Author Topic: Length of the homily  (Read 3703 times)

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Online scamandrius

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Length of the homily
« on: August 29, 2009, 12:19:06 AM »
I was having a discussion with a fellow parishioner today who was saying that one of the reasons attendance is down (and not just because it's summer) is because our priest's sermons tend to drone on and on and frequently get off track, thus going for 20 minutes plus.  Now, my priest says that he does this simply because most of the congregation rarely, if ever, comes to the special feast day services or the extra services during Lent and so he uses his time from the pulpit to teach and make up for the time that they are not there.  I understand both points of view, but I am wondering what is the standard length of time (if there is such a thing) for  a sermon after the Gospel at Liturgy.  I'm not looking for jurisdictional differences, but if you want to put that anyway, please do so.
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Offline SolEX01

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Re: Length of the homily
« Reply #1 on: August 29, 2009, 01:11:28 AM »
10-15 minutes is typical.

Guest homilists usually speak 15-20 minutes.

Offline Alveus Lacuna

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Re: Length of the homily
« Reply #2 on: August 29, 2009, 01:24:38 AM »
I think people could at least pretend to care a bit more.

Offline deusveritasest

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Re: Length of the homily
« Reply #3 on: August 29, 2009, 01:45:08 AM »
I don't know that one can make up for time that one chooses to simply not utilize at all for spiritual purposes.
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Offline Alveus Lacuna

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Re: Length of the homily
« Reply #4 on: August 29, 2009, 01:48:12 AM »
I don't know that one can make up for time that one chooses to simply not utilize at all for spiritual purposes.

You can't make people care about God.  We are a wicked generation.  May God have mercy on us all!

Offline deusveritasest

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Re: Length of the homily
« Reply #5 on: August 29, 2009, 02:17:25 AM »

You can't make people care about God.

True. Only God can do that, and only when people want Him to.
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Offline Quinault

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Re: Length of the homily
« Reply #6 on: August 29, 2009, 02:44:42 AM »
We typically have about a 20-30 minute homily. When the Bishop was here for Pascha it was about an hour and a half!

Offline John of the North

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Re: Length of the homily
« Reply #7 on: August 29, 2009, 03:33:59 AM »
We typically have about a 20-30 minute homily. When the Bishop was here for Pascha it was about an hour and a half!

Half hour homilies...wow. The local priests average 10-15. At least one priest regularly does no homily at all...
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Offline Quinault

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Re: Length of the homily
« Reply #8 on: August 29, 2009, 05:16:18 AM »
^Sometimes it is much shorter, sometimes longer. But it is all shorter than the man that preached at the last church we attended, he preached a minimum of about an hour. (Mark Driscoll Mars Hill)

Offline mike

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Re: Length of the homily
« Reply #9 on: August 29, 2009, 06:29:12 AM »
Approximately 30 minutes. To long for me. I don't like listening to homilies at my Parish.

Offline ytterbiumanalyst

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Re: Length of the homily
« Reply #10 on: August 29, 2009, 07:20:29 AM »
My priests speaks no more than 15 minutes. I find at that length I am better able to remember the entire homily. When I was a Protestant, I always had to keep notes in order to remember what was preached; now, I have not taken notes at all since becoming Orthodox, but I am better able to dwell on what was preached during the week.
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Offline Father H

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Re: Length of the homily
« Reply #11 on: September 01, 2009, 02:28:55 PM »
We typically have about a 20-30 minute homily. When the Bishop was here for Pascha it was about an hour and a half!

Half hour homilies...wow. The local priests average 10-15. At least one priest regularly does no homily at all...

I think it is a shame when priests do no homily at all. 

