26 January 2006

Put down the missalette! Hearing a Homily

I’ve written about some of the artsy elements of writing a homily and about some definitions of preaching. I’ve been challenged to write about how one should go about listening to a homily and getting the most out of it.

So, here’s my shot at answering the question: how do I listen to a homily for maximum benefit? The very first thing I want to say is that listening to a homily is and is not like listening to any other sort of performed text. All the skills you use to listen to a speech, an academic lecture, or a conversation are used in listening to a homily. However, the difference that makes the difference in listening to a homily is that in a homily, especially one preached in a liturgical context, you are listening to an extension of the Word proclaimed.

1. Put down the missalette, or as I prefer to call them Those Paper Destroyers of the Liturgy, or Those Menaces to the Word Proclaimed. Put them down. No, tear them in half, stick them in your pocket, and bury them near a soggy marsh. Do you take your Riverside Shakespeare with you when you go to see Hamlet? Ask yourself this question: if we were meant to read along with the lectionary readings, why do we bother training and appointing a Lector to proclaim the readings for us? Why don’t we just say, “OK. Let us take out our missalettes, turn to page forty-three, and spend a few minutes reading the Old Testament passage, etc.”? We don’t do this because we are called upon in the liturgy to LISTEN to the Word proclaimed. Not to read along, not to check the Lector for errors, not to fiddle with a little book during the Boring Parts When We Read the Bible Out Loud. Can you listen and read along? No. You can’t. Sorry, you can’t. The whole point of the proclamation is that the Word is sent out, projected, given a voice, made alive. You can’t get this if you’re fumbling with a missalette or fussing over a mispronounced word or a lame translation. Hear the Word Proclaimed. Don’t follow along with another text. And, yes, this means we need VERY well-prepared and trained Lectors who understand what they do as a ministry of the Church.

2. Pay attention to key words, images, phrases, ideas. If you can’t “hear” the whole homily, listen for prominent words or ideas that get repeated or emphasized. A good preacher will ask a question or make a statement or in some way call your attention to his point(s). When you hear this point, cling to it and then listen to the rest of the homily “through” this point, paying careful attention to how it is developed or used. So, for example, if the preacher starts by defining “conversion” or asking a question about conversion, then listen for images or words or some kind of repetition of conversion themes in the rest of the homily. He might preach about other things, but you’ve picked up on “conversion.” Now, of course, you can pick up on multiple points and follow them all. But you can’t do any of this while reading the bulletin, the missalette (Hack! Pooey!) or fiddling with your cell phone.

3. Repeat every word in your head. Yup, that’s what I said: repeat every word. I do this all the time. I have what the Buddhists call “Monkey Mind.” Just about the only way I can pay attention to a homily is to close my eyes (no visual distraction) and then repeat every word of the homily in my head. This is how I am able to stay on track, follow the homily’s “argument,” and not end up daydreaming about bread pudding, Battlestar Galactica, and the Pope’s new encyclical all at the same time.

4. Listen now, argue later. OK. Fr. Oprah is on and on and on about his latest trip to the therapist and he’s boring the snot out of you with tales of his evolving consciousness and how close he is to exploding into Cosmic Oneness with the Womb of Universal Is-ness. First, put down the missalette. Just put it down. Pay attention to key words and image and repeat every word in your head. Why? Because for better or worse, ugly or pretty, he’s the preacher and (however hard it is for us to understand why) the Church has seen fit to make him a priest. He has something you need to hear. Even if you need to hear in order to reject it. Listen now, argue later. If you start arguing when he launches into a description of his Naked Rebirthing Sweat Lodge Ritual with Richard Rohr and you tune out because you need to argue, then you can’t hear what it is you need to hear from him. You’re spending your homily time arguing with someone who can’t hear you argue and couldn’t care less if he could. So, don’t waste your homily time arguing with your version of Fr. Oprah’s homily. Hear him out and argue on his time later.

