Prepare for August 15 Mass

By Patheos staff

Next Sunday, August 15, is the Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary. A proper theological understanding of the feast is essential in order to preach well; most art that depicts the Assumption is not particularly helpful here. On November 1, 1950, Pius XII defined the Assumption of Mary to be a dogma of faith, one of the two infallible teachings of the Catholic Church, since infallibility was defined.

The color for this Solemnity is white or gold. The Gloria should be sung. Some sung setting of the Magnificat with a refrain makes a very good choice for a Communion processional. Orthodox Christians and Muslims share a respect and love for the Virgin Mary, so prayers for both are appropriate today.

Click here for next Sunday's readings. Notice that there are two sets of readings for this feast: a vigil and a Mass of the day. 

Here are a few good sites for exegesis (an explanation of what the biblical texts are trying to say):

General Intercessions (Prayers of the Faithful):

The general intercessions at Mass should be written in the community that will pray them. Don't rely on canned prayers. Your community deserves someone who will pray about what this particular community's needs are this week, and then help them to articulate their needs and the needs of the larger community. 

General intercessions should be just that: general enough that everyone can pray them. Prayers for the world, for the local community, for the sick, for peace, and for the dead should be numbered among the prayers you articulate.  Adding a list of the local sick and deceased is a good way to make these prayers the prayers of this local community. Here are some general principles  and a good example of general intercessions for next Sunday.

When I am preparing to preach, my process includes a number of pieces: 1) prayer with the scriptures  2) a weekly Bible study with parishioners on Tuesday morning that forces me to interact with the texts before Friday!  2) looking at a few different "homily helps" not in order to use a canned homily (honestly, I've never done that), but instead, sometimes to find a different angle, or a starter story, or some particularly useful insight.

The sources I use include:

  • The Preachers' Exchange is a great website for Catholic preachers, by Jude Siciliano, OP.  Well worth adding to your Favorites list.
  • Celebration, published by NCR, is my favorite homily preparation type service, though it describes itself as a "comprehensive worship resource."  It is an ecumenical and multi-cultural resource, has very fine scriptural scholarship and homily starters, interesting and useful articles and features, a daily Mass supplement.  Overall, a lot of liturgical and preaching bang for your hard-earned buck!
  • Prepare the Word is an online resource published by True Quest, whose strongest asset is Alice Camille, one of its writers, but whose weakest link is customer service and subscriptions.
  • Connections, published by Media Works and edited by Jay Cormier, is a great resource: a couple of short stories, fables, news events that relate (some more, some not quite so much!), but which provide only a springboard for your own preaching...

General Liturgical Resources worth having on your shelf:

  • Living Liturgy 2010:  This is a comprehensive liturgy planning guide, with great homiletic resources and reflections for each of the various liturgical ministries to use throughout the week.
  • Companion to the Calendar: Mary Ellen Hynes' book on the calendar is the best available.  I actually think it may have been written for young people, but it reflects the broadest scholarship, a global sensitivity, and awareness of civic and seasonal calendars as well as the liturgical calendar.
  • Jerome Biblical Commentary: If you want to dig deep into the exegesis of the Sunday scriptures, why look any further?  The New JBC is a great investment, and you get a good upper body workout just by carrying it around with you!
  • Preaching the Lectionary: Reginald Fuller's work on lectionary preaching is one of the best one-volumes available. Ecumenical, smart, and a quick one-page-per-Sunday read.
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