These words from the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy, Sacrosanctum Concilium, lept to my mind yesterday as I listened to newly installed Archbishop William Lori give the homily at his installation Mass: Because the sermon is part of the liturgical service, the best place for it is to be indicated even in the rubrics, as far as the nature of the rite will allow; the ministry of preaching is to be fulfilled with exactitude and fidelity. The sermon, moreover, should draw its content mainly from scriptural and liturgical sources, and its character should be that of a proclamation of God's wonderful works in the history of salvation, the mystery of Christ, ever made present and active within us, especially in the celebration of the liturgy.Lori’s homily, however, did not really draw on the scriptural or liturgical sources present at the event. He mentioned the readings only in passing, once to make a joke and the other to set up what can only be described as a political discourse. He did not refer to some of the signs and symbols that uniquely accompany such a Mass, say, the enthronement in the cathedra. In 2005, when Pope Benedict XVI preached on the occasion of his installation Mass, he spoke about the Litany of the Saints, the significance of the pallium and of the fisherman’s ring. Benedict also intertwined his sermon thoroughly with the readings that had just been proclaimed. Archbishop Lori did not, in any meaningful way, break open for the people either the Word of God or the liturgy they were at that moment sharing. His sermon seemed like an odd interruption in an otherwise lovely liturgical event. It was bizarre.
Perhaps I should not be surprised that Archbishop Lori used the occasion yesterday to present his commentary on the importance of religious liberty. Certainly, he is entitled to his own opinions on such matters but as they have to do with constitutional law and political practice, rather than with the sacred mysteries at the heart of every Mass, they are better suited to a blog post than a sermon, and certainly not as the centerpiece of a sermon. The first reading yesterday was from Acts, recounting Paul’s visit to Athens, and Lori used that as a metaphor for his own role, but instead of preaching Christi crucified and risen as Paul did, Lori preached Neo-con Constitutional Theory 101.
How very sad.
Rocco has the text of Lori's sermion here.