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Catholic Dictionary




A sermon or informal discourse on some part of the Sacred Scriptures. It aims to explain in an instructive commentary the literal meaning of the chosen text or subject and from this develop a practical application for the moral or spiritual life. The oldest extant homily is the sermon of Peter on Pentecost Sunday. Since the Second Vatican Council the homily has become an integral part of every Mass, always the Sunday Mass, but also whenever a number of the faithful are present or the occasion calls for an exposition of the Scriptures. The methods of giving a homily include: treating separately one or more parts of the biblical reading; combining the Scripture texts into a single idea; concentrating on some virtue or vice suggested by the Gospel text; paraphrasing a Bible passage as a basis for an exhortation to the people. (Etym. Greek homilein, to consort with, address.)