5. Pray! The proclamation and preaching of the Word is an extension of the Word into this time and this place. When we hear the Word proclaimed and preached, we are made larger to better receive God’s blessing; we are strengthened to labor in holiness; we are deepened to be fresher sources of living water for others; and we are excited, electrified to be bearers of the Word, apostles to our world. Pray constantly for our preachers. Ask God to set them on fire for His truth, to open their hearts and minds to His Word, to loosen their tongues, to free their gifts, and make them true workers in sowing the seed of faith. Since we know from the Tradition that the first beneficiary of prayer is the Prayer himself, praying for our preachers grows the capacity of the Prayer to hear, bear, and spread the Word he/she hears in a homily. Ears settled charitably in prayer will hear clearly the voice of God spoken by the preacher.

Well, those are my (somewhat cranky) suggestions for listening to and benefiting from a liturgical homily.

Anybody want to add anything?


  1. St. Augustines fourth chapter of "On Christian Doctrine" (really should be translated "On Christian Preaching) is a fantastic summary of the way the church fathers approached preaching.

    Love the series!

  2. Anonymous2:00 PM

    Oh wow, that was good!

  3. Thank you especially for number 4. This is my weak point these days.

    God bless you.

  4. Anonymous2:31 PM

    Dear Fr. Philip,

    The only value I give the missalette is the responsorial psalm. It lets me know what my part is. If enough people use it for that moment only, I am content.

    Thank you for your ongoing series.

  5. Anonymous3:04 PM

    Dear Father — I will have to say, as a mom, I get very disgruntled when I go to a church and there isn't a missalette. Why? Because I have found it beneficial for instructing my children. It has aided in their training to learn the order of the Mass, and the prayers etc.

    I know, through experience, that not all people are receptive to the Word by ear alone ... some people are more visual receivers. My children do follow -listening & reading as the Word is proclaimed. The process reinforces the Word and the message given in the homily. Quite frankly, I know at some point they will not need this missallete as the grow older, but right now it certainly helps to get them involved & observing & hearing.

    Just thought I would share ... so do not be in a rush to "tear them in half, stick them in your pocket, and bury them near a soggy marsh". I know what I speak for my children do "listen" very carefully to the homilies they hear and how they are delivered for they share their thoughts & questions with me after every Mass.

    God bless
    Mom of a 10 & 13 year old

  6. Great post, again. Two fast thoughts, though.

    I don't like the missals either, but they have a role for some people. Certain individuals, supposedly, process visual information much more readily than things they hear, and the opposite is true, of course. Also, some people have hearing issues and the sound system in some churches could use some work. (I say this as the regular Sound Guy at the Saturday 5pm Mass at our parish.) All these people handle the lessons better if they can read along. But then, I strongly agree, they should close the missal, and sit on it.

    The other is to spend at least a little time on the lessons before you get to Mass. Just having read them throuh, and perhaps hitting a decent commentary an hour or two before Mass, or even a day or so earlier, can really change your participation in the Mass for the better. I can concentrate more on the lessons themselves, and am better prepared to concentrate on the homily. This is particularly true if the homilist concentrates on the lessons, as is the case at St. Pat's. (I will have to try the repeat every word thing, though. Another monkey mind here.)

  7. Fr. Powell, I'm glad you're talking about these things. I think you are raising the level of discourse about preaching. But I'm not sure that all of your (somewhat cranky) advice is necessarily on target.

    Just for starters, yes, you can listen and read along. Literate grownups do this all the time, and it actually helps to reinforce what is being heard, when it is being read at the same time. It doesn't detract, it adds. Haven't you ever been in a meeting or class where someone is reading out loud from a handout, and people sort of phase in and out of making sense of what they're reading until somebody asks, "Hey, what page are you on?" Then everybody finds the page and reads along and listens at the same time and it is much easier to understand that way.

    For the same reason, lecturers sometimes hand out pages for reference, often containing any extended quotes that will be used in the lecture.

    I know that what you are saying is accepted wisdom among liturgists and others. But it just isn't the case that people hear better without the text in front of them.

  8. Anonymous4:53 PM

    A couple of points.

    Thank goodness for missals and missalettes. Most readers don't enunciate clearly and many frequently mispronounce or simply change words. So to get the first three readings I read along. I never read along with the Gospel. Priests generally speak clearly and don't mess with the words although......

    Secondly, missalettes helps us to know what should have happened and what the Eucharistic prayer actually says because Father frequently changes the parts he doesn't like or he improves those parts he feels need improvement.

