ASK FATHER: Criticizing a priest’s homilies

From a reader…


Father, our parish priest is a good man, well versed in Scripture, in the encyclicals. He is also charismatic.

However, his preaching is dreadful. He uses the homily as an opportunity to teach and goes on far too long. Yesterday, he preached for 35 minutes; this in addition to confirming 16 candidates so that Mass took a total of 2 hours.  [Imagine!  2 hours out of your week… in church!]

One could see people getting impatient and quite a few had to leave; their small children simply could not remain any longer.

How does one tell a priest that his preaching needs to be short, succinct, to the point, and leave the theological teaching to another time?

I sense that my priest wants to share everything on a subject with us, thinking that something will stick to someone. But the result is the opposite. He loses the majority and those who listen at first, and wish to listen, tune out after he goes on and says the same thing in three different ways.

How does one kindly tell one’s priest that he needs to learn to preach? thank you.

Criticizing a priest’s homiletic skills is generally as easy as criticizing one’s wife’s weight gain. One can take the Subtle Approach™, suggesting, “Hey, hon, let’s have a walk after dinner!”, or perhaps buying a new exercise bike for oneself, but making it clear that she can use it anytime she wants.  You might suggest the arugula salad, again, and you can hope the hints are picked up.  One use the More Direct Approach™ and leave a diet book on the coffee table, or comment on how much better the lady down the street looks since she lost all that weight. One could use the Blunt Approach™ and say, “You’ve put on a lot of weight lately.”

Any approach is a potential minefield, and just as likely to reap a huge negative reaction as it is to bring about positive change.

Me, I’d take the Cushioned Direct Approach™. “Father, I love what you have to say in your homilies and would definitely sign up and come if you had a mid-week scripture/apologetics/catechesis class.  I’m concerned though that the length of your homilies is turning people away from the parish. I wish you would tighten it up a bit.”

Now, having no responsibility whatsoever for the results of your attempts (unless it works), with the wife or the parish priest, I bid you adieu.

(And Fathers, remember, you don’t have to get all of it into every single sermon.)

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. JBS says:

    The number of minutes in the sermon could correspond to the number of candles on the altar. Two minute weekday homily (if one is delivered at all, such as during Advent/Lent), and six minute Sunday/solemnity homily. Perhaps preachers just need a tangible measure such as this. At any rate, surely it shouldn’t be the longest part of the Mass. And a priest who’s incapable of even discussing the subject may need to lose his preaching faculties for a time.

  2. msc says:

    The only thing the writer cites as an example of this “dreadful” preaching is that “He uses the homily as an opportunity to teach and goes on far too long. Yesterday, he preached for 35 minutes.” Surely a homily is supposed to teach–what is the point of it otherwise? Read any of the Church Fathers’ homilies and they all teach something. Yes, 35 minutes might be too long when there is a lot else going on in Mass, but for most people I know that 35 minutes would be the only instruction in the faith they’re going to get any week. So, if the preaching is otherwise good (that is, purposeful, theologically accurate, not excessively circuitous or prolix) I think the writer should consider himself lucky to have such a priest.

  3. tzabiega says:

    I am like many Poles (Polish people who grew up in Poland) who picks the parish I attend based on the beauty of the liturgy. And so my family and I go to a Polish language only parish in Chicagoland where the liturgy is the most beautiful you can think of for a Novus Ordum Mass, with reception of Communion kneeling. The priests are wonderful, attentive to the needs of parishioners, hard working (confession at every Mass), and even personally prepare the children of the parish for First Communion (instead of relegating it to the laity like everyone else to the detriment of our children). Frankly, I never get much out of the homilies, which do not compare well to other, more trendy, parishes. Yet, nobody cares and this parish is despised by other pastors because they fill up with faithful to the brim (and often overflow) at 4 Masses every Sunday, while other churches are half full. But its the liturgy that matters for true Catholics. And a good homilist is like icing on the cake–but who eats cake for just the icing. I remember one visiting missionary who spoke for 45 minutes on the history of separation of Church and State (the Gospel was on “render onto Caeser…”) and then apologized, but everyone was mesmerized and wished he had spoken longer. So long homilies are ok with me if Father wishes to teach us more. Be faithful, Fathers, to the liturgy and the sacraments, and parishioners will not care how good or bad your public speaking may be.

