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Renowned as composer, conductor, theorist, author, pedagogue, and organist, Aurelio Porfiri has served the Church on multiple continents at the highest levels. Born and raised in Italy, he currently serves as Director of Choral Activities and Composer in Residence for Santa Rosa de Lima School (Macao, China).
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“I still haven’t made up my mind whether I shall publish it all. Some people are so humorless, so uncharitable, and so absurdly wrong-headed, that one would probably do far better to relax and enjoy life than worry oneself to death trying to instruct or entertain a public which will only despise one’s efforts, or at least feel no gratitude for them. Most readers know nothing about canon law. Many regard it with contempt and find everything heavy going that isn’t completely lowbrow. Some are so grimly serious that they disapprove of all humor. Others come to different conclusions every time they stand up or sit down. They seize upon your publications, as a wrestler seizes upon his opponent’s hair, and use them to drag you down, while they themselves remain quite invulnerable, because their barren pates are completely bald, so there’s nothing for you to get hold of.”
— St. Thomas More to Peter Gilles, 1516

The Downside Of Dialogue
published 25 June 2014 by Aurelio Porfiri

339 Fulton Sheen MAGINE THIS SCENE with me: a man, we will call him Andrea, is going to Mass. After the initial rites and the readings he waits for the homily. He hopes to receive some direction and instructions that he can consider, if not follow, in his daily life.

But suddenly the pastor starts to ask a question: “Jesus is risen from the dead: what do you think?”

“What do I think?” mumbles Andrea — “I am at Mass for this very reason.”

What is the meaning of the resurrection of Christ for your life? — I was expecting the answer from you, thinks Andrea. Strange scene? Not real? You may want to think again.

I AM SURE MANY OF US have experienced dialogued homilies, where you are asked to express an opinion on the Gospel heard. But not everything should be an occasion for a debate. In the Mass, with all our weakness and doubts, we should try to abandon ourselves to the healing Presence of Christ: at least, let us try. The homily should help to make sense of that Presence. If the priest seems to be himself trying to make sense of the Gospel, instead of instructing on the truth as received from the tradition of the church, then maybe there is something wrong. You may say that these are things that were alive in the 1960s, but not today. Not really.

An Italian example is given from the catholic news agency Corrispondenza Romana. Thanks to a new report from journalist Mauro Faverzani we learn that in the parish of San Carlo Borromeo in Pognano (province of Bergamo, North Italy) the Lent Season of this year has offered a big program of “Predicazione dialogata” (dialogued preaching).

Now, I believe that the preacher has the best of intentions, but the liturgical documents state that the homily should be preached only by a priest or deacon. 1 On April 9, the theme of the homily was, prophetically “Parola, liberta’ e verita’” (Word, freedom and truth). So, in the case of a debate the freedom of opinions is certainly welcomed, but in the case of the homily shouldn’t the explanation of the gospel have more importance, so as to make us come closer to the truth? We have a saying in Italy: “The road to hell is paved with good intentions.” Maybe, especially in this case, the saying is not really wrong…


1   GIRM §66: The Homily should ordinarily be given by the Priest Celebrant himself or be entrusted by him to a concelebrating Priest, or from time to time and, if appropriate, to the Deacon, but never to a lay person.

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