By Fr. Mike Boutin
Next Sunday, February 14th, is the 6th Sunday in Ordinary Time. The liturgical color is green.
This is the last Sunday before Lent begins. Draw attention to the Alleluia by singing it in abundance, since it will be absent from our liturgical lexicon for the next 40 days. "All Creatures of Our God and King" is a suitable hymn choice for this weekend.
Announce the schedule for Ash Wednesday and be sure that it is clearly posted in the parish bulletin, on the parish website, and on the regular parish telephone greeting. A brief service on Sunday, February 14th following one of the Masses to burn the palms from last year to prepare the ashes can be well received. Service can include an opening hymn, greeting, opening prayer, Scripture, burning of palms, intercessory prayer, Lord's Prayer, and closing prayer and hymn. Make sure that the container you use to burn the palms is large enough and that you take all necessary safety precautions.
Valentine's Day is not a liturgical feast that trumps the Sunday celebration. If you feel compelled to allude to it, then pray for all those who rejoice in the love of another person, and remember all loving couples, the widowed, the divorced, those preparing for marriage, single people, etc.
Click here for next Sunday's readings.
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...
- 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.