The congregation has heard the Word of God proclaimed.
Does Father walk to the ambo to deliver his homily?
As the faithful sit, waiting to hear an exposition, perhaps on the readings of the Sacred Scripture that day, they see Father moving away from the sanctuary, not towards the ambo but to the people.
Father then invites all the children present to come forward and sit on the steps of the sanctuary, in front of the altar, and therefore in front of the tabernacle, and Father wanders around, asking questions of the children, making a few jokes, having the congregation laugh, at his jokes and at the cuteness of the children.
A fairy tale perhaps?
So why am I the stick-in-the-mud, the grumpy mother of seven who cringes at this style of homily? Why am I the lone wolf crying in the wilderness?
Why does it even matter?
It matters because it affects how and what we believe as Catholics. It matters because it, this style of homily, gathering children or lay people on the steps of the sanctuary, affects how we view the sacredness of the altar, the sacredness of Holy Mass, of where bread and wine truly become the body and blood of Our Lord. It matters because it affects how we view mass - mass centred on we the people or mass and thus adoration for and worship of God and therefore truly concerned for we human souls.
It matters because of taste, and style and reverence. If one wants cuteness and kitsch, one can turn on TV. If one wants worship and communion with other believers, if one wants lasting change in society as we claim Christ
as King, then our souls need to be fed within Holy Mass. Not entertained.
What does the General Instruction for the Roman Missal have to say about the homily within mass?
Mmm. The homily is "necessary for nurturing Christian life"...not, then, for our entertainment or for the priest to gain popularity or even to make Mass more relevant for children. As a mother and a teacher, I know that children love to be challenged, not necessarily entertained. They will rise to the challenge of a homily pitched towards them yet still containing Truth and making them think. They, too, are tired of platitudes, of being fed dumbed-down material and deserve better...deserve to be shown, by the adults around them, and most especially by the priest, what it is that mass is all about. What it is that the Scripture passages tell us. What it means to be a Catholic child. How Christ loves us, appearing on our altars in the Eucharist. And how we love Him, by giving Him due worship and adoration. With reverence and without self-centredness.
So, if the story above was a fairy tale, a tale of a homily, how would it end? Now, this would not be a bitter, dark fairy tale. In this tale, a tale of a homily, we would see a moral.
The moral being that we, faithful and priest alike, see that abuses “contribute to the obscuring of the Catholic faith and doctrine concerning this wonderful sacrament”.and " hinder the faithful from “re-living in a certain way the experience of the two disciples of Emmaus: ‘and their eyes were opened, and they recognized him’” ( Ibid). In my version of this fairy tale, we come to see that our internal disposition must affect our external actions. And vice verse. Even in liturgy. Even in homilies.
Or should I say especially in liturgy and in homilies?
The observance of the norms published by the authority of the Church requires conformity of thought and of word, of external action and of the application of the heart. ...The liturgical words and rites, moreover, are a faithful expression, matured over the centuries, of the understanding of Christ, and they teach us to think as he himself does; by conforming our minds to these words, we raise our hearts to the Lord. ( Redemptionis Sacramentum)