Offline Ian Lazarus

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Re: Length of the homily
« Reply #12 on: September 01, 2009, 03:41:25 PM »
There is a local priest that burns through the liturgy of the catecumens to get to the sermon, takes 45 minutes for the homily, and then burns throuhg the liturgy of the faithful.  He is not irreverant, just a different emphasis than my priest who does a 20 minute homily and makes the luturgy the focus.
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Offline Quinault

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Re: Length of the homily
« Reply #13 on: September 01, 2009, 03:56:47 PM »
I can remember the entire homily. I understand what you mean though Mr. Y. The pastor of our last church actually hands out booklets with notes pre-written. In fact he writes an outline to his entire sermon "series" that are typically a good 1/2 inch thick and gives them to everyone before he starts the sermons (he used to preach thru a book of the bible straight thru, now he takes on subjects like; "It's all about Jesus,"  "Vintage Jesus," "Religion saves and nine other misconceptions," and "The Rebel's guide to joy." And they even have little video introductions to the services I have heard (my brothers still attend there).
« Last Edit: September 01, 2009, 03:59:14 PM by Quinault »

Offline katherineofdixie

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Re: Length of the homily
« Reply #14 on: September 01, 2009, 04:28:36 PM »
My priest usually has about 15-20 minutes and it's also recorded for our website so you can listen to it again.

I don't care how long the homily is since it's the only time I get to sit down! ;D
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Offline pensateomnia

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Re: Length of the homily
« Reply #15 on: September 08, 2009, 11:38:05 AM »
Most people decide if they are going to listen to a speaker within the first six seconds. 20 minutes is the average attention span of modern, educated adults. Any longer than that and the percentage of people not paying attention goes up dramatically -- even if the speaker has a well-thought-out, engaging presentation. The attention span of teenagers and children is much, much less.

Considering that, research on congregational attention spans (across all denominations) indicates that the majority of people in modern churches only listen to their preacher for 8 minutes.

In my experience across many different Orthodox parishes, the average homily length is about 12 to 14 minutes. Sometimes more, sometimes less. Some of the greatest sermons I have ever heard clocked in at under 8 minutes. You can pack a LOT into that amount of time if you know what you are doing.
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Offline Schultz

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Re: Length of the homily
« Reply #16 on: September 08, 2009, 11:48:27 AM »
Our priest is a mumbler, so a five minute sermon can often seem like twenty five minutes! 

I agree with pensateomnia.  The best sermons I've ever heard always clocked in under ten minutes or even less.  That being said, I like listening to good preaching full of Scriptural and Patristic quotes.  I was pleasantly surprised at my parents' 50th wedding anniversary Mass at their very mainstream RC paris this past weekend.  Their new priest is a younger man whose homily ran about 20 minutes, but he managed to tie in quotes from two older popes, St. John Chrysostom, all the readings of the day AND a couple other Scriptural references.  He did go on a little long (I think it ran 20 minutes) but I was rapt with attention.  His voice was very clear and his meaning very plain.  I hate to say it, but it was a nice change from my normal Sunday homily!

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Offline Fr. George

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Re: Length of the homily
« Reply #17 on: September 08, 2009, 12:03:39 PM »
I think we have a 10-15 min average here; Usually my notes (which are a full text, not an outline) are about 3 pgs at a 16-18pt font, 1 1/2 line spacing.
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Re: Length of the homily
« Reply #18 on: September 08, 2009, 12:27:49 PM »
  His voice was very clear and his meaning very plain.  I hate to say it, but it was a nice change from my normal Sunday homily!

One of the things that makes a priest  a bad preacher is that he does not have a clear voice and does not annunciate well. Unfortunately, I have heard way too many sermons from priests who do mumble or slur their words.
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Offline LizaSymonenko

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Re: Length of the homily
« Reply #19 on: September 08, 2009, 02:11:04 PM »

Ours lasts anywhere from 15 - 20 minutes.  However, our priest is a wonderful orator, and knows his stuff.  I truly enjoy listening to his sermons.

I am always interested in religious education.  There's always something new to learn...and I hang on every word.

I could sit and listen for hours!

When I visited an OCA church during Lent, Archbishop Nathaniel spoke for close to an hour.  While others were squirming and the ladies behind me were complaining, I was thoroughly enjoying myself.

