Sunday, March 6, 2011

And you think your preacher talks you to death?

Hubby is gone. He's at a conference and once again I'm stuck at home. I think this is the third conference UDrH has been too since HB was born. On the other hand, I haven't slept anywhere other than my couch or my own bed. It wouldn't be so bad if he didn't leave me with a bunch of chores that he didn't do before he left. So now it's getting later than I want it to, but I need to churn out a couple of posts before Lent. Oh, and happy Ash Monday to my Byzantine and Maronite friends.

"And you think your preacher talks you to death? Mine talked so much that I fell out of window and died. Brought a whole new meaning to the word 'revival' if you catch my drift." ~ Eutychus

Meet Eutychus. He's a young man probably a teenager. He hears that a man is coming to preach. This man, Paul, is leaving the next day so he keeps talking long into the night. Eutychus decides to get a good spot by the window. The room is filled with light and people, but Eutychus exhausted from the journey or work falls asleep anyway. He falls through the glass-less window three stories to the ground where people swore he died. Paul goes and picks him up and says that he's not dead. People end up carrying him back home alive.

What's the point of this story? Well, at the church I used to work at we got a new priest. I believe he was from Ghana. One Mass he talked for such a long time that it nearly ran into the next Mass. People complained about it to the pastor and the new priest was told to limit his homilies to 5-10 minutes.

Mass back in the day was continuously being said. People would come drop by for communion or to pray. High Mass could last for a long time. Since Vatican II, we've been able to shorten Mass. For Masses on Easter and Christmas, they can be as long as an hour and half. But in general Mass lasts about 45 minutes to an hour. And people still complain about the length of Mass. This is of course the Roman Rite. If you go to an Eastern Rite, your Mass is even longer. I can't imagine a complaining Roman discovering they've walked into an Eastern Mass.

The most common complaints that people don't like usually have to do with the length of Mass. Usually because the person doesn't like "all the singing." Sorry, folks. You won't find sympathy from the church musician. Music has and always will be part of Mass. It is an integral part of the worship experience. If you don't like the music, I'm afraid you've picked the wrong denomination. We "force" our members to listen to the music. :)

Other complaints about length involve the homily, as I already mentioned. "Boy, Father was long winded today." or comments along those lines detract from the real meaning behind Mass. Mass is about worshiping God. It's not about you. I understand that time is precious, but I would hope that people would realize that God is numero uno on the list of priorities before they start complaining.

Needless to say, I think the whole passage in Acts should be a meditation for the busiest of us (even parents). My husband gets into a rush to change the toddler's diaper while I find it's a lot easier to let him play in his room for a few minutes and then make the attempt to change it. It's the same way with going places. HB has a different concept of time then I do.

So does God. There is no past or future with God. Everything is in the here and now. Sometimes we just need to slow down and re-prioritize. Even if that means staying up all night to listen to the Word of God. You never know when God will call you home.


  1. Awww thanks!

    Great post btw :-) Funnily our Mass is about the same length of time as yours (most likely). Its usually about an hour. There are times its longer... tonight will be one of them. Of course that can be true at Roman Masses too. I remember a few long ones... which brings to mind the other thing I'z gonna say. The longest Masses I've ever attended were in Tanzania. Roman... and at least 2 hours long every week. It took some getting used too lol. I miss it though!

  2. Fell out the window and died! Haha! That was great. I do have sort of a bias against long sermons for two reasons (1) It's inevitable that I get distracted and zone out and I would imagine other people feel the same way. There's only so much you can absorb in one setting and (2) I think if priests made just a few adjustments, they'd be able to convey the same message in ten minutes what could take up to 20 (cut out the jokes and long-winded examples). I would say that if mass is going to be longer, that time should be spent meditating during/after communion, which I think is the most important (and under-valued) part of the mass.

  3. Thanks. I hope it was clear that I didn't write the story. It's from Acts 20.

    Some priests are terrible preachers and can bore you do death, and I think that we need to train priests to be better speakers. I enjoy Fr. Robert Barron's youtube videos which are about as long as a typical sermon. His talks are great and challenging. So a long sermon is doable.

    But to each his own.


I love to read your thoughts. Thanks for sharing!