The liturgical renewal launched by the Second Vatican Council is the most ambitious and dramatic reform of the liturgy ever undertaken by the church. Already, within the first half-century after the council, its effects are being felt everywhere.
From the beginning, the goal of the liturgical renewal has been clear: full and active participation by all the people is the aim to be considered before all else.
The church has been prepared to invest so much time and effort in liturgical renewal because it recognizes the supreme importance of the assembly's participation in the sacred mysteries. Genuine participation in the liturgy constantly renews the church and gives it the vitality it needs to evangelize the world.
To achieve its goal of full, conscious and active participation, the council reached back to the time when popular participation flourished, thus reclaiming the riches of the past. The language of the people, the general intercessions, the greeting of peace and communion from the cup are examples that readily spring to mind.
The homily is one of the principal liturgical actions restored by the council. Its importance within the broad picture of liturgical renewal is indicated by the language of the Constitution: "... as part of the liturgy itself therefore, the homily is strongly recommended; in fact, at Masses celebrated with the assistance of the people on Sundays and holy days of obligation, it is not to be omitted except for a serious reason".
It may well be that the homily is the key element of the entire reform. Some observers have argued that twenty-five or thirty years of good homilies will do more to revitalize the church than anything else one can imagine. It is with this in mind that we offer this book as a service to homilists everywhere. Our hope is that, in its own small way, it will advance the renewal of the church and the evangelization of the world during this exciting age of the Second Vatican Council.