Of course, you can enjoy yourself, if you have nowhere else to be at that time. 
If you have other commitments, then I can completely understand wanting it to be shorter.



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Offline Father H

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Re: Length of the homily
« Reply #20 on: September 09, 2009, 10:06:45 PM »
There are some people who are just there to get it over with.   There are some who debate whether to come to church or not because they have other things to do, and then get irritated if things run over.   I recall some visitors from up north about a year ago that came after liturgy during fellowship hour only to ask if our our parish is one of those parishes that has an hour long liturgy without a homily and without "everyone taking communion" or an hour and a half with a homily and communion, I answered that it is the latter.  They told me that they were not used to that, that they are used to shorter liturgies and did not return.   Now my immediate question that popped into my head was:  what priest is not preaching a homily on a Sunday since the canons state clearly that a priest who persists in this practice is to be disciplined.   What do they go to Liturgy for--to fulfill "obligation" in ecclesiological minimalism?   
« Last Edit: September 09, 2009, 10:07:23 PM by FatherHLL »

Offline HandmaidenofGod

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Re: Length of the homily
« Reply #21 on: September 09, 2009, 11:21:30 PM »
Fr. T usually sticks in the 15 min range.

Usually after the dismissal prayers, he'll read the Bulletin announcements before we go up to venerate the cross. If there is something particular on his mind that day (unrelated to the Gospel), he'll sometimes use that time to get in an extra sermon.

I always enjoy his homilies though. :)
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Offline Basil 320

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Re: Length of the homily
« Reply #22 on: September 10, 2009, 02:47:59 AM »
My current and former presiding priests usually take 15 to 20 minutes.  Likewise with our Liturgical Assistant.  Twenty five years ago, we had a priest who had a particular gift of preaching.  He gave an inspiring, fact filled sermon in 10 minutes, no more.  I think 10 to 12 mins. is enough, if organized and well thought out. I find my mind drifting in that last 5 minutes, no matter how good the message is.
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Offline BoredMeeting

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Re: Length of the homily
« Reply #23 on: September 10, 2009, 08:57:03 AM »
They told me that they were not used to that, that they are used to shorter liturgies and did not return.
That strikes me as an incredibly sad story.

Offline ialmisry

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Re: Length of the homily
« Reply #24 on: September 10, 2009, 09:25:56 AM »
Having had to deal with this as a teacher, there have been studies done on the damage done by MTV and sound bites and flash images on attention spans. Yes, it actually IS harder than when St. John Chrysostom was preaching.


Btw, I'm a geek who takes notes during Fr. Pat Reardon's sermons.
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Offline Elisha

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Re: Length of the homily
« Reply #25 on: September 10, 2009, 09:45:23 AM »
We had a visiting priest (withing the diocese - I had met him several times already) that gave about a 3-4 min homily...and then I realized that it was actually rather good!  10-15 min the norm here.

Offline Ortho_cat

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Re: Length of the homily
« Reply #26 on: September 14, 2009, 10:47:51 PM »
My priest usually has about 15-20 minutes and it's also recorded for our website so you can listen to it again.

I don't care how long the homily is since it's the only time I get to sit down! ;D

sitting is overrated  ;)

Offline Ortho_cat

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Re: Length of the homily
« Reply #27 on: September 14, 2009, 10:49:56 PM »
I think we have a 10-15 min average here; Usually my notes (which are a full text, not an outline) are about 3 pgs at a 16-18pt font, 1 1/2 line spacing.

How can you write that fast?!  :o

Offline Fr. George

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Re: Length of the homily
« Reply #28 on: September 14, 2009, 11:06:07 PM »
I think we have a 10-15 min average here; Usually my notes (which are a full text, not an outline) are about 3 pgs at a 16-18pt font, 1 1/2 line spacing.

How can you write that fast?!  :o

What do you mean by "that fast?"
« Last Edit: September 14, 2009, 11:06:18 PM by cleveland »
"O Cross of Christ, all-holy, thrice-blessed, and life-giving, instrument of the mystical rites of Zion, the holy Altar for the service of our Great Archpriest, the blessing - the weapon - the strength of priests, our pride, our consolation, the light in our hearts, our mind, and our steps"
Met. Meletios of Nikopolis & Preveza, from his ordination.

