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03 June 2013

On Homilies

A reader writes:
I'm curious: What, if anything, do they teach seminarians about the length of homilies? I've heard a general guideline is that each part of the mass should be about equal. Also, do you every think you'll just wing it? The best priest I've known who had great homilies always said he never wrote down his homilies, he it was just the Holy Spirit that guided what he said.

I think that very often the key component of a homily isn't necessarily the length, but rather it's content and the level of engagement provided by the homilist.  It seems to me that eight to ten minutes on a Sunday is reasonable -- beyond this and one is risking repeating himself.

And as for not writing things down -- I think I will always use some type of notes.

There is a distinction to be made between winging it in the sense of not having notes and not looking at the readings beforehand.  The former leaves room for the Holy Spirit -- the latter is a breeding ground for vainglory and unreflective commentary.

My (hopeful -- as in, what I hope to do and be -- in terms of homilies) ethos will be to pray as hard as I can, use the gifts given to me by the Lord as best I can, and trust the Holy Spirit to do the rest.

There are worse ways to do it, I'd assume.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

"I think that very often the key component of a homily isn't necessarily the length, but rather it's content and the level of engagement provided by the homilist"

I think you're right on with that point. And your 8-10 minutes guideline sounds more than reasonable.

Chris J