  4. Giuseppe says:

    JBS, I am inclined to agree re. homily length. Save the big homilies for the very big occasions with dignitaries. If tempted to deliver a long homily, write it down, print it out, and stick it in the bulletin.

    To those who deliver long homilies, you can rest comfortably knowing you delivered a long homily, but you should rest uncomfortably knowing you lost 10% of the congregation each minute after 5 minutes. So make your main points early, since few listen after a while.

    As a kid, I recall one priest giving a homily about a different saint each week. Roughly 5 minutes long. He did this every week for months. Brief story, main virtue, and suggested ways we could be like the saint in our lives. Simple, vivid, and practical. To a kid, it was like a cavalcade of superheroes.

  5. JudicaMe says:

    I think any kind of presentation needs to be succinct; homily is no exception. To be succinct doesn’t mean it has to be short, but it should not have any unnecessary “details”. Fathers have to consider that not everyone in the audience has the attention span required to grasp every points he made in the homily. For this case, I think, less is more.

  6. eulogos says:

    35 minutes is typical for a Protestant sermon. My husband’s Anglican (ACNA) priest preaches for 45 minutes every Sunday. We Catholics have shorter attention spans? The question is, does he do it well? If his sermon is well organized and coherent, 35 minutes will not seem long. As for children, if parents need to take them out and walk around, that is not really a problem, is it? (Well, at times it is, if one parent is there with many children, as I know well. But my older ones would have listened to something of substance by the age of 5 or 6; they had a lot of interest then.) Except that they are missing part of an excellent sermon. But if the priest didn’t give it, everyone would miss it.
    Frankly, I am still waiting to hear a Catholic priest preach exegetically from a Catholic point of view the way my husband’s pastor preaches from a Protestant point of view. I would like to hear one preach about the Epistle reading and explain the Catholic understanding of some of Paul’s statements.
    I see that mine is the minority opinion here, though.

    My hairdresser is a Catholic who used to be a Methodist but married a Catholic. She was not very well taught in either, but now she has a desire to know the truth. She has many Protestant clients who tell her why the Church is wrong about this, that, and the other thing. She comes to me with what they say so I can explain why the Church is right. She sometimes goes to their churches and hears sermons which explain things, and she wants to know why Catholic priests don’t do that. I explained that the Mass is an act of worship, and not primarily about teaching, but she not unfairly says that there must be a teaching part since we do have readings and a sermon. Why don’t the sermons explain the readings and explain Catholic teachings? I say it is more a Catholic tradition to give a sermon on a moral issue, or applying one point from the reading to people’s lives. She says, but that isn’t enough.
    She is struggling through the catechism I gave her. She read Scott Hahn’s book about Mary when I gave it to her to counteract the things her other clients were telling her. Here is someone with a thirst to know the truth. Can she be the only one? I think priests should always preach as if there is someone like that in the congregation, just in case there is.
    Susan Peterson

  7. Sonshine135 says:

    St. Padre Pio would often have to stop and pray during Mass and long periods of silence occurred between parts. I say grin and bear it.

  8. lh says:

    The longest Mass I have attended, where the homily was fairly long, was 3 hours. It was great, no one wanted to leave, no one wanted it to end. Now our priests here have been told they cannot preach longer than 7 minutes. Some of us are very upset they have been shortened, instead of shorting the homily they should cut the announcements at the end of Mass. Long homilies where the priest is teaching would be very welcomed here.

  9. marymiller says:

    I’ve been listening to sermons at by FSSP priests. Almost all the sermons are at least 20-25 minutes. Of course, they are packed with info and inspiration. I would give my right arm to sit through one in person. AND, I would give my right arm to have a priest at my parish deliver a sermon like they do.

  10. Susan G says:

    I tend to think that the priest knows his congregation. Maybe this priest feels this is the only time he can deliver the catechesis needed to his parishoners. Not many people would come to a Bible study/ catechism class/ Church study group during the week. Many of our brethren seem to check a box on Church attendance on Sunday as their duty for the week and leave their seeking of the faith to that. Personally, I love to see a priest so in love with Christ and on fire for His Church that his homilies go on a bit. Even if the congregants tune out, they can’t help but see the zeal of the preacher.

