Pope Francis said, “We know that the faithful attach great importance to it [the homily], and that both they and their ordained ministers suffer because of homilies: the laity from having to listen to them and the clergy from having to preach them! It is sad that this is the case. The homily can actually be an intense and happy experience of the Spirit, a consoling encounter with God’s word, a constant source of renewal and growth.” Since renewal and growth are exactly what our Church needs, we need to be intentional about our focus on the power of God’s word. It provides an amazing opportunity to help people reconnect to faith, and to challenge all of us to grow and change.
What do we hope to accomplish by focusing intentionally on message? We believe that meaningful worship experiences are key to helping people encounter Christ and become more intentional disciples, and that a relevant message is one of the most important elements of a meaningful worship experience. One of our major goals is to make the experience of Mass more relevant and engaging, especially for anyone who has become disconnected from the Church, but who is open to making a new connection. Message is particularly important for those who do not yet have a full appreciation for the meaning of the Eucharist—it can help people find a sense of meaning and belonging, to reconnect and grow in relationship with God. But message is also important for those who are further along on their journey—it is one of the most effective ways that committed disciples are challenged to grow and change. Connecting themes and ideas from week to week builds awareness that the spiritual journey is continuous, that growing in faith is a process, and that the new steps we take are built on the foundations of our previous experiences.
When a community has a shared focus, guided by the readings we hear at Mass, and the message is reinforced in the prayers, in the bulletin, on our blog, and reflected in our worship environment, this facilitates conversation and supports the growth of members at every age level and at every stage of the faith journey. Message is a starting point, intending to feed the conversation and growth that leads people to strive for their full potential. That’s what the Church is for!
Anything important is not easy, and we have a long way to go. We want to offer message series throughout the year, consistent messages at each Mass on the weekend, and age-appropriate messages to the children in Kids’ Church that are based on the adult message for the week, to facilitate conversation in families. We have been experimenting with different ways to focus intentionally on message, and as with anything new and experimental, some things have been effective and successful, and some haven’t. We will continue to learn, make adjustments, and experiment with message, and we welcome and invite your participation in this process. Our strong belief in the power of God’s transforming word inspires us to continue to find ways to incorporate message into engaging and relevant experiences of worship.
Take your next step: Spend a few minutes praying with this week’s message and the whole Glimpse message series if you have time. What do you remember about this message? Was there a certain part that touched you? Did it invite any change in your life?