By Father Mike Boutin
Next Sunday, January 3rd, is the Feast of the Epiphany. The Feast of the Epiphany is a feast of light: increased use of candles or lighting today is recommended. The Proclamation of the Date of Easter can be proclaimed at Masses today. The Christmas season does not end today. The season of Christmas extends from Christmas Eve until the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord, this year, Sunday, January 10, 2010.
The liturgical color for the season of Christmas is white or gold. The Gloria should be sung at all Masses this weekend.
Click here for next Sunday's readings.
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...
This Sunday's Scripture, is published by Word Press and is one of the best available resources. 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.
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.