  11. Cafea Fruor says:

    I have no problem with long homilies and long Masses (actually, I like long Masses), so long as you know ahead of time and can plan for it. I’ve had it happen where I’ve been caught in a real bind because a Mass went well beyond it’s usual time, and I didn’t know it was going to, and I wasn’t able to get a bus home because the last bus of the day left while Mass was still going on, and I didn’t have the cash for a taxi. I was able to get home, but only after a very long, roundabout set of bus rides, which meant that what normally takes two and a half hours (45 min. to Mass, hour Mass, 45 min. home) took almost five because of the travel time (Sunday bus schedules are pretty slim). Had I known to expect the longer Mass, I could have arranged to attend an earlier Mass or made other travel arrangements to get home.

  12. AnAmericanMother says:

    Our parochial vicar’s homilies tend to be a bit on the long side (but not long compared to an old-fashioned Methodist or Presbyterian minister, who would just be getting warmed up good at the 15 minute mark).
    But he has a lot of good things to say, he usually focuses on the history and sidelights on the readings and then applies it to some point in daily life. And he is obviously genuinely interested in what he is talking about and in communicating his enthusiasm to the congregation.
    Better that than ‘phoning it in’ which I fear happens far too often.
    He mentioned to me after church one Sunday that he was afraid he had run a little too long, and I responded, “It’s not too long if it’s interesting.” And it was.
    There was a scene in Stevenson’s “David Balfour” where the minister lost his congregation at “Twenty-sixthly” and never could figure out why.

  13. AnAmericanMother says:

    My First Sermon

    My Second Sermon

    – John Everett Millais

  14. Tom in NY says:

    Edwards’ “Sinners In The Hands Of An Angry God” runs about 30 minutes. So does M. T. Cicero’s In Catilinam #1. College English classes still study the former, Latin and Roman History classes the latter. Neither address pleasant subjects. If you have something worth saying, half an hour can work.
    Salutationes omnibus.

  15. Gregg the Obscure says:

    I remember hearing about a German Lutheran parish in northern Minnesota during my mom’s childhood where the congregation found the preacher to be a sluggard because he didn’t routinely preach for a full hour each Sunday.

    While it does seem that attention spans even among adults have become very tiny, meatier topics (the four last things, common grave sins, the necessity of confession, etc.) tend to hold one’s attention.

  16. Maxiemom says:

    I’m sure I’ll get heat for my response, but here goes.

    I can totally appreciate where the reader is coming from. We will be leaving the parish that we have belonged to for 24 years and one of the reasons is the homilies given by the two priests. And here is why.

    The pastor gives homilies that are all over the place. Now that wouldn’t bother me if they made a point, but they don’t. He starts on one topic and by the time his 20 plus minute homily is over, he has touched on about 7 or eight different topics and never follows through with any one of them.
    The associate is foreign born and his English is difficult to understand. In addition, he speaks very quietly and even the microphone and multiple speakers don’t help. He, too, is all over the place with his homilies. Since the pastor is often rude to people (including myself) I wouldn’t waste my time trying to speak to him on this topic.

    Much of the time the homilies, no matter what topic they start with, ends with a lecture on abortion and confession. Point made in the first thirty times this topic was broached. Most people lose interest in the first five minutes – not just the young people, but even the older people are either sleeping (and I have heard much snoring) or looking at the missalette. There is a parade to use the restroom by both children and adults.

    We have been attending another parish most Sundays for the past few months in an adjoining town. The new pastor is young and, by most standards, bordering on the conservative. Latin is used during Lent, which many don’t like, but his homilies are well prepared, make a point and don’t last too long. And even when they are longer, they are good and people sit and listen attentively. I have tried returning to my own parish, but I leave feeling empty.

    So, we will be leaving the parish where my son made his First Penance, First Communion and was Confirmed and for that I am sad. But we will join a parish where the worship is meaningful. And the homilies have a point.

    Now, the negative comments to my post may begin!

  17. Our genial host originally raised the question of how one offers critiques of a priest’s homily.

    I suspect I am not typical in welcoming criticism. Even where criticism proceeds from premises I disagree with: i.e., someone whose complaint is simply against a topic that s/he doesn’t like (contraception, chastity, etc.) — that information is valuable to me. I learn from it.

    No, of course I don’t enjoy hearing criticism, but I benefit from it.

    Anyway, I’m different in that regard. Nevertheless, I think many priests can take criticism if it’s offered the right way:

    > Don’t attack. Engage in a conversation. Putting people on the defensive isn’t a winning strategy. Instead, talk to the priest, in a normal way, and in that context, offer a difference of opinion.