    Most folks don't read the missalette. My evidence? no one including frequently Father strikes their breast during the Confiteor and the same lack of proper response applies to bowing during the Creed. Both these actions are required by the instruction in the missalette. I might that in most places where I attend Mass the congregation has all the protestant hand and arm signals down but don't do required Catholic things. I have never heard a word on proper physical actions during Mass from the pulpit or should I say ambo or perhaps the aisle ever since the Missae Paulo Sexte was promulgated.

  9. Anonymous5:03 PM

    With all due respect, I disagree about throwing away the paper.

    I follow along better if I listen and read at the same time.

    Sorry, that is how my brain happens to work.

  10. Anonymous7:36 PM

    another 2 thought on the missalettes .... I am married to a Jewish man and when he attends Mass with us it helps him to follow along and I would expect this is the same for non-Catholic spouse of interfaith couples; and there are many at our parish.

    the 2nd thought is an experience I had in our new town while visiting a Catholic parish for the first time. Let me say that during Mass, my daughter asked me if I read the church sign correctly outside, because she thought we might not be in a Catholic church —she was only 11 at the time .... this church did not have missalettes ..... I could not help but think if they did [along w/a priest that wasn't into inventions], someone reading the missalette might have been alerted that something was not quite right up at the altar ....

  11. Anonymous8:06 PM

    I need to read the readings beforehand anyway, cause if I don't then I forget what the first reading said by the time of the Gospel. I'm a visual learner, I have to read the text while hearing it to help it sink in. So I understand the "hearing the Word proclaimed" part, but it just doesn't fit me.

  12. I take notes on the homily, it helps me to focus. Otherwise, I find that I need to read something while listening (I also read while watching TV or else I zone out completely, that's how my ADD mind works). I've had to tell teachers in grad school that I'm not being rude if I'm working the crossword puzzle during class, it just keeps part of my brain occupied so that the rest of it can pay attention.

    I love the notepad function on my Palm. It is inconspicuous and makes it easy to take good notes on what father is saying. And later I can go over my notes and remember the homily.

  13. Prayer is good. My prayer during the homily is to repeat silently: "this is my beloved Son, listen to Him." And, yes, I can hear the homily fine over my prayer.

    Before I had kids, I was a no-missalette snob also.

  14. Dear Fr. Philip,
    The post is great! On missalettes, I agree and I disagree (but no, I am not a Jesuit). If we could people to read the reading before Mass, yes, right up until I process down the aisle, then beam them out until the thanksgiving after communion, that would be sweet.
    On a side note, it is great to see a Dominican out on the internet getting the preaching done. You don't offer lessons in homiletics do you?

  15. Anonymous10:10 PM

    I have to add my voice to the pro-missalette chorus.

    Not during the homily, of course. But to follow along with the readings it is a huge help. Keeps my monkey mind from wandering. I'm a visual person, not auditory. I have a much harder time hearing and absorbing and processing the spoken word than the written. Much of the time it is a choice between following the words of the reading or finding myself adrift in the patterns on the dress in front of me and discovering during the homily I didn't hear the readings at all.

    Of course, it is better to read them over ahead of time-- as one commenter pointed out-- but especially if I've failed to do that, it helps me to focus if I follow along.

  16. Andrew writes: "The only value I give the missalette is the responsorial psalm."

    OK! I confess! I use the missalette too if the psalm response is long. Mea culpa.

    Ephrem writes: "Just for starters, yes, you can listen and read along. Literate grownups do this all the time, and it actually helps to reinforce what is being heard, when it is being read at the same time."

    I will treat Ephrem's statement as representative of the Pro-Missalette responses. I want to be clear: my objection to the missalette isn't so much about it being useless as it is about the use of the missalette being a violation of the Proclamation of the Word. Of course, reading along will help with comprehension, but what we sacrifice is the very idea of proclamation, of having the Word spoken to us by someone whose ministry it is to speak the Word to us and for us. The objection that poor trained Lectors make this difficult only reinforces my dislike. Why should a Lector be well-trained and prepared when he/she looks out over the congregation and everyone is reading a missalette? In fact, I would argue that our habit of "following along" in the missalette encourages bad Lectoring!