Offline John of the North

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Re: Length of the homily
« Reply #29 on: September 14, 2009, 11:27:09 PM »
I think we have a 10-15 min average here; Usually my notes (which are a full text, not an outline) are about 3 pgs at a 16-18pt font, 1 1/2 line spacing.

How can you write that fast?!  :o

Ortho_cat, he doesn't mean he takes notes during the homily, he means the notes for the homily he is giving are that long.
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Offline katherineofdixie

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Re: Length of the homily
« Reply #30 on: September 15, 2009, 11:56:49 AM »
sitting is overrated  ;)

Not when you're wearing cute shoes!
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Offline zoarthegleaner

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Re: Length of the homily
« Reply #31 on: September 15, 2009, 12:31:23 PM »
If one does not like hearing homilies in ones own parish, what other resourses are available?

Listening to homilies is Apostolically required of Orthodox Christians, especially as a gathered Church (parish) by Apostolic command and example (meaning they taught this same thing in and to all Churches) and this is clearly evident within the Holy Scriptures, by each New Testament Writer and repeated by the Fathers and the Councils and the Synods...

I have attended many Liturgies where no homily was given in association with the Divine Liturgy, I don't like not hearing homilies and especially in my own parish. 




What subjects should a homily address?  This is clearly laid out for us within the same Scripture
Courteous is my name,
and I have always aimed to live up to it.
Grace is also my name,
but when things go wrong
its Courteous whom I blame;
but its Grace who sees me through it.

Offline AlexanderOfBergamo

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Re: Length of the homily
« Reply #32 on: September 15, 2009, 02:25:11 PM »
In my parish I never heard a sermon at all (never wondered why, but possibly because the assembly is hybrid Russian-Italian and he can't repeat the homily twice in two languages? I dunno). It must be said that I don't miss it... the Reader and the Priest sing so wonderfully the Scriptures that they seem to penetrate my mind, word by word, revealing their mysteries.
Anyway, I think that the ability to teach is a rare gift priests should pray for. It is difficult to get the attention of people standing for some 1 hour// 1 hour 1/2, so the parish priest should find, as it's been said, both Scriptural and Patristic sources to strengthen the faith in the subject of the Gospel. Up to now, the only good church orator I found was a young RC priest who teaches in Bergamo's seminary. I listened to his homily two years ago on the occasion of my patron saint's feast (which is also my town's feast). He narrated st. Alexander's life always keeping the Gospel of the day in the core of the sermon, and he used such words which really made my heart burn. He is truly an atypical RC priest, how I'd like him to be Orthodox! LOL Maybe one day, who knows?
That said, I think that using the lives of the saints associated with the daily Gospel, as that young priest did, is really a good choice, and strengthens the link of every Christian to the predecessors in the faith as living witnesses of God's grace. Just my opinion of course.

In Christ,   Alex
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Offline Fr. George

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Re: Length of the homily
« Reply #33 on: September 15, 2009, 05:07:09 PM »
I think we have a 10-15 min average here; Usually my notes (which are a full text, not an outline) are about 3 pgs at a 16-18pt font, 1 1/2 line spacing.

How can you write that fast?!  :o

Ortho_cat, he doesn't mean he takes notes during the homily, he means the notes for the homily he is giving are that long.

Oh, I didn't even consider that angle to the question.  The amount of notes for a lecture is directly dependent on the quality of the lecture; I've had classes where it was 6+ pages in 90 minutes, but that only works out to 1 pg / 15 min.
"O Cross of Christ, all-holy, thrice-blessed, and life-giving, instrument of the mystical rites of Zion, the holy Altar for the service of our Great Archpriest, the blessing - the weapon - the strength of priests, our pride, our consolation, the light in our hearts, our mind, and our steps"
Met. Meletios of Nikopolis & Preveza, from his ordination.