    > Be humble. As right as you probably are, it’s just possible you’re not? And the priest is?

    > Ask permission. Imagine starting this way: “Father, I listened intently to your homily, and thank you, because I know you worked at it. But, do you mind if I ask about something? I have to admit, there were parts I didn’t find helpful…” Either the priest will encourage you to go on — or he won’t.

    > Instead of drilling into him after Mass, maybe call and ask if you can come see him. Big difference: he can focus on your questions and concerns, and he may not be so crushed by your disappointment, as he would be immediately after Mass.

  18. Eternity is a very long time. I need plenty of prep work. Preach on!

  19. Giuseppe says:

    @Tom in NY – I agree that for those who are going to a Protestant service, a lengthy exhortation (e.g. Edwards) is appropriate – it was probably the centerpiece of the event. I also agree that if one is delivering an invective against an alleged traitor in the Roman Senate, then Cicero’s Catiline orations are perfect.

    We all criticize the N.O. priest who turns himself into the center of the Mass. Does a verbose poor or mediocre homilist do likewise? I would much rather read the sermon than have to sit and listen. I was set on the 5 minute time limit, but I am happily willing to accept @JBS’s suggestion that the sermon length equal the number of altar candles, so 6 minutes would be fine. I’m flexible.

  20. jeffreyquick says:

    Homilies with content? And you’re complaining?
    Here’s a sad truth: the folks who need to be catechized in the Faith aren’t the ones who would come out on a weeknight. Sunday is the only shot Father has. He may be going on longer than effective. But I’d rather that Father teach than not.

  21. Giuseppe says:

    @jeffreyquick – Do you think they are listening? I know I am a pessimist: long homilies not only fall on deaf ears, but they also create deaf ears. If one is saved, dozens are turned off. Why can’t Father teach in 5 minutes?

  22. capchoirgirl says:

    I don’t mind homilies with content. But what I do mind is when the priest says the same thing eight different ways, is hard/impossible to understand or follow, and uses phrases like “metaphysical realities” more than once in a homily. Now, on some days, like Easter, sure. Preach on. But if Mass is two hours every Sunday, that’s hard for the parish!
    At my parish, our Sunday Mass schedule is 7, 9, 10:30 and noon. Often, the 9 or 10:30 will go *far* beyond their hour, into almost the start time of the next Mass. The parking is a mess, and how are we supposed to prepare for Mass if we’re hanging around the vestibule waiting for the previous Mass to let out? Priests do need to be aware of the logistics of their parishes. You simply cannot preach a 40 minute homily if you have a Mass that starts 30 minutes after the other ends. It doesn’t work.
    However, if you do want to preach a long homily, then yes, I would love to see announcements avoided (people can read the bulletin!) and don’t choose that day to chant the Roman Canon. Yes, the Roman Canon is beautiful. But you’re asking a lot of your parishioners to handle that, and a 35 minute homily, plus everything else that is at Mass.
    I dislike it when people say “oh, two hours out of your whole week for God!” It isn’t just two hours. It’s the time to prepare, the time to drive, to park, to get there early so you can prepare for Mass appropriately, and if you’re fasting longer than the hour….that makes it hard. At my parish we also have many daily communicants, so it’s not that this is the “only time” we’re at church. As for big families, of which we have many, corralling 8+ kids for two hours–when it is not expected–is tough. Knowing Easter Vigil is long is one thing. But if you don’t expect Mass to be two hours, you don’t come prepared for that.

  23. Let me preface by saying that I’m was a Protestant for years, so take this for what it’s worth, but…

    I love lengthy homilies.

    I really do. And I’m twenty years old. I would never describe a long-winded priest as an awful homilist, even one who detracts from his preaching thereby. Seriously, 75%+ of Fathers out there give ten minute, feel-good, milquetoast pablum to their sons. You have a better chance of hearing about Martin Luther King Jr. than the Mother of God.

  24. Joan A. says:

    Count your blessings! Do you realize how fortunate you are to have a good and caring priest? As for other people’s problems, kids, time constraints, that is none of your affair. After some displays of restlessness or dashing to the restrooms, this priest will possibly simmer down.

    Consider an example of one of my priest’s homilies! We were treated to a detailed description of his recent trip to the doctor for a colonoscopy, which included the illuminating information that he had 7 polyps removed! I don’t think you can top that for “TMI”.