    Anon writes: " Most folks don't read the missalette. My evidence? no one including frequently Father strikes their breast during the Confiteor and the same lack of proper response applies to bowing during the Creed."

    Or it could mean that they are reading the missalette and ignoring the bits they don't like.

    Anon2 writes: "I could not help but think if they did [along w/a priest that wasn't into inventions], someone reading the missalette might have been alerted that something was not quite right up at the altar."

    Missalette as Policing Device. Hmmmm. Somehow I think the humility required to pray effectively is lost when the one's purpose in the pew is policing Father's liturgical innovations. Please, don't get wrong, I am a By the Book Presider, no innovations, no slapstick-made-up prayers, no goofy gestures. I firmly believe and teach that Catholics have a right (yes, a right!) to the liturgy as the Church has approved it. But if we're spending our time at Mass jotting down Father's deviations in a missalette (and I saw this done just about a month ago!), then I really have to ask: why are we at Mass?

    Fr. S.T. writes: "You don't offer lessons in homiletics do you?"

    Only on this site! I teach liturgy and spirituality at U.D. Maybe one day I will be asked to teach homiletics. Really, my best advice is this: 1) preach the Gospel in front of you--the good, the uncomfortable, the really-hard-to-hear and 2) read good literature--literary novels, poetry, etc. You'll be surprised at how quickly your preaching improves.

    Many thanks and blessings to all of you who responded to this post and the other three. I appreciate your love of good preaching and I encourage you to take this love to your parish priest. He will appreciate hearing that you need and want substantial preaching.

    Fr. Philip, OP

  17. I'm a Protestant, and wouldn't know a Misallette from a mallette, but I enjoy your blog, and appreciate your commitment to good preaching. This was a great piece, and well worth heeding.

    Though, I do like reading along while the text is read. It helps me listen.

  18. I don't have a problem with missalettes, Fr, but I think that bulletins shouldn't be available until after "the Mass is ended. Go in peace to love and serve the Lord!"

    It's been a long time since I actually heard a Sunday homily, due to my kids (three of 'em aged 5 and under, and counting) and the constant chasing, shushing, comforting ("Now you know not to stand on the edge of the lifted kneeler!"), etc.

    Any advise for the distracted parents out there?

  19. First of all, I am a visual learner, and actually am less distracted by lame translations and such if I have a missalette or missal.

    It seems that your argument has to do with the liturgical importance of the formal proclamation of the Word. By reading along with the proclamation, we somehow devalue the proclamation. For a very long time in the Church's history the formal liturgical proclamation of the Word (not the pre-homily vernacular reading) was done in a language unknown to most of the people, who were usually not even paying attention but rather saying their own private prayers. Is this somehow less a violation of the proclamation? Or was it just wrong?

  20. Anonymous2:27 PM

    Dear Father Philip,
    Your comments inspired my homily for today's feast of SS. Timothy and Titus (OSB calendar!). I took the liberty of paraphrasing your five recommendations. You brought to mind a marvelous chapter on Holy Preaching in the book of Père Marie-Joseph Nicolas, O.P. on "the gift of the priesthood." See what I wrote below.

    JANUARY 27
    2 Timothy 1:1-8
    Psalm 95:1-2a, 2b-3, 7-8a, 10
    Luke 10:1-9

    January 27, 2006
    Monastery of the Glorious Cross, O.S.B.
    Branford, Connecticut

