Monday, August 18, 2008

Always be prepared! (For Sunday Mass, that is!)

Are lackluster homilies getting you down? Do you wish your pastor had a book on homily helps? Does keeping your kids well-behaved cause you to miss the proclamation of Scripture during the Liturgy of the Word?

Well, have no fear! There are many resources out there for you so that you can be prepared for Mass on Sunday. Even if your priest may not be the most eloquent orator on the Scripture, being well-prepared can make a great difference in getting the most out of Mass.

By way of example, I will take you through the readings for this Sunday, August 24, 2008, the 21st Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year A).

#1: The first, and most important, step is to read the Scripture readings ahead of time (asking the Holy Spirit to enlighten your mind as you read). For that, the USCCB is a handy place to find all the Sunday Mass readings (and daily Mass readings as well!): Readings for August 24, 2008

#2: Next, Scott Hahn's St. Paul Center for Biblical Theology provides excellent homily helps on the Sunday Mass readings. They are clear, concise, yet deep, and they beautifully tie the readings together in the way they were meant to be read: "Oh the Depths" - on the readings for August 24, 2008

#3: St. Charles Borromeo Catholic Church in Picayune, MS, (home of the excellent, user-friendly, online version of the second edition of the Catechism of the Catholic Church) also has a wonderful archive of studies of all the readings from the Lectionary for every Sunday of the Liturgical Year. The studies are all in .pdf format and requires free Adobe Acrobat Reader to open: 21st Sunday in Ordinary Time - A

#4: Next, you may choose to listen to audio files of an excellent homilist. Fr. Bob Barron from the Archdiocese of Chicago, through his apostolate Word on Fire, offers an astonishing archive of all his homilies for the last 8 years (and counting!). He always has available the homily for the upcoming Sunday. Here is his homily for this Sunday: Sermon #398 - Ekklesia

*note: For Fr. Barron's homilies on the same readings, you can also backtrack to 2005 (Sermon #241 - Tu es Petrus) and 2002 (Sermon #86 - Thou Art Peter).

*note #2: Catholics United for the Faith also has an archive of homilies on their website in print form, although they have discontinued it at the present time. They have about two and a half years worth of Sunday homilies, but they do not have one for the 21st Sunday in Ordinary Time for year A.

#5: Be sure to check out what the early Church Fathers were saying on the Gospels as well by consulting St. Thomas Aquinas' invaluable compilation, the Catena Aurea (the "Golden Chain"). Aquinas went through the Gospels verse by verse to compile what the early Church Fathers had to say about them. It is truly remarkable. Look at what the early Church Fathers say about this Sunday's Gospel: Matthew 16:13-20

#6: A good Bible Commentary is also quite helpful. Online, there is the old Haydock Bible Commentary available free of charge. All you have to do is look up the passages from the Sunday Readings:

*note: Of course, there are other great Bible Commentaries in print form, such as the Ignatius Catholic Bible Study and the Navarre Bible Commentary.

If you follow these steps in a spirit of prayer, you should be well-prepared to celebrate the great mysteries of our faith when you go to Mass on Sunday. Not to mention the fact that your biblical prowess will greatly improve!