  25. Imrahil says:

    The dear CafeaFruor makes a very valid point.

    There must be a place for long sermons, but they should be announced – such as the Lenten sermons of the Dominicans around here (always of excellent quality).

    We have a duty to worship God on the Sunday, not to remain in Church for an unforeseeable time at the discretion of the pastor. St. Alphonsus (probably not counting the sermon and High-Mass extra stuff, but you get the idea) said that a celebrant of Mass was obliged to: be devout and attentive, etc., some other things, and: take about 30 minutes.

    That said, I do not agree at all that there should not be theology in the sermon. Do give us all that fascinating knowledge about Christ who is the Truth. Makes for a nice change as opposed to the (to some degree necessary) ever-same morality exhortations (it’s the doing, not the knowinf, that’s the problem for us Christians). Students are, in my experience, always most attentive when the lecturer says “this is not relevant for the exam.”

  26. julieculshaw says:

    As the person who submitted the question to Father Z, perhaps I can clarify a bit more. The homilies are long, and usually every Sunday they are this length. Unfortunately, our priest is using the homily as an opportunity to teach things that better belong in another setting. They are often over the heads of most of the congregation and he is not the most gifted of speakers/teachers. He really does say the same thing in three different ways which adds to the length; perhaps he heard once that you have to tell people something three times so that they will get it.

    He has now discovered Power Point and last Sunday, in addition to the long homily, he used PP – five screens of text which he read, word for word. This completely defeats the purpose of PP which is to highlight points. This was as if he had scanned in five pages of a book and then read it all to us. I don’t think PP should be used in church to begin with, but to use it badly is even worse.

    He doesn’t seem to notice that people are disengaged. One commentator made the remark that this type of homily makes people deaf and that is what is happening here. Good members of the congregation have spoken to him about this, and have now given up, and have moved to another parish. Father seems to think that they are simply wrong and that he is right, and he continues despite the signs of a dwindling congregation which also means a financial crisis.

    This is a man who was born and raised Catholic, became a Pentecostal in his young manhood, then reverted to Catholicism in his 40’s and was ordained a priest at age 49. This might explain a lot about him. As one woman said who works in the parish: He is evangelical with a big E, and he thinks that he has to hit people over the head with his preaching.

    I think a homily should be long enough to communicate something important but short enough not to bore people. And that is what is happening. Even the daily Mass people, like myself, are finding this hard to stomach and I can take a lot of teaching if it is good.

    By contrast, there is another priest in the diocese who preaches for 30-35 minutes even at a weekday Mass, and everyone listens intently – the reason: this man doesn’t use notes but speaks from his heart, he shows signs of holiness, and it is evident that his spirituality is mystical.

    Our priest is reciting head knowledge, without the message from the heart. Perhaps that is why it is not being well received. We actually have one parishioner who is a converted former Pentecostal pastor and he is having great difficulty with the length of the homilies.

    I believe it was Mark Twain who wrote: If I had had more time, I would have written a shorter letter.

  27. PhilipNeri says:

    Homiletics prof here. . .

    I teach my seminarians to write out their homilies using a formula. Weekday homilies: three pgs., double-spaced, 16pt, Times New Roman, one inch margins. That’s about five minutes. Double the page length for a Sunday homily. Ten to eleven minutes. A congregation will come to respect “homily time” if the preacher preaches for a predictable amount of time every week. Of course, this assumes that the homily is well-prepared, substantial, challenging, etc. Generally, homilies have a catechetical element but purely informational homilies should be limited (e.g., a lengthy liturgical history of a solemnity). Another professor and I will be offering a course this fall titled, “Preaching the Dogmatic Feasts.” We’re hoping to convey to the seminarians the importance of preaching dogma while avoiding the temptation of giving academic lectures on theology. It’s a challenge to preach on the Incarnation or the Trinity w/o falling into the trap of turning the pulpit into a seminar lectern!

    On criticizing homilies: I prefer straightforward critique. But I’m a Dominican, so I’ll get that from my brother-friars whether I prefer it or not. I’ve been saying the past ten years: if Catholics want better preaching, they have to be willing to demand and support better preaching. Fr. Z. routinely (and rightly!) encourages supporters of the Extraordinary Form to be prepared to sacrifice time, talent, and treasure if they want the EF form celebrated. The same goes for better preaching. Nothing will improve so long as Father believes his people are happy with what/how he’s preaching.