    A bright young Dominican Father in Irving, Texas named Philip Powell has recently attracted a lot of attention by writing a series of essays on the ministry of preaching. The first three of these are addressed to preachers; the last of them is addressed to those who listen to homilies. We often forget that that preaching the Word is an interactive experience. The assembly is not passive; fruitful preaching asks as much of the listeners as it does of the preacher, and both the preacher and the listeners are utterly dependent on divine grace. Saint Gregory the Great said that “unless the heart be moved by grace in vain does the preacher wag his tongue.” Another Dominican of the last century Father Marie-Joseph Nicolas, physically blind but filled with inner light, used to say that God gives the grace of holy preaching to priests in proportion to the spiritual thirst of the hearers.
    Today's feast of Saints Timothy and Titus invites us to reflect on preaching as a collaborative work engaging both priest and assembly. So well did Timothy listen to the preaching of Saint Paul that it created a spiritual bond between them. Paul speaks of Timothy as his “beloved child” (2 Tim 1:2) and, in another place, says, “Timothy's worth you know, how as a son with a father he has served with me in the gospel” (Phil 2:22). Preaching is a privileged expression of the spiritual fatherhood that is integral to the priesthood. Again, Saint Paul says, “I became your father in Christ Jesus through the gospel” (1 Cor 4:15).
    Saint Timothy's grandmother Lois and his mother Eunice were women of faith who listened to the preaching of the Word, held it in their hearts, and passed it on to him. “I am reminded,” says Saint Paul, “of your sincere faith, a faith that dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice and now, I am sure, dwells in you” (2 Tim 1:5). The maternity of Lois and Eunice transcended the bonds of flesh and blood to become, by their transmission of the Word heard, a spiritual motherhood.
    It is to Timothy that Saint Paul writes: “For this Gospel I was appointed a preacher and apostle and teacher, and therefore I suffer as I do” (2 Tim 1:11). Preaching is a costly ministry; the preacher of the Word suffers because in his daily encounter with its light, he is obliged to confront the zones of darkness within himself. He suffers because the Word offered is not always received. He suffers because there may be things within himself that obstruct or obscure the free transmission of the Word.
    In the same breath, practically, Saint Paul says to Timothy, “Follow the pattern of the sound words which you have heard from me, in the faith and love which are in Christ Jesus; guard the truth that has been entrusted to you by the Holy Spirit who dwells within us” (2 Tim 1:13-14). The preacher has the sacred obligation to transmit “the pattern of the sound words” of Sacred Scripture and Tradition; the hearer has the sacred obligation to follow those “sound words” and to “guard the truth” they communicate.
    Father Philip Powell sums up the responsibility of those who listen to preaching in five practical suggestions:
    1. Put down the missal, Magnificat booklet, missalette or any other book, and focus on listening.
    2. Pay attention to the repetition of key words and phrases. Repetition is integral to good preaching.
    3. Repeat every word in your head. Yes, that's right. Active reception.
    4. Listen, don't carry on an argument with the preacher in your head, or engage in a mental debate with him.
    5. Pray. Pray constantly for preachers, asking God to make them burning and shining lamps (cf. Jn 5:35). Pray before, during, and after hearing the homily.
    By putting Father Powell's five suggestions into practice, we can hope to experience the Word of God as did Paul, and Lois, and Eunice, and Timothy and Titus. The Word will transform us; it will become fruitful in our lives. And always, it will send us to the altar for the Holy Sacrifice. There, what is announced from the ambo is given us in mystery. There, the gift of God “is stirred into flame” (cf. 2 Tim 1:6).

  21. Anonymous3:43 PM

    Better than the Missalette is The Magnificat. Even my parish priests have Magnificat beside them. And the best part, Fr. Powell, is that it's put out by the Dominicans. Who else could cover the Word both visually and audibly?

  22. Anonymous9:31 PM

    If I may, as a foreigner with the vocabulary of a middle-schooler, either I follow the readings on the missal or I get barely 50% of it.

    Plus, in my home country, Brazil, it's customary to follow the readings on the bulletin.

    Finally, lo and behold, yes, I can listen and read at the same time and I find that a good lector improves my reading. And, by the way, since we have an apparently dyslexic lector, following the reading on the missal is the only possible way to understand what the reading is about.

    Pax Christi

  23. Fr. Kirby,

    What great connections to the tradition! I didn't know about Fra. Nicholas, so now I will have to make an effort to look him up. I live within two minutes of the Cistercian Abbey here in Irving and I teach with a couple of the monks at UD. All solid guys I'm happy to say! Thanks for the contribution.


    Advice for distracted parents? This is very hard for me to answer b/c my brother and I were not allowed to be distractions in church. At the first sign of misbehavior in any form, my parents put the smackdown on us and all thoughts of squirming, whining, running around, talking loudly flew out of our heads. We were allowed one position on the pew: Butt flat, feet out, hands in lap, mouth closed. No games, puzzles, coloring books, missalettes, etc. It was made clear to us that we were not in church to be entertained nor were we there to act out as distractions to others. Of course, this was a different time and place, so I really don't know what to say other than this: you're the adult! ;-)

    Fr. Philip

  24. Anonymous9:54 AM

    I agree that people should try to pay attention and LISTEN to not just the homily, but the readings as well.

