each week when all the faithful who practice their faith are present.
During the Year of Faith, I have offered a free, internet-based service to priests and deacons to make their homilies more doctrinally rich and practically applicable to the lives of lay people. This website is called Doctrinal Homily Outlines. Each week I have provided an abundance of points based on the Lectionary readings under the headings of central idea, doctrine, and practical application.
According to the model I have been testing for a year, each homily should:
- Articulate a central salvific theme contained in the Lectionary readings for the day.
- Identify, define, explain, and illustrate a doctrine from the Deposit of Faith or Catholic morals that the readings suggest.
- Offer some practical ways the laity can apply this knowledge to their lives in order to actually live the Faith.
Homiletic and Pastoral Review has reprinted my description of the Doctrinal Homily Outlines project here. This website has also received Catholic Culture’s highest rating for fidelity, resources, and usability.
Further, I am happy to announce that the Bishop Helmsing Institute of the Diocese of Kansas City – St. Joseph has agree to cooperate with our ministry and to lend their expertise by offering to review and approve the content of each homily outline prior to its being posted.
While priests are used to preparing homilies that grow from the Lectionary readings, this website helps them to see the catechetical connections between the Lectionary and the doctrine of the Church. Many lay people are also looking for practical suggestions on how to live their faith in the midst of daily life.
I will continue to offer these outlines into the new liturgical year beginning December 1, 2013 (Year A).
I think the three-year cycle of Lectionary readings will provide sufficient opportunities to cover all the fundamental aspects of faith, morals, virtues, and practice. The doctrines presented will continue to be drawn extensively from the Catechism of the Catholic Church. This will be a significant way that pastors can provide the formation that the laity desperately need.
In addition, I can provide a special subscription service to you.
If you choose to participate, I will email you or the person you designate each homily outline two weeks before the Sunday or Holy Day it pertains to. That gives you or your staff a week to review and adapt it, if you wish to. You can then deliver the outline electronically to your clergy, giving them one week to prepare their homilies based on the outline.
If you are interested in this service, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you would like to use this template without subscribing to this service, you are free to do so.
A bit about my background. Over the past six years I have had an unparalleled professional opportunity to systematically review the content of the Catholic Faith. This has happened through my writing all the curriculum materials for the high school Didache Series: the teacher editions of the four books of the Complete series, the teacher editions of the ten books of the Semester Series, the eight books of the Parish Series, and twelve collections of Didache Teacher Resources.
We recognize how busy pastoral life can be and these outlines will give timely suggestions which will make the task of preparing rich and meaningful homilies easier. These outlines show helpful and unique ways of linking the Lectionary readings and the Catechism of the Catholic Church to real life applications.
In commenting on the joy of the Ethiopian eunuch who met Philip, Pope Francis observed,
It is the joy of faith, the joy of having encountered Jesus, the joy that only Jesus gives us, the joy that gives peace: not what the world gives, but what gives Jesus. This is our faith. We ask the Lord to help us grow in this faith, this faith that makes us strong, that makes us joyful, this faith that always begins with our encounter with Jesus and always continues throughout our lives in our small daily encounters with Jesus.
That is also the aim of these doctrinal homily outlines.