    Fr. Philip Neri, OP

  28. Johnno says:

    I could listen to 45 mins-1 hour of sermons the caliber of Fulton J Sheen.

    It’s not about length. It’s about quality. Frankly if the sermon is good, well written and instructive, and orated well, then there’s a tiny violin playing out there for all those whose attention during mass is that they’re in danger of missing the football match on the tele rather than the things of God because father is taking long to instruct them about important things their parents & Catholic schools didn’t bother to give them.

    Boo Hoo.

  29. Hidden One says:

    As an ex-Protestant, I grew up in a land where a 35 minute sermon was on the short side. So was an eighty minute service.

    As far as I’m concerned, I don’t really care about the length of the Sunday homily. Preach well, Father, whether you do it for five minutes or 35 minutes. And please, ask yourself whether, were you in the pews listening to someone else give that homily, you would appreciate it and pay attention to it. If you wouldn’t, be careful.

  30. David Zampino says:

    I would respectfully note the difference between “preaching” and “teaching”. Both are necessary — but not necessarily at the same time. The homily is (usually) a time for preaching. In our parish, we are blessed to have abundant adult faith formation opportunities — and those are used for teaching.

    Another thought just as a practical point: In a large parish served by only one priest, who must binate (or trinate) on the weekends, longer Masses, even when beneficial, may be impractical.

  31. phlogiston says:

    Of course there is always the “subterfuge approach” where parents of toddlers coincidentally get progressively less inclined to remove boisterous little ones to the cry room as the homily length increases. Not that I would ever do this myself, of course. I just offer it as a theoretical possibility.

  32. Imrahil says:

    I believe it was Mark Twain who wrote: If I had had more time, I would have written a shorter letter.

    Good to know, so next time I’ll cite him. It’s always the feeling I have with my comments.

    That said, dear julieculshaw, I quite agree: there is no way – no way – where PowerPoint can be used for a sermon.

    I had been thinking that there is a big leeway between “teaching in a sermon” and “teaching instead of a sermon” (the second is of course wrong), but the mere use of a powerpoint presentation definitively is over the border. Unmotivatedly asking the parish children to perform a liturgical dance for no reason would still be better then a Powerpoint presentation.

    (That said, I prefer the “chalk on greenboard” approach even for lectures, but after all we can expect a Catholic to be somewhat traditional… I’ll be fair and say that I can’t see any possibility where a greenboard would make sense for a sermon.)

    As for criticism – as this is a clear case of yes or no, and not of more or less,

    I’d talk a bit around to establish a friendly atmosphere and then say: “Father, forgive me, but I actually prefer, and am more spiritually helped by, sermons, for the sermon. I think that is true of most others, too. Could you perhaps do without powerpoint presentations for your sermons as all the others do ? You know, it just doesn’t feel the right thing!”

    Note that probably if he has not the presentation to rely on, chances are that much of the problem goes away.

    For what it’s worth, i.e. not much, I’d say that tampering with his delivering a bad presentation, hoping to change it at the least into a good presentation, is (while in itself good) counterproductive. Here it really is either-or; the preacher is not supposed to deliver a lecture at all. He is supposed to deliver a sermon.

  33. jhayes says:

    Imrahil wrote “Good to know, so next time I’ll cite him. It’s always the feeling I have with my comments.”

    The idea is actually from Blaise Pascal

    Je n’ai fait celle-ci plus longue que parce que je n’ai pas eu le loisir de la faire plus courte.

    –Lettres Provinciales, 1657

    I’ve only made this [letter] so long because I didn’t have time to make it shorter

  34. Michael_Thoma says:

    God forbid.. a 2 hr Liturgy.. =)

    Our Eastern Liturgies are usually 2hrs on a Sunday, and longer on Feast Days and Pre-Fast Days. Resurrection Sunday usually runs 4-5hrs; Good Friday is literally 9a-5p. Usually concurrent with fasting.

    Our brothers and sisters in the Ethiopian Church, when in a fully celebrated regular Sunday Liturgy, can spend 4-6hrs, or more celebrating the Divine Mysteries – this is for laity, the priests need to do the preparatory services in private with deacons for 2-4 hrs before the public Liturgy begins. This is also concurrent with fasting.

