By Fr. Mike Boutin
Next Sunday, August 16th, is the 20th Sunday in Ordinary Time. The color for Ordinary Time is green.
Click here for next Sunday's readings.
The Feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary is celebrated on August 15th each year. Since the feast falls on a Saturday this year, the obligation to attend Mass is abrogated. However, it is still recommended that communities celebrate the feast. If your community celebrates daily Mass on Saturday morning, music and preaching about the feast can highlight the celebration. A note in the bulletin and announcements at this weekend's Masses will clarify for people this hard-to-follow regulation from the U.S. Bishops. In any case, the 4 p.m. Vigil Mass on Saturday, August 15th, is a celebration of the 20th Sunday in Ordinary Time, not the feast of the Assumption.
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: This 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, 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, edited by Jay Cormier, 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...
This Sunday's Scripture, published by Twenty Third Publications along with Celebration, my favorites in the realm of homily prep. Good exegesis and pastoral application, and some useful homily starters. This resource is grounded in a prayerful weeklong approach to the Sunday scriptures and preaching.