    That said, sometimes the homilies are just plain bad. (Sorry, father, that has been my experience with diocesan priests. We have fared better with Jesuits, Dominicans and Franciscans.) In my parish, the young diocesan priest seems to think he's a game show host - he comes down to the pews, yelling comments and mostly questions, and then thrusts the mike into the face of unsuspecting worshippers. And a few years back, another well-meaning young priest used to grab his guitar and SING his homilies, which usually amounted to singing "Jesus loves you" about 10 times and then changing the line and repeating the new one ten times. I wish I was joking, but I'm not - so I just wonder what on earth they're teaching at the diocesan seminary.

    A great book is "How NOT to Say the Mass" by Dennis Smolarski, SJ.

    Lastly, did you happen to attend the Dominican seminary in Berkeley, CA? I did an MA at the Jesuit School of Theology at Berkeley/Graduate Theological Union and there were a lot of very cool southern Dominicans there (early to mid 80s).

    Best regards from Silicon Valley,


  25. Anonymous4:59 AM

    Thanks Father,

    Great post. I don't usually use my missalette for the readings - I have always preferred listening - but I do like it for prayers after communion.

    My oldest child is greatly helped by it, it helps connect her with Mass and the Word. I think, as she matures, she will easily be able to listen without reading along.

    I think there is something profound about oral communication, which perhaps we've lost a bit.

    Really good points that you make - I will note them down.

  26. Anonymous6:56 AM

    For the distracted dad,
    For children who can read, the Magnificat magazine for kids (Magnifikid) is great. Sit up front, so the kids can see. Just make sure that you are sitting on the end, so you can make a hasty retreat if necessary. Take your kids to a church during the week, and show them around. If your schedule permits, you can try taking them to a daily Mass (or the Saturday morning Mass), which is usually much shorter than a Sunday Mass, and practice your "church behavior," with a small treat afterward if everyone makes a good-faith effort. Don't let them take food, crayons, or toys to church, but buy them some "My First Missals" or the equivalent to take along. Have special "church clothes" to help reinforce the idea that Mass is a special time in the week. They don't need to be fancy or expensive, but we found that when our boys were dressed in their usual jeans or sweat pants, they thought it was playtime. When they were wearing the khaki pants and brown shoes, they knew that it wasn't playtime.

  27. Anonymous11:08 AM

    Add me to the pro-missalette chorus. Our Bloghost will probably be dismayed, though. I like them, and encourage kids with me to read them, in part because my childhood habit of reading the missalette during the homilies, is very likely the only reason I actually know much of the Bible, unlike just about every Catholic adult of any age group I'm acquainted with.

    And it helps kids follow along. Sometimes on Sunday mornings we 've had a sleepover guest who goes to a different church where there are no missalettes - she's delighted with being able to follow along in the book, and seems to get more out of the Mass. A couple of times I've heard her mumble "oh, that's what that says..."

    And, I'm sorry, the Word may be being proclaimed by someone blessed to proclaim it with something to say to me, but if their accent is so thick I'm a paragraph behind the speaking while I try to figure out what is being said, and then I completely lose track of it all, that's no good, either.


  28. Father, you have some great advice here and have stated it in an amusing fashion...I think I am doomed to think of not a few priests now as "Fr. Oprah's."

    I once taught homiletics and have heard way too many homilies in my life and when you know the preacher you know that they are often preaching to themselves--which can make Fr. Oprah's homily very interesting and a help in knowing what you need to pray for him about.

    I also offer my "way to hear an excellent homily everytime" in my The How-To Book of the Mass by focusing more on what God is saying to you through the homilist as opposed to what the homiist intends to say to you. Sort of what is the inspired word saying through the human word.

    Closing one's eyes, putting down the missalette and asking the Holy Spirit to speak through the homilist to you is an excellent way to prepare the soil for God's sowing.