    It seems to me a good gauge of tolerance to Liturgical length by clergy/congregants, is tolerance and practice of fasting – somehow heavier fasting = more tolerance to a lengthy Liturgy; weak 1hr fasting = short 1 hr Liturgy.

    Disclaimer: this is anecdotal and simply an observation, but it is interesting that our Ethiopian Christian brother and sisters fast nearly 260+ days of the year; the Syriac Church nearly 200 days; the Copts 200+ days; etc. And the definition of fasting isn’t 2meals and one smaller; it’s none of these items for the entire length of days of the fast.

  35. Fr. Bryan says:

    ” leave the theological teaching to another time?”

    I agree that homilies should be brief, succinct, to the point, etc., but in response to this part of the poster’s original question (if I have understood it correctly), I have to ask, what other time? Sunday Mass is typically the only time we see the majority of our people, and it is then that we have the opportunity to preach the Faith for the good of souls. The language should be simple, and the message practical, so that the listeners can integrate the Faith into daily life. But a few minutes on Sunday is all the priests get with most folks.

  36. Wirkes says:

    As a priest, I offer both the OF and EF of Mass. My Bishop, in his homily for Corpus Christi…in the Diocesan newspaper wrote: “Flannery O’Conner, a famous Catholic writer from the last Century, tells the story about a Protestant friend of hers. The young lady started going to Mass at the Catholic Church with Flannery. After going to Mass for a couple of months, the Protestant friend decided to join the Catholic Church. When asked why, after going to Mass, she wanted to become a Catholic the woman replied,” The sermons were so horrible, I knew there had to be something else that made these people want to come to Mass.”
    Thank God you have a Church…and a priest…and a Mass every week. Most of our brothers and sisters around the world have none of the above. Fr. Wirkes

  37. Mike says:

    Second @Fr. Bryan on “what other time?” I wonder if part of the problem, in some places, is not so much long-windedness as that a theological explication of any kind at all — even the most straightforward and orthodox — reflexively raises the hackles of parishioners abused for decades by theological adventuring.

  38. aviva meriam says:

    This morning a wonderful neighbor admitted that he left the catholic church because he could not recall priests applying biblical teaching in their sermons. He states that he joined an evangelical church because he needed that practical teaching in how to apply the bible to his life.

    This is the second person I’ve heard this from.

  39. Imrahil says:

    Dear aviva meriam,

    a pity, but he had better had read the Catechism (and Bible) for himself. He’s not the first person and won’t be the last who does not find a preacher in his neighborhood that is apt for his personal needs. And the sermons? Well, endure them. Though it should not be an excuse for the preacher, I tend to think that hearing the sermon is labor rewarded, afterwards, by Communion. And they’re short after all.

    Anyway, suchlike should not be justification for subscribing to a heretical proposition (which you do, by changing to an evangelical Church). He’d better start with applying that part of the Bible to his life that says, Who heareth ye, heareth me.

  40. Giuseppe says:

    Enjoying an excellent sermon deprives some of us of the Sunday ‘gift’ of enduring a poor sermon and offering up our sufferings for the souls in purgatory. (Surely Sunday’s sermon, a 10 minute musing on why we don’t say “rob Paul to pay Peter” must have freed someone. )

  41. BillyT92679 says:

    My pastor does a great job with homilies. Useful and to the point.

    The homily is one of the Post Vatican II changes that I do like. I like opening up the Scriptures in a way to tie everything together. I feel like the Ethiopian hearing St. Philip. General sermons have their purpose, but I do like how sensible the Lectionary Cycle is, and how the Homily can draw out the meat of everything. Tying in Zechariah’s prefiguration of Palm Sunday with Our Lord’s statement on His yoke (and St. Paul’s discussion of living in the Spirit) is a great highlight of the holistic nature of Sacred Scripture.

  42. BillyT92679 says:

    My pastor does a great job with homilies. Useful and to the point.

    The homily is one of the Post Vatican II changes that I do like. I like opening up the Scriptures in a way to tie everything together. I feel like the Ethiopian hearing St. Philip. General sermons have their purpose, but I do like how sensible the Lectionary Cycle is, and how the Homily can draw out the meat of everything. Tying in Zechariah’s prefiguration of Palm Sunday with Our Lord’s statement on His yoke (and St. Paul’s discussion of living in the Spirit) is a great highlight of the holistic nature of Sacred Scripture.

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