Preaching the Mysteries of Faith

“I came to you, brothers, proclaiming the mystery of God, […] and my message and my proclamation were not with persuasive words of wisdom, but with a demonstration of spirit and power, so that your faith might rest not on human wisdom but on the power of God” (1 Cor 2:1, 4). With these powerful words of Saint Paul to the Corinthians, Archbishop Joseph Augustine Di Noia, O.P., Assistant Secretary of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, concluded the Carl J. Peter Lecture on Sunday evening, January 18, 2016.

This year, Archbishop Di Noia spoke about the recently published Homiletic Directory and the simultaneous help and challenge it poses to homily preparation. After explaining how the Second Vatican Council situated the homily in the liturgy and outlining the proper Catholic interpretation of Sacred Scripture, the Archbishop proposed that the Homiletic Directory challenges the preacher to make present the living mystery of God and His saving works for the congregation in a way proper to their own culture.

carl j peter lecture 2016
An attentive audience for the 2016 Carl J. Peter Lecture.

The homily is therefore not simply an exegesis of Scripture or a moral exhortation. Rather, the homily ought to convey the mystery of faith celebrated in the liturgy and reveal how grace is brought to us today in the sacraments of the Church so that we can live what our faith requires. In order to do this, the homilist must be a man of communion with the Word of God and God’s people in order to enter the mystery himself and know how to communicate that to the recipients of his preaching. In doing so, he incarnates the faith like Saint Paul, and proclaims the “mystery of God” with the “power of God” so that his congregation might receive nothing less than the theological virtue of faith itself.

The Carl J. Peter Lecture is an annual lecture given to promote the art of preaching and was established by the family of the theologian Rev. Carl J. Peter who passed away in 1991.

Archbishop Di Noia has kindly provided us with the text of his lecture, which can be viewed below or downloaded here.

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