  29. Anonymous11:55 AM

    When I have traveled in Europe I have found missals/missalettes very helpful in getting the gist of the readings when I don't speak the language which has given me an appreciation for the needs of people at home who don't speak English as a first langugage. Our area is very multi-ethnic (over 90 languages). I agree with the theory but it doesn't always serve people well.

  30. Anonymous7:19 PM

    Visiting from Amy's

    #4 I agree is going to help me! Sometimes the sound is bad at some parishes but with the little ones I can't fumble for a missalette anyways for the readings.

    I wanted to add that if you read your Bible regularly (make it a habit at home, whatever it takes) you will be able to hear the word proclaimed or at least take home a part of the gospel that seemed to "stick" more that Sunday. Lent is a good time to commit to reading all the Gospels through - you have more time to read as you are eating less :)

    Thank you Fr. Powell

    for parents of fidgets - I have a fidgety 5 year old and my calm 2 year old was taking pointers from her until they both got the idea quick that we were in charge. Plus a lot of teaching on the presence of Our Lord and how lucky we are that He loves us so much but we need to be quiet for others etc, etc, - lots of teaching, lots of love, and yes unbreakable bounderies. Our five year old also does much better in a church with lots of statues stained glass windows - in short Beauty. She's very capable of learning while being active so it has been a challenge - I have to say that she's has grown able to sit for about the whole hour now and we've just been blessed with the ease of the two year old. We also prepare her to hear the word and she catches more than even I thought she was! Loving the Lord and the gift of Scripture is contagious for the little ones too. Let's see about the one on the way!

    Jenn E.

  31. Anonymous3:04 PM

    I'm a no-misalette kind of guy. I used the misalette to learn the prayers, and once I know them, I don't need to be reading to identify "liturgical innovation".

    As far as the readings go, our readers do a very good job. I never mind a "brothers and sisters" when I know St. Paul wrote "brothers", but at some other churches, I'm dismayed by Jesus supposedly saying: "Our parent, who art in heaven..."

    You are going to have to cut me a bit of slack in the next couple of weeks, Father, because I have been home schooling my daughter in religious ed (in preparation for her confirmation with permission of our pastor), and we'll be going to an indult mass here in town. It will be her first Latin mass (and the interveining years have dulled my memory of the responses) so we'll both be using missals :).

  32. Dear Fr. Powell:

    Thank you for your posting here. I have taken your words in vain in my own weblog, and the evidence of my particular sins may be found here:


    Again, thank you for the inspiration.

  33. I don't pick up the missalette unless I can't understand the lector.

    Unfortunately, this is the case about 2/3 of the time. (Conservative estimate.)

  34. Anonymous8:27 AM

    Thank you,Father. I have found it very helpful using these tips to listening during the readings and homily. Especially the tip of repeating to myself the words as I am hearing them. I read the readings prior to Mass and close my eyes to listen.

  35. Anonymous12:45 AM

    I use my Magnificat, I read all the information about the saint, readings for the morning, for the opening prayers of Mass and then I put it down to listen, to the readings. I can do this because I know the Bible pretty well and can identify who wrote the readings. I take notes on the homily as discreetly as possible. I can look at my notes later and sometime it is just one sentence that captures my attention to what Christ demands of me. One time, I was having a fit during the week about something in my life that I thought was a wrong to me, ( I was probably gossiping),
    I read my notes later and Father had said, "Let's reflect on the Passion this week." I immediately felt the hardness of my heart go away. I shared this with Father later.
    At first my new priest was a little taken aback when he saw me taking notes. But when I told them it was just for personal use, he understand. Frankly I think the Missalettes are OK, because we are listening to the Bible together, which the Church encourages. We should look at it as an evangelical "tool" Many souls are saved by using the Missalette and growing in the faith to the point where they can listen. This was my own person experience.

  36. Why the war on using the missal? Yes, I focus better with the missal. I am distracted by the leftures wearing or not wearing clothing. I am distracted by the lectures who over do it, trying to make it more moving for us. I am sorry, but, even in Rome they have books people follow along with. This is more attacks on the Mass, from the liberal Notre Dame School of Liturgy. We are forbidden to use missals at our mass, but the same priest brings his do to Mass. Go figure. Listen, pay attention, but pet the dog too, and bring bones.